Navigationsleiste U.S. Diplomatic Mission to GermanyAbout the USASitemapSuche

US Siegel



Remarks by the President in Address to
Faculty and Students of Warsaw University

Warsaw, Poland
June 15, 2001

President George W. Bush


Thank you very much. Mr. President, thank you very much for your gracious hospitality that you and your wife have shown Laura and me. Mr. Prime Minister, members of the government, distinguished members of the clergy, distinguished citizens, and this important friend of America, students, Mr. Rector, than you very much for your warm greeting.

It's a great honor for me to visit this great city -- a city that breathes with confidence, creativity and success of modern Poland.

Like all nations, Poland still faces challenges. But I am confident you'll meet them with the same optimistic spirit a visitor feels on Warsaw's streets and sees in the city's fast-changing skyline. We find evidence of this energy and enterprise surrounding us right now in this magnificent building. And you can hear it in the air. Today's own -- Poland's orchestra called Golec's -- (laughter and applause) -- is telling the world, "on that wheat field, I'm gonna build my San Francisco; over that molehill, I'm gonna build my bank." (Laughter and applause.)

Americans recognize that kind of optimism and ambition -- because we share it. We are linked to Poland by culture and heritage, kinship and common values.

Polish glass makers built and operated the New World's first factory in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608. Seeking the right to vote, those same Poles also staged the New World's first labor strike. They succeeded. (Laughter.) It seems the Poles have been keeping the world honest for a long period of time.

Some of the most courageous moments of the 20th century took place in this nation. Here, in 1943, the world saw the heroic effort and revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto; a year later, the 63 days of the Warsaw Uprising; and then the reduction of this city to rubble because it chose to resist evil.

Here communism was humbled by the largest citizens' movement in history, and by the iron purpose and moral vision of a single man: Pope John Paul II. Here Polish workers, led by an electrician from Gdansk, made the sparks that would electrify half a continent. Poland revealed to the world that its Soviet rulers, however brutal and powerful, were ultimately defenseless against determined men and women armed only with their conscience and their faith.

Here you have proven that communism need not be followed by chaos, that great oppression can end in true reconciliation, and that the promise of freedom is stronger than the habit of fear.

In all these events, we have seen the character of the Polish people, and the hand of God in your history. Modern Poland is just beginning to contribute to the wealth of Europe -- yet, for decades, you have contributed to Europe's soul and spiritual strength. And all who believe in the power of conscience and culture are in your debt.

Today, I have come to the center of Europe to speak of the future of Europe. Some still call this "the East" -- but Warsaw is closer to Ireland than it is to the Urals. And it is time to put talk of East and West behind us.

Yalta did not ratify a natural divide, it divided a living civilization. The partition of Europe was not a fact of geography, it was an act of violence. And wise leaders for decades have found the hope of European peace in the hope of greater unity. In the same speech that described an "iron curtain," Winston Churchill called for "a new unity in Europe, from which no nation should be permanently outcast."

Consider how far we have come since that speech. Through trenches and shell-fire, through death camps and bombed-out cities, through gulags and food lines men and women have dreamed of what my father called a Europe "whole and free." This free Europe is no longer a dream. It is the Europe that is rising around us. It is the work that you and I are called on to complete.

We can build an open Europe -- a Europe without Hitler and Stalin, without Brezhnev and Honecker and Ceaucescu and, yes, without Milosevic.

Our goal is to erase the false lines -- our goal is to erase the false lines that have divided Europe for too long. The future of every European nation must be determined by the progress of internal reform, not the interests of outside powers. Every European nation that struggles toward democracy and free markets and a strong civic culture must be welcomed into Europe's home.

All of Europe's new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom -- and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe -- as Europe's old democracies have.

I believe in NATO membership for all of Europe's democracies that seek it and are ready to share the responsibilities that NATO brings. (Applause.) The question of "when" may still be up for debate within NATO; the question of "whether" should not be. As we plan to enlarge NATO, no nation should be used as a pawn in the agendas of others. We will not trade away the fate of free European peoples. No more Munichs. No more Yaltas. (Applause.) Let us tell all those who have struggled to build democracy and free markets what we have told the Poles: from now on, what you build, you keep. No one can take away your freedom or your country. (Applause.)

Next year, NATO's leaders will meet in Prague. The United States will be prepared to make concrete, historic decisions with its allies to advance NATO enlargement. Poland and America share a vision. As we plan the Prague Summit, we should not calculate how little we can get away with, but how much we can do to advance the cause of freedom. (Applause.)

The expansion of NATO has fulfilled NATO's promise. And that promise now leads eastward and southward, northward and onward.