December 26, 1984

Five years ago the army of the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, overthrew its government, and installed a puppet regime subservient to Moscow. This regime enjoys no popular support from the people of Afghanistan; it is propped up by the guns of 115,000 Soviet occupation troops.

For 5 years the Soviet Army has waged war on the proud and deeply religious people of Afghanistan, and there is still no end in sight. Nonetheless, for 5 years, the people of Afghanistan, with legendary courage, have fought the occupying Soviet forces to a standstill.

This fifth anniversary of Afghan defiance stands in stark contrast to the joyful holidays we celebrate at this time of the year. Yet there is a message of inspiration in the cruel tale being written this winter in the mountain passes and valleys of Afghanistan. The Afghan freedomfighters -- the mujahidin -- remind us daily that the human spirit is resilient and tenacious, and that liberty is not easily stolen from a people determined to defend it. The Afghan people are writing a new chapter in the history of freedom. We Americans salute their magnificent courage.

By overwhelming margins in the United Nations, the world community has repeatedly expressed its condemnation of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. For our part, the United States has made clear to Soviet leaders that the presence of Soviet occupying forces in Afghanistan constitutes a serious impediment to the improvement of our bilateral relations. We cannot and will not remain silent on Afghanistan. We join our voice with other members of the world community in calling for a prompt, negotiated end to this brutal conflict.

The way to end this tragic situation is based on the criteria advanced repeatedly by the United Nations: the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan; the restoration of Afghanistan's independence and its nonaligned status; self-determination for the Afghan people; and the return of the millions of Afghan refugees to their homes with safety and honor. Until these goals are achieved, the Soviet Union will continue to pay a high price for its suppression of Afghanistan's freedom.

The history of independent Afghanistan goes back more than 2,000 years and is far from being finished. My deepest hope is to speak of freedom restored to Afghanistan by this time next year. In this season when people of good will everywhere turn their attention to the greatest blessing a nation can enjoy -- peace at home and abroad -- we will not forget the people of Afghanistan who are struggling to live once again among the free nations of the world. These brave people will continue to have the support of all Americans in their noble struggle.