[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book I)]
[March 4, 1994]
[Pages 372-378]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With President Leonid Kravchuk of 
March 4, 1994

    President Clinton. Good afternoon. It's a great pleasure for me to 
welcome President Kravchuk and his entire delegation from Ukraine to the 
White House today. Before I go forward, I think I should acknowledge the 
presence in the Ukrainian delegation of two of the Ukraine's Olympic 
athletes, Viktor Petrenko and the Olympic gold medalist in skating, 
Oksana Baiul. Welcome to the United States. Please stand up. [Applause] 
Thank you. I'm pleased that President Kravchuk brought them with him 
today. We all enjoyed meeting them, and we're looking forward to the 
entire American Olympic team being here in just a couple of weeks.
    When I first met President Kravchuk in Kiev on January 12th, the 
hour was late, and the weather was icy. But at that brief meeting we 
marked the dawn of a new and warm era in relations between the United 
States and Ukraine. Two days after that meeting, we signed an historic 
accord with President Yeltsin to eliminate some 1,800 Soviet nuclear 
warheads left in Ukraine. Since then, Ukraine's Parliament has approved 
the trilateral agreement and unconditionally ratified the START Treaty 
and the Lisbon Protocol. And last month, Ukraine joined the NATO 
Partnership For Peace. These steps represent a tribute to the 
statesmanship and

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leadership of President Kravchuk and to the vision of the Ukrainian 
people, who understand that integration into a broader, peaceful, and 
democratic Europe is Ukraine's best path to lasting security and 
    In our meeting today, I strongly reaffirmed American support for 
Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. I urged 
President Kravchuk to continue to work to achieve Ukraine's accession to 
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We shared views on developments in 
Russia and their impact on Ukraine. We discussed ways to expand 
cooperation between our two nations. At the core of our agenda is 
developing a closer economic relationship.
    While Ukraine is going through a difficult period of transition, it 
remains a nation with enormous economic potential, endowed with abundant 
natural resources and human talent. To develop the full measure of these 
resources, Ukraine's most promising future clearly lies with market 
reform. That's why I was pleased that President Kravchuk today expressed 
his determination to move forward toward comprehensive market reform.
    As Ukraine proceeds with reform, the United States is prepared to 
mobilize support from the G-7 nations and from international financial 
institutions. We're also prepared to increase our bilateral economic 
assistance to $350 million this year for privatization, small business 
creation, and other priorities. And to help Ukraine dismantle nuclear 
weapons, we've committed $350 million in Nunn-Lugar funds. Total U.S. 
assistance available to Ukraine this year will, therefore, be $700 
million. This represents a major increased commitment to an important 
friend in the region.
    Ultimately, the best way to bolster Ukraine's reforms is to 
facilitate private trade and investment. I told President Kravchuk today 
that the United States will support Ukraine's membership in GATT and 
will lower tariffs on a number of Ukrainian products.
    We've also signed treaties to promote investment and prevent double 
taxation. And we established a joint commission on trade and investment 
that will strengthen further our commercial ties. These ties are part of 
a richly woven fabric that binds our two nations.
    From the time of our own revolution, Ukrainian immigrants have 
helped to shape the United States. Now America and Ukraine are dedicated 
to building a new relationship, to shaping a better future for all our 
people and for all the world. I look forward to working with President 
Kravchuk in that endeavor.
    Let me again thank the President for coming here with the entire 
delegation, including his Olympians, and to say to all the Ukrainians, 
and to you especially, Mr. President, thank you for giving us the 
opportunity to work together and to make a better future for our 
    President Kravchuk. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we have 
just signed a number of important bilateral documents which lay down the 
legal foundation for cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, and 
other areas. That--what happened several minutes ago before your eyes 
could be, without exaggeration, called a historic moment in relationship 
between our two states.
    Today we, in fact, turned the page of a still brief history of our 
bilateral relations which seem to have linked us forever with colossal 
and complicated problem of nuclear weapons, which Ukraine inherited from 
the former Soviet Union. Although the problem remains to be as 
complicated today, we managed to get closer to a successful resolution 
of this problem today.
    The new balance of forces on the political map of the world clearly 
indicates the need to create a global security system which would be 
based on entirely new principles. We understand that the complicated 
processes of international security and peace are intertwined and cannot 
permit gaps and vacuum to exist in this or that part of the world, 
especially on the European Continent. Therefore, President Bill Clinton 
and I agreed that the political and economic security of Ukraine, which 
is playing an important stabilizing role in its area--and this idea is 
shared by many others--has an exceptional significance for both the 
people of Ukraine and for the people of the United States of America. 
Proceeding from this basic idea, we believe that relations between 
Ukraine and the United States should develop as relationships of 
friendly states which have much more common interests than 
    During our talks with President Clinton we became confident that the 
American side understands the problems that we have and is concerned 
over the serious economic situation in Ukraine. We saw that the 
administration in the United States does not only welcome steps of the 
Ukrainian Government to overcome the economic crisis but also expresses 
readiness to provide necessary assistance to Ukraine in the main

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areas of economic transformation, which the President indicated.
    Today we signed a package of economic accords and agreements which I 
hope will help Ukraine considerably facilitate and speed up its progress 
towards the market and ease the tension in the economy and also the 
daily life of the people. We are convinced that we found the right 
friend at the right time in America. Today Ukraine is a friend in need, 
but it is a friend, indeed, as your saying goes. I believe that the day 
will come when we will be remembering these days as the era of the birth 
and formation of a true friendship between the two nations and states, 
Ukraine and the United States of America.
    Thank you very much for attention.
    President Clinton. Thank you, Mr. President.
    Now, we'll attempt to alternate between the American press and the 
Ukrainian press on questions. So we'll start with Helen [Helen Thomas, 
United Press International].

Whitewater Investigation

    Q. Mr. President, is Mr. Nussbaum leaving your staff, and have you 
decided how you're going to approach these daily spate of stories 
concerning Whitewater--been likened in Post cartoons to torture, Chinese 
torture, and so forth?
    President Clinton. Well, I think that's a decision more for you than 
for me, whether there will be a daily spate of stories. Most of the 
newspapers in the country asked me to have a special counsel appointed. 
That's what I have done; I did it so that I could go on with my work. 
It's been an interesting thing since no one has still accused me, as far 
as I know, of doing anything wrong in this whole encounter. So we have a 
Special Counsel, and I intend to let the process unfold.
    Yesterday, I said what I had to say about the meetings that had 
occurred or the conversations that had occurred. I think we have 
constructed a clear and appropriate firewall between the White House and 
any Federal regulatory agency that might have anything to do with this, 
as I think it is absolutely imperative to do. And I have told again 
everybody on my staff to just bend over backwards to be as cooperative 
as possible. I want a full investigation. I want this thing to be done 
fully, clearly, and to be over with. That is my only interest, and I 
intend to pursue it with great vigor.
    Q. How about Mr. Nussbaum?
    President Clinton. I have nothing more to add to what I said 


    Q. The Voice of Ukraine, the parliamentary newspaper of Ukraine. It 
was said that the moment is historic in the history of Ukraine. Is this 
historic moment different from any other historic moment in the history 
of Ukraine?
    President Kravchuk. I do understand your question. Every country 
lived through a historic period of--the time that we are living through 
is very complicated. It's a period of transformation, of transfer from 
one system to another. Ukraine is in a very bad, very difficult 
situation. And friendly relationship with the United States of America, 
the good neighborly relations in all areas of political and economic 
life, is really the true historic moment. And the fact that United 
States of America and Ukraine signed documents which open up the way to 
market reforms and stronger democracy, which still have to take place on 
the territory of the former republics of the former Soviet Union, this 
is truly a historic moment.
    Yes, the word has its own history, but it cannot be interpreted as 
an archaic word. This is the word of a very high, lofty sounding.
    Q. President Kravchuk, the Ukrainian Parliament has failed to ratify 
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Are you confident that it will 
ratify this treaty? And will the $700 million of aid that you talked 
about today go forward if the Parliament fails to take that step?
    President Clinton. First, I am confident it will ratify the treaty. 
Perhaps I should let President Kravchuk speak for himself on this. I 
believe that because the Parliament has supported the trilateral 
agreement, the START Treaty, the Lisbon Protocol, which is the first 
step toward becoming a nonnuclear--I mean, agreeing to the Non-
Proliferation Treaty. I'm also confident because this country has 
already begun to implement its commitment to reduce the nuclear 
presence. And the Nunn-Lugar funds, in particular, as you know, are tied 
to making sure that countries can afford to do it and can reduce their 
nuclear capacity in a technically competent and safe way. So I feel a 
high level of confidence in this.
    President Kravchuk again assured me today that he thought the NPT 
would be acceded to by the Rada and that the real problem, the

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reason it hasn't happened just before his coming here, is because so 
many people are out campaigning, something that we all understand in 
this country. But I think it would be good to let him make a comment 
about this.
    President Kravchuk. The thing is that having ratified START I and 
removing the reservations as to Article V of the Lisbon Protocol, the 
Ukraine has committed itself, the political commitment, to accede to the 
NPT as a nonnuclear power. This question is now open as a committing 
task for Ukraine. So you shouldn't have doubts about the ratification or 
nonratification of the NPT. As to the money which is allocated to 
Ukraine, that money is allocated for dismantling the weapons. And we 
have already started dismantling the nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
    Q. This is a question to President Clinton. You have already landed 
in Ukraine, and that was a very short stopover. Are you planning an 
official state visit to Ukraine?
    President Clinton. I would very much like to come back. This year I 
have a full schedule of travel, perhaps as much as I can accommodate 
this year. But I certainly wouldn't rule it out. I had such a good time 
on my brief stay, I wanted to do more and to see more.
    Trude [Trude Feldman, Trans Features].
    Q. Mr. President, I have a question for both Presidents. Are you 
satisfied with the progress on removing nuclear missiles from the 
Ukraine under the January Moscow agreement?
    President Clinton. I personally am. I think they're making good 
progress and proceeding just as they agreed to do. Obviously, there are 
always technical details to be worked out. And this is a delicate matter 
that has to be handled with great care. But I'm personally well 
    Mr. President, do you want to answer that question?
    President Kravchuk. As I've already said, answering to the part of 
that question, the Ukraine has already begun the practical 
implementation of that issue. But speaking more definitely, a whole 
trainload of nuclear warheads is on the way to Russia. The treaty has 
been signed between Russia and Ukraine because this is a joint issue of 
removing the weapons to Russia. And Ukraine will fulfill its commitment. 
I also believe that other sides, other parties, would fulfill their 
obligations. And Ukraine would certainly stick to its commitments.
    President Clinton. If I might just add one other thing, too. I think 
that it's important for us here in the United States to note that one of 
the big issues when I went to Ukraine and to Russia in January has been 
resolved, and that is the question of how Ukraine will be compensated 
for the highly enriched uranium in its nuclear arsenal.
    Q. [Inaudible]--your recent statement about the resurrection of the 
Russian imperialism, would they bring damage to Ukraine?
    President Clinton. Well, the United States supports the territorial 
integrity of Ukraine. And I personally have been very impressed that all 
the parties involved in the Crimean issue seem to be very responsible in 
their comments and their policies recently. So I think you're asking me 
a hypothetical which doesn't seem too probable in light of the policies 
and the statements which have been made.
    Ann [Ann Compton, ABC News].


    Q. Mr. President, the defendants in the World Trade Center bombing 
were all convicted today. Do you think Americans have any reason to feel 
any more secure against terrorism now than they did one year ago?
    President Clinton. Well, I think the authorities did a terrific job 
in cracking the case. And I'm glad to see that it has been handled in 
this way. I think that the signal should go out across the world that 
anyone who seeks to come to this country to practice terrorism will have 
the full weight of the law enforcement authorities against them, and we 
will do our best to crack the cases and to bring them to justice, just 
as they have today. This will send a very important signal around the 
world. And I am very gratified by the work that was done.


    President Kravchuk. I didn't answer the question which was raised 
previously. I believe that our integration within the limits of the CIS 
does not contradict the integration in the political and economic area 
with the countries that make up the New Independent States. This has 
been foreseen by many documents in the CIS.
    Ukraine does not make a task of leaving the CIS or curtailing 
relationship with the countries that have been created on the territory 
of the former Soviet Union. We believe that the joint efforts of the CIS 
countries and their cooperation with the Western states will give an 
opportunity to avoid the burdensome and heavy proc-

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esses which are now taking place in Russia and in many other countries.
    We cannot limit the process towards the process in Russia or 
Ukraine. These are universal processes, and we have to interact on them. 
But there is a tendency of creating difficult processes including the 
extremist or expansionist character. There are such tendencies, but if 
we act together we would be able to avoid such developments.
    Q.  Mr. President, this is the Ukrainian wire service. Did you 
discuss today with the President of Ukraine a question of providing 
additional material assistance to Ukraine except for the provision of 
assistance for the denuclearization?
    President Clinton. Yes, we did. And the United States agreed to do 
two things. One is, we are increasing the assistance that we had 
previously pledged not only in the denuclearization area but in economic 
assistance as well, so that we will have about $350 million in each 
    Now, over and above that, we agreed to send an economic team to 
Ukraine as quickly as President Kravchuk says you are ready to receive 
them to discuss what we might do to get more countries involved in 
assisting Ukraine, and to speed up the timetable by which Ukraine can 
receive assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World 
    Andrea [Andrea Mitchell, NBC News].

Whitewater Investigation

    Q. Mr. President, in Annapolis today, Republicans were calling upon 
Speaker Foley to hold hearings on some of these latest meetings. Would 
you object to such hearings? Do you think they're necessary? And 
secondly, do you think a stronger signal needs to be sent from the White 
House that you are, indeed, so sensitive to these ethical distinctions? 
Do you need to make other changes beyond the memo that was issued 
    President Clinton. Let me say, first of all, it's up to the House to 
do whatever they think is appropriate to do, not for me to tell them 
what to do. I think that it is clear that the Republicans have behaved 
in a fairly blatant, bald, and totally political way in this regard. And 
since there is no evidence of abuse of authority on my part as 
President, or any of the kinds of things for which their parties and 
administrations were accused, and since they have often complained in 
the past of political motivation, I think that they would show a little 
more restraint and judgment in this case.
    All I can tell you is, even the editorial writers, you know, they 
say, ``Well, there is no evidence Bill Clinton did anything wrong; we're 
spending millions of dollars to dig around in all of this, but no one 
has ever accused him of doing anything wrong. We're just going to do it 
anyway. Now, they better not mess up the process.'' So I sent the 
message to the people who work here, ``Don't mess up the process. Nobody 
thinks we've done anything wrong, but we, because I'm President, have 
had to launch this massive, hugely expensive, unusual inquiry, while 
everybody says, `I really don't think anything happened wrong, but let's 
have this massive inquiry. Now, let's make sure they don't mess it up, 
and if they do, let's find them.' '' So I said, ``Let's don't mess it 
    I mean, I've made it as clear as I can: Bend over backwards to avoid 
any appearance of conflict; set up a firewall between the White House 
and any of the appropriate agencies; have a central point of contact if 
anyone calls us. You know, one of these disputed meetings arose out of 
press questions, for example. We have to be careful.
    I think I have sent a very clear and unambiguous signal that there 
is no point in letting a process mess this White House up when we have 
not yet been accused of any wrongdoing. Since there was no wrongdoing on 
my part, I want a full, complete, thorough investigation. And I want it 
to go forward unimpeded and then to be over. I think that is in the 
national interest. And I'm going to do my best to make it abundantly 
clear that that is precisely what happens.
    Yes, sir?


    Q. Mr. Clinton, the newspaper Kiev Herald. Has there been a change 
in the last 5 years of your understanding of the Ukrainian situation in 
Europe? And if there has been a change, please present your arguments.
    President Clinton. Well, I'll attempt to answer the question as I 
understand it. I certainly, over the last half year, have come to have 
higher hopes for the prospect of a full Ukrainian partnership in a 
democratic Europe where all the countries respect each other's 
territorial integrity and work together in an atmosphere of free

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markets and respect for democracy and human rights.
    I think that is due in no small measure to the leadership of 
President Kravchuk in concluding the nuclear agreement with the United 
States and Russia and in the efforts in Ukraine to support the START 
Treaty and Lisbon Protocol. I also know what a very difficult economic 
time Ukraine is going through. And I see the beginnings of a real effort 
to restructure the economy. And I believe the United States should 
support that.
    Finally, let me say one point which has not been made yet: I was 
very pleased that Ukraine so quickly accepted the invitation from NATO 
to join the Partnership For Peace. This is just what we conceived could 
happen, that we could literally build a united Europe where the parties 
respect each other's borders and integrity and commit to work with one 
another to promote the peace and to protect the people of all the 
countries involved.
    Yes, sir.


    Q. Mr. President, Secretary of State Christopher is heading to China 
soon. Isn't the Chinese Government basically thumbing its nose at the 
U.S. by rounding up dissidents on the eve of his visit and, of course, 
with Congress getting ready to kick around the most-favored-nation 
    President Clinton. I wouldn't presume to know what motivated the 
Chinese Government. All I can tell you is that we have sent a very stern 
statement. We strongly disapprove of what was done, and it obviously is 
not helpful to our relations. I have done what I could to make it clear 
that the United States does not seek to isolate China economically or 
politically and that we want a constructive and strong relationship with 
them, but that the observance of basic human rights is an important 
thing to us, along with nonproliferation, along with fair trade rules. 
And that was certainly not a helpful action.


    Q. Mr. President, this is Ukrainian Television. I have a question to 
both President Kravchuk and President Clinton.
    Mr. Kravchuk, the Ukraine is living through a very difficult period 
of time. We are very active in the denuclearization policy, and Ukraine 
is called at the same time the stabilizing factor. What is your opinion 
on that? What would be the development of that issue?
    President Kravchuk. We should take a look at Ukraine, not only from 
the position of today but also take into consideration its great 
economic, spiritual, human, and natural resources. The relations which 
are now developing between the United States and the Ukraine and the 
understanding which President Clinton showed and the administration of 
the United States demonstrated, show that they take into account exactly 
that perspective view, not the view of today but the view of tomorrow.
    From that point of view, Ukraine can play a great stabilizing role 
in the future; that is one thing. Secondly, Ukraine can, with the help 
of rapid economic and political reforms, can introduce such principles 
of coexistence which are in the limits of highest standards. For 
instance, we do not have any problems with human rights or ethnic or 
interethnic or international conflicts in the Ukraine. We preserved the 
political calm and stability in the conditions when we are getting ready 
for the elections.
    The most important is the economic situation. If Ukraine, by itself, 
and with the help of the United States and other states, will manage 
this economic crisis, it would be ready to use the economic potential 
that it has and will be able to perform its role in Europe.
    President Clinton. I agree with what President Kravchuk said. I 
might just add one point. The United States recognizes that it is very 
important to be supportive as Ukraine tries to reform and get through 
this period of economic transition. One of the things that we've been 
able to do in the last year or so is to take a broad view of the need 
for defense conversion measures as the denuclearization occurs.
    So, for example, tomorrow the President and the Ukrainian delegation 
will go and meet with the Secretary of Defense, Secretary Perry, to talk 
about what kinds of defense conversion things, that will help the long-
term Ukrainian economy, can be done as part of the process of 
denuclearization. And that, I think, is some evidence that the United 
States believes that the potential of Ukraine is enormous and that we 
have to have a long-term view of our partnership.
    Yes, sir.

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Singapore Caning of Michael Fay

    Q. Mr. President, I'd like to ask you a question about a human 
rights case. An American young man living in Singapore has been 
convicted of petty vandalism there and sentenced to a caning, a 
punishment that is said to leave permanent scars. This would seem to 
outweigh the crime. And since Singapore is an ally of ours, is there 
anything the United States can do about this?
    The President. This is the first I've heard of it. I'll look into 
    Rita [Rita Braver, CBS News].
    Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Middle East Peace Process

    Q. President Clinton, just a little while ago, Nabil Shaat, the 
envoy from the PLO, said that the United Nations is close to agreement, 
with U.S. backing, on some kind of international security force in the 
occupied territories. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what 
the U.S. participation in that would be?
    President Clinton. I can't because we haven't made the agreement 
yet. I can say that there is--I believe we have some more movement in 
the Middle East. There is still some--I am encouraged in a way by what 
he said, but I wouldn't overstate it. We are continuing to inch ahead, 
but I don't want to jump ahead of actual developments. And I think I'd 
better wait and see what actually is agreed to before I can comment.


    Q. Mr. Kravchuk, supplies of Russian gas are supposed to be cut off 
today because of Ukraine's inability to pay. Did you discuss this issue 
today with Mr. Clinton? And, Mr. Clinton, did you have any suggestions; 
were there any moves to help Ukraine in this instance?
    President Kravchuk. Yes, I informed President Clinton about this 
case. We discussed this matter together, but it's hard to tell you any 
definite steps. But I believe that we would find a joint resolution of 
that process because it is related not only to the economic issues but 
also related to a number of treaties, including matters related to the 
production in the Ukraine. So far, it is very hard to answer your 
    President Clinton. Yes, we discussed it and we discussed it in some 
detail. I said that I would have the United States explore two or three 
options to see if we could find some way to avert an even worse crisis. 
It's a serious problem. We didn't achieve a total resolution today.
    Thank you very much.

Senate Majority Leader

    Q. Mr. President, have you heard about George Mitchell?
    Q. Do you think you can work without him, sir?
    President Clinton. I have. I would like to make a statement about 
Senator Mitchell, if I might.
    We had a long talk about this last night. He came over for dinner 
and asked if he could stay afterward, and asked if I would not tell 
anybody. So I didn't, and it didn't leak.
    I didn't know George Mitchell very well when I became President, and 
therefore I didn't know what to expect. After the last 14 months, I can 
tell you that I think he is one of the finest, ablest people I have ever 
known in any kind of work. There is no doubt in my mind that we would 
not have had the success we had last year had it not been for his 
incredible persistence and patience and strength. And he will be very 
difficult to replace. But he made this decision, I am convinced, for 
exactly the reasons that he will say, as he goes home to Maine to make 
this statement. And I think I should let him speak for himself.
    He is a wonderful man. He has made a very personal decision. I will 
miss him a lot, and America is deeply in his debt.
    Thank you.

Note: The President's 51st news conference began at 2:10 p.m. in the 
East Room at the White House. President Kravchuk spoke in Ukrainian, and 
his remarks were translated by an interpreter.