Remarks by the
Sec. General
at the change
of command ceremony

11 July 1997


by the Secretary General

General Joulwan,
General Clark,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we say farewell to an exceptional soldier and military leader, who has made an outstanding contribution to the successful transformation of this Alliance.

General Joulwan, you have served as Supreme Allied Commander during a major turning point in NATO's history. In the three and a half years you have held the position of SACEUR, NATO has gone through some of the most fundamental changes in its 48-year history.

NATO was called upon to lead its most complex military operation ever -- in war-torn Bosnia.

The outstanding accomplishments of first IFOR and now SFOR can in large part be attributed to your innovation, military leadership, and determination. This determination was reflected in yesterday's action by SFOR in Prijedor, which should serve as a clear message to everyone that SFOR will continue to carry out its mandate firmly and fully and will not tolerate any violations of the Peace Agreement.

In my many visits to Bosnia I have had the chance to see you in action. I have admired your ability to get the job done, your genuine concern for the soldiers of IFOR and SFOR, and your success in building a coalition for peace unprecedented in Europe's history.

De même, le Partenariat pour la Paix a bénéficié de votre profond engagement personnel.

Le succès sans égal du Partenariat pour la Paix est en grande partie imputable à votre capacité à avoir fait progresser cet aspect important du programme de développement et de coopération de l'Alliance.

L'adaptation interne de l'Alliance - une composante essentielle de sa transformation pour l'avenir - a également connu des progrès significatifs grâce à vos conseils et à votre détermination. Vous avez lancé et poursuivi avec dévouement et clairvoyance les réformes et changements nécessaires pour garantir que notre Alliance restera prête à affronter les défis du futur.

The new NATO you helped build has been able to achieve what many believed it never could: a sound relationship with Russia. To have NATO's Supreme Commander personally committed to serious cooperation with Russia sent out a very strong signal which achieved more in a few months than years of talk.

Your collaboration with General Shevtsov symbolises the new NATO - a NATO which regards Russia as a partner, not an adversary.

George, although it is with regret that we see you leave, your legacy will live on. We have learned much from you. The words "clarity", "mission" and "team" will have special meaning for us for many years to come. On behalf of the North Atlantic Council, I thank you and fondly bid you, Karen, Chris and Michael farewell.

The torch must now pass to a new SACEUR. We are fortunate that the United States possesses such a wealth of military talent and experience. General Clark, you will find that your new command is a challenging one. But there are tremendous rewards, as you will undoubtedly discover as NATO continues to transform itself and helps enlarge the zone of peace, security and prosperity throughout Europe.

You inherit overall Operational Command of a Stabilization Force engaged in consolidating peace in Bosnia. Partnership for Peace is about to move into a higher gear. The NATO command structure will undergo major reform in the years ahead, and Tuesday NATO invited three countries to begin talks with us on accession to the Alliance. In short, we have much work to do and we very much look forward to accomplishing it with you.

On behalf of the entire NATO community, please accept our best wishes in your new command. You can count on our full support and friendship.

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