October 4, 1983
President Reagan. Mr. President and Mrs. Carstens, Mr. Minister and Mrs. Genscher, honored guests, I'm delighted to welcome you and your party to Washington and to the United States.
During my inspiring visit to Bonn in June 1982, we agreed that you would come to this country for an official visit as part of our joint celebration of German-American friendship.
This year has special significance. We celebrate the 300th anniversary of the first German immigration to America. Those first families -- or settlers, I should say, were 13 families from the Rhineland. They were followed by millions of their countrymen, men, women, and children who became a strong thread running through the fabric of America. German Americans have meant so much to the development of this nation. And today German-American friendship is vital to the security and freedom of both our peoples.
Nineteen eighty-three is a landmark year for our two countries and for the NATO alliance as a whole. We and the rest of our allies must continue to have the courage and mutual trust to do what is necessary to maintain peace and security in Europe.
We decided in December 1979 that if no agreement with the Soviet Union could be reached, maintaining a balance of force in Europe would require the modernization of NATO's deterrent forces. So far, the Soviet Union has not been willing to negotiate a fair and verifiable arms reduction agreement with us. Let there be no mistake, an agreement will be far better for all concerned. We seek the elimination of these weapons, and we will continue our unflagging efforts to reach an acceptable agreement. But if the Soviet intransigence continues, we must begin deployment and ensure NATO's deterrent.
We're confident that the alliance will meet this challenge and that the strength of the German-American partnership will be a major factor enabling NATO to do so. For our part, we remain convinced that a strong NATO alliance remains the key to European peace, and German-American cooperation and trust are the linchpin of that alliance.
In meeting today and in your visit to many parts of the United States, I believe that you will see that the reservoir of good will our people hold for the Federal Republic of Germany runs just as deep as ever.
By resolution of both our Congress and the German Bundestag and by my proclamation of last January, the year 1983 is the tricentennial year of German settlement in America. Commemoration of this momentous event in the life of our two nations has been and will be vigorous on both sides of the Atlantic. The cities on your itinerary are poised to welcome you. The people of America are waiting to share the high points of their celebrations with you. Your presence here marking this anniversary touches us deeply. We are proud to say -- and I hope I can correctly -- Wir heissen Sie willkommen.
We greet you. We welcome you. We cherish your friendship. And may God bless you and Mrs. Carstens.
President Carstens. Mr. President, thank you very much for your warm words of welcome and thank you for your invitation to visit this country together with the Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Mr. Genscher.
I'm looking forward to my talks with you, Mr. President, with the Vice President, with the Secretary of State, with Members of Congress. And I'm looking forward to meet thousands of American citizens while traveling through this country.
The purpose of my visit is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America. We commemorate the arrival of the first German settlers in Philadelphia 300 years ago. And you, Mr. President, proclaimed that day as a day which we all should celebrate. We also commemorate the contribution which millions of German emigrants made to the building of the American nation.
But I further want to express the gratitude of us Germans towards the American people for what they did after two World Wars. And I have only to recall millions of CARE parcels which were sent from America to Germans when we were in great need. I have only to recall the Marshall plan, which saved our economy after World War II. And I have only to recall the Berlin Airlift of 1948 - 49, which saved the freedom of Berlin.
Today, we are partners in the North Atlantic alliance, the most efficient alliance of modern times because it has preserved peace and freedom for its members over a period for more than 30 years. Under the terms of this alliance, 250,000 American soldiers serve in Germany. We greet them as allies, partners, and friends. And in saying this, I speak in the name of the vast majority of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany.
But we are not only linked by our alliance, we also have -- and I think that is as important -- common values underlying our system of government. And by that I mean democracy, personal freedom, human dignity, and rule of law. Looking to the future, I think we must give our peoples the opportunity to understand each other even better. And particularly we must give this opportunity to the young generation.
While I'm here, I shall, together with members of the German parliament -- and I'm happy to say that Mrs. Renger, the vice president of the parliament, is here -- I shall work for the implementation of different exchange programs under which more than 10,000 young Americans will go to Germany and young Germans will go to America. This is, I think, the best way for nations to become friends, because they will realize that we, the Germans, and you, the Americans, have much more in common than most of them have been aware of.
I am happy to be back in America, a country to which I owe personally a great deal, namely part of my legal education at one of your finest universities.
Thank you very much.
Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:10 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where President Carstens was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors.
Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office. They then met, together with U.S. and German officials, in the Cabinet Room.