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Public Papers - 1991 - July

Remarks at the Arrival Ceremony in Athens, Greece

1991-07-18

The President tells me it's my turn. President Karamanlis, and our Greek and American friends: I am greatly honored to receive this welcome, and to see Prime Minister Mitsotakis and other distinguished members of the Greek Government.

More than 200 years ago, my Nation was forged in the fire of liberty. Today, Barbara and I are delighted to visit this nation that gave birth to democracy in this very city 2,500 year ago and whose principles still inspire all who love and cherish freedom.

Thirty-two years ago, the last American President to visit this historic land praised ``those great Greek city-states that we learned to love and admire even from the days when, as little boys, we learned our ancient history.'' Dwight Eisenhower understood how Greece's glory had shaped and enriched the world and especially the United States of America. Eisenhower was right to say, ``the spirit of the West, the modern spirit, is a Greek discovery, and the place of the Greeks is in the modern world.''

This glory did not die with the ancient city-states. It still lives, still summons our values and ideals. We stand for government by the people. We endorse the rights of self-determination, equal protection under the law, and freedom of thought and worship. We believe that these rights derive from the sanctity of the individual, the bond which binds our two nations.

Today, totalitarianism lies disdained and discredited, a victim of its own brutality and its own inadequacy. As a result of this, freedom's tide swells, as the tide of communism recedes. Men like President Karamanlis and Prime Minister Mitsotakis have pressed passionately for freedom and offered new hope to the world.

I arrive today with the hope that we will continue to renew and strengthen our special relationship. I look forward in my discussions with the President and the Prime Minister to confirming our common interest in a new world order, stability in the Balkans, peace on Cyprus, and reconciliation between Greece and Turkey. Most important, I'm anxious to discuss how we might strengthen our own security and economic ties.

Finally, I'm reminded of the words of Socrates, who said, ``I'm not an Athenian or a Greek but a citizen of the world.'' In that spirit, Greece stood for what is right in the Persian Gulf by insisting that aggression must not stand. I applaud the Greek Government and the Greek people for having helped to defend liberty in its hour of danger.

In closing, let me say to President Karamanlis, I am truly honored that the man who extended the hand of friendship to President Eisenhower 32 years ago is here to do the same for me today. Thank you very much, sir, for the welcome.

Note: The President spoke at 2 p.m. upon arrival at Anthinai Airport. In his remarks he referred to President Constantinos Karamanlis and Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis of Greece. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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