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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Texarkana, Arkansas)
For Immediate Release                                     March 12, 1999


I welcome the accession today of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as NATO's newest members. The people of these three nations know what it means to lose their freedom. For years they struggled with dignity and courage to regain their freedom. And now they will help us defend it for many years to come. Their membership will make America safer. It will make NATO stronger. And it will help us realize our common vision of a Europe that is for the first time undivided, democratic and at peace.

For three days beginning on April 23, NATO's 19 members will meet in Washington for the 50th anniversary summit of our alliance, joined by our partners from across the new Europe. We will honor NATO's achievements in protecting peace and security. We will also prepare our alliance to meet the challenges ahead, strengthen our partnership with Europe's newly democratic nations, and reaffirm our commitment that NATO's newest members will not be the last.