Remarks at a State Dinner in Kiev
President and Mrs. Kuchma, to all of our hosts, on behalf of all the Americans here, let me say that we are glad to be here and we thank you, Mr. President, for your warm remarks.
Mr. President, on my first trip to the Ukraine, I only visited the lounge at Boryspil Airport, and you promised me when we met in November that the hospitality would be even better in Kiev. Thank you for keeping your word and for this wonderful welcome.
Mr. President and distinguished guests, we had a very good meeting here today, but perhaps the most important thing which happened today, which both of us worked on, occurred in New York where the nations of the world made history. By indefinitely extending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we have taken a critical step in making the American people, Ukrainian people, and the people of the world more secure. More important, this action will build a better future for our children, for future generations.
For 25 years, the NPT has been the cornerstone of global efforts to reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons. Making the treaty permanent opens a new and more hopeful chapter in our history, a time when all nations will be more secure. We owe a great debt of thanks to the men and women who've worked so hard to make this possible.
This achievement was key goal of our foreign policy in the United States this year. And I want to say a special word of thanks to the representatives of my Government who worked so hard for this day.
It is especially fitting that we celebrate this event in Kiev, for Ukraine has been at the forefront of those nations that have been striving to reduce the threat posed by nuclear weapons. By your decision to eliminate the nuclear arsenal on your territory, to bring the START I agreement into force, and to adhere to the NPT, Ukrainian people have made a major contribution to reducing the nuclear dangers in Europe and throughout the world.
I once again want to thank President Kuchma for his brave and wise leadership. Over the last few days, we have spoken a great deal about the hardship and the heroism in the Great War of 50 years ago. This evening I would like to pay tribute to the courage and endurance of the Ukrainian people today. After a century of totalitarian rule, famine, and war, you have emerged to freedom and independence and set for yourselves the highest goals. In the face of a difficult, often wrenching transition, you have persevered and added honor to your nation.
I salute you, Mr. President, because you have played such an important role in maintaining the resolve of your people. Every democratically elected leader knows it is difficult to pursue a course that causes pain in the short run, even if it is best for the people in the long run. Mr. President, you have carried forth without wavering. An American President can look back on the experience of his predecessors over more than 200 years and know that others have walked this path before. But you are forging a new democratic tradition, untested and unknown but based on your judgment and your convictions. You have written a record of achievement and shown a determination that will be remembered long into the future.
This record should not and will not go unanswered. You have challenged us, and we are responding with strong support for Ukrainian reform. And we will continue to stand by you and work with Ukraine to fulfill its ambitions to become a prosperous democracy. Our legacy will not only be Government-to-Government programs but a genuine partnership between Ukrainian and American citizens, equal to the challenges of the coming century.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us raise a glass to the health and happiness of President and Mrs. Kuchma and to Ukraine, where one of Europe's oldest nations is building a vibrant new democracy, and to the growing friendship between our peoples.
NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 8:15 p.m. at Mariinsky Palace.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a State Dinner in Kiev Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/288429