Remarks Following Discussions With Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany

 

November 15, 1988

 

The President. I have just completed a highly useful and productive discussion with Chancellor Kohl, on this, the sixth anniversary of his first visit to the White House as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. The many conversations we've had together demonstrate not only the close ties that exist between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States but the warm personal relationship that has developed between us. Chancellor Kohl is a close friend of the United States. His views are greatly valued, and his commitment and personal efforts to strengthen German-American ties have made an enormous difference in the relationship between the United States and West Germany.

 

Today we reviewed a broad range of important international issues. We discussed how our two countries, working together and within the NATO alliance, could advance the cause of peace and freedom.

 

The Chancellor briefed me on his recent visit to Moscow. We agreed that important progress has been made in East-West relations, but that much still remains to be done in arms control, in ending regional conflicts, and with respect to human rights. We also noted that the Vienna Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is entering its final stage, required a balanced and substantive outcome.

 

I reaffirmed the strong American commitment to Berlin and underscored our determination to pursue the Berlin initiative I first outlined in June of 1987 when I spoke at the Berlin Wall. That divided city of Berlin remains a powerful symbol of a divided Europe and a litmus test of East-West relations.

 

We reviewed the positive state of the NATO alliance. While seeking security and stability at lower levels of armaments, the United States and West Germany, together with our allies, will ensure that our conventional and nuclear forces are kept up to date. We also agreed that, for the foreseeable future, there is no viable alternative to NATO's defense strategy of deterrence based on flexible response and a forward defense. The Chancellor voiced support for an international conference on chemical weapons, and we reaffirmed our common goal of negotiating a global ban on these terrible weapons.

 

West Germany and the United States continue to seek ways to share early the risks, burdens, and responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of our common defense. We reviewed the difficulties each country faces in doing more, but pledged we would each do our fair share. In this regard, I paid special tribute to the German people for the sacrifices they bear on the front line of freedom, which is also America's front line of defense, and reiterated my condolences for the victims of the tragedy at the Ramstein air show last August.

 

We also revised trade and economic -- reviewed, I should say, trade and economic issues. Both the Chancellor and I expressed satisfaction with the present state of the world economy. I congratulated the Chancellor on the decision of the European Community member states to take major steps toward closer economic integration by the end of 1992 and expressed our concern that this be done in a manner that promotes fair trade internationally. We agreed that trade protectionism must be avoided and reiterated our support for an amicable resolution of the U.S. and European Community trade issues and for real progress during the midterm review of the Uruguay round trade negotiations. I'll have something more to say on that point later in the week.

 

Helmut, this marks my last meeting as President with you. Six years ago, we stood together as I announced the formation of a Presidential Commission to commemorate the tricentennial of the first German settlement in the United States. Six years to the day, I'm proud to announce a product of that commission: the dedication of a garden here in Washington as a symbol of the friendship between our two countries. In a few months, I'll be leaving the White House. But the garden -- and all it represents -- will remain, to be nurtured and sustained by the friendship between Germans and Americans and by the leadership that you have provided. I'm asking Charles Wick, the Director of the U.S. Information Agency, to represent me today at the dedication of the German-American Friendship Garden.

 

And, Helmut, I hope you will convey to the German people my personal thanks for their prayers and support over the past 8 years. And let me just add a final personal word to you for your friendship and counsel. Thank you, Helmut, and may God bless you, and may God bless our two great nations.

 

The Chancellor. Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to thank you, first of all, Mr. President, for the warm words of friendship which you have found for my country. The friendship between the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany is of existential importance to our country. It has always been that way, and it will remain so in future. It was the idea of freedom which brought us together, and today, more than ever, we know how important it is to stand together to defend our freedom and unity.

 

Dear Ron, you already mentioned this. Today I met with you for the last time during your term of office. For 6 years, we have worked together excellently. Our meetings have always been meetings between friends. And I would like to thank you from all my heart for this personal contact and personal friendship which we have, for the exchange of experiences and views which we had, and also for the friendship which the elder statesmen gave to the younger statesmen. During our respective terms of office, the relations between Bonn and Washington have become ever closer. And one of the hallmarks of this cooperation has been the fair and open consultation about all matters interesting us over all these years.

 

Let me cite as an example the alliance consultations parallel to the U.S.-Soviet INF negotiations. They were absolutely crucial to the success of the negotiations. I should also, of course, like to thank you, Mr. President, for your bold and resolute commitment to improving East-West relations. Any kind of worsening of the situation between East and West will be felt like an earthquake in our country, in the Federal Republic of Germany, and of course, first of all in Berlin. I should like to thank you very much also for the sympathy and the interest which you have always shown to us and to the interests of our country, which is a divided country, of course. And your speech very near to the Berlin Wall, at the Brandenburg Gate, is unforgettable to all of us. This wasn't only just a speech but it showed a very personal commitment to the cause of Berlin.

 

And during your two visits to the Federal Republic of Germany, you have always also raised the issue of human contacts between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, and you also paid particular tribute to the contributions which those citizens of the United States of German origin have made to this country. And you've pointed out that these people sort of have had built a human bridge between our two countries.

 

In 1987, and this year, too, you declared the 6th of October German-American Day. And today, dear Ron, as you also pointed out, the German-American Friendship Garden is being opened not far from here in Washington. And if Charles Wick and Ambassador Ruhfus go there on our behalf, representing us to inaugurate and open up this Friendship Garden, I think this is a show of friendship and of solidarity which will have validity for the future. And I should like to thank all of those who were involved in making this sign of our friendship and solidarity possible here in the city of Washington.

 

I think we can say, Mr. President, dear Ron, we can put it very briefly and say: These have been good years. I think that both of us have paved the way for development which will be pursued by your successor in office. And I should, at the end of my remarks, mention one important example. I should like to mention the agreement and the commitment which we have made to exchange young people, students, but also other young people who travel from your country to our country and from our country to your country. That is to say, we try to plant young trees so that a strong forest may grow, which serves as a shade for all of us.

 

Ron, once again, from all my heart, thank you for all you did, and God bless you in all you do.

 

Note: The President spoke at 1:33 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. The Chancellor spoke in German, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Earlier, the President and the Chancellor met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the Residence.