94/12/01 Opening Statement as Honorary President at the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, NATO Headquarters (Brussels, Blegium)  Return to: Index of 1994 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

Note: This Electronic Research Collection is an archive site. For the most current information, please visit the State Department homepage.

Office of the Spokesman

(Brussels, Belgium)

DECEMBER 1, 1994


                     OPENING STATEMENT OF


                    AS HONORARY PRESIDENT


                      NATO HEADQUARTERS

                      BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

                       December 1, 1994

Mr. Secretary General, distinguished colleagues, and friends.  I am 

privileged to serve as your President d'Honneur at our first formal 

meeting since we selected Willy Claes to succeed the brilliant and 

dedicated Manfred Woerner.

Secretary General Claes has taken charge at a time of historic 

opportunity and challenge for the Alliance.  As we build European 

security for the 21st century, we are fortunate to have this statesman 

of strength and experience at NATO's helm.

The two greatest struggles of the 20th century, the battles against 

fascism and communism, are over.  The fallen Iron Curtain has revealed a 

window of opportunity for open societies and open markets to prevail 

across a continent at peace.

It is important to recall that NATO played an essential role in bringing 

us to this hopeful point.  For more than four decades it kept the peace, 

preserved our freedom, kindled hope in oppressed peoples, and finally 

helped bring the Cold War to an end -- a victory for all who love 


For half a century, NATO also provided the foundation on which our 

nations built the greatest community of peace and prosperity the world 

has ever seen.  It cemented close relations among former adversaries in 

Western Europe.  It formed the core of our transatlantic community -- 

forging links that can never be broken.  The ideals embodied in the 

Treaty of Washington -- democracy, liberty, and the rule of law -- 

proved no less powerful than the arsenals of this Alliance.  Dean 

Acheson said it best:  "the importance of NATO in the long run goes far 

beyond the creation of military strength... Future hope lies in the 

development of a community of free peoples..."

But NATO was not just about yesterday.  It is about today and tomorrow -

- about Dean Acheson's "future hope."

First, let me be clear about my own nation's conviction.  American power 

and purpose are here in Europe to stay.  This Alliance will continue to 

be the anchor of American engagement in Europe, the linchpin of 

transatlantic security.  Through over four decades, under Democratic and 

Republican administrations, we have maintained a bipartisan commitment 

to a free, stable, secure, and prosperous Europe.  Today, we are 

committed to keep 100,000 American troops on European soil as part of 

our continuing engagement.

As we meet today to continue to adapt this great Alliance, we are keenly 

aware that the end of the Cold War has brought not only opportunities, 

but serious challenges.  The terrible conflict in Bosnia continues to 

resist resolution.  It has challenged NATO and all the institutions that 

have dealt with it.  Frankly, when this conflict emerged from the ashes 

of the Cold War, the international community was insufficiently 

prepared.  The world ultimately turned to the United Nations to shoulder 

the principal responsibility.

For its part, NATO has done whatever has been asked of it by the United 

Nations.  It has established a no-fly zone and prevented the conflict 

from becoming an air war.  It has maintained the sanctions pressure, and 

it has been instrumental in preventing the spread of the conflict.  

Contrary to some reports, NATO has not ruled out the use of air power.  

NATO stands ready to use air power, when requested, pursuant to United 

Nations resolutions.

Now, our task continues to be to seek a peaceful negotiated end to the 

conflict, one that will preserve Bosnia's territorial integrity.  We 

should renew our efforts to seek an immediate ceasefire and general 

cessation of hostilities.  We should pursue with the parties the terms 

for a settlement, building on the Contact Group plan.

Let me stress one important fact:  The crisis in Bosnia is about Bosnia 

and the former Yugoslavia.  It does not diminish NATO's enduring 

importance.  The Allies remain committed to NATO's irreplaceable role as 

the key to European security.  There is no disagreement among us on this 


The tragedy of the war and bloodshed in Bosnia does not diminish our 

responsibility to build a comprehensive European security architecture 

that consolidates stability, addresses today's conflicts, and prevents 

others from happening in the future.  On the contrary, the tragedy in 

the former Yugoslavia underscores the urgency of that task.

Central to building a comprehensive security architecture for Europe is 

a measured process of NATO expansion, along with continued European 

integration and a determination to strengthen the Conference on Security 

and Cooperation in Europe.

Yesterday's NATO helped to reconcile old adversaries, to embed free 

countries in strong and solid institutions, and to create an enduring 

sense of shared purpose in one another's security.  Today's NATO must do 

the same -- with new countries but with an enduring purpose.  This 

Alliance must preserve its core defensive role and adapt its military 

forces to meet the new demands of crisis management and peacekeeping.  

It must also help new Partners learn Western standards of cooperation 

and draw them into NATO's practical work of providing stability in 


Last January at the NATO Summit, the Alliance committed itself to deepen 

our ties with Europe's emerging democracies when it approved President 

Clinton's proposal for a Partnership for Peace.  In less than a year, 

the Partnership has come to life.  Twenty-three nations, including 

Russia, have joined.  Belarus had just announced its intention to become 

our twenty-fourth Partner.  Tonight, NATO and Russia will agree on broad 

possibilities for cooperation, including Russia's program for the 

Partnership for Peace.  And troops that for half-a-century faced each 

other in the Cold War are now coming together in joint military 


Our leaders also declared last January that the Alliance is open to new 

members.  Today, we take an important step in the process that will lead 

to NATO expansion.  I urge that we agree to begin now our internal 

deliberations on expansion and, in 1995, to discuss with Partners the 

obligations and implications of membership.

This process will be steady, deliberate, and transparent. I want to 

stress that expansion must not and will not dilute NATO.  But NATO must, 

over time, be ready to include nations which are willing and able to 

assume the necessary Alliance obligations and commitments, and whose 

membership advances the goals of the Alliance and of broader European 

security.  Expansion, when it comes, will occur in a manner that 

increases stability for all of Europe -- for members and non-members 


As we pursue NATO expansion, we must also strengthen other structures of 

security cooperation.  No single institution has the mandate or the 

capability to meet every challenge in Europe.  Our NATO Alliance must be 

complemented by other institutions that can address the full range of 

challenges facing Europe's future.  We recognize an important role for 

European integration, supported by the European Union.  There is also an 

important institution with untapped potential:  the Conference on 

Security and Cooperation in Europe.  We must build on its unique 

strengths as a structure for conflict resolution and prevention and as 

an institution that embodies the ideal of an undivided Europe.

Speaking as your President d'Honneur, I say with confidence that the 

Alliance is prepared to take up both the challenges of the moment and 

the future.  And speaking as a representative of President Clinton and 

the American people, I say with equal confidence that as we do so, the 

commitment of the United States to participate actively in maintaining 

the security, prosperity, and freedom of Europe remains unshakable.

Thank you very much.
To the top of this page