Remarks Upon Returning From the Trip to Europe

June 11, 1982

Thank you very much. Thank you, George, all the representatives of the Senate and the House who've been working so hard while we've been gone, the members of the Cabinet. And to those employees of government, Cabinet members here on the platform and who were with us on the plane, who went on this trip as part of the team, I think you'd have been proud of all of them and how hard they worked.

But I have to tell you: This is a very great surprise to us. And adding to the surprise is the fact that here it is still daylight, and it's only 43 minutes past midnight. [Laughter] But it's great to be home, especially since we don't have to get in a car and go someplace and make another speech. [Laughter]

Before I give you a brief report on our trip to Europe, let me just say how happy I was to learn last night, in Bonn, that the House had passed the revised bipartisan recovery budget.

I was especially pleased at the breadth of support it commanded from Republicans of all regions and 63 responsible House Democrats. And I want to tell you that this morning, after getting that word -- and when I brought the word to my colleagues from the other countries that we were meeting with, our allies -- their joy. They were looking forward to this as much as I was and as much as the American people were.

So, my congratulations to Bob Michel and all the other responsible Members of the House for a job well done. And now let's hope the House and Senate conference committee can finish its work quickly so that we can get on with economic recovery here at home and around the world.

As I say, in greeting these ladies and gentlemen when I got off the plane, proud as I am of all that were with us and on the team and worked so hard and so many hours, I'm proud of all of you, George, who were here running the store at home.

After visiting six major cities in Europe, one thing stands out clearly, and we sometimes lose sight of it: America has a lot of friends in the world. Yes, there were demonstrators who didn't agree with some of our policies, but I can tell you that in every city the streets were lined, wherever we went, with people cheering America, and most of them waving American flags. And this morning we addressed 25,000 people at the Charlottenburg Castle in Berlin, standing there in the garden. And to see those 25,000 Berliners waving American flags and cheering us and thanking us for what we mean to them was also something that is hard to describe.

I can report that we accomplished what we set out to do on this trip. Our friendships are firm, and America is once again respected by allies and potential adversaries alike. At the economic summit meeting at Versailles, we reaffirmed our commitments to the fight against inflation, to expanded trade, and to economic development. We agreed on cooperative approaches to the tough economic problems faced by our countries and on a more vigilant and restrained approach to trade with the Soviet bloc.

At the NATO summit meeting in Bonn, we welcomed Spain as the 16th member of the Alliance. And I had to point out to them -- I couldn't resist -- the uniqueness of that situation in the world. Here another democracy, Spain, voluntarily asking to become a member of NATO -- when have you ever heard of a nation voluntarily requesting to become a member of the Warsaw Pact?

We approved a new Western proposal for the reduction of conventional arms in Europe, and we formalized what we had been working for a year to achieve -- a clear consensus on the need to improve our defenses, while confirming our willingness to negotiate in good faith with the Soviet Union for a more secure peace. NATO is more confident now, confident in its ability both to preserve its strength and to promote peace.

In Rome, I consulted with His Holiness The Pope in our continuing quest for peace, and I had an opportunity to meet with the leaders of Italy, a country that has been as strong and consistent as any in its support for the Alliance and the policies of the United States.

And while in Rome, I also had the pleasure of meeting a group of young men and thanking them personally. They were the men who freed our General Dozier.

The preservation of our free institutions is, after all, the most important reason for our efforts to strengthen the Alliance. As I listened to our European friends, I learned a great deal about their approaches and concerns. Yes, we have our differences, but I am firmly convinced that our values are the same, our objectives are the same, and when we have different ideas about reaching those objectives we can work them out.

As this trip began, the United States was doing all that it could to bring an honorable end to conflict in the South Atlantic. And today, as this trip concludes, the United States is once again trying to bring peace to the Middle East. Clearly, our responsibilities as a great people span the globe. The nations of the West all look to us for leadership in preserving freedom and peace. This is not a burden that we sought, but it is one we shall never shirk.

I brought a message to our allies that the United States will remain a firm and reliable partner. I said in Bonn, that they are not alone; we are with them. And tonight I come home with a message from our allies, one impressed upon me at every stop along the way: Americans, we are not alone; they are with us, too.

Our alliances have never been stronger. The powerful friendship among free nations shall endure. Together with our friends overseas we shall live up to our responsibilities as the world's greatest force for freedom and for peace.

And I couldn't conclude without just saying one thing also that happened in Berlin this morning. When we arrived at Tempelhof, and there were hundreds and hundreds of our young men and women in uniform, and those with their families that are with them and their children that were with them, and meeting and greeting them, seeing them, I have never known such pride. And I can tell you, you have every reason to be proud of them, also. And they're proud to be there on the ramparts of freedom, doing what they're doing.

And now, Nancy and I have to get back to the store on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Laughter] It's been a great trip, but there really is no place like home.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:43 p.m. at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., where he was greeted upon his return by the Vice President, Members of the Congress and the Cabinet, and other government officials and employees.