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Remarks Upon Departure for Europe

May 26, 1989

Well, I depart for Europe this morning to meet with all our North Atlantic allies and also to pay visits to Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom for discussions with leaders of those alliance nations on issues of common interest. I'm especially pleased that my first visit to Europe as President is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of NATO. America is a proud partner in the Atlantic alliance, and American interests have been well served by the alliance.

Twice in the first half of this century Europe was the scene of world war, and twice Americans fought in Europe for the sake of peace and freedom. Today Europe is enjoying a period of unparalleled prosperity and uninterrupted peace, longer than it has known in the modern age, and NATO has made the difference. And the alliance will prove every bit as important to American and European security in the decade ahead. The importance of the alliance and its democratic underpinnings is the message I now take to Europe. NATO has been a success by any measure, but success breeds its own challenges. Today dramatic changes are taking place in Europe, both East and West. For us, those changes bring new challenges and unparalleled opportunities.

For too long, unnatural and inhuman barriers have divided the East from the West. And we hope to overcome that division, to see a Europe that is truly free, united, and at peace. We are ready to work with a united Europe, to extend the peace and prosperity we enjoy to other parts of the world. And we hope to move beyond containment: to integrate the Soviet Union into the community of nations. We welcome the political and economic liberalization that has taken place so far in the Soviet Union and in some countries of Eastern Europe. We will encourage more changes to follow.

Many common concerns confront us. Beyond the traditional economic and security spheres, we and our partners in the alliance are working hard on a growing international agenda, from a common approach to environmental protection to cooperation against drug trafficking and against terrorism. We also welcome Europe's progress towards a truly common market and a growing European cooperation on security issues as the basis of an even more dynamic transatlantic partnership. As we approach 1992, it is essential that we work with our European partners to ensure an open and expanding world trading system, and that we take strong steps to prevent trade disputes from obscuring our common political and security concerns. NATO is based on the many bonds between us: our shared heritage, history, and culture; our shared commitment to freedom, democracy, and the rights of the individual. Barbara and I are looking forward to visiting Europe.

Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:07 a.m. on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, MD.

George Bush, Remarks Upon Departure for Europe Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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