Tale

Speech by Mr. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen at the NATO 50th Anniversary Summit Opening and Commemorative Event in Washington D.C, April 23, 1999

(approx. as delivered)

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. When the Washington Treaty was signed in this very room 50 years ago, it happened in a dramatically different strategic environment. Yet it is remarkable how well the treaty has stood the test of time.

One reason for this is NATO’s will to develop. NATO has demonstrated great flexibility and an impressive ability to adapt quickly to the changing times and to contribute to the creation of an enlarged and safer European security environment. NATO contributes to the elimination of the dividing lines of the Cold War, not least through its continued enlargement process and its Partnerships programmes.

And yet, I am sure that we would all have wished that NATO’s 50ht Anniversary would have taken place without the disastrous humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo.

It has been said that during the Cold War the superpowers controlled their Milosevic-types. I don’t know. What I do know is that after the Cold War, and looking at what is going on in Kosovo, we have decided not to accept it!

And I am proud of NATO’s decisiveness, uncompromised determination to fight for humanity and to stop what we saw 50 years ago. Listening to what the Polish president told us today, I was reminded - we are reminded of the times, when yellow stars were placed on individuals and on houses, where people were taken aside, young men killed, women and elderly mass deported. The houses burned down. We said then, this will never happen again.

And yet we see mass deportations once more - at the end of this century. Well, we don’t see yellow stars on individuals and houses - but in Kosovo, we see, that where Kosovo-Albanians live, they are taken aside and their houses burned. The suffering is terrible. And we do have mass deportations, and we do have killings, too.

Therefore, this fight - NATO’s fight in Kosovo and FRY is a fight for humanity. A fight for all of us. It is the fundamental question of rights for human beings instead of rights of states. Because - as the Secretary General of the United Nations have indicated - the United Nations Pact must never be a hiding place for mass murders.

What first and foremost binds us together and ensures the continued relevance of our alliance is the fact that we are united by common values. Allies share a joint heritage of democracy, individual liberty and rule of law, and a common destiny. It is this transatlantic communality of values, traditions and faith that allows - the alliance to continue to add to what President Truman, in his 4th April, 1949, address, called - I quote - 'the strength of the fabric of peace throughout the world'.

The new strengthened and enlarged NATO will continue to do just that in the 21st century. Just that, which is all the struggle for humanity.

Just that. A struggle which we will win. To the benefit of all human-beings.

Thank you.