Romania to NATO
November 23, 2002
4:35 P.M. Local Time
Salut! (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for being
out here in the rain. Thank you for such a warm welcome. Laura and I are honored
to be in this great country. (Applause.) As we started speaking, a rainbow appeared.
(Applause.) God is smiling on us today. (Applause.)
I'm proud to stand in this great square and to bring the good wishes of the
American people. (Applause.) Today we reaffirm the friendship between your country
and mine. I'm honored to carry a message to the people of Romania: We proudly
invite you to join NATO, the great alliance of freedom. (Applause.)
All around us are reminders of Romania's history and the culture we share. Close
by is a church, three centuries old, a symbol of the faith that overcomes all
oppression. In this square we see monuments of Romanian patriots who lost their
lives in liberty -- for the liberty of your nation. (Applause.) And here, in
December of 1989, you broke the silence of your captivity. From that balcony,
the dictator heard your voices and faltered -- and fled. Two generations of
bitter tyranny ended, and all the world witnessed the courage of Romania, the
courage that set you free. (Applause.)
Since those days of liberation, Romania has made an historic journey. Instead
of hatred, you have chosen tolerance. Instead of destructive rivalry with your
neighbors, you have chosen reconciliation. Instead of state control, you have
chosen free markets and rule of law. And instead of dictatorship, you have built
a proud and working democracy. (Applause.)
The path of freedom you've chosen is not easy, but it's the only path worth
taking. I know that your hardship did not end with your oppression. America
respects your labor, your patience, your daily determination to find a better
life. Your effort has been recognized by an offer to NATO membership. We welcome
Romania into NATO. (Applause.)
NATO's invitation to join was also a vote of confidence that you will continue
the hard work of political, economic and military reform. And as you do, you
will have partners in all the nations of NATO.
The promises of our Alliance are sacred, and we will keep our pledges to all
the nations that join us. Should any danger threaten Romania -- should any nation
threaten Romania, the United States of America and NATO will be by your side.
(Applause.) As a NATO ally, you can have this confidence -- no one will be able
to take away the freedom of your country. (Applause.)
NATO membership will make Romania more secure. And Romania will add to the strength
of the NATO Alliance as we face unprecedented new dangers. Already, our troops
are serving side by side in Afghanistan. Already, Romania has joined the global
coalition against terror. And we thank you very much. (Applause.)
The world has suffered enough from fanatics who seek to impose their will through
fear and murder. The NATO Alliance and the civilized world are confronting the
new enemies of freedom, and we will prevail. (Applause.)
Your country also brings moral clarity to our NATO Alliance. You value freedom
because you have lived without it. You know the difference between good and
evil because you have seen evil's face. The people of Romania understand that
aggressive dictators cannot be appeased or ignored; they must always be opposed.
An aggressive dictator now rules in Iraq. By his search for terrible weapons,
by his ties to terror groups, by his development of prohibited ballistic missiles,
the dictator of Iraq threatens the security of every free nation, including
the free nations of Europe. The United Nations Security Council, and now NATO
have spoken with one voice: the Iraqi regime will completely disarm itself of
weapons of mass murder, or we, the United States, will lead a coalition of willing
nations and disarm that regime in the name of peace. (Applause.)
Every nation must confront danger. Every free nation has a responsibility to
play its full and responsible role. And together, Mr. President, we will preserve
our freedoms and we will work together to keep the peace. (Applause.)
In the peaceful future we're building, Romania will strengthen our lives in
another way -- as a bridge to a new Russia. For centuries, Romania's geography
was a source of danger. Now, you can help our Alliance to extend a hand of cooperation
across the Black Sea.
Russia has nothing to fear from the growth of NATO, because Russia needs peaceful,
stable neighbors, like Romania. As I told President Putin yesterday, a Russia
that is fully part of Europe needs no buffer zone separating it from Europe.
America and Romania are friends to the Russian people, and so it the NATO Alliance.
Mr. President, citizens of Romania, Laura and my visit to your beautiful country
has been short; but the friendship, and soon the alliance between our countries
will endure. (Applause.)
On this historic square, among the monuments to Romania's greatness, there's
also a building left in ruins -- the former offices of the secret police. It
is a fitting reminder of all the cruelties done there, and the justice that
rose up against oppression. That grim monument also recalls the many brave Romanians
who did not live to see this day. Our prayers are for them and their families.
Yet, today, their hopes are being fulfilled. The nation they love is rising.
Romania has won its freedom. Romania is resolute in difficulty and moving toward
greater prosperity. And Romania is finding its place in the greatest -- history's
greatest alliance for freedom. (Applause.)
I have come to tell you that the world, and my country, knows the character
of the people of this great country. We respect your country. We love the fact
that you love freedom. May God bless you and your families. May God bless Romania.
And may God bless America. Thank you all. (Applause.)