Bill Clinton photo

Remarks Welcoming President Boris Yeltsin of Russia

September 27, 1994

President and Mrs. Yeltsin, members of the Russian delegation, distinguished guests. On behalf of the American people, it is my great honor to welcome President Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin and Mrs. Naina Yeltsin to Washington for this state visit.

Mr. President, it wasn't so long ago that Russian-American summits were moments of high drama and sometimes disappointing results. The people of our countries and from around the world watched nervously as their leaders met in a heavy atmosphere of mutual suspicion and fear. The fate of the world seemed to hang in the balance of those encounters. And success was defined as the avoidance of confrontation or crisis.

Our moment is quite different but no less important. For these are exciting times, times of great opportunity. And we are cooperating to seize them for the good of all Russians, all Americans, and all the people of the world. Today we meet not as adversaries but as partners in the quest for a more prosperous and a more peaceful planet. In so many areas, our interests no longer conflict, they coincide. And where we do disagree, we can discuss our differences in a climate of warm peace, not cold war.

The Russian-American relationship is at last, remarkably, a normal one, full of real accomplishments and genuine promise. Mr. President, this evolution in our relations is due in no small part to the peaceful revolution you are leading in Russia, one that the United States has fully supported. Your steadfastness and courage in the face of difficult odds have inspired millions of Americans.

And you have proved the pessimists wrong. Far from falling backward, Russia, under your leadership, is coming together and moving forward. Your efforts, of course, could not be successful if you did not have the support of a great and courageous people. Here in America, we have known the trials and tribulations of history, but the Russian people have survived invasions and wars, deprivation and dictatorship.

And through it all, the Russians have endured, producing uplifting poetry and songs, great novels and films, ingenious science and path-breaking technology. Now, the free and open society you are building will allow the Russian people finally to reach their full potential. Russia's greatest hours lie before her.

Mr. President, we are privileged to share a great moment, an historic opportunity. When we met in Vancouver over 18 months ago, and again in Moscow last January, we vowed to seize that opportunity by creating and building upon a new partnership between our two nations, a partnership that works. And we have kept that commitment.

As a result, our missiles no longer target each other's people for destruction; instead, they are being dismantled. Our soldiers no longer face each other as deadly adversaries; instead, they work together as partners for peace. Young Russians and Americans no longer learn to be fearful and mistrustful of each other; instead, they study together in record numbers. Trade between our countries is no longer stifled by export controls and prohibitions; instead, it is growing every day to the benefit of both our peoples. In short, our nations are growing closer together, replacing suspicion and fear with trust and cooperation.

Mr. President, this summit of ours, unlike its predecessors, is about the future, a future in which we will strive to integrate Russia and the West, to build a new century of peace in Europe, and a future of shared responsibility that comes with vast territory, large populations, great power, and democratic values, to use our combined influence and authority for the good of the world beyond our borders.

Together, we have agreed to safeguard nuclear materials and to shut down plutonium production reactors. Together, with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, we will rid your region of thousands of nuclear warheads. Together, we must ensure that all the new independent states achieve their rightful place as strong and independent nations in Europe, able to chart their own destinies. For that reason, all Americans rejoiced and deeply respected your decision to withdraw your troops from the Baltic nations.

Together, we are working to bring peace to Bosnia, to the Middle East, to Nagorno-Karabakh. Together, we will build an international space station and explore the solar system. Together, we will carry the fight against transnational problems like terrorism, environmental degradation, and organized crime. Together, we can and we will make a difference not only for our own people but also for men, women, and children all around the world.

Mr. President, it is an honor to have you with us. Together, we have done well in laying the foundation of trust and security between our two peoples. Now let us build on it to secure a future of peace.

Welcome to the United States.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:15 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Welcoming President Boris Yeltsin of Russia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives