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President Bush Meets With President of Poland

Aired July 17, 2002 - 12:02   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to head to the White House where the president of Poland and the president of the United States have been meeting. They're going to address reporters.

Let's listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an honor to welcome my friend, the president of Poland, to the White House.

Mr. President, welcome.

Poland is a close friend a good ally and an influential nation in the center of Europe. Poland has influence across Europe.

America and Poland see the world in similar terms. We both understand the importance of defeating the forces of global terror, and America appreciates all that Poland is contributing to this great struggle.

Our nations also understand the importance of building a better world beyond terror, one where prosperity replaces poverty and democracy and tolerance replace dictatorship and hatred.

Poland and the United States are part of the great alliance of liberty, and we're working to spread the hope of freedom and prosperity across the globe.

We had good talks this morning, and I want to highlight two initiatives we agreed on.

First, we agreed to expand cooperation between our militaries. Both Poland and the United States are seeking to transform our armed forces and develop new capabilities. We need to meet new threats, such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

By sharing ideas and expertise, our militaries can help each other reach our transformation goals faster and improve our ability to work together. We hope this initiative will be a model for similar efforts with other NATO allies.

Second, our governments agree to cooperate more closely to expand our economic ties. The Polish-American trade and investment relationship is important to both countries, and it is particularly important to creating jobs and high-tech growth opportunities in Poland. We will work to resolve some company-specific issues and also improve Poland's investment climate.

These two initiatives will help build our strong working relationship.

Tomorrow, the president and I look forward to traveling to Troy, Michigan. I believe you have to go beyond Washington to truly capture the energy and diversity of our country.

Mr. President, I think you'll like the trip. Troy is just one of countless communities across our nation that has been enormously enriched by the contributions and values of Polish-Americans. It will be a great honor for me to travel to such a community with the president of a free and independent Poland.

Mr. President?


Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President, let me once again emphasize how pleased I am to stand here on the hospitable land, the country that is so close to the Polish people, where millions of people live here of Polish extraction.

I'm coming as the president of the Republic of Poland to the United States, from the country which may set an example of success for others, and we know that this success is due to the support of our American friends.

Today I am here as the president of a democratic, developing Poland, a Poland that is important in its region and whose voice is very significant, both in Europe and worldwide.

KWASNIEWSKI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I am here as president of the country, which enjoys strategic partnership with the United States and friendship which is hundreds of years long, and well tested, as well as enjoys perspectives that we have discussed with President George Walker Bush for a long time today.

During our conversations, we have discussed combating terrorism that has to be brought to the final end. And Poland has been contributing to this particular combat, and we're sure that, under the leadership of the United States, we could eliminate this particular threat from the world of the 21st century so that we could build a future on the basis of the dialogue, the protection of human rights, and mutual tolerance.

Poland, with its soldiers in Afghanistan, is present in NATO, and Poland is active in exchange of information, of intelligence and special units. We are ready to develop our cooperation along these lines.

We have spoken about NATO, where Poland is one of the new members, and we are convinced that the new summit in Prague will be the date on which new countries will be invited to become members of NATO who have met the requirements. Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, our friends from Slovakia, and our close partners from Bulgaria and Romania and Slovenia will be welcomed there.

We want strong NATO. We want NATO to be ready to ensure security in Europe, as well as in the Euro-Atlantic theater, and NATO that is going to be ready to respond to threats where the basic values of life and ethnic cleansing or acts of terror are taking place.

KWASNIEWSKI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I have presented to President George Walker Bush an initiative that I had presented a few days in Riga to develop cooperation with countries which are in NATO, which will be in NATO and with those ones which are going to be outside of the framework of NATO. I'm thinking here of the Balkan states. And I rejoice the fact that the initiative of cooperation has been accepted as interesting by the United States and as deserving further development.

We have also spoken of Europe, and Poland wants to become a member state of the European Union, and we are sure that at the beginning of 2004 we are going to become a member state, and we think that future should be built with very close cooperation with the United States in Europe and we want Poland to contribute with its potential to global security and to building peace and mutual trust.

On bilateral issues, we have emphasized that we're closing a particular chapter of transformations that have been taking place in Poland and in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Today we can say that our partnership is mature, that we're opening a new chapter where we're going to be treated mutually as fully fledged partners ready to take actions, both current actions as well as those that are going to take place in the future.

I am convinced that the United States may draw on the experiences that Poland has gained in its transformation. We're ready to share these transformation experiences with other countries.

I'm also convinced that we're going to serve very well the military cooperation, especially in the areas of training, equipment and the cooperation of special units with the particular military forces, and transformation is Poland's specific experience, as I want to emphasize again.

KWASNIEWSKI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I would also like to say that it's very significant that we have been creating a very positive climate for European investments. Americans have so far made an investment of 8 billion U.S. dollars and we want the climate for further investments to be very good. We would hope that new American companies will be opening their new headquarters in Poland, making it possible for them to operate in the vis-a-vis other states in the region.

Let me also emphasize that since the very first moment in Washington, D.C., we have been feeling the atmosphere of extreme (inaudible), kindness and hospitable that I wish to extend my words of gratitude now in this context to President Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush. We're not only guests here, as we feel, but we are also friends that are coming from Poland for a visit to the United States. I'm convinced too that this visit will encourage further contacts and the development of contacts at all levels concerning not only politicians and elites, but also citizens of the two countries, nongovernmental organizations and various institutions, social institutions. We want very much the Polish-American relations to get the new momentum, and free of the challenges that we have had in the recent decades they could become the greatest contribution to the world, to Europe and to Poland and the United States.

And thank you for attention.

BUSH: We'll answer some questions. We'll alternate between the American press and the Polish press.

QUESTION: Mr. President, even while you're calling for transparency in corporate America, you've refused to ask the SEC to turn over documents from its investigation into Harken Energy Corporation, your old company. The vice president has answered few questions about his role at Halliburton, his old company, which is now under investigation by the SEC. Why not just clear the air, ask the SEC to release those documents and ask the vice president to talk about Halliburton in a public forum?

BUSH: Well, first, the vice president -- I've got great confidence in the vice president. He's doing a heck of a good job. When I picked him, I knew he was a fine business leader and a fine, experienced man, and he's doing a great job. That matter will run its course, the Halliburton investigation, and the facts will come out at some point in time. Secondly, as to the look at Harken, the SEC, as a result of Freedom of Information requests, has resulted documents, and the key document said there is no case.

It was fully investigated by career investigators. Some of you, I think, have talked to the head career investigator, and he's made it clear there was no case.

The key thing for the American people is to realize that the fundamentals for economic vitality and growth are there -- low interest rates, good monetary policy, productivity increases, economic vitality and growth in the first quarter -- and that, as Chairman Greenspan said yesterday, that we've got to change from a culture of greed to a culture of responsibility. And I believe that's going to happen.

Congress is working on some legislation. I hope they get it to my desk before they go home. I think it's important to send the signal to the American people that reforms have been enacted, laws will be upheld.

But as I said the other day in Alabama, I'm an optimist about the future of this economy. I think that the ingredients for growth are in place. And that's important to our friends from Poland, because, as he mentioned, we invest and we trade, and the stronger our economy is, the more likely it is we'll have investment and trade together.

QUESTION: The question to both of you, regarding the future of the anti-terrorist coalition and possible next phase of the war against terrorism. Do you expect an increase of Poland's involvement? And do you think that Poland is ready to meet the expectations?

BUSH: Well, first, I've been very impressed by Poland's troops, and we've got confidence in the Polish military, and we want to continue to train together, particularly our special forces need to work together.

Because the ability to succeed in the new war of the 21st century means that we have to move quickly and move in a way that is effective and sometimes lethal.

It's interesting you said the next phase of the war against terror. Almost every day is a new phase in some ways because we're reminding different countries which may be susceptible to Al Qaida that you're either with us or against us. And so we're constantly working on bolstering confidence amongst some nations which may sometimes forget that either you're with us or you're with the terrorists.

That's kind of a -- that's a phase, I guess you could say. Phase one was Afghanistan. Phase two is to make sure that other countries don't become places for training or places where the Al Qaida think they can hide.

And we spent a lot of time on that here. And I talked to Aleksander a lot about that today and the Polish government has been very strong about working with us. I also told him, of course, that we'd stay in close consultation, and we will.

KWASNIEWSKI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I would just constrain myself to say that we've been part of the coalition from the very beginning to the potential that reflects Poland's possibility and capability. Our soldiers are stationed in Bagram and there is a Polish logistics unit and they're right there.

Our intelligence forces have been cooperating very closely and we know that the commitment on the part of the Republic of Poland will be growing with the needs that are going to be growing. We have discussed with President George Walker Bush on how to modernize the Polish armed forces so that they could meet the challenges of the war against terrorism. And then Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Szmajdzinski talked about talks and they will be continued.

KWASNIEWSKI: And we hope that the fact will be that the Polish armed forces will be transformed in such a way so that as a very serious and mature partner they would be able to respond in unison with other armed forces.

Poland is a member of the anti-terrorist coalition and has been very closely cooperating with the United States, and we want to reconfirm our readiness to continue this combat.

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you agree with your secretary of state's willingness to consider working with a Palestinian government that has Yasser Arafat as a figurehead leader, despite your call in June for a new and different leadership?

And if I may follow up on Ron's question...

BUSH: You get one question.

QUESTION: If I can follow on Ron's. Are you confident the SEC will find that Vice President Cheney did nothing wrong while at Halliburton?



BUSH: It happens worldwide.

Yes, I am, to answer your second question. And first, I am confident as well that we need to put institutions in place so that a peaceful Palestinian state can emerge, and that ought to be the primary focus.

The reform of the Palestinian state is a crucial element to achieving the confidence necessary amongst all parties so that we can eventually achieve the vision of two states living side by side in peace. That's really important.

The issue is much bigger than a person, as far as I'm concerned. I've made it clear I thought the person you mentioned, Mr. Arafat, has failed to deliver. I still feel that way. And I know the Palestinian people will be better served by new leadership.

But the focus of my administration is to work with leaders from around the world, some of whom were in New York yesterday, to work to make sure there's a new constitution which divides power so that one person doesn't get to decide the fate of a group of people who have suffered mightily. That there's security arrangements in place so that they serve to make the area more secure as opposed to security forces all of which exist to keep a person in power.

Reforms of financial institutions to make sure there's full transparency, to make sure that the money that we spend on humanitarian aid ends up helping Palestinian people, not a few leaders.

Those institutional changes are essential for the evolution of a state. It's essential that those institutions are developed so that the people of Palestine get helped. That's essential.

And I do believe we're making progress to this end. It is a -- this is an issue much bigger than a single person. Mr. Arafat would like the whole issue to be about him. That's the way it's been in the past. Except when you analyze his record, he has failed the Palestinian people. He just has, and that's reality.


BUSH: That's your third -- second follow-up. (LAUGHTER)

Unbelievably aggressive today.


You're in good standing with your colleagues for that, to break some new ground.

KWASNIEWSKI: It's a press conference, not interview.

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: Mr. President, this is a question addressed to both presidents.

There are some differences between Europe and the United States. Europe seems to be more eager to deal with economic and political sources of terrorism. The United States seems to be more determined to apply military solutions. The European Union and the United States differ in some important trade issues.

Were these differences present in your today conversations? Poland is going to be a member of the European Union. Might this membership complicate relations between our two countries?

BUSH: No. That's an easy one.


No, it won't.

Let me make it clear to you, make sure -- if I could kind of change one of your premises. We use military power. No question about it.

And we'll continue today to hunt these killers down, one by one. And that's all they are, is killers -- cold-blooded killers.

We also understand that in order to make it hard for them to attack the United States again or any of our friends, that we must disrupt their finances. We spend a lot of time on working with our friends to disrupt finances. And so we have, you know, a multifaceted approach to the war on terror. It's important for you to understand that. We don't necessarily place one aspect on the war against terror as more important than the other.

In terms of the -- listen, we've got great friends in Europe. Poland is a great friend, and the United States fully understands that we must cooperate together to achieve victory in the war against terror. There are -- and that means intelligence sharing and working cooperatively on finance, making sure our militaries cooperate together.

NATO -- a useful role for NATO, the new role for NATO is going to be to defend Europe against terrorist activity. And therefore NATO needs to change so they can do a more effective job of defeating the enemy. Russia is not the enemy. Russia is -- you know, the idea of Russian tanks storming across Europe are no longer the problem. And therefore cooperation on chasing down killers one by one even becomes, you know, more focused and more important in many ways. And that's the nature of our relationship. So I welcome Poland going to the EU if that's what the president and the country think is best.

KWASNIEWSKI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I wish to say that we have discussed the subject, and it is true to say that, in Europe, Poland has been criticized as a state that has extremely been -- has been very pro-American. And for that reason I haven't witnessed any criticism, or heard any criticism, for that reason here in America.

But the issue of whether Europe or America relations, et cetera, reminds me of a question that is very fairly often addressed to by a child: Is Mom or Dad better?

KWASNIEWSKI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): From the educational point of view it's a false question, because under the circumstances that we are now in, we're creating a family based on the same fundamental values, or based on similar or very similar objectives, and also based on the historical heritage for Europe and the United States are quite similar and very penetrating.

It seems to me that outside of current politics or different accents in politics, certainly we could not talk and we should not talk about any conflicts of opinions.

Poland wants to become a member state of the European Union and that's how we see our political and economic opportunity, and we hope it's going to be true of the First of January, 2004...

PHILLIPS: Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and United States President George W. Bush, meeting together at the White House, talking about the two initiatives that they agreed upon. Number one, expanding cooperation between the two militaries, and also expanding economic ties. President Kwasniewski talking about modernizing Polish forces to help fight this war on terror, and join the United States in helping to fight terror on a global level. Also looking forward to having new American companies in Poland, two of the main topics between these two presidents.

And the next move for them, they'll be going beyond Washington, heading to Michigan to visit the Polish-American leaders.




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