Interview With NTV of Russia
World War II
Q. Good morning, Mr. President, although it's good evening for Russian audience because of the time change. [Laughter] Your father is a World War II hero, the youngest Navy pilot. So how important the D-day is for you, personally, and for your family?
The President. Well, thank you for asking about my dad. He is—he was a—like many in America and in Russia that were called upon to defend the world against nazism. And fortunately, he came home.
And today, the celebration in Russia will remind us all about the sacrifices of, in my case, an individual I love, but also a generation, a generation of men and women who made extraordinary efforts, inRussia's case to defend the homeland, in America's case to work with allies to defeat Adolf Hitler as well as the Japanese.
And so it's a special day for me, personally, because it reminds me of the willingness of a young kid to go fight. But it also reminds me of the duty of my generation to work together to make the world a better place.
Eastern Europe After World War II
Q. The after-war Europe has been reshaped according to the Yalta Conference of 1943, by the decision of three very important personalities of this time, Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Stalin. How fair is it to hold only Russia responsible for all the misfortunes of Eastern Europe and Baltic States over the last—[inaudible]?
The President. Now, that's a very fair question. Obviously, it was a decision made at the end of the war. I think that the main complaint would be that the form of government that the Baltics had to live under was not of their choosing. But no, there's no question three leaders made the decision.
Q. So not only Russia the bad guy of history?
The President. Well, I think everybody ought to bear the—as historians look back at Yalta—got to recognize that it was— you're rightly so in pointing it out—it was not only the Russian leader but the British and American leader were at the table and agreed on the agreement.
Q. In Russia, we're very concerned on the rise of neo-nazism in Baltic States when Russian war veterans are humiliated publicly, when monuments to Russian soldiers are vandalized, and at the same time, where, on May 8th, there is a plan to open the monument to Nazi Brigade, that is well known only for fighting—not only for fighting against Russians but also for quite ugly things that were common for SS troops.
The President. Yes. Well, look, there is— I've got a message when I go to the Baltics, and that is it's important to respect democracy but, also, the respect of democracy is respect for minority rights. In other words, a true democracy is one that says minorities are important and that the will of the majority can't trample the minority.
And as to whether or not nations are honoring nazism, I mean, of course that should be rejected. Nazism was defeated. We're celebrating the defeat of nazism. We don't want to see nazism return. It's an extremist point of view that believes that you should be able to trample the rights of minorities. It was the Nazis who annihilated millions of Jews, for example, and there's a classic example of the rights of minorities being trampled. And we must never forget the lessons of why we fought together in World War II. And so I'm looking forward to delivering that message of tolerance.
Q. There is a question that has nothing to do with your visit to Russia but is very important to our country as an oil-producing country. Once you mentioned that you'll be happy to find a magic wand and to cut the price on oil. So what oil price will be acceptable for the United States, and what do you think is the chance of finding this magic wand?
The President. Well, I appreciate—no, there is no magic wand. A soldier asked me, he said, "Why don't you lower gasoline prices," as if the government controlled price. And in our country, the Government doesn't control price. And I told him, I said, "If I had a magic wand, I would wave it and lower your price." But I—that's not the way it works. This is a world based— the price based upon supply and demand. And demand has been going up relative to supply, which has been beneficial for oil-producing countries like Russia.
And I don't know what the right price is. Obviously, the lower the better for our economy, because every time the money— the dollars go up on the gasoline price, money leaves the pocketbooks of the working people. But that's the way the economy works. Hopefully, higher price will stimulate more production. More production will then help the price reach an equilibrium.
And the market is what it is. That's— the markets decide, not governments. I would hope that Russia would encourage a lot of investment, to open up the vast reserves she has. We need to do more exploration here. I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who assured me that he is trying to put more—to find more oil. And that's what high prices do. But people who have got oil have got to understand if the price gets too high, it could wreck economies, which will mean there's less purchasing power for the product.
Q. Thank you, Mr. President, and welcome to Moscow.
The President. Looking forward to it. Thank you, sir.
NOTE: The interview was taped at 9:58 a.m. in the Map Room at the White House for later broadcast and was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on May 6. In his remarks, the President referred to Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
George W. Bush, Interview With NTV of Russia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211934