Richard Nixon photo

Toasts of the President and President Ceausescu of Romania.

December 04, 1973

President and Mrs. Ceausescu, and all of our very distinguished and honored guests:

As I sit here at this head table in the State Dining Room with the President of Romania, I can imagine that many here in this dining room wonder what we talk about. Now, of course, I cannot disclose all of the conversation, but I thought that it would be .of interest to all of you and those who can hear us through this recording---[laughter]---how the President and I first came to meet and how two of us from, in some ways, very similar backgrounds and in other ways very different backgrounds, have each tried to make a contribution to a cause everybody in this room, in both of our countries and, we believe, in the whole world, believes in.

In 1967, when I was not in office and had no prospects of being in office, I visited Romania, and the President was kind enough to receive me. And I was reminded of the subjects we discussed in 1967, just 6 years ago: the war in Vietnam, which then seemed endless; the relations between 'the United States and the Soviet Union, which then were, at best, at arms' length, certainly not in terms of the communication that we have today; the relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China, which at that time were virtually nonexistent in terms of communication.

We talked of many other things, of course: of Romania, the United States, and what this country, our country, owes to those of Romanian 'background who have come here and contributed so much to the diversity of our whole society.

Since then, in 1969, when I had the honor of being the first American President ever to visit a Socialist country on a state visit, and then again in 1970 when, on two occasions, the President was here, one on a state visit and then again today, 1973, I think, as you must think, of how much has happened in those 6 years.

That war, terribly difficult, costly for the American people and, of course, even more so for the Vietnamese people on both sides who were involved, is ended. The United States has begun a new relationship with the People's Republic of China, one which began just a year ago and which continues to develop. The United States, in addition, has had two summit meetings with the leaders of the Soviet Union and, of course, meetings with other governments in Europe, in Africa, Latin America, around the world.

Now, while these meetings, of course, have caught a great deal of attention from the press, particularly those involving the major powers, sometimes what is overlooked is the vitally important role that is played by leaders from proud countries, but not the biggest countries, a leader like our distinguished guest tonight, because he, speaking with his candor for which he is very famous, spoke to me about, then, the relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China, Europe, and of course, Vietnam.

We did not agree about many of those subjects, but we both saw the profound need for new departures, for breakthroughs, for change, or otherwise the world would be frozen into a whole structure of confrontation which would inevitably lead to a conflagration which could destroy the civilization as we know it.

I am not suggesting that because the President and I met in 1967 and had such a full and frank discussion, and met again on three other occasions in which these discussions were renewed, 'that those discussions were the reasons for the progress that has been made. What I do say, however, is this: that our distinguished guest tonight, of the world's statesmen, has played one of the most profound roles of any world statesman in seeing the whole problems that we confront in the world, and not just those involving his own country and another country with whose leader he might be talking at a certain time. He has shown wisdom and understanding and has contributed enormously to the opening of dialogs that might otherwise have forever been closed.

And so, tonight, when we cannot, unfortunately, say that we have peace that will last forever--because it may not be possible ever for that to be said for sure by anyone--while it cannot be said that because the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States have met at two summit meetings, that that means that the differences those two great powers have are ended, because they have not ended and they will not because our interests are different, something the President recognizes, something we recognize. And it does not mean that the People's Republic of China, with 800 million people, because of a visit by the President of the United States and other diplomatic visits which followed, has so changed the relationship that those two nations and those two peoples will forever find themselves as friends, not just as individuals, but as nations, but being the pragmatists that we are, 'the President and I, we both agree it means this:

Something very profound and something very positive has happened in these past 6 years. The world has changed, and it has changed for the better. A war in which the United States was engaged, a very costly one, is over. A new relationship has been developed between the two most powerful nations, and also a new relationship between the United States and the world's most populous nation. And all of this means that the chance that we can avoid a world struggle is greatly increased.

But the point I particularly want to make tonight is this: that as the eyes of the world inevitably turn to the meetings at the summit involving the leaders of great powers, that as far as this Nation is concerned, never at one of these meetings in the past, at least on the occasions of our participation in them since I have been in this office, and never in the future, as long as our present policies are continued, will the United States, in developing better relations with great powers, do so at the expense of the independence and the sovereignties of proud, fine people like our friends in Romania.

I say that because there is a tendency sometimes for us to believe that all the world's problems would be so easily soluble if only those with great power would use their power to impose those solutions around the world. Now, the great powers have special responsibilities, but as far as the United States of America is concerned, we have a special feeling also in our hearts for people from a country like Romania, a proud people with a great background, who gave to Mrs. Nixon and me, I think, one of the warmest and most heartfelt welcomes we ever received in all of our travels abroad. And we believe that every nation, large and small, has the right to its independence, the right to choose its own way, and the right not to have that independence to be imposed upon, to be infringed upon by any other power.

That is what U.S. foreign policy is really about. It is about, of course, first, peace in the world, and that means negotiations with great powers, and between them, those who have the power to affect the peace, but it also means having respect always for the rights of those nations, whether they be large or small, whether they be powerful or weak, who, except for our recognition of their right to independence, would be in very great jeopardy.

The President of Romania has been a spokesman for what he calls the countries that are not the super powers. He has been courageous, he has been candid, sometimes critical of our policy, sometimes critical of policies of other countries, but always standing up for his own, and that is a quality we in America admire.

We admire him. We admire his people because of their belief in their independence and their sovereignty and their willingness to defend it.

And so, tonight, in proposing the toast to the President, I do so not simply because he is here again as a state guest but also because he has made a major contribution to this profound change in the relations between nations that has occurred over these past 5 years, and also because he stands for a principle that we Americans believe in so deeply, the right of every nation, large or small, to its independence, to its freedom.

And so, I know all .of you will want to join me in not only drinking to the health of our distinguished guest, to the friendship between our two peoples, but particularly to the leader of a great and friendly nation, President Ceausescu.

Note: The President spoke at 9:20 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

On the following evening, the President and Mrs. Nixon attended a reception in honor of President and Mrs. Ceausescu hosted by Romanian Ambassador to the United States Corneliu Bogdan at the Romanian Embassy.

President Ceausescu responded to the President's toast in Romanian. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:

Mr. President, Madam, ladies and gentlemen:

I should also like to refer briefly to some of the problems pertaining to the relations between our two nations and also to international affairs today.

We truly live in an era of great transformation, both on a national and international level. Men who have obtained important success in the development of economy, science, culture, men who reached out into the outer space, are still preoccupied with a great many problems here on Earth.

There is still much inequality in the world. There are people and there are peoples who still live in underdevelopment. And there is a concern to establish relations between people and peoples on a better basis, on more justice,' both on a national and on an international level.

No doubt there are many different opinions as to the various ways leading to this better world, to this world with more justice we are dreaming about. But today, more and more statesmen understand, as the peoples understand themselves, that a better world, a world with more justice, should necessarily come about.

You talk, Mr. President, about our discussions in 1967. At that time I was not President of the State Council myself. I was just the Secretary General of the party at that time. Therefore, it was not a discussion between two Presidents at that time; it was a discussion between two statesmen who could talk frankly and openly.

It appears that sometimes, from time to time, it may be necessary and useful, too, that people should talk not only in their official capacities, not only as political people, but as people, just as people.

You have subsequently visited Romania as the first President of the United States to visit that country, and you were welcomed there as the Romanian people know how to welcome their friends, those who wish and do respect their independence and their right to a free life.

We met again in 1970 in the United States, at the White House, and now again in '73 in the United States here at the White House again.

We have, indeed, talked about many questions, including some, so to say, more philosophical. Mostly, we talked, however, about the problems which were a source of concern to mankind at that time.

It was then that we talked about the development of cooperation between our two countries, about the peace in Vietnam and in the Middle East, and about establishing relations among states on a new basis. We are able to note today with great satisfaction that quite a number of problems have found a solution.

In Vietnam a peace agreement has been arrived at, although still more efforts will have to be made in order to secure a lasting peace in that area.

Direct contacts and relations have been established between the People's Republic of China and the United States as a result of the visit you, Mr. President, paid to China.

A number of agreements have been concluded with the Soviet Union as a result of your visit, sir, to the Soviet Union, and of the visit paid by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mr. Brezhnev, to the United States.

No doubt all this has had, and is still having, an important role on the entire development of international affairs. But the picture will not be complete if we fail to talk about the fact that other changes have also occurred in the world.

An ever-increasing number of nations is asserting more powerfully their words in international affairs and their desire to independent development, and they are playing an ever more active role in international life. Of course, the big countries, as the United States is, and other big countries as well, have an important part to play in international affairs, but I will have to say on this occasion, again, in all frankness, that these countries alone are not in a position to totally insure a new course towards detente and a new course towards a better world and a world with more justice.

The establishment of a new policy in the world, a policy based on equal rights and mutual respect, can only be the result of the united action of all states and of all nations. This is like on a national level in which a real policy of social justice can only be the result of the united effort of the entire people.

You have mentioned, Mr. President, the desire of the United States to act towards building new relations. No doubt, in everything that has been done to settle a great number of problems we have mentioned before, the United States has made its contribution. There is no secret to anyone today that it is precisely due to the fact that the President of the United States, you, sir, has taken action in this particular direction and made possible these results.

But still more problems await a settlement, and without doubt more efforts, and sustained efforts too, will have to be made in this particular directions, having in mind the need to insure cooperation among nations based on equal rights, equal rights irrespective of size or of social system.

During our talks today, we have reached a whole area of understanding, and some agreements for the further cooperation between our two countries have been signed today.

We would like to see the relations between Romania and the United States, between two countries having different social systems, two countries which are different in size, as one can easily see, we wish that these relations should really become an example of the way in which two countries can cooperate, based on the principle of equal rights and mutual respect.

We would like to be able to enable history to say that under difficult conditions two nations, a big one and a small one, were able to cooperate in such a way as to contribute towards establishing international relations on a better basis, on a basis of more justice.

I think--and I shall not be to blame if I shall anticipate a little the declaration we are going to sign tomorrow--it is going to be a document of historical importance in its own way, by the mere fact that it expands the relations and the principles that govern relations between countries which are different in many ways, but which are united in their desire to cooperate in building friendship between them and in building a world of cooperation and peace.

Since our talks in 1967, Mr. President, we have covered a long way to reach such a declaration which puts down fundamental principles of international relations. This no doubt speaks for itself, and it also shows and illustrates the changes that have taken place in the world. And it shows how the peoples of our two countries, how the leaders of our two countries, have been able to act in order to enforce mutual cooperation and international cooperation for the sake of peace and better cooperation.

Taking as a starting point these changes that have worked their way in the world, we are able now to look upon the future with confidence. Notwithstanding the difficult problems that are still to be solved in the world, they are to be solved if all the peoples will act in unity to build a lasting peace based on equal rights and mutual respect.

May I ask you to join me in this toast: To the President of the United States, who all through these years has an important role to play in the development of international life along this path, for the friendship and cooperation between the peoples of the United States and Romania, for lasting peace and cooperation in the world. To your health, ladies and gentlemen.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and President Ceausescu of Romania. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255707

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