08 February 2005
Open New Chapter in Our Alliance, Rice in Paris Urges Europe
Secretary of state says U.S. ready to work with Europe on common agenda
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed to Europe February 8 to set aside past disagreements with the United States, and open a new chapter in the transatlantic alliance based on the unprecedented opportunity to achieve “historic global advances for justice and prosperity, for liberty and for peace.”
“It is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past,” Rice said in a speech at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques-Sciences Politiques de Paris. “It is time to open a new chapter in our relationship, and a new chapter in our alliance.”
“America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda -- and Europe must stand ready to work with America,” said Rice in the major policy speech of her weeklong trip to Europe and the Middle East.
Calling the present “a time of unprecedented opportunity for the transatlantic Alliance,” she said that if Europeans and Americans “make the pursuit of global freedom the organizing principle of the 21st century, we will achieve historic global advances for justice and prosperity, for liberty and for peace.”
Rice began her speech by recalling that the founders of both the French and American republics were inspired by the very same values. Citing examples of men and women who have launched revolutions for freedom ranging from American civil rights champion Rosa Parks to those who brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989, she likened their courage to those of Afghans and Iraqis who have voted for freedom.
Rice said the purpose of her trip is to talk with Europeans about how America and Europe can work together to advance common ideals worldwide; President Bush will continue the conversation on his February 21-25 trip to Europe. “We on the right side of freedom's divide have an obligation to help those unlucky enough to have been born on the wrong side of that divide,” she said.
Describing in more detail the new chapter she envisions in a U.S.-European partnership based on common opportunities rather than common threats, Rice spoke of supporting democratic reform in the Middle East in general, and in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular.
She cited efforts to encourage political pluralism, economic openness and the growth of civil society through the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative.
Rice acknowledged that, as President Bush has said, the spread of freedom is the work of generations, but “spreading freedom in the Arab and Muslim worlds is also urgent work that cannot be deferred.”
In Iraq, she said, “the transatlantic partnership must rise to the challenge that the Iraqi people have set for us.”
“We must support them as they form their political institutions. We must help them with economic reconstruction and development. And we must stay by their side to provide security until Iraqis themselves can take full ownership of that job," she said.
Rice also called for Europe to join with the United States in supporting a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition to what the Israelis and Palestinians must do, there is a “need for all of us to make clear that Iran and Syria must stop supporting terrorists who seek to destroy every chance for peace,” she said.
“This is the best chance for peace that we are likely to see for some years to come; and we are acting to help Israelis and Palestinians seize this chance. President Bush is committed. I am personally committed. We must all be committed to seizing this chance,” Rice said.
“Development, transparency and democracy reinforce each other,” she said in closing. “That is why the spread of freedom under the rule of law is our best hope for progress.”
Rice said America has everything to gain from having a stronger Europe as a partner in building a safer and better world. “So let each of us bring to the table our ideas and our experience and our resources; and let us discuss and decide, together, how best to employ them for democratic change.”
After concluding her speech, Rice took questions from the audience on subjects ranging from the development of Iraqi democracy to biological weapons.
Following is the State Department transcript of the secretary’s speech and the question-and-answer session that followed:
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very, very much. Thank you for those warm and welcoming words. And let me also thank the people of France for being such perfect hosts. I've just arrived. I wish I could stay longer. But it's such a wonderful city; it's wonderful to be here. I look forward to my discussions here with President Chirac, with Foreign Minister Barnier and with others. And -- as a pianist -- tomorrow I look forward to visiting one of your fine music schools.
It is a real special pleasure for me to be here at Sciences Po. For more than 130 years, this fine institution has trained thinkers and leaders. As a political scientist myself, I appreciate very much the important work that you do.
The history of the United States and that of France are intertwined. Our history is a history of shared values, of shared sacrifice and of shared successes. So, too, will be our shared future.
I remember well my first visit to Paris -- here -- my visit to Paris here in 1989, when I had the honor of accompanying President George Herbert Walker Bush to the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Americans celebrated our own bicentennial in that same year, the 200th anniversary of our nation's Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
Those shared celebrations were more than mere coincidence. The founders of both the French and American republics were inspired by the very same values, and by each other. They shared the universal values of freedom and democracy and human dignity that have inspired men and women across the globe for centuries.
Standing up for liberty is as old as our country. It was our very first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who said, "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." Now the American founders realized that they, like all human beings, are flawed creatures, and that any government established by man would be imperfect. Even the great authors of our liberty sometimes fell short of liberty's promise - even Jefferson, himself, a slave owner.
So we are fortunate that our founders established a democratic system of, by, and for the people that contained within it a way for citizens -- especially for impatient patriots -- to correct even its most serious flaws. Human imperfections do not discredit democratic ideals; they make them more precious, and they make impatient patriots of our own time work harder to achieve them.
Men and women, both great and humble, have shown us the power of human agency in this work. In my own experience, a black woman named Rosa Parks was just tired one day of being told to sit in the back of a bus, so she refused to move. And she touched off a revolution of freedom across the American South.
In Poland, Lech Walesa had had enough of the lies and the exploitation, so he climbed a wall and he joined a strike for his rights; and Poland was transformed.
In Afghanistan just a few months ago, men and women, once oppressed by the Taliban, walked miles, forded streams and stood hours in the snow just to cast a ballot for their first vote as a free people.
And just a few days ago in Iraq, millions of Iraqi men and women defied the terrorist threats and delivered a clarion call for freedom. Individual Iraqis risked their lives. One policeman threw his body on a suicide bomber to preserve the right of his fellow citizens to vote. They cast their free votes, and they began their nation's new history.
These examples demonstrate a basic truth -- the truth that human dignity is embodied in the free choice of individuals.
We witnessed the power of that truth in that remarkable year of 1989 when the Berlin Wall was brought down by ordinary men and women in East Germany. Yet, that day of freedom in November 1989 could never have happened without the full support of the free nations of the West.
Time and again in our shared history, Americans and Europeans have enjoyed our greatest successes, for ourselves and for others, when we refused to accept an unacceptable status quo -- but instead, put our values to work in the service of freedom.
And we have achieved much together. Today, a democratic Germany is unified within NATO, and tyranny no longer stalks the heart of Europe. NATO and the European Union have since welcomed Europe's newest democracies into our ranks; and we have used our growing strength for peace. And just a decade ago, Southeastern Europe was aflame. Today, we are working toward lasting reconciliation in the Balkans, and to fully integrate the Balkans into the European mainstream.
These achievements have only been possible because America and Europe have stood firm in the belief that the fundamental character of regimes cannot be separated from their external behavior. Borders between countries cannot be peaceful if tyrants destroy the peace of their societies from within. States where corruption, and chaos and cruelty reign invariably pose threats to their neighbors, threats to their regions, and potential threats to the entire international community.
Our work together has only begun. In our time we have an historic opportunity to shape a global balance of power that favors freedom -- and that will therefore deepen and extend the peace. And I use the word "power" broadly, because even more important than military and indeed economic power is the power of ideas, the power of compassion, and the power of hope.
I am here in Europe so that we can talk about how America and Europe can use the power of our partnership to advance our ideals worldwide. President Bush will continue our conversation when he arrives in Europe on February 21st. He is determined to strengthen transatlantic ties. As the President said in his recent Inaugural Address: "All that we seek to achieve in the world requires that America and Europe remain close partners."
I believe that our greatest achievements are yet to come. The challenges of a post-September 11 world are no less daunting than those challenges that we faced and that our forebears faced in the Cold War. The same bold vision, moral courage and determined leadership will be required if we are again to prevail over repression and intimidation and intolerance.
Our charge is clear: We on the right side of freedom's divide have an obligation to help those unlucky enough to have been born on the wrong side of that divide.
This obligation requires us to adapt to new circumstances -- and we are doing that. NATO has enlarged not only its membership, but its vision. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe now operates not only on a continent whole, free and at peace, but beyond Europe, as well. The agenda of U.S.-EU cooperation is wider than ever, and still growing, along with the European Union itself.
We agree on the interwoven threats we face today: Terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and regional conflicts, and failed states and organized crime.
We have not always seen eye to eye, however, on how to address these threats. We have had our disagreements. But it is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past. It is time to open a new chapter in our relationship, and a new chapter in our alliance.
America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda -- and Europe must stand ready to work with America. After all, history will surely judge us not by our old disagreements, but by our new achievements.
The key to our future success lies in getting beyond a partnership based on common threats, and building an even stronger partnership based on common opportunities, even those beyond the transatlantic community.
We can be confident of our success in this because the fair wind of freedom is at our back. Freedom is spreading: From the villages of Afghanistan to the squares in Ukraine, from the streets in the Palestinian territories to the streets of Georgia, to the polling stations of Iraq.
Freedom defines our opportunity and our challenge. It is a challenge that we are determined to meet.
First, we are joining together to encourage political pluralism, economic openness and the growth of civil society through the broader Middle East initiative.
The flagship of that initiative is the Forum for the Future -- a partnership of progress between the democratic world and nearly two-dozen nations, extending from Morocco to Pakistan. The Forum's mission is to support and accelerate political, economic and educational reform. Its first meeting in Rabat last December was a great success.
Beyond this bold initiative for reform, in which America and European efforts are fused, we also work in parallel. The European Union has a decade-long experience with advancing modernization through the Barcelona Process.
Individual EU member-states have also been working for years to nurture the attitudes and institutions of liberal democracy in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
And it is not just our governments that are promoting freedom. American- and European-based non-governmental organizations devote huge efforts to the reform process.
Our people exemplify the values of free society as they work in their private capacities. Our societies, not just our governments, are advancing women's rights and minority rights.
Our societies, not just our governments, are making space for free media, for independent judiciaries, for the right of labor to organize. The full vitality of our free societies is infusing the process of reform, and that is a reason for optimism.
Just as our own democratic paths have not always been smooth, we realize that democratic reform in the Middle East will be difficult and uneven. Different societies will advance in their own way. Freedom, by its very nature, must be homegrown. It must be chosen. It cannot be given; and it certainly cannot be imposed. That is why, as the President has said, the spread of freedom is the work of generations. But spreading freedom in the Arab and Muslim worlds is also urgent work that cannot be deferred.
Second, we must build on recent successes by stabilizing and advancing democratic progress in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Last October, the people of Afghanistan voted to set their country on a democratic course. And just nine days ago, the people of Iraq voted not just for a government, but for a democratic future.
All of us were impressed by the high voter turnout in Iraq. Each ink-stained finger belonged to a man or a woman who defied suicide bombers, mortar attacks, and threats of beheading, to exercise a basic right as a citizen.
There comes a time in the life of every nation where its people refuse to accept a status quo that demeans their basic humanity. There comes a time when people take control of their own lives. For the Iraqi people, that time has come. There is much more to do to create a democratic and unified Iraq; and the Iraqis themselves must lead the way. But we in the transatlantic partnership must rise to the challenge that the Iraqi people have set for us.
They have shown extraordinary bravery and determination. We must show them solidarity and generosity in equal measure.
We must support them as they form their political institutions. We must help them with economic reconstruction and development. And we must stay by their side to provide security until Iraqis themselves can take full ownership of that job.
Third, we are working to achieve new successes, particularly in the Arab-Israeli diplomacy. America and Europe both support a two-state solution: An independent and democratic Palestinian state living side by side in peace with the Jewish State of Israel.
And we all support the process of reform in the Palestinian Authority, because democratic reform will enlarge the basis for a genuine peace. That is why we were supportive of the Palestinian people in their historic election on January 9.
And Europe and America support the Israeli Government's determination to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. We both see that withdrawal as an opportunity to move ahead -- first to the roadmap, and ultimately, to our own -- to our clear destination: a genuine and real peace.
We are acting to transform opportunity into achievement. I have just come from meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. I was impressed with the fact that they said the same thing: This is a time of opportunity and we must not lose it. I urged them to build on this momentum, to seize this chance. And today's meeting of the Palestinian and Egyptian Presidents, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Jordan's King was clearly an important step forward.
The United States and the parties have no illusions about the difficulties ahead. There are deep divisions to overcome. I emphasized to both sides the need to end terrorism; the need to build new and democratic Palestinian economic, political, and security institutions; the need for Israel to meet its own obligations and make the difficult choices before it; and, the need for all of us -- in America, in Europe, in the region -- to make clear to Iran and Syria that they must stop supporting the terrorists who would seek to destroy the peace that we seek.
Success is not assured, but America is resolute. This is the best chance for peace that we are likely to see for some years to come; and we are acting to help Israelis and Palestinians seize this chance. President Bush is committed. I am personally committed. We must all be committed to seizing this chance.
Next month in London, Prime Minister Tony Blair will convene an important conference to help the Palestinian people advance democratic reform and build their institutions. All of us support that effort.
And we will continue to share burdens that will one day soon, we hope, enable us to share in the blessings of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, between Israelis and all their Arab neighbors.
A G8-Arab League meeting will also convene in Cairo next month. This meeting has the potential to broaden the base of support for Middle East peace and democracy. The Tunis Declaration of this past May's Arab Summit declared the "firm resolve" of the Arab states to "keep pace with the accelerated world changes through the consolidation of democratic practice, the broadening of participation in political life and public life, and the reinforcement of all components of civil society."
If that resolve forms the basis of Arab participation in this meeting, only good can come from it.
Our efforts in Lebanon also show that the transatlantic partnership means what it says in supporting freedom. The United States and France, together, sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1559. We have done this to accelerate international efforts to restore full sovereignty to the Lebanese people, and to make possible the complete return of what was once vibrant political life in that country.
The next step in that process should be the fourth free democratic election in the region -- fair and competitive parliamentary elections this spring, without foreign interference.
In Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and throughout all of the broader Middle East and North Africa, the nature of the political conversation is changing. Ordinary citizens are expressing thoughts and acting together in ways that they have not done before. These citizens want a future of tolerance, opportunity, and peace -- not of repression.
Wise leaders are opening their arms to embrace reform. And we must stand with them and their societies as they search for a democratic future.
Reformers and peacemakers will prevail in the Middle East for the same reason the West won the Cold War: Because liberty is ultimately stronger than repression and freedom is stronger than tyranny.
Today's radical Islamists are swimming against the tide of the human spirit. They grab the headlines with their ruthless brutality, and they can be brutal. But they are dwelling on the outer fringes of a great world religion; and they are radicals of a special sort. They are in revolt against the future. The face of terrorism in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, called democracy "an evil principle." To our enemies, Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite are also evil principles. They want to dominate others, not to liberate them. They demand conformity, not equality. They still regard difference as a license to kill.
But they are wrong. Human freedom will march ahead, and we must help smooth its way. We can do that by helping societies to find their own way to fulfill the promise of freedom.
We can help aspiring societies to reduce poverty and grow economically through sound development strategies and free trade. We must be aggressive and compassionate in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other infectious diseases that tear families apart, destroy individuals and make development of whole continents impossible.
Ultimately, we must learn how to put developing states on the path to self-sustained growth and stability. After all, it is one thing to fix a sanitation plant or to repair a schoolhouse; it is another to establish the essential components of a decent society: A free press, an independent judiciary, a sound financial system, political parties, and genuine representative government.
Development, transparency and democracy reinforce each other. That is why the spread of freedom under the rule of law is our best hope for progress. Freedom unlocks the creativity and drive that produces genuine wealth. Freedom is the key to incorruptible institutions. Freedom is the key to responsive governments.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a time of unprecedented opportunity for the transatlantic Alliance. If we make the pursuit of global freedom the organizing principle of the 21st century, we will achieve historic global advances for justice and prosperity, for liberty and for peace. But a global agenda requires a global partnership. So let us multiply our common effort.
That is why the United States, above all, welcomes the growing unity of Europe. America has everything to gain from having a stronger Europe as a partner in building a safer and better world. So let each of us bring to the table our ideas and our experience and our resources; and let us discuss and decide, together, how best to employ them for democratic change.
We know we have to deal with the world as it is. But, we do not have to accept the world as it is. Imagine where we would be today if the brave founders of French liberty or of American liberty had simply been content with the world as it was.
They knew that history does not just happen; it is made. History is made by men and women of conviction, of commitment and of courage, who will not let their dreams be denied.
Our transatlantic partnership will not just endure in this struggle; it will flourish because our ties are unbreakable. We care deeply about one another. We respect each other. We are strong, but we are strongest when we put our values to work for those whose aspirations of freedom and prosperity have yet to be met.
Great opportunities await us. Let us seize them, now, together, for freedom's sake.
Thank you for your attention.
QUESTION: I'm Benjamin Barnier (ph), a student in journalism here. My question is very simple. Iraq Shiites want Islam to be the only source of legislation. Do you think it's a positive thing? And if not, what do you think the coalition can do in order to keep a separation between the states and religion?
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much for the excellent question. I believe that the Iraqi people will now engage in an intensely political process. They have elected new leaders, the government will be appointed, and then they will have to use this opportunity to find institutions and means to bring all of the elements of Iraqi society together, that is Shia, and Kurds, and Sunnis, and Turkoman and other minorities as well.
The democratic process is a process of overcoming differences peacefully. And I believe that everything that we're reading from the Shia, who are the majority in the country and who have probably done extremely well in these elections, is that they understand their responsibility not to do to their fellow Iraqis what was done to them by those who had them live in tyranny and fear. They have talked about reaching out to the Sunnis. They have talked about reaching out to the Kurds.
I think that you will see them come to terms with the fact that there are different religious traditions, different political traditions, different ethnic groups in Iraq, that all now will have to be in a unified Iraq.
I was heartened by some of the statements of some of the Shia that they understand that a theocratic government, or a clerical government, would be unacceptable to the vast majority of the Iraqi people. And so they will find a proper role for Islam in their future. Many societies have done that and have done it still with democratic institutions in place.
What we must understand is there is no inherent conflict between Islam and democracy. These two can exist side by side, as they do, for instance, in Turkey. And I am quite sure that whatever role Islam comes to play will be one that is tolerant of other religious traditions; that recognizes that there are many other groups in Iraq who do not wish to see anything approaching a theocratic state. The Iraqis have no tradition of it, and I expect that they will come to a conclusion that will surprise us all in how well they do it.
It will be hard. And let me assure you, there will come a time when they are negotiating and discussing when we're going to wonder if it's all going to break down and will they get there? That's just the political process. After all, there were times in our own political process in 1789 that a few of our founders threatened to walk out of the Constitutional Convention. So I think the Iraqis will get past this period and they will create a democratic and unified Iraq.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Another question from a student.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madame Secretary. My name is Ann Gavaeneau (ph) and I'm a fifth-year student in the Master of Public Affairs. And my question is the following: What is the American position on the form multilateralism should adopt in the future? For instance, do the United States consider it more appropriate to act through regional or ad hoc coalition such as the Caucus of Democracy Madeleine Albright launch in Poland, then to use the United Nations means of actions?
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. We have to use all the means at our disposal. The United States is a founding member of the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be strong and active and effective. And we have taken many issues to the United Nations. For instance, the United Nations was instrumental and incredibly important in providing the resolution that now allows us to bring attention to what is happening in Lebanon in terms of Syria.
The United Nations has been critical in providing the mandate for the coalition forces that are now in Iraq as a part of a multinational force there to support the Iraqi people. The United Nations, and I must say that Mr. Valenzuela and Mrs. Pirelli of the United Nations did a wonderful job in assisting the Iraqis in their election. They were very active in Afghanistan. So on and on and on, the United Nations is both an important decision-making body and an important means for carrying out those decisions.
There are also other important fora. Sometimes we can do things through NATO. Sometimes we can do things through the OSCE. And increasingly, it is a good thing when ad hoc coalitions of countries get together on a regional basis because they have some particular interest. I'll give you three quick examples.
One is, the United States and Russia, China, South Korea, Japan are engaged with North Korea in the six-party talks, because those are the regional neighbors who most want to be sure that there is not a nuclear-armed Korean Peninsula.
That's an example of an ad hoc arrangement for a regional problem. A problem, by the way, that could have very big international implications, but where the neighborhood is trying to manage it.
A second example is that at the very beginning of the tsunami -- when the tsunami hit, the United States, Japan, India and Australia, which had navies in the area, formed a core group so that we could use that naval -- those naval assets to make sure that, at the very beginning, aid was getting to the affected areas of the tsunami.
And a third example is a very large coalition, ad hoc group, called the Proliferation Security Initiative, to which France belongs, which is an effort to interdict dangerous cargos related to weapons of mass destruction, using our international laws, using our national laws.
So we have great respect for and want to use the United Nations and the Security Council. But there are times when other mechanisms are equally important. I think we will need to be judged by how effective we are, not just by the forms that we use.
MODERATOR: Thank you. You can, of course, ask questions in French.
QUESTION: (VIA MALE INTERPRETER)
Good afternoon, Madam Secretary. I am the president of the Council of Democratic Muslims in France. As a French citizen, originated from Bagram, I'd like to -- here we have a few people from left and right, who live democracy, and we know them, we love them because they speak sincerely. If you put yourselves in the position of an Arab -- French or American -- he lives in a Western country. He lives democracy. He lives his freedom.
Do you think for a single moment when going around the Arab world or Muslim world, is there one single country, one country, Madame Secretary, where freedom of expression or democracy is respected? When President Bush tells us, I am here to free the world from tyranny, theocracy, dictatorship, every Arab dreams, dreams of this feeling of finding himself again in a country that you want to build for them.
Unfortunately, and my question is: Is there a single Arab or Muslim country, which deserves to be defended by Bush and by America? Is there a single Arab country, which is making an effort? Please allow the Secretary to respond.
QUESTION: (VIA FEMALE INTERPRETER) Yes, good afternoon. I'm the President of the French Council of Muslims, and I'd like to understand, as a citizen myself of a democratic country. And here we have a lot of political people from the left and the right, political people, which I, who I represent -- sorry -- whom I like and know because they speak the truth. Is there one single Arab country; is there one single Arab country in the world, which really deserves to be defended by the President Bush?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it was somewhat longer than that, I believe, and I understand. Let's talk about the Arab people. The Arab people deserve a better future than is currently in front of them. This is a part of the world in which the status quo is not going to be acceptable.
You have large populations that are not receiving proper education. As the report to the United Nations by Arab intellectuals noted, you have 22 countries that have a GDP that is not the size of Spain. This is just not acceptable for a culture -- the Arab cultures -- that were, in many ways, part of the cradle of civilization. How can this be?
And so the freedom deficit, the absence of freedom, has had very dramatic, negative effects in this part of the world. And unfortunately, we in the West, for too long, turned a blind eye to that freedom deficit.
When the President spoke at Whitehall in London, he talked about 60 years of trying to buy stability at the expense of freedom, and getting neither. And what we have gotten instead, is a level of hopelessness that has produced an ideology of hatred so virulent, so thorough, that people flew airplanes into American buildings on a fine September morning; blew up a train station in Madrid; people in another part of the world from another tradition, but the same ideology of hatred, that took helpless children hostage in Russia. This can't be the future of the Middle East.
And so both our security and our moral conscience tell us that this is a part of the world that can no longer be isolated from the prosperity and human dignity that freedom brings. And so it is not what President Bush defends; and certainly, I want to be very clear.
As I said earlier, this is not an issue of military power. This is an issue of the power of ideas, of the power of being able to support people in those societies who are just tired of being denied their freedom.
And so this is a great goal, not just for the United States, but for all of us who are fortunate enough to live on the right side of freedom because in each and every case, for all of us, somebody cared enough about human dignity and human liberty to make a stand in our past. Our ancestors did.
And that's why we all enjoy the liberty and freedom that we do. And sometime in the past, others stood up for us so that we could defeat tyranny and we could live in freedom. And we simply have to do the same thing for the people of the Middle East who are seeking a different future.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We have a question on the right side.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) company and lecturer at this institute.
Madame Secretary, I would like to ask you a question about chemical and biological proliferation because we are lacking a multilateral system similar to the imperfect, but at least existing, system in the nuclear field with the IAEA and with the NPT.
And here, what steps do we intend to take to have multilateral verification systems on chemical and biological weapons? Knowing that all these efforts have been -- have stalled since the beginning of your Administration four years ago?
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. In fact, we have been very active in trying to deal with the problems of chemical and biological weapons. But as you know, it's not easy.
You mentioned the problem of verification. The problem of verification is particularly severe and difficult with biological and chemical weapons because, very often, the very same means that one uses to make a biological weapon or a chemical weapon can be for completely innocent means, so-called dual-use projects -- products, so that, for instance, the chlorine that can be used to purify a swimming pool can also be the basis for a chemical weapon; the same laboratory that can be used to find a cure for cancer can be used to make biological weapons. And these are made in very small spaces that can be easily concealed.
It is especially difficult when you are dealing with very closed states that are making an effort to deceive and to prevent verification from taking place. I have no doubt that verification, for most of the world, for European countries, for the United States, for many of our friends and allies around the world, is much less of a problem because, of course, these are open societies. And when they declare that they are not going to build something, there is Le Monde or the New York Times or somebody that is going to make certain that the information gets out about what is being done. The problem is with closed, dictatorial societies that are trying to deceive.
So we have been party to the conventions and we have been active in the conventions. We need to redouble our efforts to make certain that, for instance, when we find some evidence that we believe points to biological or chemical weapons programs that we are prepared to act to hold accountable those states in which it's found.
It's a very serious problem. It is also a serious problem for terrorism because biological weapons or chemical weapons would be much easier for a terrorist organization. We in the United States experienced what just a little anthrax could do. And so it is a very serious problem. It's a huge intelligence problem given the closed nature of some of these societies, but we do have the international conventions and we continue to work within them.
MODERATOR: As you may imagine, Secretary Rice has a very full schedule so we have time for only one last question. Please, one short last question.
QUESTION: My name is Francois (Inaudible). I am teaching economics here in Science Po.
MODERATOR: Louder, please.
QUESTION: Let me ask you why you have chosen this very country to deliver your highly interesting speech.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, thank you. (Laughter.)
Well, first of all, France has a great tradition of debate, of intellectual ferment. This is a wonderful institution that fosters that debate. And it is no secret that the United States and France have sometimes disagreed in the past about how to proceed on a common agenda.
The good news is that while France and the United States have disagreed from time to time, and everybody has paid attention to that, the United States and France have continued to cooperate on a wide, wide range of efforts.
I sometimes say that U.S.-French relations are far better in practice than they are in theory, because if you look at what we do, we have done on Lebanon; if you look at our cooperation in Afghanistan; if you look at the Kosovo work that we've done earlier in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the Balkans more generally; if you look at the Proliferation Security Initiative -- I can go on and on and on -- the fight against terrorism, the intelligence and law enforcement work that we do together; this is a deep, broad, active relationship that is very effective on behalf of world peace.
When we disagreed, we still disagreed as friends. And as long as we remember that we have not just common values but a common future built on those values, I think we are going to see an even stronger relationship, if you will, a kind of rebirth of energy in the U.S.-French and the U.S.-European relationship because we have great things ahead of us.
If I could just close with a personal reflection in this regard, I was lucky enough in 1989, and by the way, I said in my speech at one point it was my first visit to Paris -- my first visit to Paris was actually in 1979 on my way to language training in Russia. And I love coming here.
But I was here in 1989 for the bicentennial; it was a remarkable year. And I was lucky enough to be the White House Soviet Specialist at the end of the Cold War, so I got to participate in the liberation of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany, the beginnings of the peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union -- things that I never thought I would see, let alone have a chance to participate in.
Do you know, I realized that I was just lucky enough to be harvesting good decisions that had been taken in 1946 and in 1947 and in 1948 and in 1949, when those leaders, at the end of World War II, faced a dizzying array of threats -- strategic threats -- to the progress of freedom and liberty.
When you think about the fact that in 1946, much of Europe lay in ruins and there were real concerns about the importation of communism into Europe from the Soviet Union; if you think about, in 1947, there were civil wars in Greece and Turkey; in 1948, we experienced the Czechoslovak crisis and the collapse of that democratic government; in 1948, the Berlin crisis split Germany for what seemed to be permanently; in 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule and the Chinese communists won the civil war.
Now, how did they do it? How did they form NATO? How did they support a united Europe? How did they move forward on an agenda that 50 years later produced the circumstances in which Germany could be unified, the rest of Europe could be freed of tyranny, and we could be talking about a NATO that includes not just France and Germany and the United States, but Poland and the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the Baltic States? How did they do it?
They did it because they remained united as an alliance of values. And I know it looks really hard to talk about the spread of freedom and liberty into places where it has never been. I know it looks really hard when we see the pictures from Iraq of the suicide bombers to think that the Iraqi people are going to build a free and stable democratic state. I know it looks hard when we look at Afghanistan and how far it has to go. But this last month or so, little more than that, has been something else.
How could you not be impressed with the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Palestinian people going to elect a leader who says that it is time to give up the armed Intifadah and live in peace with Israel? And how could you not be impressed by the Afghans, really, in a very underdeveloped society standing along dusty roads to vote where women who used to hide their faces and couldn't even have medical care without a male relative; and now they stand and they vote and they run for office? And how could you not be impressed with the Iraqi people and their facing down fear?
So much is changing in our world. So much is changing in the Middle East. And if we, in this great alliance, put our values and our efforts and our resources to work on behalf of this great cause, we've only just begun to see what freedom can achieve.
Thank you very much.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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