THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
House Passes H.R. 3564 on NATO Enlargement
The Administration welcomes the overwhelming demonstration of bipartisan support for the enlargement of NATO demonstrated by its passage of H.R. 3564, "The NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act of 1996." The House of Representatives passed the bill on July 23 by a vote of 353 to 65. We are pleased that the House shares President Clinton's determination to bring Europe's new democracies fully into the community of Western democracies and its key institutions.
In January 1994, President Clinton proposed that NATO bring in new members from Europe's new democracies; our NATO Allies supported this initiative and NATO's enlargement is now well underway. The security of America and Europe will be increased by overcoming the division of the continent -- by bringing into the institutions of the Transatlantic community Europe's new democracies which share our values and are willing to help shoulder their part of our common responsibilities. Their integration will help consolidate their democratic and free market reforms.
Through the Partnership for Peace, another American initiative launched by President Clinton, we have already deepened our security cooperation with the new democracies that emerged from communism's collapse, a necessary prelude to NATO's enlargement.
Our approach to European security and NATO enlargement is inclusive. NATO can provide the basis for integration, security and stability for all European countries in the post-Cold War world, just as it did for the countries of Western Europe after World War II. NATO will enlarge in a transparent and deliberate manner that increases the security of NATO's current members, new members and non-members alike. NATO enlargement will be an open process: as the President has said, NATO's first new members should not be the last.
We recognize the importance that a reforming Russia can play in shaping a stable, secure and undivided Europe. We thus intend to develop a strong NATO-Russia partnership, even as NATO evolves and brings in new members. In Bosnia, where Russian forces as well as troops of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, the Baltic countries, Ukraine and other nations are serving together with NATO soldiers, we are already showing that a broad partnership is indeed possible and productive.
The issue of NATO enlargement involves fundamental questions of American security and American leadership. As NATO enlargement moves ahead, it will be important to maintain the bipartisan spirit that has characterized H.R. 3564.
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