THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
THE NATO 50TH ANNIVERSARY SUMMIT
NATO's 50th Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C., April 23-25 will commemorate the Alliance's success in safeguarding freedom over the past fifty years, and underscore its determination to achieve a durable peace in Kosovo and meet the security challenges of a new century. The summit will provide NATO leaders an opportunity to focus together on NATO's efforts to resolve the crisis in Kosovo and ensure stability throughout the region. At the plenaries and working lunches leaders will devote as much time as is necessary to achieving our common objective of a peaceful democratic Kosovo in which all its peoples live in security.
Safeguarding Freedom. In this century, American engagement has often made the difference between war and peace, tyranny and freedom. Nowhere is that more true than in Europe, where Americans fought two world wars and then had the vision to join with Europe's leaders to create NATO and the other institutions that have been the bulwarks of our security and prosperity for fifty years. But, as Kosovo so clearly demonstrates, crucial challenges remain. In the next century, American engagement for peace and security will remain essential. Tomorrow as yesterday, we, together with our European allies, will defend our values, protect our interests and stand by our friends.
Underscoring the Strength of Democracy. The dream of the generation that founded NATO was of a Europe undivided, democratic and at peace. NATO helped realize that vision for half a continent -- keeping the peace, promoting democracy, deterring aggression, and creating the conditions in which prosperity could flourish in the United States and Western Europe. Then, NATO's strength, the force of democracy and the determination of people to live free extended the dream to all of Europe. The Alliance reached out to include three nations -- Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic -- as full members and to add 25 new partners, including Russia and Ukraine. At the summit, we will mark the success of NATO's first fifty years in defending democracy in Europe's west and helping to make it a reality for people in Europe's east. We will also reaffirm NATO's commitment to keep the door open to Eastern democracies that demonstrate their ability to meet the obligations of NATO membership.
Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century. For the past fifty years, the United States and its allies confronted a single common enemy: communism. For the next fifty years, the challenges we face will be much more diverse: ethnic and regional conflict, like we have seen in Bosnia and face today in Kosovo, the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery, and terrorism. At the summit, the Allies will accelerate efforts to ensure NATO has the capabilities to deter and overcome these threats to their shared interests. NATO, however, cannot do the job alone. In the next century the Alliance will have to work even more closely with other Euro-Atlantic institutions -- notably the European Union and the OSCE -- in tackling the challenges ahead.
Building a Peaceful, Undivided and Democratic Europe. For the first time in modern history, Europe is uniting around the values we share -- peace and stability, democracy and human rights, free markets and free trade. NATO has helped make this possible, serving as the linchpin of its security partnership with the United States. For nearly half a century, NATO defended against aggression and provided a source of stability. Now, a new NATO in a new era can extend those benefits to the entire continent, strengthening our partnerships with Europe's new market democracies and helping to build a more integrated Europe. In Kosovo, NATO is seeking to stop those who would obstruct this process by visiting war, division, and oppression on their fellow Europeans. NATO is also working intensively to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia and Ukraine -- essential partners in building the new Europe.