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North Atlantic Alliance Summit Remarks Following the Conclusion of the Final Session.

May 31, 1978

I would like to say as the leader of the host government that it's been a gratifying experience to us to have the meeting of the NATO Alliance countries here in Washington. We've spent 2 days in what the more experienced leaders have said is the most comprehensive and candid and productive discussion of any NATO 'conference to date.

The most vivid impression that I have is one of a well-acknowledged common purpose. The Alliance is obviously one of unity. It's one of complete dedication, and it is an alliance also that recognizes that 30 years of peace have been derived among 15 or so countries because we are mutually strong and mutually committed in a partnership based on common beliefs and ideals, common heritage, a common commitment to democracy, to freedom, and to the rule of law.

In addition to the maintenance of strength for common defense, we've also reconfirmed the fact that we want to have general peace with the Warsaw Pact countries, our potential adversaries, and that there is no incompatibility between the Special Session on Disarmament in New York, its purposes, and the purposes of the North Atlantic Alliance.

We believe that the most fruitful step toward general disarmament is an acknowledged strength among the NATO Allies. We considered three basic propositions. One was cooperation in the development and production of weapons, which can lead to a more balanced responsibility for this very important purpose, and also result in standardization of weapon components and systems, a much higher level of defense capability for a given expenditure of public funds.

Secondly, we completed the analysis of a year-long study of East-West relationships, political, economic, and military, which was an enlightening experience in its preparation, and I think it cemented a common understanding of the present and possible future interrelationships between the Warsaw Pact countries, their friends and other allies, and also the NATO community, friends and allies.

The most important subject, possibly, was to define and to commit ourselves to a Long-Term Defense Program. This, again, was proposed after a year-long study by our defense ministers and their subordinates. There was a unanimous endorsement of this commitment extending over the next 15 years and acknowledgement that incremental improvements in our defense capability was not needed as the result of fear or trepidation or crisis or deep concern, but just was a reconfirmation of the necessity for a strong alliance to be mirrored in a common revitalization of the Alliance because of our mutual commitment to sustain its military strength.

We also resolved to follow through on these recommendations. Additionally, we discussed matters that are of concern to us all, the SALT negotiations, present and future prospects; the mutual and balanced force reduction talks, which are gaining momentum, we believe; general questions concerning the Mideast, Africa, the economy of our countries. We had a very good discussion, I believe, sometimes heated, concerning the southern flank of NATO, involving the United States, Greece, Turkey. I reconfirmed to the entire group the purpose of our own administration to remove the legal barriers to the supply of military equipment and weapons to Turkey, an action still to be considered by the Congress.

There was a strong statement to this effect by the entire Alliance. Greece expressed some predictable reservations, but there was a meeting of minds about the need to have harmony between Greece and Turkey and a strengthening of our southeastern flank of NATO.

And lastly, there was a sense of friendship, of shared history. We reconfirmed our commitment to an alliance that's strong. And I think all of us see the future much more clearly than we did when this long, tedious, but productive study was initiated.

I feel much better about what NATO is, what it can be, and I think the potential frictions that arise among autonomous peoples, individualistic and proud, have been minimized. And I think every participating leader in diplomacy and defense and as executive leaders would share the assessment that I have just made.

It was a productive and constructive meeting, which will only result in an enhanced possibility for peace in the European theater, for our own country, and Canada, indeed for the entire world. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:17 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Dean Acheson Room at the State Department.

Jimmy Carter, North Atlantic Alliance Summit Remarks Following the Conclusion of the Final Session. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/245232

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