Fundamental to a stable, secure world is the continuation of our traditional alliances. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), now approaching the end of its third decade, remains healthy and vigorous.
The threat to our mutual security by a totalitarian power bent on expansion brought 15 nations together. The expression of our collective will to resist resulted in the creation and maintenance of a military deterrent which, while not without occasional strains, has served our vital interests well. Today that threat continues.
We have succeeded in extending our cooperation within NATO and have taken bold new steps in economic cooperation with our partners. Faced with a serious crisis in the energy field following the imposition of the oil boycott, we demonstrated that it was possible to coordinate our joint activities with the other NATO nations.
The economic strength of Western Europe has increased to the point where our NATO partners can now assume a larger share of the common defense; in response to our urging, our allies are demonstrating a greater willingness to do so. This is not the time to recommend a unilateral reduction of American military forces in Europe. We will, however, pursue the balanced reduction of forces in both Western and Eastern Europe, based on agreements which do not jeopardize the security of the Alliance. With our Alliance partners, we affirm that a strong NATO defense, based on a United States military presence, is vital to the defense of Western Europe.
Some of our NATO allies have experienced rapid and dynamic changes. We are encouraged by developments in the Iberian peninsula, where both Portugal and Spain now face more promising futures. Early consideration should be given to Spain's accession to NATO.
At the same time we would view with concern any political developments elsewhere in Europe which are destabilizing to NATO interests. We support the right of all nations to choose their leaders. Democracy and freedom are best served by ensuring that those fundamental rights are preserved and extended for future generations to choose in freedom.
The difficult problem of Cyprus, which separates our friends in Greece and Turkey, should be addressed and resolved by those two countries. The eastern flank of NATO requires restored cooperation there and, eventually, friendly relations between the two countries.
Republican leadership has strengthened this nation's good relations with the European Economic Community (EEC) in an age of increasing competition and potential irritations. We will maintain and strengthen the excellent relations we have achieved with the EEC.
In the final analysis, the NATO Alliance will be as effective as our will and determination, as well as that of our allies, to support it. The function of collective security is to deter wars and, if necessary, to fight and win those wars not successfully deterred. Our vigilance is especially required during periods of prolonged relaxation of tensions with our adversaries because we cannot permit ourselves to accept words and promises as a substitute for deeds. We are determined that the NATO Alliance shall not be lulled into a false sense of security. It can and must respond vigorously when called upon to act.
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