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Remarks at the Arrival Ceremony in Kiev, Soviet Union

August 01, 1991

Chairman Kravchuk. Today on the Ukrainian soil we are extending our hearty welcome to the high-ranking guests, President of the United States of America George Bush and Mrs. Bush. Our sincere words of welcome are also addressed to the well-known U.S. statesmen and those accompanying the President.

Mr. President, we attach to your visit to the Ukraine very great importance, and we think it will be another step in improving relations between our countries. Your visit reflects the changes which have taken place in our countries and in the world as a whole.

Despite the complexity and contradictoriness of the political processes, the basic feature of today's world development is radical positive changes. And for these changes mankind should thank the foresighted policy of our states, their common aspirations towards humane and just peace.

We are especially satisfied with the fact that you, Mr. President, came to our Republic right after the historic document, the Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty, had been signed in Moscow. The Ukrainian people consider this act as another concrete step towards the achievement of general and complete disarmament, toward a world without weapons and without wars.

Your visit to the Ukraine is taking place at a time difficult for the Republic. However, on the basis of the Declaration on State Sovereignty and thanks to the aspiration toward national concord, the Ukraine is, step by step, moving along the road to its high aim: sovereignty, bringing about stability and civil peace.

Fifty-two million representatives of different people -- the Ukrainians, the Russians, the Poles, the Jews, the Bulgars -- are working together on this land. And for them, Ukraine is their home. We have resolutely chosen the road to democracy, market economy, and sovereignty; and this choice of ours is supported by the majority of the people.

The American Nation knows only very well the price of genuine sovereignty, and the Declaration of Independence was one of the first to proclaim to the whole world the ideals of freedom, equality, and brotherhood. Taking into account the present-day political and economic realities, we are pursuing the policy aimed at the setting up of a new union, a union of sovereign states as further consolidation and development of fruitful relations with all the Republics. This policy is being supported by the people, and around it, all kinds of political forces are being consolidated.

On the international area, the Ukraine is striving to acquire the status of an equal member of the international community, to integrate its economy into the world economy.

To your visit, Mr. President, we attach sincere hope for the establishment of direct relations between the Ukraine and the United States of America, into whose foundation the first bricks have already been laid.

We believe that after your visit to Ukraine it will be visited by a great number of businessmen, and we will create every necessary condition for their activities here.

Let me once again welcome you, Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, and the members of the American delegation on the hospitable Ukrainian soil, and say to you in Ukrainian, Laskavo prosimo.

President Bush. Chairman Kravchuk, Barbara and I are simply delighted to visit Kiev, the city of golden domes, and I might say that we saw so many beautiful hilltop churches from the windows of Air Force One as we came in.

Ukraine, as we all know, is the motherland of many hundreds of thousands of Americans. In fact, back home in Washington, DC, stands a statue of the Ukrainian poet and painter Taras Shevchenko. Once, reflecting on the democratic experiment in America, he wrote this: "When will we have a Washington with a new and righteous law? One day we shall have him."

Well, I'm here to tell you, sir, that the United States stands committed to a new world order based on what Shevchenko called a "new and righteous law" -- the rule of law and the guarantee of real economic freedom, political freedom, religious freedom. Yes, the world is changing profoundly. But with change comes opportunity and hope for the future.

The American people applaud the changes that are creating a Soviet Union blessed with free markets and free people. We're anxious to offer help and hope where needed, to build ties of understanding and common interest. In that spirit we recently opened a consulate general in this great city, a permanent American presence to build America's friendship with Ukraine.

I come here having concluded 2 days of very productive work in Moscow. President Gorbachev and I did sign, as you referred to, an historic treaty that will, for the first time, reduce strategic forces between our countries. But we also talked about peace and prosperity, in hopes that our nations can increase trade and share ideas and experiences with one another.

Now, we look forward to meeting with Chairman Kravchuk and other Ukrainian leaders. We want to expand the scope of our relationship with the people of this Republic, as you mentioned -- build stronger economic ties and extend the range and quality of cultural, social, and academic and professional exchanges. We want to retain the strongest possible official relationship with the Gorbachev government, but we also appreciate the importance of more extensive ties with Ukraine and other Republics, with all the peoples of the Soviet Union.

As I hope you know, the American people care about people in Ukraine and Russia and the other Soviet Republics. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl tragedy, American citizens and private relief organizations responded with deep concern and generosity. American physicians are helping Ukrainian officials study the long-term health effects of the accident. And through a Presidential initiative on medical assistance, we've shipped badly needed pharmaceutical supplies to help Chernobyl victims.

You are a strong people, and your rich and glorious past spans centuries of upheaval and change. You first brought Christianity to this part of Europe, this crossroads of Europe and Asia. Christianity took hold here over a thousand years ago when Prince Vladimir of Kiev baptized his followers in the Dnieper River.

Now, for the first time in 40 years, the patriarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches have returned to Kiev. With the freedom to practice religion a spiritual renewal has begun among all the religions of Ukraine -- Catholics, Jews, Orthodox, and others. A new day, in some ways, has already arrived.

Thank you, Chairman Kravchuk. It's a great pleasure for all of us to be here. And we're looking forward to our visit.

Note: The ceremony began at 1:01 p.m. at Borispol Airport, upon the arrival of President Bush. Leonid M. Kravchuk, Chairman of the Republic of the Ukraine's Supreme Soviet, spoke in Russian and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. In his remarks, the President referred to U.S. and Soviet cooperation in dealing with the aftermath of a 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine.

George Bush, Remarks at the Arrival Ceremony in Kiev, Soviet Union Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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