|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 23, 2005
President and German Chancellor Schröder Exchange Toasts
Grosser Saal Lobby
11:58 A.M. (Local)
CHANCELLOR SCHRÖDER: (As translated.) Dear Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen: Let me begin by sharing with you how very pleased, indeed, my wife, Doris, and I are about this opportunity of welcoming you, Mr. President, and your wife, Laura, not only to Germany, but here to Mainz, as well. Your visit is a strong sign of the true friendship -- and I emphasize friendship -- and trusting cooperation that has developed between Germany and the United States of America.
I still remember the days in May, '89, when your father, Mr. President, came here, and only a few months before the fall of what was then the Berlin Wall, he committed himself very strongly to the idea of a united Europe as a strong partner by the side of the United States of America.
Now here we stand today, 15 years later, and that target, I can only say, is downright achieved. Germany has gone in and reestablished the unity of its own state, and it has done so in freedom. This, all of this, would not have been possible without the United States of America, Mr. President. Here we stand, today, as equal partners, equal friends and real allies, where we get together for proper cooperation to muster the challenges we're all faced with today.
Our cooperation, be it in the fight against international terrorism, be it against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, be it the fight against underdevelopment or epidemics, such as HIV and AIDS, in all of those fields we stand united, and we're really fighting together; also in the field of creating a good climate for this one world we're all living in.
We jointly show military commitment, in the Balkans, for example, in Afghanistan. We show international cooperation when it is about dealing with crisis such as the one in the Middle East, for example. And all of this is done by the now reunited, sovereign Germany, which stands ready to take on all these international and grown responsibilities.
Not only Germany is taking on greater responsibility, ladies and gentlemen, also the enlarged European Union shows a lot more responsibility for international peace, for development and for the stability around the world. And we are certainly ready to take action in the field of foreign and security policy. We are trying to develop a joint foreign and security policy in Europe that very much serves this aforementioned purpose.
You, Mr. President, made the effort to visit the European Union and NATO yesterday. You delivered speeches there, and by saying what you said, you set a sign that the alliance and the partnership really rests on two strong pillars here.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, the unique ties that tie our two countries together especially rest upon things such as the civil societies on both sides of the Atlantic. We are tied together through strong economic exchange and through a lot of cultural ties, too. Now, it is apart from the political and cultural ties that there is also a real atmosphere, a spirit of a transatlantic relationship that reigns.
Now, that takes me to the end of my beginning words here to you. If I had a glass, which, unfortunately, I don't, I would raise it, and propose a toast to German-U.S. friendship and cooperation. Now, since I don't have that glass, it's a bit embarrassing, but it says it in my text, I need to say it anyway. And just, by the way, if the glass -- I just said, if I had a glass -- I would always say the glass were full. I always wanted to be a chef, and never wanted to be a waiter. (Laughter.) Thank you. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Gerhard, before I raise my imaginary glass -- (laughter) -- I do want to thank you for your hospitality. You and Doris have been very kind to Laura and me, and we appreciate that. I want to thank all the folks who have come to say, hello, from around this great country. It means a lot to both of us that you're here.
You know, in the course of my political career, I've often been accused of following in my father's footsteps. I don't know why people say that. (Laughter.) I'm proud to be here, 16 years after he was here. I hope he brought my mother -- because, like me, we both married above ourselves. (Laughter.) I'm proud to be traveling with Laura. (Applause.)
The first trip I took since my second inauguration was to Europe, because Europe is a vital relationship for the United States of America. It is in my nation's interest that Europe be strong. We want a strong partner for peace and freedom. We can't have good, strong relations with Europe if we don't have good relations with Germany. This great nation is the heart of Europe.
My trip today should say to the people of this good country and my country that past disagreements are behind us, and we're moving forward for the good of mankind. And that shouldn't be a surprise to people, because we believe in human rights and human dignity and the worth of every individual.
And so today I come to Germany to raise my imaginary glass to our friendship, our relationship, our ability to work together, and for freedom and peace. May God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 12:09 P.M. (Local)