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Public Papers - 1991 - November

Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers in The Hague


Mr. Prime Minister and President Delors, Foreign Minister van den Broek, distinguished guests, thank you all. And may I especially thank Her Majesty the Queen for the extraordinary, warm, genuine hospitality that we have felt today and that Barbara and I have felt in the past as her guests, and to say what a pleasure it is to be back here once again.

It is my pleasure to meet with you at the conclusion of this, the first meeting of U.S. and EC leaders on European soil. That this is Dutch soil makes the moment all the more special, for nowhere is the moral fiber of our Atlantic community stronger.

I made my first visit to The Hague as President more than 2 years ago -- Ruud Lubbers referred to this -- on the eve, though, of the revolution of 1989. And at that moment, East and West stood locked in conflict, the armed and uneasy peace we called the cold war. And yet, even then in the captive nations of Eastern Europe, the world felt those first stirrings of change.

In the stone church at Leiden, I spoke of the new spirit alive on this continent, of the new world within our reach. Today as we meet in this historic Hall of Knights, Europe stands transformed. A new world stretches out before us, a world alive with the promise of freedom.

Just 2 years ago today, the revolution swept away that stark and searing symbol of Europe's division, and that wall came crashing down. But history allows little time for celebration. With change comes new challenges: New challenges for old allies who must chart a common course in the peace that follows the cold war; new challenges for old adversaries, here in Europe, making certain the nations of the East can look to their Western neighbors for help in securing their hard-won freedoms.

As we confront the future, we must not repeat the errors of the past. On my side of the Atlantic, some greeted the end of the cold war with a chorus of ``Come Home, America.'' For them, the collapse of communism meant America's engagement in Europe was finished. Nothing could be more shortsighted for Europe, for my country, and for the world.

We must heed the hard-won lessons of this century if we're to seize new opportunities in the next. We should give future historians no reason to see in 1991 a repeat of 1919: An age of naive isolationism with the world's great democracies divided and distracted, a Europe divided between victors and vanquished, oblivious to unexpected dangers. This first age of naivete made possible the horrors of Hitler, followed by the protracted terror of the cold war. For that earlier dalliance with delusion, I think we would all agree the world paid dearly. War cost the lives of millions. Innocent generations lost the dream of freedom.

The question we face today is not so different than the one our ancestors faced in 1919. For our part, we knew how to wage ``cold war.'' But do we know how to wage the peace? We must start from the understanding that NATO is not simply a military pact joined only to face a common threat. We must recognize that our Atlantic alliance is as vital in today's volatile world as it was years ago when Europe was menaced by Stalin's army.

Our alliance was from the very first and remains today an alliance of free nations, of fellow democracies, of countries bound by the long sweep of history and shared heritage. Today, as we have been for half a century, Europe and America are partners in peace. And today, we're also partners in prosperity with strong trade ties that enrich our peoples, create new opportunities, and fuel growth.

There is no question that NATO will change. In Rome, we approved changes in the way the alliance will provide for the common defense, the way we will deal with our former adversaries, and even the way we will deal with each other. Our new defense doctrine will ensure that every ally is secure from any threat, security made credible by highly mobile, multinational forces, greatly reduced in size but unmatched in human and technological quality.

Our new NATO liaison program for Europe's youngest democracies, Poland and Hungary, Czechoslovakia and others, will help them transform their military apparatus from a weapon of the state to the guardian of free people.

And finally, the alliance's endorsement of a European defense identity, the long-sought ``European Pillar'', will give our European allies more responsibility in the protection of shared vital interests, cherished ideals, and the rule of law.

My country and the nations of this continent are forging a new Atlantic partnership. Think back, look over our shoulders four decades ago, to the days of the Berlin blockade and the Marshall Plan. Nearly all of Europe stood in ruins, half its people locked in chains. And today, Western Europe stands as a model for what democracy, the free market, and cooperation can deliver. More than 300 million people, generating fully one-fifth of the world's economic output, nations that rank among the world's most advanced and best educated.

This era of postwar prosperity has prepared Europe for larger responsibilities. We're now witnessing the new Europe in action: Working with us to help the citizens of Central and Eastern Europe transform their systems, their societies, their lives; in the Middle East, where the European Community stands with us as a partner in the quest for peace. We see the new Europe at work closer to home, striving against difficult odds to end the war in Yugoslavia.

We welcome the emergence of the new Europe, in the European Community's march toward a single market and political union, in the revival of the Western European Union, the WEU, in the EC's new accord with the European Free Trade Association. Revitalizing the Atlantic alliance and building a European Union go hand-in-hand. Both can contribute to a safe, prosperous Europe and a humane world order. A continuing American role in Europe can facilitate integration doing that by fostering stability. And a more confident and cohesive Europe will, we believe, want the United States to remain fully engaged.

We, therefore, hope for continued progress at the upcoming EC summit in Maastricht because America recognizes the accelerating unity of Europe as a natural evolution toward our common aim: A commonwealth of free nations, working in concert; a new world where more and more nations enter a widening circle of freedom. In the months and years ahead, this commonwealth will be called upon to be patient and steady, at once, resolute and ready to act.

First, we've got to write the final chapter of the cold war conflict. We must help the nations of the East secure the freedoms that they have won. In Central and Eastern Europe, the euphoria of 1989 has worn away. Each country struggles now to build a functioning free market on the ruins of the socialist systems, to rekindle a saving sense of trust essential to democratic society. These nations need our help. They need access to Western markets, financial and technical assistance to ease their transition. For 40 long years, the captive nations of the East looked West for a sign of hope. And it's time now to say to these new democracies we will help you. More than that, after such a cold and protracted isolation, it is time for us to extend to them a warm welcome into this commonwealth of freedom.

And yet, while the urgent work of democracy-building and market reform moves forward, some see in freedom's triumph a bitter harvest. In this view, the collapse of communism has thrown open a Pandora's Box of ancient ethnic hatreds, resentment, and even revenge. Some fear democracy's new freedoms will be used not to build new trust but to settle old scores.

All of Europe has awakened to the danger of an old enemy: A nationalism animated by hatred and unmoved by nobler ends. No one need fear healthy national pride: The distinctive and defining traditions, the living history that gives peoples and nations a sense of identity and principle and purpose. But we must guard against nationalism of a more sinister sort: One that feeds on old, stale prejudices, teaches people intolerance and suspicion, and even racism and anti-Semitism; one that pits nation against nation, citizen against citizen. There can be no place for these old animosities in the new Europe.

The answer lies not in suppressing the dark impulses that destroy nations but in surmounting them, cultivating a spirit of democratic tolerance and peaceful change, a concept of majority rule that respects minority rights. Democracy is not the cause of strife in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union but rather the solution. Western Europe stands as proof that in the space of little more than one generation, the spirit of democracy can transcend centuries of rivalry, war, nationalistic strife.

We see in Yugoslavia how the proud name of nationalism can splinter a country into bloody civil war. America supports, strongly supports, the efforts of the European Community to bring that conflict to an end. We salute Lord Carrington for his indefatigable efforts. And we urge all parties to stop the violence, to seek through peaceful means an immediate end to the suffering. We are ready to join the EC in holding accountable those in Yugoslavia whose parochial ambitions are perpetrating this agony.

Second, we must seize the opportunities farther East to support the democratic transformation of the Soviet Union and its Republics. Prime Minister Lubbers referred to this: That failed August coup stiffened the resolve of reformers to institute democratic change and introduce true free market reforms. We in the West must answer by offering humanitarian aid, opening our markets to goods from every Republic, encouraging investment, offering economic advice and expertise.

I believe the peoples everywhere in that vast land want change. But no shortcut can spare them suffering and hardship as they dig out from under 70 years of misrule. A harsh winter, hard times, lie ahead. And desperate times breed demagogs. America and Europe share an interest in the success of Soviet reform. Together, we must act to support the forces of liberty and democracy and free enterprise in that troubled region.

Finally, we must guard against the danger that old cold war allies will become new economic adversaries, cold warriors turned to trade warriors. There are signs on both sides of the Atlantic, frankly, that this could happen. Shrill voices on both sides peddle protectionism as the path to prosperity.

That way, in my view, lies to economic ruin, a prescription for plunging us into the kind of impoverishing rivalry that ravaged our economies during the Great Depression. As President, part of my responsibility to the American people is ensuring economic growth and opportunity. In a global economy, that means insisting on free and fair trade.

In North America, as in Europe, great progress has been made driving down trade barriers. But that progress will mean little if the world aligns itself into warring trade blocs. The principle of free trade faces a critical test in the Uruguay round. A positive outcome, one that reaffirms and extends the GATT system, will prove that the United States and the European Community, as world economic leaders, have the confidence to move decisively into a new era of free and open trade, generating jobs and opportunity on both sides of the Atlantic. And that's why I am pleased today to report that the United States and the EC have made progress in just the past few days and have pledged to spare no effort to resolve the equally significant issues that are still outstanding.

Helping the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe; supporting democratic reform in the Soviet Union and in its Republics as well; pushing forward for freer world trade: Each challenge we face constitutes a test. Each holds open an opportunity to give real meaning to strengthen the bonds that link us across the Atlantic, to open our commonwealth of free nations to all who love liberty and all who seek peace.

Thank you very much. And may God bless The Netherlands and the free peoples of Europe. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:46 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to: Jacques Delors, president of the European Community's Executive Commission; Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek and Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands; and Lord Carrington, chairman of the Conference on Yugoslavia of the European Community. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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