Updated: 22-Feb-2005 NATO Speeches


22 Feb. 2005

Opening statement

by US President George W. Bush
at the press conference
following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council
at the level of Heads of State and Government

22/02/2005 - NATO
Summit meeting of the North Atlantic Council - NATO HQ, 22 February 2005
22/02/2005 - NATO
Audio file of the statement .MP3/1969Kb
22/02/2005 - NATO
Video file of the statement .WMV/3272Kb

Thank you sir, it's good to be back here to the NATO Headquarters. This is my first trip overseas on my second term and I'm proud to make the home of NATO my first stop and I appreciate the invitation. You've done a fine job of running the meetings, and you're doing a fine job of being the Secretary General I want you to know and I appreciate all our friends who were around the table today for their strong commitment to NATO.

It was a healthy dialogue and a strong commitment's important. After all NATO is the most successful Alliance in the history of the world. Think about that, the most successful Alliance in the history of the world. Because of NATO, Europe is whole and united and at peace. And that's a milestone in the history of liberty.

NATO is the home for nine former members of the Warsaw Pact. The leaders of those countries, when they sit around the table, brings us vitality to the discussions that we have. See it's still fresh in their memories what it meant to live in a society that wasn't free.

I said in my remarks today that sometimes you can take a relationship for granted and it was very important for us not to take the NATO relationship for granted.

One thing's for certain, the newly admitted countries don't take NATO for granted. As a matter of fact, they add a vitality to the discussions that I find refreshing and hopeful; and NATO's an important organisation and the United States of America strongly supports it.

I appreciate so very much the transformation of NATO that's taking place. In order for NATO to be vital it's got to be relevant and if it stays stuck in the past it's slowly but surely going to fade into oblivion but it's not staying stuck in the past.

We've created a NATO Response Force, and I want to thank you for your leadership on that Jaap; and the Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear Battalion; the NATO Command Structure is streamlined.

NATO is involved in the Middle East, a part of the world desperate for freedom and I want to thank you for your leadership on that.

And we spent a lot of time talking about the NATO contribution to Afghanistan and it is real and it important and it is substantial and, more countries are committed to providing help for the PRTs as well as the upcoming elections and I'm most grateful.

And then we discussed the NATO contribution in Iraq. At first many member countries had sent troops into Iraq as a part of the Liberation of Iraq and I want- I thanked there and I reminded them that every life is precious and we appreciate the sacrifices being made by their citizens.

But 26 nations sat around the table saying let's get the past behind us and now let's focus on helping the world's newest democracy succeed and I appreciate the contributions and the NATO Training Mission is an important mission because after all the success of Iraq depends upon the capacity and the willingness of the Iraqis to defend their own selves against terrorists.

So the discussions were fruitful.

The Ukraine--the meeting with President Yushchenko was, I thought, historic. I thought it was really interesting to be sitting next to a person, the Secretary General put me right next to President Yushchenko, who had just led a revolution. A peaceful revolution based upon the same values that we hold dear.

And it was a remarkable moment I thought and we, at least in my intervention and other interventions, we welcomed President Yushchenko and reminded him that NATO is a performance based organisation and that the door is open but it's up to President Yushchenko and his government and the people of the Ukraine to adapt the institutions of a democratic state.

And NATO wants to help and we pledged help. I pledged my own government's help to a fund that will help him get rid of MANPADS and certain different types of weapons. In other words the country's got work to do and we want to help him achieve that work. It was a remarkable moment, I appreciate you inviting him Jaap to come.

We also look forward with Albania, Croatia and Macedonia as these states participate in NATO's Membership Action Plan.

All in all the meeting was really important. I am really glad I came.

It gave me a chance to say that the relationship between the United States and Europe is a vital relationship, a necessary relationship, an important relationship and our relationship within NATO is the cornerstone of that relationship.

So Jaap thank you for your hospitality. Glad to be here.

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