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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Condoleezza Rice

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Condoleezza Rice

Last Build Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2008 17:35:03 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2009

Pres. Saakashvili & Sec. Rice Press Conference.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 17:35:03 -0600

While I still - before focusing on today's ceasefire agreement, I still would like to draw your attention to the events that preceded the whole invasion and occupation. While - when in April, in Bucharest, Georgia was denied Membership Action Plan by some members of NATO, I warned Western media at that stage that it was asking for trouble. Not only they denied us Membership Action Plan, but they specifically told the world that they are denying Georgia Membership Action Plan because of existing territorial conflicts in Georgia, basically inviting the trouble. And I told the world, this is the worst thing one could say to the Russians, that there will be no NATO until there is conflicts, and more there are of conflicts, less there will be of the NATO. And immediately after April, immediately after Bucharest - and I can tell you now that Russians perceived Bucharest, and I mentioned it and then some of the Western commentators made fun of me, saying that, oh, it - this hot-headed Saakashvili says this rubbish again. I told them Russia perceives this as new Munich. Bucharest was perceived by them as new Munich. And what happened was that immediately they started buildup of the infrastructure in Abkhazia. Immediately, they started to bring in railway troops to bring - to build railway in depopulated, ethnically cleansed areas of Abkhazia, cynically claiming that they are doing this for humanitarian purposes. And I shouted to the world, this is for - to bring in tanks. They built tank bases all over Abkhazia and in South Ossetia, in place of Java, without bringing in tanks yet. We told the world, this is about starting an invasion. They started to bring in lots of military specialists, reconnaissance. They brought in paratroopers. Again, we screamed to the world, stop it. And there were some statements from Washington, but I have to tell you that for most of the European countries, with noticeably some remarkable exceptions, there was pretty muted and quiet reaction to all this. And the Russians were carefully watching this reaction. They were doing step by step - first some infrastructure, then some additional troops, then (inaudible) acts, then again infrastructure, again some intrusion - and wait, watching carefully what Europeans have to say, watching carefully what would be the counter-reaction of the international community. And it really did not follow. And, Madame Secretary, as we were standing here last time a few weeks ago, there was intrusion of the Georgian - of Russian planes into Georgian airspace, just exactly in the lines of South Ossetia. And you remember as well as I do that then we downplayed it. I downplayed it myself. I said, well, they are here just to salute Secretary Rice. And normally, in the past, Russians would deny that. But that time they said, yes, this is us, we flew there, implying that there was intent to bomb against Georgians. And again, they watched the European reactions. No European country said anything about it. So who invited the trouble here? Who invited this arrogance here? Who invited these innocent deaths here? Who is - not only those people who perpetrate them are responsible, but also those people who failed to stop it. And who is trying now to look for every excuse, saying, oh, you know, Georgians might have started it. Excuse me? Twelve-hundred tanks came into Georgia within few hours. There is no way you can mobilize those tanks in such a fast period unless you were ready. There were Russian pensioners taken off the streets of Moscow to fly the planes several days before the invasion. There was no way they were not preparing invasion. Why would they call back the pensioners? There were all these movements on the ground all around the place. You know when it all started? I want the world to know. I was gone for holidays. My Defense Minister was gone for holidays. When the thing started, I had to rush back, cut my holiday short when the tensions started to raise. I had to summon back my - our Defense Minister. But most of our officials were gone. Most of decision-ma[...]

Keeping Promises Among Partners

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 00:50:00 -0600

In the breathtaking rescue mission, carried out with the utmost skill and professionalism (and without a shot being fired) by the Colombian Armed Forces, our partners did great honor to themselves - and a great service to us. We will never forget that. Nor will we forget the many Colombians who still have not found rescue from their guerrilla captors. That our Colombian partners made good on their promise in this instance is important enough, but this is not the exception; it is the norm. More than a decade ago, with its country wracked by the worst insurgency in the hemisphere, with its economy contracting, and with its democratic state on the brink of failure, Colombia resolved to turn the tide. Its government and people set out an ambitious plan to secure and expand their country's democratic development, and they asked for our support - political, economic, diplomatic, and military. Starting under President Clinton, expanding under President Bush, and with bipartisan support in Congress all along the way, the United States has fully backed Colombia in meeting its bold promises of success. And the results speak for themselves. Our Colombian partners said that they would win their fight against domestic terrorism and reclaim their country. Today they are. They said they would combat social exclusion in Colombia by building the capacity and expanding the reach of their democracy. Today they are. They said they would open their markets, trade freely and fairly, fuel economic growth, and create opportunities for social justice for all of their citizens. Today they are. And our Colombian partners said they would protect the lives of all of their citizens, including trade unionists, and bring murderers and criminals to justice. Today violent crime has plummeted, law and order is expanding, and President Uribe's government has taken the courageous step of extraditing 15 major drug traffickers and paramilitary leaders to the United States to stand trial in our courts for their crimes against our citizens. Colombia has done all of this - and more. And the United States has supported them every step of the way. With the momentum of more than a decade's worth of shared progress at our backs, with Colombia on the cusp of self-sustained and lasting stability, and with Democrats and Republicans having shown that they can implement a long-term bipartisan strategy to achieve a critical national interest - the success of a democratic Colombia - now is the last time that we should begin going back on our word to Colombia. And yet that is exactly what we risk doing if Congress fails to pass the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. In addition to being a slap in the face to our Colombian partners, sacrificing this trade agreement at the altar of domestic politics would be no favor to U.S. workers. More than 90 percent of Colombian goods now enter the United States duty-free, while our exports to Colombia face tariffs of up to 35 percent. This agreement would level the playing field for our workers, so they could send the products of their labor to Colombia on the same terms that Colombians now send theirs to us. Passing this trade agreement will be a culmination and realization of our partnership with Colombia. It will help the Colombian government and people to lock in their democratic and economic reforms. It will signal that Colombia, like a growing number of our fellow democracies in the Americas today, is a reliable place to invest and poised to compete effectively in the global economy. It will affirm that the future of our hemisphere belongs to democratic citizens, of the left and the right, who want their elected leaders to govern justly and lawfully, to expand economic freedom and trade, and to invest in their people. And it will send a message across the world that the United States will honor the promises we make to our friends and allies. Colombia has stood by us. We have stood by them. And we have succeeded together. Now is not the time to jeopardize th[...]