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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 8, 1996


I learned with deep regret this morning of the death of former President of France Francois Mitterrand. During his fourteen years as President of the French Republic and in frequent service as a minister in the post-war years, President Mitterrand put his remarkable intellect and deep-rooted dedication to democracy at the service of the French nation.

Not only France, but the United States and the entire world benefited from his strong and principled leadership. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his NATO allies during the Soviet challenges of the early 1980's, the Gulf War, and the peaceful revolutions that ended a half-century of East-West confrontation. President Mitterrand's stalwart leadership during some of the Alliance's greatest challenges leaves the people of Europe with a hard-won legacy of peace.

I consulted frequently with President Mitterrand, as did my predecessors, and greatly valued his insights, advice and wisdom. He was a man of vision whose strength helped bring Europe and the West through a period of tough confrontation to the peaceful, undivided Europe we are building today.

Hillary and I join the American people in expressing heartfelt sympathy to the people and the government of France and to Danielle Mitterrand and the Mitterrand family. We hope the sorrow of this difficult time will be eased by an appreciation of the profound contribution that President Mitterrand made to his nation and the world. He was a great statesman.

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