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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Helsinki, Finland

1992-07-09

May I first thank President Koivisto and the Government and the wonderful people of Finland for their hospitality.

It's fitting that we meet again in Helsinki, the city whose name came to symbolize hope and determination during the cold war. We declared the cold war over when we met in Paris in 1990. But even then we did not appreciate what awaited us. Since 1990, a vast empire has collapsed, a score of new states have been born, and a brutal war rages in the Balkans.

Our world has changed beyond recognition. But our principles have not changed. They have been proven right. With our principles as a compass, we must work as a community to challenge change toward the peaceful order that this century has thus far failed to deliver.

The United States has always supported CSCE as a vehicle for advancing human rights. During the cold war we saw the denial of human rights as a primary source of the confrontation that scarred Europe and threatened global war. And now a new ideology, intolerant nationalism, is spawning new divisions, new crimes, new conflicts. Because we believe that the key to security in the new age is to create a democratic peace, the United States sees an indispensable role for CSCE. Accordingly, I'd like to suggest a five-point agenda to make CSCE more effective.

First, let us commit ourselves to make democratic change irreversible. We must not be so paralyzed by the turmoil around us that we lose sight of our historic mission: completing the grand liberation of the past 3 years. We should use CSCE to nurture democratic ways in those societies where people have been oppressed for generations under the heel of the state. We should reject the notion that democracy has opened Pandora's box. Democracy is not the cause of these problems but rather the means by which people can resolve their differences and bring their aspirations into harmony. We have proof of this. In this room are leaders of nations for whom democracy has made both aggression and civil war unthinkable.

Second, let us all agree to be held accountable to the standards of conduct recorded in our solemn declarations. Those who violate CSCE norms must be singled out, criticized, isolated, even punished by sanctions. And let Serbia's absence today serve as a clear message to others.

Third, let us commit CSCE to attack the root causes of conflict. The Dutch initiative for a high commissioner for national minorities is an important step toward providing early warning. It will help us act before conflict erupts. My country has proposed a CSCE project on tolerance which can lead to practical cooperation in fighting discrimination and racial prejudice. We cannot fail to make this a top priority while the so-called ethnic cleansing of Muslims occurs in Bosnia even as we meet.

Fourth, let us strengthen our mechanisms for the settlement of disputes. CSCE should offer a flexible set of services for mediation, conciliation, arbitration so that conflicts can be averted. A prompt follow-on meeting should take up specific means for dispute settlement, including the U.S. idea whereby our community can insist that disputing parties submit to CSCE conciliation.

Fifth, let us decide right here and now to develop a credible Euro-Atlantic peacekeeping capability. This region remains heavily armed from cold war days. Ad hoc operations of hastily assembled units will not suffice, and this is why I consider NATO's offer to contribute to CSCE peacekeeping so vital. We've learned that Europe's problems are America's problems, her hopes and aspirations ours as well. Because of NATO, my country will keep substantial military capabilities in Europe that could contribute to peacekeeping under CSCE. But it is not for NATO alone to keep the peace in Europe. We welcome a WEU role, and we also invite every nation here to work directly with NATO in building a new Euro-Atlantic peacekeeping force.

I must conclude these remarks with another word on the nightmare in Bosnia. If our CSCE community is to have real meaning in this new world, let us be of one mind about our immediate aims. First, we should see to it that relief supplies get through no matter what it takes. Second, we should see to it that the United Nations sanctions are respected no matter what it takes. Third, we should do all we can to prevent this conflict from spreading. And fourth, let us call with one voice for the guns to fall silent through a cease-fire on all fronts.

Let me close with this thought. We know more now than we did at our last gathering in Paris about this new era, its dangers, and yes, about its possibilities. There's still an abundance of uncertainty, and yet we cannot be daunted by the unknown. The steps we take here will be only first steps, but let them be determined first steps toward a true community of freedom and peace. To this end I came to Finland, to pledge the full support of the United States of America.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Note: The President spoke at 5:35 p.m. at the Helsinki Fair Center.

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