THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Warsaw, Poland) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 6, 1994
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON AND PRESIDENT ULMANIS AT FREEDOM MONUMENT Freedom Monument Riga, Latvia
2:33 P.M. (L)
PRESIDENT ULMANIS: Mr. President. Mrs. Clinton. President Meri. President Brazauskas. Honored guests and all those gathered here and who can see or hear me. This is a great moment. For the first time in the history of the Baltic States, it's the first time in Latvia's 76 year existence an American President is on our soil. (Applause.)
In the name of the people of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, I welcome you, Mr. President, to Riga. (Applause.) This day will take its place in history and in the hearts of many, not only as an (inaudible) but also as a symbol of your country's support for Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian freedom and independence. For your speech you have chosen the appropriate site, our homeland and freedom symbol that rises above our heads and which is understood by all.
Whether a small or a large country, freedom is equally cherished by all. This monument has not been raised in honor of a special hero or to commemorate a special event. Through individual contributions it has been chiseled out of respect and commemoration to freedom in order to live, in order to exist and in order that we can look to the future in hope.
The loss of the Baltic State independence as a result of (inaudible) prompted an invitation to action to the League of Nations of which Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were members. Mr. President, we are convinced, and our conviction is strengthened by this shared moment with you, that nothing like that will happen again. We hope and await that in the next months foreign troops will leave Estonia and Latvia, which were never invited -- (applause) -- which were never invited and whose presence can be interpreted as a fact of occupation. (Applause.)
The most beautiful flowers have been brought here to the monument to commemorate the memory of countless victims whose lives have been trampled by foreign powers. The Latvian people whose ancestors lived here by the Baltic Sea for 4,000 years is one of the few European nations that, as a result of genocide, has shrunk in numbers since the turn of the last century. A similar fate holds true for the Estonians and Lithuanians. The objectives of Baltic States are clear: our path leads in a direction of democracy and free markets.
To rejoin the family of independent states is a difficult and complicated responsibility. Lacking in experience, we may not use all the available opportunities and occasionally we make mistakes. And in working to renew our independence and our democratic institutions, our strength is sapped by lies and hateful propaganda. In these moments it is worthwhile to remember what we were taught at school -- the use of force is not a just argument, irrespective of what hides behind the mask.
Mr. President, the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian people express their appreciation of the United States of America for expanding support, unending support and trust in the Baltic States. We will, in the future, as now, rely on America's democratic traditions and your countrymen's characteristic love of freedom. We are convinced that on American maps the Baltic States are fixed in perpetuity. We strongly believe that, like your and our children, they will have a place in the world which we jointly need to create as a better and just place.
We do not doubt, Mr. President, that this trip will bring you and the American people closer to the Baltic States. I hope that America will not forget what happened to us during the mid-course of this century. The suffering of people and their victimization should not have been for nothing, but should be an historical lesson. This is also chiseled in this monument, which invites us to work for a better future keeping to the stars above us.
God bless Latvia. (Applause.) God bless Lithuania and Estonia. (Applause.) God bless America. (Applause.) And, now, President of the USA, William Clinton, will address you. Thank you. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Today we celebrate a moment of renewal. Today we remember your courage. Today we rejoice; for one force rules in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and that force is freedom. (Applause.) Thank you, President Ulmanis, for your gracious words and your warm welcome to this beautiful capital. And my thanks, also, to President Meri and President Brazauskas for your contribution to this historic event.
To the people of these lands, to those gathered in this square, to those listening or watching from afar, to all who have kept the faith, I am deeply honored to stand before you, the first President of the United States to set foot on free Baltic soil. (Applause.)
Today we remember, we remember an August day just five years ago when the peoples of your nation join hands in common cause from Tallinn to Vilnius, a million strong, you reached across the boundaries of fear. And here in this Square, sheltered by the Freedom Monument, that human chain found its center. You showed the peoples of the world the power of the Baltic way.
Now, today, I stand with you here. And on behalf of all Americans, I proudly take a place in that unbroken chain for freedom. (Applause.) The chain stretches back to your grandparents exiled to the wastelands of Siberia, many never to return; back to your fathers, men who took to the forests to resist the occupying troops -- (applause) -- and to you, who took up their cause, stood vigil over the bonfires of liberty and sang the songs of independence. And to those in all generations who gave their very lives for freedom. (President speaks in Latvian.) Freedom. (Applause).
No matter what the language, it is the link that unites the peoples of our nation: Estonian, Lithuanian, Latvian and American, no matter the century, no matter the invader. You have proved that freedom never dies when it lives in the hearts of men and women. You have taught us never to give up. You have inspired the world. And America has kept faith with you. For 50 years we refused to recognize the occupation of your nation. (Applause.) Your flag flew in our capital.
Many of your countrymen and women sought refuge on our shores. Now some have returned to serve their homelands, while others remain to keep your spirit alive all across America. The chain that binds our nations in unbreakable. (Applause.) We marvel at your strength and your reborn independence. But we know, also, that many of you face hardship and uncertainty in your daily lives, for the path of reform is not always smooth. Yet America calls on you to hold fast to that path, to seize this moment of renewal, to redeem the struggles of your ancestors, to extend the chain of freedom so that it reaches across generations to your children and beyond.
And as you return to Europe's fold, we will stand with you. We will help you. (Applause.) We will help you to restore your land, to bring new markets to light, to find prosperity for all your people. And we will rejoice with you when the last of the foreign troops vanish from your homelands. (Applause.) We will be partners for peace. Our soldiers, the new Baltic battalion among them, will join together to bring security to a new Europe. We will be partners so that your nation can be forever free. (Applause.)
I come from a nation of people drawn from all around the world. A nation of many, many peoples who once were bitter enemies, but who now live together as friends. In your homeland, as in America, there will always live among you people of different backgrounds. Today I appeal to you to summon what my nation's greatest healer, Abraham Lincoln, called "the better angels of our nature," to never to deny to others the justice and equality you fought so hard for and earned for yourselves.
For freedom without tolerance is freedom unfulfilled. The shining figure of liberty stands guard here today and the spirit of your peoples fills the air and brings joy to our hearts. We hear the songs of freedom that have echoed across the centuries. We see the flames that lit your way to independence. We feel the courage that will keep the chain of freedom alive. May the memories of this day linger. May the spirit of the Baltic souls soar. May the strong sense of freedom never fade. So, in the name of the free people of the United States of America, I say to the free people of the Baltic Nations: Let freedom ring. Vabadus! Laisves! Briviba! Freedom! (Applause.)
END2:50 P.M. (L)