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Visit of Prime Minister Leo Tindemans of Belgium Remarks of the President and the Prime Minister at the Welcoming Ceremony.

October 19, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. On this beautiful day, it's a great pleasure for me to welcome to our country one of the great world leaden who has shown, through the influence of his own nation and his own strength of character and reputation, what can be done to enhance the principles of democratic government, a better way of life for our people, and the basic human freedoms throughout Europe and, indeed, throughout the world.

When I was first inaugurated President, the first official visit of my administration was by Vice President Mondale to Brussels. And Prime Minister Tindemans and the people of Belgium welcomed this early visit as a true indication of the strong friendship that has always prevailed between our countries and, also, the importance that we attach to this nation whose influence spreads far beyond its own national borders.

Belgium has been one of our strongest democratic allies, and the reputation that Prime Minister Tindemans has, has not only been exemplified in an enormous electoral victory recently in his own country, which shows the faith of his own people in him, but the fact that he has been chosen the President of the Council of the European Community.

We are very interested in a stronger and an even more united European Community. And the leaders and people of our own country have observed with great admiration and appreciation the unique role that Prime Minister Tindemans has played in spelling out the future evolution of this strong and united Europe.

We see the European Community as being an integral part of our own Nation's future well-being. And, of course, NATO is also a crucial matter for our own Nation's security.

We have problems that we share as well as friendship and achievements. We're concerned about economics. We're concerned about security. We're concerned about employment among our young people. We're concerned about energy. We're concerned about friendship that must exist between ourselves and the Soviet Union, between the democratic nations and the nations of Eastern Europe and further east. We're concerned about the prevention of proliferation of atomic explosives. And we are concerned about a curtailment in the sale of the weapons of war.

Prime Minister Tindemans and I will be discussing these and other matters later on today. But I especially want to emphasize again how much we value his friendship, his leadership, his counsel and advice, and how proud I am on behalf of 215 million Americans to welcome the leader of the great people of Belgium.

Welcome, Mr. Prime Minister, to our country.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President, first of all, I wish to thank you for the kind words which you have just expressed for my country and for myself, as well as for the warm welcome which has been given us in the United States. Based on a common heritage and common ideals, our two countries have developed a very strong and close relationship.

In the multilateral field, I would just mention our common membership in many multilateral and international organizations as NATO, OECD, the United Nations, and all the organizations of the U.N. family.

In each of these we work closely together, and Belgium has always attached the greatest importance to the invaluable contribution that the United States has made to help these international organizations and specialized agencies to achieve their goals.

On the bilateral front, Mr. President, our friendship has been enshrined in blood on the battlefield and, in time of peace, in a community of ideals in defense of peace, justice, democracy, and the dignity of the human being.

Last year, the United States celebrated their 200th anniversary of its birth as a nation. No doubt, the path has been difficult. Perhaps there have been setbacks, difficulties, and controversies. But nevertheless, the United States has, during those 200 years, never wavered from its main purpose of creating a society where men and women stand free. For this magnificent achievement, I must express my admiration to the United States of America.

We Belgians are an ancient people, but not such an old state. Indeed, we are now eagerly looking forward to celebrating, in 1980, the 150th anniversary of our independence as a nation. Appropriate ceremonies will mark this occasion in our own country and throughout the world, including, of course, the United States. I hope I shall not be misunderstood if, in the present context, I say that we look upon the United States as a big brother. Both our countries, Mr. President, are today faced with tremendous challenges, both in the field of politics and that of economics.

I do believe that while, of course, varying in degree, our responsibilities are identical in nature and our search for the proper solutions. We both believe in the dignity of man. We both stand for an economic system which is at the same time free and equitable. We both share preoccupation for the progress of the developing countries.

Rest assured, Mr. President, that in its quest for answers to our present day problems, Belgium will not lose sight of those guiding principles in the firm belief that we shall join company with the United States on this common ground.

By nature, by temperament, and by necessity, we Belgians are internationalists. We learned long ago that we cannot live in isolation. And since the signing of the Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union in 1921, my country has not ceased to enlarge its cooperation with our neighbors and other countries of the world in a series of concentric circles Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Benelux, European Economic Community, OECD, the world organizations. More than ever, as the interdependence of nations increases, we are convinced that progress for mankind is dependent on international consultation and cooperation.

In this respect, we have been especially happy to maintain a close relationship with the United States. At the beginning of this year, immediately after your inauguration, we had the pleasure of receiving in Brussels the visit of Vice President Mondale. And in May, it was my privilege to meet you, Mr. President, in London.

Following my present visit to the United States, we shall be anticipating with the greatest interest and pleasure the visit that you plan to pay to Belgium on the first day of December next. These meetings at the highest level are proof enough of our common desire to work closely together.

May I finally add, Mr. President, how eagerly we are looking forward to your visit to Brussels, because it will give us the opportunity to repay all the warmth and kindness that you show us today.
Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:08 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Prime Minister Leo Tindemans of Belgium Remarks of the President and the Prime Minister at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242056

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