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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 7, 2007
President Bush Exchanges Toasts with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
State Dining Room
8:10 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Your Majesty, and Your Royal Highness, distinguished guests, Laura and I offer you a warm welcome to the White House. We're really glad you're here.
Tonight is the fourth state dinner held in Your Majesty's honor here at the White House. On previous such occasions, you've been welcomed by President Eisenhower, President Ford, and another President named Bush. (Laughter.) Over your long reign, America and Britain have deepened our friendship and strengthened our alliance.
Our alliance is rooted in the beliefs that we share. We recognize that every individual has dignity and matchless value. We believe that the most effective governments are those that hold themselves accountable to their people. And we know that the advance of freedom is the best hope for lasting peace in our world.
Based on our common values, our two nations are working together for the common good. Together we are supporting young democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together we're confronting global challenges such as poverty and disease and terrorism. And together we're working to build a world in which more people can enjoy prosperity and security and peace.
Friendships remain strong when they are continually renewed, and the American people appreciate Your Majesty's commitment to our friendship. We thank you for helping us celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement. We're confident that Anglo-American friendship will endure for centuries to come.
So, on behalf of the American people, I offer a toast to Your Majesty, to Your Royal Highness, and to our staunch allies, the valiant people of the United Kingdom.
(A toast is offered.)
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Thank you very much, indeed.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Your turn, Your Majesty.
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Mr. President, thank you again for your warm words of welcome. Prince Philip and I are most grateful for your generous hospitality.
It is now 16 years since my last visit to Washington. In 1991, most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe were just emerging from behind the Iron Curtain. Their people were rejoicing in the opportunities presented by their newfound freedom. At the time, your father, President Bush, saw the potential for what he called, a Europe whole and free.
It is never easy to give royal form to such hopes and aspirations. But here, in 2007, those aspirations have, for the most part, been fulfilled. NATO and the European Union opened their doors to friends across the continent, and both institutions have grown to encompass the great majority of countries in Europe.
Tonight I would like to recognize that steadfast commitment your country has shown, not just in the last 16 years, but throughout my life, in support of a Europe whole and free.
I grew up in the knowledge that the very survival of Britain was bound up in that vital wartime alliance forged by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt. On my first visit to Washington in 1951, your predecessor, President Truman, welcomed me to the White House, and it was his administration which reached out to Europe through the Marshall Plan to help our tired and battered continent lift itself from the ruins of a second world war. In the years that followed, successive administrations here in Washington committed themselves to the defense of Europe, as we learned to live with the awesome responsibilities of the nuclear age.
Mr. President, for someone of my age, surveying the many challenges we face in this new 21st century, that is the inescapable historical context within which we live. My generation can vividly remember the ordeal of the second world war. We experienced the difficulties of those early postwar years. We lived through the uncertainties of the long Cold War period.
For those of us who have witnessed the peace and stability and prosperity enjoyed in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe over these postwar years, we have every reason to remember that this has been founded on the bedrock of the Atlantic Alliance. All the many and varied elements of our present relationship, be they in the fields of education, business, culture, sports, politics or the law, have continued to flourish, safe in the knowledge of this simple truth.
Today the United States and the United Kingdom, with our partners in Europe and the Commonwealth, face different threats and new problems both at home and abroad. In recent years, sadly, both our nations have suffered grievously at the hands of international terrorism. Further afield, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, climate change, or the eradication of poverty, the international community is grappling with problems certainly no less complex than those faced by our 20th century forebears.
I have no doubt, however, that together with our friends in Europe and beyond, we can continue to learn from the inspiration and vision of those earlier statesmen in ensuring that we meet these threats and resolve these problems. Divided, all alone, we can be vulnerable. But if the Atlantic unites, not divides us, ours is a partnership always to be reckoned with in the defense of freedom and the spread of prosperity.
That is the lesson of my lifetime. Administrations in your country, and governments in mine, may come and go. But talk we will; listen we have to; disagree from time to time we may; but united we must always remain.
Mr. President, I raise my glass to you and to Mrs. Bush, to the friendship between our two countries, and to the health, freedom, prosperity, and happiness of the people of the United States of America.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
END 8:27 P.M. EDT