Public Papers

Remarks to Members of the Presidential Economic Delegation to Poland


The President. Well, thank you very much. To our distinguished guests here and to all the members of this important mission team, I just wanted to come by tonight to wish you well as you leave on this important mission. I view it, really, as a mission of tremendous importance, a historymaking journey to a country that's making history every day.

And let me say to Secretaries Yeutter and -- I don't know that Bob Mosbacher is here -- --

Secretary Yeutter. He'll come later.

The President. -- -- and certainly Elizabeth Dole, and to Dr. Mike Boskin over here: You lead a delegation of tremendous experience and talent. Together, it's a cross-section of the private sector institutions that constitute democracy's great strength and gives practical meaning to the principles of free government.

Helping Poland rejoin the community of free nations is a task that simply cannot be accomplished by government alone. It depends on building the countless exchanges that take place every day among businesses and organized labor and the academic community and their counterparts in other free countries. The trip you're making is really the first step in that process.

As you know, I'm taking a trip of my own this weekend. And in my meetings with Mr. Gorbachev and afterwards with our NATO allies, I can assure you that the historic developments that have taken place in Poland -- and of course, elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe -- will be high on our agenda. I will be anxious to hear your report on the ways that we can help Poland achieve its democratic destiny and become a model of transition for these other states -- a model of transition to a free economy. And your work can be of great help to other countries in Eastern Europe as they move towards economic reform.

I am very pleased that the initiatives that I've proposed last summer for aid to Poland and Hungary have become a reality. In just a few moments, I will sign into law a package authorizing 8 million in American aid over the next 3 years, and that will enable the United States to do its part to encourage these two nations on the road to reform. We've got to recognize, though, the fact that dollars alone will not make the difference. Think back to the economic miracle of Western Europe after the Second World War. The secret to that success wasn't the price tag on the aid that we sent. Our aid came with our advice, our example, and the full engagement of our private sector in shaping the free-market system that has generated unprecedented prosperity all across Western Europe. And that lesson holds true for Poland today. Our aid must be seed money for free market reform and for the involvement of our private sector.

Lane Kirkland -- I see Lane back there, but I don't see Bob Georgine. Is he there? There he is. Normally, they're in the front row -- something's gone awry here. [Laughter] But with Lane and Bob here, I might say that you all heard, I'm sure, Lech Walesa in his address to the AFL - CIO when he joked about that strange twist of fate, that it fell to a Polish trade unionist to launch a publicity campaign for private entrepreneurship.

What we want for Poland, and what the Polish people want for themselves, is to begin a process of economic development that is self-sustaining, a process that puts free market principles on a firm foundation -- and because the fate of Polish reform, indeed, Poland's future as a free nation, depends upon its ability to build a functioning, productive economy.

It's with missions like yours that the real work begins. I urge you to make the most of it. So, talk to your counterparts in all parts of Polish society. Find out what kinds of investment, what kind of expertise will help Poland succeed in transforming its economy -- and then in the larger transformation that flows into a fully free nation. Every one of you can contribute; every one of you can be a catalyst for change at this critical moment in Poland's history. You're all busy people; you're all successful people. And the fact that you are willing to undertake this very important assignment for your country -- that means a great deal, and I am grateful to each and every single one of you.

And so, as you begin this fascinating mission, I really wanted to come across and wish you the very best. I hope, Clayton, if you get far enough along, you or Elizabeth or Bob, that maybe you can be in touch with General Scowcroft or Secretary Baker or me in Malta. I want to know how this goes. And if it's not too soon to get an impression, I'd like to hear it there in Malta, and then it would give me flexibility in my talks with the General Secretary.

So, it's important work you're involved in. And Godspeed, and good luck, and thank you very much for doing this. And now let me just sign this Support for Eastern European Democracy Act, the act of 1989 -- sign that into law. God bless you all, and thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:45 p.m. at Blair House. In his remarks, he referred to Michael J. Boskin, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; Lane Kirkland, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; Robert Georgine, president of the building and construction trades department of the AFL - CIO; and Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Following his remarks, the President signed H.R. 3402, which was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 179.