Transcript of Joint News Conference With U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin
CLINTON: So yes, I've got to go back to the Congress. I believe they will, once they have a chance to fully review this, support the decision I have made today. It may take us a little longer than President Yeltsin indicated it would take him in the Duma, but I think we will both get a favorable result because this is so clearly in the interests of the Russian and the American people.
Would you like to take one more, maybe?
QUESTION: Boris Nikolayevich, what's your thought on the version that the Russian giving way on the issue of NATO's expansion to the East will be paid by financial generosity of the West?
YELTSIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First of all, I don't see it that way at all. I don't see this generosity at all. If, in the statement on the economic issues, which we had just signed, if there are formulas in there that investments will be supported, investments going to Russia and certain sums of money will be appropriated by the American side, that does not mean that this is assistance to Russia.
This is assistance to the private sector for and making investments in Russia. This is assistance to American citizens, not to Russia. Why do you see an exchange here? There is no exchange, and I categorically disagree with that formulation that in place of one, we sort of bartered here and as a result of that, we have come up with these ideas. I don't agree with that.
I should say that even the order of looking at these issues, and we've held four tours lasting from 45 minutes to an hour and a half each -- the order of looking at these issues was as follows: First, we looked at European security and NATO; secondly, the ABM issue; then we took up chemical weapons.
Then we talked about START III, that is the reduction of future, further strategic weapons; and only after that, we started talking of economic issues.
I did not know that the American side was preparing this. But you see, first we resolve and discuss all of these issues, and only then we approach the economic question.
This should tell you that this was not a case where we used this as a poker chip.
CLINTON: I'd just like to support that. And let me say, first of all, what President Yeltsin said about the order in which we took these issues up is absolutely right, first.
Second, I believe that the economic announcements which were made today are in the interests of the American people, both directly and indirectly.
Let me deal with the indirect question first. Russia in the end cannot be the strong partner that we seek in the 21st century, and cannot be free to help create a very different future for Europe and for itself, a future in which we define our greatness by the way we treat other people, and by our success in our free dealings rather than our ability to dominate them.
Russia cannot build that kind of future unless ordinary Russian citizens receive the benefit free markets and democracy.
That will not happen.
Secondly, I believe that Russia has the potential to have enormous economic growth in a short period of time by attracting large flows of investment from around the world if the elements that President Yeltsin outlined in his economic reform and the legal changes which he has proposed to the Duma can be embraced.
I would be irresponsible, as president of the United States, if I did not bring into play the Export-Import Bank and our other mechanisms for investing our money to make American investors competitive with investors from around the world for new economic opportunities in Russia.
It would be irresponsible of me. If we do that and we put a lot of money in Russia, billions of dollars, will your people have more jobs and higher incomes? Yes. But so will Americans.
And I all the time I have to be looking at it, it'd just be like I can't walk away from Latin America. I would be irresponsible if we didn't try to invest in our neighbors in Latin America in the future. So that's the way I feel.
A lot of the areas where you're going to grow in Russia, in the energy sector, just for example, just to take one area, or areas where American businesses have enormous expertise and literally decades of experience, we would be foolish if we walked away from the opportunity that you present to make money and have opportunities.
So I entirely agree with what the president said, but I wanted to reinforce it from our perspective. Just a minute, the lady in the back there in the red dress. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. I would like to ask something from both of you. How would you react, sir, if Finland would express its willingness to join NATO?
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