President, NATO Leader Outline Summit Goals
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 23, 1999 NATO has the means and the will to stop the human tragedy in Kosovo, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana declared here April 22. "That will be the message of the Washington summit."
On the eve of NATO's three-day 50th anniversary summit, NATO's top official met with President Clinton at the White House. As heads of state and ministers from 42 nations gathered in the nation's capital, Solana and Clinton outlined what the allies hoped to achieve during the course of the historic meeting.
NATO will demonstrate its unity and resolve during "one of the most important meetings the alliance has ever held," Solana said. "We will not be divided. We will not be diverted from our objective, and the objective is clear -- the removal of Serb forces from Kosovo, and an international force will be able to assure that the refugees, the people who are really suffering now, can go back to their country, to their homes with security."
Although Kosovo will dominate the talks, Clinton stressed the alliance would also celebrate its birth and work to reshape the alliance. "This crisis in Kosovo crisis has underscored the importance of the efforts we've been making for five years now to strengthen and adapt NATO for the new century," he said.
During the April 23 to 25 summit, Clinton said, NATO allies would continue efforts to:
- Enhance NATO's capacity to address regional and ethnic conflicts on NATO's doorstep.
- Protect its citizens against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
- Improve security cooperation with partner nations across Europe.
- Help aspiring nations improve their candidacies for NATO membership.
The allies planned to meet with partner nations, including Ukraine and the nations on the front line of the Kosovo crisis, Clinton said. They planned to reaffirm their commitment to advancing cooperation for peace and stability with Russia, "for though we have differences on Kosovo, the world benefits when we work together," he added.
Solana saluted the United States for its leadership role in the Kosovo crisis. "Without the enormous contribution the United States is making to the Operation Allied Force, we could not succeed in our goal," he said.
Direct U.S. support to Operation Allied Force currently involves more than 21,000 service members and 500 aircraft. Army Apache attack helicopters are the latest U.S. additions to the NATO arsenal. U.S. defense officials are soon expected to call up more than 30,000 reserve forces to support the NATO-led mission.
Solana said the allies intend to signal their determination to intensify the political and military pressure on Belgrade until their goals are met. "We will state our commitment to an immediate and longer-term effort to assist and rebuild southeastern Europe, a region which has seen too much human suffering and too much instability for far too long," he said.
The allies will also look to the future, Solana said. "We are going to take decisions that will equip this alliance to be fully ready for all its new roles and new missions for the 21st century," he said. "We're going to build a new security order in Europe in cooperation with our many partner countries."