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Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen of Denmark in Copenhagen

July 12, 1997

NATO and the Baltics

Q. Have you been—[inaudible]?

President Clinton. We've made a very clear statement that every democracy in Europe who wishes to join should be eligible to join at the appropriate time and that we will take regular reviews, the first one in 1999. And that applies to the Baltics as well as other countries. I must say that I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister for taking the same position. We should remain open for business, if you will, for all, because we're trying to bring Europe together, including Russia and Ukraine and others, and that is our mission.

Q. Are they in a better position today than before the Madrid Summit—the Baltic countries?

President Clinton. I think they are, because it's the first time NATO has taken this public position, with the heads of governments saying we would be open to all. They've said it before, but in a different forum. So this is the first sort of public statement about our long-term plan over the next decade or two.

Denmark-U.S. Relations

Q. Will you—[inaudible]?

President Clinton. Sorry, I'm hard of hearing. Well, let me say, we have had a wonderful partnership with Denmark. It's been an unusual one, and I think we will continue our partnership.

President's Visit

Q. How do you like your visit?

President Clinton. I love it. You know, I was last here in 1969 as a poor student, and I had a wonderful time and I have never forgotten it. I've always wanted to come back. I only wish I could stay longer, especially because it's so warm and the jazz festival is going on.

Prime Minister Rasmussen. We wish that too, President.

Q. How do you like the Danish hospitality?

President Clinton. I love it, don't you?

Q. Is this the first time you've been here?

President Clinton. Since 1969. I was here in December of 1969. I loved it then, and I like it now, a lot.

Q. Mr. President, is this a fitting end to a busy week?

President Clinton. It's a wonderful end to a busy week because we have had no stronger ally and freedom has had no stronger friend than Denmark over the last several years. Denmark has taken a leading role in NATO and is working for expansion and working for the resolution of our agreement with Russia and Ukraine and in Bosnia. Denmark has been with us in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Denmark has been in Albania, where we have not been. It is a remarkable country, and this is a fitting end of the week because this is the week in which together, we with our NATO allies, I believe went a very long way toward creating a Europe which will be free of war, which will have more freedom, and which will be undivided, really for the first time in its history.


Q. You know Congress has voted that you— we cease any operations or any participation in Bosnia after June 1998. Do you go along with that?

President Clinton. I believe the present operation will have run its course by then, and we'll have to discuss what, if any, involvement the United States should have there. I will say this. Our involvement there in the last—the SFOR operation, which is much, much reduced; we have fewer than half the troops we had there when we started. It's been much less expensive and much less hazardous to America than a resumption of full-scale war in Bosnia would be. So I think it's been a very good thing we've done, and I would hope the American people are very proud of it.

NOTE: The exchange began at 2:52 p.m. in the Prime Minister's Office at Christianborg Palace. In his remarks, the President referred to Minister of Foreign Affairs Niels Helveg Petersen of Denmark. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen of Denmark in Copenhagen Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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