(2007-12-21 11:29:46) 下一个


Remarks by President Bush in Prague, Czech Republic

    WASHINGTON, June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is atranscript of remarks by President Bush in Prague:                                  Large Hall                                Czernin Palace                            Prague, Czech Republic    4:07 P.M. (Local)    THE PRESIDENT: President Ilves, Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg,distinguished guests: Laura and I are pleased to be back in Prague, and weappreciate the gracious welcome in this historic hall. Tomorrow I attendthe G-8 Summit, where I will meet with the leaders of the world's mostpowerful economies. This afternoon, I stand with men and women whorepresent an even greater power -- the power of human conscience.    In this room are dissidents and democratic activists from 17 countrieson five continents. You follow different traditions, you practice differentfaiths, and you face different challenges. But you are united by anunwavering conviction: that freedom is the non-negotiable right of everyman, woman, and child, and that the path to lasting peace in our world isliberty. (Applause.)    This conference was conceived by three of the great advocates forfreedom in our time: Jose Maria Aznar, Vaclav Havel, and Natan Sharansky. Ithank them for the invitation to address this inspiring assembly, and forshowing the world that an individual with moral clarity and courage canchange the course of history.    It is fitting that we meet in the Czech Republic -- a nation at theheart of Europe, and of the struggle for freedom on this continent. Ninedecades ago, Tomas Masaryk proclaimed Czechoslovakia's independence basedon the "ideals of modern democracy." That democracy was interrupted, firstby the Nazis and then by the communists, who seized power in a shamefulcoup that left the Foreign Minister dead in the courtyard of this palace.    Through the long darkness of Soviet occupation, the true face of thisnation was never in doubt. The world saw it in the reforms of the PragueSpring and the principled demands of Charter 77. Those efforts were metwith tanks and truncheons and arrests by secret police. But the violentwould not have the final word. In 1989, thousands gathered in WenceslasSquare to call for their freedom. Theaters like the Magic Lantern becameheadquarters for dissidents. Workers left their factories to support astrike. And within weeks, the regime crumbled. Vaclav Havel went fromprisoner of state to head of state. And the people of Czechoslovakiabrought down the Iron Curtain with a Velvet Revolution.    Across Europe, similar scenes were unfolding. In Poland, a movementthat began in a single shipyard freed people across a nation. In Hungary,mourners gathered at Heroes Square to bury a slain reformer -- and burytheir communist regime, too. In East Germany, families came together forprayer meetings -- and found the strength to tear down a wall. Soon,activists emerged from the attics and church basements to reclaim thestreets of Bulgaria, and Romania, and Albania, and Latvia, and Lithuania,and Estonia. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved peacefully in this very room.And after seven decades of oppression, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.    Behind these astonishing achievements was the triumph of freedom in thebattle of ideas. The communists had an imperial ideology that claimed toknow the directions of history. But in the end, it was overpowered byordinary people who wanted to live their lives, and worship their God, andspeak the truth to their children. The communists had the harsh rule ofBrezhnev, and Honecker, and Ceausescu. But in the end, it was no match forthe vision of Walesa and Havel, the defiance of Sakharov and Sharansky, theresolve of Reagan and Thatcher, and fearless witness of John Paul. Fromthis experience, a clear lesson has emerged: freedom can be resisted, andfreedom can be delayed, but freedom cannot be denied.    In the years since liberation, Central and Eastern European nationshave navigated the difficult transition to democracy. Leaders made thetough reforms needed to enter NATO and the European Union. Citizens claimedtheir freedom in the Balkans and beyond. And now, after centuries of warand suffering, the continent of Europe is at last in peace.    With this new era have come new threats to freedom. In dark andrepressive corners of the world, whole generations grew up with no voice intheir government and no hope in their future. This life of oppression breddeep resentment. And for many, resentment boiled over into radicalism andextremism and violence. The world saw the result on September the 11th,2001, when terrorists based in Afghanistan sent 19 suicidal men to murdernearly 3,000 innocent people in the United States.    For some, this attack called for a narrow response. In truth, 9/11 wasevidence of a much broader danger -- an international movement of violentIslamic extremists that threatens free people everywhere. The extremists'ambition is to build a totalitarian empire that spans all current andformer Muslim lands, including parts of Europe. Their strategy to achievethat goal is to frighten the world into surrender through a ruthlesscampaign of terrorist murder.    To confront this enemy, America and our allies have taken the offensivewith the full range of our military, intelligence, and law enforcementcapabilities. Yet this battle is more than a military conflict. Like theCold War, it's an ideological struggle between two fundamentally differentvisions of humanity. On one side are the extremists, who promise paradise,but deliver a life of public beatings and repression of women and suicidebombings. On the other side are huge numbers of moderate men and women --including millions in the Muslim world -- who believe that every human lifehas dignity and value that no power on Earth can take away.    The most powerful weapon in the struggle against extremism is notbullets or bombs -- it is the universal appeal of freedom. Freedom is thedesign of our Maker, and the longing of every soul. Freedom is the best wayto unleash the creativity and economic potential of a nation. Freedom isthe only ordering of a society that leads to justice. And human freedom isthe only way to achieve human rights.    Expanding freedom is more than a moral imperative -- it is the onlyrealistic way to protect our people in the long run. Years ago, AndreiSakharov warned that a country that does not respect the rights of its ownpeople will not respond to the rights of its neighbors. History proves himright. Governments accountable to their people do not attack each other.Democracies address problems through the political process, instead ofblaming outside scapegoats. Young people who can disagree openly with theirleaders are less likely to adopt violent ideologies. And nations thatcommit to freedom for their people will not support extremists -- they willjoin in defeating them.    For all these reasons, the United States is committed to the advance offreedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression andradicalism. (Applause.) And we have a historic objective in view. In mysecond inaugural address, I pledged America to the ultimate goal of endingtyranny in our world. Some have said that qualifies me as a "dissidentpresident." If standing for liberty in the world makes me a dissident, Iwear that title with pride. (Applause.)    America pursues our freedom agenda in many ways -- some vocal andvisible, others quiet and hidden from view. Ending tyranny requires supportfor the forces of conscience that undermine repressive societies fromwithin. The Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik compared a tyrannical state toa soldier who constantly points a gun at his enemy -- until his armsfinally tire and the prisoner escapes. The role of the free world is to putpressure on the arms of the world's tyrants -- and strengthen the prisonerswho are trying to speed their collapse.    So I meet personally with dissidents and democratic activists from someof the world's worst dictatorships -- including Belarus, and Burma, andCuba, and North Korea, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. At this conference, I lookforward to meeting other dissidents, including some from Iran and Syria.One of those dissidents is Mamoun Homsi. In 2001, this man was anindependent member of the Syrian parliament who simply issued a declarationasking the government to begin respecting human rights. For this entirelypeaceful act, he was arrested and sent to jail, where he spent severalyears beside other innocent advocates for a free Syria.    Another dissident I will meet here is Rebiyah Kadeer of China, whosesons have been jailed in what we believe is an act of retaliation for herhuman rights activities. The talent of men and women like Rebiyah is thegreatest resource of their nations, far more valuable than the weapons oftheir army or their oil under the ground. America calls on every nationthat stifles dissent to end its repression, to trust its people, and togrant its citizens the freedom they deserve. (Applause.)    There are many dissidents who couldn't join us because they are beingunjustly imprisoned or held under house arrest. I look forward to the daywhen a conference like this one include Alexander Kozulin of Belarus, AungSan Suu Kyi of Burma, Oscar Elias Biscet of Cuba, Father Nguyen Van Ly ofVietnam, Ayman Nour of Egypt. (Applause.) The daughter of one of thesepolitical prisoners is in this room. I would like to say to her, and allthe families: I thank you for your courage. I pray for your comfort andstrength. And I call for the immediate and unconditional release of yourloved ones. (Applause.)    In the eyes of America, the democratic dissidents today are thedemocratic leaders of tomorrow. So we're taking new steps to strengthen oursupport. We recently created a Human Rights Defenders Fund, which providesgrants for the legal defense and medical expenses of activists arrested orbeaten by repressive governments. I strongly support the Prague Documentthat your conference plans to issue, which states that "the protection ofhuman rights is critical to international peace and security." And inkeeping with the goals of that declaration, I have asked Secretary Rice tosend a directive to every U.S. ambassador in an un-free nation: seek outand meet with activists for democracy. Seek out those who demand humanrights. (Applause.)    People living in tyranny need to know they are not forgotten. NorthKoreans live in a closed society where dissent is brutally suppressed, andthey are cut off from their brothers and sisters to the south. The Iraniansare a great people who deserve to chart their own future, but they aredenied their liberty by a handful of extremists whose pursuit of nuclearweapons prevents their country from taking its rightful place amongst thethriving. The Cubans are desperate for freedom -- and as that nation entersa period of transition, we must insist on free elections and free speechand free assembly. (Applause.) And in Sudan, freedom is denied and basichuman rights are violated by a government that pursues genocide against itsown citizens. My message to all those who suffer under tyranny is this: wewill never excuse your oppressors. We will always stand for your freedom.(Applause.)    Freedom is also under assault in countries that have shown someprogress. In Venezuela, elected leaders have resorted to shallow populismto dismantle democratic institutions and tighten their grip on power. Thegovernment of Uzbekistan continues to silence independent voices by jailinghuman rights activists. And Vietnam recently arrested and imprisoned anumber of peaceful religious and political activists.    These developments are discouraging, but there are more reasons foroptimism. At the start of the 1980s, there were only 45 democracies onEarth. There are now more than 120 democracies -- more people now live infreedom than ever before. And it is the responsibility of those who enjoythe blessings of liberty to help those who are struggling to establishtheir free societies. So the United States has nearly doubled funding fordemocracy projects. We're working with our partners in the G-8 to promotethe rise of a vibrant civil society in the Middle East through initiativeslike the Forum for the Future. We're cooperating side-by-side with the newdemocracies in Ukraine and Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. We congratulate thepeople of Yemen on their landmark presidential election, and the people ofKuwait on elections in which women were able to vote and run for office forthe first time. (Applause.) We stand firmly behind the people of Lebanonand Afghanistan and Iraq as they defend their democratic gains againstextremist enemies. (Applause.) These people are making tremendoussacrifices for liberty. They deserve the admiration of the free world, andthey deserve our unwavering support. (Applause.)    The United States is also using our influence to urge valued partnerslike Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to move toward freedom. Thesenations have taken brave stands and strong action to confront extremists,along with some steps to expand liberty and transparency. Yet they have agreat distance still to travel. The United States will continue to pressnations like these to open up their political systems, and give greatervoice to their people. Inevitably, this creates tension. But ourrelationships with these countries are broad enough and deep enough to bearit. As our relationships with South Korea and Taiwan during the Cold Warprove, America can maintain a friendship and push a nation toward democracyat the same time. (Applause.)    We're also applying that lesson to our relationships with Russia andChina. (Applause.) The United States has strong working relationships withthese countries. Our friendship with them is complex. In the areas where weshare mutual interests, we work together. In other areas, we have strongdisagreements. China's leaders believe that they can continue to open thenation's economy without opening its political system. We disagree.(Applause.) In Russia, reforms that were once promised to empower citizenshave been derailed, with troubling implications for democratic development.Part of a good relationship is the ability to talk openly about ourdisagreements. So the United States will continue to build ourrelationships with these countries -- and we will do it without abandoningour principles or our values. (Applause.)    We appreciate that free societies take shape at different speeds indifferent places. One virtue of democracy is that it reflects local historyand traditions. Yet there are fundamental elements that all democraciesshare -- freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly; rule of lawenforced by independent courts; private property rights; and politicalparties that compete in free and fair elections. (Applause.) These rightsand institutions are the foundation of human dignity, and as countries findtheir own path to freedom, they must find a loyal partner in the UnitedStates of America.    Extending the reach of freedom is a mission that unites democraciesaround the world. Some of the greatest contributions are coming fromnations with the freshest memories of tyranny. I appreciate the CzechRepublic's support for human rights projects in Belarus and Burma and Cuba.I thank Germany, and Poland, and the Czech Republic, and Hungary, andSlovenia, and Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia for contributing to thenew United Nations Democracy Fund. I'm grateful for the commitment many newdemocracies in Central and Eastern Europe are making to Afghanistan andIraq. I appreciate that these countries are willing to do the hard worknecessary to enable people who want to be free to live in a free society.(Applause.)    In all these ways, the freedom agenda is making a difference. The workhas been difficult, and that is not going to change. There will be triumphsand failures, progress and setbacks. Ending tyranny cannot be achievedovernight. And of course, this objective has its critics.    Some say that ending tyranny means "imposing our values" on people whodo not share them, or that people live in parts of the world where freedomcannot take hold. That is refuted by the fact that every time people aregiven a choice, they choose freedom. We saw that when the people of LatinAmerica turned dictatorships into democracies, and the people of SouthAfrica replaced apartheid with a free society, and the people of Indonesiaended their long authoritarian rule. We saw it when Ukrainians in orangescarves demanded that their ballots be counted. We saw it when millions ofAfghans and Iraqis defied the terrorists to elect free governments. At apolling station in Baghdad, I was struck by the words of an Iraqi -- he hadone leg -- and he told a reporter, "I would have crawled here if I had to."Was democracy -- I ask the critics, was democracy imposed on that man? Wasfreedom a value he did not share? The truth is that the only ones who haveto impose their values are the extremists and the radicals and the tyrants.(Applause.)    And that is why the communists crushed the Prague Spring, and threw aninnocent playwright in jail, and trembled at the sight of a Polish Pope.History shows that ultimately, freedom conquers fear. And given a chance,freedom will conquer fear in every nation on Earth. (Applause.)    Another objective -- objection is that ending tyranny will unleashchaos. Critics point to the violence in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Lebanon asevidence that freedom leaves people less safe. But look who's causing theviolence. It's the terrorists; it's the extremists. It is no coincidencethat they are targeting young democracies in the Middle East. They knowthat the success of free societies there is a mortal threat to theirambitions -- and to their very survival. The fact that our enemies arefighting back is not a reason to doubt democracy. It is evidence that theyrecognize democracy's power. It is evidence that we are at war. And it isevidence that free nations must do what it takes to prevail. (Applause.)    Still, some argue that a safer goal would be stability, especially inthe Middle East. The problem is that pursuing stability at the expense ofliberty does not lead to peace -- it leads to September the 11th, 2001.(Applause.) The policy of tolerating tyranny is a moral and strategicfailure. It is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.    Others fear that democracy will bring dangerous forces to power, suchas Hamas in the Palestinian Territories. Elections will not always turn outthe way we hope. Yet democracy consists of more than a single trip to theballot box. Democracy requires meaningful opposition parties, a vibrantcivil society, a government that enforces the law and responds to the needsof its people. Elections can accelerate the creation of such institutions.In a democracy, people will not vote for a life of perpetual violence. Tostay in power, elected officials must listen to their people and pursuetheir desires for peace -- or, in democracies, the voters will replace themthrough free elections.    Finally, there's the contention that ending tyranny is unrealistic.Well, some argue that extending democracy around the world is simply toodifficult to achieve. That's nothing new. We've heard that criticism beforethroughout history. At every stage of the Cold War, there were those whoargued that the Berlin Wall was permanent, and that people behind the IronCurtain would never overcome their oppressors. History has sent a differentmessage.    The lesson is that freedom will always have its skeptics. But that'snot the whole story. There are also people like you, and the loved ones yourepresent -- men and women with courage to risk everything for your ideals.In his first address as President, Vaclav Havel proclaimed, "People, yourgovernment has returned to you!" He was echoing the first speech of TomasMasaryk -- who was, in turn, quoting the 17th century Czech teacherComenius. His message was that freedom is timeless. It does not belong toone government or one generation. Freedom is the dream and the right ofevery person in every nation in every age. (Applause.)    The United States of America believes deeply in that message. It wasthe inspiration for our founding, when we declared that "all men arecreated equal." It was the conviction that led us to help liberate thiscontinent, and stand with the captive nations through their long struggle.It is the truth that guides our nation to oppose radicals and extremistsand terror and tyranny in the world today. And it is the reason I have suchgreat confidence in the men and women in this room.    I leave Prague with a certainty that the cause of freedom is not tired,and that its future is in the best of hands. With unbreakable faith in thepower of liberty, you will inspire your people, you will lead your nations,and you will change the world.    Thanks for having me. And may God bless you. (Applause.)    END 4:38 P.M. (Local)

SOURCE White House Press Office

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