(Washington, DC) “Today we welcome Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, finally erasing the boundary line the Cold War artificially imposed on the continent of Europe, strengthening an alliance that now, clearly, is better preserved to keep the peace and preserve our security into the 21st century,” said President Clinton at a White House ceremony on May 22, 1998. During the celebratory event, President Clinton signed the instruments of ratification for enlargement of NATO. “We come to this day, thanks to many acts of courage … the sacrifices by those who raised freedom’s banner in Budapest in 1956,” added the President.
Senator Roth (R-DE) remarked that “with the Administration’s support, the leadership of Senators Helms, Lott and Daschle – and the determination of the vast majority of our colleagues – we are here to celebrate an historic event.” Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) touched on the same theme by adding that, “today we’re here to celebrate – to celebrate a triumph for the United States of America, for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and for peace-loving people all over the world.”
In addition to Vice President Al Gore, cabinet officers, Congressional leaders. military officials, foreign policy advisors, diplomats and representatives of ethnic, veteran, business, and religious groups who had endorsed the expansion of NATO to include Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were present at the Rose Garden ceremony. The Hungarian American Coalition was represented by executive board members Laszlo Hamos and Frank Koszorus, Jr., and board members Anne Bader and Frank Kapitan.
“This moment demonstrates the power of democracy to unify and to create a stable peace in the world,” said Ms. Bader. “The road to this historic signing ceremony has been long, requiring patience, perseverance and the hard work of many. We are determined to see the enlargement process continue to include those countries that are democratic and respect the rights of all their citizens, including their ethnic minorities,” added Mr. Koszorus.