President Jimmy Carter – Press Conference – May 12, 1977 – CBS Radio Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Jimmy Carter holds a press conference, his first since returning from a summit conference in London and his first trip overseas as President:
President Jimmy Carter: I have a very brief statement to make–to begin with, just an overview of what I consider to be the results of our trip to Europe, and then I will be glad to answer whatever questions you might have.
This was the first trip I’ve taken outside of our country since I became President. It was a very full few days. I tried to be well prepared. And I think that I can report substantial success, not particularly because of my own participation but because there was, I believe, a renewed spirit of hope and confidence engendered among all of us who participated as we look to the future in our ideological competition with the Eastern Communists and Socialist countries, compared to our own in the Western democracies, now including Japan.
I think there is a sense, a quiet sense that we have justified reasons for that confidence, although we sometimes suffer a temporary discomfiture in unemployment, inflation, and a sense that the Soviets perhaps are increasing their military strength.
I think there is now a much clearer picture that we are able to compete and that that competition must be conducted under peaceful circumstances.
There is a difference. We have strong systems of government. For the first time since NATO was begun many years ago, all the participating countries are democracies.
We are very proud of the new emergence of Spain and Portugal with the democratic system of government. And I think there is a sense to conclude that in a test of will, of confidence, of cooperation, that when men and women in our societies are free, when we can make our own decisions, choose our own governments, that gives us an inherent advantage.
There was a closeness among us when we adjourned that I thought was very encouraging, a better understanding.
I personally had private conversations with the leaders of 16 or 17 different countries. I tried to study, ahead of time, what their special problems were and what their opportunities were for increased friendship with us. And I think we were successful.
We recommitted our commitment to NATO. We called on a reanalysis of what NATO will be during the 1980’s, a new study of East-West relationships, and a better way to save money, and to make a NATO commitment more effective with standardization of weapons.
While there, I took a quick trip to Geneva to meet President Asad of Syria–a continuing process in my own life as President–to study the special attitudes toward a possible alleviation of the Middle Eastern dispute this year. And hopefully, after the Israeli elections this month, we can have the new leader of the Israeli Government come back to meet with me, as Prime Minister Rabin did earlier this year.
So, these are the things that we attempted. I think our successes were well publicized, but it was a joint success and I believe that we understand each other better. There’s a renewed strength and commitment in the democratic societies who are our friends and allies.”
Here is that complete Press Conference as broadcast live on May 12, 1977.