[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[February 9, 1995]
[Pages 181-187]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany
February 9, 1995

    The President. Good afternoon. Please be seated. It's a pleasure for 
me to welcome Chancellor Kohl to the White House again. For more than 12 
years American Presidents have looked to Helmut Kohl for insight and 
cooperation, for friendship and support on the most pressing issues of 
the day. Thanks to his wisdom and leadership, the relationship between 
Germany and the United States has strengthened and grown, becoming a 
force for positive change in the post-cold-war world. America has no 
better friend than Chancellor Kohl.
    The Chancellor's visit comes at an important time. One of the most 
vital issues we discussed today is building a more integrated Europe in 
the wake of this new era. The Chancellor and I reaffirmed our intention 
to press ahead with the enlargement of NATO to include Europe's new 
democracies. The current deliberations are moving at the right pace. We 
agreed that the inevitable process of NATO expansion will be gradual and 
open, that there will be no surprises. Its conditions, timing, and 
military implications must be well and widely known in advance.
    We also agreed that in parallel with expansion, NATO must develop 
close and strong ties with Russia. Chancellor Kohl and I will consult 
closely on the form this new partnership will take. We share a vision of 
European security that embraces a democratic Russia, and we will 
continue to reassure President Yeltsin that an expanded NATO will pose 
no threat to a democratic Russia.
    Recent events in Russia were an important part of our discussions 
today, especially the tragedy in Chechnya. Chancellor Kohl and I are in 
full agreement: The violence there must end, and negotiation must begin. 
Every day the fighting continues, more innocent civilians fall victim. 
In response to international appeals, the United States will offer up to 
$20 million in humanitarian and refugee assistance to alleviate their 
    In our conversations with President Yeltsin, we have both made clear 
our fears about the corrosive effect the conflict in Chechnya can have 
on democratic, market-oriented reform in the Russian Republic. But the 
conflict has not changed the nature of our interests, namely that 
Russia's efforts to become a stable, democratic nation must succeed.
    Today the Chancellor and I remain determined to stick to our course 
of patient, responsible support for Russian reform. But help can only be 
extended if Russia stays on the course and continues the hard work of 
building demo-

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cratic institutions and implementing market-oriented reforms.
    The Chancellor and I also discussed a broad range of other issues, 
including our efforts through the Contact Group to reach a negotiated 
settlement in Bosnia. Both of us believe it's essential to do what we 
can to support the Muslim-Croat Federation, which ended hostilities 
between two of the three parties to that conflict. We believe that 
strengthening the Federation will provide a concrete, positive step 
toward an eventual peace agreement.
    I also want to thank the Chancellor publicly for Germany's role in 
assembling the stabilization package for Mexico, which helped to avert a 
larger and far more dangerous financial crisis. The Chancellor and I 
support efforts in the G-7 to review our international institutions, a 
necessary step to ensure that they are fit for the challenges of the 
next half century.
    Finally, we're in full agreement that the United Nations should not 
lift sanctions on Iraq until that country meets all the conditions set 
forth in the U.N. resolutions, something so far Iraq has failed to do.
    As you can see, in a short time we covered a great deal of ground. 
Once again we've discovered much common ground. Our nations share a 
vision of an integrated Europe, of strong bonds across the Atlantic, of 
a world that continues to grow more peaceful and more prosperous. Our 
agenda is ambitious, and the tasks ahead are not small. But I'm 
convinced that working together we will be equal to the challenge.
    Chancellor Kohl. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Mr. President, 
ladies and gentlemen: Permit me to preface my actual statement by a 
brief remark. What I'd like to do, Mr. President, is to offer my special 
respect and my special condolences to you, Mr. President, and to the 
American people on the occasion of the death of Senator Fulbright. I'm 
saying this as a member of a generation who, even when they were 
students, wanted nothing more than to obtain a Fulbright scholarship. 
Few men and women who enter politics ever succeed to have their names 
affiliated once and for all with a specific program. For many Germans, 
for many Europeans, Senator Fulbright was a man who we did not know 
personally, but he was someone who gave a signal after the Second World 
War and after the end of the Nazi barbarism--and I'm saying this very 
pointedly this year, when on May 8th we will be looking back to 50 
years--the name that was closely related with openness, with friendship, 
and with people striving together. I think it's only fitting that I, the 
German Chancellor, being here today, should offer my condolences as I 
just did.
     Mr. President, thank you and thank your staff, especially the Vice 
President, for the very warm and cordial reception we were given, as 
usual. These talks, which many might find boring, are talks which took 
place once again in an exceedingly friendly and warm atmosphere. And we 
aren't done with them; we will be continuing them. These talks of ours 
make a great deal of sense, even though we do talk on the phone 
regularly and frequently. But there's a difference between telephone 
conversations and conversations eye to eye. And that is why I am 
especially happy to be able, once again, to be here in Washington with 
my delegation.
    I need not add much to what the President said in his preface. We 
are in full agreement as far as the topics and our views on them are 
concerned. It's very important to me, personally, to make very clear in 
public for the benefit of all Americans that the German policy and the 
policy that I, as the Federal Chancellor, am pursuing be proceeding in 
close coordination with the President of the United States.
    We are living in radically changing times, times of dramatic 
changes; everybody knows that. We are finding out today that Germany is 
increasingly feeling how the situation has changed. Many of our 
countrymen no longer live under a regime that subjugated them for 40 
years, and at this point, the question of stability is more urgent than 
ever before. And that is why to us, the Germans and the Europeans, NATO 
and the transatlantic security alliance with the United States be 
preserved because they guarantee our future.
    This alliance is one that in a changing world will increasingly have 
to shoulder responsibility for stability throughout Europe. I fully 
agree with President Clinton in that the preparatory work for extension 
of NATO we should proceed in accordance with the program we outlined in 
Brussels last year. It is a gradual process, and when I say gradual, I 
mean step by step. It's entirely possible that some of these steps will 
be larger than others.
    It is a process which we in Europe and in Germany will possibly be 
doing in parallel with

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the full expansion of the European Union, although they are not directly 
connected. The expansion of NATO is part of an overall security concept 
which is intended to make sure that we do not get new boundaries within 
Europe, and that is why a close partnership with Russia and Ukraine is 
especially important. NATO and the European Union have to combine their 
strengths, to combine their forces in pursuit of the common goal that we 
have with a view to what used to be called, in a simplified fashion, the 
Warsaw Pact countries. We must join forces to further democracy in the 
Central and Eastern European countries. And I want to urge everyone here 
to realize that this process will require a great deal of patience.
    As a German, I am more aware than others how difficult it is to take 
a country where people speak the same language and bring two parts of it 
together after 40 years of complete isolation. I know the 
misunderstandings that can arise on simple, everyday matters. And if I 
try to imagine, and by God I do, what it means that since 1917 Russians 
lived under the Communists--being aware that the Romanovs weren't 
exactly a picnic either--when you look at all these facts, you can 
appreciate how difficult the process is that is going on in Russia at 
this time.
    And since that is the case, we agreed, the President and I and our 
governments are agreed, that we should encourage Russia to pursue the 
course of reform. What that means is that we have a vital interest--the 
Germans in particular, because we are close neighbors--we have an 
elemental interest in furthering reforms and cooperating with Russia.
    I would like to underline that I still support President Yeltsin, as 
I've always done. And I do it with the objective of enabling reforms in 
Russia, enable them to introduce market economy and create a state based 
on the rule of law. As I say that, I'm stating very clearly that we will 
support Russia in its legitimate efforts to preserve the territorial 
integrity of its country, but that does require that Russia also stand 
by its commitments in the area of human rights and other international 
standards that they have committed themselves to, making Russia a 
country open to reform.
    I support what the President said regarding events in Chechnya, but 
let me add that our shared wish is to have a peaceful situation, in the 
best sense of the word, return to Chechnya. We wish for the authorities 
in that country to pursue their responsibilities in the manner I tried 
to outline just now.
    And now, let me state very briefly that we are in full agreement 
that we all must try to diminish and end the horrible suffering of 
people there. We shall jointly pursue that matter. It's an area where 
hundreds of years of histories have led to the situation that we have 
now, but that shouldn't discourage us. We must do the best we can. Time 
is running out. Winter will soon be over. That means at the end of 
winter, which generally has a paralyzing effect on fighting, the full 
armed conflict might once again rear its head in that area. There is no 
alternative to the combined efforts of the Americans and the Europeans 
in the Bosnian area.
    Thank you very much, Mr. President, for the kind welcome you have 
extended to us. And now both of us, as we are required, are looking 
forward to the many questions that you will doubtless have.
    The President. Let me say just before I recognize the first 
question, I'd like to thank the Chancellor for his expressions. I think 
he could speak not only for the people of Germany but for the--largely, 
for the people of the rest of the world, of condolences on the death of 
Senator Fulbright.
    As many of you know, this is a sad day for me personally. We'd been 
friends for more than 25 years. And I'm just profoundly grateful today 
for the conviction that he imparted to me when I was a young man that we 
could make peace in the world if we seek better understanding, if we 
promote the exchanges among people, if we advance the cause of global 
education. And for what you said, Chancellor, I am very grateful.

Surgeon General Nominee Foster

    Q. Mr. President, how do you respond to criticism from Republicans 
and Democrats that the White House badly fumbled Dr. Foster's 
nomination? And how can you convince skeptical Senators about his 
credibility and allay their concerns about his abortion--[inaudible]?
    The President. Well, first of all, I think the question about how it 
was handled was answered yesterday as well as can be answered. Dr. 
Foster represented himself last night on television, I thought, rather 
    I have confidence in him. I do not believe that anything I have 
heard about him disquali-

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fies him from serving as Surgeon General. It is, it seems to me, an 
unfair characterization, but perhaps too typical of the appointments 
process generally, to try to define him in the way that those who 
believe that all abortions should be criminal have tried to define him. 
I mean, here's a man who's delivered thousands and thousands and 
thousands of babies and devoted the rest of his time in the last several 
years to trying to end the scourge of teen pregnancy and illegitimacy in 
our country and thereby to reduce the number of abortions and to solve 
one of our most profound problems.
    He was recognized by President Bush for that effort. He has been 
endorsed by Dr. Sullivan, the HHS Director in the Bush administration, 
as well as by a host of others. I have confidence in him. I think he's a 
good man. I think he'll be a good Surgeon General. And I think that that 
ought to be the issue.
    And I do not believe that we should be under any illusion here. This 
is the--the Senate will have an opportunity to decide on his 
qualifications and his life and his work. And I think to allow a man 
like this who has lived the life he has and has garnered the 
endorsements he has from the people who have known him and worked with 
him of both parties for 40 years would be a grave mistake.
    I support him. I want him to have his hearings. I believe the Senate 
will support him. And I think we should not back away from this.
    Now, I know that those who believe that we should abolish the right 
to choose and make conduct which is now legal, criminal, will try to 
seize upon this nomination to negate the work of a man's life and define 
him in cardboard cut-out terms, but I think that is wrong. And I am for 
him, and I think the American people will be for him when they hear him.


    Q. Chancellor, Mr. President--[inaudible]--President Yeltsin, after 
the events in Chechnya, as being a stable force and a trustworthy 
partner for peace?
    Chancellor Kohl. Well, you know, I am probably just as much as 
anyone in the world not able to actually make any predictions, any safe 
predictions, about the future of the Russian country or about the office 
of the President of Russia. It's a dramatic--it's a country that 
currently undergoes dramatic changes. And I tried to explain this in my 
introductory remarks. And my position and the position, I believe, of 
the President is rather easily defined. We--I personally have 
experienced Boris Yeltsin as a man on whom one can rely absolutely, as a 
man who, to the last dotting of the ``i's'' and crossing of the ``t's,'' 
has fulfilled his obligations. When they withdrew the Soviet troops from 
Germany, he completely adhered to what he promised. And obviously I know 
that in Russian military circles there were quite different forces at 
work at the time. Still, they kept their promises.
    And I believe that in supporting him and in showing a spirit of 
friendship towards him, we should not only see support for reforms and 
the building of democracy, the building of the economy, introducing the 
rule of law, but this friendship should also give us the right to tell 
him quite clearly that he must not deceive our hopes and that, although 
we do have understanding, a certain amount of understanding for certain 
setbacks occurring, but still reforms have to go on.
    And I'm saying this not in the sense of actually making any 
conditions, but for me at least, that would be a prerequisite for 
continuing support of the aims that he pursues, democracy and rule of 
law and all of that. There are people who consider themselves to be 
particularly intelligent and particularly wise and who now say, ``Well, 
it can't work, so let's not get involved in that.'' Then there are other 
people, and they exist also in Germany, they think to be even more 
intransigent; they think they can ride this wave of disappointment, of 
bitterness, in view of the pictures that are related to us every day 
from Chechnya and who want to push this man into a corner and want to 
deal with this matter quite differently. I can only warn people to adopt 
such a course.
    I don't know whether what I'm suggesting here today will be 
successful, but I'm absolutely sure, absolutely convinced that if we 
were to push the forces of reform and the President into a corner, 
isolate them, and say, ``We give up on you. There's nothing that we can 
do here,'' that this will immediately bring us back to the old, bad 
structures of the past. And I don't want in a few years ahead to be 
facing the accusation that had we acted in time and reasonably, we could 
have prevented this.
    The President. I have confidence in President Yeltsin. Every time he 
has given me his word, he has done what he said he would do, with

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drawing troops from the Balkans, for example--I mean, from the Baltics, 
and carrying through on all of our nuclear agreements, and all the 
things that we have worked on.
    I think that all of us knew--and before I met with Boris Yeltsin the 
first time in April of '93, the first time I'd met with him as 
President, I tried to caution everyone that Russia was facing a 
difficult and a challenging period, the road would not always be even, 
and we wouldn't always agree with every decision that was made and 
everything that happened. But should we continue to work with President 
Yeltsin and to support democracy and reform and to say honestly where we 
have concerns and disagreements? I think that's what mature countries 
do. And that's what people who are struggling for a goal like democracy 
where it has long been denied and prosperity and reform where it has 
long been absent, that's what people have to do. You have to be willing 
to deal with the rough spots in the road, say where you disagree and 
stay on course. And the United States and Germany must do that. We have 
to keep on course. And I believe we're doing the right thing.
    Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].

Welfare Reform

    Q. Mr. President, there is a Republican move afoot on Capitol Hill 
to deny the disadvantaged who now receive welfare benefits their 
guaranteed benefits. What do you think of that and all of the other 
moves that are--would deny rights under the Constitution against 
searches without a warrant, repealing the crime bill, not guaranteeing 
there won't be cuts with the balanced budget--what does all this mean?
    The President. It's hard to know what it means. No bill has passed 
yet, but there's been a lot of moving around. I said yesterday in this 
room what I thought about the crime bill, and I had--all the law 
enforcement officers in the country were symbolically represented here. 
We don't believe it should be changed in ways that weaken our commitment 
to putting 100,000 police on the street, and basically spend more money 
on prisons and less money on police and prevention.
    With regard to the welfare reform, I think that I owe it to them to 
review the substance of the bill, and I will. You know what my position 
is. My position is we should change the system in ways that promote more 
work, more responsible parenting, give more flexibility to the States 
but have a strong, strong protection for the interests and welfare of 
the children of this country. There is a national interest in making 
sure that the food, the nutrition, the health care of the children of 
this country are protected. That is not a State-by-State interest; that 
is a national interest. Now, I'm willing to go a long way toward letting 
the States implement and design their own welfare reform programs. We 
    The other issue I want to--I didn't see in the summary today is that 
the Republican Governors were very strong in saying that they did think 
the one area where we needed stronger national action was in the area of 
child support enforcement, that the States were not capable of having 
the kind of tough child support enforcement that we need because fully 
more than a third of the orders today that are not enforced involve more 
than one State.
    So I want to review all these details, but I think, let's keep the 
principles in mind. I will evaluate their proposal by those principles. 
And if it promotes work and family and protects children, then I will be 
favorable toward it, even with a lot more flexibility to the States; I 
want that. But I want all those criteria protected. So I'm going to have 
to look very closely on the, it sounds to me like on the child 
protection issue, and I will do that.

Mexican Loan Guarantees

    Q. Chancellor Kohl, you did not respond to President Clinton's 
comments about aid to Mexico. Now, your government's representative at 
the IMF abstained on the vote last week extending $17.8 billion in 
credits to Mexico. Are you now satisfied with the way the Clinton 
administration handled the multilateral aid package, and do you have 
assurances that in the future you'll be consulted more extensively?
    The President. I thought you were a German on that side. [Laughter] 
Go ahead.
    Chancellor Kohl. I am content. I'm satisfied with the result. After 
all, we did agree on the road to that decision one or the other hurdle 
could have been taken more elegantly. But, you know, these kinds of 
things happen, once we sway to one side, once we sway to--another time 
be swayed to another. If you want to try and drive a wedge between us on 
this question, you're not going to be successful.

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    Q. Mr. President, in a couple of weeks Congress is probably going to 
vote to lift the arms embargo against Bosnia. If such a demand comes up, 
will you comply with it? Will you change your policy? And Chancellor, if 
the Congress votes to lift the arms embargo, what will be the reaction 
of Germany and what will be the reaction of the Europeans?
    Chancellor Kohl. Well, I think we should talk about that when we get 
that decision. Today, I'm going to be on the Hill. Later on I shall be 
talking to Senators and Congressmen, and I'm going to advise that we do 
as much together as we can, that we closely coordinate things.
    The President. I'm not sure that's going to happen. I certainly 
don't think it should happen. You know what my position is.

North Korea

    Q. Mr. President, there are some reports that the nuclear agreement 
with North Korea is beginning to unravel. Is that the case? And are you 
confident that it can go forward as you had originally----
    The President. Absolutely. I'm under--I have no information that 
it's beginning to unravel. And I think it can go forward. I think it 
should go forward. I think it must go forward. It is a major part of our 
strategy to protect the world from nuclear proliferation. And I feel 
very strongly about it. We must go forward.
    Is there a German question?

World Bank

    Q. Mr. Chancellor, President Clinton talked about reviewing the 
tasks of the international institutions. Following the difficulties here 
you mentioned regarding the Mexico package, do you think the Federal 
Republic is going to insist on reviewing the credit lines and the credit 
award lines at the World Bank?
    Chancellor Kohl. I'm in favor of that, not simply because of this 
particular experience; I think we should review our work from time to 
time at regular intervals. I hope that we'll be dealing with a very 
peaceful problem when you talk about financing developments in the 
Middle East. That's one example which I do hope will turn into a really 
peaceful challenge for us, assuming the peace process actually succeeds. 
Other than that, I'd be willing to stop and think at every stage whether 
the structures we had hitherto been using are the best ones.
    Let me add that these are things one has to talk about. They need 
not be announced to the public before coordination has been achieved. We 
should simply talk to one another.


    Q. Mr. President, what can you tell us about the arrest of this 
terrorist suspect in Pakistan? And what are the ramifications, in your 
opinion, for terrorist cells or networks or the breakup of these groups 
here in the United States and abroad?
    The President. I can tell you that I'm very pleased about it, and 
that--obviously, there are some things that are better left unsaid, but 
I would refer back to the statement that I issued. This country is 
serious about combating terrorism. We are going to put a lot of 
resources and effort into it. The Attorney General today is releasing 
the legislation that we are sending to the Hill that we very much hope 
will pass with bipartisan support. And this should be further evidence 
that we take this problem very seriously, for ourselves, and for our 
friends, and the friends of freedom around the world. And we continue to 
stay after it. And I'm very pleased about it.
    Q. Will his arrest, sir, to follow up, lead to the possible breakup 
of other groups here in the States or abroad?
    The President. I think that it is better that I not say anything 
else about his arrest other than what has already been in the paper at 
this time.
    Is there another German question?
    Q. Can I follow up on that?
    The President. Yes, sir. The normally suave and confident--
[laughter]--is suffering technology breakdown. [Laughter]

German Exports to Iran

    Q. Mr. Chancellor, they couldn't drive a wedge between you and the 
President in Mexico. How about on Germany's exports to Iran? There are 
growing concerns, you know, among U.S. officials that Germany may be 
doing with Iran what it did with Iraq before the Gulf war, inadvertently 
helping it develop weapons of mass destruction. Is Germany involved? Are 
you taking another look at some of the exports that you're providing to 
Iran, which has been accused, as you know, by the United States as being 
a source of international terrorism? And

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President Clinton, how concerned are you about Germany's exports to 
    Chancellor Kohl. First of all, I think your statement is incorrect. 
What you just said about Iraq is wrong. If you read the complete report 
that came out, not just the little passage about Germany, then you'll 
find that Germany was not number one. I know that this rumor is cropping 
up in Washington time and again, but I'd like to use this opportunity to 
say that that is wrong.
    As far as Iran specifically is concerned, we are in agreement. We 
are not willing to support any policy in Iran which might entail the 
danger of fundamentalism, which to me is one of the greatest dangers we 
are facing today. We are not willing to add any support to 
fundamentalism. We have cut back economic relations with Iran 
considerably. Those were longstanding relations which we have cut back 
    And if I'm not mistaken, Time magazine, being a respectable news 
magazine, has said quite a number of things this week about American oil 
companies, not German oil companies, mind you. And if you take a look, 
you'll have to conclude that these oil companies export into other 
countries, not our country.
    We feel that, with a view to the peace process in the Middle East in 
which we, as Germans, have a special interest, a process in regard to 
which we fully support the President's policy in wanting that process to 
succeed, that this is a very important step indeed. We're talking about 
Israel here, among other things. And if a German Chancellor, 50 years 
after Auschwitz, talks about Israel, you may believe him when he says 
that he has a great interest in that process being successful and that 
we would not dream of supporting any policy in any part of the world 
which might in any way impede Israel's prospects for a peaceful future. 
And that is why we are most certainly going to act along the lines I 
pointed out in regard to economic relations as well.
    We are in a somewhat different situation because, following the 
developments of the past years, we have become a country that has very 
few regulatory controls, that is quite open to the outside. And in the 
past--and this has, time and again, been our problem, also vis-a-vis 
Iraq--we have been one of the major suppliers of chemical products 
because we had a superb chemical industry. And then we time and again 
got a situation where one of those chemical companies supplied a 
product, exported a product that could be used for many purposes, mostly 
of course for peaceful purposes but which could be abused, which could 
be misused and used for other purposes.
    I talked to German industry and we agreed that we would do 
everything we can in order to make diversion impossible. Or to put it 
differently, we are not talking simply about law enforcement here; we 
are going to make sure that the reputation of our country is not 
damaged. So it's not only a matter of criminal pursuits but it's a 
matter of maintaining our country's reputation, which I find important.

Note: The President's 85th news conference began at 1 p.m. in Room 450 
of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to 
Ramzi Ahmed Yusuf, alleged mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World 
Trade Center in New York City. Chancellor Kohl spoke in German, and his 
remarks were translated by an interpreter.