THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
1:43 P.M. (L)PRESIDENT GLIGOROV: I wish to thank President Clinton for his personal contribution and for everything he has done for the Republic of Macedonia, supporting our independence and security and, especially now, during the course of the Kosovo crisis, which i wish to believe we will soon be leaving behind us.
President Clinton's visit to the Republic of Macedonia is a confirmation of this personal engagement. And I would not wish to miss this opportunity to express my appreciation also to Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the First Lady of the United States, for her readiness and understanding to help.
Our discussions were, in effect, a continuation of top level of the fruitful dialogue that exists between our two countries and is particularly intensive in these past few months. We discussed the situation in the region. We reiterated our views that a democratized Yugoslavia is the key to stability and prosperity of the whole of the Balkans. Yugoslavia should preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty and with it, Kosovo should obtain broad autonomy and maximum possible guaranteed rights for its citizens and minority members in accordance with European standards. The Macedonian model of multi-ethnic democracy is proof that this is possible, even in the Balkans.
Today, we also -- the essential need for the presence of the United States of America in Southeastern Europe. The war in Bosnia, and now in Kosovo has confirmed this.
Now, the active engagement of the United States of America to the realization of the Stability Pact is enforced with the same necessity. It is time for active American economic presence in the region, which is also important for its stability, development and prosperity.
We here in the Republic of Macedonia anticipate American support in the speeding up of the democratic processes in the whole region, integration into NATO and, consequently, the European Union.
Once again, my most sincere regards to our esteemed and high guest.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President; Mr. Prime Minister; leaders of the Macedonian government and political life; parties in Parliament who were freely elected last November.
I thank the President for his statement and would like to reply by saying that I came here for two reasons. First, I want to thank the leaders and the people of Macedonia for helping a just cause to prevail in Kosovo, for giving shelter and hope to the Kosovar refugees and for welcoming our NATO troops who came here to help those refugees.
NATO could not have achieved its mission without you; the people of Kosovo would not be going home to security and autonomy without you. I came here, as much as anything else, to say thank you.
Second, I came here because I believe the United States, our NATO allies and, indeed, all nations of the world who support the reversal of ethnic cleansing and respect for human rights and minority rights have a responsibility to help Macedonia to overcome the economic hardships that the recent crisis has imposed and to return to a path to prosperity and even stronger democracy and freedom.
Already, our total aid to Macedonia has more than tripled over last year, to $72 million; and today we will provide another $12 million in food commodities. In the months ahead we will do more. But we are also committed to the restoration of economic opportunity and jobs in Macedonia. Today, I am delighted that an executive of the American company, Liz Claiborne, came with the First Lady here to Macedonia to follow up on her trip and to announce that they would be reopening facilities and employing somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 of your people. We will encourage other American businesses now to look at Macedonia as a model of stability at the end of the conflict in Kosovo.
Finally, Mr. President, let me reaffirm once more our belief that in order to build a future of freedom and prosperity, in which human rights and minority rights are everywhere respected, in which nations are not torn apart by yesterday's hatreds and violence, we must make this Stability Pact a success. We must create real opportunities for ordinary citizens throughout Southeastern Europe. And the United States is committed to doing that.
But the thing that is even more important, Mr. President, is that the Macedonian people and leaders are committed to that kind of future. I think it is worth noting that this country is not ethnically homogeneous -- it has its own challenges. And, yet, in spite of that, you were willing to take these refugees -- 300,000 of them -- 50,000 have already gone home. You bore this burden at great cost and considerable risk so that we could together pursue a vision of Southeastern Europe very different from what the horrible ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo represent.
We have stopped that; now it is time to build that better future. And I pledge to you, sir, that the United States will work with you and we will do this together.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 1:55 P.M. (L)