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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 22, 1994
                      AT STATE ARRIVAL CEREMONY
                            The South Lawn

11:08 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. President, Mrs. Kuchma, members of the Ukrainian delegation, representatives of the UkrainianAmerican community, distinguished guests.

It is indeed an honor to welcome to Washington the leader of one of the world's youngest democracies and oldest nations. To have you here with us today, Mr. President, is to be reminded that live in a era of wonders, a time when people's long-denied hope or having age-old dreams fulfilled, a time when the unstoppable power of men and women who wish to be free has been demonstrated anew.

The rebirth of Ukraine as an independent state after centuries of rule by others is one of the most inspiring developments of our time. For ages Ukraine was divided by competing empires, then subjugated to tsars and commissars.

Despite efforts to create an independent Ukraine, dictators, terrible famines and relentless oppression all combined to deny your people the right to shape their fate. Despite these ordeals, the Ukrainian people have endured, preserving hope and their identity and contributing greatly to the glories of European civilization. Now, finally, Ukraine has reclaimed its independence and its place as a pivotal state in the new Europe.

We congratulate you, Mr. President, and all Ukrainians on your remarkable achievements in the almost three years since regaining your freedom. You held a historic referendum and began the hard work of reform and building democratic institutions. Above all, Ukrainians are weathering the immense difficulties of political and economic transition. In the face of continuous hardship, you have shown patience, bravery and the ability to overcome all obstacles -- an ability your young athletes like Oskana Baiul showed so spectacularly in the Olympic competition.

We honor you, Mr. President, in our nation's capital as the man who is leading a Ukrainian renaissance. Your boldness in the face of daunting problems reminds us of one of our greatest leaders, Franklin Roosevelt, who provided leadership in a time of great hardship in the United States. Like him, you inherited a nation in the throes of economic depression. And like him, you have lighted the darkness and created hope.

You have blazed a path ahead on the two most critical issues for the future: economic reform and nuclear weapons. Thanks to your leadership, Ukraine is making the hard choices that will ensure the prosperity Ukrainians deserve.

Thanks to your vision and that of the Ukrainian Parliament, you are removing the threat of nuclear weapons and laying the groundwork for an era of peace with your neighbors. I salute the courage you have shown. America will stand with you to support your independence, your territorial integrity, and your reforms. We are bound together by a dedication to peace and a devotion to freedom.

The flame of that commitment to freedom was kept burning during the Cold War by nearly a million Ukrainian Americans, some of whom are with us here today, who never forgot Ukraine and who are today contributing to its reawakening. (Applause.)

Now that your country is again free, all Americans are determined that the flame of Ukrainian freedom will burn ever brighter. We will stand with you.

Seventy-seven years ago today, Mr. President, on November 22nd, 1917, another generation of Ukrainian leaders declared the independence of Ukraine. It was a tragedy that civil war and bolshevism doomed that new state while it was still in its infancy.

Today, we are pleased and honored to welcome you, the leader of a Ukraine that is conquering the challenges of independence -- poised to fulfill its hopes, a nation that will grow into one of the great nations of Europe. And we say, Vitayemo. (Applause.) Welcome. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT KUCHMA: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great honor and great responsibility to address you now at this place. And I am grateful to Mr. President and the people of the United States for this possibility.

This beautiful lawn in front of the White House has got a specific feature, the words pronounced here belong to the whole of the world history and mankind.

Understanding and taking it into account, I would like the main thing all of us present here witness a great process -- the process of changes of the whole civilizations. An epoch of the global confrontation of two political systems with enormous military risk and economic wastefulness is over.

We are lucky that an attempt of expansion of totalitarian political structures to assault against the human rights values and freedoms of civilization was a failure. It was not the West who conquered, who gained victory, but that was the victory of the model of life which appreciates, most of all, a human being, its personality, and gives space for its self-realization.

It is a special pleasure for me to say this in the United States of America, the great country where a human being has conquered its place not only from nature, but from politics, and with set hopes to become good and reliable partners for the United States in its efforts to transform the old -- (inaudible) -- into the era of victory of democratic values, civilization and high responsibility of states for the destiny and well-being of their peoples.

Today, they say that Ukraine is a poor country. We are not a poor country, we are a young country and an experienced one. That is why we are ready to learn in the sphere of economics, politics, humanism, the best examples of other countries.

This is the aim of my visit to the United States. At his time, your great President Abraham Lincoln was said that he should pray so that God is on the side of his people. Mr. Lincoln replied that he would not pray for that, for sometimes happen that people can make mistakes, and only God is always right -- adding that he would pray so that his people would be with God.

I am confident that both the American and Ukrainian peoples, moving along that avenue which I have mentioned, will be together and with God.

Thank you. (Applause.)

END11:25 A.M. EST