Donnerstag, 26. Mai 2011

Remarks by the President Obama to Parliament in London, United Kingdom | The White House

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Westminster Hall, London, United Kingdom

3:47 P.M. BST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
My Lord Chancellor, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, my lords, and members of the House of Commons:
I have known few greater honors than the opportunity to address the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster Hall. I am told that the last three speakers here have been the Pope, Her Majesty the Queen, and Nelson Mandela -- which is either a very high bar or the beginning of a very funny joke. (Laughter.)
I come here today to reaffirm one of the oldest, one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known. It’s long been said that the United States and the United Kingdom share a special relationship. And since we also share an especially active press corps, that relationship is often analyzed and overanalyzed for the slightest hint of stress or strain.
Of course, all relationships have their ups and downs. Admittedly, ours got off on the wrong foot with a small scrape about tea and taxes. (Laughter.) There may also have been some hurt feelings when the White House was set on fire during the War of 1812. (Laughter.) But fortunately, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.
The reason for this close friendship doesn’t just have to do with our shared history, our shared heritage; our ties of language and culture; or even the strong partnership between our governments. Our relationship is special because of the values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages.
Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta. It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders.
Over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown. Propelled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, they would ultimately forge an English Bill of Rights, and invest the power to govern in an elected parliament that’s gathered here today.
What began on this island would inspire millions throughout the continent of Europe and across the world. But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic. As Winston Churchill said, the “…Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”
For both of our nations, living up to the ideals enshrined in these founding documents has sometimes been difficult, has always been a work in progress. The path has never been perfect. But through the struggles of slaves and immigrants, women and ethnic minorities, former colonies and persecuted religions, we have learned better than most that the longing for freedom and human dignity is not English or American or Western –- it is universal, and it beats in every heart. Perhaps that’s why there are few nations that stand firmer, speak louder, and fight harder to defend democratic values around the world than the United States and the United Kingdom.
We are the allies who landed at Omaha and Gold, who sacrificed side by side to free a continent from the march of tyranny, and help prosperity flourish from the ruins of war. And with the founding of NATO –- a British idea –- we joined a transatlantic alliance that has ensured our security for over half a century.
Together with our allies, we forged a lasting peace from a cold war. When the Iron Curtain lifted, we expanded our alliance to include the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and built new bridges to Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union. And when there was strife in the Balkans, we worked together to keep the peace.
Today, after a difficult decade that began with war and ended in recession, our nations have arrived at a pivotal moment once more. A global economy that once stood on the brink of depression is now stable and recovering. After years of conflict, the United States has removed 100,000 troops from Iraq, the United Kingdom has removed its forces, and our combat mission there has ended. In Afghanistan, we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum and will soon begin a transition to Afghan lead. And nearly 10 years after 9/11, we have disrupted terrorist networks and dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader –- Osama bin Laden.
Together, we have met great challenges. But as we enter this new chapter in our shared history, profound challenges stretch before us. In a world where the prosperity of all nations is now inextricably linked, a new era of cooperation is required to ensure the growth and stability of the global economy. As new threats spread across borders and oceans, we must dismantle terrorist networks and stop the spread of nuclear weapons, confront climate change and combat famine and disease. And as a revolution races through the streets of the Middle East and North Africa, the entire world has a stake in the aspirations of a generation that longs to determine its own destiny.
These challenges come at a time when the international order has already been reshaped for a new century. Countries like China, India, and Brazil are growing by leaps and bounds. We should welcome this development, for it has lifted hundreds of millions from poverty around the globe, and created new markets and opportunities for our own nations.
And yet, as this rapid change has taken place, it’s become fashionable in some quarters to question whether the rise of these nations will accompany the decline of American and European influence around the world. Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed.
That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now. It was the United States and the United Kingdom and our democratic allies that shaped a world in which new nations could emerge and individuals could thrive. And even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just.
At a time when threats and challenges require nations to work in concert with one another, we remain the greatest catalysts for global action. In an era defined by the rapid flow of commerce and information, it is our free market tradition, our openness, fortified by our commitment to basic security for our citizens, that offers the best chance of prosperity that is both strong and shared. As millions are still denied their basic human rights because of who they are, or what they believe, or the kind of government that they live under, we are the nations most willing to stand up for the values of tolerance and self-determination that lead to peace and dignity.
Now, this doesn’t mean we can afford to stand still. The nature of our leadership will need to change with the times. As I said the first time I came to London as President, for the G20 summit, the days are gone when Roosevelt and Churchill could sit in a room and solve the world’s problems over a glass of brandy -– although I’m sure that Prime Minister Cameron would agree that some days we could both use a stiff drink. (Laughter.) In this century, our joint leadership will require building new partnerships, adapting to new circumstances, and remaking ourselves to meet the demands of a new era.
That begins with our economic leadership.
Adam Smith’s central insight remains true today: There is no greater generator of wealth and innovation than a system of free enterprise that unleashes the full potential of individual men and women. That’s what led to the Industrial Revolution that began in the factories of Manchester. That is what led to the dawn of the Information Age that arose from the office parks of Silicon Valley. That’s why countries like China, India and Brazil are growing so rapidly -- because in fits and starts, they are moving toward market-based principles that the United States and the United Kingdom have always embraced.
In other words, we live in a global economy that is largely of our own making. And today, the competition for the best jobs and industries favors countries that are free-thinking and forward-looking; countries with the most creative and innovative and entrepreneurial citizens.
That gives nations like the United States and the United Kingdom an inherent advantage. For from Newton and Darwin to Edison and Einstein, from Alan Turing to Steve Jobs, we have led the world in our commitment to science and cutting-edge research, the discovery of new medicines and technologies. We educate our citizens and train our workers in the best colleges and universities on Earth. But to maintain this advantage in a world that’s more competitive than ever, we will have to redouble our investments in science and engineering, and renew our national commitments to educating our workforces.
We’ve also been reminded in the last few years that markets can sometimes fail. In the last century, both our nations put in place regulatory frameworks to deal with such market failures -- safeguards to protect the banking system after the Great Depression, for example; regulations that were established to prevent the pollution of our air and water during the 1970s.
But in today’s economy, such threats of market failure can no longer be contained within the borders of any one country. Market failures can go global, and go viral, and demand international responses.
A financial crisis that began on Wall Street infected nearly every continent, which is why we must keep working through forums like the G20 to put in place global rules of the road to prevent future excesses and abuse. No country can hide from the dangers of carbon pollution, which is why we must build on what was achieved at Copenhagen and Cancun to leave our children a planet that is safer and cleaner.
Moreover, even when the free market works as it should, both our countries recognize that no matter how responsibly we live in our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us. And so part of our common tradition has expressed itself in a conviction that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security -– health care if you get sick, unemployment insurance if you lose your job, a dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work. That commitment to our citizens has also been the reason for our leadership in the world.
And now, having come through a terrible recession, our challenge is to meet these obligations while ensuring that we’re not consuming -- and hence consumed with -- a level of debt that could sap the strength and vitality of our economies. And that will require difficult choices and it will require different paths for both of our countries. But we have faced such challenges before, and have always been able to balance the need for fiscal responsibility with the responsibilities we have to one another.
And I believe we can do this again. As we do, the successes and failures of our own past can serve as an example for emerging economies -– that it’s possible to grow without polluting; that lasting prosperity comes not from what a nation consumes, but from what it produces, and from the investments it makes in its people and its infrastructure.
And just as we must lead on behalf of the prosperity of our citizens, so we must safeguard their security. Our two nations know what it is to confront evil in the world. Hitler’s armies would not have stopped their killing had we not fought them on the beaches and on the landing grounds, in the fields and on the streets. We must never forget that there was nothing inevitable about our victory in that terrible war. It was won through the courage and character of our people.
Precisely because we are willing to bear its burden, we know well the cost of war. And that is why we built an alliance that was strong enough to defend this continent while deterring our enemies. At its core, NATO is rooted in the simple concept of Article Five: that no NATO nation will have to fend on its own; that allies will stand by one another, always. And for six decades, NATO has been the most successful alliance in human history.
Today, we confront a different enemy. Terrorists have taken the lives of our citizens in New York and in London. And while al Qaeda seeks a religious war with the West, we must remember that they have killed thousands of Muslims -– men, women and children -– around the globe. Our nations are not and will never be at war with Islam. Our fight is focused on defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies. In that effort, we will not relent, as Osama bin Laden and his followers have learned. And as we fight an enemy that respects no law of war, we will continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard -– by living up to the values, the rule of law and due process that we so ardently defend.
For almost a decade, Afghanistan has been a central front of these efforts. Throughout those years, you, the British people, have been a stalwart ally, along with so many others who fight by our side.
Together, let us pay tribute to all of our men and women who have served and sacrificed over the last several years -– for they are part of an unbroken line of heroes who have borne the heaviest burden for the freedoms that we enjoy. Because of them, we have broken the Taliban’s momentum. Because of them, we have built the capacity of Afghan security forces. And because of them, we are now preparing to turn a corner in Afghanistan by transitioning to Afghan lead. And during this transition, we will pursue a lasting peace with those who break free of al Qaeda and respect the Afghan constitution and lay down arms. And we will ensure that Afghanistan is never a safe haven for terror, but is instead a country that is strong, sovereign, and able to stand on its own two feet.
Indeed, our efforts in this young century have led us to a new concept for NATO that will give us the capabilities needed to meet new threats -- threats like terrorism and piracy, cyber attacks and ballistic missiles. But a revitalized NATO will continue to hew to that original vision of its founders, allowing us to rally collective action for the defense of our people, while building upon the broader belief of Roosevelt and Churchill that all nations have both rights and responsibilities, and all nations share a common interest in an international architecture that maintains the peace.
We also share a common interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. Across the globe, nations are locking down nuclear materials so they never fall into the wrong hands -- because of our leadership. From North Korea to Iran, we’ve sent a message that those who flaunt their obligations will face consequences -– which is why America and the European Union just recently strengthened our sanctions on Iran, in large part because of the leadership of the United Kingdom and the United States. And while we hold others to account, we will meet our own obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and strive for a world without nuclear weapons.
We share a common interest in resolving conflicts that prolong human suffering and threaten to tear whole regions asunder. In Sudan, after years of war and thousands of deaths, we call on both North and South to pull back from the brink of violence and choose the path of peace. And in the Middle East, we stand united in our support for a secure Israel and a sovereign Palestine.
And we share a common interest in development that advances dignity and security. To succeed, we must cast aside the impulse to look at impoverished parts of the globe as a place for charity. Instead, we should empower the same forces that have allowed our own people to thrive: We should help the hungry to feed themselves, the doctors who care for the sick. We should support countries that confront corruption, and allow their people to innovate. And we should advance the truth that nations prosper when they allow women and girls to reach their full potential.
We do these things because we believe not simply in the rights of nations; we believe in the rights of citizens. That is the beacon that guided us through our fight against fascism and our twilight struggle against communism. And today, that idea is being put to the test in the Middle East and North Africa. In country after country, people are mobilizing to free themselves from the grip of an iron fist. And while these movements for change are just six months old, we have seen them play out before -– from Eastern Europe to the Americas, from South Africa to Southeast Asia.
History tells us that democracy is not easy. It will be years before these revolutions reach their conclusion, and there will be difficult days along the way. Power rarely gives up without a fight -– particularly in places where there are divisions of tribe and divisions of sect. We also know that populism can take dangerous turns -– from the extremism of those who would use democracy to deny minority rights, to the nationalism that left so many scars on this continent in the 20th century.
But make no mistake: What we saw, what we are seeing in Tehran, in Tunis, in Tahrir Square, is a longing for the same freedoms that we take for granted here at home. It was a rejection of the notion that people in certain parts of the world don’t want to be free, or need to have democracy imposed upon them. It was a rebuke to the worldview of al Qaeda, which smothers the rights of individuals, and would thereby subject them to perpetual poverty and violence.
Let there be no doubt: The United States and United Kingdom stand squarely on the side of those who long to be free. And now, we must show that we will back up those words with deeds. That means investing in the future of those nations that transition to democracy, starting with Tunisia and Egypt -– by deepening ties of trade and commerce; by helping them demonstrate that freedom brings prosperity. And that means standing up for universal rights -– by sanctioning those who pursue repression, strengthening civil society, supporting the rights of minorities.
We do this knowing that the West must overcome suspicion and mistrust among many in the Middle East and North Africa -– a mistrust that is rooted in a difficult past. For years, we’ve faced charges of hypocrisy from those who do not enjoy the freedoms that they hear us espouse. And so to them, we must squarely acknowledge that, yes, we have enduring interests in the region -– to fight terror, sometimes with partners who may not be perfect; to protect against disruptions of the world’s energy supply. But we must also insist that we reject as false the choice between our interests and our ideals; between stability and democracy. For our idealism is rooted in the realities of history -– that repression offers only the false promise of stability, that societies are more successful when their citizens are free, and that democracies are the closest allies we have.
It is that truth that guides our action in Libya. It would have been easy at the outset of the crackdown in Libya to say that none of this was our business -– that a nation’s sovereignty is more important than the slaughter of civilians within its borders. That argument carries weight with some. But we are different. We embrace a broader responsibility. And while we cannot stop every injustice, there are circumstances that cut through our caution -– when a leader is threatening to massacre his people, and the international community is calling for action. That’s why we stopped a massacre in Libya. And we will not relent until the people of Libya are protected and the shadow of tyranny is lifted.
We will proceed with humility, and the knowledge that we cannot dictate every outcome abroad. Ultimately, freedom must be won by the people themselves, not imposed from without. But we can and must stand with those who so struggle. Because we have always believed that the future of our children and grandchildren will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren are more prosperous and more free -– from the beaches of Normandy to the Balkans to Benghazi. That is our interests and our ideals. And if we fail to meet that responsibility, who would take our place, and what kind of world would we pass on?
Our action -– our leadership -– is essential to the cause of human dignity. And so we must act -– and lead -– with confidence in our ideals, and an abiding faith in the character of our people, who sent us all here today.
For there is one final quality that I believe makes the United States and the United Kingdom indispensable to this moment in history. And that is how we define ourselves as nations.
Unlike most countries in the world, we do not define citizenship based on race or ethnicity. Being American or British is not about belonging to a certain group; it’s about believing in a certain set of ideals -- the rights of individuals, the rule of law. That is why we hold incredible diversity within our borders. That’s why there are people around the world right now who believe that if they come to America, if they come to New York, if they come to London, if they work hard, they can pledge allegiance to our flag and call themselves Americans; if they come to England, they can make a new life for themselves and can sing God Save The Queen just like any other citizen.
Yes, our diversity can lead to tension. And throughout our history there have been heated debates about immigration and assimilation in both of our countries. But even as these debates can be difficult, we fundamentally recognize that our patchwork heritage is an enormous strength -- that in a world which will only grow smaller and more interconnected, the example of our two nations says it is possible for people to be united by their ideals, instead of divided by their differences; that it’s possible for hearts to change and old hatreds to pass; that it’s possible for the sons and daughters of former colonies to sit here as members of this great Parliament, and for the grandson of a Kenyan who served as a cook in the British Army to stand before you as President of the United States. (Applause.)
That is what defines us. That is why the young men and women in the streets of Damascus and Cairo still reach for the rights our citizens enjoy, even if they sometimes differ with our policies. As two of the most powerful nations in the history of the world, we must always remember that the true source of our influence hasn’t just been the size of our economies, or the reach of our militaries, or the land that we’ve claimed. It has been the values that we must never waver in defending around the world -- the idea that all beings are endowed by our Creator with certain rights that cannot be denied.
That is what forged our bond in the fire of war -- a bond made manifest by the friendship between two of our greatest leaders. Churchill and Roosevelt had their differences. They were keen observers of each other’s blind spots and shortcomings, if not always their own, and they were hard-headed about their ability to remake the world. But what joined the fates of these two men at that particular moment in history was not simply a shared interest in victory on the battlefield. It was a shared belief in the ultimate triumph of human freedom and human dignity -– a conviction that we have a say in how this story ends.
This conviction lives on in their people today. The challenges we face are great. The work before us is hard. But we have come through a difficult decade, and whenever the tests and trials ahead may seem too big or too many, let us turn to their example, and the words that Churchill spoke on the day that Europe was freed:
“In the long years to come, not only will the people of this island but…the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in [the] human heart, look back to what we’ve done, and they will say ‘do not despair, do not yield…march straightforward’.”
With courage and purpose, with humility and with hope, with faith in the promise of tomorrow, let us march straightforward together, enduring allies in the cause of a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous, and more just.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 4:21 P.M. BST

Samstag, 21. Mai 2011

CICERO Rednerpreis: Peer Steinbrück mit Cicero Rednerpreis ausgezeichnet


Bonn, 20. Mai 2011 Der Politiker und Ex-Finanzminister Peer Steinbrück (64) wurde heute mit dem Cicero Rednerpreis 2011 der Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG ausgezeichnet. Mit ihm werde ein politischer Redner geehrt, „der sich mit klaren, bildhaften Worten dem aufklärerischen Kampf gegen Selbstbetrug und politischer Unmündigkeit verschrieben hat“, so der Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft als Stifter des Preises. Der Politiker gilt als streitbarer Redner und wird derzeit als möglicher Kanzlerkandidat der SPD bei der Bundestagswahl im Jahr 2013 gehandelt. Verlagsvorstand Helmut Graf sieht in Steinbrück einen sicheren und souveränen Redner, der immer wisse, was er sagt.

Der Cicero Rednerpreis wird vom Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft seit 1994 für herausragende rhetorische Leistungen gestiftet. Eine unabhängige Jury wählt den jährlichen Preisträger. Bei dem undotierten Preis handelt es sich um eine Bronzebüste des römischen Staatsmannes und Philosophen Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Probleme auspacken und lösen

Der Festredner Heribert Prantl, Leiter Ressort Innenpolitik und Mitglied der Chefredaktion der Süddeutschen Zeitung, sieht Steinbrück als einen Politiker, der Probleme auspacken und lösen will und davon überzeugt sei, dass er das hinkriegt. Als Finanzminister habe er in der Weltfinanzkrise 2008 wie ein Fels in der Brandung neben Angela Merkel gestanden und Ruhe bewahrt. Bei der SPD gelte Steinbrück teilweise immer noch als der, der mit Schröder zusammen Hartz IV erfunden und so die SPD entsozialdemokratisiert habe. Die Bevölkerung habe Steinbrück als Krisen-Steinbrück im Kopf, als den, der das Land gut durch die Krise gesteuert hat. „Wer sich, wie Steinbrück, ein Rhinozeros als Lieblingstier erwählt, der ist ein anderer Typ von Politiker als die meisten anderen. Er will nicht von jedem gemocht werden und er mag auch nicht jeden; er mag vor allem recht haben“, so Prantl. Steinbrück sei ein bissiger Exzentriker, ein Sprachfetischist mit britischem Humor, der sich einmische und daran Freude habe.

Reden ist das Salz der Demokratie

Der Jury-Vorsitzende Gert Ueding hob in seiner Laudatio Steinbrücks Fähigkeit hervor, Reden und Handeln in Einklang zu bringen. Er sei ein mächtiger Redner der demokratischen Politik, der nicht die faulen Kompromisse suche, sondern auf Kampf und rednerische Durchsetzungskraft setze, auf den Vorrang in der öffentlichen Meinung. „Steinbrück bringt durch seine Redekunst das Wesen der Rhetorik zum Vorschein, nämlich die menschenfreundliche Art des Kampfes, das heißt die Übertragung ins Wort“, so Ueding. Mit seinen doppelbödigen, anspielungsreichen Reden ginge es Steinbrück nicht nur um Witz und Humor, sondern ebenso um pädagogische Vermittlung. Der Preisträger spreche immer aus der Sicht des Bürgers, nicht des Politikers. Denn die Bürger seien die richtungsgebende Instanz jedes Redens und Handelns. Der Redner Steinbrück wage nicht nur die bildhafte Analyse von Sachverhalten, sondern bewerte sie auch mit eigenem, klaren Standpunkt.

Was mir wichtig ist

Peer Steinbrück ging in seiner Dankesrede auf den Kern seiner stets authentischen Reden ein. „Die politische Rede hat leider an Bedeutung verloren. Insbesondere in Deutschland zeichnet sich die politische Debatte meist durch Wortverrenkungen aus, nach dem Motto ‚Eine gute Grundlage ist die beste Voraussetzung für eine solide Basis‘. Ich habe immer versucht, dagegen einen Kontrapunkt zu setzen“, so Steinbrück. Die zunehmend komplexer werdende Wirklichkeit liefere genug Probleme, die es zu bewältigen gelte. Dies gelänge nur, wenn es die Politik schafft, die Menschen für notwendige Veränderungen zu gewinnen, nicht zuletzt durch die Kraft des Argumentes und glaubwürdiges, verlässliches Handeln. Er freue sich, dass mit dem Cicero Rednerpreis sein Stil der direkten und nicht konfliktscheuen Rede gewürdigt werde. Steinbrück: „Die politische Rede muss aus meiner Sicht wieder stärker in den Mittelpunkt der politischen Auseinandersetzung rücken. Der richtige und einzige Ort dafür ist das Parlament - mittellateinisch parabolare ‚sich unterhalten‘ – und weniger die Talkshow.“

Bisherige Preisträger:

Den seit 1994 verliehenen Cicero Rednerpreis haben u. a. erhalten: Die Literaturnobelpreisträgerin Herta Müller, der Journalist und Publizist Heribert Prantl, der Philosoph Peter Sloterdijk, Luxemburgs Premierminister Jean-Claude Juncker, der Schriftsteller Rolf Hochhuth, der deutsch-französische Politiker Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Hans-Olaf Henkel, Wendelin Wiedeking, Kurt Biedenkopf, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Lothar Späth oder Thomas Gottschalk.

Die Jury

Natja Denk, Inhaberin ‚denk tank Ghost-writing‘, Vorstandsmitglied Verband der Redenschreiber deutscher Sprache VRdS;
Prof. Dr. Eva Horn, Professur für Neue deutsche Literatur, Universität Wien;
Prof. Dr. Peter L. Oesterreich, Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Philosophie an der Augustana-Hochschule Neuendettelsau, Honorarprofessor Universität Ulm;
Prof. Dr. Gert Ueding, 1988-2008 Direktor des Seminars für Allgemeine Rhetorik an der Universität Tübingen;
Prof. Dr. Katharina Gräfin von Schlieffen, Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für Öffentliches Recht, juristische Rhetorik und Rechtsphilosophie an der FernUniversität Hagen;
Betty Zucker, Expertin im Change und Knowledge Management.

Donnerstag, 19. Mai 2011

Watch President Obama's Full Speech on Mideast Policy

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ARD Mediathek: ARD-Sondersendung - JETZT LIVE: Grundsatzrede von US-Präsident Obama | Das Erste

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Dienstag, 17. Mai 2011

Remarks by President Obama and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan After Bilateral Meeting | The White House

Oval Office

12:17 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is a great pleasure to welcome once again my good friend King Abdullah to the White House. The United States and Jordan have had a longstanding friendship, an extraordinary relationship of cooperation on a wide range of fronts. I have valued His Majesty’s advice on numerous occasions, and obviously this meeting was an opportunity for us to share our views on the extraordinary changes that are taking place throughout the Middle East, throughout the region.

We discussed the situation in Libya, and are grateful for the support of a wide range of Arab countries in our efforts to make sure that humanitarian assistance and humanitarian protection occurs inside of Libya. We discussed the rapid transformation that’s taking place in places like Egypt and Tunisia, and we both agreed that it’s critical that not only does political reform proceed, but economic reform accompanies those changes there, because so much of what’s taking place has to do with the aspirations of young people throughout the Arab world for their ability to determine their own fate, to get an education, to get a job, to be able to support a family. And that means some of the old structures that were inhibiting their ability to progress have to be reworked.

His Majesty discussed the reform efforts that are taking place inside Jordan as well, and we welcome the initiatives that His Majesty has already embarked on, and feel confident that, to the extent that he’s able to move these reforms forward, this will be good for the security and stability of Jordan, but also will be good for the economic prosperity of the people of Jordan. And so we’re very pleased to support him on that front.

Along those lines, one of the things we discussed is how the United States can continue to be supportive of these economic efforts that His Majesty has embarked on, and so I’m pleased to announce that we have mobilized several hundreds of millions of dollars through OPIC, and that will leverage ultimately about $1 billion for economic development inside of Jordan. In addition, because of the huge spike in commodity prices throughout the world, we are going to be providing 50,000 metric tons of wheat to Jordan. All of this will help to stabilize the cost of living and day-to-day situation of Jordanians and will provide a foundation so that these economic reforms can move forward and long-term development can take place. So we’re very happy to be partnering with His Majesty on that issue.

We also discussed the situation with respect to Israel and the Palestinian conflict. And we both share the view that despite the many changes, or perhaps because of the many changes that are taking place in the region, it’s more vital than ever that both Israelis and Palestinians find a way to get back to the table and begin negotiating a process whereby they can create two states that are living side by side in peace and security.

Jordan, obviously, with its own peace with Israel, has an enormous stake in this. The United States has an enormous stake in this. We will continue to partner to try to encourage an equitable and just solution to a problem that has been nagging the region for many, many years.

Finally, I just want to say that we continue to appreciate all the security and counterterrorism cooperation that we receive from the Jordanians. It is very important in terms of our own security, and that partnership we expect to continue.

So Your Majesty, you are always welcome here. The American people feel great affection for the Jordanian people. And we trust that during this remarkable time of transition in the region that Jordan will be at the forefront in being able to move a process forward that creates greater opportunity and ensures that Jordan is a model of a prosperous, modern, and successful Arab state under your leadership.

So thank you very much.

HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH: Thank you. Mr. President, I’m delighted to be back here and again take this opportunity to thank you and your government for the tremendous support that you’re showing Jordan economically and the support of the United States and a lot of our friends internationally on really being able to push reform in an aggressive manner in our country, and again your continued interest and support on the core issue of the Middle East, which is the Israeli and Palestinian peace.

We are very, very grateful to the President’s role in all these issues. I’m delighted to be back here. And I will continue to be a strong partner with you, sir, on all the challenges that we face. Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good. All right, thank you very much, everyone.

END 12:23 P.M. EDT

Remarks by the First Lady at Spelman College Commencement | The White House

The White House
Office of the First Lady

Georgia International Convention Center

Atlanta, Georgia
3:53 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Well, goodness. Thank you. (Applause.) Let me tell you it is a pleasure and an honor -- yes, Chicago -- (laughter and applause) -- to be with all of you today.
And I want to thank President Tatum for her leadership and for that very kind and generous introduction. She is such an inspiration to all of the women who are part of the
Spelman family, so let’s give her our thanks and round of applause. (Applause.)
I also want to acknowledge a few people who are here in the audience: Senator Isakson, Representative Johnson, and of course Mayor Reed. Thank you all so much for joining us today. Thank you all for your leadership. (Applause.)
And I want to give a special shoutout to one of my people, one of my staff members, Ms. Kristen Jarvis of Spelman class of 2003. (Applause.) Look, ladies, you want to know what Spelman does for you? Kristen is my right-hand woman. She travels with me all across the country and around the world. I don't know what I would do without her. She has been with me from the very beginning, looking after my girls, taking care of my mom. So I want to thank Spelman for giving me Kristen. (Applause.)
And again, let’s take a moment to thank all of those beautiful people sitting behind you all today and standing behind you every day, the folks who brought you into this world -- (applause) -- the folks who showed you, with their love, that you belong here. They pushed you, they believed in you, and they answered calls those late nights, even when you were just calling for money. (Laughter.) So again, let’s give a special round of applause for all the families here today. (Applause.)
And of course, most of all, to the Spelman class of 2011, congratulations! (Applause.) We are so, so proud of you. We’re proud of the effort you’ve invested and the risks that you took. We’re proud of the bonds that you forged, the growth that you’ve showed. We’re proud of how, for the past four years, you’ve immersed yourselves in the life of this school and embraced all that it has to offer. In doing so, you didn’t just write a chapter in your own life story. You also became part of the Spelman story –- a story that began 130 years ago about 10 miles down the road from where we are today.
And by now, all of you know the details: about how two white women from up North –- Sophia Packard and Harriet Giles -– (laughter) -- came here to Atlanta to establish the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. Now we want the world to know this story. They started out in a dank church basement loaned to them by a kindly preacher named Father Quarles. And their first class had just 11 students, many of whom were former slaves.
Back then, the thought of an African American woman learning to read and write was, to so many, laughable at best, an impossibility at worst. And plenty of people tried to dissuade Miss Packard and Miss Giles from founding this school. They said the South was too dangerous. They said that at the ages of 56 and 48, these women were too old.
But these two ladies were unmoved. As Miss Giles put it –- and these are her words –- they were determined to lift up “these women and girls who have never had a chance.”
It’s a story that has been told and re-told, enacted and re-enacted, in every generation since the day that Spelman first opened its doors.
In a time of black codes and lynching, this school was training African American women to be leaders in education, in the health professions.
In a time of legalized segregation, this school was establishing math and biology departments and training a generation of black women scientists. (Applause.)
At a time when many workplaces were filled with not just glass ceilings, but brick walls, this school was urging black women to become doctors, and lawyers, engineers, ambassadors.
Now, that is the story of Spelman college: that unyielding presumption of promise, that presumption of brilliance, that presumption that every woman who enrolls at this school has something infinitely valuable to offer this world.
And ladies, that is now your story. That legacy is now your inheritance. And I’ve chosen that word –- inheritance –- very carefully, because it’s not an entitlement that you can take for granted. It’s not a gift with which you can do whatever you please. It is a commitment that comes with a certain set of obligations, obligations that don’t end when you march through that arch today.
And that’s really what I want to talk with you about this afternoon. I want to talk about the obligations that come with a Spelman education, and how I believe you all might fulfill those obligations going forward.
So let’s go back again to those first 11 women in that church basement all those years ago. Their teachers started with nothing but a couple of Bibles, some notebooks and some pencils. When it rained, it got so damp in that church that grass started growing on the floor. Often, the stove was so smoky, and the light was so poor, that students could barely see their teachers.
But still, week after week, more women showed up to enroll. Some walked eight or nine miles each way. Many were older, in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Doesn’t sound so old to me. (Laughter.) And often, they were ridiculed. But they kept coming.
One student, a woman named Mary Ann Brooks, simply stated –- and these are her words: “I spoke of going to school, and people laughed at me and said ‘You go to school! You too old! You’re so old you’ll die there.’ But I told them it was just as good a place to die in as I ever wanted, and I knew Miss Packard and Miss Giles would bury me, so I just came right along.” (Laughter and applause.)
Now, that spark, that spirit, that odds-defying tenacity has defined the alumnae of this school from its very first graduating class.
I mean, think about one of my heroines, Marian Wright Edelman, class of 1960 -- (applause) -- working as a young civil rights lawyer down in Mississippi. Attorneys in judge’s chambers refused to shake her hand. The sheriff locked the doors against her when she came to visit her clients in jail. She was always careful to leave the door open when she started her car in the morning. That way, if somebody had planted a car bomb, she had a chance of being injured rather than killed. But through it all, she continued to represent her clients. She continued to resist unjust laws with every fiber of her being.
Then there’s Janet Bragg, class of 1925, who was determined to be a pilot. When she was barred from flying out of segregated airports, she worked with her flying school classmates and instructors to build their own airfield.
When she was rejected from the Women Airforce Service pilots because of her race, she enrolled in a civilian training program instead.
And when she completed her training, but an instructor unfairly prevented her from receiving her license, she picked up and moved to Chicago, passed the exam, and became the first African American woman to earn a commercial pilot’s license. (Applause.) Of her experiences, she said: “There were so many things they said women couldn’t do and blacks couldn’t do. Every defeat to me was a challenge.”
And for six generations, that is what Spelman women have done. They have seen every defeat as a challenge. Now, did they have moments of doubt, anxiety and fear? Did they have moments of despair when they thought about giving up, or giving in? Of course they did. We all do.
And I am no exception. I mean, some of you may have grown up like me, in neighborhoods where few had the chance to go to college, where being teased for doing well in school was a fact of life, where well-meaning, but misguided folks questioned whether a girl with my background could get into a school like Princeton.
Sometimes, I’d save them the trouble, and raise the questions myself, in my own head, lying awake at night, doubting whether I had what it took to succeed. And the truth is that there will always be folks out there who make assumptions about others.
There will always be folks who try to raise themselves up by cutting other people down. That happens to everyone, including me, throughout their lives. But when that happens to you all, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to just stop a minute. Take a deep breath, because it’s going to need to be deep -- (laughter) -- and I want you to think about all those women who came before you, women like those first 11 students. (Applause.) Think about how they didn’t sit around bemoaning their lack of resources and opportunities and affirmation.
I want you to think about women like Marian Wright Edelman and Janet Bragg. They didn’t go around pointing fingers and making excuses for why they couldn’t win a case or soar above the horizon. They were Spelman women with the privilege of a Spelman education. And instead of focusing on what they didn’t have, they focused on what they did have: their intellect, their courage, their determination, their passion.
And with few advantages and long odds, with doors closed to them and laws stacked against them, still they achieved, still they triumphed, still they carved a glorious path for themselves in this world.
And graduates, every single one of you has an obligation to do the same. You have an obligation to see each setback as a challenge and as an opportunity to learn and grow. You have an obligation to face whatever life throws your way with confidence and with hope.
And don’t ever let anyone get into your head, especially yourself, because if it’s one thing I can promise you, it’s this: With a Spelman education, you all have everything you need, right here and right now, to be everything you’ve ever wanted to be. (Applause.)
But let’s be clear, the Spelman legacy isn’t just about those first 11 women. And it’s not just about the generations of students and alumnae who came after them. It’s about everyone who believed in those women, it’s about everyone who invested in those women, right from the beginning.
I mean, make no mistake about it, Miss Packard, Miss Giles, they were ambitious for their students. Even as they started their classes at a first grade level, teaching the alphabet and basic arithmetic, they had big dreams. They were planning to build a full-scale liberal arts college for African American women.
I mean, think about that. They could barely afford to keep their doors open. Their students could barely read or write. But already, they were planning to build something big, a college. And in those early years, they actually rejected an offer to merge with the Atlanta Baptist Seminary, the school that eventually became Morehouse. Yep, said, “No thank you, brothers!” -- (laughter and applause) -- because this move would have -- may have solved all their financial problems. But they were afraid that a coed school -- their students would be treated as second class citizens. And they weren’t going to stand for that. No. (Applause.)
Then there was Father Quarles, the preacher who lent them his church basement. He undertook an arduous journey North to raise money for the school. And his last words to the students were: “I am going North for you. I may never return. But remember, if I die, I die for you and in a good cause.”
And those words turned out to be prophetic. In the end, the harsh climate was too much, and he got sick and passed away not long after.
Miss Giles, Miss Packard, Father Quarles, they weren’t the only ones who believed in these students. In those early years, thousands of dollars of donations poured in from the black community itself. I mean, these were folks who likely didn’t have a dime to spare, digging deep into their wallets to support this school. See, that fierce devotion to the potential of others, that commitment to give even when you’re barely getting by yourself, all of that is your legacy as well.
That is your mission now too. (Applause.) Your mission is to find those 11 women wherever in the world your journey may take you. Find those folks who have so much potential, but so little opportunity, and do for them what Spelman has done for you. Maybe it’s a group of kids in your community. Maybe it’s a struggling family at your church. And I’m not just talking about here at home. Maybe it’s folks in a village or an inner-city halfway around the world.
Wherever you go, I guarantee you that you will find folks who have been discounted or dismissed, but who have every bit as much promise as you have. They just haven’t had the chance to fulfill it. It is your obligation to bring Spelman to those folks -– to bring that same presumption of value and worth, to make that same kind of sacrifice, to be as ambitious for them as Spelman has been for you.
And in so doing, I can promise you that you won’t just enrich their lives, you’ll immeasurably enrich your own lives as well.
All of you already know this from your own experiences here at Spelman. Over the past four years, you all have been serving your community in every way possible: tutoring kids, bringing meals to seniors, building homes, and so much more.
And I can tell you from my own experience just how rewarding it can be to make this kind of work the work of your careers. Back when I was sitting right where you are, I was certain that I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew it. So I did everything I was supposed to do. I got my law degree. Got a prestigious job at a fancy law firm. Had a nice big ‘ol paycheck and was finally making a dent in my student loans. My friends were impressed. My family proud -- and relieved. (Laughter.) By all appearances, I was living the dream.
But all the while, I knew something was missing, because the truth is, I didn’t want to be up in that tall building, alone in an office writing memos. I wanted to be on the ground, working with the folks I grew up with. I wanted to be mentoring young people. I wanted to be helping families put food on the table and a roof over their heads. I wanted to be out there giving folks the same kind of chances that I had. (Applause.)
So much to the surprise of my family and friends, I left that secure, high-paying job and eventually became the Executive Director of a non-profit, working to help young people get involved in public service. I was making a lot less money -- a lot -- and my office was a lot smaller. But I woke up every morning with a sense of purpose and possibility. I went to work every day feeling excited -- (applause) -- because with every young person I inspired, I felt myself becoming inspired. With every community I engaged, I felt more engaged and alive than I’d felt in years.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to devote your entire career to public service, though I hope that many of you will. The private sector has all kinds of meaningful, satisfying opportunities. And there is nothing wrong with taking home a nice paycheck. And many of you will need that money to help pay off your student loans and support your families. That, I know. And it is vitally important that you all rise to the highest ranks of every industry and of profession. (Applause.)
But as you climb those career ladders, just remember to reach down and pull others up behind you. (Applause.) That’s what so many folks have done for you all. And now it is your turn to repay the favor.
Now, juggling these obligations to yourself and to others won’t be easy. And I know that along with the pride and joy you’re feeling today, you may also be feeling some worry and some anxiety. Some of you may be worrying about getting a job or getting into grad school. Others may be wondering what it will be like to move back home with mom and dad again. And let me tell you there are plenty of moms and dads here who are wondering the same thing. (Laughter.)
But today, and every day going forward, I want you to remember one last legacy that Spelman has left you. It has left you each other.
I mean, look at all these beautiful, magnificent women beside you. (Applause.) It is breathtaking. (Applause.) Think of all the connections that you have, all those experiences that you’ve shared. The first time you set foot on the campus during Spelbound. Crying your eyes out together at the parting ceremony. Sweating through the night in those un-air conditioned freshman dorms. (Applause.) Sounds pretty rough. (Laughter.) Maybe the alumni can help out with that. (Laughter and applause.) All those classes, convocations, Christmas concerts -- ooh, and the late night conversations about some man. (Laughter.) You all know you were doing that. (Laughter.) You all are the keepers of each other’s histories. And the bonds that you’ve formed here will nourish you and sustain you for the rest of your lives. Now, that is sisterhood. (Applause.)
And look at all these magnificent women around all of you –- the alumnae of this institution who led you through that arch on Friday, cheering you on as you start your journey into the world.
I’m told that back in the depths of the recession in 2009, when many seniors here couldn’t pay their tuition bills, President Tatum made an appeal to Spelman alumnae, parents and friends asking for help. And even though times were tough for everyone, enough gifts poured in to help 100 seniors graduate from Spelman that year. (Applause.) That is sisterhood. (Applause.)
And finally, think back over the years to all those who have made this day possible: Miss Giles, Miss Packard, Father Quarles, and so many others. Think about all those anonymous folks who were just barely getting by themselves, but still found a way to support this school. Those folks never had the chance to get an education themselves -- never -- but they were determined that other young people would. Even if it wasn’t their daughters. Even if it wasn’t their grand-daughters, because, see, what you all have to understand is that hope, that yearning, that wasn’t just about themselves and their own families. It was about a vision for us as a people, and as a nation, where every child can develop every last bit of their God-given potential. (Applause.)
Graduates, you are their dream come true. You are the culmination of their sacrifice, of their longing, of their love. You are part of a glorious sisterhood –- past, present and future. You have a diploma that will take you places you’ve never even dreamed of. (Applause.)
And no matter what obstacles you encounter, no matter what hardships you endure, all of you have that for life. No one can ever take that away from you.
And today, I want to end with some words from Tina McElroy Ansa, Spelman class of 1971. (Applause.) In one of her novels, she wrote, simply: “Claim what is yours…You belong anywhere on this earth you want to.”
And graduates, if you go out there and make that claim, if you reach back to help others do the same, then I am confident that you will lead lives worthy of your dreams, and you will fulfill that precious Spelman legacy that is now yours.
So congratulations, graduates, on all that you have achieved. I am so proud of you, all of you. We are so proud of you. Do big things. Thank you, and God bless. (Applause.)
4:19 P.M. EDT

Montag, 16. Mai 2011

EUROPA - José Manuel Durão Barroso President of the European Commission Remarks at the opening of Europa House Europa House opening ceremony Den Haag, 16 May 2011

Reference: SPEECH/11/339 Date: 16/05/2011


José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission
Remarks at the opening of Europa House

Europa House opening ceremony
Den Haag, 16 May 2011

Your Majesty,
Prime Minister,
Vice-President Lambrinidis,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Het is een grote eer om vanavond hier in uw huis te zijn, uw Huis van Europa.

Tonight we give the Union not only a face, but also a place in the heart of the Netherlands. This House is a way for all Dutch men and women to engage with our shared institutions; those pillars of Europe which the Netherlands helped to found and build.

If I may pay tribute to Your Majesty, by borrowing your words to the European Parliament in 2004, this House brings to life your belief that "direct contact between people forms the basis for mutual understanding." It is a gesture which reminds us that in Europe we have the good fortune of knowing that home and abroad are two sides of the same coin.

I hope this house becomes a place of debate – for Europe needs a critical debate. It also needs strong input from the people who make it possible – you. For the European Union is not an end in itself. It is our means of hearing and achieving our shared aspirations – peace, the rule of law, freedom and prosperity. This house should therefore also be a showcase of the culture of openness and open discussion that the Netherlands contributes to our European family.

Of course, I speak to you at a challenging time, indeed a time of enduring crisis. It is a time when many face great insecurity, and wonder about the value of government in general and of the European Union in particular. Our duty as leaders is to show responsibility. Because the EU is part of the solution, not part of the problem.
In saying that, I am confident in our common future. And we know also that the challenges we face, be it debt or unemployment or inequality, are not exclusive to Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With your support we will emerge stronger from this period, and to get there I call on you to be advocates of our common interest. Any country with a tradition of 'punching above its weight' – like the Netherlands – must look outwards to retain its place in the world. This is a lesson that has been learnt over centuries of prosperity and innovation in the Netherlands. From your historic role in welcoming merchants and exiles - including the Portuguese family of great men like Spinoza - through your Golden Age and onto your legacy of realism and ambition in building today's single market. It is this mix of cultures and ideas, and our willingness to work with others, that enriches us and makes us stronger.

Our contemporary debate on the Schengen Zone is a touchstone in this regard. The right to move freely is the embodiment of the European project – one of the most tangible results of the EU endeavour; central to both our economy and identity. And so we see that free movement is to Europe what foundations are to buildings. Remove it and the whole structure is undermined. This is why the Commission will not compromise on this principle.

Yet enduring freedom requires vigilance. We must all have confidence that our fellow Europeans are behaving responsibly. And where concerns exist they must be addressed in a coordinated response.

That is why the Commission is working on a more structured approach to migration, one that reinforces the Schengen governance system without compromising the principle behind it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We need to exercise both solidarity and responsibility; these twin ideas must be our leitmotiv. If we uphold these ideals we will do justice to the generations who have built the European Union, and the generations we hope to inspire.

So it is on that note, and with great hope, that I look once again to the Dutch, in all the richness of your prosperous and consensual society for examples on how to thrive in our changing world. Europe needs you and your innovations.

We will see Dutch leadership again tomorrow, when your government launches – the first of hopefully many Member States to build on the Europe-wide initiative led by our Commissioner from the Netherlands, Neelie Kroes. Here, the Netherlands moves first to invest, as we all must, in a common digital future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I do not want to take you away from your celebration tonight. I wish only to celebrate the Dutch contribution to Europe and to leave you with the knowledge that you are not alone in facing the global economy or social change. Where there is challenge or crisis or division, the EU must adapt and unite. The EU is here to help all of us be our best selves.

Thank you.

Samstag, 14. Mai 2011

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