[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book II)]
[November 22, 1994]
[Pages 2113-2117]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With President Kuchma of Ukraine
November 22, 1994

    President Clinton. Good afternoon. President Kuchma and I had an 
excellent set of meetings today, and I have very much enjoyed getting to 
know him. The work we have done follows on the successful meetings in 
Kiev between President Kuchma and Vice President Gore. It has 
strengthened the friendship between our two nations that was already on 
a very firm basis.
    Since his election just 5 months ago, President Kuchma has bravely 
and squarely confronted the two greatest challenges facing Ukraine, 
economic reform and the nuclear question. He has taken hard, practical 
steps required to secure a more peaceful and prosperous future for his 
people. I applaud his leadership and the leadership of the Ukrainian 
Parliament in acceding last week to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Ukraine's move is a major step toward ensuring that nuclear missiles 
never again will be targeted at the children of our nations. I told 
President Kuchma that the United States will continue to work with 
Ukraine to dismantle completely its nuclear arsenal. Three hundred and 
fifty million dollars of our total $900 million, 2-year aid package is 
targeted toward that goal, and there could be no better use of the 
    In addition, Ukraine's decision will permit the United States, 
Russia, and the United Kingdom to extend formal security assurances to 
Ukraine. It will allow the START I Treaty to be brought into force, 
enabling the process of nuclear weap-

[[Page 2114]]

ons reductions to move forward. It will permit us to strengthen our 
military relations with Ukraine. It will open up Ukraine to a new range 
of business and technological opportunities. In addition, we pledge to 
help defray some of the costs for participation by Ukraine in the 
Partnership For Peace.
    On economic issues, the President and I discussed the far-reaching 
reforms he has initiated. These reforms put Ukraine on the right path 
toward a future of increasing prosperity and economic integration with 
the Western market economies.
    At this moment in our history, we have an extraordinary opportunity 
to improve the lives of all of our people by working more closely 
together and trading together more. Ukraine's reform program can speed 
this development, and I have pledged to support it to the fullest of our 
ability to do so. In 1994 and '95, our economic assistance of $550 
million, including balance-of-payment support, will be speedily 
delivered to help to stabilize the economy. Our new U.S.-Ukraine 
enterprise fund will soon start making loans to new small businesses. 
We'll continue our work together in aerospace and high tech.
    As Ukraine's economy continues to improve, the opportunities for 
both our countries will multiply. The IMF and the World Bank are also 
working hard to make sure these reforms bear fruit, and Russia and 
Turkmenistan have given badly needed help. I'll continue to press our G-
7 partners, especially the European Union and Japan, to do more to 
contribute to this effort.
    President Kuchma and I discussed other issues, including the nuclear 
power complex at Chernobyl. The G-7 nations and Ukraine have a common 
interest in agreeing on a plan to improve the safety and the efficiency 
in the Ukrainian energy sector and in closing down the Chernobyl plants.
    We've worked hard today. And the agreements we've reached promise to 
help deliver concrete results: increased security, increased prosperity 
for Ukrainians and Americans. Our relations continue to grow stronger as 
they have since Ukrainian independence just 3 years ago. Our friendship 
will grow because our futures are intertwined.
    I'd now like to turn the microphone over to President Kuchma for his 
remarks, and then we'll answer your questions, beginning with an 
American journalist, alternating with Ukrainian journalists.
    Mr. President.
    President Kuchma. Thank you very much, Mr. President, ladies and 
gentlemen. President Clinton and I have just signed very important 
documents, the Charter of Ukrainian-American Partnership, Friendship, 
and Cooperation and also the Agreement on Cooperation on Space Research 
for Peaceful Purposes. We also signed several bilateral accords on the 
ministerial level.
    Thus, by joint effort, both countries have made another concrete 
step toward solidifying the legal basis of relations between the United 
States and Ukraine and enriching the relationship of democratic 
partnership with practical content.
    The signing of these documents has become possible due to a 
constructive and purposeful effort of politicians, diplomats and experts 
in both countries. It is noteworthy that the charter signed today 
removed the last barriers which to an extent held back the development 
of Ukrainian-American relations in a very first and extremely important 
stage of their formation. We can now say that we have not simply signed 
several bilateral documents but opened the way to a full-fledged 
cooperation in the political economic, humanitarian, and other areas in 
the interests of both nations. That was the main purpose of my state 
visit to the United States.
    The current Ukrainian-American summit, the talks we had today, which 
can be characterized with a spirit of a constructive, businesslike, and 
mutual interest in reaching practical results. And I'm very thankful to 
the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and Vice President Al 
Gore. Thus, we are the participants and witnesses of a process where our 
relations are being formed step by step and cooperation is being 
enriched, such a perspective, to our extent, in the development of 
relations and in the interest of both nations.
    Ahead of us lies practical work to realize the reached, signed 
accords. Without such implementation, we will not be able to move ahead 
to a stronger bilateral cooperation. I would like to assure you, Mr. 
President, that Ukraine will fulfill its pledges and is ready for a 
further active cooperation.

Senator Jesse Helms

    Q. Mr. President, I'd like to ask you about some recent comments by 
Senator Jesse Helms.

[[Page 2115]]

Last week he said that you weren't fit to be Commander in Chief, and 
then yesterday he said that you better have a bodyguard if you ever come 
to North Carolina. But I wonder what's your reaction to his remarks and 
if you feel comfortable with him being chairman of the Foreign Relations 
Committee that's going to oversee your foreign policy?
    President Clinton. I think the remarks were unwise and 
inappropriate. The President oversees the foreign policy of the United 
States. And the Republicans will decide in whom they will repose their 
trust and confidence; that's a decision for them to make, not for me.

NATO Membership

    Q. President Clinton, first of all, for you a question. Will 
American policy change in Budapest in December towards expansion of NATO 
to the Eastern Europe? And would you mention Ukraine as a NATO member 
without Russia? And President Kuchma, would you imagine Ukraine being a 
member of NATO, not now but in a couple of years?
    President Clinton. First, let me say that I believe we will have 
discussions in Budapest about how we might go about expanding NATO but 
not about when and which particular countries would be let in; I think 
that is premature. Secondly, as I have said all along, I am working hard 
for the prospect of an integrated Europe. I have encouraged it 
economically; I have encouraged it politically; I have encouraged it in 
terms of security. Therefore, I would not say or do anything that would 
exclude the possibility of Ukrainian membership. That would be up to 
Ukraine, and it will be up to all of us, working together, to try to 
determine what is the best way to promote the security of what I hope 
and believe can be a united Europe, something that has never before 
occurred, I might add, in the whole history of nation states on the 
European Continent. We have an historic opportunity, and we ought to do 
everything we can to seize it.
    President Kuchma. I would like to make my comment. I would like to 
say that I do agree with President Clinton. The security on the European 
Continent is a very important issue, and it shouldn't be solved by the 
revolutionary way but rather by the evolutionary method. It is not 
important who enters where, but it is very important that we do not have 
a new Berlin Wall in Europe.

Republican Leaders

    Q. Mr. President, since the election returns, the Republicans have 
played hardball, and they have threatened legislative reprisals against 
your agenda and also have tried to force tradeoffs on GATT. What are you 
going to do about it?
    President Clinton. Well, first, let me answer the GATT question. I 
am encouraged by the progress that we have made in working with Senator 
Dole on the substantive issues surrounding GATT. And I appreciate the 
very constructive attitude that has prevailed there. I disagree that 
there should be some deal cut regarding capital gains; I don't think 
that's the right thing to do. This is an important agreement on its own 
merits. Everyone concedes it will lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs.
    In the wake of the election, let me say that one of the things that 
has been discovered again is something that I began talking about 
several years ago, long before I ever thought of running for President, 
and that is the declining wages of many of our working people. It's not 
surprising that a lot of people aren't a lot happier, even when we add 
millions of jobs, if all of the people who were working in the first 
place think they're never going to get a raise and don't think their 
jobs are more secure.
    Many Americans think that trade causes that. That was one of the 
fights over NAFTA, if you'll remember. My argument is that we have an 
open trading system here, so we already get whatever downside there is 
to trade. We know when we create jobs related to trade, they pay on 
average 13 percent higher than average jobs. So my argument for the GATT 
is that it will raise incomes of American workers. And I think that is 
our most urgent economic job, not just to create jobs and to keep low 
inflation and high investment but also to pursue whatever strategies are 
available to us to raise incomes. So I think we should pursue the GATT 
vigorously. I think it's in the interest of the American working people. 
I hope it will prevail.
    As to these other issues, again I will say there are a lot of areas 
where we can work together with the Republicans. We can finish the 
battle that this administration began with the last Congress to change 
what I would call yesterday's Government. We have begun the downsizing 
of the Government; we have begun the deregula-

[[Page 2116]]

tion that we need to do. We know there is much more that can be done.
    We still have an enormous amount to do in the area of political 
reform that surely we can agree on: the line-item veto, campaign finance 
reform, lobby reform, applying the laws to Congress that they apply to 
the private sector, the Kempthorne-Glenn bill on mandates, which I 
strongly endorsed and worked on, which was caught up in all the delays 
in the last session, to reduce mandates on State governments, giving the 
States and localities more flexibility in many areas, a lot of the 
things we can work on.
    I do not believe the American people want the next Congress to 
repeal the things which benefited ordinary Americans. I don't think they 
want to repeal family leave or the Brady bill or the assault weapons ban 
or any of those substantive achievements, and I will resist that.
    Q. Are you surprised at the vengeful attitude?
    President Clinton. Well, let me say, you characterize it in that 
way. I can only tell you that my job is to stand up for the interests of 
ordinary Americans; that's what I will do. I will do my very best to 
work with them, where we can work together. There are opportunities in 
the area of governmental reform where their contract and their agenda 
overlaps with mine. I will do my best to resist exploding the Government 
deficit, sinking the economic recovery, or repealing the gains that 
working people made in the last session of Congress.

Ukraine-U.S. Relations

    Q. Mr. President, you said that you have made another step in the 
development of relations. What would be the realization of that step? 
How do you visualize it? And is there long-term perspective in the 
nuclear disarmament, that the United States can help Ukraine?
    President Kuchma. I'm very glad that you are asking about the 
future, but I would like the current agreements between Ukraine and the 
United States be realized, first of all. Then we will think about the 
future in long perspective. Currently, we have agreed on some things 
which provide very longstanding perspective for--[inaudible].
    President Clinton. If I could just answer that question briefly, it 
is a measure of the importance that we attach to Ukraine and to its 
impact on the entire future of Europe well into the next century that in 
this 2-year period, a very difficult budget situation in America where 
we are trying to bring our deficit down and where we are cutting overall 
spending, Ukraine is the fourth largest recipient of American foreign 
assistance in the entire world because we think it is so important to 
complete the work of denuclearization, but also because we think your 
long-term economic development, your commitment to democracy and to an 
open economy is so important that we want to be there over the long run.
    So, I agree with the President. We have to do what we are already 
agreeing to do. But there will be much more in the years ahead. As your 
country continues to grow and flourish, there will be much more.

Federal Budget and Prayer in Schools

    Q. Mr. President, there seems to be still some confusion over your 
position on the constitutional amendment involving prayer in public 
schools. And today there's some confusion resulting from Secretary 
Reich's comments, a proposal that he floated that $111 billion could be 
cut in subsidies for big corporations, as part of your new budget, over 
5 years. Your Commerce Secretary says he doesn't know anything about 
that. What exactly is your position on that proposal and on prayer in 
public schools?
    President Clinton. Let me answer the second question first, because 
I think we can dispose of it rather quickly. I have not reviewed the 
specifics of Secretary Reich's proposal. As I understand it, he was 
speaking to the Democratic Leadership Council group today, and they have 
what they call a cut and invest theory which calls for a complex of 
further budget cuts, phasing out various tax subsidies and then using 
that money to finance the middle class tax cut as well as further 
investments in education. Conceptually, it's an attractive idea. I have 
to have time to review the details in the context of our budget. I have 
made absolutely no decision about any of the specifics in Secretary 
Reich's proposal.
    Now, with regard to the school prayer amendment, let me make a few 
general comments, first of all. I want to make it absolutely clear that 
this is not a political issue with me; it never has been, and it never 
will be. Secondly, I have a very long record on this issue. I have been 
coming to grips with it for at least a decade.

[[Page 2117]]

    The comments I made in Indonesia, I'm afraid--and those of you who 
were there with me know we had been on a rather rigorous trip schedule 
for the last few weeks--may have been overread. I made a generalized 
commitment after the election in the press conference that I had, and 
also to all of our people, that we would read and review or listen to 
any proposals the Republicans might have before condemning them. We 
ought to at least listen, and we ought to look for ways to work 
    My position on the prayer issue is, I have always supported a moment 
of silence. When I was a Governor, I supported the moment of silence 
legislation. I do not believe that we should have a constitutional 
amendment to carve out and legalize teacher- or student-led prayer in 
the classroom. I think that that is inherently coercive in a nation with 
the amount of religious diversity we have in this country. I think that 
would be an error.
    As I understand it, that is what is being proposed by the Republican 
Congressman from Oklahoma, and I would be opposed to that. I don't 
believe that--I think the very nature of the circumstances mean that, 
for large numbers of our children, it could not be truly voluntary, and 
I would oppose it.

Note: The President's 82d news conference began at 4:56 p.m. in Room 450 
of the Old Executive Office Building. President Kuchma spoke in 
Ukrainian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.