Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of the Federal Republic of Germany

May 21, 1981

The President. Chancellor Schmidt, one of the warmest greetings that Americans can offer in welcoming a guest into their midst is to say, "Make yourself at home." On behalf of our fellow citizens, Nancy and I hope that you and Mrs. Schmidt will make yourselves at home during your visit to the United States. We remember with great pleasure how welcome and at home you made us feet on our visit to Germany in 1978.

As you know, millions of German immigrants over the years have made America their home. With strong hands and good hearts, these industrious people helped build a strong and good America. But as proud as they were of this country, they didn't forget their German heritage. They named towns in the New World after those in the Old. The Federal Republic of Germany has just one Bremen; the Federal Republic has one, but we have Bremens in Indiana, in Georgia, and Ohio. And our States are dotted with Hamburgs and Berlins. In honor of Baron von Steuben, the Prussian officer who aided our revolution, we have cities and towns in a number of States named after him. But I hope you'll forgive us, over the years we've sort of anglicized the pronunciation. We call them now Steubens and Steubensvilles. And the list goes on from Heidelberg, Mississippi, to Stuttgart, Arkansas.

But the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America share more than a common background and a well-established friendship. We share values about the importance of liberty. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, a border of brutality that assaults the human spirit and the civilized mind. On one side of the wall, people live in dignity and democracy; on the other side, in domination and defeat. We of the United States are aware of the relentless pressure on the Federal Republic and her citizens, and we admire you for your courage in the face of such grim realities.

The Federal Republic is perched on the cliff of freedom that overlooks Soviet dependents to the East. While the dominated peoples in these lands cannot enjoy your liberties, they can look at your example and hope. The United States is proud to stand beside you as your beacon shines brightly from that cliff of freedom.

We both recognize the challenges posed to our security by those who do not share our beliefs and our objectives. And together, we will act to counter those dangers. The United States will work in partnership with you and with our other European allies to bolster NATO and to offset the disturbing buildup of Soviet military forces. At the same time, we will work toward meaningful negotiations to limit those very weapons.

Mr. Chancellor, under your thoughtful and responsible leadership, the Federal Republic has sought to ease tensions in a world taut and quivering with the strains instability—not only between East and West but between North and South. And aware of the Federal Republic's other contributions as well. Americans remember that when the United States sought support in freeing American prisoners in Iran, the Federal Republic stood firmly by us, and we thank you for that support.

Although the Federal Republic, like the United States, is not immune to economic difficulties, the Communist countries cannot help but compare your well-being to their own shortages and hardships.

Our economic policies should be as closely allied as our defense policies, for in the end, our military capabilities are dependent on the strengths of our economies. Sound fiscal management was the hallmark of the Federal Republic's economic miracle, and we in the United States intend to import some of that responsibility to gain control of our own economy.

Chancellor Schmidt, I began these remarks speaking of German immigrants who came to America. Let me mention one immigrant in particular—Johann Augustus Roebling, the man who built the Brooklyn Bridge, which at its opening in 1883 was called the eighth wonder of the world. Well, Mr. Roebling spanned more than the East River with his accomplishment; he spanned two countries and two peoples. The discussions we have today will span our common goals and bridge our joint concerns. They will set the scene for the closest possible consultations in the future.

We have come to rely on one another in times of calm and in times of crisis, and that certainly is the basis of a true friend-partnership. It is in that spirit that I look forward to the important talks ahead.

And again, herzlich willkommen [a hearty welcome].

The Chancellor. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your cordial reception and your most friendly words of welcome.

This is not the first time I've been here, but on each occasion I'm impressed by the authority and dignity which radiates from this seat of government of the mighty United States of America. I am very glad to have this opportunity for an exchange of views with you, Mr. President, on major issues which both of us have much on our minds.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to know that you have recovered so well from the treacherous attempt on your life on the 30th of March. We in Germany have followed your rapid progress with much feeling, sir, and with a great sense of relief.

My visit to Washington is taking place against the background of a serious international situation. At the beginning of the eighties, we are confronted with a whole range of problems and challenges. I need only mention the excessive Soviet arms buildup, the challenge toward the community of nations resulting from the continuing Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, the threat to the non-alignment of the Third World countries stemming from unresolved political conflicts and as a result of East-West conflicts being transferred to their part of the world. And I need only mention, also, the impact of the oil price explosion on the whole world economy.

The Western democracies will be able to cope with these challenges if they show their determination, if they do take joint action, and if they let themselves be guided by the principles of consistency, predictability, and reliability.

Three weeks ago in Rome, Italy, our Alliance gave a clear signal for the continuity of our common policies. I regarded this as a proof of the Alliance's political strength. And as I said in the German Parliament 2 weeks ago, I also regard it as a success for your new administration, sir, here in Washington, D.C.

German-American partnership is today again manifest in the wide-ranging consultations between you, Mr. President, and the German head of government. Good and reliable relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America are, in my view, a major factor for the security of the West and for international stability. I am confident that this visit will help us to fulfill our common responsibilities.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:12 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where Chancellor Schmidt was given a formal welcome with full military honors. Following the ceremony, the President and the Chancellor met privately in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of the Federal Republic of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives