HE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary
May 4, 2005
James S. Brady Briefing Room
For Immediate Release
MR. HADLEY: Good afternoon. On Friday, the President and Mrs.
Bush will depart for Europe for the third time this year. They will travel to Latvia, The Netherlands, Russia and Georgia. I’d like to take you through the trip schedule, and then I’d be happy to answer any questions people have.
Friday, May 6th, will be a travel day. The President and Mrs. Bush
will arrive in Riga, Latvia that night. On Saturday, May 7, the President and Mrs. Bush will participate in an arrival ceremony, after which the President will receive Latvia’s highest honor, the Three Star Order. The President will then meet with President Vike-Freiberga, of Latvia, followed by a visit to the Freedom Monument, which symbolizes Latvia’s regained independence.
The President will then meet with representatives of civil society,
followed by a lunch meeting with all three of the Baltic Presidents. That would be President Vike-Freiberga, President Adamkus, and President Ruutel. After the lunch meeting, all four Presidents will participate in a joint press availability. President Bush will then offer remarks at the Small Guild Hall. And that evening, President and Mrs. Bush will depart for The Netherlands.
On Sunday afternoon, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart for
Moscow, Russia. Upon arriving in Russia, the President will meet with President Putin, and President and Mrs. Bush will have dinner with the Putins.
On Monday, May 9th, in Moscow, the President and Mrs. Bush will join President Putin and other world leaders in viewing a military
parade that commemorates the end of World War II in Europe. After a garland laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lunch at the Kremlin, the President will participate in a roundtable with civil society leaders, followed by a greeting with U.S. and Russia war veterans.
On Monday afternoon, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart for Tbilisi, Georgia. Tbilisi for Washington, D.C.
The purpose of the trip, really, is twofold: to honor the shared sacrifice of millions of Americans, Europeans and others to defeat tyranny, and at the same time, to mark the growth of democracy
throughout Europe and the world, more generally. The trip will also underscore the common commitment of the United States and our European allies to work together to advance freedom, prosperity, and tolerance in Europe and beyond.
In the visit to the Baltics, the President will emphasize that our alliance with Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia is strong and it is built on a commitment to shared values: democracy, rule of law, and tolerance; values that we are working together in partnership with the Baltic states to advance within those states, within Europe, and, more generally, abroad.
The Baltic states are demonstrating their value as allies by working with us to advance freedom in such places as Belarus, as well as
in Iraq and Afghanistan, where all three Baltic states have deployed troops.
The President will also lay out a broader concept of freedom and
democracy, pointing out that it is more than just elections, but also includes a commitment to building an open and inclusive society which embraces its minorities and provides a protection for minorities and individual rights through rule of law and strong, independent institutions.
In The Netherlands, the President will pay tribute to the Americans, Canadians, and Europeans who helped to end the rule of Nazism and fascism in Europe. There are over eight thousand American soldiers resting in the Margraten Cemetery, and a monument — a monumental testimony, really, to the Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice to guarantee freedom from tyranny for millions of Europeans.
The President will travel to Russia to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. He will acknowledge and pay tribute to the enormous burden that Russians shouldered in that war, having lost more than 27 million people in World War II. Russia was a partner in defeating Nazism, and again is a partner of the United States in combating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Q Do you think that Russia should use the occasion of this celebration to talk about the darker Soviet past and acknowledge its occupation of Poland and the Baltic countries, and try to make some rapprochement with these countries?
MR. HADLEY: Well, obviously, the trip, I think, is an occasion and an opportunity for people to both celebrate some of the accomplishments of the history, as in ending fascism and Nazism in Europe, but also to come to terms with some of that history. We’ve been pretty clear on how we see and understand that history. One of the legislative chambers of the Soviet Union did, in 1989, renounce, essentially, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Obviously, it would be an appropriate thing for Russia, now having emerged out of the Soviet Union, to do the same thing.
But I think one of the things that the President wants to do on this trip is to encourage parties to look forward and to focus on what now ties us together; that, in fact, Europe now is moving towards a Europe, whole, free and at peace. We do share common values of
democracy and freedom, and we should be talking about ways — while acknowledging the past, we ought to be talking about ways to move forward and advance those principles not only in Europe, but also beyond.
Q But didn’t Putin just recently praise the Nazi-Russian alliance as a method of securing its borders? And aren’t you concerned about the growing trend toward authoritarianism in Russia?
MR. HADLEY: The President has obviously spoken about the importance he attaches to the progress of freedom and democracy in Russia. He has said very clearly that as Russia becomes more democratic and strengthens its democratic institutions, it will enable us to have an even closer relationship with Russia. So this has been on the agenda for a while.
It is interesting that in that speech you allude to — the so-called state of the union speech for Putin — the focus really was democracy, and I think there are some hopeful passages in that speech whereby he made clear that Russians have opted for democracy and freedom as their future. And, of course, as Russia and as Putin move to implement and operationalize those principles, it will enhance the cause
of peace and security in Europe, and also enhance the course of freedom, both in Europe and abroad.
Q Does the President see a need to press President Putin on democracy again in Moscow, as he did in Bratislava?
MR. HADLEY: Well, look —
Q Or was the message received then and there’s no need to bring it up again?
MR. HADLEY: Well, it is interesting. I don’t — it is interesting that, as you know, it was a subject of Bratislava, and it is interesting that Putin decided to devote his speech to the subject of democracy. But, obviously, this has been a subject of conversation between the two men for months and months, and I’m sure it will continue to be a topic of conversation of them in the weeks and months ahead.
Q What message are you trying to send to Putin by beginning the trip with visits to two ex-Soviet republics, Latvia and Georgia?
MR. HADLEY: Well, we’re not — the President is not going to those two countries to send any message to Europe — to Russia. As I tried to point out, the trip as a whole is an opportunity taken together to celebrate, obviously, the defeat of fascism and Nazism in Europe. It is also to acknowledge and celebrate the end of communism of Europe — in Europe — and the advent of what we’re beginning to see increasingly, a Europe whole and free, where democracy and freedom are increasingly practiced by all the states. That’s the real message.
And the real message, of course, to all countries, is what does that democracy and freedom require? It requires, of course, respect for minorities, rule of law, and inclusion of minorities in your political system. That’s obviously one message that he will send — and that the common values that are reflected increasingly in Europe ought to be a basis for us cooperating to deal with problems not only in Europe, but abroad.
So if you take all of that together, I think that’s really the message. It’s a celebration of really the progress of freedom in Europe, and a rededication to work in partnership with Europe to
advance the cause of freedom not only Europe, but abroad.
Q Would you address those outside this administration, though, who served in the National Security Council who have said the President had to go to Latvia and Georgia, given the type of ceremony that’s going to be going on in Moscow and the new Stalin statues and the way that Putin is planning on holding the ceremony?
MR. HADLEY: I don’t know whether he had to go or not. But the point is the President decided he wanted to go in order to showcase the kind of message I just described. And I think he’s looking forward to a very productive trip.
Q Will the President make any specific statements in support of either the Baltic states’ desires for Russian acknowledgment that they lost their freedom a second time at the end of World War II, and — or of Georgia’s desire for Russian troops — to move Russian troops out of Georgia?
MR. HADLEY: Well, as I said, if you look at all the stops together, I think it will be an opportunity for the President to celebrate freedom. And part of that freedom, of course, is the defeat of Nazism and fascism in Europe. Part of that freedom — celebration of
freedom, of course, is also the end of communism and the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe. And he, of course, will want to celebrate both of those events. So I think that is an opportunity for him, by his presence and in some of the statements he will make, to emphasize that point.
He will also make clear that it is a nation — a Europe now of states whole, free, and at peace; that sovereign states — sovereignty
needs to be respected; and that since we are — since the states of Europe increasingly are committed to a common set of values and principles, this ought to be able to be a framework by which they peacefully and through negotiation can resolve the kinds of issues you’ve talked about. And he will obviously want to encourage that process.
Q Do you consider this a diplomatically tricky trip? It would be easy to offend the Baltic leaders who don’t want to go to Putin’s party; it would be easy to offend Putin. Is this any trickier than the normal trip to Europe?
MR. HADLEY: Look, it’s a tricky world out there. There are a lot of challenges the world over. I think it is not tricky in this sense; that the President is going with a vision and a set of principles, and he’s very clear about that vision and comfortable with those principles, and he believes that those principles provide the framework by which various issues of the day can be resolved. And that’s the message he’s going to send.
Q Can you respond to those who — those critics who say thatthere have been mixed signals from the Bush administration about Russia; that on the one hand, the President in his inaugural address and since has talked about the spread of liberty and freedom, and yet on the other hand, there are these meticulous efforts to continue to be friendly with President Putin, because you need his cooperation on other issues; and that those are mixed signals and that administration officials who may be part of the State Department who are overseas are kind of quietly working with some of the more anti-Russian forces and some of the former
MR. HADLEY: I don’t think there have been mixed signals. Obviously, the President has said that we have a strategic relationship
with Russia, we have a lot of common interests, and a lot of common issues where — that are important to them and important to us, that if we’re going to make progress on, we’re going to have to work together — combating terrorism, one; combating proliferation is another. And it’s wholly appropriate for us to work those issues and cooperate where it is in our mutual interest to do so, and at the same time, be very clear about our principles, be very clear about the importance, we think, to the future of Russia, to the future of Europe, and to U.S.-Russian relations, for Russia to make continued progress on the road towards enhanced freedom and democracy.
I don’t think those two things are inconsistent. They are — they are both very important to the relationship, both that we cooperate on areas of common interest, and that Russia can make progress on the freedom and democracy agenda — because, again, the more they do, the more it will make it possible for us to have the kind of relationship we would like to have with Russia
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