American-European Interests: One Side of the Same Medal
As prepared for delivery.
Herr Klein, thank you very much for the invitation to participate in an event with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. It is an honor to share the podium with General Naumann.
This is a special year for the transatlantic relationship. The European Union celebrated its 50th birthday last month. We congratulated the leaders of the EU who gathered in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate with a giant birthday card on the walls of our new Embassy on Pariser Platz applauding the EU’s first 50 years. I think it was quite fitting that the anniversary took place in Berlin - the symbol of not just the past and the tragic division of Europe but also its reunification and its common future. That was the meaning of the Berlin Declaration, written in the name of "We, the citizens of the European Union" and signed by the leaders of 27 EU countries at the official anniversary celebration.
President Bush also sent his congratulations. “Half a century ago,” the President wrote, “six countries united by the conviction that the future of Europe must be one of liberty, hope, and prosperity signed the Treaties of Rome and gave birth to what would become the European Union. Today 27 countries and nearly half a billion people stand together as a force for prosperity, stability, and freedom. On this anniversary, we celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of the European Union and look forward to a bright future for all its citizens.”
For five decades, the EU has been a force for positive change. In Europe, the European Union has succeeded in uniting a war-torn continent economically and politically. Around the world, it has promoted its core democratic values so that other nations and regions might follow its example.
From the beginning, the United States pledged its support to building a strong united Europe. We are celebrating another special anniversary this year. Sixty years ago, in the form of the Marshall Plan, the American people extended assistance to Europe. The Marshall Plan helped set in motion European integration by promoting European economic coordination through institutions such as the Organization for European Economic Cooperation known today as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. That powerful idea was shared by visionary leaders like Konrad Adenauer who along with Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman played a fundamental role in establishing the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and the European Community in 1957. Together the United States and Europe created NATO, the most successful alliance in history and the security foundation on which the European Union was able to grow and prosper.
Next week President Bush will welcome the leaders of the European Union to Washington for the United States-EU Summit to discuss the transatlantic and global agendas. Despite the common bands of history, the emphasis will be on the future.
The world requires the cooperation of the United States and Europe to confront and overcome the new challenges we face. Chancellor Kohl frequently said, „Die deutsche Einheit und die europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten ein- und derselben Medaille.“ Well, I believe that the transatlantic commitment to the goals of democracy, prosperity and freedom that defined our partnership in the 20th century also define our common goals in the 21st – die sind auch “zwei Seiten ein- und derselben Medaille.” We don’t flip a coin on values.
What has changed is the post-World War II order. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the liberation of the eastern half of Europe, and the rise of Islamic extremism require new strategies. Events have not just transformed U.S. strategic needs and correspondingly its diplomatic priorities; they have also changed Europe’s needs and responsibilities. In my opinion, the overlap in both is nearly perfect. Our policies are based on what we can and must do together to bring the same stability and peace that Europe has attained to other parts of the world.
We are now much closer to the completion of President George H. W. Bush’s vision of a Europe whole, free. Now, as back in 1990, the United States strongly believes that the future of the Western Balkans and Southeast Europe is within the Euro-Atlantic community, including NATO and the European Union. On April 3rd, the United Nations Security Council began debate on the plan submitted by UN Special Envoy and former Finnish President Martti Ahtissari. His plan calls for the creation of an independent state in Kosovo. It was eight years ago this coming June that UN Security Council Resolution 1244 was passed. That resolution effectively put the responsibility for Kosovo not in the hands of Serbia but in those of the United Nations. The European Union and NATO have been the backbone of the international efforts to stabilize Kosovo ever since. General Naumann was NATO's Military Committee chairman between 1996 and 1999 and a member of the negotiating team which tried to get Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. General, the debate in the Security Council must have special meaning for you. All those who were closely involved know that Resolution 1244 looked ahead to the day when Kosovo’s status would finally be resolved. The United States fully supports President Ahtissari’s proposal for supervised independence for Kosovo. It will give the people of Kosovo clarity about their future for the first time in many years.
This is a complex undertaking and emotions run high on both sides. Negotiations in the U.N. Security Council will be intense. We know that Russia has reservations about the plan. Russia has, however, been part of the deliberations from the beginning. We would like to finalize these negotiations over the status of Kosovo in the same spirit of collaboration and cooperation that they were begun.
Without question, the strategic rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union was the most important foreign policy dynamic in the second half of the 20th century. In the 21st century, we believe that our relationship will be defined by a new strategic partnership -- a partnership defined by our joint leadership on the world’s greatest challenges. That partnership with Russia is still emerging. Our relationship is open and constructive. Our leaders talk frequently.
For example, the Russian Federation has had a number of questions with regard to the proposed placement of U.S. missile defense (MD) assets in Europe. We believe that this missile defense system would not only contribute to the security of the U.S. and NATO allies, but would also provide a defense against long-range ballistic missiles to most of Europe. U.S. missile defense plans are neither directed at nor a threat to Russia. We have informed both NATO and Russia of our plans and offered opportunities for cooperation. Discussion on missile defense is ongoing.
This was one area of concern and there are others – on our side as well. But we also see areas of great opportunity. From an American perspective, two of the leading issues of the day are counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation. On both these issues, Russia and the United States work very, very closely together.
Over all, the world faces many serious, transformational challenges -- challenges like counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation. These are the issues that are at the heart of today’s globalized international agenda – issues in which the Transatlantic Partnership can play a special role. The challenges we face today are no less daunting than those we faced during the Cold War. We have a responsibility to put our relationship to work for common objectives based on our common values in a forward-looking agenda. Those challenges include getting the Middle East Peace Process back on track; bringing about security and economic recovery in Iraq and Afghanistan; addressing the problems of energy security and climate change; and fighting poverty, disease and illiteracy in the developing world.
The combined EU and G8 presidencies provide an excellent opportunity for the United States and Germany, and all the members of the transatlantic partnership to move forward – as partners. President Bush and Chancellor Merkel share many of the same ideas and political aims. The President very much appreciates the Chancellor’s contributions towards strengthening the transatlantic partnership. We are working closely with Chancellor Merkel’s government to advance our common agenda both at the US-EU Summit next week in Washington and the G-8 Summit in early June. In the last months, we’ve had a constant stream of visitors from the United States and we have seen a constant stream of representatives from the German government going to the United States. Our two countries are working together as never before to deal with global challenges.
We are now partners on the leading issues of the day. One of the ironies, however, is that public opinion has not kept pace with the status of the relations between our governments. We at the Embassy are very concerned that, according to a recent opinion poll, many people in Germany think the United States is more of a threat to international security than Iran. Needless to say, this view does not reflect what the United States is all about. My staff and I will continue working hard to change this perception. Quite frankly, there is more that German institutions -- schools, media, political parties, churches, etc – can do to help ensure that this perception changes, because it does not benefit German interests either. We look forward to working with staunch Atlanticist partners like the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung to addressing these notions.
Indeed, we appreciate the ongoing efforts of organizations like the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung in providing a forum for discussion and exchange. The Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung has done invaluable work in furthering bilateral relations by bringing together all the different players in our partnership to listen and profit from each other’s point of view. Ongoing people-to-people dialogue between our two countries is as important as it was sixty years ago.
I started my remarks by talking about some important transatlantic anniversaries. Let me close on the same note and also pass the ball to General Nauman. General, leading up the to fiftieth anniversary of NATO back in 1999, in your capacity as NATO's Military Committee chairman, you frequently emphasized NATO’s unique capability for change and adaptation, thereby ensuring its ability to meet the challenges of a new era. This capability for change was based on your belief that the Euro-Atlantic community remains as vitally important today as it was in the past. In one of your speeches, you said and I quote, “Having played a lot of ball in my youth, I learned very soon never to change a winning team and NATO, ladies and gentlemen, is a winning team.” The same, I believe, can be said for the transatlantic partnership as a whole.
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Updated: June 2008