THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Ankara, Turkey) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 15, 1999
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON AND PRESIDENT DEMIREL IN PRESENTATION OF THE ORDER OF THE STATE OF THE TURKISH REPUBLIC AWARD Presidential Palace Ankara, Turkey
7:47 P.M. (L)
PRESIDENT DEMIREL: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to present the highest order, the Order of the State of the Turkish Republic, to my dear friend, President Bill Clinton of the United States of America. The Order of State, which I am proud to present to the President, is presented to heads of state for their contributions to the development of friendly relations between the Republic of Turkey and their states, and to the establishment of closer ties between their nations.
Our belief in democracy, freedom and peace forms a sound basis for the solidarity and the common faith between our countries. President Clinton, during his speech to the people of Berlin on July 12th, 1994, about the fall of the Berlin Wall, which was a disgrace for 40 years, he said: The Berlin Wall is gone. Now our generation must decide what we will build in its place. Standing here today, we can see the answer: a Europe where all nations are independent and democratic; where free markets and prosperity know no borders; where our security is based on building bridges, not walls; where all of our citizens can go as far as their God-given abilities will take them, and raise their children in peace and hope. These words belonged to President Clinton.
These words also indicate the meaningful realization of the European idea, which is democratic, integrated, peaceful, and prosperous. We, as the members of the Commonwealth of Democracies, are working towards the achievement of this objective after the Cold War. The Commonwealth of Democracies have succeeded in overcoming the struggle for bringing down the Berlin Wall, which was the darker side of totalitarianism, and we see in President Clinton a visionary approach in his words for the future.
President Clinton, as a politician and a statesman, has been very keen on recognizing the importance of investing in the areas of education, health, and information technology in order to create effective societies so that economic prosperity, security, and peace in the 21st century can become global. And he has erected his priorities in this regard; for the investment in these areas are investments for our future.
President Clinton, during his term, has not only worked for the success of, and improvement of, American economy and the prosperity of the American people, but has also contributed to international peace and security.
President Clinton has been very active through his prudent statesmanship and through his efforts in order to resolve the Middle East peace process, Bosnia, and the peace process in Northern Ireland, as well as conflict in Kosovo. And through that he has shown, as late Kennedy has said, a profile of courage.
My dear friend, President Clinton, I see you as someone who has contributed greatly to world peace. You have also contributed to ensuring closer ties between Turkish and American peoples. And on behalf of myself, my nation, and my state, I would like to present you the Order of State. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: First of all, let me thank you for this beautiful Order of State Award. You know, in my country, they give you these awards normally when you're one step away from death. (Laughter.) It's quite a wonderful thing to receive one when at least you still feel quite normal. (Laughter.) And particularly, an award that symbolizes our shared values and the long friendship between our two countries, one that goes back in many ways to the beginning of our country and, clearly, for the last 50 years, back to the beginning of the Truman Doctrine and the commitment of the United States to the security and integrity of Turkey.
In these last 50 years, we have been partners from Korea to Kosovo, against aggression and oppression, and as we look ahead to the future, we will have many opportunities for richer and deeper partnerships.
I would just briefly observe that it is an irony of history that we are on the edge of a new millennium, which will be shaped by unbelievable advances in technology, an explosion in information, and great leaps forward in science. But the biggest problem the world has is that everywhere people are too much in the grip of the oldest difficulty of human societies: we still are prone to fear people who are different than ourselves.
And so, all across the world, we see ethnic, racial, religious conflicts. We see people remembering old reasons for geopolitical difficulties, when new opportunities for cooperation are staring them right in the face. And it is, for those of us who are moving into this new millennium, to leave our children a more unified vision of human society, and of human cooperation across national lines, one that gives all children, without regard to their station or birth, a chance to live up to their dreams -- boys and girls alike; Muslims, Jews, Christians alike; people who come from any part of the world.
I hope that we can be faithful -- Turkey and the United States -- to the ideals and dreams of our founders and, together, leave that legacy of a unifying vision of human life.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 7:56 P.M. (L)