Gerald R. Ford photo

Toast at a State Dinner in Belgrade

August 03, 1975

Mr. President, Madame Broz, ladies and gentlemen:

I am very, very delighted to be back in Yugoslavia. Twelve years is much too long to be away.

Mrs. Ford and I thank you most sincerely for the warm and wonderful welcome of your people and for your own very gracious remarks, Mr. President.

While I am deeply appreciative of the justly renowned Yugoslav hospitality shown to Mrs. Ford and to me personally, I am very mindful that this kind expression represents the friendship which the Yugoslav people feel for the American people.

I can assure you, Mr. President, that this sentiment is fully reciprocated on our part. We Americans have long valued our ties of friendship with Yugoslavia. Americans have particularly admired Yugoslavia's independent spirit. Whenever independence is threatened, people everywhere look to the example of the struggle of Yugoslavian people throughout their history. They take strength and they take inspiration from that example.

Mr. President, this spirit and your courageous leadership brought the Yugoslav people successfully through the harsh trials of World War II and its aftermath, into an era of peace, stability, and economic growth. Yugoslavia is confident of its place in the world and its prospects for the future, and I believe your confidence is fully justified.

American interest in Yugoslavia's continued independence, integrity, and well-being, expressed often in the past, remains undiminished. Tonight, I have the pleasure to reassert my nation's positive interest in the future of your nation.

Yugoslavs and Americans have both benefited from many joint efforts to speed the economic development of Yugoslavia. Our bilateral trade continues to grow. It has more than doubled in 5 years. Yugoslav-American economic councils have been established in Belgrade and New York City. Many American firms are working closely with Yugoslav enterprises, such as the construction of your country's first nuclear power facility. Our Export-Import Bank plays a very positive role in supplying loans and guarantees. Yugoslav-American scientific, technological, cultural cooperation and exchanges are an increasingly important part of our bilateral relations.

But our mutual accomplishments in dealing with economic problems must be viewed from the perspective of the interdependence of all nations.

We have been distressed by the intransigence and irresponsibility reflected in some of the discussions of vital issues in United Nations forums. The growing alienation between developing nations can only harm the best interests of both and jeopardize the solution of universal problems.

I assure you, Mr. President, that the United States will play its full role and its full part in efforts to resolve these issues in the best interests of all people.

Yugoslavia has taken a very prominent role in international affairs under your guidance, Mr. President. The United States recognizes that your country's policy of nonalignment makes an active contribution to greater understanding among peoples.

Yugoslavia and the United States have consistently worked for cooperation based on the equality of all members of the international community under the United Nations Charter in settling of outstanding international problems.

Our two countries, as in the case of all friends, have had differences, but we are able to discuss them openly, as friends do, and to resolve them. The main point is that we are never in doubt about the importance of common goals or about our deep commitment to the continuity of friendly relations.

At this time, with the aims of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe so clearly in our thoughts, let us emphasize the mutuality and the interdependence of our basic concerns for peace, security, and human progress in the years to come.

In that spirit, I ask you to join me in a toast to President Tito, whose courage, wisdom, and leadership have meant so much for Yugoslavia and the world, in which his country has played such an important part.

Note: The President spoke at 10:50 p.m. in the Federal Executive Council Building in response to a toast by President Tito.

Gerald R. Ford, Toast at a State Dinner in Belgrade Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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