Remarks Following Discussions With President Lech Walesa of Poland and an Exchange With Reporters in Warsaw
President Clinton. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me say again how delighted I am to be here with my party and with my family in Poland.
We had, from my point of view, a very satisfactory discussion about what we could do together to strengthen Poland in terms of its economic future and its political and security future and about what we could do to continue to integrate the democracies, the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe into a broader Europe. I think they feel a great solidarity with the people of Poland in their common efforts to now make freedom work.
President Walesa opened his remarks with a statement that I think may be well-known in Poland but perhaps not so much in the United States. He said Poland's future needed more American generals, starting with General Motors and General Electric. [Laughter] And we talked about what we could do to continue the process of economic reform—after all, Poland had a 4 percent growth rate last year, a very impressive rate of growth—but also to spread the benefits of that reform to the people who are still unemployed and who are having a hard time, not only to ease the pain of this economic transition for them but to raise a better promise for the future.
We also talked about the security future of Poland. And let me just say that the most important thing for the present is that we are having the first Partnership For Peace military exercises in Poland in September. The United States and our NATO allies are very excited about that and deeply impressed that Poland led the way to 21 nations joining the Partnership For Peace. That is the beginning of a process that will not only eventually lead to an expansion of NATO but much more importantly gives us a chance to have a secure and unified Europe in which, for the first time, all nation states really do respect the territorial integrity of one another. And both these developments, the economic developments and the security developments, are due in no small part to the steadfast and courageous leadership that President Walesa has displayed for so many years.
I thank him for that, and I thank him for the opportunity to make these few remarks.
President Walesa. I wish to thank President Clinton for coming to our country. I wish to thank him for the initiatives which we welcome with great satisfaction.
America, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, always held a certain promise for Poland and other countries of the region, but this hope was in a different context. Today, the hope consists in the generals I mentioned, if we could get the American generals, the generals I meant, General Motors and General Electric. Certain proposals have been set to encourage the generals to come our way, to make full use of the potential that we have. I think after supper we'll find solutions to all the problems.
NATO and Aid to Poland
Q. Two questions to President Clinton. Mr. President, after Poland has become the most active partner for peace, it's time to start working out some concrete timetable of the Polish NATO journey. Do you agree with the idea? And the second question is we can observe— [inaudible]—that to refer to the Central and Eastern European countries started to go more and more slowly. Does the United States plan to provide some economical, financial support to stop this negative tendency—[inaudible]—to accelerate once again?
President Clinton. First of all, with regard to your first question, I have always stated my support for the idea that NATO will expand. But NATO is a partnership of many nations. I asked the NATO partnership to embrace, first, the Partnership For Peace, so that we would have a way of reaching out to all the nonmember democracies in Europe. I did that as a first step toward expansion of NATO but also because, in my mind, I wanted to see whether there was a real feeling that Europe could be united and that these countries could each pledge to respect one another's borders.
I must tell you that I was surprised that 21 nations, including Sweden and Finland, two formerly neutral countries, asked to be a part of it. So it is taking on a life of, vitality of its own which should not be underestimated. And now what we have to do is to get the NATO partners together and to discuss what the next steps should be. Since that has not been done, I can't really say more about it, because it is a joint decision which has to be made, except to say that I believe that NATO will be expanded, and I believe everyone is impressed by the leadership which Poland has shown.
The answer to your second question is yes, the United States should and will do more to help sustain the process of reform here in Poland and elsewhere, and to help to ease the transition for the people who have still not found jobs and who still have problems with their incomes.
As President Walesa said in our meeting, many people in Poland who are unemployed are unemployed not because there is overproduction in Poland but because the transition from a Communist-controlled economy to a free market economy has not been completed where they live. We have some experience in dealing with those problems, even though they are problems everywhere, including the United States. And I think we must do more to help, and we will.
Q. Mr. President, I'm wondering—a question for both of you, sir. I'm wondering about President Walesa's lingering concerns about Russia, and I'm wondering what you have told him to ease those concerns.
President Clinton. Only he can answer the first part of the question. But I will say that from my point of view, we are in better shape now than we were a few months ago. Russia has agreed to join the Partnership For Peace and, therefore, to accept the integrity of its neighbors' borders, the prospect of joint exercises here in Poland and in other countries, and the premise that NATO will expand. At the same time, Russia has brought its deficit down, its inflation rate down, and continues to privatize its economy.
So, in an uncertain world, I think we are doing about as well as we can in moving things in the right direction. And I feel that we are moving in the direction that will maximize the chances of reform and democracy staying alive in all these countries.
President Walesa. Mr. President, my apprehensions amount to 40 percent and my hopes amount to the other 60. If the United States continues to extend its assurances of stability and security in this region of the world, the proportions will change. As for today, we should say that the United States did provide the proper assurances, and the proportion of hopes keeps expanding all the time. Russia, a democratic state, is a free-market economy, is a partner for everyone.
NOTE: The President spoke at 8:25 p.m. at the Presidential Palace. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
William J. Clinton, Remarks Following Discussions With President Lech Walesa of Poland and an Exchange With Reporters in Warsaw Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220127