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Public Papers - 1992 - June

Remarks at the Arrival Ceremony for President Boris Yeltsin of Russia


Mr. President and Mrs. Yeltsin, distinguished members of the Russian delegation, welcome to the United States of America. Also, a welcome to all of you who have come here to welcome President Yeltsin and Mrs. Yeltsin. Welcome to the White House.

Mr. President, today marks the beginning of a new era, a new kind of summit, not a meeting between two powers struggling for global supremacy but between two partners striving to build a democratic peace. From this summit we see a new horizon, a new world of peace and hope, a new world of cooperation and partnership between the American and Russian people. Our hope is that this partnership will end forever the old antagonisms that kept our people apart, that kept the world in confrontation and conflict.

Mr. President, your nation is embarked on a great experiment, a new Russian revolution with freedom as its goal. The progress that Russia has made and the promise of more to come owes much to the courage and vision of President Boris Yeltsin. Mr. President, like Peter the Great, you are redefining Russia's understanding of itself, redefining Russia's role in the world. But for the first time in modern Russian history, a leader claims as his authority not the dispensation of history but a democratic mandate. You come here as an elected leader, elected by the people in free and fair elections. And we salute you.

Already, Mr. President, together we're transforming our relations with benefits not simply to our two nations but to the entire world. Today the threat of a cataclysmic conventional war has vanished with the Warsaw Pact and the rise of democracy in Russia. Today the threat of a nuclear nightmare is more distant now than at any time since the dawn of the nuclear age.

Mr. President, I say this with a sense of pride, a sense of awe, and above all, a sense of history. There is no greater gift to the people of America, to the people of Russia, to the people all over the world than an end to the awful specter of global war. And think for just a minute about what that means not for presidents, not for heads of state or historians but for parents and for their children. It means a future free from fear.

This first U.S.-Russia summit gives us a chance to lay the foundation of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of our citizens. We'll discuss Russia's historic transition to the free market, its integration into the world economy, and our commitment to support those reforms. We will seek new ways to expand trade between our two nations; to create wealth and growth and jobs; new levels of military cooperation to reduce further the risk of war; and finally, new agreements to reduce nuclear arms and to remove from our arsenals the most destructive weapons.

But this morning I want to focus on our ultimate goal, on the challenge we face to forge a new peace, a permanent peace between two nations who must never again be adversaries. Right now, the people of Russia are waging a valiant struggle for the very same rights and freedoms that we Americans prize so deeply. The fate of that revolution, the future of democracy in Russia and other new nations of the old Soviet empire is the most important foreign policy issue of our time. The United States and its democratic allies must play a key role in helping forge a democratic peace.

That is why I urge the Congress of the United States once again to pass the ``FREEDOM Support Act'' to strengthen democratic reform in Russia and the other new nations of the old Soviet Union. And yes, the aid that I've requested from the Congress is significant, but it is also a tiny fraction of the trillion that this Nation spent to secure peace during the long cold war. The resources we devote now are an investment in a new century of peace with Russia.

History offers us a rare chance, a chance to achieve what twice before this century has escaped our grasp. It is the vision that perished twice in the battlefields of Europe, the vision that gave us hope through the long cold war, the dream of a new world of freedom.

Mr. President, when we think of the world our children and theirs will inherit, no single factor will shape their future more than the fate of the revolution now unfolding in Russia. Your Russian revolution, like our American Revolution, simply must succeed.

Once again, my friend, welcome to the White House. And may God grant a peaceful future to the American and the Russian people. Welcome, sir. Glad you're here.

Note: The President spoke at 10:11 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.

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