Monday, February 21, 2005

Bush in Brussels

Remarks by U.S. President George W. Bush at Concert Noble

Here the policy speech that President Bush gave in Brussels at the start of his present European tour. Policy is best understood when viewed - or read - in full.

In my view, this was a good speech.

He placed the Middle East peace processes squarely in the centre also of the US-European relationship, and noted its centrality also to the wider efforts for stability and democracy in the wider Middle East. He was clear in what he asked of the Palestinians, but equally clear on what he asked of the Israelis.

In the spirit of previous speeches, he talked explicitly about the need for political reforms in Saudi Arabia, and wished that Egypt would take a lead in the development of democracy in the region.

And he called for Europeans to help with the state-building work in Iraq - "the regions youngest democracy."

It is also worth noting that he wanted issues of democracy and the rule of the law to be put at the hearth of our dialogue with Russia.

In contrast to policy pronouncements from Washington in the recent past, the issue of fighting terrorism came only towards the end of the speech. This certainly did not downgrade the importance of these issues, but indirectly implied that there are other issues that needs to be tackled and that can also give their contribution to the fight against global terrorism.

In short, a good start to an important visit.