Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit Meeting in Brussels, Belgium

 

March 3, 1988

 

The meeting of the NATO alliance concluded with extemporaneous remarks by President Reagan concerning the values of the alliance in the free world. The President spoke eloquently and with great feeling concerning the unique role of the alliance in preserving freedom. The President praised the solidarity of NATO and the strengths that emanate from each country's commitment to one another.

 

The President cautioned that, while General Secretary Gorbachev speaks of reforms and restructuring, many of the Soviet policies are unchanged. The President referred to the words of Demosthenes when he said: ``Surely, no man would judge another by his words and not his deeds. That certainly is true when considering the Soviet Union. I am not a linguist, but I recall the Russian proverb: Dovorey no provorey. That means trust but verify.'' The President said that East-West relations continue as a source of world tension, but that the alliance was poised as never before to negotiate with the East.

 

``The media seems to thrive on fights more than friendship,'' the President said. ``They continue to ask: Are you papering over great differences here? Well, I haven't found them. Our alliance is strong and united. The United States believes our destiny rests with the maintenance of this alliance. We often say that if the bomb is dropped in Amsterdam it is the equivalent of dropping a bomb on Chicago. As long as we maintain that attitude, I don't believe a bomb is going to drop on anyone.''

 

Speaking of the Soviet Union, the President said: ``We don't have to go to war. We have to see to it that the Soviets won't go to war. If they realize that war with one of us is really war with all of us, they won't start one. So, we must just stay strong, united, and dedicated to one another.''

 

The President told the moving story of soldiers who had deserted the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, because they had been ordered to kill women and children. These Soviet military members instead made the difficult decision to defy those orders and desert to the West. ``Their hope for freedom was placed in us,'' the President said. ``And indeed the hopes of freedom for people all around the world are placed in us.''

 

``Our people admire and respect NATO. There is no thought in our country of the United States shortchanging this alliance. We are with you, and we intend to stay with you until lasting peace is achieved.''