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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 01:16 GMT


Clinton sets European aims

Berliners were waiting to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the end of the wall

President Clinton has called for the continuing engagement of the United States in world affairs, in a major foreign policy address to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Communism - the end of an era
Speaking at his undergraduate alma mater, Georgetown University in Washington, Mr Clinton warned against what he sees as the new isolationist thinking among US Republican leaders, many of whom expressed scepticism over Nato's campaign in Kosovo.

He said he wanted to see a Europe that was united, democratic and at peace.

And he identified three American objectives in Europe - a reformed Russia, a more stable Balkans and reconciliation between Greece and Turkey.

Marking the occasion of the fall of the Wall, the US president said most people in Europe were better off since the collapse of communism.

Mr Clinton said the US should be proud of its achievements in helping to bring about a better and safer Europe.

[ image: East German soldiers look through the Wall in this 1989 picture]
East German soldiers look through the Wall in this 1989 picture
Noting some of the achievements in Europe, Mr Clinton said: "Democracy has taken root from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south and some of the most vibrant economies in the world lie east of the old Iron Curtain."

Nato, he noted, had new allies - Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary - and there were new democracies eager to join.

And he said the century would not draw to a close on a note of despair with the knowledge that people on the doorstep of Nato could be expelled from their homes and killed simply because of their ethnic heritage and religion.

He said because Nato had stood up to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, the century would draw to a close with a "ringing affirmation of the inherent human dignity of every individual".

The US president is heading to Greece on Friday, on an 11-day trip that will also take him to Turkey, Bulgaria and Italy.

He said the top priority is Russia, which is bogged down by corruption, economic instability and conflict in Chechnya and needed large-scale assistance to continue its transition to democracy.

President Clinton: "Democracy has taken root from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south"
"Russia's transformation has just begun, it's incomplete, it's awkward, sometimes it's not pretty, but we have a profound stake in its success," he said.

"Years from now, we won't be criticised for doing too much, but we certainly can be if we do too little."

On the Balkans, Mr Clinton repeated familiar themes, urging the countries of the region to more fully integrate themselves.

"I am convinced the only way to avoid future Balkan wars is to integrate the countries of southeastern Europe more with each other and more with the rest of Europe," he said.

He described Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as "the last living relic of the age of European dictators of the communism era that came crashing down with the Wall".

But he said Mr Milosevic had swapped communism with ethnic hatred.

On Greece and Turkey, both members of Nato, the president said both needed to be convinced that mutal enmity was not the way to proceeed into the next centurry.

Honorary citizen

"This is a problem that can be solved," he said. "Eventually it will be solved, and I intend to see that the US does everything we possibly can to be of help."

He said Ankara would be pushed to continue improving its human rights record so it could become a full member of the European Union.

Mr Clinton's speech came as the US president at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, George Bush, was made an honorary citizen of a reunified Berlin.

Also attending the gathering in the city hall in Berlin were the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and the former Soviet President Michael Gorbachev. Both men are now seen as key players in the historic policial re-alignment of 10 years ago.

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