United Nations
September 19, 1995

Good afternoon.

I am honored to be speaking before the United Nations General Assembly. I would like to thank Ambassador Albright for making it possible for me to speak today...and I would like to congratulate Professor (Diogo Freitas Do) Amaral on his election as President of this 50th year General Assembly.

When Mayor William O'Dwyer welcomed the U.N. Delegates to New York City for the first time in 1947, he spoke of an "immense reservoir of goodwill for the United Nations" in the nation and in this city.

Nearly half a century later, New Yorkers are proud of the U.N. and its continued presence here. Their good will and pride attest to the foresight of the U.N. organizers in choosing New York as the organization's permanent home.

As a center of world trade, New York has always been open to different openness that has produced a city like no other in the world...

I often say that you can't spend a day in New York without meeting someone who looks, acts, speaks and even thinks differently from yourself.

After several days of being confronted with New York City's diversity, any resident or visitor will conclude that our many differences are vastly outweighed by our similarities.

That's why New York is not only the world's most diverse city, but also the world's most cosmopolitan and tolerant city.

By the same matter where you're New York City you will find people from your country...your town...even your village...who speak your language...and even your dialect...

You will find people who practice your religion...share your cultural traditions...and enjoy your cuisine.

New York City is the capital of the world.

And the presence of the United Nations makes that claim even more substantial...

Because the U.N. makes New York City the world's political capital. The U.N. enhances America's position and prestige abroad...and its economy at home.

Yet there is a movement in America to reduce our commitment and, specifically, funding to the U.N.... ill-conceived proposition that would achieve only symbolic savings in the federal budget, while greatly impeding the operation of the United Nations...and hurt the economy of the U.N.'s host country -- the United States.

The continued viability of the U.N. is critical to America's continuing mission to foster freedom and democracy throughout the world.

While it cannot solve every problem, the U.N. provides a crucial forum for international debate and cooperation.

And just as the U.N. has played a role in promoting peace and human rights, increasingly it will play a role in promoting international commerce, making it vitally important to America's economic future.

And New York City is where the world does business, because we have more banks than any other city, two major stock exchanges, and the greatest concentration of media and advertising.

To the extent that the world has a single marketplace...New York City is that marketplace.

It's ironic that at the same time America's economy is becoming more international, a potent strain of isolationism once again is infecting our political discourse.

If it takes hold...America would be in danger of missing an important opportunity for its own economic expansion...

Instead of retreating from the world stage, we should be seeking new ways to use our leadership role in the U.N. To promote better economic cooperation among nations.

It is in the interest of the United States -- politically and economically -- to exploit the role the U.N. can play in promoting peace and human rights...and to significantly expand opportunities for international business cooperation.

Sometimes leadership means taking unpopular positions...rejecting harmful political fads...

...sometimes leadership requires challenging myths.

That's the kind of leadership we need in defining our relationship with the U.N. -- and also on the issue of immigration.

Some people are frightened of differences. They do not understand how differences can challenge and energize society.

Our nation owes its existence to the hard work, determination and vision of immigrants...and in the end I am confident that support for immigration will prevail over this latest advent of suspicion.

Involvement in the world, and openness to new peoples, cultures, and ideas ensure a growing and dynamic society.

Let's join together in our common objective to promote progress and growth.

You can't be a New Yorker -- you can't be part of this city -- and deny the contributions of immigrants.

New York City was built by immigrants...and it will remain the greatest city in the world so long as we continue to renew ourselves with and benefit from the energizing spirit from new people coming here to create a better future for themselves and their families.

Come to Flushing, Queens, where immigrants from many lands have created a vibrant, vital commercial and residential community.

Their children challenge and astonish us in our public school classrooms every day.

Similarly, you can see growing and dynamic immigrant communities in every borough of our city:

  • Russians in Brighton Beach;

  • West Indians in Crown Heights;

  • Dominicans in Washington Heights;

  • The new wave of Irish in the bronx;

  • And Koreans in Willow Brook on Staten Island.

    I should tell you all that the most diverse place in the city is the borough of queens, where New Yorkers from South America, the West Indies, Africa, Asia, and Europe are building our city's and our nation's future.

    All of them came here because they want to create a better life for themselves...they want to achieve...and they challenge each of us to do better.

    They give us a perspective on America we wouldn't otherwise have.

    That's precisely the spirit of immigration that has energized New York City in every generation, in every decade of our history, making this the best-known and the greatest city in the world.

    Fifty years after the end of World War Two...with the Cold War finally behind us...

    The world looks forward to a new which nations will seek to forge relationships based on mutual benefit...designed to promote cultural and economic growth...

    ...nations that once reached out to one another tentatively, seeking to ease tensions and foster hope...

    ...can now move forward together decisively...with a free exchange of ideas and material goods.

    New York City will proudly play host to this new and vibrant cultural and economic interchange.

    New Yorkers are gratified that the issues that concern the world will be debated -- and hopefully resolved -- right here in New York the United Nations.

    Our relationship is now decades old...but in a very real has only just begun.

    On behalf of the people of the City of New York I'm proud and happy to welcome you for your 50th anniversary...and to say to all of you that -- wherever you come from and however long you are here -- you are New Yorkers.

    Thank you.

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