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Remarks by Secretary Colin L. Powell at the German Marshall Fundís Transatlantic Center

Residential Palace, Brussels, December 8, 2004



Well, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to be with you this morning, and I thank you, Bill, for that kind introduction. And let me offer my congratulations to you, Bill, on the third anniversary of the Transatlantic Center. You have done a terrific job in setting up this center and bringing it to this point. And I want to offer my congratulations to you as you head on to the next phase of your career. Well done. Congratulations.

Itís really great to be in this marvelous residence hall and as a guest of the German Marshall Fund. I am pleased to see so many distinguished persons here today, but especially pleased to see young people, students, the next generation of leaders of the European community that is such a friend and partner to the United States.

The German Marshall Fund does great work; it does it here in Brussels, in Washington, and at its offices across Europe. The Marshall Fund is one of the many sinews that bind us together into a true transatlantic community. Indeed, the work of the Marshall Fund, and of many other fine organizations, reminds us that transatlantic politics are anchored in the strongest transoceanic security, economic, and cultural relationship in all of history.

And thereís a good reason for this relationship and the strength of this relationship. And thatís because weíre all family. American civilization, the experience of my nation through the past two centuries is rooted in Europe. The founding documents that mean so much to all Americans got their origin from the Enlightenment, got their origin from our European roots. When you look at our Declaration of Independence and when you look at what it says about the function of a government, we got that from Europe.

The function of a government is to secure rights for people. Governments do not give rights, governments do not grant rights. Those rights come from an almighty and this whole purpose of government is to secure those almighty given rights for the people and to do it by creating a government that reflects the will of the people. The only source of power in a nation is the will of the people given to a government for the sole purpose of securing the rights of the people, the God-given rights. That simple philosophy is what has fueled my nation and fueled this transatlantic community, for the last 200 years in the case of my nation, and more than 50 years in recent history for Europe. And itís that same basic principle of what governments are for, and what men and women are entitled to, that is fueling change throughout Europe now, and through other parts of the world, as well.
Itís because we hold so much in common, and that this strong bond will never break, we can handle the bumps and bruises of transatlantic political life that can come along from time to time. And these bumps and bruises can be borne more lightly, and they can heal more quickly, than in less mature relationships. Transatlantic politics has its blustery days, but the weather eventually improves. Itís improving as I speak, and it will improve further when President Bush visits Europe in February.
As the President made clear in his first post-election press conference, he wants to work more closely with all of Europe. President Bush said: "All that we hope to achieve together requires that America and Europe remain close partners. We are the pillars of the free world. We face the same threats and share the same belief in freedom and the rights of every individual." Itís natural, therefore, that the Presidentís first official visitor on his second term was NATOís Secretary General and his first overseas trip will be to Europe.

President Bush will come here looking to the future. But, he will come confident about the past, as well. I know that some of the Presidentís key decisions these last four years have been controversial in Europe, especially decisions that were made about Iraq. Whatever our differences about the past and about Iraq, we are now looking forward. Weíre reaching out to Europe, and we hope that Europe will reach out to us.

Amid all the background noise of the past few years, we have seen a transformation in the transatlantic partnership. It has increasingly gone global. Like the Marshall Fundís activities, we used to be limited to half a continent and then, after 1989, we could operate on an entire continent. And now, in a post-9/11 world, weíre taking the transatlantic partnership on the road, beyond Europe. And that is very good, because the transatlantic community is a community of freedom, democracy and peace: values that are today being emulated all over the world, universal values.

But we are in a different world now. The threats are different. No longer is the Soviet Union that transcendent threat that focused all of our attention and energy. The threat is more diffuse, much harder to counter, will take greater effort in many ways on our part. Terrorism, the trafficking in weapons and narcotics and people, transnational crime Ė these are the new threats. Now Europe, now with the Russian Federation, including the Russian Federation and the U.S. are intensely focused on how to fight these 21st century dangers.

More than ever before, we need to mobilize our resources and place our partnerships at the worldís service. Thatís the future of the transatlantic partnership, and my trip this week to Europe, I think, illustrates the point very well. Iím participating in three meetings: yesterday it was the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Ministerial meeting; tomorrow it will be the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council; and, on Friday, the U.S.-EU Ministerial meeting. My predecessors as Secretary of State attended them all, as will my successors, because these meetings, these conferences, these coming together of leaders of the transatlantic partnership come together. They come together, they meet, they meet, they talk, they talk, to grapple with issues of the highest significance, not only to Europe and North America, but to the world. All three of these organizations and meetings have important work to do in the days, months and years ahead.

Ever since its Cold War birth in Helsinki in 1975, the OSCE has been about freedom, democracy, and peace. Now, long after the Cold War, the OSCE continues its vital work. The OSCE is where North America and Europe come together to fight for human rights and against anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry and bigotry of all kinds. We can be proud that the OSCE has also developed critical expertise at monitoring elections. Had it not been for OSCE and other monitors in the Ukrainian election last month, the will of the Ukrainian people would almost certainly have been thwarted and defrauded. The stakes were enormous, and still are, which is why we gave full support yesterday for continuing OSCE monitoring in upcoming Ukrainian elections.

Elections in young democracies can be galvanizing events, events that can instill confidence and bravery in entire nations as people stand up for their rights and demand an election, as they assemble, as we saw them in Tbilisi last fall, and in the Ukraine over the past few weeks, in Ukraine over the past couple of weeks. We see it happening, just as we saw it happening in October in Afghanistan, where the people came out to vote, to let their voice be heard. That election in Afghanistan wrote a new chapter in the history of a people, of a region, of an era. The OSCE played a vital role.

On Sunday, October 9th, I awoke to see what had happened overnight in Afghanistan when they had their elections. I awoke to the news from the head of the OSCE Observer Mission that, despite all of the challenges, the Afghan election was free and fair. People came out in the face of terror, in the face of violence. The threat of death facing them, they came out. The President likes to tell the story of one of the very first voters, a 19-year-old woman who had never imagined that she would get the opportunity to express her view in this manner, and she did. Millions of Afghans voted. And yesterday we saw on television something that had never been seen in Afghanistan before: a new, freely elected president taking office. Afghanistanís parliamentary elections in April will build on that success, but for there to be another success the OSCE will be needed. And it will be there again.

Now is the time for the OSCE to expand its work still further. We want Afghanistanís success to be replicated in the Palestinian elections that are coming up on January 9th, and I hope the OSCE will be there. Also, we believe it is our obligation, in the spirit of the Helsinki final act, to help the Iraqi people have the kind of election that they deserve. And I hope that we can come together so that the OSCE can play a role in the Iraqi elections on January 30th.

But the OSCE is not just about democracy and human rights. In fact, in the 21 decisions agreed yesterday at our Sofia meetings, most concentrated on the OSCEís economic and security dimensions: container security, passport security, control of small arms and light weapons are all now part of the OSCE action plan. Not one of these will get a headline. They donít seem to be earth-shaking, but taken together it is a body of work that is important and it is vital in dealing with the threats we are facing in the 21st century.

The pre-eminent transatlantic security organization, of course, is NATO. And I look forward to my meetings here tomorrow. NATOís mission has never changed: to provide security for the Atlantic world. But the wider world has changed, largely as a consequence of NATOís success. So, NATO has had to adapt in order to carry out its mission in new strategic circumstances. Iíve seen this process with my own eyes over many, many years. Tomorrow will be my last NATO meeting in a string of NATO meetings.

And if I track it back, as Bill said, I can go back to my first NATO meeting, which was 46 years ago next month, when I was I young lieutenant and I assembled the 40 members of my platoon around me at the Fulda Gap and said, "We are NATO and as long as we win the battle at this little section of the Fulda Gap, western Europe and North America will be safe. Got it, guys?" "Yes, we got it." And so, I often like to brag, "if you want to know who won the Cold War, I did with my 40 soldiers at the Fulda Gap." But the fact of the matter is that when I first stepped foot on that piece of ground 46 years ago with my young soldiers, we knew why we were there. We knew the important role that this alliance that we were a part of was playing in preserving peace and freedom and preserving our ideals and preserving our way of life.

And 28 years later I went back as a corps commander, same place, same Fulda Gap, it was still there and the Russian 8th Guards Army was still on the other side of the line. But things were changing, and I could see those changes in all the NATO meetings I now started attending, first as military assistant to a great man, Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger, in the early 80s. And we would go to NATO meetings and we had the darnedest arguments about things. People think that recent arguments are something. You should have been there when we were doing the INF deployments and we had marches all over Europe about this terrible American idea to deploy Pershing 2 missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles to counter what the Russians had put in with their SS-20s. Terrible. Shouldnít do it. Demonstrations, bad idea. We did it. Europe stood firm with North America.

And several years later I was also proud to be the negotiator of the INF treaty, along with Secretary Schultz and Mr. Nitze and so many others, helped negotiate the INF treaty that eliminated all of them. Firmness of purpose, determination, willing to go against what was then the prevailing public opinion, because we knew what the right thing to do was. And as a result, we got rid of all of those weapons and we began to set the stage for what came later, a few years later.

I was there a few years later, with President Reagan, now serving as his National Security Advisor, as we would go to NATO meetings in 1987 and 88, and they had something rather unique about them in that as you sat there waiting for all of the 16 heads of state, government, to speak, every one of them had a different Gorbachev story to tell. And everybody had just met with Gorbachev, "This is a man we can do business with;" "This is a man who is making a big difference." Perestroika, glasnost, I remember those days vividly. And we all watched. Could it be so? Could it be the case that things were about to change?

And I watched that during my time as National Security Advisor, attending five summit meetings with Gorbachev, never forgetting the day he looked across the table at me, in the presence of Secretary Schultz, and he knew that I was unsure about where he was really going. And he looked across the table at me and he said, "Oh, General, I am so sorry, youíre going to have to find a new enemy." I remember my reaction, "I donít want to. Iíve got a lot invested in this enemy, you know. Donít change my life just because youíre having a bad day." Well, my life changed, our lives changed, the transatlantic alliance changed.

I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on that November night in 1989, when we saw the people of Berlin go to the wall and pound on it until it collapsed in front of them. I was there as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the beginning of the next decade when the Soviet Union ended, when the Warsaw Pact ended and when freedom broke out. And fragile freedoms broke out all across Eurasia like wildflowers in the spring. We went through all of this: the good, the bad and the temporarily mysterious.

And here NATO is at the end of 2004. I used to argue Russian generals when I was still Chairman at the end of the Cold War, just as things were breaking up in the Soviet Union. And they said, "Well, the Warsaw Pact is going away so NATO should away. If you donít have a Warsaw Pact, you donít need NATO." And my response to that was, "You know, thereís a certain logic to that. I can understand your point of view, but thereís a small problem." "Whatís that?" "People keep asking for membership applications to NATO." And so, it is still a functioning, living organization. People still see a need for it.

Why is that? Because NATO is the bedrock of transatlantic peace and security. And it is a political and military organization that will change as the threat changes, as the need changes. And we have discovered that it didnít simply exist for the Soviet Union. It has another purpose, it has another life. Itís embracing the former nations of the Soviet Union; itís working with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council in order to create a more secure transatlantic union and relationship, and to reach out and deal with the other threats that are out there.

And so now, at the end of 2004, NATO has emerged more active than ever, countering the new challenges of a new age. Now with 26 members, NATO does more than its founders ever could have dreamed of, and it remains open for membership. It was no surprise though, really, that this all happened. Itís no surprise to me that the former members of the Warsaw Pact would want to join NATO. They saw NATO for what it was: an organization that rests on the principles of peace, and individual dignity and democracy, and an organization that linked Europe to North American, to America and Canada in a way that provided security for the transatlantic area. Just one measure of the changes of the past 15 years.

Over those past 15 years so much has happened. An expanded NATO has gone from being an alliance mainly about the defense of common territory, to being an alliance that is mainly about the defense of common principles, wherever those common principles in the world have been violated or are being threatened. NATO used to be mostly about Europe, and out-of-area issues were of secondary importance. I remember so many debates that we had about "out-of-area," it was one of those clichés we argued about all the time. "Was it the responsibility of NATO? Why are we worrying about these places somewhere else?" Now such issues are the main ones we face, and out-of-area is where they are and where NATO has to be.

What impresses me, though, is how quickly and successfully NATO has adapted to post-Cold War challenges. Adaptation started within Europe, in the Balkans. NATOís role in both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo has been indispensable, and we stood firmly with all of our NATO colleagues. Some worried about us at the beginning of President Bushís administration, but we made it clear in a simple American cliché, "In together, out together." And thatís the way we approached it, and thatís what we have done.

NATOís successful security mission in Bosnia ended formally just six days ago, and the handoff to the new European Union mission there went flawlessly. NATO and the EU have learned how to blend their forces under the Berlin-plus rules: something people thought would be too difficult to handle, but weíve handled it and itís working.

Since NATOís role today, however, goes beyond Europe, we must take steps to meet NATOís new challenges. We must reverse the decline in defense budgets and manpower in some member states and eliminate the bureaucratic or national impediments to generating forces. Weíve got to do more with respect to capabilities. If we are going to take on these additional missionsóand we mustóthen we must match that intention, match those words, with real capability.

NATOís first major military operation outside Europe, in Afghanistan, shows what we can do when we have the will. NATO created a NATO Response Force that is already proving its worth in Afghanistan. Nine thousand NATO personnel make up the International Security Assistance Force, which is commanded by a French general. Now that the opportunity provided by the election is at hand, the International Security Assistance Force needs to be strengthened, and expanded. We need to put our heads together to see how the International Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan can best work together with Afghan national army forces. A merger between all foreign security forces in Afghanistan may make the best sense. Weíll have to examine that in the months ahead.

Another thing we have been working on which shows the vitality of the alliance: together this past June, we decided at the NATO Summit to establish a training mission for Iraqi security forces, as requested by the Iraqi Interim Government, who came and asked for help: "help us, do something for us." That mission is now underway. NATO has also shown its capacity for outreach. We created NATOís Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. This supports reform in the broader Middle East and North Africa by offering training, joint peacekeeping and other opportunities for coordinated security work. NATOís Mediterranean Dialogue reinforces the European Unionís Barcelona Process, all coming together now with this Istanbul Initiative. And both of these, all of these, support the G-8ís Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative. At dinner tonight, I will join so many other foreign ministers at NATOís Mediterranean dialogue.

It will be meeting at the ministerial level for the first time in ten years to dig deeper into how we can best work with these Middle East partners. The nations of the broader Middle East and North Africa need our assistance, and we stand ready to assist in a way that the founding fathers of NATO could never have imagined.

Iím looking forward to being in Morocco on Saturday to attend the first meeting of the Forum for the Future to work with our partners in the G-8 and in NATO to advance our common agenda of reform with the nations of the broader Middle East and North Africa. The Forum will bring together some 28 countries inside and outside the region to concentrate efforts and resources on advancing reform. Weíre not trying to impose our way on others. Weíre not even trying to diagnose other peopleís problems. Arabs themselves, in the UN Human Development Reports, have shown that they know the deficits, and they know the challenges that they face better than anyone else.

Things are happening all over the region. Sometimes governments are acting, challenging their people to change. Sometimes civic organizations, civil society and brave individuals are acting, challenging their governments to change. Every situation is different; every country has its own path forward based on its history, based on its current political situation, based on its culture. We can help them. Weíve seen ferment, weíve seen voices calling for modernization and reform, and it is an obligation of the industrialized worldóthe G-8, the EU, NATOóto reach out and help.

The Broader Middle East Initiative is designed to support those anxious for change, to amplify their voices. And these reforms can bring real gains to the people of the region. Economic reforms increase trade, create jobs and increase prosperity. Thatís what weíre interested in the broader Middle East, thatís what weíre interested in throughout the transatlantic region. Political reforms increase the ability of citizens to have a say in decisions that affect them, their families and communities. Greater empowerment of women will give them the ability to feed, clothe and educate their children and to keep them healthy. Ensuring educational opportunity better prepares the young people of today to be the leaders of our world tomorrow.

We want to join with our European allies to support peace and positive change, not just through the OSCE, NATO, and the G-8, but also through EU-U.S. relationships. Much of what we do with Europe concerns economic affairs, trade and investment, scientific-technical sharing, energy and environmental research and other similar projects, and more besides. Above all, we cooperate intensely on putting terrorists out of business through intelligence and law enforcement channels and a host of other means. This is the front line of our common defense against terrorism.

In addition, led by Italy on behalf of the G-8, the United States and the European Union are also working together to create international police units for deployment in post-conflict situations. So, as we work on the front line of defense against terrorists, weíre also working to deny terrorists space to plot and the opportunity to recruit. To that same end, the United States and the European Union are increasingly on the same page when it comes to conflict resolution in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

For example, the United States and the European Union agree on the basic shape of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We both recognize that this conflict casts a shadow on all we try to do in the region. We both support two states, an independent Palestinian state and the State of Israel, living side-by-side in peace. We both support Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank as part of the Road Map process, to get back in to that process. We both want free and fair elections for Palestinians, and weíre both ready to help assure that outcome.

How do we do all of this? We work through the Quartet, which combines the diplomatic power of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. Now, with changes in Palestinian leadership, President Bush is determined to seize this moment. We will be more active diplomatically, because we see an opportunity to make real, hopefully decisive, progress towards peace. We also have an opportunity now to work together in Iraq.

I mentioned this a moment ago, but I really wanted to stress this point. Many of the 25 EU members are on the ground in Iraq helping the Iraqi people and the Interim Iraqi Government, and their contributions are critical.

The Iraqi people want freedom. They want to choose their own leaders. They want to vote, and they want to vote without delay, they want to vote next month. We must not mortgage the future and the hopes of Iraqis to the intimidation of terrorists and thugs. The prospect for success in Iraq is there, itís real. We wonít let that happen, we canít let that happen. So yes, we see these bad news stories, but there is some good news coming out, as well. More than 80 percent of the country are involved in municipal elections to decide how they will be locally led. We see schools, and clinics, and business operating and there are places throughout the country where life goes on and futures are being built.

And we donít often appreciate enough the extraordinary bravery of so many Iraqis, leaders and ordinary citizens alike, who see their chance for a better future and are ready to risk it every single day when they get up because they believe in that future. And we must help them have a reason to believe in that future, knowing that that future will arrive, because we are going to be there to help them.

We have to remember what our goal is. We are aiming to give Arab democracy a chance in Iraq, in Palestine, and elsewhere. We are striving to put the power of liberty to work, where itís needed most. We know that this isnít easy. We know that democracy depends on certain attitudes and institutions that donít arise overnight.

But, look at Ukraine. Look at what the Ukrainian people have done. The Ukrainian and Russian authorities are hearing a clear message from North America and Europe, in diplomatic stereo. And that stereo sound makes a difference, and what do we say? "Let the people decide."

More than ever before the fate of Ukraine rests where it belongs: in the hands of the Ukrainian people. We in the United States and you in Europe admire the courage of so many who have stood by the rule of law, by the constitution, who have peacefully tried to resolve the difficulties encountered in the last election. We support a second run-off election on December 26th as the best way to restore confidence and the integrity of Ukraineís political institutions. We think Ukraineís highest court has judged wisely. And I am very pleased to learn this morning that so does the Rada, their parliament. They have passed the necessary legislation to put in place a process that will lead to a second run-off election on December 26th. Ukrainians are coming together to find a Ukrainian solution to this problem and we all stand by to help. All we ask, all we want, all we have ever wanted is a free, fair, open election, so the will of the Ukrainian people can be heard.

In todayís world, the power of ideas flows stronger than ever. And where the global community of democracies is larger than ever, like Ukraine, many societies are taking giant steps. It will take all of us, our combined efforts, to make sure they get the help they need, because we have so much common work to do in the Middle East and elsewhere. The United States has everything to gain from another capable, democratic partner in Europe. We have always supported European integration and we still do. We support the further expansion of the European Union. We want the European Union to develop its global presence, so that we will have the strong partner we need.

As our alliance moves ahead to meet the challenges of the future, I would like to leave you with some thoughts. The future of our children and grandchildren we found in the stability and opportunity that democracy brings. The factors of democracy: public opinion, education, information, communications, affect even undemocratic regimes. You canít keep these ideas out any more. There are no political boundaries or boundaries of the mind that will keep these ideas from penetrating into the darkest corners of the world.

We must support democratic change wherever it appears. That is our policy as well as our credo. What President Bush calls the "transformational power of liberty" has been and will be the central element, the central push of U.S. policy for years to come.

We need to have the courage to seek fundamental change and not be satisfied with just managing or containing threats. We waited too many years for Saddamís Iraq and the Taliban to comply with the will of the international community. We must be willing to create and seize opportunities. Libyaís rapid transformation from a danger to a rehabilitating member of the international community is a stunning example.

America and Europe together, through NATO, EU, OSCE, and other transatlantic institutions, must make their top priority the pursuit of our shared vision of a free, peaceful and democratic, broader Middle East. Our work on Israeli-Palestinian peace goes hand in hand with our support for reform and modernization in the region. America and Europe together must see the pursuit of democracy as central to the fight against terrorism. Healthy democratic societies are the best bulwark against terrorism, although our experience and that of Spain, Russia and others show that none of us have immunity from terrorism.

America and Europe are partners not just because of what we are and what we stand for. We are partners because we act together on the basis of shared principles and values. Our values and our interests cannot in the end be separated. We also recognize we can only be effective if the United States and Europe work as partners: as partners in liberty and partners in action. That is what we have done for decades. It has been successful. It is what we must continue to do in the decades ahead in order to make sure that we continue our record of success.

You can be sure that in President Bush and in his administration, we will be doing and they will be doing everything they can to show to Europe our commitment to this partnership, our understanding of the successes achieved, and our willingness to pay whatever costs are necessary, to bear the burdens necessary, to ensure that we continue to be successful in the challenging years ahead.

Thank you very much.


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U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany/Public Affairs/Information Resource Centers 
Updated: February 2005