[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book I)]
[January 4, 1994]
[Pages 5-7]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister 
Ruud Lubbers of The Netherlands
January 4, 1994

    The President. It's a great honor for me to welcome Prime Minister 
Lubbers here today. As I'm sure all of you know, he is one of the senior 
statesmen in Europe, and he has been a great ally of the United States. 
We've worked together very closely on issues of international security, 
issues of European security, trade, and economic issues. His nation is 
one of our larger trading partners, has had a very constructive attitude 
about that, and of course, I think, the third biggest investor in the 
United States. So, our relationship with The Netherlands is very, very 
important. And I'm glad to have him here today, and I look forward to 
the visit we're about to start.

Eastern Europe and NATO

    Q. Mr. President, why do you seem to be having trouble generating 
enthusiasm for the Partnership For Peace among Eastern European nations?
    The President. As you remember, when they all came here, all the 
leaders of the Eastern European countries came here for the dedication 
of the Holocaust Museum, they were looking for ways to become more 
identified economically and militarily or at least in terms of security 
issues with the West, and NATO seemed to be an easy way or a clear way 
to do it. But we're not closing the door on that. What we're trying to 
do is to open the door to a developing relationship and to do it in a 
way that is consistent with what all the European nations have indicated 
they were willing to do at this time and also to do it in a way that 
doesn't divide Europe.
    I think General Shalikashvili, who, as you know, was a child in 
Poland, spoke about that today. We're trying to promote security and 

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bility in Europe. We don't want to do anything that increases tensions. 
I think that what we have decided to do will work if the Eastern 
European nations will make the most of it, and I hope they will.
    Q. Do you think they just don't understand the concept well enough? 
I'm referring specifically to the President of Poland today.
    The President. Yes, President Walesa. Well, you know what he said 
today in his interview. I think that that's why I'm going to see him. 
I'm going to Prague to see them, and we're going to talk about it. And 
Ambassador Albright and General Shalikashvili are both going to Eastern 
Europe ahead of me, and we're going to work hard to try to make 
everybody feel good about this approach. I think it's what our NATO 
partners want to do, and I think that it's a good beginning.
    Q. How long does the evolutionary approach take?
    The President. We don't know. We'll just have to see how it goes.
    Q. Do you have a hope that all the nations of Europe eventually will 
be a part of NATO, including Russia?
    The President. Well, I have a hope that all the nations of Europe 
will eventually be clearly and unambiguously committed to a peaceful and 
stable, secure Europe where the nations respect each other's borders. 
And I think we're working toward that.

[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group 

Visit of Prime Minister Lubbers

    Q. Mr. President, did you invite Mr. Lubbers to come to the White 
House because you expect him to be the next President of the European 
Community and successor of Jacques Delors?
    The President. No, I invited him to come to the White House because 
he is already one of the leading statesmen in Europe and because our two 
nations have had a very strong relationship. We've worked together on 
matters of European and international security, on matters of trade and 
economic growth. There is a very large investment in this Nation from 
The Netherlands. We feel very good about our relationship. We met a 
couple of years ago, but we've not had a chance to visit since I've been 
President. So, that's why I asked him.


    Q. Mr. President, Dutch politicians are afraid your administration 
is losing its interest in Europe. Is that a correct observation?
    The President. No. I'm going to Europe three times this year to try 
to allay that. I asked for this NATO summit so that we could get 
together and talk about the future of NATO, our common security future. 
I intend to make it very clear that as long as I am President, we will 
maintain a strong military position in Europe and a strong support for 
NATO. One of the reasons that I asked General Shalikashvili to be 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is that he had just come from 
being the Supreme Commander in Europe and the commander of our forces 
there. And of course, I worked very hard to get the GATT round 
completed, along with Prime Minister Lubbers. So, we've done this 
    I think our economic and our security ties to Europe are as critical 
as they've ever been. And I hope that the opportunities that I'll have 
on this trip and again at the G-7 meeting with Naples and in-between, 
when I go back to commemorate the--and at least three different 
nations--the 50th anniversary of the events that brought an end to World 
War II, that all those things will reassure the people of your nation 
and of Europe about the United States intentions.
    Q. [Inaudible]--to expand the NATO, you seem to have another 
opinion, right?
    The President. No, I'm not against expanding NATO. I just think that 
if you look at the consensus of the NATO members at this time, there's 
not a consensus to expand NATO at this time, and we don't want to give 
the impression that we're creating another dividing line in Europe after 
we've worked for decades to get rid of the one that existed before. What 
we want is a secure Europe and a stable Europe. And I think that the 
proposal that I put forward would permit the expansion of NATO, and I 
fully expect that it will lead to that at some point.
    Q. A part of the feeling of neglect in Europe is that there is not 
really a response of the State Department, from the European Bureau, to 
discussions with the diplomats here. They feel that inadequate. Are you 
aware of that, and what's your comment on that?

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    The President. No, I'm not, so I can't have a comment.
    Q. [Inaudible]
    The President. I'm going to go see them next week and try to 
convince them that--[inaudible]--and I hope that I can. I have a very 
high regard for them. I'm going to see them next week. Ambassador 
Albright and General Shalikashvili are going ahead of me just in the 
next few days. So we're going to work very hard with them and see what 
we can do.

Note: The exchange began at 5:10 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White