Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks Following Discussions With Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany

February 19, 1988

The President. It's been a very great pleasure to meet with Chancellor Kohl again for a friendly and highly useful discussion. This year marks the 40th anniversary of a series of events that have shaped the destiny of our two countries. In 1948 the United States stepped forward and helped spark the postwar recovery of West Germany and Europe and assisted in starting the constitutional process that created a West German state. In response to Soviet challenges, we launched the Berlin airlift and aided in laying the foundation for collective security and the economic integration of Western Europe.

It was in this crucible of events that the modern relationship between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States was forged, a relationship that has prospered and many times proven its value to both our countries. As befits good friends, the Chancellor and I have met regularly since we assumed office. Our discussions reflect the richness of our relationship and the many interests we share. I especially benefit from hearing the Chancellor's views on world problems.

Among the many subjects we discussed today was the state of the NATO alliance, including our common defense efforts and arms control strategy. I thanked the Chancellor for his support throughout the long INF negotiations and now for the treaty itself. This treaty represents a major political victory for NATO, a success far beyond what many thought possible. It carries important lessons on how successfully to negotiate arms reductions with the Soviet Union. We also reviewed progress on the NATO alliance's next arms control priorities. These include negotiations toward a 50-percent reduction in strategic arms, a verifiable global ban on chemical weapons, and redressing the serious imbalances in conventional forces in Europe.

We agreed that we must deal with the Soviet Union from a position of realism, strength, and alliance unity. And we agreed that the alliance must maintain both military strength and readiness. These are the underpinnings and preconditions of any successful dialog with the Soviet Union. Only a strong West can have a positive influence on the way in which the Soviet Union deals with other countries and with its own people; we know that a weak Western alliance cannot. The NATO summit meeting early next month will provide an opportunity to continue discussion of these important matters within the alliance as a whole.

The Chancellor and I also discussed economic and trade issues. In particular, I told the Chancellor that I supported the efforts he's made to stimulate the West German economy, and I expressed the hope that he would do more. The Chancellor, in turn, welcomed our efforts to reduce the United States Federal deficit. We both agreed on the need to avoid trade protectionism. Protectionism would be an economic disaster for both our countries.

In the course of our discussions, we also touched on a subject close to both our hearts: the city of Berlin and its brave people. We both agreed that they must be included in whatever benefits improved East-West relations may bring. We look forward to a positive response to the invitation the Western powers extended last December to the Soviet Union to join with us in taking steps to improve the lives of Berliners.

The Chancellor's visits to Washington are always welcome. We'll be seeing each other again soon at the NATO summit in Brussels. And until then, we do not say goodbye but auf Wiedersehen [until we meet again].

Chancellor Kohl. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, my visit to Washington-and this is my ninth bilateral meeting with President Reagan—is a return visit to the memorable visit the President paid to Berlin and Bonn last June.

The Berlin initiative announced by you, Mr. President, was one of the points on which we focused in our conversation. I once again expressed my appreciation and gratitude to President Reagan for this initiative, and I assured him that the Federal Republic and the Federal Government will do all it can in order to make its contribution towards the success of this initiative. In the meantime, the three Western protective powers have entered into talks with the Soviet Union on this issue, and the President assured me that Secretary of State Shultz, on the occasion of his forthcoming visit to Moscow, will make it plain to his Soviet interlocutors that Berlin must be included from the very beginning in positive developments of West-East relations.

Mr. President, I might take this opportunity to express my appreciation for having issued a proclamation declaring the 6th of October, 1987, German-American Day. And I may request you to make this a permanent feature.

We had intensive exchanges on the present state of West-East relations. Never in the postwar history has the United States of America and the Soviet Union been engaged in such an intensive dialog at the highest level as in the last few years. And with the INF agreement, the third summit meeting between you, Mr. President, and General Secretary Gorbachev has for the first time in history opened the way towards genuine disarmament. And I have seized this opportunity, once again, to express my congratulations to the President on this success—the success which will be your success and which will always be linked with your Presidency.

The INF agreement is in the interest of the United States of America; it's in the interest of the Atlantic alliance; and it is, not least, also in the interest of our own country. Nobody who has objections as far as this agreement is concerned, be it here in Washington or somewhere else in the United States, can point to the Federal Republic of Germany. And that is the reason why yesterday, when I had talks and meetings with the leadership of the Senate, I pleaded in no uncertain terms in favor of the ratification of this agreement without any restricting amendments.

Mr. President, you referred to the present negotiations concerning START. The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany vigorously supports a 50-percent cut of the strategic offensive potential of either power, because this step is not only in the interest of the United States of America but it would also be in the very real interest of the Federal Republic of Germany and of Western Europe. Mr. President, we staunchly support a worldwide ban on chemical weapons, and we support the early adoption of a mandate for negotiations on conventional stability in the whole of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals.

In accordance with the decisions taken by the alliance in Reykjavik and in Brussels, I have supported the position that, in conjunction with the establishment of a conventional balance and the global elimination of chemical weapons, tangible and verifiable reductions of nuclear systems of shorter range should also be reached. The objective being equal ceilings, no zero resolution, no denuclearized zone—and least of all, in Europe. We were in agreement that all these disarmament questions and issues as well as the necessary measures to preserve our common security should be combined and form an overall concept for our alliance. And we think that the forthcoming NATO summit meeting must be an incentive for that and give new impulses to that effort.

We have agreed that we will remain in bilateral contact as far as all these issues are concerned. And along this line—and the President and I myself were in complete agreement on that—trust and confidence between West and East must be further developed and intensified, and this would also include the solution of regional conflicts as well as ensuring respect for human rights, particularly so in the countries of the Warsaw Pact.

Mr. President, you have just made the same point, and we are all in agreement that we will be able to face up to the tasks ahead of us. And this new phase can be mastered only when we show unity, coherence, and the closest measure of coordination and consultation. Now, Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity here to express, as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, before the American public, that we are fully aware of the fact that the Federal Republic of Germany knows that only together, with their allies, and only together with the support of all the free nations of Western Europe and the United States of America, will it be possible to attain its legitimate aim of easing, in the interest of the people, the consequences of the division of our country and to make the frontier between East and West more permeable. We are belonging to the West, and that is the way it will be also in the future.

Mr. President, I came here not only in my capacity as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany but also as the Chairman and the President of the European Community. I was able to report to you about the successful conclusion of this summit meeting—the European Community-we had a week ago in Brussels and the measures we agreed upon there, particularly the restriction in the limitation of agricultural production and our commitment to the maintenance and to the support of the common policy favoring continued free trade all over the world—were some of the main positions we have taken there. And I also assured you that we will certainly not adopt a tax on oils and fats.

Mr. President, it has been a reassuring experience in all the visits I paid to you here in the White House, that as far as our commercial relations, trans-Atlantic commercial and economic relations are concerned, we have always renewed our commitment to the concept of a free trade and to rejection of protectionism. That this is part of the spirit in which we are facing these tasks and in which we will be able to live up to the tasks of the future.

Mr. President, once again, I thank you very much for the extremely friendly atmosphere for our exchanges and for the support I've been receiving from you, from the members of your Cabinet, and the members of your staff. These have been 2 short days I spent here in Washington, but I think these were 2 good days. And I think it is this spirit in which we will go on working also in the future together. Thank you.

The President. Mr. Chancellor, your suggestion during your last visit for a U.S. German Youth Exchange Council has resulted in the recent establishment of a body of prominent Americans and Germans who have accepted the challenge to expand youth exchanges between our two countries. I fully support the work of this youth exchange council and share your strong personal commitment to advancing mutual understanding, particularly between the younger generations in our two countries. I am, therefore, especially pleased to be able today to exchange with you, in the presence of Director Wick and Professor Weidenfeld, the two coordinators of U.S.-German cooperation, copies of the documents establishing the U.S.-German Youth Exchange Council.

Chancellor Kohl. Mr. President, I think what we have just done is more important than anything else we could have possibly done. We discussed the issues, the great international issues, but what we have done here concerns the future. It relates to the next generations, and I think they will form their opinion and their judgment about what we have done by measuring us against this background. And I think they will enable us to live up and to stand up to that measurement if we will be able to go on along this line. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:31 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his closing remarks, he referred to Charles Z. Wick, Director of the U.S. Information Agency, and Werner Weidenfeld, Coordinator of German-American Cooperation. The Chancellor spoke in German, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Earlier, the President and the Chancellor met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the Residence.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives