Remarks to the Sponsors of the International Charlemagne Prize in Aachen
Thank you very much. Mr. Mayor, Mr. President, the rector of the university, and the Charlemagne Prize Foundation members. I have given my speech today, so I would just like to make a couple of comments. First, let me say that I have wanted to come to this great city since I was a young man, over 35 years ago, when I first began to study the history of Europe. And so today was, for me, a personal dream come true. And I only regret that I didn't get to spend more time in the cathedral. [Laughter] But the mayor says I can come back. [Laughter]
Let me also say how very impressed I am by the modern things about this city, as well, beginning with the mayor and the enlightened speech that he gave and the energy and friendliness of the people. I have enjoyed it very much.
I would like to say just a word about the Charlemagne Prize itself. Fifty years ago, when this prize was created, the city fathers were true visionaries. They refused to give in to the despair that enveloped so much of Europe. Today after I gave my speech, so many people came up to me and said, "You're so optimistic." And I thought I was being faithful to the founders of the prize. And I find it foolish to have any other attitude toward life. If you look back over the last 50 years, I think it is remarkable how far we have come. And yes, there are great challenges, but there's no reason to believe that good people can't do what needs to be done.
Let me say with regard to the prize, since it is really about European unity and, for me, transatlantic unity, I thought that the best thing I could do would be to donate the prize money to a student exchange program that would promote unity in a more immediate sense among people still young enough to make the most of it. And so the exchange program that I am going to give the prize money to joins Aachen and its sister city, Arlington, Virginia, which is just across the river from the White House. And there they are. I see them.
So I hope that some good will come of it and that young people from this community and Arlington will gain a deeper insight into our respective nations and a greater understanding of the future that they will have to build.
This has been a wonderful day for me. Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 2:10 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall. In his remarks, he referred to Lord Mayor Jurgen Linden of Aachen; President Johannes Rau of Germany; and Rector Burkhard Rauhut, Aachen Technical University.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to the Sponsors of the International Charlemagne Prize in Aachen Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/228222