By Jim Garamone
Nov. 28, 2006 – Freedom in Europe can be an example to the people of the greater Middle East, President Bush said in Tallinn, Estonia, and in Riga, Latvia, today. Bush stopped in Estonia briefly on his way to Riga for a NATO Summit. In Tallin, Bush spoke after a meeting with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. In Riga, he spoke at Latvia University.
Both countries were under the totalitarian heel of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Both countries are now free, prosperous and members of NATO.
"Freedom in Europe has brought peace to Europe, and freedom has brought the power to bring peace to the broader Middle East," Bush said in his speech in Riga.
He said that nations cannot compromise with terrorists. "The question facing our nations today is this: Will we turn the fate of millions over to totalitarian extremists and allow the enemy to impose their hateful ideology across the Middle East, or will we stand with the forces of freedom in that part of the world and defend the moderate majority, who want a future of peace?"
The president said the United States and its NATO allies have chosen freedom. "We refuse to give in to the pessimism that consigns millions across the Middle East to endless oppression," he said. "We understand that, ultimately, the only path to lasting peace is through the rise of lasting free societies."
Bush said during a news conference in Estonia that it is important for the region that the freely elected government of Iraq succeeds. He said al Qaeda in Iraq is trying desperately to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "The Samarra bombing that took place last winter was intended to create sectarian violence, and it has," Bush said.
Bush is set to meet with Maliki in Jordan Nov. 30. "My questions to him will be: 'What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?' I will assure him that we will continue to pursue al Qaeda to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq," the president said.
"It's in our interest that we succeed," Bush said. "A democracy in the heart of the Middle East is an important part of defeating the radicals and totalitarians that can't stand the emergence of a democracy."
The same pressure is being applied by terrorists to the government of Lebanon "That government is being undermined, in my opinion, by extremist forces encouraged out of Syria and Iran. Why? Because a democracy will be a major defeat for those who articulate extremist points of view."
Terrorists also will do what they can to short-circuit any progress in a Palestinian-Israeli peace, Bush said. "Extremists attack because they can't stand the thought of a democracy," he said.
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