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Transcript: Rice's Speech on Transatlantic Ties

FDCH e-Media, Inc.
Tuesday, February 8, 2005; 12:23 PM

A full transcript of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speech at Sciences Politiques in Paris:

RICE: Thank you very, very much. Thank you for those warm and welcoming words.

And let me also thank the people of France for being such perfect hosts. I just arrived. I wish I could stay longer, but it's such a wonderful city. It's wonderful to be here.

I look forward to my discussions here with President Chirac, with Foreign Minister Barnier and with others.

And as a pianist, tomorrow I look forward to visiting one of your fine music schools.

It is a real pleasure for me to be here at Sciences Po. For more than 130 years, this fine institution has trained thinkers and leaders. As a political scientist myself, I appreciate very much the important work that you do.

The history of the United States and that of France are intertwined. Our history is a history of shared values, of shared sacrifice and of shared successes. So, too, will be our shared future.

I remember well my first visit to Paris -- my visit to Paris here in 1989, when I had the honor of accompanying President George Herbert Walker Bush to the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

Americans celebrated our own bicentennial in that same year, the 200th anniversary of our nation's Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

Those shared celebrations were more than mere coincidence. The founders of both the French and American republics were inspired by the very same values and by each other. They shared the universal values of freedom and democracy and human dignity that have inspired men and women across the globe for centuries.

Standing up for liberty is as old as our country.

It was our very first secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, who said, "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time."

Now the American founders realized that they, like all human beings, are flawed creatures and that any government established by man would be imperfect. Even the great authors of our liberty sometimes fell short of liberty's promise; even Jefferson himself a slave owner.

So we are fortunate that our founders established a democratic system of, by and for the people that contained within it a way for citizens, especially for impatient patriots, to correct even its most serious flaws.

Human imperfections do not discredit democratic ideals. They make them more precious.

And they make impatient patriots of our own time work harder to achieve them.

Men and women, both great and humble, have shown us the power of human agency in this work.

In my own experience, a black woman named Rosa Parks was just tired one day of being told to sit in the back of the bus. So she refused to move, and she touched off a revolution of freedom across the American South.

In Poland, Lech Walesa had had enough of the lies and the exploitation, so he climbed a wall and he joined a strike for his rights and Poland was transformed.

In Afghanistan, just a few months ago, men and women once oppressed by the Taliban walked miles, forded streams and stood hours in the snow just to cast a ballot for their first vote as a free people.

And just a few days ago in Iraq, millions of Iraqi men and women defied the terrorist threats and delivered a clarion call for freedom. Individual Iraqis risked their lives. One policeman threw his body on a suicide bomber to preserve the right of his fellow citizens to vote. They cast their free votes and they began their nation's new history.

These examples demonstrate a basic truth: the truth that human dignity is embodied in the free choice of individuals.

We witnessed the power of that truth in that remarkable year of 1989, when the Berlin Wall was brought down by ordinary men and women in East Germany.

Yet that day of freedom in November 1989 could never have happened without the full support of the free nations of the West. Time and again in our shared history Americans and Europeans have enjoyed our greatest successes, for ourselves and for others, when we refuse to accept an unacceptable status quo, but instead put our values to work in the service of freedom.

And we have achieved much together. Today, a democratic Germany is unified within NATO and tyranny no longer stalks the heart of Europe.

NATO and the European Union have since welcomed Europe's newest democracies into our ranks and we've used our growing strength for peace.

And just a decade ago Southeastern Europe was aflame. Today we are working toward lasting reconciliation in the Balkans and to fully integrate the Balkans into the European mainstream.

These achievements have only been possible because America and Europe have stood firm in the belief that the fundamental character of regimes cannot be separated from their external behavior.

Borders between countries cannot be peaceful if tyrants destroy the peace of their societies from within. States where corruption and chaos and cruelty reign, invariably pose threats to their neighbors, threats to their regions and potential threats to the entire international community.

Our work together has only begun. In our time we have a historic opportunity to shape a global balance of power that favors freedom and that will therefore deepen and extend the peace.

And I use the word "power" broadly, because even more important than military and, indeed, economic power is the power of ideas, the power of compassion and the power of hope.

I am here in Europe so that we can talk about how America and Europe can use the power of our partnership to advance our ideals worldwide.

President Bush will continue our conversation when he arrives in Europe on February 21st. He is determined to strengthen trans- Atlantic ties.

As the president said in his recent inaugural address, all that we seek to achieve in the world requires that America and Europe remain close partners.

I believe that our greatest achievements are yet to come.

The challenges of a post-September 11 world are no less daunting than those challenges that we faced and that our forbearers faced in the Cold War. The same bold vision, moral courage and determined leadership will be required if we are again to prevail over oppression and intimidation and intolerance.

Our charge is clear: We on the right side of freedom's divide have an obligation to help those unlucky enough to have been born on the wrong side of that divide.

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