March 22, 1999


One of the reasons NATO has prevailed is that it has helped create the conditions for prosperity and democracy alongside security. This alliance has been about more than military strength. It is about safeguarding the values that allow people in all our nations to thrive. It is about protecting the rights and freedoms that have transformed Europe and the world.

President Bill Clinton
March 22, 1999

Today, at a dinner at the White House, President Clinton will speak to the NATO Host Committee about the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington. During his remarks, the President will discuss the importance of commemorating the 50th anniversary of NATO while redefining a new vision for the most successful alliance in history.

CELEBRATING THE ANNIVERSARY OF NATO. The 50th anniversary of the founding of the NATO Alliance will be commemorated by a special summit hosted by President Clinton on April 23-25 in Washington. The summit will commemorate the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949, and will take place at the original site of the 1949 signing.

HIGHLIGHTING AMERICAN LEADERSHIP FOR SECURITY AND FREEDOM. The United States had the vision to create NATO, an institution that has provided security and prosperity for our nation and Western Europe for fifty years. In the 21st century, American engagement for peace and security will be more vital than ever within NATO, Europe and beyond. At the summit, the President will remind our allies that they can continue to count on American leadership.

CELEBRATING THE STRENGTH OF DEMOCRACY. One of the summit's major accomplishments will be the entry of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as the newest members of the Alliance. The summit will launch programs to deepen our cooperation with all partner states, including Russia and Ukraine. It will also provide an opportunity to reaffirm NATO's commitment to keeping an open door policy for other Eastern democracies that demonstrate their ability to meet the obligations of membership.

MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF THE 21ST CENTURY. Together with our European allies, the United States is developing a comprehensive package of initiatives to ensure that NATO can effectively respond to the new challenges it will face in the 21st century--ethnic, racial and religious hatreds, like those in Bosnia and Kosovo; the spread of weapons of mass destruction; and new threats of international terrorism, crime and drug trafficking.

BUILDING A PEACEFUL, UNDIVIDED AND DEMOCRATIC EUROPE. For the first time in modern history, Europe is uniting around values and institutions we share--peace and stability, democracy and human rights, free markets and free trade. NATO has helped make this possible by serving as the bedrock of Europe's security integration and the linchpin of its security partnership with the United States. President Clinton is committed to extending the benefits of NATO to the entire continent of Europe, strengthening partnerships with Europe's new market democracies, and helping to build a more integrated Europe for the 21st century.

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