[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book II)]
[November 22, 1994]
[Pages 2112-2113]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Welcoming President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine
November 22, 1994

    Mr. President, Mrs. Kuchma, members of the Ukrainian delegation, 
representatives of the Ukrainian-American 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 we live in an era 
of wonders, a time when peoples long denied hope are 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 
czars 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 own 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.

[[Page 2113]]

    We congratulate you, Mr. President, and all Ukrainians on your 
remarkable achievements in the almost 3 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 Oksana 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. And 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. 
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 22d, 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. Welcome.

Note: The President spoke at 11:08 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White