PRESIDENT HAVEL: I am very grateful to President Bush for coming
to the present NATO summit one day earlier in order to pay some kind of
a working visit to the Czech Republic. He is the third President of
the United States who has come to visit us in the 13 years since the
collapse of the Iron Curtain, and I believe that this is a telling
feature of the quality of our relationship.
In our first conversation that has just ended, we have touched upon
several issues, although, of course, not on all the issues that we
would like to discuss. President Bush explained the position of the
United States on Iraq, and I made it clear that I believe that if this
issue is discussed within the NATO deliberations, as it obviously will
be, that I would deem it desirable if the outcome of this discussion
was reflected in some way in the final documents.
We also raised the subject of transformation of the North Atlantic
Alliance, and I believe that there was full agreement between us on
I have made every effort to extend a truly cordial welcome to
President Bush, and I will extend an equally cordial reception to all
of the prominent guests coming for this summit. Perhaps the heart that
is now shining above Prague Castle may represent a sign of this
cordiality with which the Czech Republic, and me, personally, receive
for the distinguished guests coming to the summit meeting.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thank you for your hospitality. I
want to thank you and I want to thank the Czech people for welcoming
not only me and our delegation, but welcoming many of the leaders of
the world to a city which is recovering from devastating floods. The
fact that you were able to host us in such fine fashion speaks to the
great character of the Czech people.
And speaking about character, your life has shown that a person who
dedicates himself to freedom can literally change the course of a
nation and change the course of history. And I'm honored to be in your
The people of the Czech Republic must understand that your
President is greatly admired in America. I'm proud to call you
Before I make a few comments, I do want to say something for
domestic consumption, if that's all right with you. Yesterday, the
United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to better protect America,
and voted overwhelmingly to help people find work. And I want to thank
the members of the United States Senate for working with this
administration to do the right thing for the American people.
And, tomorrow, we vote on whether or not to expand NATO. I
strongly support a Europe which is whole, free, and at peace. I
welcome the idea of countries joining NATO whose history has taught
them the need to protect freedom at all costs -- countries whose
admission to NATO will invigorate our alliance. The admission of these
countries will not only help us militarily achieve peace, but the
admission of these countries will affect the soul of this most
We did talk about Iraq. There is universal recognition that Saddam
Hussein is a threat to world peace. There's clear understanding that
he must disarm in the name of peace. We hope he chooses to do so.
Tomorrow we'll discuss the issue. We'll consider what happens if he
chooses not to disarm. But one thing is certain; he'll be disarmed,
one way or the other, in the name of peace.
We also talked about NATO capabilities. We recognize it's a hard
task to change the military strategy of this important Alliance. As I
explained to the President, I've tried eliminating some weapon systems
in the United States; it is a difficult job. But it is a necessary job
to transform our strategy, our military strategy to meet the true
threats we face. The enemy is not Russia; the enemy is global
terrorists who hate freedom. And together we can work to defeat that
enemy, in the name of freedom.
Mr. President, thank you for having us. This is an historic
meeting, an historic city, an historic country led by an historic
I'll answer some questions.
Q I have one question for President Bush, and a second question
for President Havel.
President Bush, you have said some lofty words here. The Czech
PRESIDENT BUSH: I said some what?
Q Lofty words. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: No one has ever accused me of being a poet before,
but thank you. (Laughter.)
Q The Czech Republic has been a member of NATO for three years
now. For three years we have been an ally of the United States. Are
we, to your mind, a good ally, and do you count on us in a war with
And the question for President Havel, 12 years ago you met in these
halls with the father of the President of the United States, President
George Bush, the elder. Now you are meeting with his son. The
situation both in the Czech Republic and in the United States has
changed fairly substantially in those 12 years. Have the relations
within the two countries changed, as well?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, the Czech Republic is not only a good
ally, it's a great ally. I can say that with confidence because I have
heard the President speak about this country's commitment to freedom
and peace. And the first test of that friendship came right after
September the 11th. The world for our country changed on September the
11th, and the Czech Republic responded quickly.
Secondly, as to Iraq, it's very important for our nations, as well
as all free nations, to work collectively to see to it that Saddam
Hussein disarms. If the collective will of the world is strong, we can
achieve disarmament peacefully. However, should he choose not to
disarm, the United States will lead a coalition of the willing to
disarm him. And at that point in time, all our nations -- we will
consult with our friends and all nations will be able to choose whether
or not they want to participate.
PRESIDENT HAVEL: President Bush, the elder, and I met during very
dramatic times, and we have forged a lasting bond of friendship. In
fact, I twice visited him at Kennebunkport after he left office. And I
trust that after I leave office, which will be quite soon, my
friendship with George Bush, the younger, will continue just as well.
As for the relationship between our two states, I believe that they
have not only been gradually improved and have grown stronger, but they
have developed into something that is actually taken for granted now,
especially by the younger generation. And I believe that we do share a
great deal of mutual confidence, indeed.
Q Mr. President, you just talked about the collective will of
the world, and I'm wondering -- you said you hope NATO comes along --
PRESIDENT BUSH: You hope what?
Q You said that you hope NATO comes along with you and Saddam
Hussein will disarm one way or another. And yet, I don't hear any
discussion about NATO collectively taking up arms against Iraq should
war be necessary. Why is that? Why settle for just niche
contributions from individual allies? And also, what role do you see
PRESIDENT BUSH: What will I see --
Q What role do you see Germany taking in a war against Iraq?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, thank you for the "if we should go to
war against Iraq." War is my last choice, my last option. I hope we
can do this peacefully.
It is possible that Saddam Hussein gets the message that we're
serious about disarmament and he should fully disarm -- that's
possible. The possibility becomes more real if he understands that
there is a true consequence for his failure to disarm. And there is a
true consequence. There's a serious consequence as the U.N. resolution
Now, you asked about two different parts of NATO -- first, by niche
I mean that in order for there to be an effective NATO, some countries
can specialize and provide excellence. And the classic example is the
Czech Republic's ability to deal with biological weapons, the aftermath
of a biological weapon attack.
The Czech Republic is one of the very best in the world at a
chemical and biological response capability. And that's what I was
referring to when I talk about the capacity of each country to
contribute a part of an effective strategy, a military strategy, as we
head into the 21st century, as a vision which is yet to be implemented,
which is a vision which will be discussed here in Prague.
Of course, the key reason we're here is to talk about NATO
expansion and the benefits of NATO expansion, not only to encourage the
spread of freedom in Europe, but also to be able to deal with the true
threats we face in order to defend our freedoms. And my answer, as far
as Iraq goes, is exactly what I've said previously: If the decision is
made to use military force, we will consult with our friends, and we
hope that our friends will join us.
And as to Germany's role, it's a decision Germany will make; just
like it's a decision the Czech Republic will make; just like it's a
decision Great Britain will make. It's a decision that each country
must decide as to how, if, and when they want to participate, and how
they choose to participate. The point is, is that we will have plenty
of consultations with our friends.
Q Again, one question for President Bush; the next question for
President Bush, what do you expect will change after the Prague
NATO summit in the Euro-Atlantic relationship? What will be -- the
United States expecting from NATO? And on the other hand, what do you
think that the NATO allies will expect from the United States?
And a question for President Havel. Do you think that a clear
commitment to take an action against Iraq will be expressed at this
NATO summit? And will you support such as that?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, I think our NATO partners should
expect a continued positive and active presence in this most importance
alliance from the United States. Our country is committed to NATO. A
strong and vibrant NATO is in the best interest of America, so we'll be
active and good partners.
And we expect the same from our NATO friends. But it's very
important for us to recognize that in order for NATO to be relevant as
we go into the future, the military capacities of NATO must be altered
to meet the true threats we face. NATO must transition from an
organization that was formed to meet the threats from a Warsaw Pact to
a military organization meant -- structured to meet the threats from
And the people of the Czech Republic should understand that the
threat from global terrorists is real. These people hate freedom.
They are cold-blooded killers who will take innocent life in the name
of a hijacked religion.
Ours is a war not against a religion, not against the Muslim
faith. But ours is a war against individuals who absolutely hate what
America stands for, and hate the freedom of the Czech Republic. And
therefore, we must work together to defend ourselves. And by remaining
strong and united and tough, we'll prevail.
PRESIDENT HAVEL: I share the opinion of President Bush, and of all
reasonable people, that it would be better to achieve Iraq's
disarmament without using force. If, however, the need to use force
does arise, I believe that NATO should give an honest and speedy
consideration to its engagement as an alliance.
Let us realize that it is not the United States, but the European
part of the alliance, that directly borders on that country, and I
believe that this kind of a test of its attitude, of its capability to
reach agreement, and of it's operative capabilities might be, at the
same time, a test of its new identity, and of its meaning in the world
Q Mr. President, you've said that you have a zero tolerance
attitude toward Iraqi violations. Secretary Rumsfeld and Kofi Annan
say they're looking for a pattern of behavior over time. Which is
right? How do you reconcile these two?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think there is -- we were talking about
whether or not Saddam Hussein shooting at our airplanes, what that
means -- we'll deal with that. The United States will take appropriate
The thing that's important for people to understand is what we want
to see is whether or not he's going to cooperate, whether or not he's
heard what the world has said, whether or not he's heard what the world
has said through the U.N. Security Council resolution.
See, what happens is people tend to focus on the inspectors as if
the inspectors are the end. The final -- the thing that's important,
the final point of determination is whether or not he is disarmed.
So, what we're going to be looking for, and I hope the world joins
us, is whether or not this man is cooperating with the will of the
world. See, the world has recognized -- many members of NATO have
recognized that a Saddam Hussein and Iraq which possesses weapons of
mass destruction is dangerous. Imagine a Saddam Hussein with a nuclear
weapon. It's important for the Czech people to understand this is guy
who has poisoned his own people. He's got such hate in his heart he's
willing to use a weapon of mass destruction not only on his
neighborhood, but on the people of his country.
He is a danger. And so, therefore, what we're looking for is to
determine whether or not he is willing to cooperate, whether or not he
has got the message that he must disarm.
The United Nations has said 16 different times, "You must disarm."
And 16 times, he's said, oh, of course, I will -- but never did. And
so, the game's over with; we're through with that. And now he's going
to disarm, one way or the other. In the name of peace, he will be