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Visit of Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga of Italy Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony.

January 24, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. On this beautiful day it is a great honor for me, representing the United States of America and its 220 million people, to welcome to our country Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga, Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy.

There is no need for me to remind Americans about the close and long and historical friendship and the alliances which bind our people together, not only military alliance, which has permitted us to share with one another the responsibility for the maintenance of peace, but also close political consultation and mutual support, cultural exchanges, rapidly increasing levels of trade, and the enormous kinship, blood kinship, which binds more than 7 million Americans to their ancestors and to their present families in Italy.

These are indeed difficult and sobering days. Days of internal and international terrorism which have blighted the peaceful inclinations of individual human beings. These are also days of international aggression which has caused a threat to the basic application of international diplomacy to the maintenance of peace. These two threats to peace test the courage of all free people, but that courage has never been found lacking. To threaten basic human rights with terrorism, and to threaten the rule of law with terrorism and with international violence is indeed a pressure for friends to stand together.

We have with us today a leader who is well qualified to head a great nation's government. He's a professor of constitutional law. He's been a member of the Italian Parliament for, I believe, 22 years. He's highly qualified to help me and other leaders and the people of Italy meet the challenges of the shortages of energy, of inflation, of unemployment, and other domestic matters which come before him to judge and problems which come before him to solve. His leadership has been recognized during his relatively short time as Prime Minister in pulling together the disparate political groups in Italy, and he now serves as President of the European Community. We're very delighted to have him with us.

Later this year in June, I will be going to Italy on an official state visit and also to benefit and to derive pleasure from the hosting of a meeting of the economic summit conference in Venice, which will be attended by the seven leaders of the great Western democracies.

We do have a great opportunity which has now been pursued for the last 3 years of forging our so-called strategy of cooperation between Italy and the United States: research and the use of solar power, increased use of coal, increased trade, enhancement of investments, the stamping out of the traffic in illicit drugs which originates in Southwest Asia, the exchange of students, the exchange of young leaders of business and commerce, education and politics, and we've even initiated an exchange of the learning of Italian in our own country and English in Italy.

This is, indeed, a time to recognize that the peace and the prosperity of Europe is dependent upon the peace and prosperity of the United States. And we recognize even more vividly that our own peace and prosperity depends upon the quality of life hammered out for the nations in Europe under the leadership of Prime Minister Cossiga.

There is a Sardinian expression that I will try to give in Italian. Su veru amigu si connoschet in sas adversidades, which means, "One comes to know a true friend in times of adversity." And I'm very grateful this morning to welcome a true friend of the United States, Prime Minister Cossiga, representing the great Republic of Italy.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President, I thank you for the warm expressions of friendship towards my country with which you have so kindly welcomed me on the occasion of my visit to the United States as President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic. I know that I come at a moment in which the American Nation is in anguish for the fate of a group of its children, feeling indignation for the violation of the' norms of civil conduct perpetrated against them. I bring to you, Mr. President, the confirmation of the full and operative solidarity of the Italian Government, also on behalf of the Italian President, to put an end to the outrage, so as to reestablish norms.

The international situation is at the moment fraught with problems and danger for peaceful coexistence of nations and for detente. And thus a direct and personal consultation between leaders of nations sharing the same ideals and values of liberty, justice, and democracy, which is ever experienced between two governments united by close ties, is all the more necessary today.

We cannot renounce these values. We consider their defense as essential. The truths they safeguard are to us essential and expedient, and the policies depending on them are also essential in our mind. These values thus lie at the heart of our close and constructive friendship with the United States of America, and of our staunch and determined participation in the development of the European Community, that is to say, the two institutional cornerstones of Italy's foreign policy.

The friendship between our two countries unfolds in a wide range of relations, founded upon what are now firmly established historical, religious, cultural, social, economic, and commercial precedents. Moreover, an interaction of customs and behavior shows a vast range of psychological uniformity. This finds its natural expression in the Atlantic Alliance, which unites free nations in defense of peace and freedom, and represents the surest bastion of security that all the Western world wants to belong to, by virtue of the inclination of a natural orientation of our peoples towards liberty, independence, democratic and representative self-government, even more than by a political stance of governments.

The United States, Italy, and the other member nations that have created and want this Alliance, because this Alliance stems from their culture and civilization, for the peace of their peoples, for peace in Europe and throughout the world. And the ideals of peace, which are the ideals of an orderly and just progress of tolerance, of productive exchange between different systems, and of the development of the international community, are and remain the ideals of our peoples.

In historical reality and its ideal foundations, security is both an unwavering premise and also the fruit of peace. Therefore, to work for peace is to work for security, and to work for security is to work for peace. This is the background for our political relations, and this is the context for our exchanges of views, which will not only deal with bilateral relations but which will involve an examination of the widest possible scope, in order to make a responsible contribution to the solution of the greater problems faced by the international community; in the interest of peace and security, which only the essential balance of forces enables us to maintain; in anticipation of a moral growth of the world, which enables the most favorable basis to be found for peace and security.

Italy, which at present is carrying out the presidency of the European Community, is committed to achieve the great objective of unity of the old continent, in the conviction that at a time such as this Europe must play its political role, a role to which it is bound by its technological and economic capacities; by its traditions of civilization and culture; by its sincere dedication to peace and equilibrium; and by its intellectual and moral capacities. And likewise, in the conviction that Europe must play this role in relations of solidarity, in collaboration with the United States, in a climate of mutual confidence and trust: a Europe which by its history and its culture can be a valuable point of reference for other European peoples; a Europe which is open to friendship towards all peoples; a Europe which by virtue also of its geographical position can and must be an important element of the necessary dialog and expedient collaboration with the countries of the Middle East and Africa, and, through its ancient cultural and historical bond, with the countries of Latin America.

And now, Mr. President, please allow me to extend a fraternal greeting and an affectionate word to all Americans of Italian origin. They represent, by their numbers and their participation in all fields of American life, an important section of the people of this great country, and constitute a visible element of the indestructable basis of our friendship. We are proud of the contribution that the men, women, and young people coming from Italy, and their descendants, have made to the progress, prestige, and prosperity of your country. And we are also determined to show to them that Italy is able to overcome the difficult and delicate problems of the present time, and to continue to make a permanent contribution in thought and deed to the development of the world civilization.

And now, Mr. President, when, in your very kind and friendly words you expressed an old saying of my region, which has been one of the first regions to fight for unification and independence of Italy; when you spoke in the Sardinian language and you said that you know friends in difficult moments—well, I'm here to confirm this. And on behalf of the President of the Italian Republic, on behalf of my government, on behalf of the whole of the Italian people, and on my own personal behalf, I wish to extend to you, Mr. President, to Mrs. Carter, to your family, and to all of the American people, the warmest and most cordial greeting.

Note: The President spoke at 10:09 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House. Prime Minister Cossiga spoke in Italian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Following the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister held meetings in the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga of Italy Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249682

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