[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book I)]
[January 10, 1994]
[Pages 18-21]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the North Atlantic Council in Brussels
January 10, 1994

    Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General, and distinguished 
leaders. I am deeply honored to represent my Nation at the North 
Atlantic Council this morning, as eight previous Presidents have done 
before me. Each of us came here for the same compelling reason: The 
security of the North Atlantic region is vital to the security of the 
United States. The founders of this alliance created the greatest 
military alliance in history. It was a bold undertaking. I think all of 
us know that we have come together this week because history calls upon 
us to be equally bold once again in the aftermath of the cold war. Now 
we no longer fear attack from a com-

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mon enemy. But if our common adversary has vanished, we know our common 
dangers have not.
    With the cold war over, we must confront the destabilizing 
consequences of the unfreezing of history which the end of the cold war 
has wrought. The threat to us now is not of advancing armies so much as 
of creeping instability. The best strategy against this threat is to 
integrate the former Communist states into our fabric of liberal 
democracy, economic prosperity, and military cooperation. For our 
security in this generation will be shaped by whether reforms in these 
nations succeed in the face of their own very significant economic 
frustration, ethnic tensions, and intolerant nationalism.
    The size of the reactionary vote in Russia's recent election reminds 
us again of the strength of democracy's opponents. The ongoing slaughter 
in Bosnia tallies the price when those opponents prevail. If we don't 
meet our new challenge, then most assuredly we will once again, someday 
down the road, face our old challenges again. If democracy in the East 
fails, then violence and disruption from the East will once again harm 
us and other democracies.
    I believe our generation's stewardship of this grand alliance, 
therefore, will most critically be judged by whether we succeed in 
integrating the nations to our east within the compass of Western 
security and Western values. For we've been granted an opportunity 
without precedent: We really have the chance to recast European security 
on historic new principles, the pursuit of economic and political 
freedom. And I would argue to you that we must work hard to succeed now, 
for this opportunity may not come to us again.
    In effect, the world wonders now whether we have the foresight and 
the courage our predecessors had to act on our long-term interests. I'm 
confident that the steel in this alliance has not rusted. Our nations 
have proved that by joining together in the common effort in the Gulf 
war. We proved it anew this past year by working together, after 7 long 
years of effort, in a spirit of compromise and harmony to reach a new 
GATT agreement. And now we must do it once again.
    To seize the great opportunity before us, I have proposed that we 
forge what we have all decided to call the Partnership For Peace, open 
to all the former Communist states of the Warsaw Pact, along with other 
non-NATO states. The membership of the Partnership will plan and train 
and exercise together and work together on missions of common concern. 
They should be invited to work directly with NATO both here and in the 
coordination cell in Mons.
    The Partnership will prepare the NATO alliance to undertake new 
tasks that the times impose upon us. The Combined Joint Task Force 
Headquarters we are creating will let us act both effectively and with 
dispatch in helping to make and keep the peace and in helping to head 
off some of the terrible problems we are now trying to solve today. We 
must also ready this alliance to meet new threats, notably from weapons 
of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.
    Building on NATO's creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation 
Council 2 years ago, the Partnership For Peace sets in motion a process 
that leads to the enlargement of NATO. We began this alliance with 12 
members. Today there are 16, and each one has strengthened the alliance. 
Indeed, our treaty always looked to the addition of new members who 
shared the alliance's purposes and who could enlarge its orbit of 
democratic security. Thus, in leading us toward the addition of these 
Eastern states, the Partnership For Peace does not change NATO's 
original vision, it realizes that vision.
    So let us say here to the people in Europe's East, we share with you 
a common destiny, and we are committed to your success. The democratic 
community has grown, and now it is time to begin welcoming these 
newcomers to our neighborhood.
    As President Mitterrand said so eloquently, some of the newcomers 
want to be members of NATO right away, and some have expressed 
reservations about this concept of the Partnership For Peace. Some have 
asked me in my own country, ``Well, is this just the best you can do? Is 
this sort of splitting the difference between doing nothing and full 
membership at least for the Visegrad states?'' And to that, let me 
answer at least for my part an emphatic no, for many of the same reasons 
President Mitterrand has already outlined.
    Why should we now draw a new line through Europe just a little 
further east? Why should we now do something which could foreclose the 
best possible future for Europe? The best possible future would be a 
democratic Russia committed to the security of all of its European 
neighbors. The best possible future would be

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a democratic Ukraine, a democratic government in every one of the newly 
independent states of the former Soviet Union, all committed to market 
cooperation, to common security, and to democratic ideals. We should not 
foreclose that possibility.
    The Partnership For Peace, I would argue, gives us the best of both 
worlds. It enables us to prepare and to work toward the enlargement of 
NATO when other countries are capable of fulfilling their NATO 
responsibilities. It enables us to do it in a way that gives us the time 
to reach out to Russia and to these other nations of the former Soviet 
Union, which have been almost ignored through this entire debate by 
people around the world, in a way that leaves open the possibility of a 
future for Europe that totally breaks from the destructive past we have 
    So I say to you, I do not view this as some sort of half-hearted 
compromise. In substance, this is a good idea. It is the right thing to 
do at this moment in history. It leaves open the best possible future 
for Europe and leaves us the means to settle for a future that is not 
the best but is much better than the past. And I would argue that is the 
course that we all ought to pursue.
    I think we have to be clear, in doing it, about certain assumptions 
and consequences. First, if we move forward in this manner, we must 
reaffirm the bonds of our own alliance. America pledges its efforts in 
that common purpose. I pledge to maintain roughly 100,000 troops in 
Europe, consistent with the expressed wishes of our allies. The people 
of Europe can count on America to maintain this commitment.
    Second, we have to recognize that this new security challenge 
requires a range of responses different from the ones of the past. That 
is why our administration has broken with previous American 
administrations in going beyond what others have done to support 
European efforts to advance their own security and interests. All of you 
have received our support in moving in ways beyond NATO. We supported 
the Maastricht Treaty. We support the commitment of the European Union 
to a common foreign and security policy. We support your efforts to 
refurbish the Western European Union so that it will assume a more 
vigorous role in keeping Europe secure. Consistent with that goal, we 
have proposed making NATO assets available to WEU operations in which 
NATO itself is not involved. While NATO must remain the linchpin of our 
security, all these efforts will show our people and our legislatures a 
renewed purpose in European institutions and a better balance of 
responsibilities within the transatlantic community.
    Finally, in developing the Partnership For Peace, each of us must 
willingly assume the burdens to make that succeed. This must not be a 
gesture. It is a forum. It is not just a forum. This Partnership For 
Peace is also a military and security initiative, consistent with what 
NATO was established to achieve. There must be a somber appreciation 
that expanding our membership will mean extending commitments that must 
be supported by military strategies and postures. Adding new members 
entails not only hard decisions but hard resources. Today those 
resources are not great, but nonetheless, as the Secretary General told 
me in the meeting this morning, they must be forthcoming in order for 
this to be taken seriously by our allies and our friends who will 
immediately subscribe to the Partnership.
    Let me also--in response to something that President Mitterrand said 
and that is on all of our minds, the problem in Bosnia--say that when we 
talk about making hard decisions, we must be prepared to make them. And 
tonight I have been asked to talk a little bit about the work I have 
been doing with Russia and what I believe we all should be doing to 
support democracy and economic reform there. But I'd like to make two 
points about Bosnia.
    First, I want to reaffirm that the United States remains ready to 
help NATO implement a viable settlement in Bosnia voluntarily reached by 
the parties. We would, of course, have to seek the support of our 
Congress in this, but let me say I think we can get it if such an 
operation would clearly be under NATO command, that the means of 
carrying out the mission be equivalent to its purposes, and that these 
purposes be clear in scope and in time.
    Second, I welcome the reassertion by the alliance in this 
declaration of our warning against the strangulation of Sarajevo and the 
safe areas. But if we are going to reassert this warning, it cannot be 
seen as mere rhetoric. Those who attack Sarajevo must understand that we 
are serious. If we leave the sentence in the declaration, we have to 
mean it.
    Those of us gathered here must understand that, therefore, if the 
situation does not improve,

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the alliance must be prepared to act. What is at stake is not just the 
safety of the people in Sarajevo and any possibility of bringing this 
terrible conflict to an end but the credibility of the alliance itself. 
And that, make no mistake about it, will have great ramifications in the 
future in other contexts.
    Therefore, in voting for this language, I expect the North Atlantic 
Council to take action when necessary. And I think if anyone here does 
not agree with that, you shouldn't vote for language. I think it is the 
appropriate language, but we have to be clear when we put something like 
this in the declaration.
    Let me say finally that I ran across the following quotation by a 
distinguished and now deceased American political writer, Walter 
Lippmann. Three days after the North Atlantic Treaty was signed, 
Lippmann wrote this, prophetically: ``The pact will be remembered long 
after the conditions that have provoked it are no longer the main 
business of mankind. For the treaty recognizes and proclaims a community 
of interest which is much older than the conflict with the Soviet Union 
and, come what may, will survive it.''
    Well, this meeting will prove him right. The Soviet Union is gone, 
but our community of interest endures. And now it is up to us to build a 
new security for a new future for the Atlantic people in the 21st 
    Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10:15 a.m. at NATO 
Headquarters. A tape was not available for verification of the content 
of these remarks.