Press Availability with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
May 23, 2002
1:28 P.M. (Local)
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: (in progress) -- welcome you most warmly here to the garden
of the Chancellery. We have exceedingly been looking forward to this visit of
the U.S. American President George W. Bush. And the results of our conversations
I think are such that we have every reason to be pleased.
U.S. American are in an exceedingly healthy state. It's a very friendly atmosphere;
that has become abundantly clear in all of our conversations. But I also think
that there is a tremendous amount of agreement between the two of us and our
two countries as regards the assessment of the situation around the world.
Now, to begin with, we have started to talk about very intensely about the U.S.
American-European relations. I think what the American President and the Russian
President have agreed together regarding questions of disarmament, but also
regarding the process of approachment of Russia towards NATO, that that is of
historic importance. And I would very much say -- and we both agreed that this
process is going to be topped by what we're going to be doing in Rome on the
28th of May, together. The world is going to be a safer place for it, and I
think it's a tremendous success not only of America, but of this special U.S.
We then, obviously, talked about the ongoing necessity to continue with our
joint fight against international terrorism. And I have been able to brief the
President about my visit to Kabul and about the necessity of maintaining the
protection force on the ground, the ISAF. They are the force to guarantee a
minimum of security, and therefore, a minimum perspective of hope of reconstruction
for people in this country. This is also important -- we want to rebuild economic
and social structures in the country.
We're very much in agreement that we have every reason to trust the interim
government with Interim President Karzai, and to give them all of the support
that they need to move their country forward as a way of their own momentum.
Now, we very much agree that it is necessary and important to make sure we move
the peace process forward in the Middle East. I have emphasized very strongly
that the President's speech in Washington was a milestone regarding this situation.
He went in and made it abundantly clear what we all believe in -- at least we,
too, certainly believe in that Israel has got a guaranteed -- right of safe
existence within strong and reliable borders. But it needs to be recognized
by all of its neighbors and that by the end of the day, certainly there is going
to be an independent Palestinian state, too.
And we're very much agreed that this is a job to be done by the international
community of states. certainly, by means of the Quartet that arose from Madrid:
the United States of America, the United Nations, Europe and Russia. Now, this
Quartet is hopefully going to support the constructive process as well as they
can because we really need stability and peaceful development for this region,
We very much share the concern about the existing conflict between Pakistan,
on one hand side, and India on the other hand. And we're very much agreed that
we have to do whatever we can to bring a peaceful solution to this conflict.
I mean, we must make sure that no further escalation happens over there.
Now, moreover, we addressed questions of interest regarding trade with one another.
We also addressed some other issues that are in existence regarding our bilateral
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, thank you, Chancellor. It's an honor to be here in this
historic city. I want to thank you for your hospitality and I want to thank
you for treating Laura so well.
The Chancellor and I have met -- I think it's now five times. And I value our
friendship. I appreciate the frank discussions we have. I'm here to let the
German people know how proud I am of our relationship, our personal relationship,
and how proud I am of the relationship between our two countries.
Germany is an incredibly important ally to the United States of America. We
respect the German people. We appreciate democracy in this land. We appreciate
the struggles that Germany has gone through. And we value the friendship going
My speech today at the Bundestag will talk about the problems that we can solve
together, that we share so much, particularly when it comes to values and a
deep and abiding concern for humanity and for peace. One of the things I like
about Gerhardt is he's willing to confront problems in an open way, and he is,
hopefully like people consider me, a problem solver, that we're willing to use
our respective positions to solve problems, such as making sure our respective
homelands are secure from terrorist attack.
I'm going to talk clearly about that today, about the need for us to continue
to cooperate, and to fight against terror -- people who hate freedom, people
who are challenging civilization itself.
I want to thank again the German people and the German government for the commitment
to Afghanistan. The Chancellor made a very tough, but I think correct decision
in sending troops to Afghanistan, and those troops have performed brilliantly.
I know you've lost life, as have we. And our hearts go out to the families of
the soldiers who died. But in my judgment, the sacrifice is necessary, because
we defend freedom -- and freedom is precious.
We talked about weapons of mass destruction and the need for us to be concerned
about weapons of mass destruction. As I will mention in my speech, one way to
help our mutual security is to work together to solve regional problems, and
we spent a lot of time talking about the Middle East. The German government
has been very helpful in helping set the foundation for peace. Both of us agree
that there ought to be two states -- a Palestinian state and, obviously, the
Israeli state -- living side by side in peace. And we're working in that direction.
A hot topic today, of course, in the world and one that we spent a lot of time
talking about, as Gerhardt mentioned, the India-Pakistan issue. My point is,
is that we've got a reliable friend and ally in Germany. This is a confident
country, led by a confident man. And that's good. That's good for world peace.
It's good for those of us who love and embrace freedom.
So, Mr. Chancellor, thanks for -- thanks for giving me a chance to come and
visit with you. Thanks for your hospitality. Thanks for giving me a chance to
speak to the Bundestag here in a little bit.
We'll be glad to answer a couple of questions for you.
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: There is the possibility to put three questions from each
side. Please, possibly, that the guests could start.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Did he just call on you? Okay, I'm sorry. Ron, have you got
a question? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I do --
PRESIDENT BUSH: That's right.
QUESTION: This is a question to President Bush --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Wait a minute, how many questions are you going to ask?
QUESTION: Should the American people conclude there were some intelligence lapses
before September 11th? And can you please explain why you oppose a commission
to look into the matter, and why you won't release the August 6th memo?
And quickly to you, sir, do you think there should be regime change in Iraq?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of all, I've got great confidence in our CIA and
FBI. I know what's taken place since the attacks on September the 11th. Our
communications between the two agencies is much better than ever before. We've
got a much better -- doing a much better job of sharing intelligence.
I, of course, want the Congress to take a look at what took place prior to September
the 11th. But since it deals with such sensitive information, in my judgment,
it's best for the ongoing war against terror that the investigation be done
in the intelligence committee. There are committees set up with both Republicans
and Democrats who understand the obligations of upholding our secrets and our
sources and methods of collecting intelligence. And therefore, I think it's
the best place for Congress to take a good look at the events leading up to
September the 11th.
The other question?
QUESTION: The August 6th memo --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Oh, yes. Well, one of the things that is very important, Ron,
is that the information given to the President be protected, because we don't
want to give away sources and uses and methodology of intelligence-gathering.
And one of the things that we're learning is in order to win this war on terror,
we've got to have the best intelligence-gathering possible. And not only have
we got to share intelligence between friends -- which we do -- but we're still
at war, we've still got threats to the homeland that we've got to deal with.
And it's very important for us to not hamper our ability to wage that war. And
so there are ways to gather information, to help improve the system without
jeopardizing the capacity for us to gather intelligence, and those are the ways
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: Saddam Hussein is a dictator, there can be no doubt, nothing
else. And he does act without looking after his people whatsoever. We're agreed
when it comes to that. And we're also agreed to the fact that it is up to the
international community of states to go in and exercise a lot of political pressure
in the most -- possible way. The United Nations have decided to do so, as well.
We need to pressurize him so that international arms inspectors can get into
the country to find out what weapons of mass destruction can be found in his
hands. I mean, there is no difference there between President Bush and myself
when it comes to the assessment of this situation.
We then obviously also talked about the question as to what should happen in
the future, what could happen in the future. I have taken notice of the fact
that His Excellency, the President, does think about all possible alternatives.
But despite what people occasionally present here in rumors, there are no concrete
military plans of attack on Iraq. And that is why, for me, there is no reason
whatsoever to speculate about when and if and how. I think such speculation
should be forbidden. That, certainly, is not the right thing for a Chancellor.
And I am in this position.
We will be called upon to take our decision if and when, after consultations
-- and we've been assured that such consultations are going to be happening
-- and then we'll take a decision. And before that, I think we should not speculate
about serious questions like this one.
QUESTION: Mr. President, Chancellor, looking beyond Iraq, given the fact that
Syria, too, in U.S. terminology, is a state sponsor of terrorism, given the
fact that Saudi Arabia is anything but a democratic pluralistic society, how
do both of you want to have this whole region, the Middle East, look like once
the fight against terror is over?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, it's a great question. Would you care to go first, Mr.
Chancellor -- (laughter.) I'll be glad to answer it, if you like.
First, you need to know that in order for the region to be peaceful and hopeful,
there must be a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I believe that
strongly. And that's why my government and I feel strongly that we've got to
work toward a vision of peace that includes two states living side by side.
And the positive news is that many Arab leaders understand that they have got
to be a part of the process now. We spent a great deal of time talking to the
Saudis, for example -- you mentioned the Saudis. They must be a party to the
process. They have -- sometimes in the past the process has not gone forward
because there hasn't been, as we say in America, the buy-in by the parties;
they haven't been a party to the process.
And I'm pleased to report, as you can probably see in your newspapers, they
are now, they're involved. I think one of our -- and the reason I mention that
is because I think their involvement to a process that I'm optimistic will succeed
will then enable us to continue to more likely have an effect on promoting values
that we hold dear -- values of rule of law and democracy and minority rights.
The institutions of change are more likely to be effective with our ability
to achieve a peace in the Middle East. And so much of the ability to promote
reform -- which we're for -- hinges on our abilities and capacities to get something
done. And it's going to take a while, I believe, but, nevertheless, we are making
progress. And my administration spends a great deal of time on the Middle East,
because we understand that it is a linchpin for convincing regimes to adopt
the habits of freedom that sometimes we take for granted in our respective countries.
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: Well, I don't think I've got to add a lot to what's been
said -- possibly so much. I think there cannot be peace in the Middle East without
the United States of America and without them being active in this field. And
it was not without reason that I pointed to the tremendously important speech
of the President. It's very important. And that is why we support the efforts
towards peace undertaken by the United States, but also by all other members
of the so-called Quartet. We are supporting this in the framework of the European
Union, but we're also doing it from bilateral channels. And my impression is
-- and here yet again, I fully agree with the President that a certain degree
of progress is visible in this process.
Now, obviously, we cannot be satisfied with the degree of progress, but still
we have moved a little bit and there is no alternative to the way that the President
just described. There is no such thing as a magic formula to solve this tremendously
difficult problem. Nobody has such a formula. And that is why I think the task
that the President just described is certainly one that needs to be seriously
supported by the European Union and by us, bilaterally.
THE PRESIDENT: Steve Holland, Reuters.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: A fine man, fine man.
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: We'll see that once he's put his question. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: There you go.
QUESTION: You meet with President Putin tomorrow. How are you going to talk
him into ending nuclear cooperation with Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's a -- that's going to be a topic. One way to make
the case is that if you arm Iran, you're liable to get the weapons pointed at
you; that you've got to be careful in dealing with a country like Iran.
This is a country that doesn't -- it's not transparent, it's not open. It's
run by a group of extremists who fund terrorist activity, who clearly hate our
mutual friend, Israel. And, you know, it's very unpredictable. And, therefore,
Russia needs to be concerned about proliferation into a country that might view
them as an enemy at some point in time. And if Iran gets a weapon of mass destruction,
deliverable by a missile, that's going to be a problem. That's going to be a
problem for all of us, including Russia.
So that's how I'm going to make the case. We've got a lot of work to do with
Russia. I will continue to make the case. As you know, Steve, I have brought
that subject up ever since I've started meeting with Vladimir Putin.
The good news is, we're -- our relationship is a friendly relationship; that
I view President Putin as a friend, I view Russia as a friend, not as an enemy.
And therefore, it's much easier to solve these difficult issues, and issue like
proliferation, amongst friends.
And I want to appreciate the Chancellor's kind words about tomorrow's treaty
signing. It's going to be a positive development for America, and I believe
a positive development for Europe. And then, of course, we're going to Rome
afterwards, and that, too, will be a positive development for Europe and America.
And it is within the -- it's in this positive relationship and positive atmosphere
that we're more likely to be able to achieve satisfaction on non-proliferation.
QUESTION: Mr. President, the Chancellor just said that your government does
not seem to be very specific right now when it comes to plans to attack Iraq.
Is that true, sir? And could you, nevertheless, try to explain to the German
people what your goals are when it comes to Iraq?
And secondly, by German standards, Germany has already shouldered a huge burden
in military terms of the fight against terrorism. Are you satisfied with that,
or do you want Germany to do more?
PRESIDENT BUSH: First, what the Chancellor told you is true.
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: Of course it is. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm surprised anybody would doubt your word, Chancellor. (Laughter.)
Look, I mean, he knows my position, and the world knows my position about Saddam
Hussein. He's a dangerous man. He's a dictator who gassed his own people. He's
had a history of incredible human rights violations. And he is a -- it's dangerous
to think of a scenario in which a country like Iraq would team up with an al
Qaeda type organization, particularly if and when they have the capacity, had
the capacity, or when they have the capacity to deliver weapons of mass destruction
via ballistic missile. And that's a threat. It's a threat to Germany, it's a
threat to America, it's a threat to civilization itself. And we've got to deal
with it. We can play like it's not there, we can hope it goes away. But that's
not going to work. That's not going to make us safer.
And I told the Chancellor that I have no war plans on my desk, which is the
truth, and that we've got to use all means at our disposal to deal with Saddam
Hussein. And I appreciate the German Chancellor's understanding of the threats
of weapons of mass destruction. And they're real.
Now, I know some would play like they're not real. I'm telling you, they're
real. And if you love freedom, it's a threat to freedom. And so we're going
to deal with it, and we'll deal with it in a respectful way. The Chancellor
said that I promised consultations. I will say it again: I promise consultations
with our close friend and ally. We will exert a unified diplomatic pressure.
We will share intelligence. We love freedom, and so does the Chancellor, and
we cannot allow these weapons to be in a position that will affect history.
Listen, history has called us to action. I don't want to be in a position where
we look back, and say, why didn't they lead, where were they when it came to
our basic freedoms? And we are going to lead.
What was the other part of your question? That's what you get for asking long
questions, or what I get for answering long answers.
QUESTION: That's perfectly all right. The second question was, sir, that Germany
has already shouldered a huge burden in military terms, and do you expect more
PRESIDENT BUSH: Germany has shouldered a significant burden. And we are very
grateful for that. The Chancellor and I talked about how to make sure we complete
the task in Afghanistan -- which is to continue chasing down the killers, by
the way, and to find them before they hit us -- but, as well, is to leave institutions
behind so that Afghanistan can run herself, so Afghanistan can be a peaceful
nation, so Afghanistan can function. And we both recognize that our presence
is just going to have to be there for a -- for quite a while. And the Chancellor
made that commitment, and I appreciate that. I'm very satisfied with the commitment
of the German government.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. On the subject of weapons of mass destruction, the
strategic arms agreement you'll sign in Moscow does not address what many people
say is now the greatest threat posed by the Russian arsenal of weapons of mass
destruction, that's proliferation to terrorists or rogue states because of insufficient
security. What specific plan do you have to address that issue with President
Putin? Do you believe the Russian government is doing a good job securing those
weapons? And what do you say to critics of this arms deal who say that by taking
the material off the warheads, you provide more opportunities for terrorists
to get them?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I guess I'll start with the critics. I say, would you
rather have them on the launchers? Would you rather have the warheads pointed
at people? I would think not. Secondly, this issue about the so-called loose
nuke issue has been around for quite a while. This isn't anything new. This
is a problem that we are jointly working on. As you know, Terry -- and others
may not know -- we've got what's called Nunn-Lugar, which is a significant expenditure
of taxpayers' money to help Russia dispose of and dismantle nuclear warheads,
which we're willing to do. As a matter of fact, the '03 budget is nearly a billion
dollars toward that end.
We're working with Chancellor Schroeder on what's called 10-plus-10-over-10:
$10 billion from the U.S., $10 billion from other members of the G7 over a 10-year
period, to help Russia securitize the dismantling -- the dismantled nuclear
And President Putin understands that. He understands the need to work closely
with all of us. And he understands that a loose nuke could affect his security
as it affects somebody else's security. He's a wise man, he's aware of the issues
that we confront. That's why he's one of the best partners we have on the war
against terror. He understands the implications and consequences of terror.
And he also recognizes that a nightmare scenario is a dirty bomb, or some kind
of nuclear bomb in the hands of a -- in the hands of any kind of terrorist organization.
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: Last question.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you are visiting a kind of ghost town around here.
Do you feel a bit of pity about not seeing the Berlin people -- visit first?
And secondly, -- ways to find a -- peace, did you discuss on social and -- to
these means? Is there a chance that you'll -- to sign the Kyoto treaty?
THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Then what are your -- concerns -- in August? Will you take part of
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Let's see, part one of a four-part question. I live in
a bubble. That's what happens when you're the President. So, unfortunately,
I don't get to see as much of Berlin as I'd like to see. That's just life. So
when I come back at some point in my life, Mr. Chancellor, you can show me around.
We'll go fishing together.
No, I don't -- yes, of course, whether it be in Berlin, or Moscow, or anywhere
else, I mean, I'm a person who likes -- I like to meet people. I like -- I enjoy
people. I had one small glimpse of Berlin last night, when we went to a restaurant.
It was my pleasure to shake hands with everybody, or most everybody in the restaurant.
I enjoy that. It frustrates me not to be able to see this growing city. But
that's just life in the bubble. That's just what happens when you're the President.
And I knew that going in, so I'm not griping about it.
Yes, the human condition is very important to me. I mean, it is -- and that's
one way to make sure that the terrorists are less likely to be effective in
their recruiting, is to promote those conditions necessary for human beings
to realize their full potential, such as good health, and good education, and
prosperity -- those habits necessary for the growth of prosperity. And I will
address that in my speech to the Bundestag.
And I don't know whether or not you followed it, but we've laid out an initiative
called the New Millennium Fund, where after three years our government will
be spending $5 billion a year -- new money -- for development. And that money
is going to go promote -- to countries which are willing to fight corruption
and promote rule of law.
Look, you can give all kinds of money to corrupt societies, but it's not going
to help the people. It will help the few. And I'm tired of that. I want to encourage
reforms in society that help people.
You know, I'm desperately concerned about AIDS. I know the Chancellor shares
my grief. And we've put a significant amount of money on the table. But eventually
I hope to see a strategy that will work. It's one thing to commit money, it's
another thing to insist that the money actually work, and start saving people's
lives. And when that happens, we'll commit more money.
So, you bet, we're going to talk -- we've talked about, and will continue to
talk about the human conditions necessary to really make sure the whole world
is able to be free and at peace.
Thank you all.
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.