THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 5, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE DUMA
10:10 A.M. (L)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: First of all, I thank you for that
introduction. And even though it is still in the morning, I am
delighted to be here, with the members of the state Duma and the
It is important to me to have this opportunity because the
prospects for virtually every important initiative President Putin and I
have discussed over the last two days will obviously depend upon your
advice and your consent, and because through you I can speak to the
citizens of Russia directly, those whom you represent.
I have made five trips to Russia in my years as President. I have
worked with President Yeltsin and now with President Putin. I have met
with the leadership of the Duma on more than one occasion. I have
spoken with Russia's religious leaders, with the media, with educators,
scientists and students. I have listened to Russian people tell me
about their vision of the future, and I have tried to be quite open
about my own vision of the future. I have come here at moments of
extraordinary optimism about Russia's march toward prosperity and
freedom, and I've been here at moments of great difficulty for you.
I believed very strongly from the first time I came here that
Russia's future fundamentally is in the hands of the Russian people. It
cannot be determined by others, and it should not be. But Russia's
future is very important to others, because it is among the most
important journeys the world will witness in my lifetime. A great deal
of the 21st century will be strongly influenced by the success of the
Russian people in building a modern, strong, democratic nation that is
part of the life of the rest of the world.
And so, many people across the world have sought to support your
efforts, sharing with you a sense of pride when democracy is advanced,
and sharing your disappointment when difficulties arose.
It is obviously not for me to tell the Russian people how to
interpret the last few years. I know your progress has come with
unfilled expectations and unexpected difficulties. I know there have
been moments, especially during the financial crisis in 1998, when some
wondered if the new Russia would end up as a grand social experiment
gone wrong. But when we look at Russia today, we do not see an
experiment gone wrong.
We see an economy that is growing, producing goods and services
people want. We see a nation of enterprising citizens who are
beginning, despite all of the obstacles, to bring good jobs and a normal
life to their communities. We see a society with 65,000 nongovernmental
organizations, like Eco-juris, which is helping citizens defend their
rights in court, like Vozrozhdenie, which is aiding families with
disabled children, like the local chambers of commerce that have sprung
up all across Russia.
We see a country of people taking responsibility for their future
-- people like those of Gadzhiyevo on the Arctic Circle who organized a
referendum to protect the environment of their town. We see a country
transforming its system of higher education to meet the demands of the
modern world, with institutions like the new Law Factory at Novgorod
University, and the New Economic School in Moscow.
We see a country preserving its magnificent literary heritage, as
the Pushkin Library is doing in its efforts to replenish the shelves of
libraries all across Russia. We see a country entering the Information
Age, with cutting-edge software companies, with Internet centers at
universities from Kazan to Ufa to Yakutsk, with a whole generation of
young people more connected to the outside world than any past
generation could have imagined.
We see Russian citizens with no illusions about the road ahead, yet
voting in extraordinary numbers against a return to the past. We see a
Russia that has just completed a democratic transfer of executive power
for the first time in a thousand years.
I would not presume to tell the people you represent how to weigh
the gains of freedom against the pain of economic hardship, corruption,
crime. I know the people of Russia do not yet have the Russia they were
promised in 1991. But I believe you, and they, now have a realistic
chance to build that kind of Russia for yourselves in far greater
measure than a decade ago, because of the democratic foundations that
have been laid and the choices that have been made.
The world faces a very different Russia than it did in 1991. Like
all countries, Russia also faces a very different world. Its defining
feature is globalization, the tearing down of boundaries between people,
nations and cultures, so that what happens anywhere can have an impact
During the 1990s, the volume of international trade almost doubled.
Links among businesses, universities, advocacy groups, charities and
churches have multiplied across physical space and cyberspace. In the
developing world some of the poorest villages are beginning to be
connected to the Information Superhighway in ways that are opening up
unbelievable opportunities for education and for development.
The Russian people did more than just about anyone else to make
possible this new world of globalization, by ending the divisions of the
Cold War. Now Russia, America, and all nations are subject to new rules
of the global economy. One of those rules, to adapt a phrase from your
history, is that it's no longer possible to build prosperity in one
country alone. To prosper, our economies must be competitive in a
global marketplace; and to compete, the most important resource we must
develop is our own people, giving them the tools and freedom to reach
their full potential.
This is the challenge we have tried to meet in America over the
last few years. Indeed, the changes we have seen in the global economy
pose hard questions that both our nations still must answer. A
fundamental question is: How do we define our strength and vitality as
a nation today, and what role should government play in building it?
Some people actually believe that government is no longer relevant
at all to people's lives in a globalized, interconnected world. Since
all of us hold government positions, I presume we disagree. But I
believe experience shows that government, while it must be less
bureaucratic and more oriented toward the markets, and while it should
focus on empowering people by investing in education and training rather
than simply accruing power for itself, it is still very important.
Above all, a strong state should use its strength to reinforce the
rule of law, protect the powerless against the powerful, defend
democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression, religion and the
press, and do whatever is possible to give everyone a chance to develop
his or her innate abilities.
This is true, I believe, for any society seeking to advance in the
modern world. For any society in any part of the world that is
increasingly small and tied together, the answer to law without order is
not order without law.
Another fundamental question is: How shall countries define their
strength in relation to the rest of the world today? Shall we define it
as the power to dominate our neighbors or the confidence to be a good
neighbor? Shall we define it by what we are against, or simply in terms
of what others are for? Do we join with others in common endeavors to
advance common interests, or do we try to bend others to our will?
This federal assembly's ratification of START II and the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty suggests you are answering these questions
in a way that will make for both a stronger Russia and a better world,
defining your strength in terms of the achievements of your people and
the power of your partnerships, and your role in world affairs.
A related question for both Russia and America is: How should we
define our relationship today? Clearly, Russia has entered a phase when
what it needs most is outside investment, not aid. What Americans must
ask is not so much what can we do for Russia, but what can we do with
Russia to advance our common interests and lift people in both nations?
To build that kind of relationship, we Americans have to overcome
the temptation to think that we have all the answers. We have to resist
the feeling that if only you would see things our way, troubles would go
away. Russia will not, and indeed should not, choose a course simply
because others wish you to do so. You will choose what your interests
clearly demand and what your people democratically embrace.
I think one problem we have is that many Russians still suspect
that America does not wish you well. Thus, you tend to see our
relationship in what we call zero-sum terms, assuming that every
assertion of American power must diminish Russia, and every assertion of
Russian strength must threaten America. That is not true. The United
States wants a strong Russia, a Russia strong enough to protect its
territorial integrity while respecting that of its neighbors; strong
enough to meet threats to its security; to help maintain strategic
stability; to join with others to meet common goals; to give its people
their chance to live their dreams.
Of course, our interests are not identical, and we will have our
inevitable disagreements. But on many issues that matter to our people,
our interests coincide. And we have an obligation, it seems to me, to
focus on the goals we can and should advance together in our mutual
interest, and to manage our differences in a responsible and respectful
What can we do together in the years to come? Well, one thing we
ought to do is to build a normal economic relationship, based on trade
and investment between our countries and contact between our people. We
have never had a better opportunity, and I hope you will do what you can
to seize it.
This is the time, when Russia's economy is growing and oil prices
are high, when I hope Russia will create a more diversified economy.
The economies that will build power in the 21st century will be built
not just on resources from the soil, which are limited, but on the
genius and initiative of individual citizens, which are unlimited.
This is a time when I hope you will finish putting in place the
institutions of a modern economy, with laws that protect property, that
ensure openness and accountability, that establish an efficient,
equitable tax code. Such an economy would keep Russian capital in
Russia, and bring foreign capital to Russia, both necessary for the kind
of investment you deserve, to create jobs for your people and new
businesses for your future.
This is a time to win the fight against crime and corruption, so
that investment will not choose safer shores. That is why I hope you
will soon pass a strong law against money laundering that meets
This is also the time I hope Russia will make an all-out effort to
take the needed steps to join the World Trade Organization. Membership
in the WTO reinforces economic reform. It will give you better access
to foreign markets. It will ensure that your trading partners treat you
fairly. Russia should not be the only major industrialized country
standing outside this global trading system. You should be inside this
system, with China, Brazil, Japan, members of the European Union and the
United States, helping to shape those rules for the benefit of all.
We will support you. But you must know, too, that the decision to
join the WTO requires difficult choices that only you can make. I think
it is very important. Again, I will say I think you should be part of
making the rules of the road for the 21st century economy, in no small
measure because I know you believe in the importance of the social
contract, and you understand that we cannot have a world economy unless
we also have some rules that people in the world respect regarding the
living standards of people -- the conditions in which our children are
raised, whether they have access to education, and whether we do what
should be done together to protect the global environment.
A second goal of our partnership should be to meet threats to our
security together. The same advances that are bringing the world
together are also making the tools of destruction deadlier, cheaper, and
more available. As you well know, because of this openness of borders,
because of the openness of the Internet, and because of the advances of
technology, we are all more vulnerable to terrorism, to organized crime,
to the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons -- which
themselves may some day be transferred, soon, in smaller and smaller
quantities, across more and more borders, by unscrupulous illegal groups
working together. In such a world, to protect our security we must have
more cooperation, not more competition, among like-minded nation states.
Since 1991, we have already cooperated to cut our own nuclear
arsenals by 40 percent; in removing nuclear weapons from Belarus,
Ukraine, and Kazakhstan; in fighting illicit trafficking in deadly
technology. Together, we extended the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,
banned chemical weapons, agreed to end nuclear testing, urged India and
Pakistan to back away from nuclear confrontation.
Yesterday, President Putin and I announced two more important
steps. Each of us will destroy 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium,
enough to build thousands of nuclear weapons. And we will establish a
system to give each other early warning of missile tests and space
launches to avoid any miscalculation, with a joint center here that will
operate out of Moscow 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- the first
permanent, joint United States-Russian military cooperation ever. I am
proud of this record, and I hope you are, too.
We will continue to reduce our nuclear arsenals by negotiating a
START III treaty, and to secure the weapons and materials that remain.
But we must be realistic. Despite our best efforts, the possibility
exists that nuclear and other deadly weapons will fall into dangerous
hands, into hands that could threaten us both -- rogue states,
terrorists, organized criminal groups.
The technology required to launch missiles capable of delivering
them over long distances, unfortunately, is still spreading across the
world. The question is not whether this threat is emerging; it is. The
question is, what is the best way to deal with it. It is my strong
preference that any response to strengthen the strategic stability and
arms control regime that has served our two nations so well for decades
now -- if we can pursue that goal together, we will all be more secure.
Now, as all of you know well, soon I will be required to decide
whether the United States should deploy a limited national defense
system designed to protect the American people against the most imminent
of these threats. I will consider, as I have repeatedly said, many
factors, including the nature of threat, the cost of meeting it, the
effectiveness of the available technology, and the impact of this
decision on our overall security, including our relationship with Russia
and other nations, and the need to preserve the ABM Treaty.
The system we are contemplating would not undermine Russia's
deterrent, or the principles of mutual deterrence and strategic
stability. That is not a question just of our intent, but of the
technical capabilities of the system. But I ask you to think about
this, to debate it -- as I know you will -- to determine for yourselves
what the capacity of what we have proposed is -- because I learned on my
trip to Russia that the biggest debate is not whether we intend to do
something that will undermine mutual deterrence -- I think most people
who have worked with us, not just me and others, over the years know
that we find any future apart from cooperation with you in the nuclear
area inconceivable. The real question is a debate over what the impact
of this will be, because of the capacity of the technology involved.
And I believe that is a question of fact which people of good will
ought to be able to determine. And I believe we ought to be able to
reach an agreement about how we should proceed at each step along the
way here, in a way that preserves mutual deterrence, preserves strategic
stability, and preserves the ABM Treaty. That is my goal. And if we
can reach an agreement about how we're going forward, then it is
something we ought to take in good faith to the Chinese, to the
Japanese, to others who are interested in this, to try to make sure that
this makes a safer world, not a more unstable world.
I think we've made some progress, and I would urge all of you who
are interested in this to carefully read the Statement of Principles to
which President Putin and I agreed yesterday.
Let me say that this whole debate on missile defense and the nature
of the threat reflects a larger and, I think, more basic truth. As we
and other nation states look out on the world today, increasingly we
find that the fundamental threat to our security is not the threat that
we pose to each other, but instead, threats we face in common -- threats
from terrorist and rogue states, from biological, chemical and nuclear
weapons which may be able to be produced in increasingly smaller and
more sophisticated ways. Public health threats, like AIDS and
tuberculosis, which are now claiming millions of lives around the world,
and which literally are on the verge of ruining economies and
threatening the survival of some nations. The world needs our
leadership in this fight as well. And when President Putin and I go to
the G-8 meeting in July, I hope we can support a global strategy against
There is a global security threat caused by environmental pollution
and global warming. We must meet it with strong institutions at home
and with leadership abroad.
Fortunately, one of the benefits of the globalized Information Age
is that it is now possible to grow an economy without destroying the
environment. Thanks to incredible advances in science and technology
over the last 10 years, a whole new aspect in economic growth has opened
up. It only remains to see whether we are wise enough to work together
to do this, because the United States does not have the right to ask any
nation -- not Russia, not China, not India -- to give up future economic
growth to combat the problem of climate change. What we do have is the
opportunity to persuade every nation, including people in our own
country who don't yet believe it, that we can grow together in the 21st
century and actually reduce greenhouse gases at the same time.
I think a big part of making that transition benefits Russia,
because of your great stores of natural gas. And so I hope we will be
working closely together on this in the years ahead.
In the Kyoto climate change treaty, we committed ourselves to tie
market forces to the fight against global warming. And today, on this
World Environment Day, I'm pleased that President Putin and I have
agreed to deepen our own cooperation on climate change.
This is a huge problem. If we don't deal with this within just a
few years, you will have island nations flooded; you will have the
agricultural balance of most countries completely changed; you will have
a dramatic increase in the number of severe, unmanageable weather
events. And the good news is that we can now deal with this problem --
again I say, and strengthen our economic growth, not weaken it.
A third challenge that demands our engagement is the need to build
a world that is less divided along ethnic, racial and religious lines.
It is truly ironic, I think, that we can go anywhere in the world and
have the same kinds of conversations about the nature of the global
information society. Not long ago, I was in India in a poor village,
meeting with a women's milk cooperative. And the thing they wanted me
to see was that they had computerized all their records. And then I met
with the local village council, and the thing they wanted me to see in
this remote village, in a nation with a per capita income of only $450 a
year, was that all the information that the federal and state government
had that any citizen could ever want was on a computer in the public
building in this little village.
And I watched a mother that had just given birth to a baby come
into this little public building and call up the information about how
to care for the child, and then print it out on her computer, so that
she took home with her information every bit as good as a well-to-do
American mother could get from her doctor about how to care for a child
in the first six months.
It is truly ironic that at a time when we're living in this sort of
world with all these modern potentials, that we are grappling with our
oldest problems of human society -- our tendency to fear, and then to
hate people who are different from us. We see it from Northern Ireland
to the Middle East to the tribal conflicts of Africa, to the Balkans and
many other places on this Earth.
Russia and America should be concerned about this because the
stability of both of our societies depends upon people of very different
ethnic, racial and religious groups learning to live together under a
common framework of rules. And history teaches us that harmony that
lasts among such different people cannot be maintained by force alone.
I know when trying to come to grips with these problems, these old
problems of the modern world, the United States and Russia have faced
some of our greatest difficulties in the last few years. I know you
disagreed with what I did in Kosovo, and you know that I disagreed with
what you did in Chechnya. I have always said that the Russian people
and every other people have a right to combat terrorism and to preserve
the integrity of their nations. I still believe it, and I reaffirmed
that today. My question in Chechnya was an honest one and the question
of a friend, and that is whether any war can be won that requires large
numbers of civilian casualties and has no political component bringing
about a solution.
Let me say, in Kosovo my position was whether we could ever
preserve a democratic and free Europe unless Southeastern Europe were a
part of it, and whether any people could every say that everyone is
entitled to live in peace if 800,000 people were driven out of a place
they had lived in for centuries solely because of their religion.
None of these questions will be easy, but I think we ought to ask
ourselves whether we are trying to resolve them. I remember going to
Kosovo after the conflict, after Russians and Americans had agreed to
serve there together as we have served in Bosnia effectively together,
and sitting down with all the people who represented the conflict around
the table. They would hardly speak to each other. They were still
angry; they were still thinking about their family members that had been
dislocated and killed.
So I said to them that I had just been involved in negotiating the
end of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and that I was very close to
the Irish conflict because all of my relatives came from a little
village in Ireland that was right on the border between the North and
the South, and therefore, had lived through all these years of conflict
between the Catholics and the Protestants.
And I said, now here's the deal we've got. The deal is majority
rule, minority rights, guaranteed participation in decision-making,
shared economic and other benefits. Majority rule; minority rights;
guaranteed participation in decision-making; shared economic and other
benefits. I said, now, it's a good deal, but what I would like to tell
you is that if they had ever stopped fighting, they could have gotten
this deal years ago.
And so I told the people of Kosovo, I said, you know, everybody
around this table has got a legitimate grievance. People on all sides,
you can tell some story that is true, and is legitimately true. Now,
you can make up your mind to bear this legitimate grievance with a
grudge for 20 or 30 years. And 20 or 30 years from now, somebody else
will be sitting in these chairs, and they will make a deal -- majority
rule, minority rights, shared decision-making, shared economic and other
benefits. You can make the deal now, or you can wait.
Those of us who are in a position of strong and stable societies,
we have to say this to people. We have to get people -- not just the
people who have been wronged, everybody has got a legitimate grievance
in these cauldrons of ethnic and racial and religious turmoil. But it's
something we have to think about. And as we see a success story, it's
something I think we ought to look for other opportunities to advance.
Real peace in life comes not when you give up the feelings you have
that are wrong, but when you give up the feelings you have that are
right, in terms of having been wronged in the past. That's how people
finally come together and go on. And those of us who lead big countries
should take that position and try to work through it.
Let me say, finally, a final security goal that I have, related to
all the others, is to help Europe build a community that is democratic,
at peace, and without divisions -- one that includes Russia, and
strengthens our ability to advance our common interest. We have never
had that kind of Europe before in all of history. So building it will
require changing old patterns of thinking. I was in Germany a couple of
days ago in the historical town of Aachen, where Charlemagne had his
European empire in the late 8th and early 9th centuries, to talk about
There are, I know, people who resist the idea that Russia should be
part of Europe, and who insist that Russia is fundamentally different
from the other nations that are building a united Europe. Of course,
there are historical and cultural arguments that support that position.
And it's a good thing that you are different and that we are different;
it makes life more interesting. But the differences between Russia and
France, for example, may not be any greater than those between Sweden
and Spain, or England and Greece, or even between America and Europe.
Integration within Europe and then the transatlantic alliance came about
because people who are different came together, not because people who
are the same came together.
Estrangement between Russia and the West, which lasted too long,
was not because of our inherent differences, but because we made choices
in how we defined our interests and our belief systems. We now have the
power to choose a different and a better future. We can do that by
integrating our economies, making common cause against common threats,
promoting ethnic and religious tolerance and human rights. We can do it
by making sure that none of the institutions of European and
transatlantic unity, not any of them, are closed to Russia.
You can decide whether you want to be a part of these institutions.
It should be entirely your decision. And we can have the right kind of
constructive partnership, whatever decision we make, as long as you know
that no doors to Europe's future are closed to you, and you can then
feel free to decide how best to pursue your own interests. If you
choose not to pursue full membership in these institutions, then we must
make sure that their Eastern borders become gateways for Russia instead
of barriers to travel, trade and security cooperation.
We also should work with others to help those in Europe who still
fear violence and are afraid they will not have a stable, secure future.
I am proud that, together, we have made the OSCE into an effective
champion of human rights in Europe. I am pleased that President Putin
and I recommitted ourselves yesterday to helping find a settlement to
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I am proud we have, together, adapted
the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, to reduce conventional arms in
Europe and eliminate the division of the continent in the military
blocs. I believe it is a hopeful thing that despite our different
outlook on the war in the former Yugoslavia, that our armed forces have
worked there together in both Bosnia and Kosovo to keep the peace.
We may still disagree about Kosovo, but now that the war is over,
let me say one other thing about Yugoslavia. I believe the people of
Serbia deserve to live in a normal country with the same freedoms the
people of Russia and America enjoy, with relationships with their
neighbors including Russia that will not constantly be interrupted by
vast flows of innocent people being forced out of their country or
threatened with their very lives.
The struggle in Belgrade now is not between Serbia and NATO, it is
between the Serbian people and their leaders. The Serbian people are
asking the world to back democracy and freedom. Our response to their
request does not have to be identical, but Russia and America should
both be on the side of the people of Serbia.
In the relationship we are building, we should try to stand abroad
for the values each of us has been building at home. I know the kind of
relationship that we would both like cannot be built overnight.
Russia's history, like America's, teaches us well that there are no
shortcuts to great achievements. But we have laid strong foundations.
It has helped a great deal that so many members of our Congress have
visited you here, and that a number of Duma committee chairmen visited
our Congress last month, that members of the Federation Council have
been invited to come to Washington.
I want to urge you, as many of you as can, to visit our country,
and invite members of our Congress to visit you. Let them understand
how the world looks from your perspective. Let them see how you do your
jobs. Tell them what you're worried about and where you disagree with
us. And give us a chance to build that base a common experience and
mutual trust that is so important to our future together. All of you
are always welcome to come and work with us in the United States. We
have to find a mutual understanding.
I also would say that the most important Russian-American
relationship still should be the relationship between our peoples -- the
student exchanges, the business partnerships, the collaboration among
universities and foundations and hospitals, the sister city links, the
growing family ties. Many of the Russians and Americans involved in
these exchanges are very young. They don't even have any adult memories
of the Cold War. They don't carry the burdens and baggage of the past;
just the universal, normal desire to build a good future with those who
share their hopes and dreams. We should do everything we can to
increase these exchanges, as well.
And finally, we must have a sense of responsibility for the future.
We are not destined to be adversaries. But it is not guaranteed that we
will be allies. For us, there is no fate waiting to be revealed, only a
future waiting to be created -- by the actions we take, the choices we
make, and the genuine views we have of one another and of our own
I leave you today looking to the future with the realistic hope
we will choose wisely; that we will continue to build a relationship of
mutual respect and mutual endeavor; that we will tell each other the
truth with clarity and candor as we see it, always striving to find
common ground, always remembering that the world we seek to bring into
being can come only if America and Russia are on the same side of
I believe we will do this, not because I know everything always
turns out well, but because I know our partnership, our relationship, is
fundamentally the right course for both nations. We have to learn to
identify and manage our disagreements because the relationship is
profoundly important to the future.
The governments our people elect will do what they think is right
for their own people. But they know that one thing that is right is
continuing to strengthen the relationship between Russia and the United
States. Our children will see the result -- a result that is more
prosperous and free and at peace than the world has ever known. That is
what I believe we can do.
I don't believe any American President has ever come to Russia five
times before. I came twice before that. That's when I was a very young
man and our relations were very different than they are now. All my
life, I have wanted the people of my country and the people of your
country to be friends and allies, to lead the world away from war toward
the dreams of children. I have done my best to do that.
I hope you will believe that that is the best course for both our
countries, and for our children's future.
Thank you very much.
END 10:55 A.M. (L)
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