Message from the US President George W. Bush to Sofia Summit Participants
I salute participants in the Sofia Summit, "Contributions of Europe's New Democracies to Euro-Atlantic Security." You have come together to discuss how Europe's new democracies can further the cause of freedom, security, and stability in Europe. The United States shares your goals, and continues to support your efforts.
The United States also shares the commitment of the participants in this summit to protecting our common values against those who seek to sow fear through acts of terror such as those we saw on September 11. Let us not forget that thousands of citizens of more than eighty countries lost their lives in this attack, an attack that was truly an attack on all of us. The United States deeply appreciates the overwhelming outpouring of support from the governments and people of the Vilnius Group in the wake of those tragic events. Your forceful condemnations of these brutal attacks and steadfast determination to stand side by side with the United States and the NATO alliance during this hour of trial sends a powerful message against the tyranny of terror.
Those who carried out this attack want to impose a rigid and intolerant vision on the world, a vision that is threatened by democracy, pluralism, and the cooperation of free people. You, as much as anyone in the world, have had first-hand experience with dictatorships imposed by people who believe they have the "one truth" for all. For that reason you know, as much as anyone in the world, why we all must work together to defeat those who attacked on September 11. We will work together, we will make one another stronger, and we will win.
And for your own commitment here in Sofia - to act as allies, and by doing so, to become allies in fact - the United States extends its gratitude. Not only gratitude, but resolve to continue our work together. Let me then reaffirm the pledge I made when I visited Warsaw in June: the United States supports NATO membership for all of Europe's new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, who share our values and are ready to contribute to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. The future of every European nation must be determined by the progress of internal reform, not the interests of outside powers.
Next year, NATO's leaders will meet in Prague. The United States will be prepared to make concrete, historic decisions with our Allies at that Summit to do as much as we can to complete the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.
The brutal terrorism of the past month shows that there are those who would stop at nothing to return us to a world of limited freedoms and opportunities. The United States stands against them and for democratic freedom-loving nations like your own that seek to build a more peaceful world. The United States salutes your efforts and reaffirms our commitment to work with our NATO allies, candidate countries, and other European nations to confront and meet the new threats to our security, continue the march of freedom, and build a more secure future for all our peoples.