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President Clinton Addresses the People of Germany

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary
(Berlin, Germany)

For Immediate Release May 13, 1998


Berlin, Germany

6:30 P.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. President,Chancellor Kohl, to the leaders and members of the Bundestag and Bundesrat,members of the Cabinet, members of the Diplomatic Corps, ProfessorSchneider,and all the people who have made us feel so welcome here at the beautifulSchauspielhaus. Let me begin by thanking the German Symphony Orchestra forplaying one of my favorite pieces, Eroica. Thank you very much.(Applause.)

Mr. Mayor, thank you for your remarks. And, Chancellor,thankyou for all that you said.

I am delighted to join all of you in the historic heart offree and unified Berlin. Fifty years ago, the United States and its alliesmade a commitment to the people of Berlin. It began with the heroicairliftof 1948, continued through the showdown with Soviet tanks at CheckpointCharlie in 1961, and includes nearly 100,000 American soldiers who defendedthis city over the course of 40 years and grew to love its people.

It lasted until East Germans bravely reached out across thewall and tore it down, thus freeing all of us to make real a Europe we hadonly dreamed of, an undivided continent of thriving democracies wherestatesdeal with each other not through domination, but dialogue; where societiesaregoverned not by repression, but by the rule of law; where the only barrierspeople face are the limits of their own dreams. Today Berlin is the symbol ofwhat all Europe is striving to become.

Former Chancellor Willy Brandt, who was Mayor of WestBerlinon the day the wall went up, declared on that magical November night as thewall was coming down, "Es waechst zusammen, was zusammengehoert" -- whatbelongs together is growingtogether. You have shown, citizens of Berlin, that he wascorrect. From the construction on the Spree turning Berlin intoGermany's capital for the future, to the renewal of PotsdammerPlatz as a dynamic center of business, Berlin's rebirth embodiesall our hopes for the future.

And from Munich to Potsdam, from Hamburg to Dresden,people throughout Germany's old and new states have struggled andsacrificed to make the larger dream of German unity come true.Now, barely 600 days before the beginning of a new and a newmillennium, we must make unity our mission for the continent as awhole and for a new transatlantic community.

For more than 1,000 years, from the time ofCharlemagne to the founding of the European Community, a unifiedEurope has captured this continent's imagination. Now, for thefirst time, the dream is within reach, and not through conquest,but through the decision of free people.

In 1994, I came to Europe to support your unity andto set forth a vision of partnership between America and a newEurope, rooted in security cooperation, free markets and vibrantdemocracies. I asked all our countries to adapt our institutionsfor the new time, to help the new market economies of Europe'seastern half to thrive, to support the growth of freedom and thespread of peace, to bring the peoples of the Euro-Atlanticcommunity more closely together.

On all fronts we have made remarkable progress.NATO is taking on new missions and new members, buildingpractical ties with Russia and Ukraine, deepening cooperationamong the 44 nations of the Partnership Council. The EuropeanUnion is growing and America and the EU are working together totear down more trade barriers and strengthen new democracies.The OSCE, Europe's standard bearer for human rights and freedoms,is now helping to make those standards real, from supervisingelections in Albania to monitoring arms reduction in Bosnia.

With support from America and the European Union andespecially with Chancellor Kohl and Germany's farsightedleadership, new market economies are taking root all across thiscontinent. Russia has privatized more property than any nationin this century. Poland and Estonia are among Europe's fastestgrowing economies. Since 1991, U.S. and EU investment in Centraland Eastern Europe has quadrupled, and trade has doubled.

We've encouraged Europe's newly freed nations fromhelping citizens groups in the New Independent States to monitortheir elections to strengthening the independence of theirjudicial systems. In Russia alone, thousands of civic groups arebeginning to take a role in shaping the destiny of this century.President Yeltsin has a new government of young reformers, fullycapable of leading Russia decisively into the future.

We have helped to take the peace take hold fromBosnia to Northern Ireland. Every day our ordinary citizens workto link our nations together, from sister cities such as Leipzigand Houston, to American students flocking to all Europeancountries, to young Romanians and Bulgarians now enrolled in ourmilitary academies.

With all of this progress, as the Chancellor noted,many challenges still remain to our common vision: the ongoingstruggles of newly free nations to consolidate their reforms; theunfinished work of bring Europe's eastern half fully into ourtransatlantic community; the fear of those who lack the skills tosucceed in the fast-changing global economy; the voices ofhatred, intolerance, and division on both sides of the Atlantic,whether masked in patriotism, cloaked in religious fervor, orposing as ethnic pride; Bosnia's fragile peace; Kosovo'svolatility; Cyprus' stalemate; the dangers that all our nationsface and cannot defeat alone -- the spread of weapons of massdestruction, organized crime, environmental degradation.

And so, my friends, 1998, no less than 1989, demandsour boldness, our will and our unity. Today I call on ournations to summon the energy and the will to finish the work wehave started; to keep at it until every nation on the continentenjoys the security and democracy we do, and all men and women,from Seattle to Paris to Istanbul to St. Petersburg are able topursue their dreams in peace and build an even better life fortheir children.

This is the opportunity of generations. Together,we must seize it. We must build a Europe like Germany itself--whole and free, prosperous and peaceful, increasinglyintegrated and always globally engaged.

If you will forgive me a personal observation basedon my service in the last five and a half years, I must note thatthis magic moment in history did not simply arrive. It was made,and made largely by the vision and determined leadership ofGermany and its Chancellor for nine years.

Consider the historic changes you have wrought. Youcommitted Germany again to lead in a united Europe -- this timethrough cooperation, not conquest. You took the risk of pushingfor the European Monetary Union, knowing there would be bumpsalong the way, especially with the strength of the Deutsche markand the power of your own economy. You shouldered the enormouscost of your own reunification to make sure the East is not leftbehind and to ease as much as possible the unavoidabledislocation and pain that goes along with this process.

And you have done this while also taking on thechallenge that West Germany must face in making a difficulttransition to a global economy, in which preserving opportunityfor all and preserving the social contract is a challenge evenfor the wealthiest nations, as we see in America every day. Allthis you have attempted to do, and largely achieved, in nineshort years.

Though many German citizens may be uncertain of theoutcome and may not yet feel the benefits of your farsighted,courageous course, you are clearly on the right side of history.America honors your vision and your achievements, and we areproud to march with you, shoulder to shoulder, into the newmillennium. We thank you. (Applause.)

We begin our common journey with one basic premise:America stands with Europe. Today, no less than 50 years ago,our destinies are joined. If Europe is at peace, America is moresecure. If Europe prospers, America does as well. We share acommon destiny because we move to a logic of mutually beneficialinterdependence; where each nation can grow stronger and moreprosperous because of the success of its neighbors and friends.Therefore, we welcome Europe's march toward greater unity. Weseek a transatlantic partnership that is broad and open in scope,where the benefits and burdens are shared, where we seek a stableand peaceful future not only for ourselves, but for all theworld. We begin with our common security of which NATO is thebedrock.

Next year, the leaders of countries across Europewill gather in Washington to celebrate NATO's 50 years ofsuccess, to welcome the first new democracies from Eastern Europeas members, to keep NATO's door open to others as they are readyto assume the responsibilities of membership, to chart a coursefor the century ahead with threats more diffuse but no lessdangerous than those our founders faced.

Yesterday's NATO guarded our borders against directmilitary invasion. Tomorrow's Alliance must continue to defendenlarged borders and defend against threats to our security frombeyond them -- the spread of weapons of mass destruction, ethnicviolence, regional conflict. NATO must have the means to performthese tasks. And we must maintain and strengthen our partnershipwith Russia, with Ukraine, with other nations across thecontinent who share our interests, our values and our dreams.

Advancing security also requires us to work forpeace, whether in Northern Ireland, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kosovo,Bosnia, or Cyprus; to stand against intolerance and injustice asmuch as military aggression. For racism and inequality have noplace in the future we are building together. We must fight themat home and abroad.

Second, we must do more to promote prosperitythroughout our community. Transatlantic commerce, as theChancellor said, is already the largest economic relationship inthe world, encompassing more than half a trillion U.S. dollarseach year, supporting millions of jobs in both America andEurope.

Consider this: America's investment in Europeroughly equals that in all the rest of the world put together.And Europe's investment in America has now created so many jobsthat one of 12 U.S. factory workers is employed by aEuropean-owned firm.

Still, we must face the stark fact that prosperityis not yet everyone's partner. Europe's new democracies confrontthe daunting challenge of transition to market economies in anage of globalization, which, as I have already said, makes itmore difficult to preserve equality of opportunity, a strongsocial safety net, and a general sense of fairness. We mustcontinue to help these struggling countries, even as those of usin wealthier nations confront our own challenges on these fronts.

America will continue to support Europe's marchtoward integration. We admire the determination that has madeyour economic and monetary union possible, and we will work withyou to make it a success. We will continue to encourage yoursteps to enlarge the EU as well, eventually to embrace allcentral Europe and Turkey.

Our third task is to strengthen the hand and extendthe reach of democracy. One important tool is the OSCE. Itsbroad membership projects a unity and moral authorityunparalleled on the continent. Today, the OSCE is taking actionon the ground from advancing human rights in the Balkans tosupporting democratic institutions in Belarus.

At next year's OSCE Summit, we should encourage evengreater engagement in the areas where democracy's roots are stillfragile -- in the Balkans, in Central Asia, and the Caucasus --and we must develop practical new tools for the OSCE such astraining police to support peacekeeping missions and dispatchingdemocracy teams to build more open societies. Only in this waycan we deter and diffuse crises that threaten our values and oursecurities before they get out of hand.

Now, the secure, the free, the prosperous Atlanticcommunity we envision must include a successful, democraticRussia. For most of this century fear, tyranny, and isolationkept Russia from the European mainstream. But look at the futureRussians are now building -- and we have an enormous stake intheir success. Russia is literally recreating itself, using thetools of openness and reform to strengthen new freedom andrestrain those who abuse them; to ensure more competition; tocollect taxes, fight crime, restructure the military; prevent thespread of sensitive technologies. We must support this Russianrevolution. (Applause.)

We will redouble our efforts with Russia to reduceour nuclear arsenals, to lower the limits on conventional forcesin Europe, to fight the spread of materials and technology forweapons of mass destruction, to build a partnership with NATO inpractical ways that benefit all of us, to develop the tiesbetween our people that are the best antidote to mistrust. Andwe must not forget Ukraine, for it, too, has the opportunity toreach both east and west and be a great force for Europe's peace,prosperity and stability. We should encourage reform and supportit. The moment in Ukraine is historic and it is not a moment tolose.

Our fourth and final task is strengthening ourglobal cooperation. Let us make common cause of our commonconcerns, standing together against threats to our security fromstates that flout international norms to the conflict brewing inKosovo; from deterring terrorists and organized criminals tohelping Asia restore financial stability; from helping Africa tojoin the global economy to combatting global warming. In a worldgrown smaller, what happens beyond our borders touches our dailylives at home. America and Europe must work together to shapethis world.

Now, as we pursue this agenda, there will be timeswhen we disagree. But occasional lack of consensus must neverresult in lasting cracks in our cohesion. Nor should the questfor consensus lure us into the easiest, lowest common denominatorsolution to difficult, high urgency problems. When the worldneeds principled, effective, strong leadership, we must rise tothe responsibility.

These are our challenges. They are ambitious, butattainable. They demand of nations constant unity of purpose andcommitment, and they require the support and the courage of ourcitizens. For without the courage of ordinary people, the wallwould not have come down and the new Europe would not beunfolding. Now it falls to each of us to write the next chapterof this story, to build up from what has been taken down, tocement together what is no longer walled apart, to repair thebreaches that still exist among our peoples, to build a Europethat belongs together and grows together in freedom.

Our success in this endeavor will make the newcentury the greatest that Germany, America, Europe, and the worldhave ever known. This is an effort worthy of the rich legacy ofBerlin, the visionary leadership of modern Germany, and theenormous obligation we share for our children's future. Let usembrace it with gratitude, joy, and determination.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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