Home > 1999 Presidential Documents > pd10my99 Remarks to Kosovar Refugees in Ingelheim, Germany...

pd10my99 Remarks to Kosovar Refugees in Ingelheim, Germany...

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    Ladies and gentlemen, I think it's really good for us to step away 
from the work we do for an evening and laugh a little. I thought Brian 
was really funny, and I like laughing at somebody else for a change. 
[Laughter] But I hope you'll forgive me if I sort of stop it now and say 
a few serious words, for these are not usual times. While we've got a 
lot to be grateful for, in rising prosperity, and falling unemployment, 
poverty, welfare, and crime, you all know we have real challenges.
    All Americans are still hurting for the families of Littleton and 
seeking ways that each of us can help to give our children less violent, 
more wholesome childhoods. And our thoughts are in Kosovo, where America 
and our Allies are engaged in a difficult struggle for freedom and human 
rights and against the destruction of other human beings because of 
their ethnic and racial heritage.
    The roots of violence at home and ethnic cleansing and racial hatred 
abroad are of great complexity and difficulty. But we know that our 
country is strong enough and good enough to meet these challenges.
    There was a reference to this before, but I want to say a special 
word about the three servicemen and their families. Our prayers have 
been with them for the past month, and there are indications that they 
may soon be released to Reverend Jackson and his interfaith group. We 
certainly hope that this will occur.
    But let us remember tonight also what is at stake for more than a 
million other people who have been involved in Kosovo--a very great 
deal. What is at stake there, what was at stake in Bosnia, and what will 
doubtless be at stake elsewhere in the world in the years ahead is 
whether Mr. Milosevic's vision of ethnic cleansing, with its uprooting, 
its raping, its killing, its destroying every record and remnant of 
culture and history--or our democratic vision of ethnic tolerance and 
political pluralism, of affirming our common humanity--whether his 
vision or ours will define the beginning of the 21st century. On this 
there can be no compromise and, therefore, our determination must be 
    I thank you, the White House correspondents, for making the donation 
to help the refugees of Kosovo. That is a welcome and valued 
contribution. So are the reports you and

[[Page 785]]

your colleagues file every day, often at great personal risk for those 
in the region.
    As our prayers are with our military personnel and our allies 
tonight, they're with the Kosovars--indeed, with all innocent people who 
are caught up in this grievous affair. I again ask Mr. Milosevic to let 
the Kosovars come home, with the Serb forces out, and an international 
force in to protect all the people, including the Serb minority who live 
in Kosovo.
    And I ask the American people to remember what it is we are fighting 
for: a world in which the dignity of humanity counts for more than the 
differences of humanity. For human differences, when celebrated but 
contained, can make life a lot more interesting, but when unleashed as 
weapons of war, soon make it unbearable.
    The 20th century has seen altogether too much of this. If we and our 
allies, indeed, if you and I as citizens, and each in our official 
capacities, all do our job, the world of our children will be better. It 
will be not only more prosperous but more peaceful; not only more 
diverse but more unified; not only more human but more humane. Let that 
be our prayer tonight and our determination.
    Thank you very much, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10:20 p.m. in the 
International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton. In his remarks, he 
referred to Stewart Powell of Hearst Newspapers, outgoing president, 
Susan Page, USA Today, incoming president, White House Correspondents' 
Association; Brian Williams, NBC News, dinner emcee; Scott Pelley, CBS 
News; entertainer Aretha Franklin; Helen Thomas, United Press 
International; President Nelson Mandela of South Africa; movie director 
and producer Steven Spielberg; Staff Sgt. Andrew A. Ramirez, USA, Staff 
Sgt. Christopher J. Stone, USA, and Specialist Steven M. Gonzales, USA, 
American infantrymen in custody in Serbia; civil rights leader Jesse 
Jackson; and President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of 
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 785]
Monday, May 10, 1999
Volume 35--Number 18
Pages 773-831
Week Ending Friday, May 7, 1999
Statement on the Release of American Infantrymen Held Prisoner by 
Serbian Authorities

May 2, 1999

    I am pleased that our three American servicemen who have been held 
as prisoners by Serbian authorities have today been released and that 
they are now safely out of Serbia. I am grateful to Reverend Jackson and 
his delegation for helping to secure their freedom. All of America is 
anticipating their safe return.
    As we welcome our soldiers home, our thoughts also turn to the over 
one million Kosovars who are unable to go home because of the policies 
of the regime in Belgrade. Today we reaffirm our resolve to persevere 
until they, too, can return with security and self-government.

Note: In this statement, the President referred to civil rights leader 
Jesse Jackson, whose personal appeal won the release of Staff Sgt. 
Andrew A. Ramirez, USA, Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Stone, USA, and 
Specialist Steven M. Gonzales, USA.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 785-786]
Monday, May 10, 1999
Volume 35--Number 18
Pages 773-831
Week Ending Friday, May 7, 1999
Remarks at a Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan

May 3, 1999

    Prime Minister Obuchi, Mrs. Obuchi, members of the Japanese 
delegation, my fellow Americans. Mr. Prime Minister, we welcome you to 
America and to the White House, and to greet you in the spring when the 
cherry blossoms every year remind us of the generosity and friendship of 
the Japanese people.
    The cherry blossoms--or in Japanese, sakura--have made it through 
changing times, environmental challenges, and even most recently, the 
attention of our local population of beavers. [Laughter] They have 
endured, as our friendship has endured and will continue to endure 

[[Page 786]]

    For a half-century, our friendship has been a bedrock of security in 
Asia. It remains so. But now it is proving itself in the face of new 
challenges, as well--from protecting the environment to fighting AIDS, 
to stopping the spread of deadly weapons. We are allies today, because 
we share common values and a common vision of the future, rooted in 
democracy, human rights, and political pluralism.
    Mr. Prime Minister, you have been in office less than a year, but 
already you have taken important steps in meeting the challenges that 
face you and reaching the goals that unite us. Our nations are proud to 
reaffirm our partnership for the new century. We value our security 
relationship, what it does to build peace in northeast Asia, our common 
efforts in Indonesia, and Japan's consistent contributions to relief 
efforts so far from your shores, from Central America to the Middle East 
and, now, to Kosovo.
    The economic difficulties of recent years have been a challenge to 
many people in Japan and throughout Asia. But with the right choices, 
Japan--and Asia--will emerge stronger, more open, more democratic, 
better adapted to meet the 21st century.
    In just a few years, we will mark the 150th anniversary of our 
relationship. The Japanese and the American people have come a great 
distance in that time together. We work together; our children study 
together; our Armed Forces have served together. We even share a 
national pastime. In fact, just last Saturday, at a time when American 
Major League Baseball teams all across the country are competing for 
Japanese pitching talent, a new pitcher from across the Pacific threw 
out the first ball at Wrigley Field. Mr. Prime Minister, you did a fine 
job. [Laughter]
    Mr. Prime Minister, the Japanese-American friendship is testament to 
the basic truth that with trust and understanding and genuine 
partnership, we can meet the challenges of the new century and give our 
children a more peaceful and prosperous future.
    Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Obuchi, you honor us with your visit and, 
again, we welcome you to the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 9:55 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White 
House, where Prime Minister Obuchi was accorded a formal welcome with 
full military honors. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister 
Obuchi's wife, Chizuko. The transcript made available by the Office of 
the Press Secretary also included the remarks of the Prime Minister.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 786-796]
Monday, May 10, 1999
Volume 35--Number 18
Pages 773-831
Week Ending Friday, May 7, 1999
The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Obuchi

May 3, 1999

    President Clinton. Good afternoon. Please be seated. It is a great 
honor to welcome my friend and a friend of the American people, Prime 
Minister Obuchi, to Washington. I want to say a few words about our 
meeting today, but first let me say how very pleased I am that our three 
servicemen are coming home from Serbia, and to express my thanks to 
Reverend Jackson and his entire delegation for their hard work in 
securing their freedom.
    While we are very thankful for their release, let me be clear why 
the military operations must continue. Three Americans are home. Their 
families, their friends, and the American people whom they have served 
faithfully must be grateful. But nearly 1\1/2\ million Kosovars are not 
home. In fact, 2 days ago, as our prayers for our soldiers were being 
answered, Serbian soldiers were entering the Kosovar town of Prizren, 
going door to door, ordering everyone to leave or be killed. In a few 
hours, all 10,000 who lived there were forced to flee. When will these 
people see their homes again, with the safety and rights Mr. Milosevic 
has often pledged, but never delivered?
    Remember, what is going on in Kosovo is part of a decade-long policy 
of ethnic and religious subjugation and cleansing, involving expulsion, 
destruction of records and symbols of history and culture, and, 
ultimately, rape and murder.
    Our conditions for ending the bombing are not complicated. The 
Kosovars must be able to go home with security and self-government. 
Serbian security forces must leave Kosovo. An international security 
force must deploy with the power not just to monitor

[[Page 787]]

but to protect all the people of Kosovo--Albanians and Serbs, alike. Our 
air campaign cannot stop until Mr. Milosevic shows he is ready to end 
the nightmare for the people of Kosovo.
    I want to thank Prime Minister Obuchi for Japan's strong support of 
our efforts in Kosovo and for its contribution of $200 million to aid 
the Kosovar refugees and to help them rebuild. All freedom-loving people 
are grateful to Japan for this generosity.
    Underlying this act and, indeed, all the policies we discussed 
today, are two basic facts: First, the United States and Japan have 
common ideals, common interests, a common purpose in the world. Second, 
as the world's two largest industrial democracies, with less than 10 
percent of the world's people, we produce about 40 percent of the 
world's wealth. We have unique responsibilities. We discussed them 
today, beginning with our security alliance.
    We in America are gratified that the lower house of Japan's Diet now 
has approved a new set of U.S.-Japan defense guidelines to allow us to 
respond with flexibility and speed to any regional crisis in Asia.
    We spoke about North Korea and the concerns we share about its 
missile and nuclear programs. We're grateful for Japan's continued 
support for the Korean Energy Development Organization, which is 
critical to our effort to diminish the threat of proliferation on the 
Korean Peninsula.
    We spoke about the difficult but profoundly important transition to 
democracy in Indonesia. Our countries have pledged around $30 million 
each to support elections there in June. We applaud President Habibie's 
commitment to give the people of East Timor a free choice in determining 
their future. We should support a meaningful U.N. presence in East Timor 
so its people can make their choice in safety and peace.
    Finally, we had a good discussion about Japan's economic situation 
and its strong efforts to build a stable, growing economy for the next 
century. I want to commend the Prime Minister for taking a number of 
very strong steps to restructure Japan's banking system and stimulate 
its economy.
    No one should underestimate the challenges the Prime Minister is 
facing. The Japanese people are going through a period of wrenching 
change. This dislocation, however, is not the result of reform; it is 
the reason reform is necessary. All of us have to change. And we also 
respect the deep desire of the leaders and the people of Japan to go 
through this change in a way that leaves no one behind and brings their 
people closer together.
    Until lasting recovery is at hand, we hope Japan will use all 
available tools to restore solid growth. I'm very pleased that we have 
reached agreement under which Japan will take steps to deregulate and to 
open its medical device, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, housing, 
and energy sectors, as well as agreements to enhance antitrust 
cooperation between our countries, and make it easier for foreign 
companies to invest in Japan. We agreed today to work toward a third 
deregulation report by the end of March next year.
    We must also fully implement our trade agreements, including 
critical sectors such as insurance, flat glass, government procurement, 
autos, and auto parts.
    On the profoundly important issue of steel, we have made progress. 
But I reiterated that we will take action if steel imports do not return 
to their precrisis levels on a consistent basis. Playing by the rules of 
trade is the best way to sustain a consensus for open trade. I have 
fought for both objectives. It will help Japan adapt to the challenges 
of the new global economy.
    Last week the Prime Minister wrote a remarkable article in the New 
York Times in which he said something I believe. And I quote: ``When 
Japan overcomes its current economic difficulties, it will emerge a more 
vibrant and flexible society and in an even stronger support--position 
to support the values we share so deeply with the United States.''
    Mr. Prime Minister, that is a goal we will advance together, as 
allies and as friends. Again, I welcome you to the United States, and 
the floor is yours.
    Prime Minister Obuchi. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'd first 
of all like to express my sincere gratitude to the President for 
inviting me to pay an official visit to the United States and to the 
Government and

[[Page 788]]

the people of the U.S. for their very warm welcome.
    Prior to my arrival here in Washington, I visited Los Angeles and 

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