For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 23, 2001
Press Conference by President Bush
And Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi
Villa Dona Pamphilj
2:52 P.M. (Local)
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: Good
afternoon, everyone. I am very happy to extend my welcome to
President Bush during his first visit to Rome. It's as a friend that I
receive him in a free country, a democratic country, that has always
been a friend of the United States of America, which, with the United
States of America, has had for over 50 years a very special cooperation
based on the feelings of the Atlantic Alliance, the European Union.
Our country is a country that looks to the
United States of America with a recognition that must be
steadfast. A recognition that derived from a very profound
feeling, Mr. President, of those who are aware of the fact that
precisely, thanks to your country, to your great democracy, to the
young lives that Americans sacrificed in Italian territory over 50
years ago, Italy ended a very dark moment, where totalitarianism had
got rid of freedom.
And thanks to the sacrifice of the United
States and its allies, we were able to reach democracy, freedom, and we
had a period of over half a century in freedom, democracy and in
Therefore, with the feelings of a very
great friend, where we recognize the feelings that are at the basis of
the American feelings, with the same values that are the basis of your
political action, that we receive you, Mr. President. And
we, as we know in Genoa, have spent very special moments in Genoa,
moments that I will always remember with great pleasure.
And I must tell you that in Genoa, I
admired the way that you opened up towards others. I have to
tell you that you conquered American journalists. You
conquered everyone, because you were so spontaneous, so
natural. It was such a frank way to say things, because yes
is yes, no is no.
In politics, we weren't used to seeing all
this, and we were always beating around the bush and we were taking
things from the left or the right, up, down and so on. With
President Bush, everything is simple. And at the very end,
all the other leaders truly appreciated the manner in which you were
pragmatic, you were concrete, and that is how you faced all of the
And I also must add, and here I will end,
I who have already directed a G8 in Naples seven years ago, found a new
atmosphere, a more positive atmosphere, with a greater closeness
amongst leaders. And I made this reflection; I said, it is
almost a miracle today, at the beginning of a new century, at the
beginning of a new millennium, that having around a table, people
looking at each other in their eyes, with faith and with friendship.
We have the Prime Minister of Japan, the President of the United States
of America, the Prime Minister of Germany and the Presidents of
England, France and Italy, and again, the United States President and
the President of the Russian Federation.
Only 13 years ago, the world was divided
in two. There were two ideologies, a wall in the
middle. And we thought that planned and collective economies
could be a competitive economy against our system of free markets and
free enterprise. How the world has changed.
And, therefore, I have to tell you that as
a citizen, an anybody, I must say that from Genoa, from the talks with
President Bush and the other leaders, just by the way you had these
relationships with the other leaders in such a frank and open way, we
have greater hope. The world today is much more safe than it
was a few years ago. And we can truly build, construct for
our peoples, but for other peoples, as well, calling them within the
virtuous cycle of trade, of exchanges, as friends, with faith, with
confidence. We can definitely build a better world.
And thanks to the history of this -- and
in this specific instance, I must say thank you to President Bush.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Prime
Minister, thank you very much. Perhaps the interpreter got
it wrong when she says that my performance at the G8 conquered the
American press. (Laughter.) If so, I would expect
their stories to reflect it from now on. But one thing is
for certain: on this, my first trip as President to Italy,
I've really enjoyed myself. I can see why so many Americans
choose Italy as a place to visit -- its fantastic history, beautiful
buildings and monuments, and wonderful people.
Mr. Prime Minister, I appreciate your
leadership, as well. We share an entrepreneurial
spirit. We understand the role of the entrepreneur in our
societies. After all, this good man came from humble
beginnings to not only build a business enterprise that employs
thousands of people, but also had the courage to seek political
office. And I firmly believe the people of Italy will be
well off with my friend as their leader.
And I've got some experience to say that,
because I saw him at the G8. We had meetings where there was nobody
else in the room except the leaders of the industrialized
world. We had good and honest discussions. But
the Prime Minister was a pro, an expert at encouraging dialogue and
expressing his opinion.
I want to thank the people of Genoa again
for the sacrifices they made. I want to thank the law
enforcement officials for providing security. I appreciate
the Prime Minister and his government for making available the
opportunity for those of us who lead our respective nations to come
together and have a good, frank dialogue; to talk about ways to improve
relations amongst ourselves, as well as ways to help those nations not
as fortunate as we are.
You deserve a lot of credit, Mr. Prime
Secondly, we've had good discussions today
about our bilateral relations. We've got great trade between
our nations and we work together to make sure that trade
continues. We've got good military cooperation between our
respective lands and we'll continue to do so. I reconfirmed
to the Prime Minister that which I said in NATO, that America came into
the Balkans with our friends, and we will leave with our
friends. And I appreciate so very much the Italian
leadership in the Balkans, not only the general who led our troops at
one point in time, but as well the troops that are still
there. Our two nations comprise a large part of the force in
keeping the peace.
I also want to say something about the
development in Indonesia. The people of Indonesia, by
addressing their leadership crisis under their Constitution and laws,
have shown commitment to the rule of law and democracy. We
hope all parties will work together to maintain peace, support the
Constitution and promote national reconciliation.
We appreciate President Wahid's work the
last two years in leading Indonesia through its democratic
transition. We look forward to working with President
Megawati and her team, to address Indonesia's challenges of economic
reform, peaceful resolution of separatist challenges, and maintaining
Mr. Prime Minister, once again, thank you
for your friendship, and thank you for the friendship of the Italian
people with the American people.
BERLUSCONI: Thank you. There were agreements, and
we drew the journalists that are going to ask the questions.
Q Mr. President,
was it a surprise for you to hear today from the Holy Father on his
declarations on manipulations on embryos? And how do you
intend to take it into consideration as you examine the decision about
federal funds to research, especially in view of what you've said
before regarding your decision?
And to Prime Minister Berlusconi, the
relationship between Italy and the United States, does it go through
Europe, or on what topics do you believe that Italy has a privileged
and specific role? Because the communique was not very
precise on this.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We have the
two-question strategy. (Laughter.) A person is
allowed to ask one question, but they manage to convert it to
two. I suspect that may be the case with some of the
American press, as well.
First, let me say how honored I was to be
able to be in the presence of the Holy Father. It was a
moment I was looking forward to because of his profound impact on the
world. He's an extraordinary man who is, by virtue of his
leadership and his conscience and his presence, has not only affected
political systems, but affected the hearts and souls of thousands of
people all around the world. And it's hard to describe --
I'm not poetic enough to describe what it's like to be in his
Nor was I surprised to hear his strong,
consistent message of life. It's been his message ever since he's been
the Holy Father. He's never deviated. He sent a
consistent word throughout the Church and throughout society that we
ought to take into account the preciousness of life.
I hear that message from his cardinals and
bishops throughout our country. One of the things about the
Catholic Church that I admire, it's a church that stands on consistent
and solid principle. And of course, I'll take that point of
view into consideration as I make up my mind on a very difficult issue
confronting the United States of America. It's the need to
balance value and respect for life with the promise of science, and the
hope of saving life.
And so I will go back home, after what has
been a very successful trip, continue to listen to points of view, and
make up my mind when I'm ready to. And when I do I'll make
the case to the American people.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: As
far as the question that was asked, I think that the statement
comprises all of the sectors where we all have the same views, and
therefore, we have the same political identity that derives from the
same values, from the same way of looking at things and the events in
the world. I think that this is the basis of a cooperation that can be
a very tight one, indeed.
As far as the European Union, we know that
the European Union wants to have a task force that will cooperate and
work with NATO. It asks NATO to provide the elements that
the task force in the beginning would not have on its own, but, again,
with cooperation and working with NATO. And I do believe
that this is something positive, because it would not be logical, it
would not be possible to continue, for NATO to come in, intervene on
its own in all of those situations that arise in the world in order to
make sure that they go in to take care of those wounds that become
Therefore, I think that it's fair that if
Europe wants to become politically strong, that wants to express itself
with a single voice, I was saying it should have its own military
force. However, I believe that this military force must be
fully synchronized with the NATO forces. And it might be
able to intervene by itself with preventative agreements with NATO, so
that NATO does not have to face every single situation in the world.
As far as the United States, it's a very
intense trade relationship in both directions. Last week, we
signed an agreement for a greater cooperation in technological and
scientific research. I believe that this can be useful even
in difficult situations, like the situations of the factors that
increase the temperature on the planet. I think that every
single topic, every single situation should go back to the fundamental
agreement that is borne from the historic reasons that I mentioned, and
which consolidates itself due to the fact that we have a common basis
of values and principles, and today, also due to the human liking and
the sympathy that we have that has developed between the President of
the Italian government and the President of the United States.
PRESIDENT BUSH: This man is
from NBC, Mr. Prime Minister, NBC.
Q Mr. President,
I'd like to return to the issue of your decision regarding stem cell
research. I was struck by the fact that the Pope
specifically condemned the creation of embryonic stem cells for the
purpose of research, when, in fact, one central element of what you're
grappling with is the research on existing stem cells. Can
you elaborate on what you two discussed in that regard? Are
there areas that you're considering that he did not
address? And I'm not asking you to provide us with what
you're going to do, but can you at least share with us what options are
out there, what compromises you might be looking at?
THE PRESIDENT: David, I think
it's important for the American people to know that I take this issue
very seriously, because it is an issue that, on the one hand, deals
with so much hope, hope that perhaps through research and development
we'll be able to save lives. It's also an issue that has got
serious moral implications. And our nation must think
carefully before we proceed. And, therefore, my process has
been, frankly, unusually deliberative for my
administration. I'm taking my time.
I, frankly, do not care what the political
polls say. I do care about the opinions of people,
particularly someone as profound as the Holy Father. But I
will tell you that the first time the subject came up was when he read
his statement at the palace, at his summer palace. And my
discussions with the Holy Father were more about foreign
policy. He was interested in my view of the world, and my
discussions with President Putin, for example. He was most
interested in what went on at Genoa.
And so his statement was very consistent,
a consistent part of the philosophy that the Catholic Church has
embraced. But that's the only time it came up, Dave.
Q -- options --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm
thinking about all options, but I'm thinking about them
privately. In all due respect to a great -- one of several
great news organizations, I'd rather not be expressing -- laying my
options out on the air, because I have yet to reach a
conclusion. And when I do, I will lay it out -- I don't know
if you'll be first, but I'll lay it out to the American people.
And the American people will know that
this decision has been made in all due deliberations, with sound
deliberations, that it's an important decision. And I think
people understand that it is that way. And it's important
for America to fully understand the ramifications. And time
has helped people understand the complexities of the
issue. And when I get back, I will continue my
deliberations. And when I'm ready, I will lay out my
Q Mr. President,
yesterday there was a step ahead made in the relations between Russia
and the United States for the defense of missile
systems. Don't you think that the United States and
President Bush perhaps need a better -- a more explicit support from
its European allies in this type of dialogue? Are you
willing to do this, as opposed to other European
countries? It's been talked for about $60 billion to $100
billion of investment for the strategic missile
defense. Will you share some of that money with European
companies, in investments in technology, and especially with some of
the Italian companies -- they're very advanced in
that. Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We did have a
major discussion about how best to keep the peace. I was
really pleased with the conversation I had with President
Putin. It was the second such conversation I had and we're
making good progress toward understanding. And the
understanding is that the Cold War is over; Russia is not the enemy of
the United States; and that freedom-loving people should address the
true threats of the 21st century. And those threats are, amongst other
things, the ability of a rogue nation to have a weapons of mass
destruction, which could affect the United States or Italy or Russia or
anybody else who embraces freedom.
And it seems to me that we must do the
research and development necessary; research and development prohibited
by the current treaty that codifies the old Cold War mentality of
distrust. And we have yet to do that. We have yet
to fully explore the opportunities and options available to not only
the United States, but our allies, as to how to keep the peace.
So it's premature for me to answer not
only how much the systems will cost, but who will
participate. I will tell you this: The spirit of
collaboration and cooperation should indicate to our friends and allies
that we're more than willing to cooperate. We've discussed
the issue. And I'm so much thankful to my friend for being
supportive and forward-leaning when others have been skeptical.
And in the appropriate time, when we
figure out the best way to address the true threats -- which is the
ability to intercept twos -- launches of twos or threes that could hold
us hostage and affect all our foreign policies -- then we will work on
the development. And the development of the systems may very
well entail cooperation with our friends and allies. I'm
very open-minded on the subject.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: As
President Bush has just mentioned, in Brussels, during the NATO
meeting, I spoke and then I spoke at Gottenburg during the dinner that
we shared. And I said that I was in agreement with what
President Bush had said very clearly. The world has
changed. There is no antagonism between Europe and the
United States, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other
hand. The Soviet Union is something different.
And we're very interested as Europeans
with the support of the United States; we look to a progressive journey
of the Russian Federation. Maybe tomorrow, the day after the
Russian Federation might even become part of the European Federation,
where we have countries that share a common Christian
civilization. And I believe that in the future we will also
be able to speak of a Russian Federation that becomes part of the
Our enemies are
elsewhere. Potentially, our enemies are elsewhere. Of
course, we know that we will need some time before certain countries
that do not give us full confidence will be able to build strategic
weapons with a range that allows them to go to far-off places like the
United States. But, undoubtedly, the situation is worrisome,
and I believe that it would be logical to preserve the security of
Europe and the United States, making sure that we keep an eye on these
potentialities, on these dangers.
I think that President Bush was extremely
clear when he said that these topics the United States is willing to
talk about with the European allies. On our side, I think
that this is something that must be done. We have said
this. We will always be next to the United States in order
to take part in this discussion, going well beyond the attitudes of
certain European states, which still, today, have not, in my opinion,
understood how the world has changed, and how we should start worrying
about the future.
Q Mr. President, if
I could follow up on missile defense. It seems there was a
little bit of ambiguity about what happened yesterday. Does
the agreement that you reached with President Putin yesterday commit
your administration to slowing down, or in any way delaying the
development of missile technologies and the withdrawing from the ABM
Treaty until after the two nations have reached an agreement about both
offensive and defensive systems? Or will you just continue
to develop these technologies, and withdraw from the treaty when you
And Mr. Prime Minister, if I could just
follow up, how important is an agreement, a formal agreement between
Russia and the United States on these matters to Europe-wide support of
the U.S. developing these technologies?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Since it's your
country, I'll give you the last world. I have told President
Putin that time matters; that I want to reach an accord sooner, rather
than later; that I'm interested in getting something done with
him. That's my first priority. The American
people, our friends and allies, and others should take me for my word
when I said in the campaign, and since being the President, that I will
consult with our friends and allies, that I will work with Russia.
But make no mistake about it, I think it's
important to move beyond the ABM Treaty. I would rather
others come with us, but I feel so strongly and passionately on the
subject about how to keep the peace in the 21st century, that we'll
move beyond, if need be.
But first things first, Terry, and that is
to give President Putin and our friends and allies ample time to
discuss, consider and understand what I'm trying to say. My
friend has been quick to grasp the notion about changing the security
arrangements in the world. But others who have said that
mutually-assured destruction will keep the peace in the future -- it's
worked in the past, therefore it should be around in the future -- need
some time to understand the full implications about which we're
discussing. And I understand that -- particularly President
Putin. His nation has been bound by the
treaty. It's a treaty, of course, that -- from which either
party can withdraw with ample notice. And I can understand
why he wants time. And I'm going to give him some time.
But I also want to emphasize to you that
time is of the essence. It is time to move
beyond. It is time to begin the research and development,
which we have yet to do -- the research and development, constrained by
the ABM Treaty, to determine that which is feasible.
And it's important to do so, for a couple
of reasons. One, it's important to discard the old Cold War
mentality. And I explained that to President Putin, and I
believe he understands that America is no longer Russia's enemy; that
we have a chance to fashion a new strategic framework beyond just
missile defenses. A strategic framework that says we'll
reduce our own offensive weapons. A strategic framework that
says we'll cooperate on security matters, particularly as it relates to
terrorist activities. A security relationship where we'll
work for safer nuclear storage and safer nuclear energy. It
is a different framework, a different frame of mind that I truly
believe will make the world a more peaceful place.
And since I feel it so strongly, if we
can't reach an agreement, we're going to implement. It's the
right thing to do. It's what I told the American people
we're going to do. It's what I've explained to our allies
we're going to do.
But I believe we've got a great
opportunity to welcome others into the strategic
framework. You saw the President yesterday. I
thought he was very forward-leaning, as they say in diplomatic nuanced
circles. We signed an agreement. That should say
something about the intentions and about how far we've progressed on
Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: I
have to confirm the judgment on the President on this. And I
can also bear witness to the fact that during the G8 Summit, we spoke
about this topic. In fact, in a bilateral meeting, I met
President Putin and, with the invitation of the other allies, I, in
fact, spoke about the problem of the atomic potential in his
country. I began expressing the preoccupation of the Western
world vis-a-vis the nuclear stations in Russia, because here we're
talking about the maintenance of the old ones and the building codes
for new nuclear stations.
President Putin said that he would face
this very openly. He spoke to us about their plans for these
places. And he also said that he will continue to cooperate
with Western technicians as far as the building codes of the new
plants. And after that we spoke, and I must say that I spoke
to him directly on the atomic potential. But here I would
like to digress. We also have to understand the physiological aspect
for the President and for his people.
They come from a past. They
were a world power. They had a very strong fall as far as
their economy was concerned. Their global revenue is well
below the other countries of the G7, but they still have that old
pride. And above all, they have that atomic stockpile that
is still an extraordinary one; it's huge. Therefore, we must
be very tactful.
We must take the entire situation into
account, the psychological and actual situation. We must
proceed with patience on a road which is the one expressed by President
Bush that cannot be hurried on. But the reactions that we
saw from President Putin make us believe that we will be able to
cooperate. And I think that we're on the right path in order
to reach an agreement that would obviously imply certain modifications
in the existing treaty. And I believe that this can all be
done without unilateral measures.
On the other hand, President Bush also
confirmed the will of the United States of America to talk with the
allies, to not do anything without having a discussion with the allies
first. So I believe that this is an issue that has been
well-placed and is on the right path.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you.
END 3:25 P.M. (Local)