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Visit of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of the Federal Republic of Germany Remarks to Reporters Following a Meeting

March 05, 1980

THE CHANCELLOR. Ladies and gentlemen, the President has asked me to speak first, and so I will, reluctantly, because it's not so easy to talk to a foreign audience in a foreign language. I have an interpreter at my right side; in case that I might drop into German, he will help me out.

Let me first express my gratitude for being invited by President Jimmy Carter to visit with him in the American Capital. We had a thorough discussion this afternoon about the global situation. I also had discussions with the Foreign Secretary, with the Secretary of Defense, and with the Security Adviser early on this morning. The President and I covered on the fields which need joint analysis, need joint decision, especially after Tehran, especially after Afghanistan.

Let me insert here that I, as a person, having gone through some experience in my compatriots being taken as hostages at earlier occasions—that I, as a person, am full of admiration for the patience and discipline with which the American Nation and its President have, so far, acted in a situation of bitter frustration. We Germans and many Europeans alike are feeling the same feelings which obviously are prevailing in this country and this Nation. And we think that, so far, America and the American President if I may say so, as a smaller ally, Mr. President-America and the American President have shown a great example of statesmanship in dealing with that very difficult situation. I deeply share the hopes of the American Nation that there will be freedom for these 50 of your compatriots soon.

I don't know whether these attempts to express my feelings are clear enough to you, but I really want you to understand how much we feel to be on your sides regarding the hostage affair in Tehran. But we also do feel to be on your sides as your allies, as your friends, as an ally who owes so much to the American Nation over a period of 35 years after the war, who owes so much to America, even going back to the American Revolution more than 200 years ago—I would like to mention the fact that the basic rights in our constitution go right back to the tradition of the American Revolution—as an ally who owes so much to the United States that we feel to stand side by side with the Americans, as well, in the aftermath of Afghanistan.

We try to contribute to our joint policies regarding Afghanistan, regarding the whole region of Southwest Asia, regarding the Gulf area, especially regarding the Soviet Union, as much as we can.

We are in a different situation than most other Western countries, because we are a divided nation. Part of our nation is living on the eastern side, on the Communist side of Europe, against their own will—60 million. We also have the Berlin situation, which is not so easy. We are thankful to our American and French and British friends, who hold their shields over Berlin.

But within the limitations naturally flowing from that specific situation, we contribute not only to the conceptual work in this situation but also in a more material way, as regards considerable military aid to Turkey, considerable financial aid to Turkey, not only this year, not only after Afghanistan, but all over the last couple of years; considerable financial aid to Pakistan, not only since yesterday but over the last couple of years, and we'll enlarge it, double it in 1980. I told the President about the plans we have in that field. We are going to propose a supplementary budget to our Parliament within the next couple of weeks in order to get the money approved for these purposes.

On the other hand, in the central European theater we are doing what we have jointly decided in NATO as regards the long-term defense program, as well as regards the NATO decisions from December last, on modernization of the allied theater nuclear forces, on the one hand, and offer negotiations on mutual limitations of that kind of medium-range ballistic nuclear forces towards the Soviet Union, on the other hand.

I would like to, in this context, if I may and if I'm not talking too long, Jimmy-I would like to mention, in this context, that the Federal Republic of Germany is a small country as regards area, densely populated—as densely as the centerpiece of the American east coast. We have concentrated quite a bit of military defensive capabilities in that little country, not only German capabilities—American capabilities, French, British, Belgian, Dutch, even Danish capabilities. We'll pursue that.

The President and I, of course, consulted not only on defense matters. We also talked about economic matters, energy. We talked about the different situations in other parts of the world. I would like to say, in the end, that this has been a thorough consultation. We are not finished as yet. We have some other opportunities tonight to continue.

There have been some press reports in Germany, other places also, in America, talking about difficulties in consulting each other. I would like to state here that right now, and in the last couple of weeks as well, the amount of consultation between Europeans, including Germany, on the one hand and our powerful American ally on the other hand have been penetrating consultations, have been illuminating consultations. We are satisfied with that state of affairs between ourselves and Europe on the one hand and the Americans, Canadians, on the other.

Let me express my sincere belief in the ability of the North Atlantic Alliance to fulfill its tasks. I'm not only talking about the defensive tasks but the political tasks, the joint political tasks, and the difficulties of the world after the military invasion of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan.

I would also like to mention to you that I'm, of course, talking on behalf of my country, but that I believe that I'm also expressing the general mood and attitude of the other European nations and the other European governments.

Let me close by saying that I'll regard this visit as a very important one, coming in a rather difficult international situation. But on the other hand, I'm really thankful for having been able to visit the American President at this time and thankful indeed for the high amount of agreement among ourselves.

The agreement between the United States of America and its European ally, Federal Republic of Germany—the amount of agreement is enormous. There are, from time to time, also nuances considering this question or that one. There are, of course, also, by nature and for geopolitical reasons as well, sometimes differences of interest. But I would like you press people not to dwell on these all the time. But please don't overlook the fact of a basic agreement between two nations, and don't overlook the fact that we Germans are aware of how much we owe to the United States in the past in the historic past and the past of the last 30 or 35 years—how much we owe them today. And we look forward to be in a good connection with the United States also in the future.

Thank you very much. Beg your pardon, Jimmy, for having talked so long.

THE PRESIDENT. Fine. Thank you very much. I'll just add a brief word.

Our Nation is honored and I am honored personally to have Chancellor Helmut Schmidt here. There has been no more gratifying experience in my own term as President than has been the close personal relationship that he and I have enjoyed, the closeness of our two governments, and the close relationship and mutual security arrangements that exist between the American people and the people of Germany.

We have constantly benefited in this Nation from the experience and the advice and the support of Chancellor Schmidt. With his broad background in government and defense and finance and economics and in political interrelationships and international affairs, I've always turned to him in moments of common concern for advice and for consultation. He and I exchange messages frequently, without any fanfare or sense of urgency or crisis, talk to one another on the telephone frequently. And it's always a matter of reassurance to me, after I consult with him, that our common judgment is sound.

We have been particularly involved together in recent months, after the American hostages were seized in Iran and since the Soviets have invaded Afghanistan. The Federal Republic of Germany has made its position clear both in the United Nations on several occasions, in these private consultations, and through their public actions.

We understand that because of their geographical location, the vulnerability of Berlin, and the leadership role that the Federal Republic does play within the European Community, that there are sometimes different direct interests, but we have never failed to have adequate support in a matter of crisis or concern' to our people. One of the most valuable assets that our own Nation has is this close relationship with our Atlantic Allies.

Our security is directly involved in the security of Europe. And the 300,000 American troops stationed there are stationed there not only to help defend Europe and its freedom but directly—not indirectly, but directly—to defend our own Nation's security and the freedom of the American people.

We are deeply grateful for his presence, for the benefit of this meeting, and for the bright future that we know our people will enjoy together because of our mutual support and a mutual relationship, that has been expressed so well by Chancellor Schmidt.

Thank you very much.


Note: The Chancellor spoke at 4:28 p.m. on the South Grounds of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of the Federal Republic of Germany Remarks to Reporters Following a Meeting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249880

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