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Statement at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting, Brussels, Belgium, December 10, 1996.
Mr. Secretary General, distinguished colleagues: I am honored to speak with you once again on behalf of the United States.
In my four years as Secretary of State, I have had the chance to address the North Atlantic Council on nine separate occasions. Because of the importance President Clinton and I attach to our partnership with Europe and because of the central role NATO plays in ensuring the security of all our nations, this has been one of the most critical responsibilities I have had. Our allies, too, have been steadfast in their commitment to the transatlantic partnership. Time and again, you have reminded Americans how important our role in Europe continues to be. I have delivered that message to our Congress and to the American people. With their support, our alliance has become stronger than ever.
The distance we have traveled and the achievements we have forged together in these four years should inspire confidence in all our people. Just think where we were at the beginning of 1993: Think of the uncertainties the alliance faced then and the questions we had not yet answered.
Many people wondered if America would maintain its commitment to Europe. Others questioned NATO's relevance to the post-Cold War world. We all agreed on the need to integrate Europe's new democracies, but we had agreed on no strategy to actually do it. Russia was just embarking on a difficult and uncertain path toward market democracy. The war in Bosnia was at the height of its brutality.
We met all these challenges by pursuing our interests together, as 16 allies, through this great alliance. At their 1994 summit, our leaders adopted a strategy to transform NATO and to build an undivided Europe. In 1995, NATO acted to end the war in Bosnia and assembled a peacekeeping coalition so broad that for the very first time, we could say that all of Europe is united under a common flag in a common cause. NATO's Partnership for Peace has become a permanent, unifying force in Europe. France and Spain took historic decisions to participate more fully in NATO. We have stood by democracy in Russia and offered it a special partnership with the new NATO. Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan have rid themselves of nuclear weapons. The OSCE has worked effectively to uphold its principles, from Bosnia to the Caucasus. The EU has laid the groundwork for its own enlargement and built a stronger partnership with the United States.
Because of what we have accomplished, there is really no question today that America is staying in Europe. There is no doubt that NATO, the KU, and the OSCE work; that they have evolved; that together they provide the best hope for building a secure, democratic, integrated continent. There is a broad consensus across the Atlantic about the direction we are heading. NATO will continue to be the central guarantor of our security. NATO's European members will play a more visible role in NATO. The alliance will soon have new members. Russia is already our partner, from the meeting rooms of Brussels to the muddy fields of Bosnia.
This week, three events symbolize our progress. At the OSCE summit in Lisbon, 55 nations adopted a comprehensive security model and approved a new approach for conventional arms control in Europe. At the Peace Implementation Conference in London, we came together to support democracy and reconstruction in Bosnia. Today, we are meeting as NATO allies to advance the vision our leaders laid out at their 1994 summit.
At today's meeting, we are approving NATO's Stabilization Force for Bosnia. We are approving a major enhancement of the …