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Remarks at a State Dinner Honoring President Boris Yeltsin of Russia

September 27, 1994

Ladies and gentlemen, President Yeltsin, Mrs. Yeltsin, distinguished guests: It is a great pleasure for Hillary and I to welcome Boris and Naina and all the Russian delegation to the White House. We're glad for this opportunity to return the generous hospitality that you bestowed on us in Moscow last January at the magnificent state dinner in the Kremlin's Hall of Facets and St. George's Hall. It was a magnificent evening that brought home to me, to Hillary, and to all the Americans there the vast richness of Russian culture.

Mr. President, our fellow Americans know you as the man who has led one of the most peaceful and hopeful revolutions of our time, the second Russian revolution. We were all inspired when you stood up for freedom in the streets of Moscow. And we have admired your patient, persistent, and successful efforts to build the institutions of democracy.

We know reform has been difficult, and there is a hard road yet to travel. But as I said this morning when you arrived at the White House, you have already proved the pessimists wrong. Under your leadership, Russia is coming together and moving forward. Her best days are still to come. And we are proud of our partnership with your great country.

At one of our previous meetings you were kind enough to give me a copy of your autobiography. It's a remarkable story, a story still in progress, of a man dedicated and determined to give his fellow Russians the opportunity to reach their full potential. I know there are many more volumes yet to be written, but one part of your book made a particular impression on me.

In your autobiography you tell the story of your father's ambition to invent a brick-laying machine. Time and again, he would describe in intricate detail how it would work, how it would mix mortar, lay the bricks, clean off the excess mortar, and move on to keep building. He had all sorts of sketches and calculations for this machine, which he believed would better the lives of the Russian people.

Mr. President, you have realized your father's dream, and on a scale he could never have imagined. Brick by brick, through your tireless and steadfast efforts, you have laid the foundation for a democratic Russia. Your nation has now an elected President and Parliament, a Constitution, an increasingly free economy, and an open society. In just a few short years, you have accomplished the work of a lifetime.

And so it is with great admiration for your historic achievements, confidence in our new partnership, and a belief that working together we will help to make a better world, that I, and I ask all of you to join me, in raising a glass to you, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:35 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a State Dinner Honoring President Boris Yeltsin of Russia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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