Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Poul Schluter of Denmark

September 10, 1985

The President. Prime Minister Schluter, Mrs. Schluter, today it's a great pleasure to welcome you.

Denmark is an old friend and an ally in NATO and an active trading partner; ties between our two countries run long and deep. Denmark recognized the United States as a free and independent nation shortly after our Declaration of Independence. Ever since that act of friendship, relations between the Danish and American people have continued to grow to our mutual benefit. Commerce between our two countries, for example, has been a boon on both sides of the Atlantic, underscoring the need for free and open international trade. I look forward, Mr. Prime Minister, to discussing with you the need to strengthen and broaden the international trading system, perhaps through a new round of comprehensive trade negotiations. At a time when our countries are enjoying improving economic conditions, protectionism looms as a threat. Working together, we can see to it that our international markets stay open and that this avenue to progress and well-being is not blocked.

In the past century many Danes immigrated here to look for the American dream. With their hard work and good citizenship, they not only made that dream real, they helped build a great nation as well. So many Danes came here around the turn of the century; in fact, it's said that every Dane in Denmark has a relative in America. Whether that's true or not, clearly we are of the same family of free peoples. We're bound together by our common dedication to the principles of human liberty and our mutual commitment to the preservation of peace. Our countries have both recognized that the blessings of peace can only be secured by free peoples who are strong and stand together. This fundamental truth is at the heart of the NATO alliance in which Denmark has played an active role for nearly four decades. The collective deterrence of NATO has given Denmark and all of Europe 40 years of peace. We in the United States are proud to have played a role in preserving European peace and are grateful that Denmark has committed her moral weight and made a military contribution to the success of the Western alliance.

As we face new and complex challenges to our mutual security, it is ever more important that we reaffirm the trust and friendship which has served us so well. By strengthening our common defense and standing united in our efforts to achieve effective and verifiable arms reductions, we can make ours a safer planet. We can, must, and will have not just four decades of peace but a century of peace—a more stable peace which is what we want most next to the preservation of our own freedom. And independence will not be secured by wishful thinking or public relations campaigns; free people must be mature, vigilant, and stand in solidarity.

We have already reached out in the cause of a safer world on numerous occasions, and we will continue to do so. We have offered to reduce the number of intermediaterange missiles in Europe to zero. We have offered major reductions in strategic and intermediate weapons as well as a lowering of the level of conventional forces. We look forward to the coming meeting in Geneva, not for an end of all that has been wrong between East and West, but a beginning point for better relations, a starting point for progress.

Mr. Prime Minister, I'm certain you agree with me that democratic governments are naturally inclined toward peace. Freedom brings people of diverse backgrounds together as friends. I hope that during the time you spend in the United States you'll feel, through our welcome to you, the warmth and friendship that Americans share for the Danish people.

Perhaps something that best exemplifies this is the unique Fourth of July celebration that takes place every year in Denmark. In the hills of Rebild, thousands of Danes and Americans celebrate together the birth of the United States and the values we share. The American and Danish flags fly together in honor of democracy and freedom. We had the wonderful pleasure—Nancy and I-of sharing that day in Denmark in 1972 when we personally participated in the Rebild Fourth of July festivities. And the warmth and friendship we felt that day reflected something between our two peoples that is very special, and we shall never forget it.

It's an honor for me at this time, Mr. Prime Minister, to return to you the good will and hospitality that was extended to us then. On behalf of all of our citizens, welcome to America.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan. I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for your very kind words of welcome.

Relations between Denmark and the United States of America have always been close and friendly. When Denmark as early as in 1801 established diplomatic relations with the United States, we were among the very first countries to do so. Over the years, the dynamic creativity of the new nation tempted, as you mentioned, thousands of Danes looking for challenges and opportunities. The contribution by Danish immigrants to the building of America has been one of the pillars of Danish-American relations.

The American engagement in Europe in two world wars and American support for European recovery after World War II have become basic elements in our relationship in the second half of the 20th century. The presence of American troops in Europe is visible proof of the U.S. commitment to the Atlantic alliance, which for almost four decades now has protected its members against war and secured their freedom. The solidarity of the Atlantic alliance has also provided the necessary background for our endeavors to seek a more secure and confident relationship between East and West.

We wish that the upcoming meeting in November with General Secretary Gorbachev will lead to the beginning of a more constructive East-West relationship, benefiting the United States, the Soviet Union, the alliance, and the world. We all have, as you also expressed, Mr. President, one major goal in common—survival. As free societies, we have always been able to discuss openly; a free and open debate serves mutual understanding and unity in cooperation.

Mr. President, you have not only been a strong supporter of NATO; I would also like to pay tribute to your support to our economy. Protectionism is indeed, as you have said, destructionism.

I'm looking very much forward to our talks today, Mr. President, and to meet members of the American administration. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 10:11 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where the Prime Minister was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. Following the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Poul Schluter of Denmark Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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