THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON AND PRESIDENT KUCHMA IN AN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS
State Dining Room
8:28 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Ladies and gentlemen, President Kuchma, Mrs. Kuchma, members of the Ukrainian delegation, diplomatic corps, Ukrainian Americans and distinguished guests, tonight we meet to celebrate a new friendship between our two nations and a new freedom for the people of the Ukraine. We also celebrate our peoples' devotion to the shared values that produce peace and prosperity. In a time when it is tempting to take the easy way out, Ukraine has set for itself the highest goals.
Mr. President, people around the world admire you for your wisdom in leading your country toward a non-nuclear future -- a move now heralded around the world. And we applaud your courage on embarking on the difficult path of economic reform, a path that holds the promise of turning the vast resources of your country into real prosperity. As you strive to build a peaceful and prosperous Ukraine, we will stand by you and work with you.
The Slavic root of the name Ukraine means borderland, but the independent Ukraine of today is at the very heart of Europe. It occupies a central place in our world. Our freedom and your freedom are bound together. We share the same desire to build a safer and better world for our children.
Mr. President, you are renowned as the man who ran Pivdenmash, the largest aerospace plant in the world. Just as you brought that vast operation to the pinnacle of technical excellence, we know you will be able to bring the hard work of reform down to earth, and that you will deploy all your engineering skill to the construction of a new democratic nation. I might also add that a democratic Ukraine supports the idea of a democratic Russia, which is best for Russia, Ukraine and the United States.
Let me close with a story. More than a century ago in the winter of 1858, the great Ukrainian national poet, Taras Shevchenko, had just returned to St. Petersburg from internal exile in the Russian Far East. There he met the acclaimed American black actor, Ira Aldridge, who was in the city performing Shakespeare. The son of Ukrainian serfs and the son of American slaves became fast friends. Theirs was a friendship born of shared ideals -- above all the dream of freedom for all peoples. It was that dream that led Shevchenko to condemn despotism with the line, "Freedom knows no dying." Ira Aldridge was so impressed by his friend Shevchenko that it was said of him that forever after he carried Ukraine in his heart.
The steadfast devotion to freedom that brought Shevchenko and Aldridge together has also brought us together tonight. So I ask all of you to join me in a toast to President and Mrs. Kuchma, to the growing friendship of our peoples and the bright future of a prosperous and free Ukraine.
(A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT KUCHMA: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen: The first full day of the Ukrainian-American summit is coming to an end. I think that, Mr. President, that we could preliminarily sum up some of our meetings and talks -- frank talks, a well-grounded exchange of ideas, interesting for both sides as for the existing problems, and common resoluteness to solve them earlier and in a more efficient way. All this proves, and it is pleasant for me to stress it, that in our bilateral relations we are reaching a qualitatively new stage. And this is nice, for it is practically required.
Never before, relationships between Ukraine, which exists as an independent state for more than three years, and the United States, which have more than 20 years of experience of democratic development, have never reached such a level. That is why it is important not only to hold out the achieved level of these relationships, but to go further, consistently enriching them with new contents and to carry on looking for new forms for mutual beneficial cooperation.
I'd like to use this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to you personally, Mr. President; to the officials of the White House, of the State Department of the United States, other ministries, departments and agencies of this great country, high dignitaries present at this dinner who contributed to the success of this state visit. I'm confident that practical results achieved by joint efforts create nice preconditions for the development of bilateral cooperation for the nearest future.
I am grateful for the possibility to spend this evening with you. We have got proof again in the hospitality of the American people. I confirm my invitation to you, Mr. President, to come with a state visit to Ukraine, where you can get even greater proof than during your short stop-over in the airport that Ukrainian people is hospitable and benevolent. We would be happy to welcome you and your wife on our land as representatives of the great state with which Ukraine wants to live and cooperate in peace, friendship and concord.
And I cannot but mention the wise words in this building of the President of the United States of America, George Washington, who said that if you hold dear your reputation, then deal only with worthy people, for it is better to be alone than in unworthy company. I am confident that Ukrainian and American people can be worthy partners. For this we require only a certain time. As for political will, as I have told and wish, we have them, and this is the principal thing.
I would like to use also this opportunity so that on behalf of the people of Ukraine to congratulate in your honorable person, Mr. President, all American people and all those present here, with the forthcoming Thanksgiving Day. I would like to add to the traditional content of this holiday cordial thanks on behalf of the people of Ukraine to the American people and to the leadership of your great country, for constant and extremely important support of our young state standing on the threshold of decisive economic transformations, further development of democracy, strengthening its political and economic independence. For us, this is the priority.
I propose a toast to the good health of his excellency, the President of the United States of America, Mr. William Clinton, and Mrs. Hillary Clinton; for the further development of friendly and partnership relationships; comprehensive, mutual beneficial cooperation between Ukraine and the United States of America; to the good health of all those present here.
(A toast is offered.)