Updated: 15 June 1999 NATO Speeches


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

23 Apr. 1999


by the President of the Government of Italy, Massimo D'Alema

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

The first half century of life, half a century of peace and security in a Europe that in this century has experienced two devastating world wars, is a major success for the Atlantic Alliance.

But NATO, as we are celebrating it today, has been and still is more than that. It is the political Alliance contributing to upholding shared values of democracy, freedom, respect for human rights and the rule of law. These are the values that unite us, these are the values that must be the basis of a new world order. It is these values that have prevailed in that long challenge of the Cold War. Today this challenge is still open, though in a new way, and NATO is called to new tasks and new progress.

The Alliance of the 21st century will be much larger than today. We have all welcomed with friendship our new Allies, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic. These new Allies have rejoined the community of democracies, but we should not forget other peoples, other countries that are looking towards the Atlantic Alliance with a sense of confidence and hope our doors will remain open to them. NATO has increasingly become a collective force for peace, stability and security, a community that upholds human rights and is consistent with the principles of international legality, a force which is able to co-operate with international institutions, the UN and the OSCE, and which is able to develop a strong co-operation with Russia, Ukraine and the other countries with which we intend to co-operate for peace.

The European Union must increasingly assume its responsibilities within the Alliance. The more it does so, the more NATO will be anchored in a shared and balanced transatlantic partnership, a more united and stronger Europe, side by side with a friendly America which is an indispensable power for our security and for peace in the world.

We are going through a difficult challenge. It became necessary and it is still necessary to use force yet again in Europe to build a just peace. On Easter Sunday I visited the border between Kosovo and Albania. I was there with the Italian volunteers who went to the area to receive and assist refugees. With my own eyes I saw the tractors, I saw the women and children and old people, I saw these people who had been wounded in their bodies, who had been deprived of everything, not only of their beloved ones, but even of their identity papers, their car number plates had been torn from their cars so as to cancel any link between them and their homeland and their homes. We shall not rest in peace until these people are able to go back in serenity and peace, to be respected citizens of their country, and we shall have no peace until the soldiers who pushed them away are pushed back. That is what we are committed to and for these objectives and values Italy will play its part within the Alliance. It will be a strong and sincere Ally capable of assuming its responsibilities. This is a free choice based on the values that we profoundly share. Together we will build a democratic, peaceful and no longer divided Europe.

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