Public Papers - 1991 - July
Exchange With Reporters in Athens, Greece
Q. Mr. President, President Assad said that he's pushing your deal -- --
The President. No, Jim [Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News], hey, this is a history tour.
Q. -- -- your offer on Mideast peace talks. Do you have any reaction to that this morning?
The President. At the appropriate time, yes. But this is not the place.
Q. How do you like this place? [Laughter]
Q. Have you talked to Secretary Baker?
The President. It's marvelous, and I think we're getting to do what a lot of Americans -- most Americans -- would like to do, just get a taste of this history. I'll tell you, it's fantastic, marvelous.
Q. Is that what you mean when you say ``the American dream''? Is this not it?
The President. Democracy is the American dream, and it started right here. So, we see these marvelous symbols of Greece's past. But all of this is just so impressive.
Q. How important is culture in your life?
Q. No reaction this morning -- --
The President. Third trip for me. There's a great sense of wonder every time you come here.
Middle East Peace Process
Q. Any reaction at all, sir, to the news from -- --
The President. I'd rather not now, but it looks -- I mean, I must say it's very encouraging. I don't want to divert this into a press conference, but as we said earlier, there were positive aspects. And what I've heard from the Secretary is all positive so far. So, we'll see where we go.
We're talking about this Middle East initiative now and the Syrian response, which is quite encouraging. Secretary Baker is really working hard on this. He's over there plowing away.
Visit to Greece
Q. Mr. President, if you had some time, what else would you like to visit in Greece?
The President. Well, I'd like to visit every Greek isle. [Laughter] I might have to wait until I get out of this job to do it.
Q. Did you see any of the protests last night, Mr. President?
The President. No, didn't see a thing. It was a tranquil and very, very pleasant evening. And I guess this is the time to -- another time to express my appreciation to the Prime Minister for his hospitality -- and it's wonderful. And I meant yesterday what I said about U.S.-Greek relations. So, this is kind of the icing on the cake. But yesterday was, as far as we were concerned, fantastic.
Let me say this: Anyplace that an American President goes, whether it's in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, New York, or Athens, we're bound to stir up a little interest. But that's some of what democracy is about. We don't worry about all that. And let the people that are in charge of it handle it. It's all going very well indeed, thank you.
It doesn't concern me one bit. I mean, what we say, ``goes with the territory.'' And so, if there was some disturbance yesterday, no, that's part of people's right to get out and say what they think. As long as they do it peacefully. It's the same way in our country; so, we have no problems.
Q. Mr. President, when you say you have some ideas about Cyprus, are you advancing a proposal of your own?
The President. No, I answered that one yesterday, Charles [Charles Bierbauer, Cable News Network]. I'm not sure you were here yesterday at the press conference. And I would use the word catalyst -- the United States cannot dictate terms, but we can express a keen interest in being helpful. And I will be discussing that a little further today, and then we'll see what happens when I go and talk to my friend, Mr. Ozal. We've got two strong leaders in Greece and in Turkey. And I expect that -- you know, they feel it and I feel there's an opportunity. So, that's about all I was talking about yesterday. Yet, it's important.
Q. Are you taking anything specific -- new -- from here to Mr. Ozal?
The President. Hey, listen, I want to talk about this -- a little history. I'd like to give you guys a history lecture, but you all want to talk about something else.
Q. What impresses you the most about it?
The President. I refer all questions to my man, Sig.
Q. Had you seen it before, Mr. President?
Q. How important is culture in your life?
The President. In my life? Look at my wife, and you can tell it's -- we talk about this all the time.
Q. Had you visited here before?
The President. Yes, twice.
Note: The exchange began at 8:15 a.m. while President Bush was touring the Acropolis. In the exchange, the following persons were referred to: President Hafiz al-Assad of Syria; Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis of Greece; President Turgut Ozal of Turkey; and Sigmund A. Rogich, Assistant to the President for Public Events and Initiatives. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.