Saturday, May 28, 2011

Obama's Press Conference in Warsaw May 28

Entire video:

Read the entire transcript of Obama and Prime Minister Tusk's and Q&A here.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. Once again, I just want to thank you and the people of Poland for the extraordinary welcome that I’ve received since I arrived. And I have to tell you that my wife Michelle and the girls very much want to come back, because I’ve told them on the phone what a extraordinary country this is.

And you’re right, in some ways I am part of Poland because I come from Chicago, and if you live in Chicago and you haven’t become a little bit Polish, then something’s wrong with you.

You know, Poland is one of our strongest and closest allies in the world -- and is a leader in a Europe. And I believe that Poland’s story demonstrates how a proud and determined and enthusiastic people can overcome extraordinary challenges and build a democracy that represents the great strength and character of this nation, while now serving as an example for Europe and the world.

During our conversations, we reaffirmed the strength of our alliance. Our alliance is rooted in shared history, shared values, deep ties among our people. Our alliance is cemented through NATO and the ironclad commitment that Article 5 of NATO represents.

Of course, our alliance is also rooted in shared interests, and we, during our lunch, reviewed a wide range of issues. I want to congratulate Poland on behalf of the United States for reaching the incredible milestone of assuming the presidency of the European Union. This is Poland’s first opportunity to take on this leadership role since joining the EU. And it speaks to the incredible progress that Poland has made both politically and economically during this period of time. And we look forward to working closely with Poland as it assumes these new responsibilities.

Along those lines, we are interested and excited about Poland’s plans for the Eastern partnership as a priority of its EU presidency. And I understand that it will host a summit this fall to raise awareness and support for Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. And the dinner that I had yesterday was an indication of Poland’s leadership in helping to shape a vision for the region that continues down a path that offers more opportunity and more prosperity to people. And obviously one of the important roles that Poland can play is not just as a promoter of ideas but as a living example of what is possible when countries take reform seriously.

We’re also aiming to expand our bilateral economic relationship with Poland, as the Prime Minister mentioned. Poland’s economy was the only economy in the EU not to fall into recession during the economic crisis, and has enormous potential for economic growth. So far, as a consequence, this fall we will hold a high-level U.S.-Poland business roundtable, which brings together private and public sector leaders to identify and promote new opportunities to boost economic growth. And the idea that was raised by the Prime Minister about a potential innovation fund that is a part of this fall summit I think is an excellent idea, and so we’re going to pursue that actively.

We also discussed the potential for us to cooperate on a wide range of clean energy initiatives, including how we can, in an environmentally sound way, develop natural gas in both the United States and Poland and how we can cooperate on the technology and science around that.

The United States is also fully committed to supporting safe nuclear power generation in Poland, and we’re prepared to offer our expertise of the largest and safest nuclear power industry in the world.

And finally we discussed the issue of how jointly we can promote democracy. The session that I had this morning with democracy promotion experts, including many of the founders of Solidarity, who recently traveled to Tunisia to share their advice and assistance, is just a symbol of why Poland is so important. It has gone through what many countries want to now go through, and has done so successfully. And so the United States wants to work with Poland, and we welcome their leadership in reaching out to North Africa and the Middle East.

At the same time, as Prime Minister Tusk mentioned, here in this neighborhood we still have challenges. We discussed in particular the unacceptable situation in Belarus. President Lukashenko has shown a total disregard for democratic values, the rule of law, and the human rights of his own people. And his brutal crackdown included the conviction and sentencing of presidential candidates who challenged him in the presidential election, and the repression and imprisonment of members of the free press, including one of the Polish press.

So since this crackdown has begun, Poland and the United States have coordinated closely on Belarus, both bilaterally and through the EU. We appreciate Poland’s leadership on this issue, including the strong support of Belarusian civil society and the generosity to its people. We are looking forward to strong cooperation on this front.

Last point I guess I would make, we discussed our respective relationships with Russia. And I am a strong believer that the reset between the United States and Russia has benefitted this region, as well as the United States and Russia, because it’s reduced tensions and has, I think, facilitated genuine dialogue about how each country can move forward.

We very much appreciate Poland’s pragmatic approach to their relationship with Russia. I applaud the Prime Minister for his determination to continue these efforts, even if it is not always the most politically popular thing to do.

We both believe that we cannot compromise on our most cherished principles and ideals, but we should also seek to cooperate where we can -- for example, in areas like counterterrorism, counternarcotics, the spread of nuclear weapons and materials, and the support of our joint operations in Afghanistan.

So this has been an excellent visit. It’s fitting that I conclude my trip here in Poland. At each stop I’ve affirmed the fact that America’s transatlantic alliance is the cornerstone of our engagement in the world. It’s indispensable to the peace and prosperity of the world. It helps to uphold the principles of rule of law and individual liberty around the world. And I think that Poland is a leader on all these issues.

So, congratulations, Mr. Prime Minister, for your outstanding leadership. And to the Polish people, thank you so much for your incredible hospitality.
Read Obama and President Komorowski's press conference here.
Read Obama and Komorowski's remarks after their meeting here.