Remarks Following Discussions With President Sam Nujoma of Namibia and an Exchange With Reporters
President Clinton. Good morning. Today I am delighted to welcome President Sam Nujoma of Namibia to the White House. Here in this city named after George Washington it is indeed an honor to welcome a person who is known as the George Washington of his country. Three years ago, the world rejoiced at the birth of a new democracy on the African continent. Millions of Americans of all ethnic backgrounds celebrated Namibia's independence as a moment of great joy and real progress. Since that moment, President Nujoma has led his country through one of the most successful political transitions in recent times. I'm particularly pleased to have the President here as the first African head of state received by my administration. It underscores my admiration for what Namibia has accomplished and my commitment to democracy in Africa and elsewhere. Namibia's President and her people clearly share that commitment. Their example inspires the cause of democracy and human rights throughout the continent.
Our meeting today coincides with UNICEF's annual Day of the African Child. A brighter future for those children is a goal we both share. In that regard, I commend the President for his concern for the future of Angola's people as well and particularly her children who have long suffered from that country's civil war. President Nujoma's efforts to bring an end to this conflict have made an important contribution to the cause of peace.
Our meeting today also comes at a time of great promise and challenge for another of Namibia's neighbors, South Africa. I know that I join President Nujoma in hoping that the transition to a nonracial democracy in South Africa can not only come soon but can be as peaceful and successful as the birth of Namibia's own democracy a short while ago. South Africa has seen far too much tragedy and despair for too long. The day is overdue when it would be a welcome time of renewal, of prosperity and hope and peace. With its exemplary experience in recent years, Namibia is truly in a unique position to further the entire region's efforts toward democratization, market economies, conflict resolution, and political stability. Namibia's successful transition to a stable, multiparty, multiracial, multiethnic democracy offers hope and optimism for other nations in the region, throughout the continent, and around the world.
I also want to say a special word of appreciation for the work that the President and Namibia have done in promoting their new system of government, promoting education among their people. He has just given me a gift of two games that a young Namibian citizen has developed for the children there, board games on the government and Constitution of Namibia and on the governments of the African continent. And I might point out that Namibia's Constitution also has in it a commitment to preserve the precious ecosystem of that country, a real ground-breaking statement of environmental commitment that I, again, believe will be honored by people throughout the continent and throughout the world.
Again, Mr. President, I'm delighted to have this opportunity to welcome you, a genuine hero of the world's movement toward democracy, and I look forward to working with you on the issues we have discussed and the issues we're about to discuss. The microphone is yours.
President Nujoma. Thank you, Mr. President Clinton. I am particularly grateful that you have extended an invitation to me, and through me to my people, to come and pay an official visit to your great country.
I'm grateful that your Government and your people have decided when the people of Somalia were faced with the tragedy of starvation and death, it was during the Bush administration when President Bush decided to send U.S. troops, before U.N. troops went, to put an end to the civil war and starvation of the people of Somalia. And later on, the U.N. sent its own forces which are still there.
Our continent is faced with turmoils. We have a civil war in Liberia, in Angola, in Somalia, and elsewhere. And I'm appealing to you, Mr. President, and to the people of the United States not to be discouraged but to continue to support the efforts of the United Nations in assisting those who are in need and particularly in preventing further bloodshed and loss of lives and destruction to property in areas such as Angola, Liberia, and others.
Mr. President, after a long bloody struggle for independence, during which there was massive abuse of human rights, Namibia has joined the ranks of free and democratic nations in which the right and dignity of human beings are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia and protected as a matter of policy practiced by my government. Over the last 3 years of its existence as a sovereign state, Namibia has scrupulously observed and upheld political pluralism which—[inaudible]— multipartisan. There are seven political parties represented in our Parliament. All these parties are quite vocal in their criticism of my government. But there has not been a single incident of harassment or intimidation of any one of these parties by my government. Tolerance and accommodation are our guiding principles in this regard.
We are committed to the rule of law, so much so that not a single one of the inhuman apartheid laws, rules, and the regulation has been replaced with undemocratic issues. Our Parliament remains the only legal institution that has the power to repeal, amend, or pass laws to regulate the political and other activities of our society. The separation of powers is the other central principle of our democracy. As such, there has been no interference by the executive branch of the government in the affairs of the judiciary. The judiciary acted independently. Although there were the draconian laws used by the colonial regime to suppress freedom of the press, there is today in Namibia no single law that puts restrictions on that important freedom of the press. Namibia has, therefore, one of the most active and critical press towards the government.
The government of Namibia is committed to a market-oriented economy. As such, there has been no interference by the government in the activities of private sector. Instead, my government is actively creating infrastructures on the joint venture basis, and we intend to leave those infrastructures to the private sector. This is one way we think we can develop our country.
The government is committed to transference in governance. In this regard, there are regular consultations between the government, the private sector, and the civil organizations on issues of national concern. We intend to uphold all these democratic principles because we are convinced that they are essential for the maintenance of peace and stability in our country, as well as for the social economic development of Namibia.
Mr. President, in order to strengthen democracy in Namibia, there is an imperative and urgent need for my government to produce tangible economic results by encouraging private sector investment in the country. Without such a result we cannot say that the future of our democracy is secure. In this connection, my government has just passed incentives which aim at promoting foreign investment. We give a guarantee of repatriation for their dividends and profit. And I hope the U.S. business community members will use the opportunity of coming into Namibia and join us, either on a joint venture basis or just purely direct investment, and make a profit and meanwhile assisting us to develop our country.
I thank you.
President Clinton. Thank you.
Q. [Inaudible]—about whispers that the economic plan will not hit the $500 billion target in the Senate Finance Committee. Despite repeated suggestions by you and your administration and your spokes-people that one of your principles was $500 billion, you didn't seem to clearly rule out taking anything less than $500 billion. Can you rule that out?
President Clinton. No, no. What I mean-let me make it clear. The actual plan I believe the House passed was $496 billion. If it were 497, 498, 495, something in that range, that's not—but if it's considerably below that, I think that would be a mistake. But I have no reason to believe the Senate is going well below that, and I certainly have no reason to believe that the conference report, that is, the final bill in the economic plan, would go well below it. That's the only point I was trying to make.
Q. On a foreign aid question, international aid, some Members of Congress are now saying that because of domestic cutbacks, they may have difficulty in supporting foreign aid. And the question arises, is your Russian aid package in trouble on the Hill?
President Clinton. Well, I would hope not. The United States has some very direct interests in foreign aid. We have shown some real restraint in many of our foreign operations. Yesterday I announced, for example, the reorganization of our broadcasting operations. Even though we want an Asian democracy network along with Radio Free Europe and Radio and TV Marti and our other broadcasting efforts, we're going to reorganize and save some money there. And there are some other cutbacks in our foreign operations. But the United States still needs an aggressive program.
And I would remind you what I have said before about Russia. That is a good investment for America. We're going to make a lot of money out of that over the long run because we'll be able to do joint ventures, because American companies will be able to more securely invest there. Just since we've been working, I can see the obstacles clearing for more investments by American companies there in ways that will benefit Americans. We will see a continued effort to denuclearize the Russian nuclear force which will enable us to continue to do the same thing. So it's a very good investment for the United States. And if democracy were reversed, that would be a bad thing for the United States. So I hope it will pass, and I think it will.
Major General Harold N. Campbell
Q. Mr. President, there is a long tradition of Commanders in Chief, Presidents, firing general officers for gross insubordination. Now that the Air Force has apparently confirmed General Campbell's remarks—I know you told us yesterday you didn't take personal offense. I'd like to know why you don't feel as Commander in Chief you need to take strong action at this time.
President Clinton. Well, what I feel I need to do, sir, is to get a report from General McPeak first. And until I do that, I don't think I should say any more. This thing has proceeded in a very orderly fashion. And I was assured by the Secretary of Defense and by General McPeak that I would get a prompt and timely report, and when I do, then we'll decide what the appropriate thing to do is.
Q. Can you clarify for us and maybe for the public what you see as the ultimate goal of the U.S.-led U.N. operation in Somalia? Is it to topple General Aideed? Is it to eliminate all his firepower, to bring him back to talks? What is it that we're doing?
President Clinton. The ultimate goal is to restore the conditions of peace which existed before the Pakistanis were murdered. The ultimate goal is to make sure that the United Nations can fulfill its mission there and continue to work with the Somalis toward nation building and to achieve the objectives that President Nujoma spoke so eloquently about in the Oval Office just a moment ago, to make sure that the human needs of the people can be met and that we can continue to make progress there.
Q. [Inaudible]—by his ability to turn this into something of a public relations disaster for the United States?
President Clinton. Well, I don't know that it is that. It may be—the issue is whether the Pakistani soldiers erred, and that's for the United Nations to resolve. And I'm sure that it will. But you can't have these kinds of conflicts and expect them to be brutal and illegal on one side and then have a response and expect that there will be nothing controversial about it. That is not to exonerate or to condemn. The United Nations is looking into the Pakistani conduct. There are, I must tell you, conflicting allegations about what occurred and who was actually responsible for the deaths of all the civilians there, and we need to get to the bottom of it. And if procedures need to be changed, if training needs to be tightened, if discipline needs to be imposed, then I think that can be done. But the fundamental mission of the United Nations in Somalia has not changed. And I still believe it's a very important one.
Congressional Black Caucus
Q. Mr. President, in view of the talks that you had with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, is it still necessary for you to meet with the caucus before your plan goes to the House for a vote?
President Clinton. I honestly don't know. I think I've now talked to probably 15 of them in the last several days. I think that depends, in part, on what the Senate does with the economic plan and what the understandings are about what's going to come out of the conference. So I think we'll have to wait and see what the Senate Committee does and then what the Senate actually adopts on the floor, and then we'll make a decision at that time. And of course, anytime they want to see me they know that there's an open door. But whether a meeting is necessary will depend in large measure, I think, on what the Senate does.
Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Nujoma.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:10 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.
William J. Clinton, Remarks Following Discussions With President Sam Nujoma of Namibia and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220423