[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[March 14, 1998]
[Pages 377-378]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Enlargement of the North Atlantic 
Treaty Organization
March 14, 1998

Dear Mr. Leader:
    The Senate will soon act on the proposed accession of Poland, 
Hungary, and the Czech Republic to the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization. I want to thank you for the energetic and bipartisan 
leadership that you, Democratic Leader Daschle and many others have 
demonstrated on this historic initiative. The enlargement of NATO 
directly will benefit America's security, and I urge all members of the 
Senate to support its ratification.
    The addition of these countries to NATO is an essential part of our 
effort to consolidate the stability and security that resulted from the 
end of the Cold War. The Alliance's enlargement will make America safer 
by making NATO stronger, adding new forces and new allies that can share 
our security burdens. NATO's core mission will remain the collective 
defense of the territory of its members, and neither the addition of new 
members nor NATO's other adaptations to Europe's new security 
environment will change that.
    The accession of these three countries also will help make Europe 
more stable; already the prospect of membership has encouraged states 
throughout the region to accelerate reforms, resolve disputes, and 
improve cooperation. In addition, adding these states to NATO--combined 
with other efforts to reach out to all of the region's new democracies--
will help to erase the Cold War dividing line and contribute to our 
strategic goal of building an undivided, democratic, and peaceful 
    The addition of these states to NATO, which will yield tremendous 
benefits to our own security, is also affordable. After extensive review 
of this proposal by NATO, our Administration, and the Congress, we now 
have strong basis to believe that the costs to the U.S. will be about 
$400 million for the United States over the next ten years, and that the 
total costs will be equitably shared with our current and new allies.
    There are other steps we will need to take together in order to help 
ensure the security of the transatlantic area. We are moving ahead

[[Page 378]]

with efforts to increase cooperation with the Russian Federation and to 
build on the openings for constructive dialogue created by the NATO-
Russia Founding Act. I am committed to continue efforts with Russia and 
other countries to reduce our nuclear stockpiles, combat the dangers of 
proliferation, and stabilize arms levels across Europe. We must continue 
working together to create the opportunity for a lasting peace in Bosnia 
and the Balkans. We will continue working with the European Union, which 
also is adding members, and which makes its own important contribution 
to Europe's stability.
    NATO is the cornerstone of our transatlantic security efforts, 
however, and the Alliance is proving its value--through the Partnership 
for Peace program and many other efforts--in projecting stability 
throughout Europe. For that same reason, we must leave the door open to 
the addition of other qualified new members in the future. The ``open 
door'' commitment made by all the allies has played a vital role in 
ensuring that the process of enlargement benefits the security of the 
entire region, not just these first three new members.
    At last summer's summit in Madrid, NATO agreed to examine the 
process of the Alliance's enlargement at our next summit. At this point, 
however, neither NATO nor my Administration has made any decisions or 
commitments about when the next invitations for membership should be 
extended, or to whom. I consulted broadly with Congress on decisions 
about admission of these first three countries, and I pledge the same 
pattern of consultation before any decisions on these matters in the 
future. In any case, any future addition of members will require the 
advice and consent of the Senate.
    For these reasons, I strongly urge the Senate to reject any effort 
to mandate a pause on the process of enlargement. Such a mandate is 
unnecessary and unwise, for it would reduce our own country's 
flexibility and leverage, fracture NATO's open door consensus, and draw 
a new and potentially destabilizing dividing line in Europe.
    I am gratified by the outstanding cooperation between our two 
branches of government, and between both parties, that has been a part 
of the ratification effort. I commend you for the creation of the 
Senate's NATO Observer Group, which has worked closely with the 
Administration in development of this policy, and I commend Senators 
Helms and Biden 
and the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as other committees, for 
their thorough examination of the complex questions involved in NATO's 
    That kind of bipartisan cooperation was indispensable to our 
successful efforts throughout the Cold War to sustain a strong Alliance, 
to defend our security, and to pursue the goal of freedom and democracy 
across Europe. In the same spirit, I hope the Senate will draw together 
on the question of NATO's enlargement. By doing so, the Senate can help 
signal America's continuing engagement in Europe, our commitment to a 
strong NATO Alliance, and our determination to build a foundation for 
transatlantic security into the next century.

                                                            Bill Clinton

Note: This letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. A 
similar letter with minor differences was sent to Senate Minority Leader 
Thomas A. Daschle. The letters were made available by the Office of the 
Press Secretary on March 16 but were not issued as White House press