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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > October

Remarks After Meeting With Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy

Secretary Colin L. Powell
C Street Entrance
Washington, DC
October 15, 2003


(5:10 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I've just had a very useful conversation with my friends from Bulgaria, the Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Gerdzhikov, and my Foreign Minister colleague, Mr. Solomon Passy, who I've spent a lot of time with in recent weeks. And we once again celebrated the closeness of the relationship that exists between the United States and Bulgaria. I had the opportunity to thank the Foreign Minister for the strong support that he and his government has provided to the United States in recent days as we have been working on a new UN resolution as well as the support that Bulgaria has provided to us, not only in the global war on terrorism, but specifically in our efforts in Iraq.

It was a pleasure to receive from the Speaker a gold medal that commemorates the 100th anniversary of U.S.-Bulgarian diplomatic relations, and I again express my appreciation for that, Mr. Speaker. And I was also pleased to extend to the Speaker, and through him, the members of the Parliament and the Bulgarian people, the sincerest thanks of the American people for all the support that Bulgaria has provided.

Let me invite the Speaker to say a word, if he would like to, and then perhaps, my colleague, Mr. Passy.

SPEAKER GERDZHIKOV: (Via translator). It was a pleasure and honor to meet the Secretary of State Colin Powell. I was especially happy because I had the opportunity to award to Secretary of State Powell the gold medal that commemorates the centenary of Bulgarian-American relations. We express our mutual gratitude for our very good relations, both in the Security Council and for the development of American-Bulgaria diplomatic relations. At the end of the meeting, I took the opportunity to invite, through Mr. Powell, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, to visit Bulgaria. Now, according to regulation, you have the opportunity to ask two questions.

SECRETARY POWELL: Solomon, would you like to say anything?

FOREIGN MINISTER PASSY: We have just spoken about the past 100 years of our relations, and mentioned what are our expectations for the next 100 years of our relations. Our relations, the relations between the United States and Bulgaria are in the best shape in this 100 years, and we believe that after Bulgaria becomes a full member of NATO, our political, military and economic cooperation will become even higher.

So I would to thank very much to Colin Powell, to the Secretary of State, for his strong support for Bulgaria's succession to NATO, for the ratification of the American Senate, and for the friendship which we have in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Security Council, and elsewhere in the world. Thank you, Colin.


QUESTION: Secretary Powell --

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

SECRETARY POWELL: Excuse me, just right there. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, then, probably a Bulgarian question, so let's let him --


QUESTION: Did you discuss the opening of U.S. military bases in Bulgaria, and what are the plans of the United States in this direction?

SECRETARY POWELL: The Speaker mentioned to me that Bulgaria was interested in serving as a host for U.S. military presence, if it is determined that that would serve our mutual interests, and I was very pleased to hear from the Speaker how supportive the Bulgarian people are of such a possible deployment. Of course, this is a matter for the Pentagon to work out with Bulgarian military authorities and Secretary Rumsfeld was still studying the lay down of our forces in Europe and other parts of the world, so it's premature to talk about any specific place or any specific presence, but I'm pleased that Bulgarian -- Bulgaria is so receptive.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there were reports on the Iraq resolution that some votes are coming your way -- the Chinese, the Germans, maybe the Russians. Is support building for the U.S. proposal? Do you think you got it?

QUESTION: And what about the Bulgarian vote?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sure the Bulgarian Foreign Minister can speak for Bulgaria. But I'm -- I frankly have been encouraged over the last two days about -- over the progress we have made. We have been listening to our friends; they have been listening to us. We understand where their firm positions are; they understand where our firm positions are.

But that doesn't mean we can't find ways to compromise. And I think that a great deal of progress has been made over the last 24 hours and especially today. I've been on the phone since very, very early this morning, speaking to my colleagues around the world. I spoke to President Musharraf, and President dos Santos in Angola. I've spoken a number of times with Foreign Secretary Straw, with Foreign Minister Li of China, with Foreign Minister Ivanov of Russia, with Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France twice, and with Foreign Minister Fischer and a number of other individuals, and I think progress has been made, and I think that we will have a successful vote on the resolution; I won't predict a number. And I think that will happen in the very near future.

Would you like to say Bulgaria's position?

FOREIGN MINISTER PASSY: First of all, we are satisfied that our amendments to the text were accepted. This is satisfactory for Bulgaria and we're working to get as many votes as possible to support this resolution. This resolution is needed for the Iraqi people and this resolution is also needed for the troops on the ground, and Bulgaria does have its troops on the ground.

SECRETARY POWELL: And Foreign Minister Palacio. I don't want to forget anybody.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on the bombing that happened this afternoon, U.S., Americans killed -- what does this say about, about any progress that you're going to be able to make, and how strong was your message to the Palestinian leadership and what did they tell you they're prepared to do now?

SECRETARY POWELL: First of all, it was a great tragedy, and we mourn the loss of three brave Americans, and we hope that the individual who was injured will recover fully. You know what they were doing? They were on a diplomatic mission to contact Palestinians with respect to Fulbright Scholarships. So they were there on a mission of peace, they were there on a mission of reconciliation, a mission to help people to a better life. And terrorists killed them, the kind of terrorism that is killing innocent people in that part of the world, the kind of terrorism that we're fighting around the world. So we condemn it.

And I made it clear to Prime Minister-designate Abu Alaa earlier today when he called to express his condolences, and when he condemned what happened -- made it clear to him that the only way forward is for him to get sufficient political authority to deal with this crisis in the Palestinian community, to gain control of all the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, and to use those forces to go after terrorism, terrorism of the kind that kills innocent people, innocent Israelis, destroys the hopes of the Palestinian people, and now has killed innocent Americans who were there to help the Palestinian people.

The roadmap is still there; there is a way forward. It lays out the obligations of both sides. We are prepared to hold both sides to those obligations, but you can't get started in an environment of continued bombing and violence conducted by organizations consisting of murderers and those who have no hope for the Palestinian people except more terror, and are destroying dreams of the Palestinian people for a state of their own. The rest of the world stands ready to help, and all those nations that are supporting this kind of terrorist activity, or not cracking down on this kind of terrorist activity, bear responsibility for the difficult situation that we find ourselves in. And I made it clear to the Prime Minister that if he would take action, he would find that the United States stands ready to help, help both sides, in meeting their obligations under the roadmap.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, one more?

SECRETARY POWELL: Been a long day, guys.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, your spokesman, Mr., Ambassador Boucher said earlier that the resolution had gone from blue yesterday, to electric blue last night. Has it -- is there another shade that it's in now? Are there new changes? Are there new changes?

QUESTION: Have you made any new -- have you made any changes since last night?

SECRETARY POWELL: Watch this space.

QUESTION: But do you expect that you'll make some changes to -- some more changes to put into another blue this evening?

SECRETARY POWELL: You can modify a resolution anytime. And we have had the most intense discussions in the course of the day, and we're trying to listen to our colleagues and friends, and I think the larger the vote we can get, the higher the vote, the more powerful the signal to the international community. But I can assure you that we are preserving our position and the principles that we have held to throughout this period of negotiation, but stay tuned.

QUESTION: Do you think that the vote will come through tonight, or is it looking too late?

QUESTION: Oh, and where are we going tomorrow? After tomorrow? Where are we going?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're going to refuel in St. Petersburg on the way somewhere.



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