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25th Ann. of Solidarity's Uprising in Poland

Interview on the 25th Anniversary of Solidarity's Uprising in Poland

Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Interview on Al Hurra Television
Washington, DC
August 26, 2005

(1:15 p.m. EDT)

QUESTION: Mr. Fried, first, thank you for your time. You are going to Warsaw to participate as part of a presidential delegation to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Solidarity's uprising in Poland. What does this anniversary mean for the American officials here in Washington?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, I think the importance of Solidarity grows in time, and it is not so much what Solidarity means for American officials; it's what Solidarity meant for Poland, and what it meant for the whole world.

Solidarity arose as a result of Poles' demand for justice and for freedom. Solidarity brought together all sorts of pro-democracy activists. It was a labor union so, first and foremost, it was for workers, but it also brought together intellectuals, right, center, left; Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, all sorts of people with a common demand that their country be free and that their country be more just, and their country be more democratic. And Solidarity succeeded, which is a tremendously important lesson, because most experts, I hate to say it, believed that there would not be freedom in Poland or in Eastern Europe; that those countries would be communist dictatorships, that they would be authoritarian forever. And Poland and Solidarity shows that democracy can triumph, that politics that democratic politics can prevail over the secret police. And that's a lesson worth remembering throughout the world.

QUESTION: Do you think the Polish example can be applied in the Middle East?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, no example can be applied as a direct model. Every country is different. Every path to democracy is different. So no, I don't think Solidarity will appear in particular countries, but I do believe that freedom is universal and that people will find their own way to freedom. Now, whether it's through a labor union or whether it's through a purely political process or whether it's through something that we haven't thought of and can't imagine at this time, I don't know. But I do believe that freedom is potentially universal, that it answers aspirations within every human being, and the Solidarity example shows that one must never believe the experts who say that this country or that country cannot be free.

QUESTION: Mr. Fried, after your visit to Warsaw, you will visit Paris and you will visit the L'Institut du Monde Arabe. What are you going to say there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, I will figure out the exact words in the next days. But I do plan to talk about the relationship between freedom achieved in Poland in the late 1980s and the cause of freedom around the world, including in the broader Middle East. I think that it was wrong of the United States not to emphasize freedom enough. I think we didn't emphasize freedom enough. I think we were wrong. President Bush has said that it was a mistake not to emphasize freedom. He said so in his speech in London in November 2003. Betting on freedom, betting on human demands for justice is a smart bet. That is the right emphasis. And I'll talk about that.

QUESTION: How are you cooperating with the EU to spread the freedom and democracy in the Middle East?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, it's not so much that we're cooperating with Europe; we and Europe want to work with people in the Middle East themselves. This is not a question of outsiders telling people in the Middle East what's good for them. There are people in the Middle East, first and foremost, who are making demands for justice, for freedom and for democracy, whether it's the people who met at the Alexandria Library or the Istanbul Conference on Islam and Democracy or various manifestos circulating in the region. This is something that the people themselves are asking for, and we want to reach out and support those people.

QUESTION: And how are you cooperating with the Europeans to help these people in the Middle East?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, we have the United States, the G-8 and countries some countries in the Middle East have launched a sort of a partnership, the "Forum for the Future," to support reform and reformers. This partnership met in New York in 2004 and again in Morocco at the end of the year. It will meet again in Bahrain. Foreign ministers have met, also representatives of civil society, and it's this mechanism which can serve as a focal point to support the cause of freedom and support reformers, both in governments and in civil society.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. on the same page with Europe regarding the Iraqi question?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, more than we were, I think. There were obviously differences between European countries themselves about Iraq. The United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Spain had one position; Germany, France, Belgium had another position. There was a very heated debate within Europe, a debate between the United States and some European countries. But I think now Europeans and Americans are united in support of the Iraqi people, in support of Iraqi democracy, no matter what the position of governments or publics about what happened in 2003. There is now unity that we must help the Iraqi people achieve security, achieve freedom, achieve democracy, and that is the way to achieve stability.

QUESTION: On Iran, will the EU-3-U.S. cooperation remain solid on the decision to refer Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, I hope so. What has happened is of great concern to us. The EU-3 negotiated with Iran in good faith. They were serious. They were principled. They made reasonable offers to Iran. And, of course, we regret what Iran has done. Now, there is a great deal of discussion ongoing about next steps. We need to work with Europe, we want to work with Europe, and the United States and Europe acting together can make a real difference, and we hope the solidarity continues.

QUESTION: Iran asked today to make the dialogue with many European states, not only with France, Britain and Germany. How do you see this Iranian statement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, I see Iran seeking a kind of diplomatic maneuver to avoid having to do what they promised to do. Iranian behavior is of concern to all of us. Excuse me, I said Iranian behavior; it's the behavior of the Iranian authorities. Iran, as a nation, as a people, has not had a chance to express itself freely, so we don't know what their views are. We know what the views are of the Iranian authorities. And there may be a difference.

QUESTION: The U.S.-France cooperation has produced the 1559 UN Resolution on Lebanon. Are you coordinating any new development for the full implementation of 1559?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: We have worked very closely with France, and I have to say, although the newspapers in much of Europe, the United States, much of the Middle East talk about differences between the United States and France, in fact, on this issue we have been extremely close. President Chirac has shown real leadership on this issue. We have worked closely with France and it has helped the Lebanese people. We intend to continue working with France and with Europe as a whole to support Lebanese sovereignty and Lebanese freedom.

QUESTION: How are you cooperating with Europe to push the peace process between the Israeli and the Palestinians?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, we are all determined to make the most of the opportunity that Gaza disengagement presents. For the first time since the 1967 war, Israel has withdrawn from lands that are indisputably Palestinian. This is a tremendous development. It is a very hopeful development. And now, it gives the Palestinian people an opportunity to start building their state on territory, which all parties understand is going to be part of the future state of Palestine. This is a tremendously hopeful development and it is now up to the Palestinians to start making this state work.

We want to work with Europe to help the Palestinians, to help them develop the capacity to fight terror, to put an end to terror, to make a better life for all of their people. So, this is a hopeful time, if we take advantage of it.

QUESTION: Finally, how do you see the future of the democracy and the freedom in the Middle East?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Well, I believe in the possibility of freedom and I take great exception to those who believe that democracy is not applicable to the Arab world or the broader Middle East. I believe, frankly, that there is an element of racism in that. I believe that democracy is potentially universal. I think that justice, and a demand for justice, is basic to what it is to be human.

And therefore, if democracy is natural, then human societies will move toward greater and greater democracy and greater and greater justice. Democracy is not imposed. Dictatorship is imposed. And that is why we see dictators having secret police and corrupt judicial systems to impose their rule on their populations. Democracy is natural to human beings, and if it is natural to human beings, it is natural, of course, to the Middle East, and I believe in a democratic future for that region.

QUESTION: Mr. Fried, thank you for your time and thank you for this interview.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED: Thank you for the opportunity.


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