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Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands in The Hague

May 28, 1997

Your Majesty, Prime Minister Kok, honored colleagues, on behalf of the United States, I would like to thank Her Majesty and the people of The Netherlands for this deeply appreciated commemoration. And thank you, Your Majesty, for your very fine statement.

The ties between our two nations are long and unbroken. When my country was first seeking its independence, The Netherlands was one of the first nations to which we turned. John Adams, America's first envoy to The Hague and later our second President, described the completion of a treaty of friendship with Holland as, quote, "the happiest event and the greatest action" of his life. More than 200 years later, America still takes pride in our friendship with this good land, whose compassion and generosity throughout the world is far disproportionate to its size.

I also express my gratitude to all my fellow leaders for being here today. Your presence is a very great honor to the United States and a symbol of the age of possibility which we now inhabit, thanks in no small measure to the vision and work of General Marshall and his contemporaries in the United States and in Europe.

The Marshall plan we celebrate today, as Her Majesty noted, was open to all of Europe. But for half the Continent, the dream of recovery was denied. Now, at last, all of Europe's nations are seeking their rightful places at our transatlantic table.

Here in this room are freely elected Presidents, Prime Ministers, and officials from every corner of Europe, including Russia. We are the trustees of history's rarest gift, a second chance to complete the job that Marshall and his generation began. Our great opportunity and our enormous obligation is to make the most of this precious gift and together to build an undivided, democratic, peaceful, prosperous Europe for the very first time in all human history.

The daunting challenge in Marshall's time was to repair the damage of a devastating war. Now we face the equally ambitious task of promoting peace, security, and prosperity for all the people of Europe.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Marshall plan, let us commit ourselves to build upon its success for the next 50 years and beyond. And let us now join in a toast to Her Majesty and the people of The Netherlands in gratitude for this great and good day.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:53 p.m. in the Small Ballroom of Noordeinde Palace.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands in The Hague Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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