29 Jan. 1997

Secretary General's Council Welcoming Remarks

for Bulgarian President Stoyanov

Today our Alliance is honoured to welcome the President of Bulgaria, Peter Stoyanov. This visit is a sign of the closer ties that are developing between Bulgaria and the Atlantic Alliance. Allow me therefore, on behalf of the North Atlantic Council, to extend a very warm welcome to President Stoyanov and say very clearly that we should like to strengthen our friendship even further.

Your visit, Mr. President, comes at a crucial time in your country's political evolution. This is why we all the more welcome your decision to meet with the Council at this juncture . You prove at this table again the commitment of your country to play its distinctive part in the new Europe.

We are aware of the difficult transition your country is going through. But we are sure that Bulgaria will display the perseverance and determination that will see the country through its transition to achieve the results we have seen elsewhere in Europe in recent years. Ultimately, democratic Bulgaria should be a full part of the European family, whose values and aspirations she shares. The Allies stand ready to help in enabling Bulgaria achieve her full potential.

We very much welcome Bulgaria's active participation in the Partnership for Peace. Also, your country's support first in enforcing embargoes against the former Republic of Yugoslavia, and subsequently to IFOR and SFOR shows that your country, despite its domestic difficulties, is ready to do what is necessary to end the vicious circle of hatred and conflict that has been the bane of the Balkans for centuries. With Bulgaria's help, the chance for a new peace has been created in Bosnia.

On that foundation, there is hope that long-range stability and reconciliation can be built in Bosnia and Herzegovina that will benefit the Balkans as a whole.

President Stoyanov, we are delighted to have you here with us today and we await your remarks with great interest. Before I give you the floor, I would like to as the distinguished Dean of the North Atlantic Council, Ambassador Özçeri, to say a few words. Ambassador.

President Stoyanov, before I ask the Press to leave and we commence our discussions proper, would you like to respond?

Statement by President Stoyanov.

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