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U.S. Department of State
96/12/24 Remarks with Czech Foreign Minister, Brussels
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 24, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER JOSEF ZIELENIEC
December 11, 1996
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you all very much for coming at this end
of the NATO session time. As many of you know, at every North Atlantic
Council ministerial meeting, I have made a practice of meeting with the
foreign ministers of Central and Eastern Europe to talk with them about
what transpired and to have a good discussion of questions and answers
between us. I have, I think, had one of the principal pleasures of
being of Secretary of State, an opportunity to work with these minister
and their countries as they regain their rightful place in the trans-
Atlantic community. I have been very struck by the deep commitment that
these countries and their ministers have had and I have tried to
reassure them that the United States would keep on working with them and
would support them as they move down the path to integration.
Since 1989, the people of Central and Eastern Europe have shown great
courage and determination in transforming their economies, opening their
societies, and building regional stability. They have stood with us in
Bosnia and they will continue to be with us in the follow-on force,
which is known as SFOR, the Stabilization Force.
The last four years have seen NATO take decisive steps to build a
partnership with Europe's new democracies. At the Madrid summit next
July, we will invite some of the Partners to begin negotiations to join
NATO by 1999. NATO has pledged as late as yesterday, we emphasized
again that the first will not be the last and that NATO will remain open
to additional members after those initial decisions are taken.
Partnership for Peace is and will remain a permanent unifying force in
Europe. Yesterday it moved to a new level. At this point, the Partners
will be able to participate in the full range of the NATO new missions,
including much deeper involvement in planning than they have had in the
past. We will also be working with the Partners to create, to
establish, an Atlantic Partnership Council, which will give all the
members of that Council a strong voice in planning the new Atlantic
This has been a very interesting road for me. Thinking back to the days
when in the United States we discussed the Partnership for Peace in the
middle of 1993, and considered whether it would be a useful vehicle to
move NATO toward enlargement, I think it has exceeded all of our
expectations. Because of what NATO has done, because of the courage of
the men and women around the table and their countries, an undivided,
integrated Europe is closer to being a reality than ever before, and
perhaps really than we could have hoped for. This is a central
achievement that President Clinton has been hoping for and dreaming
about. We hope to achieve it in the final years of this century now.
In accordance with another tradition that we have established in these
meetings, I want to call on one of the ministers to respond, and today I
want to Minister Zieleniec of the Czech Republic to respond. Josef?
MINISTER ZIELENIEC: Dear Warren, dear colleagues, let me emphasize that
we Central and Eastern Europeans feel strongly about the role of the
United States in our continent, perhaps more strongly than many others.
We realize that without the engagement of the United States, our freedom
would be impossible. The commitment of the U.S. to the security in
Europe is irreplaceable. NATO is living proof of that simple fact.
That is why I and my colleagues have valued the tradition of such
meetings which you, Warren, initiated.
I would like to recall that since the U.S. proposed Partnership for
Peace, we have the most successful cooperation security project in the
post-Cold War years. The next summit of NATO, which was decided
yesterday, will be a great milestone in the history of NATO and also
will be a historic moment for Central and Eastern Europe. It will be a
historic moment for the stability of the security of Europe, the whole
northern hemisphere. We have to do a lot of work before the summit, but
I am convinced that it will be a big success.
Finally, Warren, I would like to stress how much we all appreciate your
personal role in the post you have held. You were one of the most
important persons in the formulation of the post-Cold War foreign policy
of the United States. This was an extremely important moment for the
stability of the whole world, and you have done so with admirable skills
and devotion. I would like to thank you, also, not only for your
cooperation, but also for your friendship. I have been in office for
the four years, it is similar to your time in your post, so I remember
the whole history of that process. I believe that you will remain
involved in the international arena, in one way or another, and I wish
you from the whole of my land, great success.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Josef, thank you very much. Those are very warm
and much appreciated words.
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