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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Carlos Menem of Argentina

1991-11-14

President Bush. Thank you all very much. And President Menem, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the White House. The ties between our countries have never been stronger, and a great deal of credit goes to you and your administration.

Nearly a year ago, a revolt by renegade soldiers faced you in your nation's capital. And you stood firm in defense of freedom and liberty and in defense of your people's right to a government of their choice.

In the end, freedom triumphed. It was an honor to join you, just a few days later, in beautiful Buenos Aires, the capital of a proud and free Argentina.

In your inaugural address you asked Argentina to ``arise and walk.'' When we met last year in the capital, we spoke about the challenges your country faces and the changes that have already been set in motion.

Today, Mr. President, Argentina is assuming its rightful place as a leader in the democratic community of nations. Nowhere in this hemisphere is the shape of the post-cold-war world more evident than in Argentina. Under your leadership, Argentina has become one of the hemisphere's strongest defenders of democracy, both at home and abroad.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, you sent your Navy to join the international coalition which liberated that pillaged nation. And when tanks rumbled through the streets of Moscow, threatening the Soviet Union's forces of democratic reform, you were one of the very first in Latin America to speak out in defense of liberty. You have called for democratic reform in Cuba and made major contributions to the efforts of the Organization of American States to restore democratic government to Haiti.

At home, you have slashed government spending, privatized state-owned industries, and abolished harmful overregulation of the economy. You have brought once-rampant inflation under control. And last year, Argentina had a trade surplus of nearly billion, and U.S. firms alone invested over 0 million in Argentina.

Despite facing many difficult challenges when you took office in 1989, your efforts have earned the respect of the international community. More importantly, they strengthened Argentina's competitive position in the global economy, by attracting new confidence and investment from around the world. I share that confidence in Argentina's future under your leadership.

In the rapidly evolving relationship among the nations of the Southern Cone, you have taken the lead in achieving regional economic integration and arms control.

For example, by the end of 1995, the Mercosur common market aims to eliminate tariffs between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, linking your economies together in a way consistent with GATT to form one of the hemisphere's largest open markets. You're taking a giant step toward the goal I stated last year in announcing the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative: To make the Americas the world's largest partnership of free-trading nations.

We also welcome your efforts to set in place nuclear safeguards that will increase international security. And your decisions to forswear chemical weapons and halt missile proliferation do create a safer hemisphere, a safer world.

From Rivadavia to Rio Gallegos, from Zapala to Buenos Aires, your strong, committed leadership is bringing your people hope for change, faith in their countrymen, and the courage to ``arise and walk'' together.

On behalf of the people of the United States, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the White House. And may God bless the Argentine Republic.

President Menem. My dear friend, Mr. President, distinguished Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen, sisters and brothers of America. Thank you very much for your warm words of welcome. It is to me a source of deep satisfaction to be once again here in this great country whose institutions and values have been and still are an example of freedom and human dignity. Moreover, I come back with the satisfaction of having already traveled a long distance along the path of transformation my government has chosen.

There is still a lot to be done in Argentina. Many expectations are still unfulfilled. Many are the problems. However, with effort, firmness, and determination, we are conquering the slope of decadence. With civil freedom, with economic freedom, with an unprecedented freedom of the press, after 2 years of hard work to achieve change, most of the Argentine people have ratified recently their support during our last elections.

This means backing the government, backing the economic cause and also a new way of insertion in the world. Our determination is today firmer than ever before to continue implementing state reform, privatizations, open trade, stimulation of foreign investment, deregulation, and also the return to Argentina of assets that were sent abroad. Argentina has also decided to continue playing an active role in the defense of peace and international security, giving all possible support to United Nations initiatives.

When this year began, a distant region in the world was in crisis. In the Gulf, we faced, then, serious risks with possible consequences for the whole planet. Within the framework of what the United Nations decided and as the result of the great effort of the United States and its allies, it was possible to end aggression and restore the full rule of international law. We participated in that joint action, and we are proud we did. Some months later, you, yourself, my friend, Mr. President, had the initiative to propose unilaterally a significant reduction of nuclear weaponry.

The Middle East had, for time immemorial, been a region where all expectations to obtain a just and lasting peace floundered and were thwarted. A few days ago, you inaugurated a conference that has renewed the hope of a constructive dialog in the region when calling to the same negotiating table antagonists who seemed only yesterday to be implacably hostile. This is a really formidable progress, I insist, a formidable and spectacular progress. A new international order is being generated on the basis of peace, of justice, of reason, and under the guidance of God, our only source of reason and justice.

This is the reason why we recognize today our vast coincidence with the United States. For instance, in the common aim of restoring the democratic government of the Republic of Haiti. That is why we rely on integration. We want to consolidate Mercosur with our regional brothers. And we also want to add our own efforts so that the ambitious Enterprise for the Americas Initiative that you, Mr. President, conceived and announced last year will bear fruit.

With Brazil, we have signed an agreement for the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy, and we are about to conclude an agreement on safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency. With Brazil, too, and Chile and Uruguay -- Paraguay and Bolivia will join us in the future -- we have made the commitment of not producing nor buying, storing, or transferring chemical or biological weapons; of course, banning any kind of use for them.

Furthermore, we have also joined the control system for missile technology, known by the acronym MTCR. Whitman's prophetical dreams are renewed, entwined with the illusions of having a single and great America as they were presaged Ruben Dario, Jose Marti, and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento.

To this end, it will be necessary to find in each and every country of our America a representative democracy with full respect for human rights and a free economy. I repeat, in all the countries of this continent with absolutely no exceptions.

To this end, it will be necessary, Mr. President, to bring a message of a nation that is looking inwards. The message is very simple: The Argentine nation faces with seriousness the need of having a place in the new international order. This we are sure to obtain since we have a representative democracy, we respect human rights, and we chose a free economy.

We trust that the European Economic Community and the developed world will not persist in applying old protectionist schemes that menace the hope of a better future.

We hope that we may be able to cooperate firmly so that, and I quote your own words, my dear President and friend, ``we may eliminate subsidies that distort trade.'' We hope we may be able to translate into concrete results some political statements allowing markets to exist whose transparency will reward efficient producers. We trust in the oldest constitutional democracy in the world, and that democracy is the one in the United States.

We place our trust in the United States and its leaders, who, in 1991, have faced up to their responsibilities towards the international community with maturity and imagination and commendable moderation.

Mr. President, I am really moved by this reception. I am sure that our stay here will not only be a pleasure but also very fruitful. I thank you for your warmth and your hospitality.

God bless you, Mr. President. God bless your country and God bless our America.

Note: President Bush spoke at 9:58 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where President Menem was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. President Menem spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

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