George W. Bush photo

Remarks to the People of Poland in Krakow, Poland

May 31, 2003

My friend, Mr. President, it's really good to be with you again and, of course, the First Lady. Mr. Prime Minister, Your Eminence, distinguished guests, citizens of Poland. I'm honored to be in the city of Krakow, where so many landmarks give witness to Poland's history and Poland's faith.

From this castle, Polish kings ruled for centuries in a tradition of tolerance. Below this hill lies the market square where Kosciuszko swore loyalty to the first democratic constitution of Europe. And at Wawel Cathedral in 1978, a Polish cardinal began his journey to a conclave in Rome and entered history as Pope John Paul II, one of the greatest moral leaders of our time.

In all the tests and hardship Poland has known, the soul of the Polish people has always been strong. Mrs. Bush and I are pleased to make our second visit to this beautiful country, and we bring with us the friendship and the good wishes of the American people.

In Warsaw 2 years ago, I affirmed the commitment of my country to a united Europe, bound to America by close ties of history, of commerce, and of friendship. I said that Europe must finally overturn the bitter legacy of Yalta and remove the false boundaries and spheres of influence that divided this continent for too long. We have acted on this commitment. Poland, the United States, and our Allies have agreed to extend NATO eastward and southward, bringing the peace and security of our Alliance to the young democracies of Europe.

As the Atlantic Alliance has expanded, it has also been tested. America and European countries have been called to confront the threat of global terror. Each nation has faced difficult decisions about the use of military force to keep the peace. We have seen unity and common purpose. We have also seen debate, some of it healthy, some of it divisive.

I have come to Krakow to state the intentions of my country. The United States is committed to a strong Atlantic Alliance to ensure our security, to advance human freedom, and to keep peace in the world.

Poland struggled for decades to gain freedom and to fully participate in life in Europe, and soon you will be a member of the European Union. You also struggled to become a full member of the Atlantic Alliance, yet you have not come all this way, through occupations and tyranny and brave uprisings, only to be told that you must now choose between Europe and America. Poland is a good citizen of Europe, and Poland is a close friend of America, and there is no conflict between the two.

America owes our moral heritage of democracy and tolerance and freedom to Europe. We have sacrificed for those ideals together, in the great struggles of the past. In the Second World War, the forces of freedom came together to defeat nazism. In the cold war, our transatlantic Alliance opposed imperial communism. And today, our alliance of freedom faces a new enemy, a lethal combination of terrorist groups, outlaw states seeking weapons of mass destruction, and an ideology of power and domination that targets the innocent and justifies any crime.

This is a time for all of us to unite in the defense of liberty and to step up to the shared duties of free nations. This is no time to stir up divisions in a great Alliance.

For America, our resolve to fight terror was firmly set on a single day of violence and sorrow. The attacks of September the 11th, 2001, changed my country. On that morning, the American people saw the hatred of our enemies and the future of grief they intend for us. The American Government accepted a mission to strike and defeat the terror network and to hold accountable all who harbor it and all who support it.

For my country, the events of September the 11th were as decisive as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the treachery of another September, in 1939. And the lesson of all those events is the same: Aggression and evil intent must not be ignored or appeased; they must be opposed early and decisively.

We are striving for a world in which men and women can live in freedom and peace, instead of fear and chaos. And every civilized nation has a stake in the outcome. By waging this fight together, we will speed the day of final victory.

One of the main fronts in this war is right here in Europe, where Al Qaida used the cities as staging areas for their attacks. Europe's capable police forces and intelligence services are playing essential roles in hunting the terrorists. And Poland has led the effort to increase antiterror cooperation amongst Central and Eastern European nations, and America is grateful.

Some challenges of terrorism, however, cannot be met with law enforcement alone. They must be met with direct military action. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan chose to support and harbor Al Qaida terrorists, and so that regime is no more. The dictator in Iraq pursued weapons of mass murder, cultivated ties to terror, and defied the demands of the United Nations, so his regime has been ended.

In the battles of Afghanistan and Iraq, Polish forces served with skill and honor. America will not forget that Poland rose to the moment. Again you have lived out the words of the Polish motto: "For your freedom and ours."

In order to win the war on terror, our Alliances must be strong. Poland and America are proud members of NATO, and NATO must be prepared to meet the challenges of our time. This is a matter of capability and a matter of will. Our common security requires European Governments to invest in modern military capabilities, so our forces can move quickly with a precision that can strike the guilty and spare the innocent. NATO must show resolve and foresight to act beyond Europe, and it has begun to do so. NATO has agreed to lead security forces in Afghanistan and to support our Polish Allies in Iraq. A strong NATO Alliance, with a broad vision of its role, will serve our security and the cause of peace.

The greatest threat to peace is the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and we must work together to stop proliferation. The countries of the G-8 committed last year to aiding Russia and others in securing and eliminating deadly weapons that remain from the Soviet era. I welcome Poland's decision to join this effort. And I call on America's G-8 partners to follow through on their financial commitments so that we can stop proliferation at one of its sources.

When weapons of mass destruction or their components are in transit, we must have the means and authority to seize them. So today I announce a new effort to fight proliferation called the Proliferation Security Initiative. The United States and a number of our close allies, including Poland, have begun working on new agreements to search planes and ships carrying suspect cargo and to seize illegal weapons or missile technologies. Over time, we will extend this partnership as broadly as possible to keep the world's most destructive weapons away from our shores and out of the hands of our common enemies.

In the last 20 months, the world has seen the determination of my country and many others to fight terror. Yet, armed force is always the last resort. And Americans know that terrorism is not defeated by military power alone. We believe that the ultimate answer to hatred is hope. And as we fight the forces of terror, we must also change the conditions in which terror can take root.

Terrorism is often bred in failing states, so we must help nations in crisis to build a civil society of free institutions. The ideology of terror takes hold in an atmosphere of resentment and hopelessness, so we must help men and women around the world to build lives of purpose and dignity. In the long term, we add to our security by helping to spread freedom and alleviate suffering. And this sets a broad agenda for nations on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Africa, the spread of HIV/AIDS threatens millions and the stability of an entire continent. The United States has undertaken a comprehensive, $15-billion effort to prevent AIDS and to treat AIDS and provide humane care for its victims. I urge our partners in Europe to make a similar commitment, so we can work together in turning the tide against AIDS.

Global hunger is a chronic challenge, and we have a crisis in Africa. The United States is establishing an emergency fund so we can rush help to countries where the first signs of famine appear. The nations of Europe can greatly help in this effort with emergency funds of their own. I hope European Governments will reconsider policies that discourage farmers in developing countries from using safe biotechnology to feed their own people.

Wealthy nations have the responsibility to help the developing world and to make certain our help is effective. Through the Millennium Challenge Account, I have proposed a 50-percent increase in America's core development assistance. This aid will go to where it will do the most good, not to corrupt elites but to nations that are ruled justly, nations that invest in the health and education of their people, and nations that encourage economic freedom. If European Governments will adopt the same standards, we can work side by side in providing the kind of development aid that helps transform entire societies.

One of the greatest sources of development and growth in any society is trade. America and Europe should lead the effort to bring down global trade barriers. A world that trades in freedom can bring millions of people into a growing circle of prosperity.

And America and Europe must work closely to develop and apply new technologies that will improve our air and water quality and protect the health of the world's people.

America and Europe are called to advance the cause of freedom and peace, and these two commitments are inseparable. It is human rights and private property, the rule of law and free trade and political openness that undermine the appeal of extremism and create the stable environment that peace requires. We are determined to demonstrate the power of these ideals in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq. And these ideals will provide the foundation for a reformed and peaceful and independent Palestinian state.

Today in the Middle East, the emergence of new Palestinian leadership which has condemned terror is a hopeful sign that the parties can agree to two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Early next week, I will go to the Middle East to meet with the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers and other leaders in the region. I will remind them that the work ahead will require difficult decisions. I will remind them that for peace to prevail, all leaders must fight terrorism and shake off old arguments and old ways. No leader of conscience can accept more months and years of humiliation and killing and mourning. I will do all that I can to help the parties reach an agreement and then to see that that agreement is enforced.

To meet these goals of security and peace and a hopeful future for the developing world, we welcome, we need the help, the advice, and the wisdom of our European friends and allies. New theories of rivalry should not be permitted to undermine the great principles and obligations that we share. The enemies of freedom have always preferred a divided Alliance because when Europe and America are united, no problem and no enemy can stand against us.

Within an hour's journey of this castle lies a monument to the darkest impulses of man. Today I saw Auschwitz, the sites of the Holocaust and Polish martyrdom, a place where evil found its willing servants and its innocent victims. One boy imprisoned there was branded with the number A70713. Returning to Auschwitz a lifetime later, Elie Wiesel recalled his first night in the camp: "I asked myself, ‘God, is this the end of your people, the end of mankind, the end of the world?"'

With every murder, a world was ended. And the death camps still bear witness. They remind us that evil is real and must be called by name and must be opposed. All the good that has come to this continent, all the progress, the prosperity, the peace, came because beyond the barbed wire, there were people willing to take up arms against evil.

And history asks more than memory, because hatred and aggression and murderous ambitions are still alive in the world. Having seen the works of evil firsthand on this continent, we must never lose the courage to oppose it everywhere.

Through the years of the Second World War, another legacy of the 20th century was unfolding here in this city of Krakow. A young seminarian, Karol Wojtyla, saw the swastika flag flying over the ramparts of Wawel Castle. He shared the suffering of his people and was put into forced labor. From this priest's experience and faith came a vision, that every person must be treated with dignity, because every person is known and loved by God. In time, this man's vision and this man's courage would bring fear to tyrants and freedom to his beloved country and liberation to half a continent. To this very hour, Pope John Paul II speaks for the dignity of every life and expresses the highest aspirations of the culture we share.

Europe and America will always be joined by more than our interests. Ours is a union of ideals and convictions. We believe in human rights and justice under law and self-government and economic freedom tempered by compassion. We do not own these beliefs, but we have carried them through the centuries. We will advance them further, and we will defend them together.

Thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for your friendship. May God bless this great nation, and may God bless the Polish people.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:18 p.m. in the courtyard of the Wawel Royal Castle. In his remarks, he referred to President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland and his wife, Jolanta Kwasniewska; Prime Minister Leszek Miller of Poland; former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of the Palestinian Authority; Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel; and Nobel prize winner and author Elie Wiesel.

George W. Bush, Remarks to the People of Poland in Krakow, Poland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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