Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by President Milan Kucan of Slovenia in Ljubljana
Mr. President, Mrs. Kucan, Mr. Prime Minister, distinguished government officials, and citizens of Slovenia: It is a great honor for me, for Hillary, for Secretary Albright, indeed, for our entire American delegation to share this historic day with you.
Today we added a new chapter to the long story of our friendship. As you heard from the President, it is a friendship that goes back even before the history of the United States, when President Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence, was looking for examples of democracy around the world, places where the people ruled.
The President gave you a—what I would call a delicate version of the example provided by the Corinthians to Thomas Jefferson. You see, Thomas Jefferson loved the fact that before assuming their titles, the old dukes of Corinthia were ceremoniously slapped by a local present to symbolize the right of the people to rebuff their leaders. Thomas Jefferson liked that. So did all future generations of Americans. [Laughter] Except they wait until after you're in office to do it. [Laughter]
Well, democracy is going strong again in Slovenia, and still your efforts inspire Americans. We are grateful for the many contributions of Slovenians to the strength and texture of our country, and we are grateful for the partnership that unites us today.
This spring, as both the President and the Prime Minister have said, that partnership met a great test. For the fourth time in this decade, Mr. Milosevic and Serbia launched a brutal campaign of violence, threatening the progress the people of this region have worked so hard to achieve. As you know from the daily television reports, the full horror of that campaign is only now becoming clear.
I would like to thank the President and the Prime Minister for all that you have done to protect democracy and the tolerance it needs to thrive. Now that ethnic cleansing has been defeated in Kosovo, we must build something better in its place throughout Europe, and especially in southeastern Europe.
You know, every leader likes to talk of the future, but today in your Congress Square I saw the future in the faces of the young people who braved the rains to express their support for our shared dreams. I saw those who will lead a free Slovenia into the new millennium.
Your history is enshrined in this magnificent castle we enjoy this evening, but your future is in those young people. And it is in good hands.
So I ask you now to rededicate yourselves to the dreams which brought the people out in the rain today. We owe it to them, to our forebears, and to generations yet unborn.
Please join me in a toast to the President, to the Prime Minister, and the people of this wonderful country.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:40 p.m. in the Dining Hall at Brdo Castle. In his remarks, he referred to Stefka Kucan, wife of President Kucan; and Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek of Slovenia. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by President Milan Kucan of Slovenia in Ljubljana Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/226844