THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Madrid, Spain) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 8, 1997
REMARKS BY PRIME MINISTER AZNAR OF SPAIN AND SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA IN OPENING REMARKS OF NATO OPENING SESSION
Palacio Municipal de Congress Madrid, Spain
9:45 A.M. (L)
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Good morning, everybody. I would like to welcome you most cordially to Madrid on this special occasion of the NATO Summit meeting. In particular, I welcome those who represent their nations for the first time at a NATO Summit. I also wish to express my thanks and my appreciation to the government of Spain for the efforts undertaken to facilitate our meeting today.
Today's meeting is a defining moment for NATO. We will open the doors of this Alliance to the first new members from Central and Eastern Europe. We will create new opportunities for cooperation and partnership that will enhance the security of all nations in the Euro Atlantic area and will pursue our efforts to make NATO -- ready to face the challenges of the 21st century.
The new NATO will be as indispensable to the Europe of tomorrow as it was to the Europe of yesterday. Madrid, this summit, will be remembered as a time when North America and Europe came together to shape the course of the new century. Our meeting today and our meeting tomorrow with our partners will demonstrate that we will enter the next century in a spirit of solidarity and confidence.
Since the beginning of this decade, NATO has undergone rapid change and transformation. Our relationship with our Eastern neighbors has blossomed in an active security partnership. Our strategy and our forces have been adapted to respond to the new security challenges, most visibly in our crucial role in maintaining peace in Bosnia. And most recently, our relationship with Russia has been put on a new and solid foundation. We have created with Russia a mechanism for confrontation and cooperation and we are determined to make this an effective instrument for enhancing cooperative security in Europe.
Mr. President, honorable Prime Ministers, during the two days of our summit meeting we will have a lot on our plate. Of course, the question of enlargement is in all our minds because we are planning to invite several countries to undertake negotiations with a view to accession to the Alliance. At the same time, it is important for us to know quite clearly and to show quite clearly that the door of the Alliance will remain open to other nations.
And beyond enlargement, we are also going to be very busy on other fronts. We are, of course, going to be organizing a program to reenforce the Partnership for Peace. And tomorrow we will be signing with Ukraine a partnership charter which will enable us to establish a very special relationship between NATO and Ukraine. And in the course of the summit, we are going to give ourselves the means, the wherewithal in order to strengthen our dialogue with our neighbors in the Mediterranean, and at the same time we shall continue to develop the ESDI, the European Security and Defense Identity of the Alliance.
And we shall also be taking stock of progress which has been accomplished in the form of our military structures. And finally, we shall look at the situation in Bosnia in order to study the best ways to encourage the establishment of a durable peace in this country which has been torn by war in the years to come.
Today's summit is testimony to NATO's capacity for change and adaptation. Our Alliance will emerge stronger from Madrid and ready to assume all the new tasks we have set ourselves.
But only as long as NATO maintains its transatlantic solidarity and commitment to collective defense will it preserve its vitality and its effectiveness. United by common purpose, united by shared values, the new Alliance stands ready to shape a brighter, more secure future.
Let me in conclusion state just a word in my mother tongue. This summit, the Madrid summit is a landmark. The Alliance -- this confirms its flexibility in adapting to the new Europe, acting as a catalyst for the new security environment in our continent.
Thank you very much. And I would now like to give the floor to the President of Spain, President Aznar.
PRIME MINISTER AZNAR: Thank you, Mr. Secretary General, heads of state, and government. We have been summoned to this meeting in Madrid, as to our previous meetings, due to a profound feeling and a passion for freedom. We are all truly proud that the values on which our lands are based have spread to almost the entire civilized world. That has been to a large part been possible, thanks to the existence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Allow me to take the floor for a few moments in order on behalf of His Majesty, the King, and the government, to welcome you most cordially to the capital of Spain. Spain is honored to belong to the Atlantic Alliance and extends its warmest hospitality to all the participants in this summit.
Whenever friends and allies get together, great opportunities arise. Those afforded us by this summit are especially favorable and we must now fail to take advantage of them. We have an exceptional opportunity to consolidate our security on new and lasting foundations. I am sure that we will rise to the occasion, that we will be able to understand the world in which we live and that we shall have the necessary foresight and determination to imagine the future.
What we want is peace. And what is expected of us is that we can guarantee it. We must provide a response to the security problems that affect our fellow citizens in the current international context. For this, undoubtedly, we must adapt the military instruments to allow us a more rapid and effective common action in crisis and conflict that lead to humanitarian crisis or threaten international stability.
To ensure peace also demands that we advance towards a more united, prosperous and safe Europe; a Europe from which both the dividing lines and the old national antagonisms that have so often destroyed peace on the continent will finally disappear. And, finally, peace requires the consolidation of the young democracies of Central and Eastern Europe by means of a true cooperation and an integration of these countries in the Euro Atlantic structures.
A bit more than six months ago we decided to summon the Madrid Summit, an objective that was both ambitious and could not be postponed, to give form to the new Atlantic Alliance and to mark the future direction of the Alliance so that it can continue being a factor of stability and freedom in Europe. All of this will be possible only if we maintain our cohesion and we recognize and reinforce the essential transatlantic link.
The renewed Alliance must continue ensuring the defense of all of its members, take on the new, necessary missions to consolidate Euro Atlantic security in a changing international context. It will serve as a basis for the development of truly cooperative security structures in Europe, strengthen our relations with the Mediterranean, and open its doors to new members. And now that the summit begins, this is a good moment also to observe the road we have traveled and to better define the task we have before us.
To the contrary of what some say, over the past few months we have made good progress in renewing the Alliance. The debates regarding the enlargement, the European security and defense identity, normal relations with our partners and the specific relations with Russia and Ukraine are tangible facts that prove that we have not wasted any time.
As to the reform of the command structure, substantial steps have been taken that should be promoted at this summit. I am convinced, in any case, that the successful conclusion of this basic issue will come during the coming months. There is still much to do. The adaptation of the Alliance is a global process and we should not neglect, nor delay any of its aspects if we want our Alliance to be in the position to play the essential role that it must play -- the heads of state and government.
As you know, Spain has decided to take the necessary steps in order to fully participate in the Alliance's new command structure in accordance with the decision taken by the Spanish parliament. We have started to do this and will continue to do so. We are satisfied with the progress made so far and I trust that everything can be completed as soon as possible. My country will thus be in a position to contribute unreservedly and on an equal footing to security and defense within the framework of the Alliance. And with this, I would like to expressly reiterate the commitment of my nation to defend and promote our common values.
Your Excellencies, I started by mentioning the passion for freedom. I now wish to invoke the enthusiasm of the Alliance's founding members so that we can prolong their legacy for future generations and have them bear fruit for all people. In this spirit, I once again welcome you to the summit, an appropriate place to breathe the air of freedom of the future.
Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General.
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Thank you very much. May I ask kindly the press to leave the room. Thank you very much for your cooperation.
END 9:50 A.M. (L)