THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||May 6, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND PRIME MINISTER PRODI OF ITALY
AT ARRIVAL CEREMONY
The South Lawn
10:07 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Prime Minister, Mrs. Prodi, members ofthe Italian delegation, welcome to the White House and welcome to theUnited States. Hillary and I are delighted to see you again, and Ilook forward to our talks today which will deepen our relationship.But first, let me say I was terribly saddened to hear of thetorrential rains and mudslides in southern Italy which have resultedin the loss of Italian lives. United States forces from Aviano arenow transporting Italian civilians to the scene to assist in rescueefforts.
The history of our partnership is long and special.Every school child knows that Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492,soon to be followed by other great Italian explorers -- AmerigoVespucci, John Cabot, Giovanni da Verrazano. That was only thebeginning of a relationship that has now flourished for centuries,bringing us together in new ways generation after generation.
Today Italians once again are expanding the world'shorizons. Italy stands at the forefront of a new Europe, leadingefforts to promote peace and unity throughout the continent, fromeconomic and monetary union to military cooperation.
In recent months Italy has led efforts to restore civilorder in Albania and is seeking to avert a deepening conflict inKosovo. Italian and American troops patrol alongside one another inBosnia. And we will continue to work together to build stabilitythroughout southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean. And finallylet me say we are deeply grateful for Italy's hospitality towardUnited States forces working to preserve peace in Europe.
Mr. Prime Minister, under your leadership Italy isbuilding a better future, enterprise is thriving, the rule of lawprevails. Today's dreams are being shaped into tomorrow's reality.
Together we are exploring outer space, fighting crimeand terrorism, restricting the spread of dangerous weapons, andcreating a climate where goods and ideas can be freely exchangedbetween our countries and around the world. Truly, Italy is settingan example for the new Europe.
This week in Washington and next week at summits inEurope, we will forge even stronger bonds of cooperation to equip ourpeople to succeed in the global economy, to combat internationalcrime and other threats to the security of our citizens, to nurturethe health of our planet. A year from now, we look forward tomeeting here again when the NATO Alliance celebrates its 50thanniversary and asks to make the Alliance stronger for the next 50years.
The great seal of the United States contains the words,novus ordo seclorum, a new order of the ages. Those words werewritten by Vergil in Italy more than 2,000 years ago. But they havefresh meaning today, as a new generation builds a new order of peaceand freedom, prosperity and security for the 21st century. Vergil'swords apply to your deeds, Mr. Prime Minister, and we are very gladto welcome you to the United States of America. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER PRODI: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, onbehalf of my wife and the entire delegation accompanying me, I thankyou for your cordial welcome. This is the second time that I havethe pleasure of visiting you in Washington. Almost two years ago, Iwas here as Chairman of the European Union. And I'm very pleased tobe here today as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the ItalianRepublic.
I came here today to reaffirm the value that Italyattributes to its relationship with the United States. Thefriendship, the cooperation in the alliance between our two countriesgo back several long decades. This relationship is based, amongother things, on the hospitality given to the Italian immigrants inthis land to which they have contributed in building this Americannation.
These two facts are now part of history, but historyalso leaves an even deeper legacy. I believe that the relationshipthat binds our two countries today, despite each country's uniquecharacteristics, can be called a community of destiny and values.This community is something very specific for me. The United Statesand Italy, each within the scope of its own tradition, of its owndevelopment, and its own specific foreign relations, are two citizensof the next millennium bound by common values.
Our two political systems are inspired by the sameprinciples of freedom and democracy. Our economies are each uniquelydynamic, enabling each of our countries to integrate in ever broaderand more complex spheres. Our civil societies have each been shapedby unique pasts, and will both remain free and offer a wealth ofopportunities in the future. We each share the same responsibility,which is to face tomorrow's with determination today.
I am convinced that together we can and we must tackledthese responsibilities. We have similar perceptions of the issues atstake that we must face together, and of the opportunities before us.We now have the opportunity to prepare plans together and tofine-tune their implementation so that, within the scope andlimitations of our respective forces, we can contribute to the bestpossible future.
Together we must consider the most pressing issues ofthe day. I have in mind those that are common to both countries andthat we can solve by cooperating even more. First I have in mind theregional crisis, but I also have in mind the global issues that ourcountries must work together on, and not only in the legitimateinterests of both countries, but also in the general interest.
I have in mind the interest organizations in which weoperate, such as the Atlantic Alliance, the European Union, and theInternational Financial Institutions. The latter are not staticinstitutions, they are dynamic systems that have been created andmodified following specific historical events. One of the tasksbefore us is precisely to take full advantage of their potential inlight of the new needs emerging in the international community.
In this regard, Italy believes that we should continueto operate within the scope of the European Union to make a globalsystem of political, economic, trade, and cultural relations fromboth sides of the Atlantic possible. The creation of a vast sphereof free trade between the two continents is one of the goals that wemust pursue, not only to best utilize our energy and to strengthen asmuch as possible our political and economic ties, but also as acommon contribution to the global trade liberalization.
I believe that there's nothing like working together tostrengthen friendships. And I came here for that very reason, Mr.President -- to discuss with you a range of issues and to outline, ifpossible, their solutions. Having worked directly with you in thepast, I am familiar with your ability to tackle problems head on, andI'm certain that our conversations today will be productive.
I have with me the draft of a document which is a planlaying out a partnership and ways to implement solidarity between theUnited States and Italy. I know that you have a copy of this drafton your desk. I am certain that our common long-term commitmentstogether will continue to improve the quality of our relationship.
It is in this spirit, Mr. President, that I thank youfor your very warm and kind welcome. (Applause.)