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Secretary Cohen's remarks--Multi-Lateral Peacekeeping Force for Southeast Europe (MPFSEE)

Presenter: U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
September 26, 1998

Secretary Cohen: Thank you very much, Minister Kitanoski, Mr. President. For your minister to ask a former senator to say a few words, I think throws caution to the wind. But, in view of the fact that I, after lunch, will inflict a longer speech upon my colleagues, I will say just a few words.

I think all of us would agree that the mark of a true professional is to make the difficult look easy. The signing of this historic document took place in a matter of just a couple of seconds. It looked easy. But, in fact, it took long periods of negotiation to bring this historic day about. The president spoke just a few moments ago, a very brief and very cogent statement, about a neuralgic region, still. And I think that all recognize that there are still a number of people in the region who would rather dig fresh graves than bury old hatreds. And we have looked at this past century and we have seen a century of conflict, with animosity and with hatred. And with the new century approaching, we have the opportunity to build a time where we will have cooperation, and openness and stability.

And so this new multi-national peace force holds out the hope that we can build a new era. And, if you will permit me to quote from just a portion of a poet from New England, my home area; poet Robert Frost said, "I shall be telling this ages and ages hence. There were two roads that diverged in the woods. I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

We have the opportunity now to take the road that has been less traveled by, and that will make all the difference for the future of security and stability and democracy throughout this region. And for that we have to thank all of my colleagues who are here today and the leadership that has been shown, and the Republic of Macedonia as well. We are grateful and we remain very, very hopeful. Thank You.

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