Remarks to the People of Germany in Berlin
Thank you very much, Mr. President, Chancellor Kohl, to the leaders and members of the Bundestag and Bundesrat, members of the Cabinet, members of the diplomatic corps, Professor Schneider, and all the people who have made us feel so welcome here at the beautiful Schauspielhaus. Let me begin by thanking the German Symphony Orchestra for playing one of my favorite pieces, the "Eroica." You were wonderful. Thank you very much.
Mr. Mayor, thank you for your remarks. And Chancellor, thank you for all that you said.
I am delighted to join all of you in the historic heart of free and unified Berlin. Fifty years ago the United States and its allies made a commitment to the people of Berlin. It began with the heroic airlift of 1948, continued through the showdown with Soviet tanks at Checkpoint Charlie in 1961, and includes nearly 100,000 American soldiers who defended this city over the course of 40 years and grew to love its people.
It lasted until East Germans bravely reached out across the wall and tore it down, thus freeing all of us to make real a Europe we had only dreamed of, an undivided continent of thriving democracies where states deal with each other not through domination but dialog; where societies are governed not by repression but by the rule of law; where the only barriers people face are the limits of their own dreams. Today, Berlin is a symbol of what all Europe is striving to become.
Former Chancellor Willy Brandt, who was mayor of West Berlin on the day the wall went up, declared on that magical November night as the wall was coming down, "Es wachst zusammen was zusammen gehort"—"what belongs together is growing together." You have shown, citizens of Berlin, that he was correct. From the construction on the Spree turning Berlin into Germany's capital for the future to the renewal of Potsdammer Platz as a dynamic center of business, Berlin's rebirth embodies all our hopes for the future. And from Munich to Potsdam, from Hamburg to Dresden, people throughout Germany's old and new states have struggled and sacrificed to make the larger dream of German unity come true. Now, barely 600 days before the beginning of a new century and a new millennium, we must make unity our mission for the Continent as a whole and for a new transatlantic community.
For more than 1,000 years, from the time of Charlemagne to the founding of the European Community, a unified Europe has captured this continent's imagination. Now, for the first time, the dream is within reach, and not through conquest but through the decision of free people.
In 1994 I came to Europe to support your unity and to set forth a vision of partnership between America and a new Europe, rooted in security cooperation, free markets, and vibrant democracies. I asked all our countries to adapt our institutions for the new time, to help the new market economies of Europe's eastern half to thrive, to support the growth of freedom and the spread of peace, to bring the peoples of the Euro-Atlantic community more closely together.
On all fronts, we have made remarkable progress. NATO is taking on new missions and new members, building practical ties with Russia and Ukraine, deepening cooperation among the 44 nations of the Partnership Council. The European Union is growing, and America and the EU are working together to tear down more trade barriers and strengthen new democracies. The OSCE, Europe's standard bearer for human rights and freedoms, is now helping to make those standards real, from supervising elections in Albania to monitoring arms reduction in Bosnia.
With support from America and the European Union and especially with Chancellor Kohl and Germany's farsighted leadership, new market economies are taking root all across this continent. Russia has privatized more property than any nation in this century. Poland and Estonia are among Europe's fastest growing economies. Since 1991, U.S. and EU investment in Central and Eastern Europe has quadrupled and trade has doubled.
We've encouraged Europe's newly freed nations from helping citizens groups in the New Independent States to monitor their elections to strengthening the independence of their judicial systems. In Russia alone, thousands of civic groups are beginning to take a role in shaping the destiny of this century. President Yeltsin has a new government of young reformers, fully capable of leading Russia decisively into the future.
We have helped to make the peace take hold from Bosnia to Northern Ireland. Every day our ordinary citizens work to link our nations together, from sister cities such as Leipzig and Houston, to American students flocking to all European countries, to young Romanians and Bulgarians now enrolled in our military academies.
With all of this progress, as the Chancellor noted, many challenges still remain to our common vision: the ongoing struggles of newly free nations to consolidate their reforms; the unfinished work of bringing Europe's eastern half fully into our transatlantic community; the fear of those who lack the skills to succeed in the fast-changing global economy; the voices of hatred, intolerance, and division on both sides of the Atlantic, whether masked in patriotism, cloaked in religious fervor, or posing as ethnic pride; Bosnia's fragile peace; Kosovo's volatility; Cyprus' stalemate; the dangers that all our nations face and cannot defeat alone—the spread of weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, environmental degradation.
And so my friends, 1998, no less than 1989, demands our boldness, our will, and our unity. Today I call on our nations to summon the energy and the will to finish the work we have started, to keep at it until every nation on the Continent enjoys the security and democracy we do and all men and women, from Seattle to Paris to Istanbul to St. Petersburg, are able to pursue their dreams in peace and build an even better life for their children.
This is the opportunity of generations. Together, we must seize it. We must build a Europe like Germany itself, whole and free, prosperous and peaceful, increasingly integrated, and always globally engaged.
If you will forgive me a personal observation based on my service in the last 5 1/2 years, I must note that this magic moment in history did not simply arrive. It was made, and made largely by the vision and determined leadership of Germany and its Chancellor for 9 years.
Consider the historic changes you have wrought. You committed Germany again to lead in a united Europe—this time through cooperation, not conquest. You took the risk of pushing for the European Monetary Union, knowing there would be bumps along the way, especially with the strength of the deutsche mark and the power of your own economy. You shouldered the enormous cost of your own reunification to make sure the East is not left behind and to ease as much as possible the unavoidable dislocation and pain that goes along with this process.
And you have done this while also taking on the challenge that West Germany must face in making a difficult transition to a global economy, in which preserving opportunity for all and preserving the social contract is a challenge even for the wealthiest nations, as we see in America every day. All this you have attempted to do, and largely achieved, in 9 short years.
Though many German citizens may be uncertain of the outcome and may not yet feel the benefits of your farsighted, courageous course, you are clearly on the right side of history. America honors your vision and your achievements, and we are proud to march with you, shoulder-to-shoulder, into the new millennium. We thank you.
We begin our common journey with one basic premise: America stands with Europe. Today, no less than 50 years ago, our destinies are joined. If Europe is at peace, America is more secure. If Europe prospers, America does as well. We share a common destiny because we move to a logic of mutually beneficial interdependence, where each nation can grow stronger and more prosperous because of the success of its neighbors and friends. Therefore, we welcome Europe's march toward greater unity. We seek a transatlantic partnership that is broad and open in scope, where the benefits and burdens are shared, where we seek a stable and peaceful future not only for ourselves but for all the world. We begin with our common security of which NATO is the bedrock.
Next year the leaders of countries across Europe will gather in Washington to celebrate NATO's 50 years of success, to welcome the first new democracies from Eastern Europe as members, to keep NATO's door open to others as they are ready to assume the responsibilities of membership, to chart a course for the century ahead with threats more diffuse but no less dangerous than those our founders faced.
Yesterday's NATO guarded our borders against direct military invasion. Tomorrow's alliance must continue to defend enlarged borders and defend against threats to our security from beyond them: the spread of weapons of mass destruction, ethnic violence, regional conflict. NATO must have the means to perform these tasks. And we must maintain and strengthen our partnership with Russia, with Ukraine, with other nations across the Continent who share our interests, our values, and our dreams.
Advancing security also requires us to work for peace, whether in Northern Ireland, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kosovo, Bosnia, or Cyprus, to stand against intolerance and injustice as much as military aggression. For racism and inequality have no place in the future we are building together. We must fight them at home and abroad.
Second, we must do more to promote prosperity throughout our community. Transatlantic commerce, as the Chancellor said, is already the largest economic relationship in the world, encompassing more than half a trillion U.S. dollars each year, supporting millions of jobs in both America and Europe.
Consider this: America's investment in Europe roughly equals that in all the rest of the world put together. And Europe's investment in America has now created so many jobs that one of 12 U.S. factory workers is employed by a European-owned firm.
Still, we must face the stark fact that prosperity is not yet everyone's partner. Europe's new democracies confront the daunting challenge of transition to market economies in an age of globalization, which, as I have already said, makes it more difficult to preserve equality of opportunity, a strong social safety net, and a general sense of fairness. We must continue to help these struggling countries, even as those of us in wealthier nations confront our own challenges on these fronts.
America will continue to support Europe's march toward integration. We admire the determination that has made your economic and monetary union possible, and we will work with you to make it a success. We will continue to encourage your steps to enlarge the EU as well, eventually to embrace all central Europe and Turkey.
Our third task is to strengthen the hand and extend the reach of democracy. One important tool is the OSCE. Its broad membership projects a unity and moral authority unparalleled on the Continent. Today, the OSCE is taking action on the ground from advancing human rights in the Balkans to supporting democratic institutions in Belarus.
At next year's OSCE summit, we should encourage even greater engagement in the areas where democracy's roots are still fragile, in the Balkans and central Asia and the Caucasus, and we must develop practical new tools for the OSCE, such as training police to support peacekeeping missions and dispatching democracy teams to build more open societies. Only in this way can we deter and defuse crises that threaten our values and our securities before they get out of hand.
Now, the secure, the free, the prosperous Atlantic community we envision must include a successful, democratic Russia. For most of this century fear, tyranny, and isolation kept Russia from the European mainstream. But look at the future Russians are now building, and we have an enormous stake in their success. Russia is literally recreating itself, using the tools of openness and reform to strengthen new freedom and restrain those who abuse them, to ensure more competition, to collect taxes, fight crime, restructure the military, prevent the spread of sensitive technologies. We must support this Russian revolution.
We will redouble our efforts with Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenals, to lower the limits on conventional forces in Europe, to fight the spread of materials and technology for weapons of mass destruction, to build a partnership with NATO in practical ways that benefit all of us, to develop the ties between our people that are the best antidote to mistrust. And we must not forget Ukraine, for it, too, has the opportunity to reach both east and west and be a great force for Europe's peace, prosperity, and stability. We should encourage reform and support it. The moment in Ukraine is historic, and it is not a moment to lose.
Our fourth and final task is strengthening our global cooperation. Let us make common cause of our common concerns, standing together against threats to our security from states that flout international norms to the conflict brewing in Kosovo, from deterring terrorists and organized criminals to helping Asia restore financial stability, from helping Africa to join the global economy to combating global warming. In a world grown smaller, what happens beyond our borders touches our daily lives at home. America and Europe must work together to shape this world.
Now, as we pursue this agenda, there will be times when we disagree. But occasional lack of consensus must never result in lasting cracks in our cohesion. Nor should the quest for consensus lure us into the easiest, lowest common denominator solution to difficult, high-urgency problems. When the world needs principled, effective, strong leadership, we must rise to the responsibility.
These are our challenges. They are ambitious, but attainable. They demand of nations constant unity of purpose and commitment, and they require the support and the courage of our citizens. For without the courage of ordinary people, the wall would not have come down, and the new Europe would not be unfolding. Now it falls to each of us to write the next chapter of this story, to build up from what has been taken down, to cement together what is no longer walled apart, to repair the breaches that still exist among our peoples, to build a Europe that belongs together and grows together in freedom.
Our success in this endeavor will make the new century the greatest that Germany, America, Europe, and the world have ever known. This is an effort worthy of the rich legacy of Berlin, the visionary leadership of modern Germany, and the enormous obligation we share for our children's future. Let us embrace it with gratitude, joy, and determination.
Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 6:30 p.m. in the Schauspielhaus. In his remarks, he referred to President Roman Herzog of Germany; Professor Frank Schneider, director, Berlin Schauspielhaus; and Mayor Eberhard Diepgen of Berlin.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to the People of Germany in Berlin Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/225396