Skip to main content /transcript



President Bush and Polish President Kwasniewski Address the Media

Aired June 15, 2001 - 06:44   ET



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... strengthen America's ties with all our Atlantic partners. The interest of America and Poland are clear, and they are the same: to continue building a more stable Europe, to strengthen the institutions of democracy, freedom, commerce and mutual security, and to promote the prosperity that comes through investment and open trade.

Another topic we covered today was the common commitment of the United States and Poland to spreading prosperity and democracy in this part of the world. And I was pleased to inform the president that the Polish American Enterprise Fund will transfer $20 million to the new Polish American Freedom Foundation.

In this way, our countries can continue the joint work of promoting democracy and free markets and the rule of law throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

I look forward to my meeting as well with the prime minister. I look forward to conveying my respect to him for his role in helping bring Poland into NATO. Friendship and cooperation between our two countries is strong and is growing stronger. The Republic of Poland today is an equal partner in the work of building greater prosperity and security across Europe, and it's a huge honor for me to be here.

Thank you, Mr. President.

ALEKSANDER KWASNIEWSKI, PRESIDENT OF POLAND (through translator): Thank you, Mr. President. Now it's time for questions.

QUESTION: In accordance with the Brussels decision yesterday, in one year's time there will be further candidates in Europe to negotiate their membership. Will that one year be a sufficient period of time? And will one of the criteria be for NATO membership so that NATO could constitute a wholeness -- a whole area in political terms?

BUSH: If I understand the question correctly, it was about NATO expansion. My government believes NATO should expand. We believe no one should be excluded because of history or location or geography.

And we don't believe any nation should have a veto over who is accepted. We also believe a lot of progress has been made towards achieving the requirements necessary to be accepted into NATO and look forward to the Prague summit a year from this fall to a positive statement of expansion. I think it will happen, I don't know to the extent -- we will see, how many nations are accepted -- we will see.

But in my speech today, I will say, it's not a matter of whether NATO expands, it's a matter of when NATO expands. We're strongly stand on the side of expansion of NATO.

QUESTION: President Kwasniewski, thank you for your hospitality.

President Bush, there are fresh reports today about concerns of the U.S. government of proliferation from the Russian government selling certain materials to nations such as Iran. And before we left on this trip, your national security adviser expressed some doubts about President Putin's commitment to democracy. I'm curious, sir, what is your general assessment of Russia on these two vital questions -- proliferation, and its commitment to democracy? Thank you, sir.

BUSH: As you know full well, I've got a meeting with President Putin tomorrow, and I am really looking forward to it because it's an opportunity for me to say to President Putin: The United States is no longer your enemy. I also will stress that my vision of Europe includes Russia and that Russia should not fear the expansion of freedom-loving people to her borders.

Russia has got vast potential and great opportunity, particularly if she makes a commitment to democratic institutions and to the rule of law and embraces the open market.

I am concerned about some reports of the proliferation of weapons throughout Russia's southern border -- for example, countries on her southern border -- and I will bring that subject up. I think it's important for Russia to hear that our nation is concerned about the spreading of weapons of mass destruction.

And I'll bring it up in the context of explaining why it is important for us to think differently about missile defenses, to think differently about the Cold War doctrine that is codified in the ABM Treaty of 1972. The more capacity a nation has -- a nation that can't stand America, our friends or allies -- to develop weapons of mass destruction, the more necessary it is for freedom-loving people to have the capacity to halt any political blackmail they may choose to inflict upon us.

And so I will talk about democracy, democracy building. I'll talk about capital investment and the need for capital to have open markets, rule of law and transparency in the economy. And I'll also talk about security measures.

QUESTION: This is a question to Mr. Bush.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) to Poland as a symbol of our openness and our sympathy for the U.S. Unfortunately, this gesture is not returned. I'd like to ask you if Poles can count on not needing American visas soon. Thank you.

BUSH: American visas?

QUESTION: Yes, sir.

BUSH: In other words, whether or not someone going to America needs a visa?

QUESTION: Yes, sir.

BUSH: Well, we can discuss that issue at the State Department level, but Poles are welcome in America. We welcome you to come. There are, as you know -- Chicago is a city with many, many people of Polish heritage. I would hope that it's easy to travel to our country.


BUSH: Thank you, sir. You're looking mighty sharp today, by the way.

QUESTION: Well, thank you very much.

BUSH: Don't you think?


QUESTION: I wonder if you would be specific, sir, about what incentives you're prepared to offer Russian President Putin to get both his blessing and perhaps his cooperation on missile defense? And additionally, as you just mentioned, if you no longer consider Russia an adversary, then what is it? What do you want Russia to become: an ally, a strategic partner, a strategic adversary? What?

BUSH: My hopes are the same as the president's hopes about Russia. We want Russia to be a partner and an ally: a partner in peace, a partner in democracy, a country that embraces freedom, a country that enhances the security of Europe. The discussion tomorrow is going to be a broad discussion. It won't focus just on defenses, security arrangements.

It will focus on a frame of mind and an attitude. This is my first meeting with the president, and it certainly won't be my last.

The purpose of the meeting is to share a vision about Russia's role in the world and in Europe. It is to provide assurances to Russia that our country doesn't want to diminish the nation; we want to help elevate the nation. We'll have a long discussion about the role of capital in a society, that if Russia makes the right choices, she will attract a lot of U.S. capital. Russia has enormous resources and great potential.

This is the first of what I hope are many meetings between Mr. Putin and me -- and many discussions. And first and foremost is to develop a trust between us.

He doesn't know me, and I don't know him very well. But at my press conference tomorrow, I'm confident I'll be able to say I've got a pretty good feel for the man, and he's got a good feel for me. And he'll see that I'm the president of a peace-loving nation, a nation that wants Russia to succeed and to do well.

The definition of the relationship will evolve over time, but first and foremost, it has got to start with the simple word "friend."

QUESTION: The first question to President Kwasniewski, I am intrigued that you used the opportunity during your talks with the president. And have you asked the question about the missile defense. Have you talked also about Brussels and have you developed that subject? Or have you rather concentrated on bilateral relations, in the connection with Russia and NATO and the good relations between NATO and Russia. And of course, in the future relations in the world.

KWASNIEWSKI (through translator): When it comes to the missile defense system, following the presentation of President Bush's opinion in Brussels, the case seems very clear: The United States wishes to build this system not exclusively safeguarding its own interests, but to reinforce a general world security.

And the United States wants to do some more research and enter dialogue with all partners, both in NATO as well as with Russia and other partners about that issue. And I think this is a very rightful and very appropriate position, and if we're going to work along these lines, it may turn out that the new security systems are not controversial at all and that they would not constitute any problems for us, but would rather reinforce our feeling of security. It goes beyond...

LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to a live press conference from Warsaw, Poland at the Presidential Palace there -- President George W. Bush, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski speaking on a number of issues.

One of the themes President Bush was hitting on several times in his comments are that -- how critical NATO is in what he calls this new era. He also spoke in response to a question, saying NATO should expand -- did not offer any specifics about what countries, how many countries the U.S. would like to see added to NATO. But he'll speaking about this a lot today. President Bush has a major policy speech on the future of Europe a little bit later today.



Back to the top