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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 509-96
August 30, 1996

Remarks by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry at Closing Ceremony, Exercise

COOPERATIVE OSPREY

Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Thursday, August 29, 1996

Today, after more than four decades of Cold War, we are building a new Europe. A Europe in which all people -- from the Atlantic to the Urals, indeed including Central Asian Republics - - can be free, prosperous and secure. On these fields, in the sweat of your brows, in all that you have learned, and in the friends that you have made, you are building that new Europe.

As we bring COOPERATIVE OSPREY to a close, we celebrate more than what our troops have accomplished on these fields in these past three weeks. We also celebrate what our nations have accomplished over the past two years by making Partnership for Peace the most successful security institution in Europe since the creation of NATO.

Together, we have conducted more than a thousand Partnership exercises and activities, each building on the success of the last. I have seen this success for myself at Fort Polk, Louisiana, at Cooperative Nugget, the first major Partnership for Peace exercise on U.S. soil, just a year ago. I have seen this success at L'viv, Ukraine, this spring, at Peace Shield 96, the first major Partnership for Peace exercise on the soil of the former Soviet Union. And I see this success today here at Camp Lejeune, in COOPERATIVE OSPREY, which is certainly the most sophisticated, the most successful Partnership for Peace exercise ever undertaken. What I have seen on these training fields -- the spirit, the skill and the bonds forged in common cause -- has never failed to impress me.

In making the Partnership for Peace a success, you have exceeded our fondest dreams. We conceived the partnership as a way for NATO to reach out to the newly independent nations of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We wanted to create a network of people and institutions that train, exercise and work together along with the NATO nations. Through this network, NATO hoped to help our Partners pursue the road to democracy. To build professional military forces under civilian control. And to build trust, understanding and cooperation between and among nations. And for those nations that eventually wanted to join NATO, the partnership would provide the proving grounds to meet the responsibilities of membership. The goal in all these efforts was to build a new zone of security and stability stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals and beyond.

At first, the Partnership for Peace had many skeptics. Some said it was too vague, or too tentative. That individual countries would never support it. That the Cold War chasms were too old and too deep. That East was East and West was West and that never the twain would meet.

We have proved the skeptics wrong. Today, the flags of 16 NATO nations and 27 Partner nations fly proudly together over the Partnership headquarters in Belgium. Partner nations are making progress on the road to democracy. Partner nations are building professional military forces under civilian control. Partner nations are proving they can meet the responsibilities of NATO membership. Together, we are bridging the Cold War chasms, building a new zone of stability in Europe. And we are putting together what we have learned into practice, working together in a real multinational operation in Bosnia, where we are giving peace a chance to endure in the heart of Europe.

George Bernard Shaw once wrote, Some men see things as they are and ask why?' I dream things that never were and ask why not?' You soldiers, the troops of COOPERATIVE OSPREY, are daring to dream. You are looking over the horizon to a new era of freedom and peace -- and asking why not? I commend you for making COOPERATIVE OSPREY the most successful Partnership exercise ever, for making the Partnership for Peace a successful security institution, and for making our world a safer place for our children and for our grandchildren.

Thank you.