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Remarks at a Dinner Honoring the Leaders of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council

April 24, 1999

Thank you very much. Please be seated. Mr. Secretary General, Mrs. Solana, allies, and friends: It's a great honor for Hillary and for me to welcome the largest group of world leaders ever to assemble in Washington here to the White House on this beautiful spring evening.

Just a few years ago, a gathering of all the nations here in partnership would have been unthinkable. But we are all here tonight because we are thinking—we are thinking of a future brighter than the past; a future of shared values and shared visions; a future in which we define national greatness by its commitment to human rights and mutual respect, not to ethnic and religious bigotry; in which we measure the success of nations by how well we lift people up, not by how much we tear them down.

In a world full of both promise and peril, where for good or ill our destinies are more and more linked, we have chosen to be allies, partners, and friends. In an age most observers define by the rise of modern technology, modern scientific breakthroughs, a modern global economy, it is ironic and painful that all over the world and, of course, especially in Kosovo, the peace is threatened by the oldest demon of society: the fear and hatred of the other, those who are of a different race or ethnic background or religion.

Just a few days ago, a voice from the age we honor at this 50th anniversary summit spoke to us from his home in Poland. Marek Edelman, a hero of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, published a letter here in an American newspaper urging all of us to persevere in Kosovo. "I know," he wrote, "like all of my generation, that freedom has and must have its price."

Tonight we remember that the burden of defending freedom and peace is lighter when it is shouldered by so many. And we remember that the cause of freedom and peace is stronger when it is embraced by a group of nations as great and diverse as those who are joined together in this Council.

And so I ask all of you to join me now in a toast to the leaders and the people of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. And thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:27 p.m. in the pavilion on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary General Javier Solana of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and his wife, Concepcion. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Secretary General Solana.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Dinner Honoring the Leaders of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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