President Bush’s May 6-10 visit to
Europe will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World
War II and will stress the common commitment of Europeans
and Americans to “advance freedom, prosperity and
tolerance in Europe and beyond,” according to the
president’s national security advisor, Stephen Hadley.
Speaking at the White House May 4, Hadley
said Bush will visit Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia and
Georgia during his four-day trip, honoring those who died
to defeat Nazi Germany in 1945 and “at the same time
to mark the growth of democracy throughout Europe and the
world more generally.”
The trip is an opportunity to celebrate
“the defeat of fascism and Nazism in Europe,”
he said. “[I]t is also to acknowledge and celebrate
the end of communism of 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.”
Bush will meet with the leaders of Latvia,
Lithuania and Estonia in Riga May 7, and will emphasize
that the U.S.-Baltic alliance “is strong, and it is
built on a commitment to shared values -- democracy, rule
of law and tolerance,” as demonstrated by common efforts
to spread democracy in countries such as Belarus, Iraq and
“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,” Hadley said.
In the Netherlands, Hadley said that in
addition to honoring American, Canadian and European soldiers
buried at Margraten Cemetery, Bush on May 8 will pay tribute
to shared American and Dutch values of “freedom, democracy,
opportunity, [and the] rule of law,” which both countries
are working closely together to advance around the world.
The president will meet with Russian President
Vladimir Putin in Moscow May 9 and will view a parade in
Red Square marking the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s
surrender. “He will acknowledge and pay tribute to
the enormous burden that Russians shouldered in that war,
having lost more than 27 million people,” Hadley said.
Asked about U.S-Russian relations, Hadley
said the two countries are cooperating on areas of common
interest, such as combating terrorism and proliferation
of nuclear weapons, while the United States at the same
time is speaking clearly to President Putin’s government
about how important it is that Russia “make continued
progress on the road towards enhanced freedom and democracy.”
“I don't think those two things are
inconsistent. 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,” he said.
On May 10, President Bush will be the first
American president to visit the former Soviet Republic of
Georgia and will honor the country’s Rose Revolution
as “a landmark in the history of liberty,” Hadley
“The president will pay tribute to
that accomplishment and commend the people of Georgia for
choosing democracy, and standing up for their freedoms through
nonviolent means,” he said.
Bush also will express U.S. support for
Georgia’s desire to have closer ties to NATO and the
European Union, Hadley said, adding that Georgia must address
“through peaceful means the separatist conflicts that
are in that country.”
Following is the transcript of Hadley’s
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
May 4, 2005
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR
ON THE PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO
LATVIA, THE NETHERLANDS, RUSSIA, AND GEORGIA
James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:27 P.M. EDT
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
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, May 8, the President will have
a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Balkenende, followed
by a youth roundtable. Upon completion of the roundtable,
President Bush will pay his respects to Her Majesty Queen
Beatrix of The Netherlands, and will congratulate her on
her recent 25th anniversary celebration as Queen.
The President will then lay a wreath at
The Netherlands-American Cemetery in Margraten. At the cemetery,
he will be joined by Her Majesty and the Prime Minister,
and the President will offer remarks and afterwards, greet
American and Dutch veterans.
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
On Monday afternoon, the President and Mrs.
Bush will depart for Tbilisi, Georgia. Upon arrival, they
will visit Old Town Tbilisi.
On Tuesday, May 10th, the President and
Mrs. Bush will participate in an official arrival ceremony.
Later that morning, President Bush will meet with President
Saakashvili, followed by a joint press availability. After
the press availability, the President will meet with Georgian
civil society leaders and then meet with Speaker of Parliament
Burjanadze. President Bush will then offer remarks to the
Georgian people in Freedom Square at the site of the Peaceful
Rose Revolution. Tuesday evening, the President and Mrs.
Bush will depart 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
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.
He will also pay tribute to the historical
tie between the United States and The Netherlands. The United
States and The Netherlands share the values of freedom,
democracy, opportunity, rule of law. And we are working
together closely to advance these priorities.
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.
Finally, the President will be the first
United States President to visit Georgia. Georgia's Rose
Revolution is a landmark in the history of liberty. The
President will pay tribute to that accomplishment, and commend
the people of Georgia for choosing democracy and standing
up for their freedoms through non-violent means. The United
States supports Georgia's desire to deepen its ties with
NATO and the EU, which requires continued reform and also
for Georgia to address through peaceful means the separatist
conflicts that are in that country.
And I'd be glad to answer any questions.
QUESTION: 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
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
Q: Does the President see a need to press
President Putin on democracy again in Moscow, as he did
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
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
Q: Last week, President Bush said that he
didn't appreciate Putin's comments, his renewed commitment
to providing short-range anti-aircraft missiles to Syria,
and that he had made those views known. Do we expect that
that's going to be a high priority on the President's list
-- his discussions with Putin? And do we also expect that
he might talk about that publicly?
MR. HADLEY: Well, I think as you think about
this trip, it is -- the focus, particularly of the Moscow
segment, is obviously going to be the celebration there.
Putin will be host to -- President Putin will be host to
over 50 heads of state and government. And I think the celebration
and the commemoration of the end of the war in Europe is
going to be the central focus. There's -- the President
is going to have a meeting with President Putin; it will
not last very long. And then there will be the private dinner.
And I think this is one of few meetings, bilateral meetings
that President Putin is having. So there's not a lot of
time to work with here.
Again, this is an issue, though, that the
two leaders have talked about, that we have talked about
with the Russians in other channels. And our concern, of
course, is weapons of that sort that could fall into the
hands of terrorists, particularly when you're talking about
a country like Syria that has a history and has current
relations that involve support for terror. So it's a concern
that we have been clear with the Russians about; they have
tried to address. There is a controversy about whether they
have addressed it in an adequate way. But this is not a
new issue. This is an issue that's been on the agenda for
Q: But does the President think that perhaps
he can be more persuasive in a face-to-face private meeting
to re-address that?
MR. HADLEY: He's had face-to-face private
meetings with President Putin and has had an opportunity
to raise all of these issues.
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
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
Q: Sir, will the President meet with the
Chinese President? Is he satisfied with the current U.S.-China
MR. HADLEY: I think the President believes
we have a good relationship with China, but as I said, there's
very little time in Moscow and there will be not an opportunity
for the President to meet with other world leaders in a
formal way. He, of course, is meeting with President Putin,
which, as you would expect, since President Putin is the
host, and it's very traditional to meet with the head of
government of the host country when you visit. So that's,
I think, quite to be expected.
Q: By opening the trip with a speech, one
of whose main themes is that democracy is more than just
elections -- not to belabor the point, but isn't that directed
at Vladimir Putin?
MR. HADLEY: I think it is an issue that
all states that are building democracies need to confront;
that as the President said many times, democracy is a journey,
it's not just about getting your sovereignty and declaring
majority rule. It is increasingly about rule of law, respecting
minorities, providing safeguards for individual rights,
but also dealing with your minority communities. And that
is a message that we've had to learn at home, as the President
has been very eloquent about this, over our 200-year history.
It is an issue that countries that are new to democracy
need also to address. And that is something that the Baltic
states will need to struggle with, Georgia will need to
struggle with, as well as Russia.
So I think it's an effort -- it's not pointed
at anybody. But the President, as you know, has been very
passionate of the importance of the freedom agenda and the
spread of democracy, and he's tried to help countries understand
what democracy really requires, what the journey looks like.
And a lot has been accomplished, but all of these countries
would be the first to recognize they have further to go.
And what the President, I think, is trying to do is to help
them chart in a way the way forward in terms of the next
generation as they -- of the development of democracy.
Q: Does President Bush have scheduled to
be meeting with South Korean President Roh in Moscow? Are
they going to maybe discuss North Korean issues?
MR. HADLEY: As I said, there really isn't
any time for him to meet with other world leaders. He is
going to meet with President Putin as the chief executive
of the host country, which you would expect, but there really
is no plans for other bilateral meetings.
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
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: And if they're offended, the heck with
MR. HADLEY: Sir.
Q: Can you respond to those critics who
MR. HADLEY: I'm sorry, I pointed to the
gentleman at the back. I'm trying to get some of the folks
in the back. Sorry, you're next.
Q: Thank you so much. Could you specify
the agenda of the bilateral meeting between President Putin,
especially if the case of North Korea issue might be coming
up? Where will be their focus on the North Korea issue of
MR. HADLEY: The two men have been together
a lot. They have a very good personal relationship. Everybody
knows the issues of the day. I think they will be meeting
in a very small group and they will discuss the issues of
the day; there's not, sort of, any formal or set agenda.
But it's not surprising -- there are a range of issues in
which we are working with Russia, and it's not surprising
that they would come up and certainly that is one of the
issues on that agenda. Whether it will come up specifically
or not, I really don't know.
Q: Certainly the two men have been together
a lot, yet, there have been a number of issues that have
strained relations, most notably, the last discussion in
Bratislava at which President Putin clearly showed there
were things he didn't want to be talking about. Will some
of this meeting entail a sense of shoring up of that relationship,
rebuilding a rapport that had existed early on, yet has
been made difficult?
MR. HADLEY: I don't think that the relationship
is strained. I think they have had a rapport, they continued
to have it in Bratislava, and they will have it in Moscow.
I think it is interesting that for all the publicity associated
with the discussion of democracy and freedom in Bratislava,
that we did see a speech, a very important public speech
by President Putin devoted to that subject. So I think it's
an indication that this is an ongoing dialogue between the
two leaders on this very important subject.
Q: Can you respond to those who -- those
critics who say that there 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 Soviet republics?
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.
Q: When the President is watching the parade
in Moscow, will he be in the peanut gallery? And who will
be on either side of him in the peanut gallery, which world
MR. HADLEY: I have not seen a seating chart.
(Laughter.) This isn't our party, this is the Russians'
party. As I say, the President and President Putin have
a good relationship and I'm sure that the Russians will
handle it in a way that is consistent with diplomacy, protocol,
and all those other things.
MR. JONES: Final question.
Q: Steve, can you tell us a little bit about
MR. HADLEY: And then you. Two more questions.
Q: Vladimir Putin was recently in the Middle
East meeting with Israeli and Arab leaders. He proposed
a peace discussion in Moscow that hasn't gotten off the
ground. But what do you think his motives were there? That's
traditionally been a U.S. sphere of influence.
MR. HADLEY: Well, actually, if you think
about it, historically, there has been a Soviet and Russian
participation in the Middle East. I would point out that
the Quartet, for example, has four members, one of whom
is Russia, and we have worked very closely with the Russians
in the context of the Quartet to try and advance the Middle
East peace. So it's not at all surprising that President
Putin would go to the Middle East. He also has a relationship
with the Israeli government and with Prime Minister Sharon,
and it's not surprising that he would go there.
He did talk about a conference. There are
questions, obviously, about timing. The idea of a -- sure,
there will be, obviously, conferences in this process; but
the question about when and about what are issues that need
to be addressed.
Q: Thanks, Steve. Sorry to jump to today's
news, but can you give us some indication of what the administration's
view of the arrest of al-Libbi means, in terms of the consequences
and disruptive nature it might cause to al Qaeda?
MR. HADLEY: As the President said earlier
-- and I direct you to his remarks -- this is a big deal.
This is a guy who was not only, in some sense, the successor
to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but also, in some sense, because
in some sense the leadership is a bit constrained, he was
not only doing operations, he was a facilitator, he was
into finance, he was into administration. This is a real
accomplishment and a positive step in the war on terror.
And I think it is also testament to the good cooperation
we are getting from the government of Pakistan, who had
This, in many ways, is their accomplishment.
We provided active support, but this is really something
that they have accomplished, and we salute them for it.
And it's an indication that, by working together with friends
and allies, and doing the patient kind of work that's required
over time, we can set back this organization and to bring
to justice its key leaders. And we continue to believe that's
a critical element to success in the war on terror.
Thanks very much.
END 12:55 P.M. EDT