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Colby Cooper
Colby Cooper
Acting Senior Director for Strategic Communications and Global Outreach, National Security Council

May 13, 2005

Colby Cooper

It's a pleasure to be on "Ask the White House" today to talk about what was a wonderful and productive trip by the President and Mrs. Bush recently to Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Georgia. I look forward to your questions, so let's begin.

Alan, from Colorado writes:
Colby,Do you think the goals the President wanted to achieve prior to his trip were achieved?

I am curious after listening to the news which said otherwise.

thank you--Alan

Colby Cooper
Alan, thank you for your question.

The President's trip was very successful and I believe accomplished several goals of which one was to honor the shared sacrifice of millions of Americans and Europeans to defeat tyranny and mark the growth of democracy throughout the world and another to underscore the common commitment of the United States and our European allies and partners to work together to advance freedom, prosperity, and tolerance in Europe and beyond.

The President delivered a strong and consistent message on the advance of freedom. He talked about the importance of people moving beyond the debates over history and working in common to promote democracy today and in the future.

Daan, from the Netherlands writes:
Mr. Cooper,As an American, could you please reflect on Mr. Bush's visit to the American Cemetary? I find this cemetary very special for my country and would like to know what you thought of it.

Regards. Daan

Colby Cooper
Daan, first, thank you for the wonderful hospitality of the Dutch people in welcoming President Bush to your beautiful country. A country that is a friend and ally of the United States, and one in which we share a deep, historical relationship and shared values of freedom, democracy, opportunity, rule of law, human rights, and security.

This was President Bush's first visit to the Netherlands and I do not think it could have gone better. Specific to your question, the visit to the cemetery was very moving and inspiring. It allowed us to reflect, standing among the graves of some 8,300 American soldiers resting in Margraten Cemetery, the selfless service and sacrifice that these soldiers, along with their Dutch, Canadian and European allies, made so that millions of Europeans could live free from tyranny, was truly remarkable. I've had the fortune of visiting other American cemeteries in Europe, such as the one on the beaches of Normandy, and walking among those hollowed grounds has brought a strong sense of patriotism and commitment to ensuring we make this world a better place, a freer place, and a more peaceful place.

Your question allows me to mention a fact we found out upon our return to Washington, D.C. One of the U.S. Veterans, SSG Bob Bowen, who was 91 years old and was in attendance at the cemetery, passed away the next day. As part of "The Greatest Generation", I can only imagine what peace it must have brought to him standing among his fellow veterans--U.S. and Dutch--before her Majesty, the Prime Minister, and his President of the United States, and hear once again that he and his fellow soldiers remain an inspiration for all of us as we continue the mission they fought for, 60 years ago.

Maria, from New York City writes:
Colby--Thank you for taking questions today. In 2001, I studied in Moscow and was fortunate enough to be able to take a short but wonderful visit to Georgia. I was amazed at the generosity and pride the Georgian citizens displayed. Did you find the same true when the President was in Georgia? The photos look amazine--with the crowd. Thanks much, Maria.

Colby Cooper
Maria, we found the same generosity, hospitality, and pride of the Georgian people as I believe you may have found when you visited Georgia. Georgia is a beautiful country and Tbilisi, the country's capital, offered a fantastic welcome for President Bush. The speech in Freedom Square, the site of the Rose Revolution, was beyond what words can describe. The commitment, energy, and desire by the Georgian people to live free and make a better life for themselves and their country was truly inspiring.

The President lauded Georgia's democratic achievements and urged focus on democratic institutions, economic reform, and the integration of minorities. The President had good and productive meetings with Georgian President Saakishvilli and from what we hear, a wonderful dinner on Monday evening.

Georgia is on the right track and needs to continue its reforms in a spirit of tolerance that is a cornerstone of democracy. We appreciate Georgia as a strong ally in the Global War on Terror and are grateful for the service of Georgian soldiers in Iraq. This trip, having been the first by a U.S. President to Georgia, will be remembered for a long time, not only by Georgians, but by those of us who had the privilege of accompanying the President.

Shehzad, from Saint Louis writes:
Colby thanks for your audience, Please tell us in simple words what can Americans do to help President's foreign policy agenda at home and abroad? Can you shed some light on his foreign policy agenda for second term in the White House. Thanks for your competent and professional answer.

Colby Cooper
Shehzad, thank you for your question.

The President's foreign policy is broad, however, if I can point you to one part that is of strategic importance, it is as the President said in his second Inaugural Address:

"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time."

What this means for us as Americans is the inherent duty to do what we can to advance this calling by learning more about other cultures by traveling more to other countries, by hosting more foreigners as guests in our country, by increasing our student exchanges, and by appreciating the value that every one person can add to a society and to the greater good of mankind. While challenging, the President has encouraged all Americans to come together, work with one another, to not only protect that which we hold sacred--our freedom and liberties--but to work to bring freedom and liberty to other parts of the world.

Austin, from JC ILLINOIS writes:
Did the president have fun?

Colby Cooper
Austin, I hope things are well in Illinois. It's a little cloudy in D.C.

In response to your question, I believe the President and Mrs. Bush had a fun, enjoyable, and productive trip. The President talked about some important issues, he honored those who fought to end Fascism, and as you may have seen, had a chance to drive Russian President Putin's car and dance--albeit briefly--with Georgian children.

andre, from pleasant ridge schoo writes:
what is it like to be with the all the famous people

Colby Cooper
Andre, Thanks for submitting your question.

Let me answer it this way. It is an honor and privilege to work for President Bush and to be able to travel with him and witness the impact his message of freedom and democracy has on others in this world is remarkable. I grew up in a very small town--Oxford, New York--and even in my most hopeful dreams I never thought I would have the opportunities I do working at the White House. And one thing I can tell you, from the President and Mrs. Bush to their Senior Staff and Cabinet Secretaries, they care deeply about this country and our fellow Americans and it extends oversees to caring about this world and making it a better place.

Leon, from Binghamton,NY writes:
What was the highlight of your trip to Europe

Colby Cooper
I am pleased to answer a question from someone in my home area in New York.

The highlight of the trip for me was actually two things and very much related. The first was standing in Margraten Cemetery in remembering the efforts, the sacrifices of the U.S. soldiers past and present as they defend our great nation and help those across the world defend and promote the principles of democracy and freedom.

The other highlight was in Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia, hearing the words of President Bush and the incredible reception of the Georgian people and the countless hand-drawn signs held by children and adults alike, expressing their appreciation of the support by the United States and their friendship with America. I met a woman and her daughter in the street several hours before the speech and the daughter, whose t-shirt was made out to be the Georgian flag and whose cheeks had painted on them the American flag said to me, "Thank President Bush and I hope one day I can come to America." And little did they know how much it meant to the President that he have an opportunity to come to Georgia.

Don, from New York writes:
Colby,How did the president interpret the wonderful reception he was given by the Gorgian people?

Colby Cooper
As he said on Wednesday, "...Standing in front of 150,000 people that love freedom was a fantastic experience."

Louis, from LA writes:
I heard critism of the President by visiting both the Baltic states and attending the WWII Ceremony in Russia (I think because the leaders did not attend?) however, what were your thoughts the President's thoughts on this?

Colby Cooper
Louis, thank you for your question. The President had very good visits in both Latvia and Russia. In Latvia, he had the opportunity to meet with the three Baltic Presidents (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia). He reassured the Baltics of our commitment to their freedom, while urging them to build inclusive democracies. He reminded them of their valued partnership as allies in NATO and as members of the European Union and no one can take that away. He also urged them to look beyond history and pursue constructive relations with Russia.

In Russia, he met with his friend, President Vladimir Putin, and expressed the U.S.'s commitment to working with Russia on economic and security matters. The President also complemented President Putin on his recent "State of the State" address, and President Putin's stated commitment to Russia's democratic development, rule of law, and protection of individual freedoms. As those words are translated into reality, the U.S. and Russia partnership will grow and become stronger.

Most importantly, President Bush recognized Russia's great contribution to defeating Nazism 60 years ago. And when watching the military parade in Moscow's Red Square, the President was not only paying tribute to the over 27 million Russians lost, but to the honor of all that were lost and all who served to end Fascism in Europe.

Colby Cooper
Thank you for joining me on today's "Ask the White House." I appreciate your questions and I hope you were able to enjoy following President Bush's trip to Europe. The web site has a great page dedicated to the trip and I would encourage you to visit. In closing, I would like to quote the President from the other day in honor of all those who served in World War II, including my two grandfathers:

"The lessons of World War II is to honor the sacrifice of those who helped us keep the peace, and to remember that the United States is always the beacon of freedom, and that when we find people living under tyranny we've got to work to free them in order to make the world more peaceful."

And to all who serve our country and make this world a better place, thank you. Have a great weekend!