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American Forces Press Service

Bush Calls Euro-American Alliance Main Pillar of Security

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2005 -- In his first trip abroad of his second term in office, President Bush told Europeans that "the alliance of Europe and North America is the main pillar of our security."

Bush spoke in Brussels, Belgium, home of the NATO alliance and the European Union.

The president acknowledged that many in Europe have not agreed with U.S. foreign policy. But, he added, for the sake of peace in the world, America and Europe must not forget their shared beliefs. "Our strong friendship is essential to peace and prosperity across the globe, and no temporary debate, no passing disagreement of governments, no power on earth will ever divide us," he said.

The president said the world has a unique opportunity for peace in the Middle East, adding that the United States will work with allies to realize the dream of peace between Israel and Palestine.

He said the push for a peaceful Palestine would add momentum to reform throughout the Middle East. "In the long run, we cannot live in peace and safety if the Middle East continues to produce ideologies of murder and terrorists who seek the deadliest weapons," Bush said.

"Regimes that terrorize their own people will not hesitate to support terror abroad. A status quo of tyranny and hopelessness in the Middle East ... can only lead to deeper resentment in a troubled region and further tragedy in free nations. The future of our nations and the future of the Middle East are linked, and our peace depends on their hope and development and freedom."

Throughout the speech, Bush emphasized the transatlantic alliance, beginning many sentences with "our" and "we." He told the audience, "Our challenge is to encourage this progress by taking up the duties of great democracies. We must be on the side of democratic reformers; we must encourage democratic movements and support democratic transitions in practical ways."

Shared European-American values mean the two continents must serve as examples to the rest of the world, he said. "Our ideals must be firm, and they must be clear," Bush said. "We must expect higher standards from our friends and partners in the Middle East."

The president called on Saudi Arabia and Egypt to embrace democratic change. He also called on Syria to pull out of Lebanon. "The Lebanese people have the right to be free, and the United States and Europe share an interest in a democratic, independent Lebanon," he said. "In the last several months, the world has seen men and women voting in historic elections from Kabul to Ramallah to Baghdad. Without Syrian interference, Lebanon's parliamentary elections in the spring can be another milestone of liberty."

Bush said that while some European nations joined the fight in Iraq, others did not. "Yet all of us recognize courage when we see it, and we saw it in the Iraqi people," he said. "And all nations now have an interest in the success of a free and democratic Iraq, which will fight terror, which will be a beacon of freedom, and which will be a source of true stability in the region."

Bush called on Iran to end its support for terrorism and to end its nuclear weapons program. "We're working closely with Britain, France and Germany as they oppose Iran's nuclear ambitions and as they insist that Tehran comply with international law," he said. "The results of this approach now depend largely on Iran. We also look for Iran to finally deliver on promised reform. The time has arrived for the Iranian regime to listen to the Iranian people and respect their rights and join in the movement toward liberty that is taking place all around them."

Bush told the audience that Russia's future lies with the transatlantic community. The United States supports Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization. "Yet, for Russia to make progress as a European nation, the Russian government must renew a commitment to democracy and the rule of law," the president said. "We recognize that reform will not happen overnight. We must always remind Russia, however, that our alliance stands for a free press, a vital opposition, the sharing of power, and the rule of law.

"And the United States and all European countries should place democratic reform at the heart of their dialogue with Russia," he added.

America and Europe face a moment of consequence and opportunity, the president said. "Together we can once again set history on a hopeful course -- away from poverty and despair and toward development and the dignity of self-rule, away from resentment and violence and toward justice and the peaceful settlement of differences," Bush said. "Seizing this moment requires idealism; we must see in every person the right and the capacity to live in freedom. Seizing this moment requires realism; we must act wisely and deliberately in the face of complex challenges.

"And seizing this moment also requires cooperation," the president continued. "Because when Europe and America stand together, no problem can stand against us. As past debates fade, as great duties become clear, let us begin a new era of transatlantic unity."


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