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Public Papers - 1990 - September

Remarks at the Arrival Ceremony in Helsinki, Finland


President Koivisto, Mrs. Koivisto, and members of the Finnish Government: The city of Helsinki has often been a meeting place for nations seeking to advance the cause of peace. And my thanks to the people of Finland first for hosting this meeting and for setting an example for all the world in your resolute commitment to liberty and independence.

When President Gorbachev and I met in Washington, we discussed the possibility of meetings such as the ones we'll hold here tomorrow. We agreed that the United States and the Soviet Union had reached a stage in our relations where meetings should occur more frequently -- less fanfare, working meetings, held as circumstances might dictate. And our aim was that these meetings be unstructured and informal, with an open agenda and a maximum opportunity to exchange views on issues of mutual importance.

Well, in keeping with that aim, here in Helsinki President Gorbachev and I will focus on a full range of issues. We seek continued movement towards a new Europe, whole and free. We seek to advance the pace of arms control, strategic and conventional. And I want to hear about the progress of the Soviet reform and explore other issues of interest to our two countries. And, of course, I expect that we will devote a large part of our time together to the situation in the Persian Gulf.

I've said many times this past year that we have entered a new era in world affairs. This meeting comes at a critical time, at a moment when the actions we take can shape this new world for years to come. In the past, many regional conflicts have played themselves out against the background of the larger conflict of the cold war. Renegade regimes and unpredictable rulers resorted to force, counting on superpower stalemate to frustrate a united response. International law and international organizations were often paralyzed, powerless to prevent conflict or restore the peace. But the international response to Iraq's invasion proves how much has changed. Here in Helsinki, President Gorbachev and I meet hopefully to strengthen our common approach to this unjustifiable act of aggression.

Much is at stake, and there is much the world stands to gain if we succeed. If the nations of the world, acting together, continue, as they have been, to isolate Iraq and deny Saddam the fruits of aggression, we will set in place the cornerstone of an international order more peaceful, stable, and secure than any that we have known.

To our Finnish hosts, let me simply say that I intend to take full advantage of this very brief but welcome opportunity to renew America's warm friendship with Finland. I meet today with President Koivisto, whose counsel I have valued over the years. Barbara and I often talk about our visit here in the early eighties -- 1983. And it was then that I first met your President, President Koivisto. We've stayed in very close touch since then. And I look forward to hearing his views on the many issues that I've just mentioned and others as well.

Finland has long been a voice of peace and stability between nations in the councils of the CSCE, as a member of the United Nations peacekeeping forces. And today at this time of challenge, Finland once again stands with the forces of peace. I thank the Government of Finland for its staunch support as a member of the United Nations Security Council, upholding international law in face of Iraq's unwarranted aggression.

Together with the nations of the world, I am confident that we can reverse the dangerous course of events brought on by the actions of Saddam Hussein and restore peace, stability, and respect for the rule of law.

Thank you, Mr. President. And may God bless the people of Finland. Thank you. In his remarks, he referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Note: The President spoke at 11:24 a.m. on the tarmac at Helsinki-Vantas Airport. In his remarks, he referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

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