Updated: 15 June 1999 NATO Speeches


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

23 Apr. 1999


by the Minister President of the Netherlands, Willem Kok

Mr. Secretary General,
Mr. President of the United States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am proud and honoured to be here in Washington today at this historic moment on behalf of my country. My earliest memories as a child are of a world at war. They have left an indelible mark on my way of thinking.

Shortly after the Second World War NATO was born, inspired by the ardent wish never to have another war. From the very beginning the Alliance has stood for freedom, for democracy, for peace and stability, core values that are as valid today as they were half a century ago.

Today's commemoration cannot just look back at what we have achieved. On the threshold of the 21st century it is our moral and political obligation to put an end to immense human suffering and injustice in Kosovo. Our military action there is not a goal in itself but an inevitable instrument to enforce a political solution for the sake of men, women and children in and around Kosovo, and for the sake of stability in the region. We will not rest until all refugees and displaced people are allowed to return to their homes in peace. Our men and women who contribute to bringing that goal closer deserve our wholehearted respect and support.

NATO, at 50, is a larger NATO with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in our midst. Its core tasks will be adapted at this Summit to meet the challenges ahead. In the Alliance we join hands to build a stronger and more stable Europe based on the values that our transatlantic community stands for.

We will continue to work together with every Partner in Europe who shares our ideals. We will further strengthen the Partnership for Peace and keep the door open for new members. We are eager to intensify our relations with the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

The Netherlands remains fully committed to pursuing these goals, backed by solid public and political support. Let us do all we can to ensure that the precious values we share are enjoyed by people all across Europe and beyond as we move into the 21st century.

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