Skip to comments.Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Oddsson of Iceland in a Photo Opportunity
Posted on 07/06/2004 12:50:59 PM PDT by Leifur
WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Oddsson of Iceland in a photo opportunity:
The Oval Office
10:59 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's my honor to welcome the Prime Minister of Iceland to the Oval Office. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for coming. I'll have an opening statement; he'll have an opening statement; we'll answer a couple of questions. I remember my first NATO meeting, and I walked in and the person who greeted me and made me feel most at home was my friend here. And I've never forgotten that. Iceland has been a steady friend of the United States of America, and they have been an important friend. We had an interesting discussion on some important issues, and it was a frank discussion. And that's what you expect among friends. It was open and honest. And the Prime Minister is a person who cares deeply about the security of his country and the welfare of his people, and that's why he's been such an effective leader for the good people of Iceland. Mr. Prime Minister, welcome.
PRIME MINISTER ODDSSON: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'm very happy to be here, not least on the President's birthday. It's a privilege.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for remembering.
PRIME MINISTER ODDSSON: Well, we discussed some things -- I will make two points. You had just recently, a week ago, in a NATO meeting in Istanbul, a very good meeting I think -- not least because of the firm leadership of the President and his open manner, his easy-speaking manner that everybody understands when he speaks. And he changed the atmosphere inside NATO for the better. The past is behind us, people are united to a future. Secondly, we had the opportunity to discuss the defense issues in Iceland, which is very important to us. And the President is looking on that in a positive way. But, of course, he has to see the issue from all sides. This was a fruitful discussion about the future. Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. A couple of questions. Terry.
Q Mr. President, the Republican National Committee says that John Edwards is disingenuous, inexperienced and unaccomplished. I wonder, do you agree with that? Is that the tone that you want to set in talking about --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Listen, I welcome Senator Edwards on the ticket. The Vice President called him early this morning to say -- after the announcement was made -- to say that he welcomes him to the race, and as do I. And I look forward to a good, spirited contest. Have you got somebody from your press corps?
PRIME MINISTER ODDSSON: Okay. From Iceland somewhere?
Q Mr. Prime Minister, did you reach an agreement on the defense treaty with Iceland?
PRIME MINISTER ODDSSON: That was never -- the meeting -- was to have an agreement. Now, today I had the opportunity to explain my view of the issue to the President, and he is looking into my position and the Iceland position, but he had an open mind.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. Let me comment on this, about -- this is an issue related to the F-15s. For the American press, we've got four F15 fighters stationed there. The Prime Minister pressed very hard for us to keep the fighters there. He was very eloquent, very determined that the United States keep the troops there. And I told him, I said I'm open-minded about the subject. I want to make sure I understand the full implications of the decision as to whether or not to leave them there. And we will gather more information. He is going to provide information about the basing there in Iceland and the requirements there. I will talk to the respective departments here and I will make a measured judgment as to the finality of this issue. I told the Prime Minister I'm -- I appreciate our alliance, I appreciate his friendship. I fully understand the arguments he's made and we will work together to solve the issue. Holland, where are you?
Q Here, sir. Thank you. There's a story today that the CIA held back information from you that Iraq had abandoned its WMD programs. Is that true? And what's your timetable on nominating a new CIA director? Are you going to wait until after the election?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I haven't made up my mind on the nomination process. Secondly, I will wait for the report, the Senate report to come out. This is information from the report of the United States Senate, Chairman Roberts' committee. I will look at the whole report. I will tell you, however, that I know that Saddam Hussein was a threat. He was a threat to the neighborhood; he was a threat to the people of Iraq. He harbored terrorists. Mr. Zarqawi, who continues to kill and maim inside of Iraq, was in the country prior to our arrival. Saddam Hussein had the intent, he had the capability, and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. And the world will be more peaceful when this Iraqi government, under Prime Minister Allawi, emerges and there are elections. And that's what we're seeing. We're seeing a transformation in a part of the world that needs liberty and freedom. And so I look forward to the full report, and I'll react to it when I see it. Anybody else?
PRIME MINISTER ODDSSON: Well, I just -- on this, I must say I agree with the President about Iraq. The future of Iraq is -- the future of the world is much better because of the undertaking that the United States, United Kingdom and their alliances took there. And without that done, the situation in that area of the world would be much more dangerous than it is now. There's hope now. There was no hope before.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.
(Everyone sings "Happy Birthday" to the President.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks. You actually call that singing? (Laughter.) It was beautiful.
END 11:06 A.M. EDT
SOURCE White House Press Office Web Site: http://www.whitehouse.gov
Unexpected (and eloquent) support from Iceland.
I'm impressed; a European leader who thanks President Bush for his Iraq policy.
The press must have been dumbfounded.
Iceland ? Don't they play Duluth in the hockey playoffs last year ?
Iceland, Poland, The Czech Republic...these are the Red States of Europe.
Careful there; - they have the real viking ancestry!
Sorry. Must've been Finlayson.
It was Wright, Okie.
We are not very socialistic if you mean that by red. Davíð Oddson our PM is the longest serving PM in Europe (13 years) due to quit as PM in few months after very succesful time. He is also the head of the conservative-liberal right wing party The Independence party.
Iceland, Poland and the Czech Republic are lining up to be Europe's "red" states as the Bush states are in the US of A. Looks like we are growing in the same values.
Ah, red as in the red is the republican color you mean? I war surprised when I found out that red is the color of republicans, wich I thought was the one on the right side of US politics. Here as in most parts of the world right wing parties use blue and left wing parties use red. Can it be that the republican used to be the leftwing party (sorry my knowledge of US politics is not enough, I am learning though)?
You are forgetting Denmark, Italy and in some sense Norway. In all these countries thera are right wing parties in charge or middle parties and right wing like in Norway where a priest is Prime minister, if you are talking in sense of moral values. But I am afraid such values do not have much weight in European politics, not ewen here in Iceland.
It maybe had some influence in Spain before last elections but now the socialists are in control and they are doing ewerything in their power to reduce the influence of the church and family values and increasing the power of the state, feminists and other such groups. So Spain is on the way to be similar in these matters as the rest of Europe where the christian right is nonexisting.
The "red" and "blue" designations in the U.S. are very new. They were first used, or first came into prominence, after the 2000 election. One (or perhaps more) news services simply chose red for Bush's states and blue for Gore's states when publishing their map. It may have been simply accidental, or they may have felt that red should not be used for the left-wing party, because many Americans traditionally have associated "red" with "left" -- meaning hard left, i.e., socialist or communist. Since both concepts are unpopular in America, perhaps the media thought it was being fair or nice to the Democrats by making them blue, not red.
The reason why "blue" and "red" have become such widely used concepts in American politics is that the map was so noticeably regional -- there are red and blue regions, in addition to red and blue states. Some states have become more Republican than ever, or more Democratic than ever. Certain sectors of society, or types of social environments, have become more reliably Republican or Democratic than ever. The terms "red" and "blue" now refer to these differences as well. "Red" America is not only the states Bush won, but also Republican environments such as theologically conservative churches, the military, etc.
Hope this helps!
Your PM's and government's support are greatly appreciated.
In answer to your other question, it does happen to be true that a very long time ago, the Republican party was, in some ways though not all ways, a bit more to the left than were the Democrats -- from the founding of the Republican party in the 1850s until shortly before World War I, I would say. But this has nothing to do with the "red" and "blue" concept of today.
I think that may be where the designation comes from, since the colors have just recently become popular here and Bush and his people may be drawing on Texas history.
All the best in Europe. I was interested to read about the priest being prime minister in Norway. I guess we're all the same fight...to preserve our christian past so we can have a hopeful future.
Hardly unexpected as our foreign policy consists mostly of following and supporting the US and has done so for all of our 60 years of independence (wich you helped us to achiewe). And as our PM is a firm right winger who absolutely loats the EU it is not unexpected he follows that foreign policy gladly.
About the issue of continuing US protection of Iceland (under a special joint treaty between us about that and having protected us for over 60 years (actually from six months before Pearl Harbor) it was done because it was good for the people of the US. Icelands strategic position, both in the WW2 and Cold war helped the US greatly in the defence of America.
We just do not want to be tossed away like a used rag when there is lesser need (at least for the time beeing) for us so we would be forced to rejoin Europe (we are between Europe and N-America) behind the so called ever closer Union wich will eventually end as a undemocratic superstate, Euroland. We split away from Denmark because we wanted to be independent and free, but we counted on the US to be able to do that. So if I correct myself a little, our foreign policy is about two things, following the lead of the US (we can be described as a sad little YES-man) and supporting the trans-Atlantic bridge of cooperation and allience, wich we, as beeing in the middle, absolutly count on.
So I have a pretty good idea how much I and we will miss the US when and if it falls from beeing the worlds only superpower. I certeinly would not like to see a multipolar world, because it would mean that the democratic countries (like the two oldest ones, US and France) tear each others eyes out and China and other would use it to climb on top.
It is interesting how much sense of history lies behind the red and blue signs if it is true that this has been done in Texas for years, a little surprise in comparison to how relatively short your history is how well you try to preserve it. In Europe people are fast loosing their identity and sense of history, wich is so sad.
"I was interested to read about the priest being prime minister in Norway. I guess we're all the same fight...to preserve our christian past so we can have a hopeful future."
I am at least trying to participate in that fight, wich though seems to be allready lost. It will probably not be long until either a separation of our state and the national church or that the church will be forced to marry homosexuals or at least bless their union. And I am sadly convinced that Norway´s PM is way to socialdemocratic despite beeing a priest so the fight is mostly lost.
I have found http://www.icelandreview.com/ for information in English, but it appears to be written by an expat American. It would be nice for us foreigners if you had an English language edition of a newspaper, like Aftenposten does in Norway so we could see more about Iceland. Although I'm not sure you could compete regarding the moose stories ;-)
It's taken a lot of determination for your country to have preserved its language and culture for such a long time with such a small population. It doesn't look like the US is ready yet to pull its bases completely out of Iceland. I think the problem is convincing us that Iceland is still strategically important to us. I also hope your country does not become another satellite of the reconstructed Holy Roman Empire (or Soviet Union Lite, if you prefer). Perhaps that's reason enough for us to stay involved. Good luck keeping the socialists at bay.
PS-- perhaps you can provide us with the real Viking Kitties?
The government has newer participated in that, although the opposition parties have been very bad in their ever more increasing US bashing and people in general are more and more against the US after the Afganistan and specially Írak war. So I am a little bit afraid that if this government falls (it is not very popular in the moment) the next goverment will not be careful and will change our 60 years policy of cooperation with the US. For the first time now there is a pro-EU party that has on its agenda to join the EU, even though it is not possible because of their fishing policy.
Iceland review is the only English news service I know of except some english news on the national broadcasting service wich seem strangely to be only about foreign issues.
The Danes have now a right wing government (although the main parties name is Venstre (left), but it is now a right wing party, it is an old party) for the first time in decades and they are more pro US than the old leftist, socialdemocratic governments that are usually in control in all the Scandinavian countries except Iceland (at least until now).
The Norwegians have allways been closer to the US than many others, although having been most often under a socialdemocratic labour party but that is most likely because of their short border with Russia. And Denmark and Norway are both in NATO wich the Sweedes and Finnish are not (they are neutral) and as socialdemocratism is the Sweedes only religion it is no wonder they bash the US (and Israel) often.
Yes our determination to protect our language is firm, but I am afraid our culture is in many ways lost, mostly due to american influence. But as the language is the bulk of our cultural heritage our identity is secure and is hopefully going to live on, ewen though how few we are. No, we could not tell you any stories about moose´s, hehe, maybe whale stories though;).
And I hope also that we will newer become part of the EU, with whom we have a free trade agreement jointly with the Norweegians and Lichtenstein. I would like us to be able to have similar free trade agreement, ewen join NAFTA wich would decrease the pressure of joining the EU wich is on us now.
I post this comment on you all as I should have done with my last post, I am still trying to learn how this great forum works. Can I not just choose the ones I want to post my comment to, or do I have to write each´s name into the box?
PS. Kitties, you mean cats? I have one Cat, beutiful white and black we got from the countrieside. Is it maybe true what I have heard that the cats on Mannhatan island are very similar to the Icelandic ones? I have heard theories about cats in Manhattan coming from Vikings who maybe sailed down there thousand years ago.
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