Jimmy Carter photo

Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting.

July 15, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. Governing Mayor Stobbe, this is my second visit to Berlin. Five years ago I came as Governor of the State of Georgia. And my wife and I saw the monuments by which Berlin teaches all visitors about the basic realities of our times. We saw the Wall, and we worshipped at the Memorial Church, which exists as a solid reminder of the tragedy of the past and a hopeful promise of your future. But I also experienced the warmth and the wit of your irrepressible, steadfast people. I knew when I left that someday I would want to return.

I'm pleased to enjoy the warmth and friendship of this hall, because a few minutes ago I was standing in Potsdarner Platz, looking silently at the Wall, a spectacle that so accurately reflects a wasteland of the human spirit responsible for the existence of the Wall. This demonstrates beyond the power of words the difference between those who believe in individual human rights, and those who do not.

I'm thankful that the agreements that have been reached in recent years have done so much to make life better and more humane for Berliners. And all of us in this room must certainly hope that the detente which made them possible will be permitted to continue and to progress.

Almost 30 years ago in the darkest hours of the Airlift, President Harry Truman said that the courage displayed by the people of Berlin in their beleaguered outpost is proof to the world of the strength of the democratic spirit. With the help of Lucius Clay and John J. McCloy, President Truman showed that we would stand with you when your liberty was in doubt.

And year after year, American leaders have reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to the freedom of your city. We join the British and the French in this constant pledge.

I'm honored to join the citizens of this vital and dynamic city to declare again, whatever happens, Berlin will remain free.

And now I would like for us to speak very freely with each other, as has been my own custom with meetings of this kind throughout the Nation of the United States. I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.

Thank you very much.


Q. I am a pupil, Mr. President. My question is: Does your daughter Amy learn German in school, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No, she doesn't study German yet, but on this trip she has learned a lot of German words. She's at the Berlin Zoo today, one of the greatest zoos in the whole world. And I feel sure that after she masters English and Spanish that German will be next.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Christel Crienitz. I am a housewife. In June I had a visitor from Minnesota within the scope of the Friendship Force organization. What do you think of this initiative, and will it be continued? And why is that trip to America still so expensive? We all want to go. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. The Friendship Force is a project initiated by my wife when I was Governor of Georgia just between one State in our Nation and the people of northeast Brazil. When I became President, my wife, Rosalynn, desired to extend this opportunity for American people to travel to nations all over the world.

One of the best trips that we've ever had has been the exchange with your own city here and the State of Minnesota.

This Friendship Force, even at the rates charged, does not make any profit. And I think that now with the unfortunate devaluation of the dollar, you can get much more bargains in our country than you could when you were there. [Laughter]

I might add that we will continue the Friendship Force, because this is a project that has absolutely nothing to do with governments. It's strictly between people in one country visiting in the homes of the people in another. And I think you would testify to the fact that it has been a wonderful experience, those of you who have been to our country under this fine program.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Bernhard Klein. I am a trade union secretary, and my question is: Does, according to your opinion, the direct election of Berlin parliamentarians into the directly elected European Parliament constitute a violation of the four-power agreement on Berlin?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it does not. I think the relationship between the elected representatives of Berlin and the Government of the Federal Republic, where you have a presence right, but not the right to vote is, one, a subject that has been resolved in the principles of the Quadripartite Agreement, and the relationship between elected Berliners and the European Community is a slightly different arrangement. Both these are within the framework of the principles and the agreement of the Quadripartite Agreement, and they are perfectly legitimate, perfectly proper.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Gisela Zimmermann. I'm a secondary school teacher at the German-American John F. Kennedy School. My question is this: We witness great pollution catastrophes caused by oil tankers. You are the President of the most powerful industrial nation of the world, the country with the highest oil consumption in the world. Could you not achieve internationally binding safety codes and regulations for all oil tankers in the world that would prevent further such catastrophes and pollution in the future?

THE PRESIDENT. Last year we decided that those tankers who come into American ports, those in the United States, would have to meet much higher standards, including double bottoms and a proper care for the pumping over the side of oil wastes as the tanks are discharged. We have introduced this discussion now in international fora recently in Europe, represented by our own Department of Transportation Secretary.

As you know, many of the tankers who travel the high seas are registered in relatively small countries which have practically no control over the quality of the tankers involved. But we are trying to take a leadership role in the increasing of standards for these tankers.

I share your concern about the unnecessary waste, not only when a ship is destroyed through accident but routine pumping over the side of the ship of oil wastes. We are very eager to join with you and others in lowering this threat, and I believe that the world is becoming aroused now to join us in an effort to cut down oil spills in the waterways of the entire world.

Thank you.


Q. My name is Heinz Maschke. I'm a pensioner, Mr. President. My question is this, sir: Why do the three Western powers suffer all the measures of the Soviet Union for the separation of East and West? Or are there any secret arrangements between you?

THE PRESIDENT. There are no secret arrangements between our country, the British, the French on the one hand, and the Soviets on the other. So far as I know, at the time of the signing of the Quadripartite Agreement, this was a public commitment made by the American and British and French leaders. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no secret agreement now between ourselves on the Western side and the Soviets.

If there should be any proposals in the future for secret agreements, I would oppose them and even let the proposal be made public.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Dietmar Born. I'm a business manager. My question: On the one hand you stand up for the unlimited security of Berlin, which we gratefully acknowledge and we thank you for, Mr. President. On the other hand, however, the military odds, the military forces of the Warsaw Pact are shifting in disfavor and against Berlin all the time. Are you not afraid, Mr. President, that this will affect your credibility in the eyes of the Berliners?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is true that in the years gone by 3, 4 years or more ago—there was some doubt on the part of the American people, including some leaders in the United States Congress, that our commitment to NATO and to its strength should be maintained at its previous level.

I've been in office now for 18 months, and there has been a renewed spirit of cooperation and total commitment to maintain and to increase our strength in the NATO area. This is exemplified by the fact that all the members of NATO now have promised to increase their actual budget commitments to NATO defense by 3 percent per year above and beyond the inflation rate.

We have also begun to allot new types of weapons with the first priority for our entire country to the Western European area: the F-15 airplane, the A-10 airplane, the most advanced types of tanks, the antitank Tow missiles, and so forth, that I reviewed this morning with Chancellor Schmidt.

So, I believe that we do have an adequate defense capability now. It is increasing, and there will never be any occasion in the future when our Nation or those others who are committed to the defense of Western Europe will lessen our alertness or lessen our commitment to make this our first priority. We consider an attack on the territory or people of Western Europe to be exactly the same as an attack would be on the territory or the people of the United States of America.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Petra Berndt. I'm a student here in Berlin. My question, Mr. President, is as follows: What did you mean or intend, Mr. President, when you said that the German nation had a claim and right for reunification, and how can your administration really afford to be interested in German reunification?

THE PRESIDENT. The constant commitment of the Western Allies ever since the NATO organization was formed, ever since the Second World War was over, is for the reunification of Germany, based upon the self-determination of the German people yourselves. And this is a commitment that I believe ought to be maintained and an ultimate hope that should be carefully preserved.

We are not trying to impose our will upon the German people. But when the German people approach the time of making a decision for yourselves that Germany should be reunited and Berlin again be the capital of a unified Germany, we would certainly welcome that time, and we look forward to it with our prayers and our constant hope.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Hans-Dieter Robel. I am a civil engineer. I would like to ask my personal question, but I would like to defer and ask a question which friends in East Berlin have asked me to put to you, Mr. President.

The U.S. carries responsibility for all of Berlin. Could you not, Mr. President, when you come back to Berlin, also visit the eastern sector?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I would like very much to do that. The last time I was in Berlin, I did visit both west and eastern sectors. And this is something that I would like to do in the future.

As you know, the visiting rights in both sides of Berlin are guaranteed by the original agreements and also by the Quadripartite Agreement. And when I return to Berlin, I'll try to arrange my schedule to visit the eastern sector as well.


Q. Mr. President, I'm Gudrun Hollfelder, a housewife. My question is: What do you wish the Berliners to do and what contributions can we render to realize your political ambitions, Mr. President, in the world?

THE PRESIDENT. My belief is that the citizens of Berlin, both east and west, share ultimate hopes, together with myself, with Mr. Brezhnev, Chancellor Schmidt, and other world leaders, that is, for peace, for a broadening of the cooperation that must exist between the major powers and those who live within this troubled region of the world.

In addition to that area where we agree, there are some areas of disagreement. The Western democracies believe very deeply in human freedom, the chance for each person to make one's own decision, to choose one's own government, to criticize one's own government when it betrays our trust or does not live up to our expectations.

We also believe in basic human rights, that someone should have a chance to emigrate if they choose, to rejoin one's family if one chooses, and to speak out without constraint even in the criticism of one's own government policies.

So, there are areas of agreement and areas of disagreement. And as I said a few minutes ago at the memorial to the Berlin Airlift, I would hope that those of you who profit so much by the commitment of the democratic world to basic human rights would let your own voices be expressed clearly in your own commitment to human rights, because you are a great testimony to the benefits of freedom and those rights that we all share together.

So, I think this is what you could do and what I will do to help you.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Klaus Teske. I'm a tool fitter, a toolmaker and a works council chairman. My question, Mr. President, is: What will the United States do so that the four-power status that was agreed for all of Berlin can also be practiced in East Berlin?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have no capability nor desire to intrude into the affairs of East Berlin, except to let our voices be heard and to join with other responsible authorities in carrying out the basic principles of the agreements that have been specified clearly—the original Four-Power Agreement at the conclusion of the war and the 1971 Quadripartite Agreement as well.

On occasion these rights have been challenged, the right of free visitation between the two parts of Berlin, the right of the Western Allies to show our flag on the daily trips into Eastern Berlin, and vice versa. We have every hope that when a disagreement does arise, that they might be discussed freely and clearly, that our voice might be heard without constraint by the East Berliners, the GDR [German Democratic Republic], and the Soviet Union.

As you know, the GDR has no responsibility at all for the administration of the Quadripartite Agreement nor the monitoring of compliance with it. This relates itself directly to the Soviet Union on the eastern side. But I believe that at this time, since the Quadripartite Agreement was signed 7 years ago, that there has been a great improvement. And when problems do arise, as today, for instance, when the GDR put obstructions in the free passage of people on the autobahn, that protests might be lodged, the public awareness of the world might be focused upon it. And I would hope that the improvements that have been made the last 7 years might continue.

I think, compared to the previous years, including the terrible occasion of the Berlin Airlift, when the blockade was established, the situation is much better than it was now (then). 1 And I believe that the reason for that is that world attention has been focused upon Berlin, its symbolism, its importance to freedom, the courage of the Berliners. And I believe that this is the best way to bring about those routine, methodical improvements that have been our experience in the past and which I hope will be our experience in the future.

1 Printed in the transcript.

We will never yield in our commitment to pointing out violations of the agreements. And I believe that world opinion and the strength of the Western Allies, the courage of the West Berliners will cause this change for the better to continue in spite of temporary aberrations or violations.

That's the best answer I can give you. It's not a very good one, but I think it's adequate.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Garlinda Buchholz. I am a student. My question is, Mr. President: Repeatedly you have spoken up for human rights. What is your opinion of the antiradicals legislation in the Federal Republic of Germany?

THE PRESIDENT. I'm not familiar with the details of the legislation to which you refer. I know that all countries, including my own, has to be very careful to balance the right of dissidents to speak, but to protect the lives and the property of innocent human beings who give support and who control the government.

And my own assessment of the Federal Republic's laws is that in dealing with terrorism and other threats to peaceful human beings and to the state, that they have been very careful to preserve the basic human rights, of which I approve.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Uwe Horstmeyer. I'm 12 years old, and I'm a student. My question is: Mr. President, how much pocket money per week does your daughter Amy get? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Zero. [Laughter] The public benefits that Amy does get are limited to traveling with me and her mother—like on this trip, she came on Air Force One, which is the President's plane. And we have enjoyed staying 2 nights at the American Ambassador's home in Bonn. And as she relates to the other members of her family, particularly myself, she gets that kind of benefit. But she gets no allowance, no money, from the Federal Treasury. [Laughter]

That gives me a good idea. I might bring that up with the American Congress when I go back home.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Werner Schatt. I'm a businessman. My question is: How do you assess the allocations of the eastern side, according to the four-power agreement? There are no ties between the western sectors of Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany, but only communication links. Probably they refer only to the land links. What is your assessment of that allocation?

THE PRESIDENT. I think there's an equivalent assessment on the eastern side. Under the Quadripartite Agreement, the way I understand it, stronger ties of communication and relationships between West Berlin and the Federal Republic are encouraged, according to the text of the Quadripartite Agreement. It's under that kind of understanding, for instance, that Chancellor Schmidt is here with me today, and it's one of the reasons that I'm here today. I want to make sure that the strongest possible ties are encouraged between West Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany, short of an actual political inclusion of Berlin into the rest of the balance of Germany.

So I think that as these ties of communication, transportation, trade, commerce, culture are changed, even under the Quadripartite Agreement, that change should be to strengthen them and not to weaken them.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Heidrun Schlauss. I'm a commercial secretary, but I'm also a housewife. I would like to ask you this, Mr. President: Access traffic to Berlin was impaired by the other side since this morning. The reason given is that you are visiting Berlin and that the Federal Chancellor is with you. Will you tell the world about it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, on occasion, the GDR has tried to show some ability to interfere with normal commerce and traffic. This has primarily been of a temporary or transient nature. It has no permanent damage to us, although it is in violation not only of the Quadripartite principles but also the transportation agreements between the east and the western part of Germany.

I might say that I don't believe it helps them. It focuses attention upon the GDR and their absence of free movement, their prevention of out-migration, their inability to permit their own people to speak out in dissent when they choose. And I think the focusing of the world on the differences between our free society and theirs, which is not free, is not helpful to them at all.

I visited the Wall a few minutes ago. Fifteen years ago, when President Kennedy came to visit the Wall, they covered the ugly spectacle with drapes. This morning at 2:30 a.m., the Eastern Germans came and lowered their painters on the western side of the Wall and whitewashed, trying to cover the ugly spectacle again, 15 years later. I don't think anything can hide the image of the deprivation of basic human rights exemplified by the Wall.

This is the first time in history that I've ever known when a wall was built, not to protect one's nation from foreign aggressors, but to protect one's own people from the right to escape. And so I think the interruption of traffic and the painting of the Wall are demonstrations of that.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Gertrude Kempe-Rottmann. I'm a pensioner. And my question is: For how long, Mr. President, do you think we've got to live with the Wall in Berlin?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. [Laughter] I hope that it will be removed in the future, but I have no idea when it might be. I'm sorry, I can't give you a better answer, but that's the truth.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Gert Schulz-Luke. I've got the foreign question for you, Mr. President, which is: What assessment or concepts do you or the U.S. have of the unhampered energy supply of Germany, based on energy that is not subject to any political influencing—and the energy supply also of Berlin?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's obvious that almost all kinds of energy are subject to political influence and interruption. Since 1973, the world has become aware of the prospect of gross interruptions of the available energy for us all. And we've become aware of the increasing prospect of severe shortages.

My own Nation is one of the world's greatest energy producers. We're also one of the world's greatest energy users, and we waste more energy than we should. We're trying to correct this defect in our own society.

I might add that one of the best ways to preserve the flow of energy sources-oil, gas, coal, nuclear power, the use of hydroelectric power, solar power—to a people is to preserve peace on Earth.

I think the Middle East is an area which can endanger the flow of crucial energy supplies to you and also to our own country. I have probably devoted more of my own personal time trying to bring about a peaceful resolution of the differences between Israel and her Arab neighbors than any other single foreign policy since I have been in office.

And we're also trying to secure permanent peace with the Soviet Union. We deeply desire to have detente with the Soviet Union, a detente that's broad in its scope, that has reciprocal benefits for them and for us. We have, constantly, procedures intact, never interrupted, to bring about a SALT agreement, an agreement on the end of testing of nuclear explosives, the prohibition against the attack on each other's satellites, the lowering of the buildup of military forces in the Indian Ocean. These kinds of things, I think, can contribute to overall world peace.

So, I would say conservation of what we have, scientific exchange and exploration for new kinds of energy, more efficient use of energy we have, and the maintenance of world peace so that normal traffic through the oceans and through the skies will not be interrupted—those are the things that I can think of offhand that we can all do together. And I believe that we will find both new technology and new avenues to peace if we persevere together, and that's my own commitment. I'm sure it's the commitment of you and others in this area as well.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Ingeborg Skrodzki-Dorendorf. I'm a housewife. My question to you, Mr. President, is this: How do you see and assess the development of Eurocommunism and how do you assess Eurocommunism?

THE PRESIDENT. First of all, we would prefer that communism in the Western world be minimal and not increase.

Secondly, we trust the judgment of free people in free societies to make a determination that communism is not in the best interest of themselves. We have seen this occur in recent elections—in France; in Spain, which is now a democracy; also in Italy. So, the second point is that we trust free people to make their own decision, and we don't have any intention to interfere in the internal political decisionmaking process among our allies.

And the third thing I would like to say is that the best way to prevent the upsurge or strengthening of communism is to make sure that democracy works. And this can only be possible if the people ourselves constantly assess the basic foundations or principles on which democratic systems are founded and exemplify in our own individual attitude our participation, our deep commitment to strengthen democracy and not to weaken it.

When a democratic government is corrupt, when it separates itself from its own people, when it's insensitive to the suffering of those who are not so fortunate as we, when it's resolute and is not forceful enough in defending itself against outside intrusion or threat, those things can weaken democracy.

I think the other thing that we can do to strengthen our commitment against communism is to make sure that the democracies of the world bind ourselves together in ever closer ties of friendship, cooperation, mutual defense, recognize the individuality of each of us, but pointing out those things on which we are in harmony and strengthening those ties of friendship and mutual commitment.

So, I believe that this is the best approach. I've noticed that in the last few days, particularly in France—I happened to see a television program—the foremost critics of the embarrassing trials of Shcharanskiy and Ginzburg were the Communists in France. They led the march against the Soviet Union's action in trying these innocent people and sentencing these brave people in the Soviet Union who spoke up for their own fellow citizens to have basic human rights.

So, I think that although we don't want to see communism increase, we want to do everything we can that I've outlined to prevent its growth. At the same time we have to recognize that Eurocommunism is not a monolithic structure completely dominated or encapsulated within the Soviet Union itself. And I think that gives us some additional hope that even communism itself in the Western democracies might have some beneficial aspects of democratic principles in which we believe so deeply.

Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Gerhard Schofer. I'm a civil servant. My question is this: After the completion of the space shuttle project, do the U.S. plan further Moon missions and landings?

THE PRESIDENT. We don't have any specific plans now for additional manned missions to the Moon nor to the other planets. We have an ongoing program, however, of unmanned missiles to the outer planets as well as to the Moon.

I think these are adequate. We have proven our capability to go to the Moon. We still have that capability, of course. We now are trying to make our explorations into space, into outer space, much more efficient as far as the dollars spent compared to the results obtained. And our manned space flights will be primarily restricted to the increasing utilization of the space shuttle.

We hope to make these space flights using the shuttle a fairly routine procedure, and we hope that they might be concentrating upon those aspects of space flight that bring more direct benefits to the people here on Earth.

I think the scientific explorations, therefore, can basically be performed by instruments carried on our space vehicles, and the manned space flights will be closer in to Earth, using the space shuttle itself.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Eberhard Behrend. I'm a scientist, and my question is this: Why has America, from the experiences of the Vietnam war, drawn the conclusion to withdraw the active support of freedom fighters and opposition groups in totalitarian parts of the world instead of actively supporting them and looking for a nonmilitary support of such resistance groups in the oppressed parts of the world?

THE PRESIDENT. That's a difficult question to answer. I think that I share the opinion of the American public that we should not again become involved in a military way in the internal affairs of another country unless our own security is directly threatened.

We do support the maintenance of peace. We do this through multilateral organizations like the United Nations, through multilateral teams such as we've just formed and with which we've had some success in Namibia, where we cooperated with the Federal Republic of Germany, with France, Great Britain, and with Canada. And on some occasions we work just with one other nation primarily, as is presently the case in Rhodesia, where we and the British are trying to use our good offices to bring about a peaceful resolution there.

But I don't contemplate, short of a direct threat to the security of my own Nation, the sending of troops to another country to solve an internal conflict as we did in Vietnam in the recent past.

This is not an abandonment of the principles on which our Nation was founded and which we believe. We have stood staunch in the support for basic human rights, and I think the recent world attention focused upon these violations in different countries has been a testimony to the fact that the Western democratic system and our belief in freedom is letting its voice be heard and its influence be felt. But just because we don't send troops as we did in Vietnam does not mean that we've abandoned freedom or that we will sit back and let local conflicts bring suffering upon those in whom we are deeply interested and about whom we are concerned.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Hertha Winkler. I'm a pensioner in the GDR in Bautzen. And I would like to direct this question to you, Mr. President: When do you come and visit us in the German Democratic Republic? Many of my friends would welcome you heartily there.

THE PRESIDENT. Let me first extend my friendship to those in the GDR, express my hope that we can find peace and a resolution of differences that stand between us still. And I want to tell you, as I said earlier, not only that the next time I come to Berlin that I would like to visit the eastern portion but I will certainly promise to go to East Berlin on my next visit.

To visit the GDR is another matter. We now have had diplomatic relations with the GDR for, I believe, about 4 years. And we're still exploring means by which we can lessen the differences between that country and our own. We have some problems with the consulate agreement. But when that basic question is resolved, then I think we could expand our relationships there.

I have visited other Eastern European nations. I was in Poland recently, and we have had visits from leaders of other Eastern European countries.

I have no objection to going there, and perhaps the next time I come to this part of Europe, we'll have an easy relationship with the GDR, which might make it possible for me to visit. But at this time, I think I'll restrict my very limited visiting time to the Federal Republic of Germany and to West Berlin.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Wolfgang Netschkowski. Many Berliner citizens have asked you to do something for Niko Hubner. What can the U.S.A. do for Niko Hubner, more than just verbally protest to get Niko Hubner out of GDR prison?

THE PRESIDENT. The verbal protest is made because of the agreement on the part of the Soviets that East Berlin would be a demilitarized area. The original charge against Mr. Hubner, I understand, was because he refused to be drafted into the military forces. We did express our displeasure about this very strongly, as did the other allies involved, and made this clear to the Soviet Union and to the GDR.

As a result of this and other expressions of displeasure and the realization of the Soviets and the Eastern Germans that they did violate the agreement, they changed the charges against him from avoiding military service to a trumped-up substitute charge.

I really don't know what other action we can take, except to insist upon the honoring of the agreement that has been signed between ourselves and the Soviet Union, along with, of course, the British and French.

But we have no authority to go into the GDR and to remove someone from prison. But we have to make sure that when they do falsely charge someone against the principles expressed in the Quadripartite Agreement that our voice is heard clearly.

I think in this case it has had some success only to the extent that they changed the charge against him. But the punishment was unwarranted. It's obvious that he's an innocent person, and as you know, he's not the only one who's suffering at this time. And we hope that this can be a matter that's brought more to the focus of the world. I think the recent Shcharanskiy trial has been a matter of concern and interest to everyone, almost, on Earth, in the civilized nations.

And we hope that the problem with Herr Hubner can be now better understood by the rest of the world, and perhaps world opinion can cause his early release. But there is no specific action that f can promise you that would guarantee this early release against the desires of the Soviets or the East Germans.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Irmgard Hiege. I'm a pensioner, and I've got this question for you, Mr. President: Why don't public and official circles do more to promote the personal relationships of the Berliners with the allies present in the city of Berlin?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know now, but within a half an hour after I leave this podium, I will talk to the commanders of all the three allied services, and I will have not only an answer for you but I'll let them know about my interest in having the relationship be freer, more frequent, and more constructive.

I think it's very healthy when the Allied Forces are incorporated within the spirit of friendship and hospitality of those among whom they serve. I spoke recently-today as a matter of fact—to our forces and the German forces at Frankfurt. And I encouraged them to learn the German language, to get to know the German culture, to make personal friends of the German people, to shop as much as possible in the German shops, and to become a part of the German society. I think it will help them not only to understand the very great characteristics of the German people but will also make them better Americans when they come home.

So, I'll talk this over with the commanding officers here, and I think your question has already brought very good dividends, even though I can't answer your question any better than that. Thank you.

Perhaps we could get a reply published in one of the local newspapers, since I'll have to bring this to a close in a moment. I can only take one more question, I understand.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Rita Schafer. I'm a psychologist. My question is as follows: Would you help to foster existing friendship and exchange programs between our nations and to expand them in such a way that the members of the maximum number of brackets and social groupings, not only academics and professional professions, can exchange their jobs for a limited period of time in order to get acquainted?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. This is something that would not only benefit you and others but would also benefit our own country.

I think the student exchange is one very fine example of what can be accomplished. The Friendship Force that's already been referred to earlier is one that can be greatly expanded in the future. And I think that we have a great opportunity in that there are 300,000 Americans, for instance, who serve in the military forces in Europe. And they are, hopefully, ambassadors of good will for our country and also can derive from all of you a very clear understanding of the benefits to be brought back home. But I think your question is a very good one. And I believe in these and other ways we can expand the relationship among us.

To conclude, let me say that one of the things that can be done by a President to expand the understanding between myself and you is to have this unprecedented townhall meeting. I do this in our own country. I never know ahead of time what the questions might be. I'm not nearly so familiar with your own society and your own current problems as I would be in a city in the United States, but I've tried to answer your questions as best I could.

I've derived from my brief visit here a clearer understanding of the strength and courage required 'by those of you who live in Berlin to maintain not only a standard of living which is even higher than that in my own country but also a spirit of freedom and a preservation of your own superb cultural traits that I hope will be permanent. We are your partners. We are your allies. We do this not just for your own benefit, because our own Nation is protected, the freedom of my own people is protected to the extent that you and your own freedoms can be preserved by joint commitment of our two nations and those of our other allies.

So, I come here not as someone who does you a favor, but as someone who benefits greatly as a President and as an American from the strong ties of friendship, economics, politics, military alliances that preserves freedom, not just for you but for us as well.

I thank you for giving me a chance to hear of your concerns, and the hospitality that you've extended to me, to my wife, Rosalynn, and to Amy. We hope to be able to come back. We hope as many of you as possible will visit our own country. And I think you would find there is warmth, a sense of common purpose and friendship, as I have found here.

God bless every one of you. Thank you for letting me be your guest.

PETER LORENZ. Mr. President, on behalf of all those in this hall and on behalf of the city, I should like to thank you most cordially for this frank and open discussion with the Berliners of this Berlin town meeting. I think we are all agreed that this was one of the highlights of your Berlin visit.

I think, Mr. President, you will have felt how close the citizens of Berlin feel associated with you, Mr. President, and the United States of America. This is of special significance that the meeting takes place here in the Kongresshalle. It was given to our city by the Benjamin Franklin Foundation. It bears the name of that President of the United States of America who so strongly promoted freedom and dignity and rights of man in the world.

You, Mr. President, are leaving no stone unturned to realize human rights in this world. And you are assured that we in Berlin, in this divided city, a city divided by a wall, do with great engagement support your efforts, Mr. President, for human rights. We are happy. We feel honored. We are grateful for your coming to Berlin. Your presence underscores the great significance and reputation of the city and the consciousness of the people of America which you represent, Mr. President.

We are most grateful to you, for you have stated here a moment ago that you support the claim and the right of the German nation to become reunited. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of all of us, Mr. President.

We are very glad that you and your family, Mr. President, will spend a few pleasant hours in Berlin. When you leave Berlin in a few hours' time, our good wishes will accompany you. And thank you, sir, and thank you, American people, for the support you have given us here in Berlin.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 4 p.m. at the Kongresshalle, following an introduction by Governing Mayor of Berlin Dietrich Stobbe. Peter Lorenz is president of the Berlin Senate.

The participants in the town meeting spoke in German, and their remarks were translated by an interpreter. The town meeting was broadcast live in the United States.

Jimmy Carter, Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/247920

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