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Rice Remarks to the Press with Lithuanian Pres.

Remarks to the Press with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Vilnius, Lithuania
April 20, 2005

PRESIDENT ADAMKUS: (in Lithuanian) Distinguished U.S. Secretary of State, it gives me, indeed today, an enormous pleasure to welcome you in Vilnius. And as I said before, it was like a continuation of the (inaudible) of the U.S. President Bush (inaudible) a couple of years ago. And also a visit to Lithuania is also the recognition of all the efforts of the Lithuania and the results that Lithuania has achieved as a new ally of NATO.

With the U.S. Secretary of State, we have touched on a whole range of topical issues, from issues relating to our direct bilateral operation to our common efforts -- joint efforts -- to strengthen the democratic processes within Europe. And today, we not only declare our tasks but also take them intact with us, as a member state of NATO, and as a member state of the European Union. And the best example, in this context, would be Lithuania's commitment to lead the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. And at this point, it is my pleasure to note that in this person of the U.S. Secretary of State, I was assured that the United States will give its support to Lithuania in its endeavor to successfully complete the mission in Afghanistan.

We have also discussed the relations with European Union and the role of Lithuania within the European Union framework -- and the framework of the Union's activities, because indeed, Lithuania works to strengthen the relationship between Lithuania and the United States. And the current relationship indeed is very good, but also Lithuania will work to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the European Union -- between the whole of Europe in order to reduce the tensions to the nil and to develop the closest ever cooperation between us. And Lithuania as an active member of the European Union is committed to these goals.

We also touched on the relations with Russia and Belarus. It gives me pleasure, the fact the U.S. Secretary of State has arrived to Lithuania straight from Russia, where she had extensive talks with the top Russian leaders.

We also touched on the issue of the newly independent states, such as Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and the political situation in these countries. And we have agreed that my visit to Chisinau later this week is a good example of our policy in this region, which is supported by the United States, certainly with a number of other issues; and I think, I will conclude with this I will conclude by thanking Ms. Condoleezza Rice for visiting Lithuania.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, thank you very much, Mr. President, for the warm welcome here. We have had an opportunity to discuss the full range of issues. The United States and Lithuania, of course, share common values. We share a history and that was a history of defending freedom even in the darkest of times. I was able to say to President Adamkus how very grateful the United States is for the friendship with Lithuania, but a friendship that has been put to use on behalf of those who are still seeking freedom: the work that Lithuania has done in its neighborhood in places like Ukraine, it's doing in Moldova and Georgia, but also on shores very far away like Afghanistan, where the Provincial Reconstruction Team will be headed by Lithuania will be a very important contributor to the continued process of stabilization and democratization in Afghanistan.

I said to the President that it was a great pleasure to be here for the meeting of ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- an organization which, of course, was born after World War II to provide a framework for democratic development in that part of Europe which was free and to protect it from tyranny, but now finds itself in the really quite remarkable position of having new members, like Lithuania, who value their freedom because they were so long denied it. And I said to the President that to sit in a NATO meeting now is quite a different experience than several years ago. To sit in a meeting now at NATO is to see a kind of energy and a kind of commitment to democracy that, frankly, those of us who have been fortunate enough to have that freedom for a long time, sometimes take for granted. Places like Lithuania don't take it for granted and you give a new energy and inspiration to the alliance and I'm sure that is also true of the European Union. We have much work to do together. We will continue to work toward our shared and common goals and common values.

We did talk about the trip that I just made to Russia. We talked about our desire that Lithuania would have good relations with Russia and that the United States would have good relations with Lithuania and that we would each have good relations with each other, that there is no reason for this to be seen in any way as a zero-sum gain. And Mr. President, I just thank you very much for your warm welcome, for the work that Lithuania does every day on behalf of our common values and for your friendship that you've extended to the President, to America and to our common tasks. Thank you.

QUESTION: Tammy Kupperman with NBC News. I wanted to ask you about the nomination of John Bolton to become the U.S. representative to the UN. Are you troubled by the intensifying allegations now, including possibly lying to the Committee about the extent of his contacts with the CIA? Do you still have the confidence in his ability to carry out the task and how much of a setback is the delay in the vote? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, the President and I believe that John Bolton is the right person to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations, at what is a really quite critical time. As the United Nations prepares for a seminal debate and discussion of United Nations reform, a debate in which obviously the United States will have to be a leading participant, we want a strong voice for a reformed UN and for American leadership in it. And the selection of John Bolton was to perform exactly that task.

Now, we understand fully the deliberative processes in the Senate. We understand fully the role of the Senate in advice and consent. We have tried to be responsive in answering any questions that may have arisen and we'll continue to be responsive. But I hope that this is something that we can get done soon because John Bolton is a committed and capable diplomat. He is someone in whom we have confidence. He is someone who I expect to be a leader for the people of the United Nations mission at -- the U.S. mission at the United Nations.

There are many people who've worked for him, people who he's inspired, who have great loyalty to him. And I expect that that is how he will carry out his management duties at the UN. So we look forward to trying to answer whatever questions there may be, but I really do hope that we can proceed when the Chairman has set the next stage for a vote because we need to get a Permanent Representative at the United Nations.

QUESTION: Now, much has been made here of the decision of the U.S. administration to choose Riga for the visit of the U.S. President. Now, people said here that it shows that the U.S. exposes Latvia as the weakest link in the Baltics. And now how can you comment on the fear that by choosing Riga the U.S. administration showed its support for the way the Latvian President chose to deal with the issue of going to Moscow or not going to Moscow.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, our view very strongly is that we have excellent relations with each of the Baltic states, both on a common basis and on the various different issues that we have. We have good relations with Latvia, with Lithuania and of course with Estonia, as well. We respect the decision of the Lithuanian government in regards to the May 9th event. We hope it will be an event that will foster reconciliation. But we fully respect the decision of the Lithuanian government. And from our point of view, that is done. The decision to go to Latvia is a decision that is based on our desire to further our friendship with Latvia. The President was just here in Lithuania about a year ago. And I hope that he will be here again. But we don't choose among our friends, you know, we have good friends here, we have good friends in Latvia and we very much look forward to the visit to Latvia, but also to returning to Lithuania.

QUESTION: (In Lithuanian) Madam Secretary of State, what is your vision of the U.S. and the European Union cooperation in their efforts to expand the boundaries of democracy towards the so-called GUUAM states: Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan? And how would you figure out the role of Lithuania within this process, within expansion of this cooperation? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'd first said that we've already had -- we and the European Union -- a lot of success in helping people to realize their aspirations for liberty and for freedom. Clearly, the role that our Lithuanian friends displayed in the Ukraine is really quite important. I think it came at a time when the Ukrainian opposition needed the support of international forces in order to feel that they were not alone in their quest to deal with what had been a fraudulent election. And I remember the personal role of President Adamkus in that, which was very much appreciated.

Obviously, Georgia has had a democratic revolution and we continue to work with them. And there are other places where civil society is growing, where opposition forces are speaking out about developments in their society, even in Belarus, which as I said in Russia just a little while ago, is really the last true dictatorship in the center of Europe and it is time for change to come to Belarus.

Now, the good thing about the way that the Transatlantic Alliance is now working is that we have stopped talking about the nature of the Transatlantic Alliance or how is the Transatlantic Alliance today, so to speak, putting it on the couch and analyzing every day whether the Transatlantic Alliances is doing well or badly or so forth and we've begun to really put the Transatlantic Alliance to work on behalf of democratic principles, on behalf of people who have been denied freedom and we're having quite a lot of success. We will have to do some practical things.

We talked about the fact -- and I also talked with my colleague, the Foreign Minister, about the practical work that is ahead so that leadership in places like Ukraine and Georgia can begin to deliver for their people in terms of economic development and prosperity, in terms of education, in terms of health care. The European Union has some action plans that we are sharing with them and working with them on. So, it is both opening up the possibility of people to take the opportunity to get freedom and it is continuing to work with those newly free states so that they are able to deliver and so that frustration does not develop.

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's all we have time for.

SECRETARY RICE: Is that all we have time for? Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. President. (Inaudible) from El Pais, Spain. (Inaudible). My question is, if you will allow me, to Madam Secretary. There is (inaudible) tonight's dinner and discussion about the Middle East and the ideas that you and the Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos are going to (inaudible) forward. Could you give us an idea of what is -- your idea about this relationship between NATO and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? And what is new about the plans that you are going to offer tonight? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. You know, first of all, as a Knight Fellow I understand you've spent some time at Stanford. It's a great place. One day I'll get back there and I hope you will, too. It is very important that we have the discussion that we will have tonight about the Middle East. I had a chance to discuss this with my colleague Foreign Minister Moratinos just last week. And we will now discuss with our NATO colleagues the next steps in helping the Palestinians and the Israelis.

I think it's fair to say that we all agree that the most important task ahead of us right now is a successful disengagement of Israel from the Gaza and the four settlements in the West Bank, successful in the sense that there is security provided by the Israelis and then the Palestinians cooperatively, that there is a Palestinian Authority with institutions of governments that are prepared to take over and administer the Gaza and the four cities in the West Bank, that there is some immediate payoff in terms of economic development and reconstruction, so that the Palestinian people can see that the disengagement has made a difference in their individual lives. We all believe that if the Gaza disengagement is successful, then we will have substantially improved the confidence of the two parties in each other and we will be able to accelerate progress on the Road Map.

And so, I think that will be what we will talk about tonight. We'll talk about how to make that a reality. NATO is an important forum for Transatlantic dialogue on political issues. It's the premier forum. And the Secretary General, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer, has said that it is his goal to invigorate the conversation and dialogue that goes on in NATO about the key strategic issues. And so, that, in and of itself will be very important tonight, that NATO is sitting informally as foreign ministers to talk about some of the most important regional issues.

There will be others that will be examined, but Foreign Minister Moratinos and I will talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issues.

QUESTION: (In Lithuanian) Madam Secretary, what practical assistance the United States will give to Lithuania in its carrying out its mission of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in terms of financial sums?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the practical assistance -- we will have to have a discussion with Lithuania about what is necessary. I think that there are others who are also prepared to help, but these Provincial Reconstruction Teams, if you note, are the unification of civil and military personnel in order to provide reconstruction assistance and governance assistance out in the regions of Afghanistan and in a sense to extend the reach of the Afghan central government out into the regions because Afghanistan is a very de-centralized area.

And so, we will talk with our Lithuanian colleagues. This will be planned through the military channels which we will share and we stand ready to help -- I think we will have to see what the practical assistance is actually needed. Thank you.


Released on April 21, 2005


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