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Toasts of the President and Chancellor Schmidt of the Federal Republic of Germany at a Dinner Honoring the Chancellor

July 13, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. First of all, I'd like to welcome all of you here to the White House on this very exciting and enjoyable evening for us.

In 1973, when I was still Governor of Georgia, my wife and I made our only trip to Europe. One of the obvious destinations that we chose was West Germany, the Federal Republic, and I wanted to see the leaders of the nations when I arrived there. In fact, long before I got there, they told me that it was not possible for a Governor to see the Chancellor, which---

THE CHANCELLOR. It was not me.[Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. They said that the only one available was just a Finance Minister. [Laughter]

So, while we were in Bonn, I went by and was received by my friend, Helmut Schmidt. Although he was very busy, he pent about an hour and a half talking to me about Germany--its economic growth, the interrelationship between his nation and our own.

He asked me why I was making the trip, and I told him we were on a trade mission, trying to strengthen our ties with manufacturers of goods, with those who were experts in technology and those who might come to our own country, with trade and investment opportunities.

One of the prospects that we had was Volkswagen, and I told him I had not been able to get an appointment with the Volkswagen people, and he said, "Well, why don't you let me give you some help." [Laughter]

So, when I arrived in Wolfsburg a couple of days later, having changed my itinerary, the entire board of directors was there waiting for me. We had a very productive visit.

I had left Rosalynn in Heidelberg. One of her favorite songs is "Student Prince" and we picked out Heidelberg because of that. And I had a chance to look at the nation of Germany, both on that trip and with my wife in other ways. We saw the tremendous rebirth of Germany, its hardworking farmers and factory workers. We talked to them and listened to them.

We had an opportunity to learn about their deep commitment to basic human freedom and the principles of democracy and the struggles that they had made successfully, since the Federal Republic was formed, to reconstitute their legitimate position as one of the leading nations of the world, admired and emulated by many, and having a special relationship that binds us together in many ways.

Those of us who have had some background in science have seen the preeminent scientific discoveries originate in Germany, in physics and mathematics, in space exploration. It's a very, exciting realization of the origins of knowledge and innovation there.

There are very few families in our country who don't have a relative who has lived in Germany and served there in the combined armed forces that are dedicated to the mutual purpose of maintaining peace and the protection of homelands and the preservation of stability in one of the regions of the world which is still under a threat, the threat being assuaged and to some degree alleviated by the constant mutual commitment of many nations bound together in NATO.

And our young men, and some women, who have been there to serve with their families have formed ties of knowledge and friendship and even kinship in marriage with the people of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Those of us who love music are thrilled many times a week by the great artists who have made our own lives happy and spirited and moved with deep emotion. Some of my own favorite composers are from Germany and have set standards of excellence and achievement and inspiration that have been a pattern for world emulation.

We have seen the economic growth of Germany, a constant, sometimes plodding, but inexorable movement toward self-reliance and fairness and good relationships between entrepreneurs and members of unions who work with their hands. And there's been a very adequate and careful growth, with constant reticence and caution on the part of Germany not to be domineering but to be a trusted neighbor and a helpful neighbor.

And in spite of their strength and their growth and their influence, there is no fear, because they work in such good harmony and friendship with their allies and neighbors and friends in Western Europe and in other parts of our own hemisphere.

When other nations have deep needs for economic aid, Germany is there to help them. And we've shared these common purposes with Germany through the administrations of many Presidents. I've learned to appreciate this sense of strength and assurance that comes from having such an ally and such a friend. And I'm very proud of my own personal friendship with Helmut Schmidt, who took me in when I was not known.

He could have spent 10 minutes with me and had a photograph and said, "I'm glad you came by, Governor. I hope to see you some other time." But he didn't do that. He was busy, but he wanted me to learn about the achievements and aspirations of his people, and he wanted to learn about me and about Georgia and about the United States.

And I think this is typical of him. I had never met him again until we had the summit conference in London in May. And again he exhibited those qualities of leadership and personal commitment and friendship which increased my own admiration and friendship for him.

This is a time of challenge to the democracies of the world. And there are some who are weak, and there are some who are divided, some who are troubled, some who have very little sense of achievement, some who are doubtful about the future. But our country is not one of them, and the Federal Republic of Germany is not one of them. And that strength comes from the people who have a dedication and a willingness for self-sacrifice in times of challenge that make it possible to prevail.

We are eager to share our own problems and challenges and hopes and dreams and aspirations with others, and I think I am strengthened in my own resolve, knowing that I can consult with Helmut Schmidt when problems arise and questions come up about the growth of communism in some of the Western European countries. He's a statesman and he's wise and he's been there and he understands and he studies the present challenge and how to deal with it, and I listen to him and this is very helpful to me.

We have seen in the Federal Republic of Germany a great independence, and there are times when we don't agree on every item that comes before us for decision. But we are not reticent in our disagreements either, and we exchange views very firmly, without constraint, without subterfuge. And there again the communication between us, even in a disagreement, I think, is very constructive.

I learn from him, and perhaps he learns from me the attitudes and the concerns of the American people. This is a situation which is very helpful to us all. And I'm very proud of that.

We are honored tonight to have many of his key associates, particularly Foreign Minister Genscher, who works closely with Helmut Schmidt and who advises with him and who has helped to form the strength of their government, and the wives and others who have come here from industry, from labor, from the humanities, artists and musicians, news reporters who are leaders in that great country. We are honored by their visit. And I just want all of you to know and all those who listen and would read my words to know how much we appreciate this good relationship, which is staunch, unshakeable, sure, and also increasing in the future.

And I would like to propose a toast to the great people of the Federal Republic of Germany and to their great leader, Helmut Schmidt.

THE CHANCELLOR. Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, ladies and gentlemen:

Let me say first that I as a person am deeply moved by the generous words you just said. And I would like to express my personal gratitude, but express my thanks also on behalf of Minister Genscher and all our delegation. I would ask your permission to use a few notes which I have drafted this afternoon, being on a little handicap with your language.

And I would like to say that we today have carried on from where we left it off in London in May. Our meetings were preceded by Vice President Mondale's visit to my country. It's sad that he had to go back to the Senate tonight and didn't get a supper.

THE PRESIDENT. He's come back.

THE CHANCELLOR. Has he come back? You are wandering between the two places. [Laughter] But coming from a parliamentary democracy, and having been a Member of Parliament myself for 24 years, I know how it is. [Laughter]

This picture of close and sincere and trustful consultations between ourselves has been rounded off by various personal contacts between our foreign ministers and also by telephone and written communications between ourselves. The intensity of our dialog, to me, is a reflection of the unprecedented state of relations between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. It's a reflection also of the depth of our common, basic beliefs and basic convictions, a reflection also of our common interests and of the fact that the friendly nature of our meetings is very much a matter of course.

It's on this solid foundation of human and political links that this present meeting is based, like others in the past and more to come in the future.

I would like to emphasize already now that the talks and discussions of this first day of our stay in Washington, D.C., have been very fruitful and constructive.

I once again was deeply impressed by the profound sense of responsibility and understanding which you showed, Mr. President, when we were dealing with important aspects of international politics. And I once more have become aware of the tremendous burden which the President of the United States has to carry. His decisions very often have repercussions, consequences far beyond the borders of the United States. He needs great strength. His office requires confidence, and it does ask for an open mind with regards to the numerous problems which challenge the leading Western power.

Let me add that I have great admiration for the way in which President Carter is performing his tasks, and I would like to add for you personally, Jimmy, the way you have welcomed us today, to me, is just another proof of the common ground on which we stand, not only on general terms but also as friends working closely together.

We all know that the manifold problems facing the world today call more than ever for common effort and that they can be solved only if we proceed on the basis of common responsibility.

The Federal Republic of Germany will render its full contribution. And you, Mr. President, and your fellow Americans can rely on our firm will to pursue our common goals in close cooperation with you.

And I am quite sure that I can say this for all the citizens in my country, for all the German nation, as much as I can say this for all the members of my delegation, which as you already mentioned does not only consist of political leaders and civil servants but also eminent leaders from the trade unions, from industry, and from our cultural life and from our mass media.

We all know that the strength, quite a bit of the strength, and the confidence which you projected into our nation a couple of minutes ago--that they derive from the knowledge that my people can face up to great challenges of our times side by side with the United States.

I am convinced that our visit will help to even further increase, as you said, the determination and energy with which we on both sides of the Atlantic set about our great tasks.

We share with you, Mr. President, and with your country, and with your nation, the belief in the superiority of the spirit of freedom of the individual person. And like you, we are convinced that freedom can only prevail if the dignity of the individual and his or her civil rights, or as they are being called in our constitution, basic rights, are respected and exercised.

At the same time, we German people know from a bitter epoch in our history that freedom and basic rights can never be taken for granted, that they only thrive when they are protected and preserved by sincerity, by courageous involvement, and even by sacrifice.

You will always find the Federal Republic of Germany and its people at your side when it comes to safeguarding freedom for the individual and securing respect for his or her dignity and rights around the world.

I guess we need no special capacity of perception to recognize that without the Atlantic Alliance, which is the visible expression of our harmony in these objectives, freedom and basic rights in the western part of Europe might have been imperiled, perhaps even extinguished, in some parts over the past three decades.

We Germans never regarded the presence of the United States in Europe as part of a power political calculation, but we always regarded it as an involvement stemming from a deep commitment, for which we are grateful and which we reciprocate for the very same reason.

It becomes equally clear against this background how much importance is being attached to the patient continuance of the policy of detente, starting from the safe basis of our alliance and of its ability to defend ourselves.

Let me stress in this context that it is the most vital interest of my divided nation to continue and to further this policy of alleviating tensions, because there just is no other way to try and alleviate the human problems in millions of families in my nation stemming from the political and geographical division of my people.

There is, of course, a strong connection between elimination or alleviation of tensions in Europe and in other parts of the world and in the realization of all the three baskets of the Helsinki declaration, as was stressed by Secretary Vance just a couple of days ago.

One glance at the map or at the geopolitical and military facts shows ourselves the enormous differences between our two countries at least some of the enormous differences between our two countries. In the United States people might not always realize that my country is no larger than the State of Oregon, with the one exception that there are living more than 60 million in that little state of the Federal Republic of Germany, 60 or 62 million.

Of course, no offense is being meant-no offense toward the good citizens of the State of Oregon--[laughter]--is being meant in using their fine State as a yardstick for the smallness in territory of my home country. I'm very well aware of the importance of Oregon, and of Portland especially. [Laughter]

But I like to point to the smallness of my country in order to make itself understood that neither are we a world power nor do we want to become one. We see ourselves as a European country integrating itself within the European community, with responsibilities determined by its membership of that community, responsibilities by its membership within the North Atlantic Alliance, responsibilities by our role in the economic system of the world. And we see our role as a country with very, very limited natural resources only.

To my view and to the view of most of my countrymen, intra-European cooperation and the Atlantic Alliance complement each other. And for us Germans, both of them are indispensable. Therefore, I welcome the practice of your administration to conduct particularly intensive consultations with European allies, with ourselves, and I have the feeling that our meeting today proves that this is not just theory but a very practical and successful reality.

My wife and I and the members of my delegation are grateful for your hospitality, Mr. President, which you have extended to us here in Washington. We are really glad of the opportunity to discuss questions and problems with close friends here in the United States in, as you correctly say, a frank and openhearted manner, even if there may arise some points on which we might differ.

I do feel that if the world could show many more examples of talks conducted in such a spirit, the world would be quite a different and much better place.

I would now like to ask my fellow countrymen to raise their glasses and drink with me to the health of the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, to continuing happiness of the American people, and to ever closer cooperation and friendship between our two nations.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Toasts of the President and Chancellor Schmidt of the Federal Republic of Germany at a Dinner Honoring the Chancellor Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243085

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