|Updated: 05-May-2000||NATO Speeches|
At the ACE
by Secretary General, Lord RobertsonExcellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today we say farewell to an exceptional soldier and military leader,
who as Supreme Commander Europe has made an outstanding contribution to
the success of this Alliance.
Your leadership has helped turn the concept of a "Euro-Atlantic
community" into a living reality.
Indeed, each element of NATO's agenda has benefited from your wise military advice, your determined leadership and your political savvy. But of course, the most obvious example is Kosovo.
General Clark, the Kosovo campaign was, from its very beginnings, one
of the most complex operations a planner could ever dream up.
You were up to that challenge. Your diplomatic skills, your experience
in the region, and your transparent honesty helped you to negotiate robustly
with President Milosevic.
And when diplomacy had had its chance and we simply had to use military
force to stop the hideous violence being used against the Kosovo people,
you led from the front - and you led us to success.
General, the results today are a testament to your achievements. Under the watchful eye of KFOR, a million Kosovars have returned to their homes, and are now living in peace and freedom for the first time in a generation.
Thanks in considerable part to your inspired leadership, the people of Kosovo, Bosnia and the rest of the Balkans have at last attained real hope for the future. This, too, is a historic achievement, and you have every right to feel proud.
The Alliance always relies heavily on the military leadership and political
skills of its Supreme Allied Commander Europe. You have met that challenge,
and in style. That is why NATO enters the 21st Century in better shape
than ever. You were without any doubt the right man, in the right place,
at the right time.
We in the North Atlantic Alliance thank you profoundly, and with affection and immense respect bid you, Wes, your wife, Gert, and son, a fond farewell and offer our good wishes for a happy and rewarding life after the military.
You inherit an Alliance which is playing a key role in building security for future generations. We have a chance to consolidate peace in Kosovo, Bosnia and South East Europe. We have the opportunity to build a strong and trusting relationship with Russia and Ukraine. We are building ever-stronger security relationships all across Europe. And of course, there are always one or two surprises along the way! General Clark will have mentioned that too.
General Ralston, on behalf of the entire NATO community, please accept my congratulations and our best wishes on your new command, and please accept my assurance that you can count on unflinching support for you, and for all who serve in the armed forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.