(Washington, D.C.) “In just a moment I will transmit to the Senate for its advice and consent the documents that will add Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to NATO. Their addition to the alliance is not only a pivotal event in the quest for freedom and security by their own people; it is also a major stride forward for America, for the alliance, and for the stability and unity of all Europe — a big part of our dream that we can in the 21st century create for the first time in all history a Europe that is free, at peace, and undivided,” said President Clinton during the remarkable ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the Department of State on February 11, 1998. President Clinton closed his remarks by stating that, “With the step we take today, and the decision I am confident the Senate will take in the near future, I know that our historic partnership of nations is a rising sun, and that its ascendance will bring a more stable, more democratic, more peaceful, more unified future for all of us who live on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright added that, “NATO will for the first time step across the line it was created to defend and overcome the line that once so cruelly and arbitrarily divided Europe into East and West.”
Vice President Gore sought to reassure Russia that it will not be threatened by an enlarged alliance by noting that including Russia in Europe’s new security architecture “is a matter of our highest national interest . . . . We want no new dividing lines.”
Senator William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) and Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively of the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group, Hungarian Prime Minister Laszlo Kovacs, Czech Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy and Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, present and former government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of ethnic, veteran, business, religious and labor groups were also present at the signing ceremony. The Hungarian American Coalition was represented by Rev. Imre Bertalan, Chairman, Edith K. Lauer, President, and Frank Koszorus, Jr., Executive Board member.