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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 25, April 1998

Senate Approval of NATO Expansion

Editor's note: on 30 April, the US Senate approved the admission of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to NATO by a margin of 80 votes to 19, comfortably in excess of the required two-thirds majority. See News Review for coverage of the debate leading up to the vote.

Statement by President Clinton

'On Senate Approval of NATO Enlargement: Statement by the President, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 30 April 1998

Full text

"I am delighted that the Senate voted by an overwhelming margin to admit Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic into NATO. This vote is a major milestone on the road to an undivided, democratic, and peaceful Europe. The addition of these three democracies to our alliance will strengthen NATO, expand the zone of stability in Europe and reduce the chances American men and women will ever again be called into Europe's fields of battle. The message this vote sends is clear: American support for NATO is firm, our leadership for security on both sides of the Atlantic is strong, and there is a solid, bipartisan foundation for an active US role in the world.

I want to pay tribute to the indispensable efforts of the many leaders from both parties who brought us to this day, starting with Majority Leader Lott and Minority Leader Daschle. This vote stands in the tradition of Harry Truman, George Marshall and Arthur Vandenberg and the other giants who kept America engaged in the world after World War II and were present at NATO's creation. Their lesson then is our lesson tonight - that our strength lies in a foreign policy guided by the interests and values that unite us as Americans."

Statement by Secretary of State Albright

'Senate Ratification to NATO Enlargement: Statement by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright,' US Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, 30 April 1998

Full text

"I am deeply gratified to learn that the United States Senate has given its advice and consent to the admission of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to NATO.

The Senate has done the right thing at the right time. For this is a moment of relative peace in Europe, a time when freedom is ascendant. Now we can be that much more confident that peace and freedom will endure. For me, it is also a moment of injustice undone, of promises kept, and of a unified Europe begun.

These three countries have borne the brunt of this century's most terrible wars; they have been the victims of its greatest tyrannies. Yet they have always maintained their allegiance in spirit to the family of freedom-loving European nations that NATO embodies and exists to defend.

Thanks to President Clinton's leadership and the Senate's action, they will now belong to our family in fact. We will no longer fear for their destiny, but instead rely on them to stand with us whenever there is a threat to our common destiny.

I am also gratified today because the Senate's decision has implications that go well beyond the immediate question of NATO enlargement. The debate about a larger NATO could well have provided an opportunity for skeptics to praise isolationism. Instead, it has given the American people and the Congress a chance to help bury it.

Today's vote sends a message to our old and new allies that America will continue to defend its interest in the peace and security of Europe. It will reassure all of Europe's new democracies that we are not going to treat them as second class citizens in the future simply because they were subjugated in the past. It is a signal that America will defend its values, protect its interests, stand by its allies, and keep its word.

Most of all, it demonstrates that Americans of both political parties and from every part of our country are willing to support a principled and purposeful American role in Europe and the world. The Administration and the Congress worked hand in hand to shape and advance this policy, and I hope that this spirit of constructive cooperation will continue to prevail as we face new foreign policy tests in the years ahead."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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