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50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Treaties of Rome

John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs; The Honorable Andris Piebalgs, Member of European Commission; His Excellency Klaus Scharioth, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany; His Excellency John Bruton, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Commission
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
March 26, 2007

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Assistant Secretary Fried: Good evening everyone. This is a good way to start.

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, we are here to celebrate a miracle which is the institution which has given us the longest period of general peace in Europe since Roman times. Here to speak tonight is the Deputy Secretary of State and three European colleagues, each of whom in their own way represents the miracle of Europe in the last 50 years, the last 60 years, really since the year zero and the ruins of war.

Commissioner Piebalgs represents the part of Europe that was forgotten for a generation and yet has rejoined the rest of the continent in a Europe whole, free, and at peace.

Ambassador John Bruton of the European Commission represents a country whose remarkable growth is a testament to the success of the European Union as a powerful engine for development, and Ireland has become a country that welcomes immigrants from the newer parts of Europe having spent hundreds of years sending its immigrants to other shores including our own.

Ambassador Scharioth of Germany was born in a country divided and hungry, in a Europe divided and hungry. This is all both memory but also recent history. It is a pleasure and in fact a duty for those of us here tonight to remember that Europe that was, so we may marvel at the Europe that is.

Now I give to you one of the great statesmen of our generation, and a man whose career has seen much of the transformation of which I've been speaking. So I will stop and give you the Deputy Secretary of the United States, John Negroponte.

Deputy Secretary Negroponte: Thank you very much, Dan. Welcome to everybody here this evening. Commissioner Piebalgs, Ambassador Scharioth, Ambassador Bruton, distinguished colleagues, and guests. I'm delighted to welcome you to the Department of State for this historic commemoration.

It's a great honor to have the European Union Ambassadors with us tonight and a testimony to the breadth and depth of our relationship with Europe. The guests tonight include so many distinguished colleagues from other parts of our government besides the Department of State. I have noted that Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Bob Kimmett, my counterpart is here this evening, among others.

As the European Union celebrates the half century mark, we in the United States are honored to applaud its immense accomplishments. For five decades now, the EU has been a force for positive change not only in Europe but around the world.

At home the European Union has succeeded in uniting a war-torn continent economically and politically. Abroad it has succeeded in promoting its core democratic values so that other nations and regions might follow its inspiring example.

On a personal note, I would just like to mention that I was a college student in Paris in 1958 the year the Treaties of Rome entered into force. It was a time of great excitement.

From the beginning, the United States pledged its support to building a strong united Europe. In the aftermath of World War II the American people extended assistance to Europe in the form of the Marshall Plan, which this year enjoys its 60th Anniversary.

Over a four year period the Marshall Plan provided $13 billion to help Europeans heal their wounds and rebuild their economies.

We also joined with Europe to create NATO, the most successful alliance in history and the security foundation on which the European Union was able to grow and prosper. By removing tariff barriers and promoting European economic coordination through institutions such as the Organization for European Economic Cooperation known today as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, the Marshall Plan helped set in motion European integration. That powerful idea was shared by visionary leaders like Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman who were fundamental in establishing the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and the European Community in 1957.

Altruism aside, getting Europe back on its feet was critical for the United States. Our economy benefited greatly from trade with the developed countries of Europe. Fifty years later, look at what has happened. The European Union represents 27 countries, 23 official languages, 490 million citizens, and the largest economy in the world. European integration has been an unconditional success story.

Later this spring President Bush will welcome the leaders of the European Union to Washington for the United States-EU Summit to discuss the transatlantic and global agendas. Emphasis will be on the future, but I know he will receive his European colleagues with deep appreciation for the extraordinary accomplishments of our transatlantic relationship over the last 50 years.

I would like to read a personal message from the President, which I presented to Commissioner Piebalgs earlier this evening.

"Today we join Europe in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. Half a century ago, six countries united by the conviction that the future of Europe must be one of liberty, hope, and prosperity signed the Treaties of Rome and gave birth to what would become the European Union. Today 27 countries and nearly half a billion people stand together as a force for prosperity, stability, and freedom. On this anniversary, we celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of the European Union and look forward to a bright future for all its citizens.

"During these historic times the world requires the cooperation of the United States and Europe to confront and overcome the new challenges we face. Our people are bound by common values including democracy, free enterprise, and a deep respect for human rights. By working together we are helping to build stability and prosperity in the Balkans; strengthen freedom in the Southern Caucasus; assist a reforming Ukraine; and promote democratic reform in Belarus. Through our strong global partnership we can advance a more hopeful world for people everywhere and lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

"Laura and I send our best wishes on this special occasion. Signed, George Bush."

In closing, let me just add that we in America, including the business community, the transatlantic business dialogue, the United States Council for International Business, and the European-American Business Council, the non-profit sector, as well as academics, researchers, and others in the policy world recognize what you in Europe have achieved and are proud to be your friends.

Please accept my most sincere congratulations on the 50th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. Thank you very much.

[Applause].

Before inviting Commissioner Piebalgs to make a few comments, I just would like to mention, and particularly since I am of European-Greek origin, yesterday was the Greek National Day, and I understand from a colleague in the Greek Embassy that they are celebrating that event this evening at the Greek Embassy so I was asked to mention that in case some of you might be planning to attend that event, as well.

I will also note that my father, my late father had the prescience, he was Greek, to be born on the 25th of March, the day of Greek Independence. Thank you. Commissioner?

[Applause].

Commissioner Piebalgs: Secretaries of State, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity and the privilege of addressing you on the occasion of 50th Anniversary celebration of the European integration process. Celebrations here in Washington certainly have a symbolic meaning.

The United States of America has continuously been present in the European integration process. Indeed, the Marshall Plan [inaudible] after the 2nd World War by the United States of America. This [inaudible] prompted Western Europe's economic post-war recovery.

Half a century ago, the heads of state [inaudible] of six European countries met in Rome to put their signatures to the [founding document] of the European community, widely known as the Treaty of Rome. They saw that European integration of the [as a way of preventing], the seeming inevitability of new conflicts in Europe. Fifty years of the integration process have built a permanent peace in Europe.

The European integration process has brought also growth and prosperity. Today the European Union has a single market, a common currency shared by certain member countries, and London is one of the biggest trading powers in the world.

The European Union economy is enjoying robust growth. The European Union has also been [inaudible] respecting the principles of solidarity and social justice.

Europe has harnessed a peaceful ramification. On a personal note I would also mention that I was born the same year when the treaty was signed. But since [inaudible], no one I believe on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain dared to think about politically and economically united Europe where my country, Latvia, could belong.

European integration perspective, [just opened after the end of the] Cold War, and I am proud of having been able to serve my country through the EU integration process [inaudible].

Here again by encouraging and assisting transition, [inaudible] restore democracy, the rule of law, market economies, and security in the Central and Eastern European countries. The United States of America has strongly boosted Europe integration process.

[In the] enlargement accomplished this year bringing the number of EU member countries to 27. We may clearly acknowledge that the European Union's enlargement policy has been a success story. New member countries have also had huge growth and lots of them have two digit growth rate in 2006.

Now the products of enlargement [inaudible] political, economic, and social influence in the countries in Western Balkans and Turkey.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is sometimes forgotten that the basis of this integration process in the '50s were energy challenges. Energy issues again dominate national and international agenda. One of the big projects with European Union [inaudible] is creating an energy policy for Europe. It's not the only challenges we are facing, but I am very encouraged that 27 countries can do and step the same way as six countries [were managed]. Dear friends, I am visiting your country just a month ahead of the EU-US Summit. By being global players, both the European Union and the United States share global responsibility. I believe that the forthcoming summit will bring significant progress in addressing global issues.

For me personally it's really a great day. I would never believe that I would have a chance to address this distinguished audience in the United States in the 50th Anniversary of Rome Treaty. It is remarkable what could change, and if the people [inaudible]. In 1990 I was still in the barricade fighting for independence of my country, and in 2007 we are celebrating together the Rome Treaty. It's a great day. Thank you.

[Applause].

Ambassador Scharioth: Secretary Negroponte, Commissioner Piebalgs, Ambassador Bruton, dear colleagues, dear friends.

Yesterday at the Bonn Brigade, the streets of Berlin, and in many European cities, Europeans of all walks of life celebrated the birthday of the European Union, and it was a true celebration.

The leaders of all our 27 countries came together in Berlin and passed the Berlin Declaration which says we know our future, our common future is Europe.

I think it is quite symbolic, quite fitting, that this took place in Berlin because I believe Berlin was also the symbol of the tragic division of Europe - the Wall, the divided city, all of that. I think it might now in the future also be the symbol of the union, of the unification of Europe because of the Berlin Declaration.

I am very moved by the fact John, Mr. Secretary, that you celebrate today this great moment in history with us. It is a great moment for us, and I think it's also a great success not only of the European Union, of all European citizens, but also I think of U.S. policy. Because in the 1940s when European leaders like Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, like Paul Henry Sparks, like [inaudible], like Conrad Adenauer, when [they] had to truly change international politics, had to get away from the balance of power politics approach and that we had to try something radically new, something radically visionary. Politics by integration.

In that moment, I think it was the United States who helped us. It was people like Harry Truman, like George Marshall, like John McFloy, like George Kennan, who devised not only the Marshall Plan to help us materially, but I think they did much more. They gave us political support, and they supported this radical new vision. And for that, we are very grateful.

When in 1989 the Wall came down in Berlin and there was the chance to reunite Europe; when the people marched in Warsaw; when Hungary opened its border; when we had the Velvet Revolution in Prague; when people marched in Leipzig and Berlin; I think again it was people of great vision on both sides of the Atlantic who put together what we have today - a Europe whole and free. I think maybe for the spirit of '89 and 1990 that then is what President Bush said at that time. George Bush said, "The United States is proud to have built together with you the foundations of freedom."

I think I speak for all 27 countries of Europe, for all citizens of Europe, when I say your pride is matched by our gratitude. Thank you very much.

[Applause].

Ambassador Bruton: Mr. Secretary, Deputy Secretary Kimmett, Commissioner, ladies and gentleman. I think it's very appropriate that the European Union should share a birthday with Greece because we owe to the philosophers of ancient Greece the fundamental thinking that underlies the democracy, which we all so much take for granted today.

Some of the other speakers have made reference, quite justifiably, to where they were on the day that the Treaty of Rome was promulgated. I was ten years of age, almost ten years of age at that time, and I was in school on the edge of Dublin. I recall a year or so previously our school had been the host to a considerable number of young boys who had come from Hungary fleeing the oppression that followed the attempts by the Hungarians to reestablish their independence.

How many of us would have realized that by now Hungary would be a fully functioning democratic member of the European Union? The countries of the Baltic states, all the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe who suffered for so long under a system of totalitarianism are now free and independent members of the European Union.

I think it's very important that we Europeans do two things. First is that we do not take for granted what we have achieved particularly, if I say, those of us who have enjoyed union membership for the longest period should not take for granted what we have been handed by our predecessors. This union is fundamentally a construction that has, because of its voluntary character, an essential fragility, and it requires constant replenishment. The emotional, legal, and the economic resources that keep the union together have to be constantly replenished.

But most importantly on this occasion we should remember the debt that we owe to the United States of America. Not only to the Marshall Plan as one of its conditions for the granting of the assistance but they insist that Europeans come together to coordinate their own activities in order to maximize the value that would be achieved by that plan. But subsequently in the critical days from 1989 to 1991, the then administration [inaudible], played a crucial role in ensuring that the transition to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, which allowed us to create conditions in which those countries could join the European Union [inaudible]. We owe a tremendous debt to the United States.

But just as we owe a debt to Greece, I think it's fair to say intellectually we also owe a debt to United States. If you look at the basic construction of the European Union, the separation of powers is [inaudible]. The democracy [inaudible]. That democracy was reestablished on the basis of universal suffrage in modern times, the period of struggle between 1775 and 1783 here in this great country. That inspired Europe to liberate itself. That inspired Europe to build democracy first in nation states and now to build it amongst nation states creating the first multinational democracy in the world which is the European Union. I think we owe a tremendous amount to this country, and I want to say how much, Mr. Deputy Secretary, how much we appreciate this most generous show of hospitality.

May I say I was representing the Commission of the European Union here on a daily basis, how proud I am that our key commissioner who has such an important portfolio should be here in the United States on this day. He is doing fantastic work, as we all know, which is becoming perhaps unfortunately more topical by the day. We're delighted to have him here. I'm particularly pleased.

I won't go on any longer because I know that I'm guaranteed a standing ovation at the end of my address anyway, so I don't need to prolong the agony further. [Laughter]. Thank you.

[Applause].

Assistant Secretary Fried: As the speaker that stands between you and the refreshments, I declare the official part of this happy occasion to a close and my thanks to all of you for being here.

[Applause].


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