|For Immediate Release||July 11, 1997|
PRESIDENT CONSTANTINESCU: President Clinton, dear guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends. We are here together in a place which is a symbol of freedom, a place in which people have died for their freedom. In the square where we are right now, thousands of people, with open hearts and bear hands, confronted in December 1989 the tanks and bullets in the name of values for which many of their parents and grandparents have died in front of the execution squads, in the communist prisons and concentration camps, or in the loneliness of the exile.
We are here together in a place which is a symbol of democracy. The hunger strikers spent weeks on end on this piece of land with grass on my right. And also, weeks on end many people have spoken from this balcony of the university, the great personalities of Romanian culture and science, peasants, workers and especially a lot of people -- many young people, students and pupils. Here it was that we discovered the supreme form of freedom, human solidarity.
We are here together in a place which is a symbol of faith. The young people have been shouting here, God is on our side. And it was still to this place that we returned in November 1996 after the victory of democracy in Romania when we came here to thank God for having supported us.
We welcome the American President Bill Clinton here between these two buildings, symbols of Romanian culture, the University of Bucharest and the National Theater. (Applause.)
Mr. President, we have laid this bridge built by human beings across an ocean which God has set between you and us. It is the bridge of common values in which we believe and that we are turning into institutions. Here, together with us, we see the shadows of all of those Romanians who died refusing to
believe the lies. The shadows, the ghosts of those who, for 40 years running, during the communist regime, continued believing only in truth, in dignity and the human rights.
Their faith has been victorious. And the fact that here, now, we have together with us the first American President that visits a democratic Romania is one more proof that our country, reborn by sacrifice, now has strong and truthful friends. (Applause.)
For many people, the United States are, first of all, a model of economic success, a shop window of market economy, of efficiency, prosperity and military strength. This is a real, but not a complete image, because at the same time, the United States of America is also the permanent symbol of the struggle for freedom and democracy all over the world. (Applause.)
During two world wars, and later on, in Korea, Vietnam or the Persian Gulf, the American young people fought and died for the freedom of peoples of nations that lived thousands of miles away from the place in which they have been born. Their parents, the American taxpayers, had to bear the costs of this huge military operation.
Dear Mr. President, several weeks ago we participated together at the ceremonies in The Hague, on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Marshall Plan, a symbol of European rebirth, with the essential support of an America that has never forgotten the continent where most of its citizens had been born.
The map of the world is no longer now divided in continents separated by water, by oceans, but it is rather drawn in the conditions in which people from different spaces, different countries, believe in the same values.
Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the American Revolution said that, "to rebel against tyranny means to listen to the wish of God." But present a Romania that has shed its blood in order to break away from communism wants to build together with the United States of America a solid partnership exactly starting from these common values: freedom, prosperity, initiative, tolerance.
In the history of the world, there used to be people specializing in the strategy of war. And the American people has had a lot of such personalities. But in a world that is channeling it priorities toward cooperation and coexistence, we can truly say that President Clinton is a great specialist in the strategy of peace.
President Clinton thought about opening the North Atlantic Alliance to the new European democracies, turning this
initiative into the central point of his foreign policy. President Clinton is aware of the fact that Romania has made a final and definitive choice for democracy, market economy and freedom. And that is why he has come to Bucharest to bring you this message personally. (Applause.)
In Madrid, the North Atlantic Alliance has declared Romania as a privileged partner for the second wave of its expansion, provided the economic and political reforms should continue. And we know that these reforms are not going to stop because we have designed and desired them, first of all, for ourselves and for our own sake. (Applause.)
We are not going to stop because the vast majority of Romanian people wants to live in a stable and prosperous country. We are not going to stop because we are confident in our own forces once more. We are not going to stop because we cannot go on side tracks of history, waiting for the train of history to pass beside us. (Applause.)
During the last seven months, Romania has acquired a new image in the world -- the real image of a new reality. And this is first of all thanks to the Romanians. That is why, allow me to thank you once more, dear compatriots, for the effort that you are making every day for the manner in which you have understood that in order to live better, you have to make sacrifices, and that it has come the time to replace the time of words with the time of deeds.
I am now addressing you, the people in this square, but also the people in the other cities and towns of Romania, the people in the most remote corners of the country, in the smallest villages as well, those who watch us or listen to us, but also to those who are working or who are suffering; to those who live in Romania and also to those who live abroad in all of the corners of the world; to tell you that it was only due to you, thanks to you that we have been able to represent the cause of Romania with so much dignity in the world. (Applause.)
I bow before you and I thank you. (Applause.) Thanks to you, we have the President of the United States of America our guest today. You, every one of you, are, in fact, his hosts. You are welcoming the President with the ancient and warm Romanian hospitality.
Mr. President, dear friends, to be free means, first of all, to be responsible to your own destiny. These are the words of Mircha Eliade (phonetic), one of the Romanians who decided to make the United States of America the land of their fulfillment. At present, Romania is free, fully responsible to its own destiny.
Romania has at present splendid relations with all its neighbors, and the Romanians have a good understanding with all the other citizens. That is why Romania is at present a pillar of stability in an area still troubled by conflicts,
misunderstanding, hatreds and wars.
Dear Mr. President, relying on our thousands of years-long history, let me assure you that America will be able to rely on the Romanian wisdom, equilibrium and common sense whenever this will turn out to be necessary. (Applause.)
In a world of interdependencies, you cannot do anything by yourself. There is only one way: Together, toward the Third Millennium. Let's do it together. (Applause.) We can only be successful together. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you. Mr. President, thank you for your wonderful welcome. (Applause.) And to the young student who just spoke, Semida Munteanu, if she is a representative of the youth of Romania, the future of this nation is in good hands. (Applause.)
I am proud to be the first American President to visit a free Romania. (Applause.) I am proud to stand in University Square, where so many have sacrificed for freedom. (Applause.) Most of all, I am proud to see in this vast crowd the face of a new Romania, moving beyond the past to build a bright future of possibility for all your people. Congratulations. (Applause.)
America knows that Romania's destiny lies in an undivided, democratic, peaceful Europe, where every nation is free, and every free nation is the partner of the United States. To all the people of Romania who love freedom so dearly: I come to Romania because of all you have already done. I come because I know what you still can do. I come because of all that we must do together to achieve your destiny in the family of freedom. (Applause.)
No people -- no people have suffered more under communist repression, no people paid a higher price for the simple right to live in freedom. No people faced greater challenges in the struggle to start anew. But though your path has been steep and hard, you are going forward. And for that, we salute you. (Applause.)
In America -- in America, we have seen your spirit, your endurance, your determination symbolized by the feat of one young Romanian athletes. At the end of the New York marathon last fall, a runner named Anuta Catuna came from behind to close the lead and earn her way to victory in one of America's most prized races. Like her, Romania has set its sights on the long run. And like her, the Romania people have won the world's respect for moving so far, so fast, and for believing in yourselves and your future.
Like her marathon race, the marathon of freedom is not a sprint; it takes steady and persistent commitment to stay
the course. After more tha 200 years, America now knows the journey of democracy is never over. It must be traveled every single day.
But what progress you have made. You have launched bold economic reforms to give your people the chance to make the most of their own lives. In the short-term I know there are costs to this market reform, but in the long-term the rewards are far greater, in better jobs, new opportunities, more trade and investment from around the world for your people. And in recent years, we have learned from other nations' experience that those who reform the fastest make the most progress for their people. Romania has been making up for lost time and the whole world is taking notice.
You have turned old grievances to new friendships, within your borders and beyond. You have forged landmark treaties with Hungary and Ukraine. You have brought ethnic Hungarians into democratic government for the first time. You are giving minorities a greater stake in your common future. Together you are doing something that people all over the world must do -- you are reaching across the lines that divide you to build one Romania. And for that, I salute you. (Applause.)
You have shown the way of responsible leadership here in your own region. In Bosnia, it was Romanian engineers who repaired the first train crossing the Sava River so that critical aid could reach the Bosnian people after years of deprivation. In Albania, Romania's peacekeeping battalion has played a key role in promoting stability and securing free elections. Your nation, at its own initiative and its own expense, has helped your faltering neighbors get their feet back on the ground, and for that the world salutes you. (Applause.)
Of course, there is more work to do. I come here today that America will do that work with you.
The values that govern Romania today -- liberty, openness, tolerance, free markets -- these are values shared by the community of democracies Romania is joining. The community includes security cooperation through the Partnership for Peace. It includes strong ties of trade and investment. It includes institutions like the European Union. And, of course, it includes NATO. (Applause.)
I welcome Romania's deep desire to contribute even more fully to Europe's security and strength. I welcome your desire to join NATO. (Applause.) I want that, too -- for Europe, for America and for you. And I say to you today: Stay the course, and Romania will cross that milestone.
To all who nations who embrace democracy and reform and wish to share the responsibilities of membership, I reaffirm from this Plaza of Freedom: The door to NATO is open. It will stay open. And we will help you to walk through it. (Applause.)
NATO has committed to review aspiring members in 1999 -- Romania is one of the strongest candidates. And if you stay the course and manifest the love of liberty we all see here today, there can be no stronger candidate. Stay the course. Stay the course. The future is yours. (Applause.)
In the meantime, your President and I have agreed to establish a strategic partnership between our nations, a partnership important to America, because Romania is important to America -- important in your own right, important as a model in this difficult part of the world. Romania can show the people of this region and, indeed, people throughout the world that there is a better way than fighting and division and repression. It is cooperation and freedom and peace. (Applause.)
President Constantinescu, citizens of Romania: My visit has been brief, but our friendship will endure the test of time. As long as you proceed down democracy's long road, America will be by your side.
The great Romanian-born Ionescu once said, "There has always been at every living moment of culture a will to renewal." Here in Bucharest, I see that will to renewal all around. I am reminded of the words of your hymn, once forbidden but never forgotten -- "Wake up, Romanian." (Applause.)
You have shown the world, and you have shown me here today, that Romania has awakened -- awakened to freedom; awakened to security; awakened to your destiny. And because of you, the world has awakened to Romania. (Applause.) May the light of your freedom shine forever. And may God bless the Romanian people and the future of our two peoples together.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
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