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Toast at a Dinner Hosted by Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany

May 30, 1989

Mr. Chancellor, and ladies and gentlemen, it is a very great honor for us to be in this magnificent room and to be received so warmly by the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and by all of you. I would have enjoyed my first visit here as President regardless of its timing, for I have often visited this wonderful country. And always, Barbara and I have marveled at the kindness of your people.

But there is a special significance to this visit, for it coincides with two dates of great importance to both our countries: the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Atlantic alliance. For four decades, each event has enriched the other. And today it is hard to imagine a NATO without a democratic Germany, for yours has been, and remains, a success story almost without parallel. It is also hard to envision Germany without NATO, for this alliance has been, and remains, a citadel of freedom at the center of American foreign policy.

The history of postwar U.S.-German relations is of allies resolute and strong, united by the values of family, faith, human rights, and democracy, and ties -- economic, cultural, military -- that bind our democracies; a common dedication to the cause of peace -- that, too, unites us -- and the knowledge that Western unity is central to that cause. In 1989 we are nearer our goals of peace and European reconciliation than at any time since the founding of NATO and the Federal Republic, but we will achieve them only if we uphold the principles which have guided our friendship and the Atlantic alliance for 40 years.

Winds of change are blowing in Eastern Europe, including in the Soviet Union. And it's happening, in part, because Mr. Gorbachev has seen that our society works and that his does not. And we welcome these changes and are prepared to move beyond containment to a policy that seeks to integrate the Soviet Union into the community of nations. And we're encouraged by changes in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland and in Hungary. To encourage fundamental economic and political reform, we will respond with a more active engagement of Eastern European governments and peoples.

And if hope exists for ending the division of Europe, it is because we have for 40 years been willing to defend our own freedom. In the future, let us learn from the past, and that past tells us that preserving a strong defense offers the greatest hope of easing Europe's division and ensuring Europe's freedom. For peace through strength will give the Soviet Union continued incentive to seek its security through democratization, economic reform.

The United States and its allies share a vision of a less militarized Europe, where great armies no longer face each other across barbed wire and concrete walls. And that is why I put forward my conventional arms control initiative yesterday at the NATO summit. We seek a Europe without barriers, united by free markets, united by democracy.

And tonight I'm pleased to make a modest announcement. Beginning shortly, holders of passports of the Federal Republic of Germany visiting the United States as tourists or on business will no longer be required to obtain U.S. visas. I hope this is a modest demonstration of the ever closer relationship between our two countries.

Forty years ago, the world marveled at perhaps Germany's finest profile in courage. Some have termed it "the cradle of the American-German friendship." And I refer, of course, to the Berlin airlift. And together, we stood as allies against the forces of tyranny. And today we must stand again, and will. Apart, we cannot succeed. Together, we cannot fail. And in that spirit, I ask you all to rise and raise your glasses: To the Federal Republic of Germany on its 40th anniversary, to German-American friendship; to the most enduring alliance in the history of man; and to the health of my dear friend and colleague, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic.

Note: The President spoke at 8:51 p.m. in the dining room at Redoute Castle.

George Bush, Toast at a Dinner Hosted by Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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