Home » Research » Public Papers - 1990
Facebook Twitter Youtube Flickr

Events Newsletter

Click here to become a member of our e-club and receive news about special events and offers.

National Archives

Public Papers - 1990

Remarks to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Paris, France

1990-11-19

Mr. Chairman, this is a glorious day for Europe. This morning I signed for my country an arms control agreement which ends the military confrontation that has cursed this continent for decades. This afternoon we welcome a summit document, a Charter of Paris, which expresses the common aspirations of our society. It is right that we gather here in this magnificent city, a city of civilization, to declare our hopes for the future and to mark a grand turn in the course of history.

Today we do justice to the original framers of the Helsinki Final Act. The goals they set have proven their worth, thanks to the courage of so many who dared not merely to hope but to act. We salute men of courage -- Havel and Mazowiecki and Antall, here with us today, and all the other activists -- who took Helsinki's goals as solemn commitments and who suffered so that these commitments would be honored. And we salute all those individuals and private groups in the West who showed that the protection of human rights is not just the business of governments; it's everyone's business -- nongovernmental organizations, the press, religious leaders, and ordinary citizens.

Their dreams are being realized before our eyes. The new democracies of central and eastern Europe have ended decades of repression to rediscover their birthright of freedom. In the Soviet Union, the seeds of democracy and human rights have found new soil. And at long last, the cruel division of Germany has come to an end. A continent frozen in hostility for so long has become a continent of revolutionary change. To assure that this change occurs in a secure framework, we've completed a conventional arms control treaty that transforms the military map of this continent. We are adopting confidence in security-building measures that will contribute to lasting peace through openness. This morning, 22 of us signed a solemn undertaking on the nonuse of force.

But today, as old political divisions disappear, other sources of tension -- some ancient, some new -- are emerging. National disputes persist. Abuses of minority and human rights continue. Where millions had once been denied the freedom to move, now millions feel compelled to move to escape economic or political hardship.

We are witnessing in several countries the ugly resurgence of anti-Semitism and other ethnic, racial, and religious intolerance. Bigotry and hatred have no place in civilized nations. Minorities enrich our societies. Protection of their rights is a prerequisite for stability.

Europe is entering unknown waters. The CSCE is ideally suited to help its member states navigate. We have articulated fine standards for national behavior; and now it is our task to bring CSCE down to Earth, making it part of everyday politics, building and drawing on its strength to address the new challenges. My government put forward some ideas for the future development of the CSCE earlier this year, and I hope that they contributed to the initiatives that the members of the North Atlantic alliance announced at our London summit in July. And I am pleased to see that so many of the ideas discussed there have emerged in a summit declaration that we will sign this week.

Let me highlight how we think some of these initiatives and others will help the CSCE put its principles into practice. The declaration we will sign establishes an agenda to guide our work until we meet again in Helsinki. This is important work on issues vital to all of us. The peaceful settlement of disputes, the role of minorities in our societies, the construction of democratic institutions and, most fundamental of all, enhancement of human rights.

We've also agreed that we must deepen the security of our community by extending our talks on conventional forces, expanding the benefits of confidence-building measures, and successfully concluding an agreement on ``open skies.''

Finally, we recognize that, as Europe mends its wounds, so CSCE can mature. We've established a framework for regular political consultations and institutions to reinforce that framework. The Secretariat, the Office of Free Elections, and the Center for the Prevention of Conflict -- let's face it, they are modest, but significant steps towards the new order we all seek. We welcome, too, the call for a new parliamentary dimension in CSCE which can give another voice to the democratic values that we all share.

Two days ago in Prague, I called on Europe and America to work in common cause toward a new commonwealth for freedom based on these shared principles: a belief in the fundamental dignity and rights of the individuals, a belief that governments can be empowered only by the people and must answer to them, a belief that individuals should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and a belief that governments and nations must live by a rule of law as a prerequisite for human progress. These are the principles that guide our nations and the CSCE. And yet to secure them in our two continents, they must be secure in the world as a whole.

As we consecrate those principles here today, those same principles are grossly violated in the Persian Gulf. I'd like to quote a sentence from the joint statement issued by President Gorbachev and myself in September at Helsinki. And here's the quote: ``Nothing short of complete implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions is acceptable.''

Well, can there be room for any other view here, in a continent that has suffered so much from aggression and its companion, appeasement? The principles that have given life to CSCE, that have guided our success in Europe have no geographic limits. Our success here can be neither profound nor enduring if the rule of law is shamelessly disregarded elsewhere.

As we entered the cold war in the spring of 1947, the American Secretary of State, George Marshall -- he made an important point which I'd like to quote: ``Problems which bear directly on the future of our civilization cannot be disposed of by general talk or vague formulae. They require concrete solutions for definite and extremely complicated questions -- questions that have to do with boundaries, with power to prevent military aggression, with people who have bitter memories with the production and control of things which are essential to the lives of millions of people.''

We in the CSCE have come far in the last few months in finding those concrete solutions, and now we should build on this success here, and we should stand on it squarely everywhere.

Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:10 p.m. at the Kleber Center. In his remarks, he referred to Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany, Conference Chairman of the day; President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia; Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki of Poland; and Prime Minister Jozsef Antall of Hungary.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
Telephone: (979) 691-4000 | Facsimile: (979) 691-4050 | TTY: (979) 691-4091