Washington, 6 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used an important Euro-American anniversary Thursday to reflect on two international issues preoccupying Washington policy makers -- NATO expansion and the arduous task of stabilizing the Balkans.
Albright said that NATO enlargement will erase the divisions in Europe. But she said that European integration will not be complete until the Dayton peace accords in Bosnia are fulfilled.
Albright made the statement in a speech to graduating students at Harvard University, standing where 50 years ago, her predecessor George Marshall launched the plan named after him.
Few took notice when he outlined the initiative, that came to be called the Marshall Plan, to rebuild a Europe devastated by World War II.
It is said that a correspondent for a major American newspaper reported to his editor at the time "there was no news in Marshall's speech." So the paper carried no story about it the following day.
Yesterday, when Albright spoke eloquently in commemoration of Marshall's June 1947 address, her words were widely publicized in the press, as well as disseminated through the modern media of fax and Internet. But there was no news in her speech.
However, Albright reviewed key foreign policy issues and emphasized broad themes of America's global commitments and U.S. priorities in Europe.
Albright called on national leaders in the Balkans to take responsibility for their own affairs and become more involved in strengthening peace in the region.
She said she went to the former Yugoslavia at the weekend to "deliver in person the message that if the parties want international acceptance, or our aid, they must meet their commitments, including full cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal."
Albright said the tribunal represents a choice not only for Bosnia but for the world because all nations have a stake in establishing a precedent to deter future atrocities.
She said that 50 years ago some countries were barred by Stalin from joining the Marshall Plan and belonging to a family of prospering democracies.
But today, Albright said "let every nation acknowledge -- the opportunity to be part of an international system based on democratic principles is available to us all."
She said "if a nation is isolated from the international community now, it is because the country is simply too weak to meet international standards or because its leaders have chosen wilfully to disregard those standards."
She emphasized that no one needs to be left out, saying "every nation that seeks to participate and is willing to do all it can to help itself will have America's help in finding the right path."
Albright dismissed arguments that NATO expansion will create new divisions in Europe. She said "on the contrary, it is erasing the unfair and unnatural line imposed half a century ago. And it is giving nations an added incentive to settle territorial disputes, respect minority and human rights and complete the process of reform."
She said NATO enlargement will allow Central and East Europeans "to rejoin in practice the community of values they never left in spirit." And Albright said it will give Russians "something they have not had in centuries -- a genuine and sustainable peace with the nations to their west."
Albright's Harvard address was one of several major commemorations Thursday of the 1947 launching of the Marshall Plan.
Earlier in the day in Washington, American and foreign dignitaries, including former President Gerald Ford, Defense Secretary William Cohen and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, gathered at the gravesite of George Marshall to pay tribute to his vision and determination.
Last night, Kohl was one of the featured speakers at a glittering assembly of representatives of the 16 European countries that received U.S. economic aid under the Marshall Plan. Albright planned to be there too and was expected to step up to the microphone.
Organizers said 1,000 guests were expected to attend, among them Prince Philip, the husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, and former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing.