|Bush Says Visions of Peaceful Balkans Within Reac|
Bush Says Visions of Peaceful Balkans Within Reach
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo -- (ANS) July 25, 2001 -- President George W. Bush told U.S. and NATO troops at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, July 24 that the vision of a whole, free and peaceful Europe -- including the Balkans -- is within reach.
Bush was at Camp Bondsteel on the last stop of a six-day European trip.
"A few years ago, that vision would have seemed fanciful. Today, as I meet here with our forces at Camp Bondsteel, that vision is within our reach," Bush said.
Still, difficult challenges remain, Bush said.
"The United States stands against all who use or support violence against democracy and the rule of law. That's why American forces in Kosovo are interdicting the flow of arms into Macedonia. And that's why I imposed sanctions against individuals and organizations assisting the insurgents," Bush said.
Those in Kosovo who support the insurgency in Macedonia are hurting the interests of ethnic Albanians throughout the region, Bush said. And it is only natural for Europe to assume more responsibility in the region as the Balkans move closer to Europe, he added.
However, Bush said Europe's involvement will not lessen the United States role. "America's contribution is essential, both militarily and politically," Bush said.
He also reiterated that he will not draw down U.S. forces in Bosnia or Kosovo abruptly.
"The U.S. goal is to hasten the day peace is self-sustaining, Bush said, "when local, democratically elected authorities can assume full responsibility, and when NATO's forces can go home.
"NATO's commitment to the peace of this region is enduring, but the stationing of our forces here should not be indefinite."
(Editor's note: This story was written by the United States Office Pristina, Public Affairs Section.)