[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[September 2, 1998]
[Pages 1512-1513]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Meeting With Duma and Regional Leaders in Moscow
September 2, 1998

    Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. I'd like to thank all of you 
who have come here today to Spaso House. I have met with several of you 
before here, and as always, I attempt to come to Russia with the view of 
listening to a wide variety of views and meeting everyone I can who is 
involved in the activities of the day.
    I am pleased to be joined by the Secretary of State, Madeleine 
Albright; our Secretary of Commerce, Bill Daley; and the Secretary of 
Energy, Bill Richardson; and with some distinguished Members of 
Congress. I see Senator Bingaman and Congressman King. I don't know if 
Senator Domenici and Congressman Hoyer are here or not. But we all want 
to get to know all of you.
    I am proud of what America and Russia have achieved together in 
reducing the threat of nuclear war and in cooperating in areas like 
Bosnia. Today we announced two other steps to cooperate: First, in the 
sharing of early warning information on missile firings; and second, in 
a commitment to dramatically reduce our stocks of plutonium, a move that 
might also be of benefit to the Russian economy.
    I'd like to, before I go out and start to visit with you 
individually, make just a couple of observations about the economic 
challenges facing Russia today. First of all, I recognize that around 
this room there are many different points of view represented, and I 
think that is a good thing for the strength of Russian democracy. 
Second, I think it's important to point out that all over the world 
there are many countries that have democratically-elected leaders and 
successful economies and rather dramatically different social systems, 
different approaches to achieving success economically with elected 
leadership. So Russia must have its own approaches that keep the nation 
strong, that care for the people who are in need, that prepare for the 
future of your children. And no other country can define that approach, 
and no other country's approach would be exactly right for Russia. But I 
do not believe you can find one country in the world that is 
economically successful that has completely ignored the ground rules of 
the global economy.
    For all their differences, all the countries that are succeeding 
have some things in common. They have tax systems that are fair and 
bring in revenues adequate to meet their spending requirements. They 
have marketing systems that regulate and provide for effective banking 
and trading in the country. They have a rule of law

[[Page 1513]]

which permits commerce to succeed and to proceed on predictable terms in 
which individual interests are properly protected.
    Now, when countries have this, whether they're large or small, 
whether they're in Latin America, Asia, or Africa, wherever they are, 
they see that money flows into the country instead of flowing out of it.
    I come here as someone who considers himself a friend of your 
country and someone who deeply believes that in the century just ahead 
of us, America and Russia must be partners. I hope you will be able to 
bridge your differences to agree on, first, a program to stabilize the 
current situation, and then, a path to finish the framework of basic 
things that every successful economy has; then, within your democratic 
system, whatever decisions you make about how to organize your society 
are your decisions to make, and we will support you and find a way to 
work together.
    But if the basic framework is not in place, as a friend I say, I do 
not believe that you can defy the rules of the road in today's global 
economy anymore than I could defy the laws of gravity by stepping off 
the top floor of Spaso House. It has nothing to do with politics and 
everything to do with the way the world is working today. But if you can 
find a way to work together and work through this crisis, the United 
States will stand with you and will not presume to judge on the specific 
social systems you decide to put in place within a democratic system 
with a strong economy that has integrity of its fundamental elements.
    Thank you again for coming.

Note: The President spoke at 3:20 p.m. in Spaso House. In his remarks, 
the President referred to James F. Collins, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, 
who introduced the President.