THE WHITE HOUSE
the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE DUMA
10:10 A.M. (L)
CLINTON: First of all, I thank you for that introduction. And even though it is
still in the morning, I am delighted to be here, with the members of the state
Duma and the Federation Council.
It is important to me to have this
opportunity because the prospects for virtually every important initiative
President Putin and I have discussed over the last two days will obviously
depend upon your advice and your consent, and because through you I can speak
to the citizens of Russia directly, those whom you represent.
made five trips to Russia in my years as President. I have worked with
President Yeltsin and now with President Putin. I have met with the leadership
of the Duma on more than one occasion. I have spoken with Russia's religious
leaders, with the media, with educators, scientists and students. I have
listened to Russian people tell me about their vision of the future, and I have
tried to be quite open about my own vision of the future. I have come here at
moments of extraordinary optimism about Russia's march toward prosperity and
freedom, and I've been here at moments of great difficulty for you.
believed very strongly from the first time I came here that Russia's future
fundamentally is in the hands of the Russian people. It cannot be determined by
others, and it should not be. But Russia's future is very important to others,
because it is among the most important journeys the world will witness in my
lifetime. A great deal of the 21st century will be strongly influenced by the
success of the Russian people in building a modern, strong, democratic nation
that is part of the life of the rest of the world.
And so, many people
across the world have sought to support your efforts, sharing with you a sense
of pride when democracy is advanced, and sharing your disappointment when
It is obviously not for me to tell the Russian
people how to interpret the last few years. I know your progress has come with
unfilled expectations and unexpected difficulties. I know there have been
moments, especially during the financial crisis in 1998, when some wondered if
the new Russia would end up as a grand social experiment gone wrong. But when
we look at Russia today, we do not see an experiment gone wrong.
an economy that is growing, producing goods and services people want. We see a
nation of enterprising citizens who are beginning, despite all of the
obstacles, to bring good jobs and a normal life to their communities. We see a
society with 65,000 nongovernmental organizations, like Eco-juris, which is
helping citizens defend their rights in court, like Vozrozhdenie, which is
aiding families with disabled children, like the local chambers of commerce
that have sprung up all across Russia.
We see a country of people
taking responsibility for their future -- people like those of Gadzhiyevo on
the Arctic Circle who organized a referendum to protect the environment of
their town. We see a country transforming its system of higher education to
meet the demands of the modern world, with institutions like the new Law
Factory at Novgorod University, and the New Economic School in Moscow.
We see a country preserving its magnificent literary heritage, as the
Pushkin Library is doing in its efforts to replenish the shelves of libraries
all across Russia. We see a country entering the Information Age, with
cutting-edge software companies, with Internet centers at universities from
Kazan to Ufa to Yakutsk, with a whole generation of young people more connected
to the outside world than any past generation could have imagined.
see Russian citizens with no illusions about the road ahead, yet voting in
extraordinary numbers against a return to the past. We see a Russia that has
just completed a democratic transfer of executive power for the first time in a
I would not presume to tell the people you represent
how to weigh the gains of freedom against the pain of economic hardship,
corruption, crime. I know the people of Russia do not yet have the Russia they
were promised in 1991. But I believe you, and they, now have a realistic chance
to build that kind of Russia for yourselves in far greater measure than a
decade ago, because of the democratic foundations that have been laid and the
choices that have been made.
The world faces a very different Russia
than it did in 1991. Like all countries, Russia also faces a very different
world. Its defining feature is globalization, the tearing down of boundaries
between people, nations and cultures, so that what happens anywhere can have an
During the 1990s, the volume of international trade
almost doubled. Links among businesses, universities, advocacy groups,
charities and churches have multiplied across physical space and cyberspace. In
the developing world some of the poorest villages are beginning to be connected
to the Information Superhighway in ways that are opening up unbelievable
opportunities for education and for development.
The Russian people did
more than just about anyone else to make possible this new world of
globalization, by ending the divisions of the Cold War. Now Russia, America,
and all nations are subject to new rules of the global economy. One of those
rules, to adapt a phrase from your history, is that it's no longer possible to
build prosperity in one country alone. To prosper, our economies must be
competitive in a global marketplace; and to compete, the most important
resource we must develop is our own people, giving them the tools and freedom
to reach their full potential.
This is the challenge we have tried to
meet in America over the last few years. Indeed, the changes we have seen in
the global economy pose hard questions that both our nations still must answer.
A fundamental question is: How do we define our strength and vitality as a
nation today, and what role should government play in building it?
people actually believe that government is no longer relevant at all to
people's lives in a globalized, interconnected world. Since all of us hold
government positions, I presume we disagree. But I believe experience shows
that government, while it must be less bureaucratic and more oriented toward
the markets, and while it should focus on empowering people by investing in
education and training rather than simply accruing power for itself, it is
still very important.
Above all, a strong state should use its strength
to reinforce the rule of law, protect the powerless against the powerful,
defend democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression, religion and the
press, and do whatever is possible to give everyone a chance to develop his or
her innate abilities. This is true, I believe, for any society seeking to
advance in the modern world. For any society in any part of the world that is
increasingly small and tied together, the answer to law without order is not
order without law.
Another fundamental question is: How shall countries
define their strength in relation to the rest of the world today? Shall we
define it as the power to dominate our neighbors or the confidence to be a good
neighbor? Shall we define it by what we are against, or simply in terms of what
others are for? Do we join with others in common endeavors to advance common
interests, or do we try to bend others to our will?
assembly's ratification of START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
suggests you are answering these questions in a way that will make for both a
stronger Russia and a better world, defining your strength in terms of the
achievements of your people and the power of your partnerships, and your role
in world affairs.
A related question for both Russia and America is:
How should we define our relationship today? Clearly, Russia has entered a
phase when what it needs most is outside investment, not aid. What Americans
must ask is not so much what can we do for Russia, but what can we do with
Russia to advance our common interests and lift people in both nations?
To build that kind of relationship, we Americans have to overcome the
temptation to think that we have all the answers. We have to resist the feeling
that if only you would see things our way, troubles would go away. Russia will
not, and indeed should not, choose a course simply because others wish you to
do so. You will choose what your interests clearly demand and what your people
I think one problem we have is that many
Russians still suspect that America does not wish you well. Thus, you tend to
see our relationship in what we call zero-sum terms, assuming that every
assertion of American power must diminish Russia, and every assertion of
Russian strength must threaten America. That is not true. The United States
wants a strong Russia, a Russia strong enough to protect its territorial
integrity while respecting that of its neighbors; strong enough to meet threats
to its security; to help maintain strategic stability; to join with others to
meet common goals; to give its people their chance to live their dreams.
Of course, our interests are not identical, and we will have our
inevitable disagreements. But on many issues that matter to our people, our
interests coincide. And we have an obligation, it seems to me, to focus on the
goals we can and should advance together in our mutual interest, and to manage
our differences in a responsible and respectful way.
What can we do
together in the years to come? Well, one thing we ought to do is to build a
normal economic relationship, based on trade and investment between our
countries and contact between our people. We have never had a better
opportunity, and I hope you will do what you can to seize it.
the time, when Russia's economy is growing and oil prices are high, when I hope
Russia will create a more diversified economy. The economies that will build
power in the 21st century will be built not just on resources from the soil,
which are limited, but on the genius and initiative of individual citizens,
which are unlimited.
This is a time when I hope you will finish putting
in place the institutions of a modern economy, with laws that protect property,
that ensure openness and accountability, that establish an efficient, equitable
tax code. Such an economy would keep Russian capital in Russia, and bring
foreign capital to Russia, both necessary for the kind of investment you
deserve, to create jobs for your people and new businesses for your future.
This is a time to win the fight against crime and corruption, so that
investment will not choose safer shores. That is why I hope you will soon pass
a strong law against money laundering that meets international standards.
This is also the time I hope Russia will make an all-out effort to take
the needed steps to join the World Trade Organization. Membership in the WTO
reinforces economic reform. It will give you better access to foreign markets.
It will ensure that your trading partners treat you fairly. Russia should not
be the only major industrialized country standing outside this global trading
system. You should be inside this system, with China, Brazil, Japan, members of
the European Union and the United States, helping to shape those rules for the
benefit of all.
We will support you. But you must know, too, that the
decision to join the WTO requires difficult choices that only you can make. I
think it is very important. Again, I will say I think you should be part of
making the rules of the road for the 21st century economy, in no small measure
because I know you believe in the importance of the social contract, and you
understand that we cannot have a world economy unless we also have some rules
that people in the world respect regarding the living standards of people --
the conditions in which our children are raised, whether they have access to
education, and whether we do what should be done together to protect the global
A second goal of our partnership should be to meet threats
to our security together. The same advances that are bringing the world
together are also making the tools of destruction deadlier, cheaper, and more
available. As you well know, because of this openness of borders, because of
the openness of the Internet, and because of the advances of technology, we are
all more vulnerable to terrorism, to organized crime, to the spread of nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons -- which themselves may some day be
transferred, soon, in smaller and smaller quantities, across more and more
borders, by unscrupulous illegal groups working together. In such a world, to
protect our security we must have more cooperation, not more competition, among
like-minded nation states.
Since 1991, we have already cooperated to
cut our own nuclear arsenals by 40 percent; in removing nuclear weapons from
Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan; in fighting illicit trafficking in deadly
technology. Together, we extended the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, banned
chemical weapons, agreed to end nuclear testing, urged India and Pakistan to
back away from nuclear confrontation.
Yesterday, President Putin and I
announced two more important steps. Each of us will destroy 34 tons of
weapons-grade plutonium, enough to build thousands of nuclear weapons. And we
will establish a system to give each other early warning of missile tests and
space launches to avoid any miscalculation, with a joint center here that will
operate out of Moscow 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- the first permanent,
joint United States-Russian military cooperation ever. I am proud of this
record, and I hope you are, too.
We will continue to reduce our nuclear
arsenals by negotiating a START III treaty, and to secure the weapons and
materials that remain. But we must be realistic. Despite our best efforts, the
possibility exists that nuclear and other deadly weapons will fall into
dangerous hands, into hands that could threaten us both -- rogue states,
terrorists, organized criminal groups.
The technology required to
launch missiles capable of delivering them over long distances, unfortunately,
is still spreading across the world. The question is not whether this threat is
emerging; it is. The question is, what is the best way to deal with it. It is
my strong preference that any response to strengthen the strategic stability
and arms control regime that has served our two nations so well for decades
now. If we can pursue that goal together, we will all be more secure.
Now, as all of you know well, soon I will be required to decide whether
the United States should deploy a limited national defense system designed to
protect the American people against the most imminent of these threats. I will
consider, as I have repeatedly said, many factors, including the nature of
threat, the cost of meeting it, the effectiveness of the available technology,
and the impact of this decision on our overall security, including our
relationship with Russia and other nations, and the need to preserve the ABM
The system we are contemplating would not undermine Russia's
deterrent, or the principles of mutual deterrence and strategic stability. That
is not a question just of our intent, but of the technical capabilities of the
system. But I ask you to think about this, to debate it -- as I know you will
-- to determine for yourselves what the capacity of what we have proposed is --
because I learned on my trip to Russia that the biggest debate is not whether
we intend to do something that will undermine mutual deterrence -- I think most
people who have worked with us, not just me and others, over the years know
that we find any future apart from cooperation with you in the nuclear area
inconceivable. The real question is a debate over what the impact of this will
be, because of the capacity of the technology involved.
And I believe
that is a question of fact which people of good will ought to be able to
determine. And I believe we ought to be able to reach an agreement about how we
should proceed at each step along the way here, in a way that preserves mutual
deterrence, preserves strategic stability, and preserves the ABM Treaty. That
is my goal. And if we can reach an agreement about how we're going forward,
then it is something we ought to take in good faith to the Chinese, to the
Japanese, to others who are interested in this, to try to make sure that this
makes a safer world, not a more unstable world.
I think we've made some
progress, and I would urge all of you who are interested in this to carefully
read the Statement of Principles to which President Putin and I agreed
Let me say that this whole debate on missile defense and the
nature of the threat reflects a larger and, I think, more basic truth. As we
and other nation states look out on the world today, increasingly we find that
the fundamental threat to our security is not the threat that we pose to each
other, but instead, threats we face in common -- threats from terrorist and
rogue states, from biological, chemical and nuclear weapons which may be able
to be produced in increasingly smaller and more sophisticated ways. Public
health threats, like AIDS and tuberculosis, which are now claiming millions of
lives around the world, and which literally are on the verge of ruining
economies and threatening the survival of some nations. The world needs our
leadership in this fight as well. And when President Putin and I go to the G-8
meeting in July, I hope we can support a global strategy against infectious
There is a global security threat caused by environmental
pollution and global warming. We must meet it with strong institutions at home
and with leadership abroad.
Fortunately, one of the benefits of the
globalized Information Age is that it is now possible to grow an economy
without destroying the environment. Thanks to incredible advances in science
and technology over the last 10 years, a whole new aspect in economic growth
has opened up. It only remains to see whether we are wise enough to work
together to do this, because the United States does not have the right to ask
any nation -- not Russia, not China, not India -- to give up future economic
growth to combat the problem of climate change. What we do have is the
opportunity to persuade every nation, including people in our own country who
don't yet believe it, that we can grow together in the 21st century and
actually reduce greenhouse gases at the same time.
I think a big part
of making that transition benefits Russia, because of your great stores of
natural gas. And so I hope we will be working closely together on this in the
In the Kyoto climate change treaty, we committed ourselves
to tie market forces to the fight against global warming. And today, on this
World Environment Day, I'm pleased that President Putin and I have agreed to
deepen our own cooperation on climate change.
This is a huge problem.
If we don't deal with this within just a few years, you will have island
nations flooded; you will have the agricultural balance of most countries
completely changed; you will have a dramatic increase in the number of severe,
unmanageable weather events. And the good news is that we can now deal with
this problem -- again I say, and strengthen our economic growth, not weaken it.
A third challenge that demands our engagement is the need to build a
world that is less divided along ethnic, racial and religious lines. It is
truly ironic, I think, that we can go anywhere in the world and have the same
kinds of conversations about the nature of the global information society. Not
long ago, I was in India in a poor village, meeting with a women's milk
cooperative. And the thing they wanted me to see was that they had computerized
all their records. And then I met with the local village council, and the thing
they wanted me to see in this remote village, in a nation with a per capita
income of only $450 a year, was that all the information that the federal and
state government had that any citizen could ever want was on a computer in the
public building in this little village.
And I watched a mother that had
just given birth to a baby come into this little public building and call up
the information about how to care for the child, and then print it out on her
computer, so that she took home with her information every bit as good as a
well-to-do American mother could get from her doctor about how to care for a
child in the first six months. It is truly ironic that at a time when we're
living in this sort of world with all these modern potentials, that we are
grappling with our oldest problems of human society -- our tendency to fear,
and then to hate people who are different from us. We see it from Northern
Ireland to the Middle East to the tribal conflicts of Africa, to the Balkans
and many other places on this Earth.
Russia and America should be
concerned about this because the stability of both of our societies depends
upon people of very different ethnic, racial and religious groups learning to
live together under a common framework of rules. And history teaches us that
harmony that lasts among such different people cannot be maintained by force
I know when trying to come to grips with these problems, these
old problems of the modern world, the United States and Russia have faced some
of our greatest difficulties in the last few years. I know you disagreed with
what I did in Kosovo, and you know that I disagreed with what you did in
Chechnya. I have always said that the Russian people and every other people
have a right to combat terrorism and to preserve the integrity of their
nations. I still believe it, and I reaffirmed that today. My question in
Chechnya was an honest one and the question of a friend, and that is whether
any war can be won that requires large numbers of civilian casualties and has
no political component bringing about a solution.
Let me say, in Kosovo
my position was whether we could ever preserve a democratic and free Europe
unless Southeastern Europe were a part of it, and whether any people could
every say that everyone is entitled to live in peace if 800,000 people were
driven out of a place they had lived in for centuries solely because of their
None of these questions will be easy, but I think we ought to
ask ourselves whether we are trying to resolve them. I remember going to Kosovo
after the conflict, after Russians and Americans had agreed to serve there
together as we have served in Bosnia effectively together, and sitting down
with all the people who represented the conflict around the table. They would
hardly speak to each other. They were still angry; they were still thinking
about their family members that had been dislocated and killed.
said to them that I had just been involved in negotiating the end of the
conflict in Northern Ireland, and that I was very close to the Irish conflict
because all of my relatives came from a little village in Ireland that was
right on the border between the North and the South, and therefore, had lived
through all these years of conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants.
And I said, now here's the deal we've got. The deal is majority rule,
minority rights, guaranteed participation in decision-making, shared economic
and other benefits. Majority rule; minority rights; guaranteed participation in
decision-making; shared economic and other benefits. I said, now, it's a good
deal, but what I would like to tell you is that if they had ever stopped
fighting, they could have gotten this deal years ago.
And so I told the
people of Kosovo, I said, you know, everybody around this table has got a
legitimate grievance. People on all sides, you can tell some story that is
true, and is legitimately true. Now, you can make up your mind to bear this
legitimate grievance with a grudge for 20 or 30 years. And 20 or 30 years from
now, somebody else will be sitting in these chairs, and they will make a deal
-- majority rule, minority rights, shared decision-making, shared economic and
other benefits. You can make the deal now, or you can wait.
Those of us
who are in a position of strong and stable societies, we have to say this to
people. We have to get people -- not just the people who have been wronged,
everybody has got a legitimate grievance in these cauldrons of ethnic and
racial and religious turmoil. But it's something we have to think about. And as
we see a success story, it's something I think we ought to look for other
opportunities to advance.
Real peace in life comes not when you give up
the feelings you have that are wrong, but when you give up the feelings you
have that are right, in terms of having been wronged in the past. That's how
people finally come together and go on. And those of us who lead big countries
should take that position and try to work through it.
Let me say,
finally, a final security goal that I have, related to all the others, is to
help Europe build a community that is democratic, at peace, and without
divisions -- one that includes Russia, and strengthens our ability to advance
our common interest. We have never had that kind of Europe before in all of
history. So building it will require changing old patterns of thinking. I was
in Germany a couple of days ago in the historical town of Aachen, where
Charlemagne had his European empire in the late 8th and early 9th centuries, to
talk about that.
There are, I know, people who resist the idea that
Russia should be part of Europe, and who insist that Russia is fundamentally
different from the other nations that are building a united Europe. Of course,
there are historical and cultural arguments that support that position. And
it's a good thing that you are different and that we are different; it makes
life more interesting. But the differences between Russia and France, for
example, may not be any greater than those between Sweden and Spain, or England
and Greece, or even between America and Europe. Integration within Europe and
then the transatlantic alliance came about because people who are different
came together, not because people who are the same came together.
Estrangement between Russia and the West, which lasted too long, was
not because of our inherent differences, but because we made choices in how we
defined our interests and our belief systems. We now have the power to choose a
different and a better future. We can do that by integrating our economies,
making common cause against common threats, promoting ethnic and religious
tolerance and human rights. We can do it by making sure that none of the
institutions of European and transatlantic unity, not any of them, are closed
You can decide whether you want to be a part of these
institutions. It should be entirely your decision. And we can have the right
kind of constructive partnership, whatever decision we make, as long as you
know that no doors to Europe's future are closed to you, and you can then feel
free to decide how best to pursue your own interests. If you choose not to
pursue full membership in these institutions, then we must make sure that their
Eastern borders become gateways for Russia instead of barriers to travel, trade
and security cooperation.
We also should work with others to help those
in Europe who still fear violence and are afraid they will not have a stable,
secure future. I am proud that, together, we have made the OSCE into an
effective champion of human rights in Europe. I am pleased that President Putin
and I recommitted ourselves yesterday to helping find a settlement to the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I am proud we have, together, adapted the
Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, to reduce conventional arms in Europe and
eliminate the division of the continent in the military blocs. I believe it is
a hopeful thing that despite our different outlook on the war in the former
Yugoslavia, that our armed forces have worked there together in both Bosnia and
Kosovo to keep the peace.
We may still disagree about Kosovo, but now
that the war is over, let me say one other thing about Yugoslavia. I believe
the people of Serbia deserve to live in a normal country with the same freedoms
the people of Russia and America enjoy, with relationships with their neighbors
including Russia that will not constantly be interrupted by vast flows of
innocent people being forced out of their country or threatened with their very
The struggle in Belgrade now is not between Serbia and NATO, it
is between the Serbian people and their leaders. The Serbian people are asking
the world to back democracy and freedom. Our response to their request does not
have to be identical, but Russia and America should both be on the side of the
people of Serbia.
In the relationship we are building, we should try to
stand abroad for the values each of us has been building at home. I know the
kind of relationship that we would both like cannot be built overnight.
Russia's history, like America's, teaches us well that there are no shortcuts
to great achievements. But we have laid strong foundations. It has helped a
great deal that so many members of our Congress have visited you here, and that
a number of Duma committee chairmen visited our Congress last month, that
members of the Federation Council have been invited to come to Washington.
I want to urge you, as many of you as can, to visit our country, and
invite members of our Congress to visit you. Let them understand how the world
looks from your perspective. Let them see how you do your jobs. Tell them what
you're worried about and where you disagree with us. And give us a chance to
build that base a common experience and mutual trust that is so important to
our future together. All of you are always welcome to come and work with us in
the United States. We have to find a mutual understanding.
I also would
say that the most important Russian-American relationship still should be the
relationship between our peoples -- the student exchanges, the business
partnerships, the collaboration among universities and foundations and
hospitals, the sister city links, the growing family ties. Many of the Russians
and Americans involved in these exchanges are very young. They don't even have
any adult memories of the Cold War. They don't carry the burdens and baggage of
the past; just the universal, normal desire to build a good future with those
who share their hopes and dreams. We should do everything we can to increase
these exchanges, as well.
And finally, we must have a sense of
responsibility for the future. We are not destined to be adversaries. But it is
not guaranteed that we will be allies. For us, there is no fate waiting to be
revealed, only a future waiting to be created -- by the actions we take, the
choices we make, and the genuine views we have of one another and of our own
I leave you today looking to the future with the realistic hope
that we will choose wisely; that we will continue to build a relationship of
mutual respect and mutual endeavor; that we will tell each other the truth with
clarity and candor as we see it, always striving to find common ground, always
remembering that the world we seek to bring into being can come only if America
and Russia are on the same side of history.
I believe we will do this,
not because I know everything always turns out well, but because I know our
partnership, our relationship, is fundamentally the right course for both
nations. We have to learn to identify and manage our disagreements because the
relationship is profoundly important to the future.
The governments our
people elect will do what they think is right for their own people. But they
know that one thing that is right is continuing to strengthen the relationship
between Russia and the United States. Our children will see the result -- a
result that is more prosperous and free and at peace than the world has ever
known. That is what I believe we can do.
I don't believe any American
President has ever come to Russia five times before. I came twice before that.
That's when I was a very young man and our relations were very different than
they are now. All my life, I have wanted the people of my country and the
people of your country to be friends and allies, to lead the world away from
war toward the dreams of children. I have done my best to do that.
hope you will believe that that is the best course for both our countries, and
for our children's future.
Thank you very much.
END 10:55 A.M.