The President's Trip to Europe: Portugal, Germany, Russia, Ukraine

Office of the Press Secretary
(Lisbon, Portugal)
For Immediate Release May 30, 2000


Pavilion of Knowledge Science Center
Lisbon, Portugal

4:56 P.M. (L))

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Mr. Prime Minister, Professor Quintanilha, Minister Gago, Dr. Vargas, ladies and gentlemen. I have just had a lot of fun touring this Science Center, but the meaning here of what is being done goes beyond the simple joy of learning. From the outermost reaches of space to the darkest depths of the ocean, from the mysteries of nanotechnology to the miracles of the human genome, men and women are gathering knowledge at a faster pace than ever before that will have the most profound impacts, especially on the way the young people in this audience live.

Knowledge is being more widely applied and more quickly disseminated than ever before, thanks in no small measure to the Internet. And therefore, universal education and universal access to technology are more important than ever before.

Today I applaud the scientific work being done in Portugal, and the efforts of Prime Minister Guterres and Minister Gago to train the next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors and astronauts, as well as to close the digital divide, to make sure all the children of this nation have the tools they need to master the Information Age.

I am particularly impressed how much scientific research is being done in partnership. In my tour of the Science Center and its exhibits, I saw impressive examples of cutting-edge research across national boundaries -- Portuguese scientists in close cooperation with Americans, Europeans, Africans, tackling some of the world's most critical health problems.

In Africa, Asia, and many parts of the world, diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are killing not only people, but hope for progress. In Africa, where 70 percent of all the world's AIDS cases exist in sub-Saharan Africa, some countries are hiring two employees for every job on the assumption that one of them will die of AIDS.

In other African countries, 30 percent of the teachers, and 40 percent of the soldiers have the virus. Millions suffer from strains of malaria that are increasingly resistant to any drug. And a third of the world has actually been exposed to tuberculosis. These diseases can ruin economies and threaten the very survival of societies.

I was gratified to meet with some Portuguese scientists working on state-of-the-art malaria research, together with the U.S. Public Health Service, and to meet some of their students who were learning about it. Other Portuguese and American teams are learning together, studying the bacteria that caused TB, other new drug-resistant disease threats, and a recently discovered pathogen that can strike down those already suffering from AIDS.

I enjoyed meeting with the high school students who were using the Internet to study infectious diseases, and share information with other students all across Europe. This kind of research and learning benefits both our nations. It reaches across continents to benefit people who really need it, especially in this case, in Africa.

Our challenge now is also to support prevention programs, to accelerate the creation of affordable drugs and vaccines. We have made a national commitment to do this in the United States. I've asked Congress for over $325 million to increase our international efforts against AIDS. I've asked for a billion-dollar tax credit and a global purchase fund to speed the development by our pharmaceutical companies of vaccines for AIDS, TB and malaria. We have committed over $70 million to fight TB, over $100 million to fight malaria.

And as the Prime Minister said, today we are announcing a new partnership with Portugal and Sao Tome and Principe to study that African country's unique malarial epidemic, and to develop a strategy to end it.

Tomorrow I am here also to meet with leaders of the European Union, and your Prime Minister is the President in this period. I hope we'll come out of that meeting with a common approach to the global health crisis that will increase scientific research, increase the availability of learning opportunities for our young people, and most importantly, keep more people alive in the 21st century.

We have got to make sure that today's revolution in science and technology serves all humanity, helps us to fight hunger, to mitigate natural disasters, to reverse the tide of global warming, to grow our economies without damaging the environment. This is profoundly important and a very great challenge, indeed.

I couldn't help thinking today that intelligence is equally distributed throughout the world, but not all the young people of the world have a chance to come together as the Portuguese young people I met today do, to study TB, to study malaria. Instead, many of them are fighting for their lives because they have it.

We have a solemn responsibility to take the benefits of the information economy, of the explosion in biomedical discoveries, and use them to give every young person in the world the chance to live up to their God-given potential, and to create a safer, better, stronger, more prosperous world for us all. That, in the end, is how these discoveries should be measured, by whether we did our part to spread them quickly to benefit everyone.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 5:05 P.M. (L)

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