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National Archives

Public Papers - 1992

Remarks at the Arrival Ceremony for President Richard von Weizsacker of Germany


President and Mrs. von Weizsacker, Minister and Mrs. Genscher, distinguished members of the German delegation, on behalf of the American people, let me warmly welcome you to the United States and to Washington on this beautiful spring day. Barbara and I hope you have a productive and an enjoyable visit, and we're especially happy that you'll spend a few days in our hometown of Houston, Texas.

Mr. President, your presence doubly honors us. Not only is this your first state visit here, but I'm told that it is your first state visit to any country since the triumphant reunification one and a half years ago. Your presence here is testimony to the enduring ties that exist between our lands and our people. The German-American relationship has grown even stronger through cold-war and post-cold-war cooperation, drawing our two peoples even more closely together.

You come at a pivotal time for our two countries and, indeed, the entire world. Forty-five years ago at an equally pivotal time, some in the United States said that we should turn inward, turn our backs on our defeated adversaries. And we did not. Instead we committed ourselves to democracy's success, helping Europe, helping Germany and its fledgling democracy. What a wise decision that was, committing ourselves to a continuing global role and making an investment in German democracy. And today we see the fruits of that decision, united Germany, a model of democracy for the whole world and certainly a reliable friend and partner for the United States of America.

Today, Germany and the U.S. face a similar decision as the peoples of Russia and the other new States seek to follow the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in building democracy and free markets. Germany and America in partnership are committed to supporting those who are struggling with the legacy of a defeated Communist system, and making an investment in their democratic future. Those who would ask why this is the right course need only look at a united Germany, once our adversary, now our close friend, now our partner in leadership.

Mr. President, 3 years ago I accompanied Chancellor Kohl on a visit to your beautiful Rhineland city of Mainz. And there I spoke of how together we could build a Europe whole and free, at peace with itself. Because lasting security comes not from tanks, troops, or barbed wire; it is built on shared values and agreements that link free people. I believed that in Mainz, and I believe it just as firmly today.

United Germany is a key partner for the United States in promoting democracy and economic reform in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. You are our partner in building a more united and cooperative Europe. And in that spirit, we strongly welcome German involvement in global affairs. Strong German-American cooperation is fully compatible with development of a more unified Europe, a goal that the United States has consistently supported over the years, just as unequivocally as we supported a united Germany.

As our world looks ahead to the coming century, I want to state this point as clearly as I can: The United States is firmly committed to remaining a world leader. We will play an active role in securing peace, security, and prosperity in Europe and in our transatlantic community. We must work together to overcome differences, to drive down barriers to free and fair trade, to achieve in the GATT negotiations agreements that will secure for all nations a new prosperity.

Mr. President, you, sir, have played a vital role in this. You've made it your task to help reconcile former adversaries, to overcome the antagonisms of the past, and to heal the wounds of division and strife. In a time of upheaval and rapid change, you've provided your countrymen with firm, moral leadership. And you've helped them come to terms with the twin catastrophes of dictatorship and division that befell Germany this century. And now, the German nation is at peace with itself, steadfastly committed to democracy and human rights.

Mr. President, Germany and the United States are guided by the words of your great national anthem: ``May our path by peace be lighted.'' And as we walk down that path of peace together, may God bless our two great nations and the lasting friendship that unites the people of Germany and the United States of America.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:12 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

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