THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release
||June 21, 1999
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN AN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS
9:40 P.M. (L)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. President, Mrs. Kucan, Mr. Prime Minister,
distinguished government officials and citizens of Slovenia: It is a great
honor for me, for Hillary, for Secretary Albright, indeed, for our entire
American delegation to share this historic day with you.
Today we added a new chapter to the long story of our friendship. As you
heard from the President, it is a friendship that goes back even before the
history of the United States -- when President Thomas Jefferson, the author
of our Declaration of Independence, was looking for examples of democracy
around the world, places where the people ruled.
The President gave you a -- what I would call a delicate version of the
example provided by the Corinthians to Thomas Jefferson. You see, Thomas
Jefferson loved the fact that before assuming their titles, the old dukes of
Corinthia were ceremoniously slapped by a local present to symbolize the
right of the people to rebuff their leaders. Thomas Jefferson liked that.
So did all future generations of Americans. (Laughter.) Except they wait
until after you're in office to do it. (Laughter.)
Well, democracy is going strong again in Slovenia, and still your efforts
inspire Americans. We are grateful for the many contributions of Slovenians
to the strength and texture of our country, and we are grateful for the
partnership that unites us today.
This spring, as both the President and the Prime Minister have said, that
partnership met a great test. For the fourth time in this decade Mr.
Milosevic and Serbia launched a brutal campaign of violence, threatening the
progress the people of this region have worked so hard to achieve. As you
know from the daily television reports, the full horror of that campaign is
only now becoming clear.
I would like to thank the President and the Prime Minister for all that you
have done to protect democracy and the tolerance it needs to thrive. Now
that ethnic cleansing has been defeated in Kosovo, we must build something
better in its place throughout Europe, and especially in Southeastern
You know, every leader likes to talk of the future, but today in your
Congress Square I saw the future -- in the faces of the young people who
braved the rains to express their support for our shared dreams. I saw
those who will lead a free Slovenia into the new millennium.
Your history is enshrined in this magnificent castle we enjoy this evening,
but your future is in those young people. And it is in good hands.
So I ask you now to rededicate yourselves to the dreams which brought the
people out in the rain today. We owe it to them, to our forebears, and to
generations yet unborn.
Please join me in a toast to the President, to the Prime Minister and the
people of this wonderful country. (Applause.)
END 9:44 P.M. (L)