Wednesday, June 21, 2006

President Bush Participates in Press Availability at 2006 U.S.-EU Summit

President Bush Participates in Press Availability at 2006 U.S.-EU Summit
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Part of the Q & A’s went as follows...

Note: This is really some good stuff and I doubt the MSM will do much reporting on this part of the Q & A... We’ll see...

Chancellor Schüssel, the European public is deeply worried by these secret prisoners that the CIA has been transporting, is transporting through Europe. Did you get assurance today from the President that this is not going to happen anymore, that there won't be anymore in the kidnapping of terror suspects in Europe, that this is a thing of the past?

And to the President, Mr. President, you said this is "absurd," but you might be aware that in Europe the image of America is still falling, and dramatically in some areas. Let me give you some numbers. In Austria, in this country only 14 percent of the people believe that the United States, what they are doing is good for peace; 64 percent think that it is bad. In the United Kingdom, your ally, there are more citizens who believe that the United States policy under your leadership is helping to destabilize the world than Iran. So my question to you is, why do you think that you've failed so badly to convince Europeans, to win their heads and hearts and minds? Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH... (Note: The president said these words in a fairly strong voice.) Well, yes, I thought it was absurd for people to think that we're more dangerous than Iran. It's a -- we're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active. Look, people didn't agree with my decision on Iraq, and I understand that. For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us, it was a change of thinking. I vowed to the American people I would do everything to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I'm not going to forget them. And, therefore, I will be steadfast and diligent and strong in defending our country.

I don't govern by polls, you know. I just do what I think is right. And I understand some of the decisions I made are controversial. But I made them in the best interest of our country, and I think in the best interest of the world. I believe when you look back at this moment, people will say, it was right to encourage democracy in the Middle East. I understand some people think that it can't work. I believe in the universality of freedom; some don't. I'm going to act on my beliefs so long as I'm the President of the United States. Some people say, it's okay to condemn people for -- to tyranny. I don't believe it's okay to condemn people to tyranny, particularly those of us who live in the free societies.

And so I understand, and I'll try to do my best to explain to the Europeans that, on the one hand, we're tough when it comes to the war on terror; on the other hand, we're providing more money than every before in the world's history for HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa. I'll say, on the one hand, we're going to be tough when it comes to terrorist regimes who harbor weapons. On the other hand, we'll help feed the hungry. I declared Darfur to be a genocide because I care deeply about those who have been afflicted by these renegade bands of people who are raping and murdering.

And so I will do my best to explain our foreign policy. On the one hand, it's tough when it needs to be; on the other hand, it's compassionate. And we'll let the polls figure out -- people can say what they want to say. But leadership requires making hard choices based upon principle and standing -- (President's mike goes out) -- and that's how I'm going to continue to lead my country.
Thank you for your question.

CHANCELLOR SCHÜSSEL... Let me add -- let me add something. I think Austria is really a good example to show that America has something to do with freedom, democracy, prosperity, development. Don't forget I was born in '45. At that time, Vienna and half of Austria laid in ruins. And without the participation of America, what fate would have Europe? Where would be Europe today? Not the peaceful, prosperous Europe like we love it and where we live.

Nothing -- I will never forget that America fed us with food, with economic support. The Marshall Plan was an immense aid and incentive to develop industry, agriculture, tourism. And by the way, I said it to the President, the Marshall Fund is still working in Austria. It's now transformed into a kind -- in a fund for research and development -- still working.

The American people, at that time, the American government invested billions of dollars in Europe to develop the former enemy. And now we are a partner. So I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, other countries.

Of course, we -- and I thank you very much for the question on human rights and the over-flights and the secret prisons and Guantanamo. And it was quite interesting to see how the debate was going on in -- this morning. The President started, himself. He didn't wait that we raise the question. He came up and said, look, this is my problem, this is where we are. And I think we should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic. We should understand that what September 11th meant to the American people. It was a shock. For the first time, a real shock. A society values were attacked -- American values, international values, European values were attacked in the home country of the President and all Americans. And we should not be naive. We Europeans are also attacked. We had bomb attacks in Madrid. Hundreds of people were killed. We had bomb attacks in London subway, buses were blown up. We had detected some terrorists who tried to shoot down an Israeli plane. So we should not be naive.

And since September 11th -- and I think this is important to underline that -- since September 11th, we are now able to define our targets, to fight against terror and terrorists, to cut off their financial supplies, to share information, to secure our citizens, our people. This is the ultimate goal. Not creating enemies, virtual enemies, but to secure our people and to secure peace in the world and to stabilize our societies.

The problem is -- and I will be very frank on that, and I said it the same way like we did it here, and we say it now -- we are only -- we can only have a victory in the fight against terror if we don't undermine our common values. It can never be a victory, a credible victory over terrorists if we give up our values: democracy, rule of law, individual rights.

This is important to know. And our discussion with all the European parliament, the European governments, I personally -- we are calling for the closure of Guantanamo. But our discussion today went far beyond the closing of Guantanamo, because we have -- we have a legal problem, we have gray areas. And there should be no legal void, not in the fight against terrorists, but also not in -- for individuals to be guaranteed in their individual rights, in their freedom...
(Taken from a press release by The White House - Office of the Press Secretary - June 21, 2006)
Read in full HERE

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