[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 14, 1998]
[Pages 756-757]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks in a Roundtable Discussion at the General Motors Opel Plant in 
Eisenach, Germany
May 14, 1998

[The discussion is joined in progress.]

U.S. Investment in Germany

    Q. Mr. President, do you regard Germany as an attractive country for 
American investors, and if so, for what main products and services?
    The President. Well, the short answer to your question is yes. One 
of the reasons that I was so excited about coming here is that I felt 
that if the Chancellor and I were to come here 
together and there would be widespread news coverage of our trip, then 
back in America, and indeed, in other places, there would be people who 
say, ``Well, maybe we should look at investing there.''
    Investors are like all other people--you assume they know 
everything, but no one knows everything. No one has every possible 
option for activity in his or her head all the time. And so I think that 
one of the great challenges that Germany faces, obviously, is to bring 
the eastern Lander up to the employment levels and the income levels, 
generally, of the western part of the country. One of the great 
challenges Europe faces is to bring all the countries that were part of 
the Warsaw Pact up to the level of employment and income of the rest of 
Europe. And the only way this can be done is by people who believe in--
your counterparts, who believe in you and your potential, investing 
their money and putting people to work.
    Because of your geographical location, I would imagine that any kind 
of manufacturing operation would be a good operation here, because there 
are good transportation networks in and out of here to the rest of 
Europe and because, frankly, the Continent is not that large. I don't 
think there is any kind of thing you can't do. I think that--Chancellor 
Kohl has already said that you would have a 
greater advantage probably in the areas where you already have a proven 
track record. But most manufacturers in America are prepared to go 
anywhere there is a work force that can be trained, where people will 
work hard and work in the kind of teamwork spirit that you have 
demonstrated here at this plant.
    So I hope that our coming here will help more of your fellow 
citizens to get good jobs. And that's one of the reasons we wanted to 

[At this point, the discussion continued.]

Administration Accomplishments and Goals

    Q. Mr. President, which domestic or foreign policy problem would you 
wish to be solved most urgently, and which achievement would you regard 
as the highlight in your term of office?
    The President. Well, first let me say, I suppose our most important 
achievement is turning the American economy around in ways that benefit 
ordinary Americans so that we not only have high growth and low 
unemployment, but it's working in a way that most people feel more 
secure, and they have the freedom to make more good decisions for 
themselves. There are many other things that I have done, specific 
things that I am very proud of, but I think, generally, doing that has 
made a big difference.
    And in the world, I hope that putting America in the center of the 
future after the cold war will be a lasting achievement: future trading 
relationships with Europe and Latin America and Asia; our future efforts 
to combat the problems of terrorism and the weapons spread; our future 
efforts to save the environment of the world; our future efforts to work 
with countries to help

[[Page 757]]

solve problems, like the problems in Bosnia. And Helmut reminded me, the work we're doing now on nuclear 
weapons, because we're a little concerned that India had a test about 
that in the last couple of days. So, at home, making the economy work 
for all our people; abroad, involving the United States in the 
challenges of the 21st century and not letting America withdraw from the 
    Now, what would I still like to do, what problems are we still 
trying to solve? There are many things I could mention at home, but I 
would just say two things. First of all, after World War II, in almost 
every country there was a huge increase in the birth rate. People came 
home from the war, and they wanted to have babies, and they did, in 
record numbers in the United States. When these so-called baby boomers--
and I'm the oldest one; I was born in 1946--when all of them retire in 
all the advanced countries of the world, they will put enormous pressure 
on the retirement and health care systems. And if we don't make some 
changes in them in our country, we will put unfair burdens on our 
children and on our children's ability to raise our grandchildren. On 
the other hand, if we throw them out the door, then our people will be 
divided. We won't be preserving our obligations and our social contract. 
So I would still like to reform those things in a way that protects our 
people but allows our children to go forward and build a good life.
    The other thing I would say is that in our country, where we have so 
many people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, not everyone--
particularly a lot of people in our inner cities--has participated in 
this economic recovery yet. We still have some neighborhoods in our 
cities where the unemployment rate is too high, the education level is 
too low, the crime rate is too high. And I would like to find a way 
before I leave office to bring the spirit of enterprise to all those 
people, the opportunities.
    Around the world, I hope before I leave office that we will have 
secured a peace agreement in the Middle East that will last for a long 

Note: The President spoke at 3:51 p.m. in an outdoor tent at the plant. 
In his remarks, he referred to Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany. The 
press release issued by the Office of the Press Secretary did not 
include the opening remarks of the President or the entire roundtable