Eastern and Central EuropeThe breakdown of the postwar monolithic Stalinist bloc in Europe is a fact of life. This creates new conditions, aspirations and expectations in both Western and Eastern Europe. Just as peace and its fruits are indivisible for the West, so they must be for Eastern Europe.
While the countries of that region are in close proximity to the U.S.S.R., they also have historic ties to Western Europe and to the United States. We will not exploit these ties to undermine the security of the Soviet Union. We would not pretend that the facts of history and geography do not create special circumstances in Eastern Europe. We recognize a divergence in social, political, and economic systems between East and West.
But, in our view, every nation in Europe has the sovereign right to conduct independent policies, and to be our friend without being anyone else's enemy or being treated as such.
There are difficulties, which we recognize, attending close political relations between Eastern European nations and the United States. But within these limits there are opportunities for economic, scientific and technological contact which we are prepared to broaden on the basis of mutual benefit.
In 1969 I visited Romania - a Warsaw Pact country-the first visit by an American President to a Communist country in twenty-four years. President Ceausescu visited Washington in 1970. Romania takes positions on many major issues quite different from our own, but we both recognize the right of every nation to develop its own policies in light of its own interests. Therefore our differences do not preclude consultation or practical cooperation.
Our trade with Romania doubled in 1970. We extended credits for the purchase of agricultural commodities and liberalized certain export controls for her benefit. We expanded educational and cultural exchanges and responded with immediate relief in medical supplies, foodstuffs, and other emergency needs when Romania suffered a disastrous flood in 1970.
In 1970, on President Tito's invitation, I paid the first visit by an American President to nonaligned Yugoslavia. We exchanged ideas on major international issues, especially on the Middle East. We broadened our ties of cooperation on the basis of mutual interest and a mature respect for our acknowledged differences. President Tito has now accepted my invitation to pay a return visit to the United States.
Our trade with Yugoslavia increased by over one-third in 1970. The U.S. Export-Import Bank reached agreement with Yugoslavia to increase credit, and extended a loan for Yugoslav purchase of commercial jet aircraft in this country.
Romania and Yugoslavia both welcome private capital as beneficial to their economic expansion and consistent with their national policies. I will therefore shortly ask the Congress to provide authority to extend guarantees to American private investment in both countries. This is to our mutual benefit.
Romania and Yugoslavia have indicated by their policies a desire for cordial relations with the United States on the basis of reciprocity. Our relations have continued to improve because the pace and scope is determined in the first instance by them. We are responsive, and other countries in Eastern Europe who desire better relations with us will find us responsive as well. Reconciliation in Europe is in the interest of peace.