by LNK TV of Lithuania
November 21, 2002
QUESTION: Mr. President, you are the first President of the United States to
visit Lithuania. What is your message to Lithuania's people?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I'm honored to be invited. Secondly, I'm really
looking forward to it. And my message is: you're free. Freedom is precious and
we welcome our friends, the Lithuanians into the -- as a free nation into the
brotherhood of nations.
I'll also say to the world that the Baltic countries know what it means to live
under fear and the lack of freedom and to have these countries be allied with
the United States and other nations is important to our soul. It's important
to have that sense of freedom as a source of vigor and strength, and a very
important alliance. That's what I want to say.
QUESTION: What are America and Lithuania going to do after the Prague, together?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're going to work to fight terror. That's the new threat
we face. It's most evident here in America because we've been under attack.
And we're still under attack. People still want to hurt us because of what we
stand for. But countries which love freedom are not immune from these people.
These are cold-blooded killers and we've got a charge to keep for a long time
coming. And the best way to do that is work together.
So the NATO mission is one of defending freedom by fighting against those who
would try to defeat freedom. Which means we've got to share intelligence; work
together militarily in a way that complements everybody; cut-off the money of
the terrorists. I mean, there's a lot to do. But that's the true threat that
Russia is no longer a threat. After Prague, I'm going to Russia. And I'm going
to say to the Russian people, you shouldn't fear expansion of NATO to your border,
these are peace-loving people, these are freedom-loving people that are now
on your border, you ought to welcome them. It should help Russian security.
That the Cold War is over. That the United States doesn't view Russia as a threat
and neither does NATO.
So we've got to address our sights to the new threats.
QUESTION: Relationship between western democracies and Russia seems to be very
friendly. But do you really trust President Putin?
THE PRESIDENT: Sure, of course. I press any leader that doesn't believe 100
percent in freedom. And of course I do -- I'm freedom of the press, or Chechnya,
or issues that indicate that there might not be a whole-hearted commitment to
freedom of the people. I do it in a way that's a friendly way. I believe the
best way to work together is to do it in a spirit of cooperation. I believe
the best way to make sure we've got good relations is to make it clear that
there's no animosity. But of course I do. I work very closely with him; Russia
is an important country.
And we want Russia to be a country based upon the values which we share, because
we believe those values are the best values for the human condition of everybody.
I like to tell people, freedom is not an American gift; freedom is a gift from
the Almighty God. And I firmly believe that. And freedom is important in any
country in the world.
QUESTION: Some people wonder why the United States, the superpower of the world,
pays so much attention to the small Baltic state Lithuania. What could you tell
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I can tell those people everybody matters. See, our country
believes in the worth of every individual. We believe everybody is precious,
everybody counts; and that we are rooted, our whole history, and our very being
is rooted on the notion of people being able to realize their dreams. And that's
what we believe.
That's why we never recognized the Soviet domination of the Baltics. We called
Lithuania independent for all those years. And now we can say Lithuania is independent
and Lithuania is forever free. And that's our commitment.
QUESTION: How do you imagine the future of NATO alliance after new members will
THE PRESIDENT: Better. Better because the -- NATO will have this new spirit.
Listen, if you lived under slavery and subjugation, and you're free, there's
a spirit. There's a strength of purpose. There's a remembrance of what it's
like. There's no gray areas between good and evil. That's an important spirit
in NATO. Lithuania brings a wonderful spirit of strength of purpose, of endurance.
Secondly, as we change the military strategy to reflect the new threat -- see,
Russia is not a threat militarily. The threats that we now face come from a
global terror network. And we'll change our military capabilities to meet the
strategies necessary to defeat terrorism. And Lithuania will have an important
contribution to make, as will all countries in NATO. So the expansion of NATO
will make it easier for us to defend the peace.
QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you very much, indeed. It was a great pleasure
to talk to you.
THE PRESIDENT: We'll see you in Vilnius.
QUESTION: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: It's going to be exciting for me.
QUESTION: For us, too. We're waiting for that.
THE PRESIDENT: I can't wait, thanks. Make sure the weather is good, will you?