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Remarks on Receiving the Order of the State of the Turkish Republic Award in Ankara

November 15, 1999

First of all, let me thank you for this beautiful Order of State award. You know, in my country, they give you these awards normally when you're one step away from death. [Laughter] It's quite a wonderful thing to receive one when at least you still feel quite normal. [Laughter] And particularly, an award that symbolizes our shared values and the long friendship between our two countries, one that goes back in many ways to the beginning of our country and, clearly, for the last 50 years, back to the beginning of the Truman Doctrine and the commitment of the United States to the security and integrity of Turkey.

In these last 50 years, we have been partners from Korea to Kosovo, against aggression and oppression, and as we look ahead to the future, we will have many opportunities for richer and deeper partnerships.

I would just briefly observe that it is an irony of history that we are on the edge of a new millennium—which will be shaped by unbelievable advances in technology, an explosion in information, and great leaps forward in science— but the biggest problem the world has is that everywhere people are too much in the grip of the oldest difficulty of human societies: We still are prone to fear people who are different than ourselves.

And so, all across the world, we see ethnic, racial, religious conflicts. We see people remembering old reasons for geopolitical difficulties, when new opportunities for cooperation are staring them right in the face. And it is for those of us who are moving into this new millennium to leave our children a more unified vision of human society and of human cooperation across national lines, one that gives all children, without regard to their station or birth, a chance to live up to their dreams—boys and girls alike; Muslims, Jews, Christians alike; people who come from any part of the world.

I hope that we can be faithful, Turkey and the United States, to the ideals and dreams of our founders and, together, leave that legacy of a unifying vision of human life.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 7:50 p.m. in the Reception Hall at the Presidential Palace. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of President Suleyman Demirel of Turkey.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Receiving the Order of the State of the Turkish Republic Award in Ankara Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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