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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 24, 1999
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                      AND SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA       


Pavilion, South Lawn

9:27 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please be seated. Mr. Secretary General, Mrs. Solana; allies and friends: It's a great honor for Hillary and for me to welcome the largest group of world leaders ever to assemble in Washington here to the White House on this beautiful spring evening.

Just a few years ago, a gathering of all the nations here in partnership would have been unthinkable. But we are all here tonight because we are thinking -- we are thinking of a future brighter than the past; a future of shared values and shared visions; a future in which we define national greatness by its commitments to human rights and mutual respect, not to ethnic and religious bigotry. In which we measure the success of nations by how well we lift people up, not by how much we tear them down.

In a world full of both promise and peril, where for good or ill our destinies are more and more linked, we have chosen to be allies, partners, and friends. In an age most observers define by the rise of modern technology, modern scientific breakthroughs, a modern global economy, it is ironic and painful that all over the world and, of course, especially in Kosovo, the peace is threatened by the oldest demon of society -- the fear and hatred of the other -- those who are of a different race or ethnic background or religion.

Just a few days ago, a voice from the age we honor at this 50th Anniversary Summit spoke to us from his home in Poland. Marek Edelman, a hero of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, published a letter here in an American newspaper urging all of us to persevere in Kosovo. "I know," he wrote, "like all of my generation, that freedom has and must have its price."

Tonight we remember that the burden of defending freedom and peace is lighter when it is shouldered by so many. And we remember that the cause of freedom and peace is stronger when it is embraced by a group of nations as great and diverse as those who are joined together in this Council.

And so I ask all of you to join me now in a toast to the leaders and the people of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. And thank you very much.

(The toast is offered.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary General.

SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton; Presidents; Prime Ministers; Excellencies; ladies and gentlemen: Fifty years ago, when the North Atlantic Treaty was signed, only 12 countries were represented here in Washington. Today, the heads of state and government of more than 40 countries are attending the commemoration of that anniversary. Your presence here is a most vivid illustration of how much our world has changed, and changed, no doubt, for the better.

Today every country in the Euro-Atlantic area can come around the same table to discuss agreed issues and work out ways to address those issues together. Never before in history have there been such a strong cooperative momentum. Never before have we seen so many nations working together for the same end, for the same goals. Indeed, if there is anything our meetings today and tomorrow demonstrate beyond any doubt, it is that cooperation and partnership have become firmly established as basic principles throughout the Euro-Atlantic area.

These cooperative ties must be strengthened further. The Euro-Atlantic area is troubled by violent conflict in many places. To make all the Euro-Atlantic area a zone of peace, a zone of stability, we must tighten the web of cooperation even more.

But we must also be prepared to act in support of principles -- the principles we proclaim to uphold. Many of our parties are playing a key role in major efforts to bring a just peace to Kosovo. I thank them for all of that. And let me assure that they, in turn, can count on NATO support in these challenging times.

Dear friends, we live in difficult moments, but it's great to see you all around. And as I said, principles not only have to be proclaimed, but have to be defended. Thank you very much for your cooperation. (Applause.)

Let me ask you please to raise for a toast for this extraordinary partnership. Thank you very much.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

END 9:33 P.M. EDT