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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President, Rudolf Kirchschlager of Austria

February 28, 1984

President Reagan. Mr. President, Mrs. Kirchschlager, Ministers Lane and Fischer, honored guests, Nancy and I are delighted to welcome you and your party to the United States. I take special pride in greeting you, since this is the first time an American President has had the privilege of hosting an Austrian state visit.

Americans have deep admiration for Austria, her industrious people, and her rich culture. When we think of Austria, we picture snowcapped mountains and deep, fertile valleys, and churches, museums, and monuments of cities like Salzburg and Vienna. Austria is truly a nation of breathtaking beauty and noble history. And Americans have a deep respect for Austria's part in foreign affairs.

We recognize the crucial role your nation has played in maintaining peace in central Europe and working for peace throughout the world. But we are drawn to you by more than admiration and respect. We revere shared values of democracy, personal freedom, human dignity, and the rule of law—values as ancient as Salzburg Cathedral and as soaring and noble as the Austrian Alps.

Your reconstruction of your society from the physical and political rubble of World War II and your creative use of neutrality to create a pluralistic society and political system stand as an inspiration for the rest of the world. As a signatory of your state treaty and, therefore, a guarantor of your sovereignty, the United States salutes your accomplishments and supports your active neutrality.

Looking to the future, we want to make certain that the understanding between our two peoples is passed on to the younger generation of Austrians and Americans. And toward that end, we will begin this year a pilot program of youth exchanges with plans to expand the program in future years. Allowing young Austrians and Americans to spend time in each other's countries will multiply the ties of firsthand knowledge and friendship so important to our close and warm relations. It will mean that many young Austrians and Americans will forever carry something of the other's country in their hearts.

In addition to promoting these new youth exchanges, your visit will help cement our ties through enhanced cooperation in science and research. Minister Fischer and my science adviser, Dr. Keyworth, will be exchanging letters this afternoon which will give a new impetus to mutually beneficial cooperation on basic research. Scientists and researchers from both our countries will now have new reasons to increase their joint research projects, pooling their knowledge for the benefit of Austrians, Americans, and all mankind.

Mr. President, in your meetings today and in your visits to many parts of the United States, I know that you will experience the depth of the good will that we Americans feel toward Austria. I'm delighted that you will have the opportunity to meet Americans across our land and experience the variety of our culture and the warmth of our hospitality. The people of the cities that you'll visit eagerly await the opportunity to share this, the first state visit by an Austrian President, with you. And together all Americans are proud to say, Wir heissen Sic herzlich willkommen. [We bid you a warm welcome.]

We welcome you, Mr. President, and we cherish your friendship. May God bless you and Mrs. Kirchschlager.

President Kirchschlager. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you very much for your warm words of welcome, and thank you very much for your kind invitation to officially visit this great country.

Your invitation was more appreciated since this is for me and for all of Austria a truly historic event. It is indeed the first official visit of an Austrian head of state to the United States since the establishing of relations between Vienna and Washington about 200 years ago.

In the heart and in the mind of the Austrian people the relations between our two countries are inviolably anchored by two facts. First, we feel closely linked through our mutual adherence to the fundamental values of democratic western pluralism. Second, we have not forgotten how much the American people have contributed through the Marshall plan to the rebuilding and to the building of our economy after World War II.

Reflecting this basic attitude of the Austrian people, I came here today, Mr. President, as a true friend, advocating the promotion of friendship between Western Europe and the United States, but also advocating the dialog between East and West. The history of my country has proven that it is only through a constructive dialog that our living with each other in peace is ensured. Recent messages from across both sides of the ideological borderlines seem to give hope for mutual understanding and coexistence.

I'm looking forward with great interest to an exchange of views with you, Mr. President, with Vice President Bush, and with Secretary Shultz, concerning the present political and economic global situation. For me, as an Austrian, it is of particular value to see the American perspectives in direct contact.

Also being a small country, Austria is situated geopolitically in a sensitive area, and her historical ties with the peoples across the borders have also a particular political importance. Consequently, Austria has a role to play in demonstrating to all of our neighbors a living and well-functioning, free democracy with all of its principles America stands for.

Mr. President, I'm truly happy to be your guest in your great country, and I'm confident that my visit will bring our two peoples even closer together. It is particularly the young people we have to turn to in our efforts to ensure our values also for the future. I am, therefore, very pleased that it is planned, as you stated today, to include Austria in the youth exchange program, which you, Mr. President, decided to intensify to the benefit of international relations in general, and of Austro-American friendship in particular.

Thank you very much.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:10 a.m. President Kirchschlager was accorded the formal welcome in the East Room at the White House, rather than on the South Lawn, because of inclement weather.

Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met, together with U.S. and Austrian officials, in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President, Rudolf Kirchschlager of Austria Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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