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Ceremony to mark the Accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the North Atlantic Treaty 16th March 1999 - NATO HQ Brussels

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Ceremony to mark the Accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the North Atlantic Treaty 16th March 1999 - NATO HQ Brussels


Prime Minister Zeman,
Prime Minister Orban,
Prime Minister Buzek,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we welcome the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland as full members of our Atlantic Alliance. This is an emotional moment - for us who are gathered here today, for Europe and for the whole Euro-Atlantic community. It represents the triumph of justice over history. For too much of this century, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have been cut off from the Euro-Atlantic community - a community of democracies to which they rightly belong. In this new Europe, geography is no longer destiny. Nations can determine their own fate, by their own free choice.

Today - here, now -- we are crossing the threshold from vision to reality. History will see the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland as a key step towards a Europe of co-operation and integration, towards a Europe without dividing lines. Europe is growing together - and this process is irreversible. The example set by these three countries will serve as a strong incentive and encouragement for those other nations that share the same ambitions and values.

Our 19 Allies are joined in a commitment to the defence of each others' security and territorial integrity. This is the strongest, most solemn commitment any nation can make to another. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have shown consistently that they are ready for this commitment. They, in turn, can count on the solidarity of the other Allies.

In only a few months time, we enter a new century, a new millennium. The ill-winds of war and conflict that plagued Europe for so much of the past hundred years have given way to a transatlantic community of shared values and interests. Yet while today's accession closes one chapter, it also opens a new one. This journey, our common journey, is far from over. We - the Alliance of 19 - must continue to work for peace and stability on this continent; to entrench firmly the democratic values we uphold and safeguard; to make partnership and cooperation the foundation of our European security, building on the success of the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

The tasks are still plentiful. Europe's integration must continue to widen and deepen. Long-term peace must be established in the Balkans, not only by managing immediate crises, but by building a solid base for prosperity in the entire region. We must continue to develop our partnership with Russia - to nurture the relationship of trust and cooperation that is essential to European security. Our cooperation with Ukraine must intensify, to help that important nation find its proper place in the new Europe. We want to build confidence with countries of the Mediterranean.

Messieurs les Premiers Ministres,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Chers amis,

(56Kb)Notre relation transatlantique qui dfinit cette Alliance doit galement voluer et mrir. Elle doit reflter l'volution d'une Europe nouvelle et plus confiante, une Europe qui jouera un rle toujours plus important comme vritable partenaire de l'Amrique du Nord dans le domaine de la scurit.

Nous devons galement dvelopper notre capacit faire face aux nouveaux dfis de la scurit dans le prochain millnaire. Les forces de l'OTAN deviendront encore plus flexibles pour tre capables de mener toute la gamme d'oprations de soutien de la paix en collaboration troite avec nos Partenaires. Et nous dvelopperons ensemble notre capacit de rponse des dfis nouveaux comme les armes de destruction massive.

Cette nouvelle Alliance prend dj forme : trois nouveaux membres ; des partenariats plus forts dans l'ensemble de la rgion euro-atlantique ; une personnalit europenne qui se fait jour ; et les capacits politiques et militaires ncessaires pour affronter les nouveaux dfis avec succs. Cette OTAN est prte pour le nouveau millnaire. Prte faire face aux dfis. Mais galement prte saisir les opportunits que cette re nouvelle offrira pour la paix et la scurit en Europe.

Cette nouvelle Alliance sera prsente notre Sommet de Washington le mois prochain. L, nous ne clbrerons pas seulement les succs de l'OTAN qui a su pendant les cinquante dernires annes garantir la paix et la scurit. Nous irons au-del, en construisant une Alliance de 19 tats dmocratiques, prts assurer la paix pour le prochain sicle.

A nos trois nouveaux Allis, leurs dirigeants, leurs parlementaires, leurs peuples, je voudrais souhaiter la bienvenue, la bienvenue chez nous.

Merci beaucoup.
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