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Leadership - The Role of Europe and the U.S.

Leadership Strategy for Security and Prosperity in an Era of Uncertainty: The Role of Europe and the U.S.

Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State Remarks at Annual Economist Conference Athens, Greece May 6, 2004

Taped May 3, 2004, for airing May 6, 2004

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me an opportunity to address this important gathering. And while I regret that I could not travel to Athens to be there with you in person, I m delighted that something of Athens could travel to be with me. Later today in Washington, I will be meeting with the Minister for Public Order of Greece, George Voulgarakis, and his colleagues from the Greek law enforcement and intelligence communities.

Indeed, I suspect Minister Voulgarakis and I will have some of the same conversations all of you will be having in the course of your conference. And that is hardly surprising. The confluence of security and prosperity is a matter of abiding concern to us all, particularly in these unsettled times. But I believe one thing is perfectly clear, and that is the importance of European and American leadership. How we work in the world and more to the point, how we work together will have a decisive effect on the direction we all take in this new millennium.

Of course, one can hardly address an audience in Greece without talking in terms of millennia. This is, after all, the country that has given us all our most cherished traditions, both political and athletic. Indeed, I know this summer s Olympic games will be high on the agenda when I meet with Minister Voulgarakis. And while that may sound like a sudden shift in scale, from the fate of the world to the fun of the games, the Olympics are an important indicator. Because ultimately, the vital heart of our leadership is how well our people appreciate each other at a human level. So Greece is giving us the chance to revitalize those personal links. And I think we all want to have a hand in returning the Olympic torch safely to the land of its origin and rebirth.

Indeed, we all want to have a hand in building a world of security and prosperity, and our cooperation is essential to reaching that goal. To that end, the United States warmly welcomes the enlargement of the European Union. Just 20 years ago, the celebrations we saw on Saturday would have been hard to even imagine. But today, I think we can easily imagine that the Union will grow even stronger in the future with the addition of new members, including the nations of the Balkans. And as these new members join a Europe made more vibrant, they are also joining a revitalized transatlantic relationship. As Secretary Powell recently noted: "Never has our US and EU common agenda been so large and mutually significant, from advancing free trade to joint efforts in counterproliferation."

These strong ties are proving to be a valuable complement to our military cooperation in NATO. And NATO, too, is adapting to the times. Transformation is on track. The Alliance is engaging in necessary internal reforms, including the creation of a NATO rapid response force. It is exercising leadership around the world. And with the addition of seven new members, NATO is also enlarging gracefully.

Certainly, we have had to adapt to meet the brutal challenge of global terrorism. Indeed, the terrible events of March 11th in Madrid will linger long in all our memories. I believe that NATO s collective actions in Afghanistan and in Iraq will help ensure that someday we will have no more such memories to bear. Afghanistan certainly will be a top priority for us all at the upcoming NATO summit in Istanbul. We can expect to see Iraq high on the agenda, as well. And while there are 17 NATO members in Iraq right now, I don t think it s any secret that the United States would like to see a broader NATO role there.

In the coming months, we will have an opportunity to strengthen the institutions of our cooperation. And we will need those strong institutions to meet our common challenges, not just in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also closer to home. Certainly stability in the Balkans is a concern. And while the recent violence in Kosovo reminded us all how much remains to be done, the nations of the region also have seen much progress. Bosnian defense reforms, for example, are a tremendous contribution to regional stability, as were the successful presidential elections held in Macedonia -- a fitting honor to the memory of President Trajkovski. For that matter, the Balkans are contributing to stability beyond national borders. Indeed, Croatia has made contributions to operations in Afghanistan and Albania. Bulgaria, and Macedonia have contributed troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, I believe Bulgaria s accession to NATO is a watershed, proving that membership can be a reality for other Balkans countries, when they are ready to join.

I must say that I wish the news from Cyprus were so encouraging. The United States regrets the historic opportunity lost to us all. It is a tragedy that Cyprus did not enter the EU united and at complete peace with itself. We are grateful for the support both Greece and Turkey have given to the Annan Plan and we applaud the Turkish Cypriot community s courage. In turn, the United States is committed to working closely with our EU partners to make the best of a bad situation by easing the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and reinforcing their commitment to unity.

I believe our concerted attention should also extend beyond the immediate neighborhood. Certainly, we have a communal interest in security and prosperity in places such as the Middle East. And I want to be clear that my country is not advocating that we force some pre-cooked notion of good behavior on the region, but rather that we encourage and support change from within. The people of the region deserve better and so do our own people. After all, the prosperity and security of Europe and America and of the Middle East are in the end indivisible. So we need to be sure that we have the policies and the programs, as well as the underlying vision, to encourage that confluence, as well as to reinforce those human connections that will ultimately bind us all together.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to address this meeting. I look forward to future discussions and offer my best wishes for a fruitful conference.


Released on May 17, 2004

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