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Clinton Hails NATO Expansion

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 1997 – President Clinton hailed NATO plans to invite new members into the security alliance as the right thing to do during a White House photo opportunity with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana May 19.

Solana visited Washington after concluding negotiations in Moscow for an agreement setting up a practical partnership between the security alliance and Russia. The Founding Act is slated to be signed in Paris May 27. NATO is set to announce new member candidates at a NATO summit in Madrid in June.

Russian officials remain opposed to NATO expansion, but Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Clinton agreed during a meeting earlier this year that Russia's opposition should not stand in the way of furthering U.S.-NATO-Russia relations.

The president praised Solana for his leadership in negotiating the NATO-Russia partnership. "It is consistent with what we believe NATO should be doing; it is consistent with our plans to expand NATO," Clinton said.

"We have had a long Cold War and two world wars in the 20th century, and a 19th century full of heartache and bloodshed because people were arguing over territory in Europe," he said. "We now have a chance to create a European continent where nation states, for the first time, say they're going to respect each other's borders and work together on common security problems, as we are all doing together in Bosnia."

Finding a framework to do that and which keeps the United States and Canada tied to the security, freedom and territorial integrity of Europe is an extraordinary achievement, Clinton said. "It gives us a chance to write a whole new chapter in the 21st century different from the one we have just written. I believe history will prove us right, and I'm prepared to take the decisions and live with the consequences."

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