For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 15, 2001
Remarks by the President in Address to Faculty and Students of Warsaw University
Listen to the President's Remarks
5:45 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. President, thank you very much for your gracious hospitality that you and your wife have shown Laura and me. Mr. Prime Minister, members of the government, distinguished members of the clergy, distinguished citizens, and this important friend of America, students, Mr. Rector, than you very much for your warm greeting.
It's a great honor for me to visit this great city -- a city that breathes with confidence, creativity and success of modern Poland.
Like all nations, Poland still faces challenges. But I am confident you'll meet them with the same optimistic spirit a visitor feels on Warsaw's streets and sees in the city's fast-changing skyline. We find evidence of this energy and enterprise surrounding us right now in this magnificent building. And you can hear it in the air. Today's own -- Poland's orchestra called Golec's -- (laughter and applause) -- is telling the world, "on that wheat field, I'm gonna build my San Francisco; over that molehill, I'm gonna build my bank." (Laughter and applause.)
Americans recognize that kind of optimism and ambition -- because we share it. We are linked to Poland by culture and heritage, kinship and common values.
Polish glass makers built and operated the New World's first factory in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608. Seeking the right to vote, those same Poles also staged the New World's first labor strike. They succeeded. (Laughter.) It seems the Poles have been keeping the world honest for a long period of time.
Some of the most courageous moments of the 20th century took place in this nation. Here, in 1943, the world saw the heroic effort and revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto; a year later, the 63 days of the Warsaw Uprising; and then the reduction of this city to rubble because it chose to resist evil.
Here communism was humbled by the largest citizens' movement in history, and by the iron purpose and moral vision of a single man: Pope John Paul II. Here Polish workers, led by an electrician from Gdansk, made the sparks that would electrify half a continent. Poland revealed to the world that its Soviet rulers, however brutal and powerful, were ultimately defenseless against determined men and women armed only with their conscience and their faith.
Here you have proven that communism need not be followed by chaos, that great oppression can end in true reconciliation, and that the promise of freedom is stronger than the habit of fear.
In all these events, we have seen the character of the Polish people, and the hand of God in your history. Modern Poland is just beginning to contribute to the wealth of Europe -- yet, for decades, you have contributed to Europe's soul and spiritual strength. And all who believe in the power of conscience and culture are in your debt.
Today, I have come to the center of Europe to speak of the future of Europe. Some still call this "the East" -- but Warsaw is closer to Ireland than it is to the Urals. And it is time to put talk of East and West behind us.
Yalta did not ratify a natural divide, it divided a living civilization. The partition of Europe was not a fact of geography, it was an act of violence. And wise leaders for decades have found the hope of European peace in the hope of greater unity. In the same speech that described an "iron curtain," Winston Churchill called for "a new unity in Europe, from which no nation should be permanently outcast."
Consider how far we have come since that speech. Through trenches and shell-fire, through death camps and bombed-out cities, through gulags and food lines men and women have dreamed of what my father called a Europe "whole and free." This free Europe is no longer a dream. It is the Europe that is rising around us. It is the work that you and I are called on to complete.
We can build an open Europe -- a Europe without Hitler and Stalin, without Brezhnev and Honecker and Ceaucescu and, yes, without Milosevic.
Our goal is to erase the false lines -- our goal is to erase the false lines that have divided Europe for too long. The future of every European nation must be determined by the progress of internal reform, not the interests of outside powers. Every European nation that struggles toward democracy and free markets and a strong civic culture must be welcomed into Europe's home.
All of Europe's new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom -- and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe -- as Europe's old democracies have.
I believe in NATO membership for all of Europe's democracies that seek it and are ready to share the responsibilities that NATO brings. (Applause.) The question of "when" may still be up for debate within NATO; the question of "whether" should not be. As we plan to enlarge NATO, no nation should be used as a pawn in the agendas of others. We will not trade away the fate of free European peoples. No more Munichs. No more Yaltas. (Applause.) Let us tell all those who have struggled to build democracy and free markets what we have told the Poles: from now on, what you build, you keep. No one can take away your freedom or your country. (Applause.)
Next year, NATO's leaders will meet in Prague. The United States will be prepared to make concrete, historic decisions with its allies to advance NATO enlargement. Poland and America share a vision. As we plan the Prague Summit, we should not calculate how little we can get away with, but how much we can do to advance the cause of freedom. (Applause.)
The expansion of NATO has fulfilled NATO's promise. And that promise now leads eastward and southward, northward and onward.
I want to thank Poland for acting as a bridge to the new democracies of Europe, and a champion of the interests and security of your neighbors, such as the Baltic states, Ukraine, Slovakia. You are making real the words: "For your freedom and ours."
All nations should understand that there is no conflict between membership in NATO and membership in the European Union. My nation welcomes the consolidation of European unity, and the stability it brings. We welcome a greater role for the EU in European security, properly integrated with NATO. We welcome the incentive for reform that the hope of EU membership creates. We welcome a Europe that is truly united, truly democratic, and truly diverse -- a collection of peoples and nations bound together in purpose and respect, and faithful to their own roots.
The most basic commitments of NATO and the European Union are similar: democracy, free markets, and common security. And all in Europe and America understand the central lesson of the century past. When Europe and America are divided, history tends to tragedy. When Europe and America are partners, no trouble or tyranny can stand against us.
Our vision of Europe must also include the Balkans. Unlike the people of Poland, many people and leaders in Southeast Europe made the wrong choices in the last decade. There, communism fell, but dictators exploited a murderous nationalism to cling to power and to conquer new land. Twice NATO had to intervene militarily to stop the killing and defend the values that define a new Europe.
Today, instability remains and there are still those who seek to undermine the fragile peace that holds. We condemn those, like the sponsors of violence in Macedonia, who seek to subvert democracy. But we've made progress. We see democratic change in Zagreb and Belgrade; moderate governments in Bosnia; multi-ethnic police in Kosovo; the end to violence in southern Serbia. For the first time in history, all governments in the region are democratic, committed to cooperating with one another, and predisposed to join Europe.
Across the region, nations are yearning to be a part of Europe. The burdens -- and benefits -- of satisfying that yearning will naturally fall most heavily on Europe, itself. That is why I welcome Europe's commitment to play a leading role in the stabilization of Southeastern Europe. Countries other than the United States already provide over 80 percent of the NATO-led forces in the region. But I know that America's role is important, and we will meet our obligations. We went into the Balkans together, and we will come out together. And our goal must be to hasten the arrival of that day. (Applause.)
The Europe we are building must include Ukraine, a nation struggling with the trauma of transition. Some in Kiev speak of their country's European destiny. If this is their aspiration, we should reward it. We must extend our hand to Ukraine, as Poland has already done with such determination.
The Europe we are building must also be open to Russia. We have a stake in Russia's success -- and we look for the day when Russia is fully reformed, fully democratic and closely bound to the rest of Europe. Europe's great institutions -- NATO and the European Union -- can and should build partnerships with Russia and with all the countries that have emerged from the wreckage of the former Soviet Union.
Tomorrow, I will see President Putin, and express my hopes for a Russia that is truly great -- a greatness measured by the strength of its democracy, the good treatment of minorities and the achievements of its people.
I will express to President Putin that Russia is part of Europe and, therefore, does not need a buffer zone of insecure states separating it from Europe. NATO, even as it grows, is no enemy of Russia. Poland is no enemy of Russia. America is no enemy of Russia. (Applause.) We will seek a constructive relationship with Russia, for the benefit of all our peoples.
I will make the case, as I have to all the European leaders I have met on this trip, that the basis for our mutual security must move beyond Cold War doctrines. Today, we face growing threats from weapons of mass destruction and missiles in the hands of states for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life. So we must have a broad strategy of active non-proliferation; counter-proliferation; and a new concept of deterrence that includes defenses sufficient to protect our people, our forces, and our allies; as well as reduced reliance on nuclear weapons.
And, finally, I'll make clear to President Putin that the path to greater prosperity and greater security lies in greater freedom. The 20th century has taught us that only freedom gets the highest service from every citizen -- citizens who can publish, citizens who can worship, citizens who can organize for themselves -- without fear of intimidation, and with the full protection of the law.
This, after all, is the true source of European unity. Ultimately, it's more than the unity of markets. It is more than the unity of interests. It is a unity of values.
Through a hard history, with all its precedents of pain, Europe has come to believe in the dignity of every individual: in social freedom, tempered by moral restraint; in economic liberty, balanced with humane values.
"The revolutions of 1989," said Pope John Paul II, "were made possible by the commitment of brave men and women inspired by a different, and ultimately more profound and powerful, vision: the vision of man as a creature of intelligence and free will, immersed in a mystery which transcends his own being and endowed with the ability to reflect and the ability to choose -- and thus capable of wisdom and virtue."
This belief successfully challenged communism. It challenges materialism in all its forms. Just as man cannot be reduced to a means of production, he must find goals greater than mere consumption. The European ideal is inconsistent with a life defined by gain and greed and the lonely pursuit of self. It calls for consideration and respect, compassion and forgiveness -- the habits of character on which the exercise of freedom depends.
And all these duties, and all these rights are ultimately traced to a source of law and justice above our wills and beyond our politics -- an author of our dignity, who calls us to act worthy of our dignity.
This belief is more than a memory, it is a living faith. And it is the main reason Europe and America will never be separated. We are products of the same history, reaching from Jerusalem and Athens to Warsaw and Washington. We share more than an alliance. We share a civilization. Its values are universal, and they pervade our history and our partnership in a unique way.
These trans-Atlantic ties could not be severed by U-boats. They could not be cut by checkpoints and barbed wire. They were not ended by SS-20s and nuclear blackmail. And they certainly will not be broken by commercial quarrels and political debates. America will not permit it. Poland will not allow it. (Applause.)
This unity of values and aspiration calls us to new tasks. Those who have benefited and prospered most from the commitment to freedom and openness have an obligation to help others that are seeking their way along that path. That is why our trans-Atlantic community must have priorities beyond the consolidation of European peace.
We must bring peace and health to Africa -- a neighbor to Europe, a heritage to many Americans, a continent in crisis, and a place of enormous potential. We must work together to shut down the arms trafficking that fuels Africa's wars; fight the spread of AIDS that may make 40 million children into orphans; and help all of Africa share in the trade and promise of the modern world.
We must work toward a world that trades in freedom -- a world where prosperity is available to all through the power of markets; a world where open trade spurs the process of economic and legal reform; a world of cooperation to enhance prosperity, protect the environment, and lift the quality of life for all.
We must confront the shared security threats of regimes that thrive by creating instability, that are ambitious for weapons of mass destruction, and are dangerously unpredictable. In Europe, you're closer to these challenges than the United States. You see the lightning well before we hear the thunder. Only together, however, can we confront the emerging threats of a changing world.
Fifty years ago, all Europe looked to the United States for help. Ten years ago, Poland did, as well. Now, we and others can only go forward together. The question no longer is what others can do for Poland, but what America and Poland and all of Europe can do for the rest of the world. (Applause.)
In the early 1940s, Winston Churchill saw beyond a world war and a Cold War to a greater project: "Let the great cities of Warsaw and Prague and Vienna banish despair even in the midst of their agony," he said. "Their liberation is sure. The day will come when the joy bells will ring again throughout Europe, and when victorious nations, masters not only of their foes but of themselves, will plan and build in justice, in tradition, and in freedom a house of many mansions where there will be room for all."
To his contemporaries who lived in a Europe of division and violence, this vision must have seemed unimaginable. Yet, our fathers -- yours and mine -- struggled and sacrificed to make this vision real. Now it is within our grasp. Today, a new generation makes a new commitment: a Europe and an America bound in a great alliance of liberty -- history's greatest united force for peace and progress and human dignity. The bells of victory have rung. The Iron Curtain is no more. Now, we plan and build the house of freedom -- whose doors are open to all of Europe's peoples and whose windows look out to global challenges beyond. Our progress is great, our goals are large, and our differences, in comparison, are small. (Applause.) And America, in calm and in crisis, will honor this vision and the values we share.
Poland, in so many ways, is a symbol of renewal and common purpose. More than half a century ago, from this spot, all one could see was a desert of ruins. Hardly did a single unbroken brick touch another. This city had been razed by the Nazis and betrayed by the Soviets. Its people were mostly displaced.
Not far from here is the only monument which survived. It is the figure of Christ falling under the cross and struggling to rise. Under him are written the words: "Sursum corda" -- "lift up your hearts."
From the determination in Polish hearts, Warsaw did rise again, brick by brick. Poland has regained its rightful place at the heart of a new Europe and is helping other nations to find their own.
"Lift up your hearts" is the story of Poland. "Lift up your hearts" is the story of a new Europe. And, together, let us raise this hope of freedom for all who seek it in our world.
God bless. (Applause.)
END 6:11 P.M. (L)