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Remarks at the State Dinner for President Richard von Weizsacker of Germany

April 29, 1992

President and Mrs. von Weizsacker, Barbara and I are just delighted, we are honored to welcome you here as the first President of a united Federal Republic of Germany. You are known the world over as a man who embodies the values that have made Germany's unity and democracy a source of hope to the world. President von Weizsacker, throughout an era of division you constantly stood for unity, the unity of the German people, the unity of Europeans, East and West, and the unity and brotherhood, before God, of all mankind.

We are also honored that Foreign Minister Genscher, who just announced that he is stepping down from the position he's held with such distinction for 18 years, is with us, together with Mrs. Genscher. Hans-Dietrich, now, where is he? I'm looking, looking, looking. Over here. [Laughter] Hans-Dietrich, thank you, sir, for your fantastic service, for your friendship, and for all you have done for our common good. We are delighted that you are with us.

To all our German friends, let me say that we rejoiced with you a year and a half ago as Germany was united once more in peace and freedom. At midnight, the exact moment when two countries became one, Berlin's liberty bell pealed triumphantly. And we were proud to share in the glory of that moment since the bell, a replica of our own Liberty Bell, was a gift from the American people offered in friendship and support.

Mr. President, those half million people crowded around the Reichstag that night will always remember the words that you proclaimed as the bell rang, and here it is: "We want to serve world peace in a united Europe." Americans thrilled with you at that moment, we really did. And German unification, which for so long seemed so far away, so distant, was but one of the German miracles we've seen in our lifetimes.

There is, of course, Germany's legendary economic miracle. But I'm thinking of something else, your country's moral revival, of the patience and spirit of reconciliation that it took to create a climate of cooperation in a Europe burdened with bitterness.

Just as Germany has transcended and triumphed over its past, so has the German-American relationship shed the burdens that were history's legacy. United Germany, champion of a more united Europe, now stands as our partner in leadership. Together, we have achieved our common goal of a Germany united in peace and freedom. But our partnership did not end with that. To the contrary, now that we are free of the dangers and divisions of Europe's cold war confrontation, the German-American partnership has really just begun.

The world around us has changed almost beyond recognition. And we cannot know precisely where these revolutionary changes will take us. But this we do know: Our principles have not changed, for they have been proven right. And we are confident, for our shared values and unity of purpose have guided us through our past and will continue to guide us in our future.

Barbara and I speak proudly for this country when we call on everyone here to celebrate the promise our relationship holds. It's a relationship that this city, led by the Kennedy Center, whose Mr. Jim Wolfensohn is with us tonight, is commemorating with an unprecedented salute to 300 years of German culture, a festival under our joint patronage.

Now, in that spirit of cultural excellence, we have a present for you. There's a slogan in America, and it's particularly appropriate during a political year: If you want a friend, get a dog. [Laughter] And so in the spirit of enduring friendship, we'll give you the translation, the German translation. And I will now read it to you:

[At this point, President Bush read the German title of the translation of "Millie's Book as Dictated to Barbara Bush" which he presented to President von Weizsacker.]

And may I suggest that we all raise our glasses: To unity, to freedom, to the new Germany. And to the long life and good health of our honored friend, President von Weizsacker, and his wife, Mrs. von Weizsacker. To your health, sir, and to the great friendship between Germany and the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 8:30 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

George Bush, Remarks at the State Dinner for President Richard von Weizsacker of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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