Updated: 12 June 1999 NATO Speeches


of the North
at the level
of Heads
of State
and Government

23 Apr. 1999


by the President of the Turkish Republic, Mr. Suleyman Demirel.

Mr. Secretary General,
fellow Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my distinct honour to represent the Republic of Turkey at this historic event. We have come a long way as Allies, through hard times, and reached the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of NATO. The Alliance has been a bastion of freedom and democracy for five decades, an incredible guarantor of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. Furthermore, it has been the key instrument in our hands that has turned yesterday's adversaries into today's members and Partners.

NATO is a success story. It is indeed the common success of the peace-loving democracies of the Euro-Atlantic area. It was achieved thanks to the ever important transatlantic link, through the preservation of the core functions of the Alliance and by providing a forum of consultation and collective decision-making on issues that affect the vital interests of the Allies.

The Allies have acted in a timely manner to adapt NATO to the changes of the post-Cold War era and equip it with mechanisms to respond to the new transnational risks and challenges. Within this framework, the enlargement process of the Alliance has played a pivotal rle. Therefore, the continuation of the "open door" policy in a geographically balanced manner carries the utmost significance.

Although all these constructive and determined efforts are in the right direction, the task of creating lasting peace and harmony in Europe is yet to be accomplished. Bitter memories of Bosnia and the ongoing agony of Kosovo reminds us of this fact every single moment. That's why we must complete the job we have started in Kosovo, whatever this may take. That's why safeguarding our freedom must remain our common goal. That's why we need to preserve NATO as an effective and deterrent organization. That's why we have to take now all the wise steps so as to be able to commemorate future NATO anniversaries with the same pride and sense of achievement.

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