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President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
May 7, 2006
Vice President Cheney, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader of Croatia, Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski of Macedonia, and Prime Minister Sali Berisha of Albania Make Remarks at a Meeting of the Adriatic 3 Leaders
The Excelsior Hotel
10:00 A.M. (Local)
PRIME MINISTER SANADER: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here today and welcome to Drubovnik, Croatia. It is an honor for me to be hosting Vice President Cheney of the United States and my Adriatic Charter partners -- Prime Minister Sali Berisha, of Albania, and Vlado Buckovski, of Macedonia. This is the highest level state visit we have had from the United States since President Clinton was here 10 years ago.
Relations between the United States and Croatia are strong. We are grateful to the U.S. for its leadership in the region of Southeast Europe and for its Adriatic Charter initiative, which has been very useful for my country as we prepare for accession to NATO.
Membership to NATO is a strategic goal of my nation. Croatia is aware that peace and security cannot be achieved in isolation. In NATO, we recognize a uniquely efficient political and defense alliance, an alliance founded on the values of peace, freedom, democracy and free market economy; an alliance which links both sides of the Atlantic into a powerful community of shared values and interests and is able to face new challenges and threats while fostering partnership in its efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability.
The people of Croatia understand those challenges all too well. We know what it means to fight for democracy and freedom, and that is why we are determined to nurture the peace, democracy, freedom and economic stability with which we are now blessed. It is our goal to preserve what we have achieved as a full fledged member of the NATO community.
My country has faced some obstacles that some of the newer and aspiring members to NATO were fortunate not to face. And although there are still some challenges ahead of us, we are determined to work with our allies, with our neighbors, and with the United States of America to move forward on our process of reform. It is our hope that in addition to receiving a strong signal for our future membership in the alliance at the next NATO summit in Riga, this November, a clear time frame for those talks will be set, as well.
PRIME MINISTER BERISHA: Mr. Vice President, Mr. Prime Ministers, first of all, I would like to wholeheartedly thank you, Prime Minister Sanader for organizing this very important meeting for our country, and to express my gratitude to the Vice President of United States, Mr. Dick Cheney, for his presence here which is a very strong signal, positive signal to our -- to the aspirations of our nation to NATO membership as the best future -- best secure future. I believe for my country NATO membership is vital, and as well for our countries in order to cut -- to leave behind the difficult recent past and to catch the time we lost because of this recent past.
We see NATO membership as a top priority. That's why my government has decided to take any decision, to pay any price, to seriously implement NATO membership action plan. During all this 15 years, Albania showed a real loyal partnership to NATO. And it was and it will be wherever NATO is and will be, wherever United States are and will be in the defense of freedoms and common values.
In this context, I'd like to stress that the United States leads the process of transformation of this region from confrontational, conflictual, to a region of peace and stability. Their role is determining also in order for this process to be consolidated, they're best consolidation is NATO membership. We are really very hopeful, Mr. Vice President. And we are very grateful to you and your -- to President Bush and your government that in next summit of enlargement, in this framework founded by your government as the Adriatic 3 Charter, our nation will get the invitation to become a NATO member.
Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER BUCKOVSKI: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to congratulate our kind host and my good friend, Ivo Sanader, for this opportunity to once again advance our dialogue within the U.S.-Adriatic Charter partnership. I also wish to join my esteemed friends and colleagues, Sanader and Berisha, in expressing a warm welcome to Vice President Cheney in our region.
The existence of our tangible perspective for integration in the Euro-Atlantic community has long been identified as one of the most significant catalysts of stability and democratic progress for the region of south and east Europe. Reflecting back on our past three years of partnership, I can conclude with satisfaction that the U.S.-Adriatic Charter succeeds in articulating cooperation framework that has made this transformative influence more tangible and our efforts towards integration in NATO more confident.
The progress that my country has made in the past period owes a great deal to these developments because of our political commitment to execute key reforms at home and cooperate with our partners in the region. In just four years, the Republic of Macedonia has transformed from a consumer of NATO and user of security assistance to a contributor to the Euro-Atlantic security; a stable and functioning multi-ethnic democracy, candidate country for European Union membership and advanced candidate for NATO membership.
Recognizing our progress, the Adriatic Charter countries towards NATO membership in the coming period of deep change in south and east Europe will have a crucial transformative effect on the stability of the region and Europe. Accepting the region's candidates that are prepared to enter in the Euro-Atlantic alliance as the international community works hard to close the last outstanding issue in the south and east Europe will be a historic opportunity to fulfill NATO's decade-long commitment and contribute decisively to long-term stability and prosperity of the region. I believe that the forthcoming NATO summit in Riga will send a strong and clear message in this direction. I accept that our meetings today will be a good opportunity to reiterate these points and exchanging opinions on how we can further advance our U.S.-Adriatic Charter success story in the next period.
Thank you very much.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Thank you, and let me join our colleagues, Prime Minister Sanader, with an appreciation of your willingness to host this meeting. It's an important opportunity for me to develop more understanding specifically of how each of you is progressing in terms of moving forward with respect to becoming eligible for NATO membership. The Adriatic Charter countries have expressed a desire to fully join the transatlantic community, and we support that. We think it's a very important step forward. And we deeply appreciate the fact that all of you are already engaged alongside the NATO and U.S. forces in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and that's been a very important step, as well, and I think a further indication of your willingness to be part of this international effort.
We understand the desire to join NATO and the European community. We also believe that it's very important -- both for NATO and the EU -- to take in new members, people who aspire to join the organization, help rejuvenate it, and to help us rededicate ourselves to those basic fundamental values of freedom and democracy that are a very important part of our collective security arrangements.
So I'm delighted to be here this morning, and we look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead as partners in this most important endeavor.
Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER SANADER: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
END 10:10 A.M. (Local)