For Immediate Release: March 4, 1999
Edeen Martin 816-268-8200 ext. 257
Truman Library and Museum

U.S. State Department Press Office 202-647-2492


(INDEPENDENCE, Mo.) -- The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will formally join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during an official Accession Ceremony, on Friday, March 12, 1999, at 11 a.m., at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence. The ceremony will be open press coverage. During the ceremony, Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, will accept the instruments of accession to NATO of the three countries. Each Foreign Minister will speak, followed by a foreign policy address by Albright. A closed press luncheon will follow the ceremony. The ceremony and the Truman Library and Museum are closed to the public that day.

In a recent statement, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman James B. Foley said, "This ceremony will be the culmination of the process to admit the three countries, which were invited to join the Alliance at the Madrid NATO summit in July 1997. The U.S. Senate voted to admit the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland on April 30, 1998. NATO Secretary General Solana issued letters of invitation to the three countries in their accession."

The Truman Library and Museum has been selected as the site for this historic signing because of President Harry S. Truman's involvement in the creation of the military organization. Truman announced the formation of NATO in 1949 to defend western Europe against Soviet expansionism. At the signing of the treaty on April 4th of that year, Truman observed that "if (NATO) had existed in 1914 and 1939, supported by the nations who are represented here today, I believe it would have prevented the acts of aggression which led to two world wars."

"We are very pleased that NATO has selected the Truman Library as the site for this ceremony, the first in a series of events this year to commemorate the organization's 50th anniversary," said Library Director Larry Hackman.

The Truman Library regrets any inconvenience the one-day closing of the facility may present to visitors. The Library and Museum will reopen on Saturday, March 13, 1999, at 9 a.m. The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware in Independence, Mo.

NOTE TO PRESS: A press filing center will be established at the UMKC-Truman campus in the gymnasium. The campus is located across Mechanic Street, adjacent to the northwest corner of the Truman Library. Press will have access to the filing center beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 11. All press attending the ceremony must wear credentials.

Press credentials can be picked up between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on March 11, and after 8 a.m. on Friday, March 12 at the press filing center. A photo media I.D. card or a letter on media organization letterhead containing the individual's name, and verification of employment by that organization, along with a photo I.D. must be presented.

All media organizations wishing to attend the ceremony should notify the State Department Press Office at (202) 647-2492 no later than Monday, March 8, at 10 a.m. so that appropriate preparations can be made to accommodate all journalists and crews.

Historical Perspective

Why the Truman Library is Relevant to the Accession Ceremony

The North Atlantic Treaty--the first peacetime military alliance ever concluded by the United States--was signed by the foreign ministers of the twelve signatory nations on April 4, 1949. The signing ceremony occurred in an auditorium near the White House in Washington, DC. Secretary of State Dean Acheson signed for the United States, with President Truman standing beside him. Just prior to the signing of the treaty, Truman spoke to the foreign ministers and the others present in the auditorium. "In this pact," he said, "we hope to create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression--a bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of government and society, the business of achieving a fuller and happier life for all our citizens."

Article 5 of the treaty is its heart. It reads: "The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them...will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking...such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."

President Truman sent the North Atlantic Treaty to the Senate for consideration on April 12, 1949. During lengthy hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee many witnesses expressed concern and dismay at the prospect that the United States would abandon a tradition of nonentanglement with Europe that was as old as the Republic, and others worried that the proposed military alliance would conflict with the purposes of the United Nations. Despite these concerns, on July 21, 1949 the Senate advised Truman that it favored ratification.

On July 25 the North Atlantic Treaty was formally ratified by the President in a signing ceremony in the Cabinet Room. At a ceremony in the Oval Office on August 24, 1949, with Dean Acheson and representatives of the signatory governments gathered around him, President Truman formally accepted the instruments of ratification and announced that the North Atlantic Treaty was in effect.

The twelve original signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty were Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, Canada, and the United States. Greece and Turkey were added to the alliance in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955, and Spain in 1982. With the accession of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary to NATO, the alliance will have 19 member states.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will on March 12, 1999, at the Harry S. Truman Library, formally accept the instruments of accession to NATO of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. The Truman Library holds the papers of both Harry S. Truman and Dean Acheson.

The Truman Library and Museum is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware in Independence, Mo. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a. m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6 to 18, and free for children 5 years and under.

The Harry S. Truman Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

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