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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks Upon Arrival at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit Meeting in Brussels


Mr. Prime Minister, it is really a pleasure to be back once again in Brussels. And I'm especially pleased that my first visit as President of the United States comes as the nations of NATO celebrate 40 years of alliance and the longest period of peace and freedom that Europe has known in the modern age.

Americans and Belgians share the memories of war and hard-won peace in this century. Flanders, the battle of Ardennes, Bastogne -- those names are part of our history as well as your own, part of our shared heritage of freedom and the sacrifices it requires. Belgium, no stranger to conquest and division, recognized from the first the importance of alliance in the postwar world. And today, as permanent home to NATO and the European Community, Brussels stands at the center of a Europe free, at peace, and prosperous as never before, a Europe that is steadily moving toward the single market and unprecedented political and economic opportunities. In Brussels, the signs of this European renaissance are everywhere.

Belgium has been a good friend and a valued ally, one that has always acted with alliance interests in mind. Early in this decade, Belgium was one of five NATO nations that made the difficult decision to base INF systems on its own soil. And those deployments gave us the leverage that we needed to negotiate the first-ever nuclear arms reduction treaty; indeed, one that banned an entire generation of nuclear weapons. That's the kind of courageous and realistic approach that explains NATO's success. NATO is at once ready to ensure the common defense and to reduce arms and seek to diminish tensions with the East.

As I've said a number of times, we seek to move to a policy beyond containment. We want to see an end to the division of Europe, and we want to see it ended on the basis of Western values. We will join Western European nations in encouraging the process of change in the Soviet Union, pointing to the day when the Soviet Union will be welcomed as a constructive participant in the community of free nations.

I'm looking forward to important discussions with the King of the Belgians, King Baudouin, and the NATO heads of government. I look forward, as well, to my meeting with Prime Minister Martens, my friend, my discussions also with Mr. Delors of the European Community, and Secretary-General Woerner at NATO.

The future of NATO depends on the alliance's ability to deal with our enduring security concerns and our evolving economic relationship. We look to Belgium to continue to play its important role in our close and cooperative transatlantic partnership. I am delighted to be back, and thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for this warm welcome.

Note: The President spoke at 6:07 p.m. on the tarmac at Brussels International Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Jacques Delors, President of the European Communities Commission.

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