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Public Papers - 1990 - October

Remarks at the Ministerial Meeting in New York, New York, of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe


On behalf of the American people, it is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the United States. It's especially fitting that this meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the first ever on American soil, comes at this time of momentous change. For just as Europe enters a new and promising era, so, too, do America's relations with Europe.

We Americans are bound to Europe by a shared heritage and history and the common bonds of culture. Through the Atlantic alliance and the broader partnership that bind our two continents and peoples together, we have brought about the end of Europe's division and set our eyes on a new Europe, whole and free. Together we can forge a new transatlantic partnership at the CSCE, a commonwealth of free nations that spans the oceans between us.

In this past year, we would all agree, we've witnessed a world of change. Moments ago, right here in this building, the Foreign Ministers of France and Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States signed the document suspending all remaining Four Power rights and responsibilities in Germany, effective at the moment of German unification. I must say that just before I left from the hotel I saw that on television. And for me, and I think for many of the American people, it was a very moving moment, because with those final strokes of the pen really ends an era of discord and division. The way is now open for a united, sovereign, and democratic Germany. We rejoice with the German people that their nation is unified once more, and we will soon welcome a united Germany into the CSCE's community of states.

Germany's long-awaited day of celebration is the culmination of a year of change that, indeed, transformed a continent. This transformation is testimony to the power of the principles in the founding charter of the CSCE, the Helsinki Final Act. There, in the human rights and fundamental freedoms set down in Helsinki 15 years ago, we find the cause and catalyst of what I refer to as the Revolution of '89.

In the darkest days of dictatorship, those principles blazed forth a bright star, inspiring ordinary people to extraordinary acts. Think of Walesa, the father of Solidarity; of Sakharov and his unflinching humanity in the face of repression; of Havel, Mazowiecki, and Antall, not so very long ago political prisoners, now President and Prime Ministers of three of the world's newest democracies, and Zhelev, another ex-political prisoner, now President of Bulgaria. Think of all the millions of ordinary men and women at long last free to speak their minds, free to live, work, and worship as they wish.

CSCE shares in this monumental triumph of the human spirit. Our challenge now is to keep pace with the tremendous political transformations that have changed the face of Europe, to create a CSCE that consolidates these great gains for freedom and bring East and West together -- in eastern and central Europe, a CSCE capable of helping hard-won democratic principles take root and draw strength; a CSCE that can help secure a firm foundation for freedom in the new Europe now emerging.

In July, at the London summit, the leaders of the Atlantic alliance put forward a series of proposals aimed at strengthening the CSCE and channeling its energies in new directions. We urge the member nations of the CSCE: to create a Center for Prevention of Conflict, to build on the CSCE's success in establishing confidence- and security-building measures that have done so much to reduce the risk of war by accident or miscalculation and to conciliate disputes; to establish a small permanent secretariat to serve the CSCE, one that could support an accelerated schedule of the CSCE consultations and review conferences; to create a CSCE elections office to foster free and fair elections, the fundamental democratic principle from which all others follow. And on behalf of the United States, let me say that I hope that these new institutions can be situated wherever possible in the new democracies of central and eastern Europe.

And finally, at the London summit, we issued an invitation to member nations to convene an assembly of Europe, a parliament where the growing family of democracies, old and new, can chart a common course towards this new Europe, whole and free.

Today, as we prepare for a summit of the CSCE nations, I urge the ministers to make this meeting a milestone in the history of the CSCE. And to this end, let me mention one more area where rapid progress is critical: the ongoing negotiations of conventional forces in Europe.

An agreement to reduce conventional forces remains the cornerstone of a new security architecture for Europe. And for that reason, the United States believes a conventional arms accord is an essential prerequisite to a CSCE summit. And today I now call on the negotiators now working in Vienna to redouble their efforts in the weeks ahead. And I can pledge you the United States will cooperate in every way possible. We must resolve outstanding issues and reach agreement so that a summit can be held this year.

Fifteen years ago, in a Europe divided East from West, the CSCE offered a vision of a Europe united, whole and free. Today, with that new Europe within our reach, the CSCE remains central to all that Europe can become.

So, once again, welcome to the United States. And may the spirit that has carried Europe forward guide your discussions, and may you meet with every success. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: President Bush spoke at 3:07 p.m. at the Jacob Javits Center. He referred to President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia, Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki of Poland, and Prime Minister Jozsef Antall of Hungary. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks. Following his remarks, President Bush returned to Washington, DC.

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