Internationale organisationer International organizations
Verdensbanken, IMF m.fl. World Bank, IMF etc.
OSCE, Europarådet OSCE, Council of Europe (CoE)
EU European Union (EU)
ICTY - Tribunalet i Haag ICTY
Balkan, generelt The Balkans
Kosóva Kosóva [Kosovo]
Øst Kosóva / Presevo-dalen / Syd-Serbien Eastern Kosóva
Serbien Serbia-Montenegro. Serbia
Makedonien Macedonia [FYRoM]
USA United States (US)
Danmark (Norge, Sverige) Denmark (Norway, Sweden)
Med hensyn til det stillede spørgsmål kan jeg oplyse, at næstformand for Europa-Kommissionens Franco Frattinis accept af at modtage et æresdoktorat fra Tiranas Universitet på ingen måde er i konflikt med eller en overtrædelse af det adfærdskodeks der gælder for medlemmer af Europa-Kommissionen. Se nærmere om adfærdskodekset her (på engelsk): http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/code_of_conduct/code_conduct_en.pdf
1.2.5. Acceptance of gifts, decorations or honours
Commissioners shall not accept any gift with a value of more than EUR 150. When, in accordance with diplomatic usage, they receive gifts worth more than this amount, they shall hand them over to the Commission's Protocol department. In case of doubt as to the value of a gift, an evaluation shall be undertaken under the authority of the Director of the Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Brussels, whose decision on the matter shall be final.
The Commission’s Protocol department shall keep a public register of gifts with a value of more than EUR 150.
Commissioners shall notify the President of the Commission of any decoration, prize or honour awarded to them.
Kosovo: UN envoy puts off presenting final status proposal till after Serb poll in January
10 November 2006 – A United Nations proposal for the future status of the Albanian-majority Serbian province of Kosovo, which the world body has run Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid ethnic fighting, will not be presented until after Serbia’s parliamentary elections on 21 January.
Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Kosovo’s future status process Martti Ahtisaari had originally been expected to present his proposal to the parties soon, but he announced the new date today after consulting with the so-called Contact Group – the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Russia – who have been helping to seek a solution for the province where [the Albanians] outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1.
Independence and autonomy are among the options but Serbia rejects independence.
“There are many compelling reasons to come to clarity on Kosovo’s status as soon as possible,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Joachim Rücker said of Mr. Ahtisaari’s decision. “Therefore I look forward to the presentation of the status proposal.
“I will continue to work closely with the Contact Group, the Special Envoy and the parties on preparing Kosovo for final status and on ensuring a smooth transition to the future authorities as well as to the future international presence,” he added.
Since his appointment a year ago, Mr. Ahtisaari has been holding talks with Kosovo and Serbian delegations in Vienna but these have not progressed beyond technical issues such as the decentralization of municipalities, dashing his hopes that the process would be completed by the end of this year. A major issue is providing sufficient security to encourage Serb refugees to return.
In his latest report in September Mr. Annan said he was disappointed that little common ground had emerged between the Serbian and Kosovar delegations in the discussions, noting that they remain “committed to ‘substantial autonomy’ and ‘full independence’ respectively, with minimal space for negotiation.”
In early 1999, the province was the scene of atrocities and the forceful displacement of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians. After a three-month intervention by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), culminating in the arrival of troops, most of the Albanian population returned to their homes within days.
But only some 15,600 returns of ethnic Serbs, Roma have been registered out of the estimated 250,000 who fled after the withdrawal of Serbian forces in 1999.
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Kosovo: UN envoy urges leaders to avoid ‘unilateral actions’ after delay on final status
13 November 2006 – Just days after a United Nations proposal for the future of Kosovo was postponed, the top UN envoy there warned its leaders against talk of “unilateral actions” in the Albanian-majority Serbian province that the world body has run since Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid ethnic fighting.
“It is paramount that all Kosovo leaders continue to fully subscribe to the Guiding Principles set out by the Contact Group in November 2005,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Joachim Rücker said after meeting with Prime Minister Agim Çeku and the commander of the international KFOR force Lt.-Gen. Roland Kather.
The Guiding Principles agreed to by the Contact Group (France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States), which is seeking to resolve the issue, stress that a settlement must conform with international standards of human rights and democracy and contain constitutional guarantees for the full participation of all ethnic groups.
Independence and autonomy are among the options for the province where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1, but Serbia rejects independence.
“Any statements that allude to Kosovo taking unilateral actions are in contradiction to the Contact Group’s Guiding Principles,” Mr. Rücker said. “Such statements can undermine support for Kosovo at this crucial time.
“It is important that Kosovo leaders continue to reach out to the minority communities and work to promote reconciliation and dialogue. All communities should exercise restraint and show understanding at this sensitive stage of the status process.”
On Friday, Mr. Annan’s Special Envoy for Kosovo’s future status process, Martti Ahtisaari, who had been expected to present his proposal for Kosovo’s future to the parties soon, announced that he would now not do so until after Serbia’s parliamentary elections on 21 January.
Since his appointment a year ago, Mr. Ahtisaari has been holding talks with Kosovo and Serbian delegations in Vienna but these have not progressed beyond technical issues such as the decentralization of municipalities, dashing his hopes that the process would be completed by the end of this year. A major issue is providing sufficient security to encourage Serb refugees to return.
In his latest report in September Mr. Annan said he was disappointed that little common ground had emerged between the Serbian and Kosovar delegations, noting that they remain “committed to ‘substantial autonomy’ and ‘full independence’ respectively, with minimal space for negotiation.”
In early 1999, the province was the scene of atrocities and the forceful displacement of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians. After a three-month intervention by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), culminating in the arrival of troops, most of the Albanian population returned to their homes within days.
But only some 15,600 returns of ethnic Serbs, Roma have been registered out of the estimated 250,000 who fled after the withdrawal of Serbian forces in 1999.
Political Arrests On Monday, November 20th, just before 11am, about 10 police entered our office in Prishtina with force in order to arrest Albin Kurti. Our activists tried to prevent the police from arresting Albin, and in the process, Frasher Krasniqi was also arrested. Albin was taken to court in connection with charges relating to our action on 23rd August when we blocked Ahtisaari’s exit from the Parliament of Kosova. He was released because the two witnesses, members of the riot police, did not appear to testify against him. Frasher Krasniqi was sentenced to 10 days in prison. UNMIK is masking its political persecution of our activists under a legal cover. It is keeping all charges open so that at an opportune moment, it can arrest our activists. It is not accidental that these arrests occurred one week before our protest on 28th November.
Xhemil Zeqiri. Photo: Bjoern Andersen, 2005
[Til Xhemil Zeqiri]
Efter min mening burde Kosóva Albanerne gøre MEGET mere for at vise at de er indstillet på at etablere et nyt Kosóva, hvor der er plads til både Kosóva Albanerne og Kosovo Serberne; hvor Kosóva bliver en uafhængig stat, men hvor både Albanerne og Serberne hver især har vidtgående bestemmelsesret (autonomi).
Mulighederne for økonomisk, social og kulturel fremgang er i dag ikke store, der skal noget "nyt" til, noget "nyt" som er stærkt og holdbart i sig selv, og som kan få tilslutning udefra.
Hvis dette "nye" skal blive etableret, er opbakning fra internationale kræfter, især fra EU-landene, helt nødvendig. En grundlæggende forudsætning herfor er at Albanerne VISER imødekommenhed over for mindretallet, og at hændelser som dem der udspandt sig i 2004 aldrig nogen sinde bliver gentaget. De var virkeligt rystende, og Kosóva Albanerne tabte uhyre meget på den internationale scene, mens Serberne fik dén position de ønskede: At fremstå som uskyldige "ofre".
Der er meget stor forskel på Balkan og Nordeuropa/Skandinavien, men alligevel synes jeg man kan lære noget af hvordan tingene har udviklet sig (i positiv retning) mellem Danmark og Sverige, Danmark og Norge og Danmark og Tyskland.
Specielt måske af historiens forløb op gennem 1800-tallet og 1900-tallet, kulminerende med folkeafstemningen i 1920 og aftalerne mellem Danmark og Tyskland i 1955 (se bl.a.: http://www.um.dk/da/menu/Udenrigspolitik/LandeOgRegioner/Europa/Dansk-Tyske+mindretal/Udviklingen+i+mindretalspolitikken+efter+1955/)
Min hensigt i går [på et møde om ICTY] med at rejse diskussionen om Milosevic var at pointere at sådanne folk skal man tackle med politiske midler. Politikken forsvinder, når man prøver at ramme de politiske ledere med en retssag (mange Serbere synes han klarede sig flot, at han var en helt - så at sige). Det vigtige var at Serberne satte ham fra bestillingen, og sådan skal det være. Dét er noget man kan bruge til at komme videre på.
Jeg bryder mig ikke om Kostunica's Kosovo-politik (sidst "trick'et" med at indskrive Kosovo i den nye forfatning), men jeg forstår den faktisk godt. Forhåbentlig forstår de internationale politikere ham også (jeg er sikker på at Martti Ahtisaari gør det), for hvis ikke de gør dét, kommer der ikke en varig og holdbar løsning ud af det.
Når Ahtisaari har udskudt fremlæggelsen af sit forslag til efter det serbiske valg, har det naturligvis dén indlysende årsag at han må være sikker på hvem der tegner den serbiske politik. Sikker på om Kostunica har dén opbakning som han siger at han har.
Prøv i øvrigt at tænke tanken: Hvad ville du gøre mht Kosóva, hvis du var ledende Serbisk politiker? Hvordan kunne du bidrage til en fornuftig løsning, hvis du var dét?
Det er et krav man - med rette - kan stille til alle der arbejder med politik, at de forstår deres modstandere korrekt, hvad enten det er hjemlige eller udenlandske modstandere. Når det lykkedes Danmark og Tyskland at indgå 1955-aftalerne, var én af de helt basale forudsætninger at man fra såvel dansk som tysk side fortolkede hinanden korrekt.
1. The President of the Republic is the Head of State and represents the unity of the people.
2. Only an Albanian citizen by birth who has resided in Albania for not less than the past 10 years and who has reached the age of 40 may be elected President.
1. A candidate for President is proposed to the Assembly by a group of not less than 20 of its members. A member is not permitted to take part in more than one proposing group.
2. The President of the Republic is elected by the Assembly by secret ballot and without debate by a majority of three-fifths of all its members [3/5 af 140 = 84].
3. When this majority is not reached in the first ballot, a second ballot takes place within 7 days from the day of the first ballot.
4. When this majority is not reached even in the second ballot, a third ballot takes place within 7 days.
5. When there is more than one candidate and none of them has received the required majority, within 7 days, a fourth ballot takes place between the two candidates who have received the greatest number of votes.
6. If even in the fourth ballot neither of the two candidates has received the required majority, a fifth ballot takes place.
7. If even in the fifth ballot neither of the two candidates has received the required majority, the Assembly is dissolved and new general elections take place within 60 days.
8. The new Assembly elects the President pursuant to the procedure contemplated in paragraphs 1 to 7 of this article. If even the new Assembly fails to elect the President, the Assembly is dissolved and new general elections take place within 60 days.
9. The subsequent Assembly elects the President of the Republic by a majority of all its members.
1. The President of the Republic is in every case elected for 5 years, with the right to be reelected only once.
2. The procedure for the election of the President begins no later than 30 days before the end of the previous presidential mandate.
3. The President begins his duties after he takes the oath before the Assembly, but not before the mandate of the President who is leaving has been completed. The President takes this oath: "I swear that I will obey the Constitution and laws of the country, I will respect the rights and freedoms of citizens, I will protect the independence of the Republic, and I will serve the general interest and the progress of the Albanian People." The President may add: "So help me God!"
4. A President who resigns before the end of his mandate may not be a candidate in the presidential election that takes place after his resignation.
The President of the Republic may not hold any other public position, may not be a member of a party and may not carry out other private activity.
1. The President of the Republic is not responsible for actions carried out in the exercise of his duty.
2. The President of the Republic may be dismissed for serious violations of the Constitution and for the commission of a serious crime. In these cases, a proposal for the dismissal of the President may be made by not less than one-fourth of the members of the Assembly and shall be supported by not less than two-thirds of all its members.
3. The decision of the Assembly is sent to the Constitutional Court, which, when it verifies the guilt of the President of the Republic, declares his dismissal from duty.
1. When the President of the Republic is temporarily unable to exercise his functions or his place is vacant, the Speaker of the Assembly takes his place and exercises his powers.
2. If the President cannot exercise his duties for more than 60 days, the Assembly decides by two-thirds of all its members to send the issue to the Constitutional Court, which determines conclusively the fact of his incapacity. In the case of a determination of incapacity, the place of the President remains vacant and the election of a new President begins within 10 days from the date of determination of incapacity.
The President also exercises these powers:
a. he addresses messages to the Assembly;
b. he exercises the right of pardon according to law;
c. he grants Albanian citizenship and permits it to be relinquished according to law;
ç. he grants decorations and titles of honor according to law;
d. he grants the highest military ranks according to law;
dh. on the proposal of the Prime Minister, he appoints and withdraws plenipotentiary representatives of the Republic of Albania to other states and international organizations;
e. he accepts letters of credential and the withdrawal of diplomatic representatives of other states and international organizations accredited to the Republic of Albania;
ë. he enters into international agreements according to law;
f. on the proposal of the Prime Minister, he appoints the director of the intelligence service of the state;
g. he nominates the Chairman of the Academy of Sciences and the rectors of universities pursuant to law;
gj. he sets the date of the elections for the Assembly, for the organs of local power and for the conduct of referenda;
h. he requests opinions and information in writing from the directors of state institutions for issues that relate to their duties.
The President of the Republic issues decrees in the exercise of his powers.
The President of the Republic may not exercise other powers besides those contemplated expressly by the Constitution and granted by laws issued in compliance with it.
Albania / Albania has continued to contribute to stability in the region, particularly through its measured position on the situation in neighbouring countries. EU relations with Albania advanced with the signature this year of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. The priority now is to focus on implementation of the Interim Agreement, which will enter into force on 1 December 2006, and which covers trade-related issues. With EU support, Albania is tackling the challenges of political, judicial and economic reform, as well as the fight against corruption and organised crime. These themes will remain priorities in the period ahead.
Albania / As regards political criteria, Albania has made some progress on democracy and the rule of law, including fighting corruption, which is a key European Partnership priority. A constructive policy towards the region has been maintained. More work is needed on other Partnership priorities.
Some progress has been made on democracy and the rule of law. However, this progress has been uneven. The parliament is assuming a full role politically and its committee on European integration has been very active. The parliament is now more transparent and its relations with other constitutional bodies have been effective, but it still faces technical and administrative shortfalls. More co-operation between government and opposition is needed to enable important work, such as electoral reform and addressing Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) obligations, to go ahead.
The government has adopted a plan to fulfil European Partnership and SAA obligations. It is creating structures to co-ordinate the substance of EU reforms and manage the resources to implement them. Co-ordination between these structures is essential. Better use of expertise in drafting legislative proposals is needed. The restructuring of many ministries has temporarily reduced capacity in some areas of the public administration. It is important now to build upon the changes to strengthen effectiveness. Some staff changes have taken place without due attention to the civil service law. Appointments in the administration continue to be politically influenced. Public service management, career structures and pay remain poor.
A new law should improve the career structure and case allocation methods for judges. Transparency has been increased somewhat in the judicial system. Some progress has been made in enforcing judgements. However, overall progress in improving the justice system has been limited. Progress is needed on improving recruitment procedures for judges and employment conditions for judicial administrators. The competences of the two judicial inspectorates need to be properly divided. Co-operation between the police and the judiciary needs to be improved. Execution of judgements remains poor overall. Legal certainty is needed to provide a positive climate for trade and investment.
The fight against corruption has led to large-scale public service dismissals. The number of public officials prosecuted for corruption has increased. A high-level anti-corruption task force has been set up and the law on conflicts of interest has been improved. The High Inspectorate for Disclosure and Verification of Assets is now more effective and steps have been taken to increase public administration transparency. Where anti-corruption measures have gone beyond constitutional limits, the constitutional court has intervened. Further institutional measures to prevent corruption are now needed, as it remains a serious problem. The fight against corruption is a priority for the implementation of the SAA.
Limited progress has been achieved regarding human rights and the protection of minorities. Human rights training for justice personnel is now obligatory. Pre-trial detention rules have improved. Albania's ombudsman has been more active on human rights. However, enforcement of international standards on torture prevention, prison conditions, and the rights of detainees, particularly in pre-trial detention, remain weak. Recent changes to the composition of the media supervisory authority should be implemented appropriately. The legal framework for media freedom remains inadequate and poorly implemented. Fostering media freedom is a key European Partnership priority. A new executive agency may speed up property restitution, also a key Partnership priority, but currently the process remains very slow. Certainty on property ownership is vital to fulfil SAA commitments. Albania has begun to create a legal framework to protect minorities; implementation of international commitments remains incomplete and further efforts are needed to promote tolerance. Albania's Roma strategy has led to some worthwhile initiatives, but suffers from a lack of resources. Roma children are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.
Regarding regional issues and international obligations, Albania has continued to play a positive role. It is an active member of regional initiatives in the political, trade, environmental, economic, security, aviation and energy fields. Albania has further developed its relations with neighbouring and other countries in the region, notably maintaining a constructive position on Kosovo.
As regards economic criteria, Albania has broadly achieved macroeconomic stability. This has contributed to its progress towards being a functioning market economy. Further considerable reform efforts must be vigorously pursued also to enable it to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.
Political consensus on the essentials of economic policy has generally been maintained. Albania broadly maintained macroeconomic stability. Economic growth continued to be strong and reduced poverty levels. The macroeconomic policy mix remained adequate.
Monetary policy was credible and managed to keep inflation low. Fiscal consolidation further advanced and reforming the public and tax administration contributed to improved fiscal stance. Administrative barriers to market entry were reduced.
However, the deficits of external accounts markedly widened and the export base remained very weak. Albania's legal framework for procurement, privatisation and concessions needs to be improved. Shortcomings in the business climate, such as legal uncertainty and weaknesses in law implementation, poor infrastructure, or unreliable power supply impede economic development. Enforcement of property rights continued to be weak and only marginal progress was achieved in improving efficiency of the judicial system. Strengthening of the regulatory and supervisory framework for the non-bank financial sector constitutes a major challenge. Efforts in tackling and formalizing the considerable grey economy need to be further accelerated. The privatisation process is not yet completed and the restructuring of state-owned enterprises, in particular of the electricity utility, needs to be pursued without delay.
Albania has made progress in aligning its legislation, policies and capacity with European standards, particularly in the fields of fighting organised crime, of customs and of competition. Pushing forward reform in areas such as public procurement, intellectual property and veterinary and phytosanitary control is vital for successful SAA implementation.
Progress has been made in some internal market fields, but in others much work will be needed to fulfill Albania's SAA obligations. There has been some progress in adopting and monitoring standards. Capacity for accreditation, metrology and market surveillance is being strengthened, but legislative improvements and better co-ordination are needed. Coherence of structures for consumer and health protection has improved. They now need to be strengthened. The SAA includes commitments regarding the movement of workers, freedom of services and freedom of establishment. There have been no notable developments regarding movement of workers.. Discrimination on registration fees for foreign companies has been removed. Procedures for business registration have been simplified but remain relatively unclear. Barriers to establishment and restrictions on capital movement remain. An effective customs system is vital to implement the SAA. Customs revenue has risen following substantial customs reforms. Progress has been made on computerisation, customs rules and management of origin. Cooperation between police and customs has been strengthened. Improved infrastructure and further acquis alignment is now needed. The administration of taxation has been simplified, and progress made on computerisation and risk analysis. Further alignment with EU legislation and a comprehensive tax collection and control strategy are now needed.
Albania has undertaken commitments in the area of competition under the SAA. Regarding anti-trust, the functioning of the Competition Authority has improved, but it is held back by the scarcity and inexperience of its staff. State aid-related SAA preparations are on track. The legal framework and inventory is now complete. The State Aid Department's operational independence now needs to be ensured.
A new public procurement law is pending, and public procurement training has been expanded, but the current legal framework is not in line with the acquis. The Public Procurement Agency remains weak. Progress in this field is vital for improving public sector governance, a key European Partnership priority, and for fulfilling SAA obligations. Regarding intellectual property rights (IPR) a trademark, patent and industrial design database has been launched. An IPR unit has been set up in the customs administration. However, the copyright office is not yet operational and IPR enforcement remains weak. Considerable strengthening is required to fulfil SAA commitments.
Progress has been limited in the area of employment. Some progress can be reported in the area of education, including approval of national strategies for secondary and vocational training. However, participation rates in education remain relatively low.
Progress can be reported on some sectoral policies. Regarding industry and SMEs, a revised action plan on removing administrative barriers to business and a new umbrella organization to promote investment, export and SMEs are in place. However, progress on improving the business environment and reducing the informal economy continues to be slow. Progress in agriculture has been very limited. An increase in sales and in investment in some products has taken place, but productivity and competitiveness remains low. Compliance with EU veterinary and phytosanitary requirements, vital to successfully using SAA and interim agreement trade conditions, remains poor. The fishery service controls the landing of fish, but the illegal damaging of stock continues.
Regarding both environment and transport, some progress has been made on horizontal legislation, but implementation and infrastructure development remain weak. The energy sector remains very weak. Albania has ratified the Energy Community Treaty and has begun to adopt the relevant laws, but electricity losses have increased and bill collection has dropped. Albania is lagging behind in its preparedness to take on SAA commitments on information society and media. Regarding electronic communications and information technologies, liberalisation laws need to be implemented and enforced. The regulatory framework is not yet in line with the acquis. The telecommunications regulator is not sufficiently active. Regarding financial control, the Public Internal Financial Control Policy Paper has been endorsed by the government. Legal and regulatory progress has been made but it remains at an early stage. There has been reasonable progress in the area of statistics. In the field of justice, freedom and security there has been progress in some areas; however, all fields require determined and sustained attention. Training and document security for visa administration have improved. No centralised IT network is in place, and legal changes are still required. New equipment and better co-ordination has led to some progress on border management, but an integrated border management strategy is not yet in place. Border management infrastructure needs to be strengthened. Laws on asylum comply with international standards, but implementation needs to improve. Albania has improved its internal coordination and cooperation with neighbouring countries to combat illegal migration. It is important that Albania ensures sufficient staffing to fulfil its obligations under readmission agreements.
Regarding the fight against money laundering, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the prosecutor’s office have been reinforced and international cooperation improved, but both need to be further strengthened and the legislative framework needs to be further developed. Greater political impetus and better international co-operation have increased arrests of largescale drug traffickers, but better criminal intelligence capacity, domestic inter-agency coordination and procedures for seized drugs are required. Drug trafficking remains a serious problem. Efforts are underway to improve the organisation of the police. Cooperation with the customs and intelligence services has improved, but improvement of case management and internal control structures is needed.
Progress has been made in the fight against organised crime, a key European Partnership priority. Strong political will to tackle organised crime has led to police operations against major criminal groups. Operational cooperation with Albania's neighbours has greatly improved. Cooperation between police and the judiciary at central level has somewhat improved. However, much scope remains for improvement in concrete results. Better coordination between police and judiciary at local level and greater efforts to combat high level corruption in these bodies are needed. Stronger witness protection is required. The government has adopted a national strategy against trafficking in human beings and improved structures to implement it. Successful prosecutions and convictions of traffickers have continued. However, trafficking remains a problem. Further resources and better domestic and international coordination are required. The police counter-terrorism directorate has seized large quantities of arms, although infrastructure and inter-agency cooperation needs to be strengthened. The situation as regards the protection of personal data remains a matter of concern.
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Parliament / The role of the parliament as a central political institution has continued to increase. Relations between the parliament and other constitutional bodies, notably the Constitutional Court and the Presidency, and the subsequent interventions of these bodies, have been appropriate and effective. The Parliamentary Committee on European Integration has been very active, which has helped to raise awareness of the EU integration process in the parliament's activities. Efficient committee and plenary work allowed the Parliament to deal effectively with the 2006 budget law. The work of the parliament is now more transparent as specialised staff and equipment are now used to transcribe all plenary parliamentary sessions.
Periods of political deadlock in spring and summer 2006 hampered the parliament’s efforts to deal with important reform issues, particularly those which require broad political consensus. The poor political climate hindered the work of the parliamentary working group on electoral reform and slow political agreement delayed nomination of members of the Central Electoral Commission. This delayed work on implementing the recommendations of OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) following the 2005 parliamentary elections. A political agreement reached in August with international community help ended the summer deadlock. Albania has yet to demonstrate the capacity to achieve domestically generated political co-operation.
The parliament still faces technical and administrative shortfalls. The parliament's limited budget is not consistently focused on core tasks. Procedures and equipment for voting do not yet ensure transparent and undisputed results. A number of ad hoc inquiry committees have been set up, sometimes with an unclear mandate. There is a risk of duplication. Parliamentary transparency could be further increased if the work of parliamentary committees were transcribed.
Overall the parliament is assuming a full role politically and making steady improvements in its technical operation. However, effective parliamentary work on reform, essential to fulfil SAA obligations, has been held back by difficulties in political co-operation.
Government / The government has adopted a revised national plan to implement the European Partnership priorities and the SAA. This plan makes a first attempt to cost the European integration process, which is necessary for budgetary forecasting. It also broadly schedules reform and capacity-building steps and defines institutional responsibility for them. The plan will form part of a new National Strategy for Development and Integration (NSDI). Work has begun on the development of 23 sector strategies and 10 cross-cutting strategies for the NSDI. Line ministry budget allocations will be limited to actions described in the 23 sector strategies. The NSDI will feed into the Integrated Planning System (IPS) though which national and donor resources will be allocated. This strategic and operational framework should help the government to fulfil SAA reform commitments.
The Council of Ministers has approved the establishment of EU Integration Units in twelve line ministries. Establishment of these units, through which the Ministry of European Integration will co-ordinate EU-related reforms, is underway. The Minister of European Integration has been appointed IPA National Aid Coordinator.
The Council of Ministers staff has largely been replaced by teams working on cross-cutting issues directly under advisors to the Prime Minister. This structure could help to address highpriority horizontal issues. There has been some effort to extend participation in designing new legislation beyond central government to local and civil society stakeholders, for example on the draft law on municipal borrowing.
However, much remains to be done to ensure wider consensus and the use of all available expertise on reforms. New horizontal teams working directly for the Prime Minister have not always drawn upon government and donor expertise in drafting legislative proposals, resulting in poor drafting. An increase in the number of institutions directly accountable to the Council of Ministers has taken place, and there is a tendency for direct oversight by the Prime Minister. This centralisation has led to many routine technical decisions being taken at the level of the Prime Minister, which has delayed key actions.
Implementation of the IPS is currently coordinated by the Council of Ministers’ Department of Strategy and Donor Coordination. However, the full complement of personnel has not yet been assigned to its IPS Implementation Unit, despite an approved staff plan. Sound coordination between the Department of Strategy and donor Coordination and the Ministry of European Integration will be essential, in particular to ensure appropriate support for SAA reform commitments.
Economic policy essentials / Cooperation with international financial institutions continued to be an important anchor for economic policies. The previous IMF programme was successfully completed in November 2005 and a new three-year programme started in February 2006. The prudent monetary policy remained unchallenged and contributed to keeping inflation under control. The fundamentals of fiscal policies aimed at fiscal consolidation were pursued further. Consensus on the fundamentals and directions of economic policy was broadly maintained.
Macro-economic stability / Albania's macroeconomic environment continued to be characterised by strong GDP growth and subdued inflation. However, the country suffered frequent power supply shortages for almost four months at the end of 2005. This was mainly as a result of the strong dependence on hydro sources for electricity supply and the failure of tenders for purchasing additional electricity from abroad. The repercussions of the crisis on economic growth were estimated at 0.5% of GDP in 2005, when combined with weakening economic activity in the construction sector and deceleration in export growth. The estimate of real GDP growth was thus revised downwards to 5.5% for 2005. Overall, Albania's stable macroeconomic environment was maintained.
The share of people living in poverty decreased from around 25% in 2002 to around 18% in 2005. This represents more than 220,000 people lifted out of poverty during these three years. This is mainly due to sustained growth in disposable income. Considerable progress continued in reducing poverty.
The trade deficit widened to 24.1% of GDP in 2005, compared to 21.7% of GDP in the previous year. Due to appreciation of the Albanian lek and stronger competition in the textile industry, growth in export of goods declined to 9% in 2005 from 23% in 2004. For the same period, imports of goods grew at 15%, mainly on the back of sustained growth and electricity imports at the end of the year. During the first semester of 2006, the trade deficit widened further by 19% on an annual basis. Part of this continuing deterioration also likely reflects the improvements in customs administration, with more goods going through the formal channels. Export base in Albania remained very low, narrow and undiversified, mainly due to a lack of non-price competitiveness, resulting -among others- from poor infrastructure and uninviting business environment. Due to deterioration in the trade balance, the current account deficit (excluding official transfers) recorded an increase to 7.8% of GDP in 2005, compared to 5.5% in 2004. In general, external deficits markedly widened.
Transfers from abroad and other remittances were estimated at around 14.6% of GDP in 2005, 19% higher compared to 2004. Private transfers have thus become an important and relatively stable source of income. According to national sources, they have reached 33% of disposable income of an average family and almost 40% in rural areas. Gross reserves continued to rise throughout 2005. This was partly due to inflows of private transfers and foreign direct investment (FDI), but also to the Bank of Albania’s foreign exchange market interventions in the first half of the year. Foreign currency reserves reached 1.2 billion at end-of 2005, a 17% increase compared to the end of 2004. This is equivalent to around 4 months of imports. External debt declined to 17.6% of GDP in 2005, from 18.0% in 2004. In general, significant remittances and other transfers from abroad continued to cover large part of the trade deficit. The unemployment rate (based on official data) declined marginally to 14.2% in 2005 from 14.4% at end-of 2004. Data for the first quarter of 2006 indicate a further decrease of the unemployment rate to 14%. The exact rate of unemployment is nevertheless difficult to assess due to significant informal employment, particularly in the agricultural and construction sectors. It can be concluded that the labour market situation improved marginally.
For a distinguished contribution in the field of Law and for the European Integration of Albania, the Senate of the University of Tirana bestowed today Vice President of the European Commission, Mr. Franco Frattini with a Lauriat “Doctor Honoris Causa”. During the award ceremony the Rector of the University of Tirana, Mr. Shezai Rokaj said that “the University of Tirana awarded this important honor to Mr. Frattini not only for what he has done until now, but with the hope and the conviction that he will continue in the future to make a major contribution to Albania and the University of Tirana.” In this respect, Mr. Rokaj expressed his appreciation for the personal commitment of Commissioner Frattini to promote the free movement of persons in Europe and in particular to facilitate the travel of students and professors between the EU and associated countries.
Two senior professors in law of the Tirana University, Prof. Kudret Cela, and Prof. Skender Kaçupi also praised Mr Frattini achievements and qualifications;
“Mr. Frattini’s vision, projection and the elaboration of policies and promotion of European Integration constitute without doubt, an illustrious contribution in the field of Justice”, said Mr. Kaçupi in presenting the proposal.
Professor Cela, the Dean of the Faculty of Law in the Tirana University added that “Mr Frattini’s involvement in the field of Law has not been limited merely to that of a student and a scholar, since he has also practiced law when serving as senior judge in Italy”.
Vice President Frattini, who is responsible for Justice, Liberty and Security, visited Tirana on 16 and 17 November to attend the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs. The Forum discussed progress in the fight against organized crime and corruption in the region.
Stance of official Podgorica that Kosovo is Montenegro’s neighbour directly infringes on Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity
Belgrade, Nov 5, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said today, on the occasion of the visit of President of Kosovo’s interim government Agim Ceku to Montenegro, that in its entire history Serbia has never done anything against Montenegro and that Montenegro has never turned against Serbia.
Kostunica pointed out that the position of official Podgorica that Kosovo is Montenegro’s neighbour infringes directly on Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Serbian government warned yesterday the Montenegrin government that it is obliged to strictly respect Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in line with the UN Charter and international law. Otherwise, the Montenegrin government will carry the blame for serious consequences in the relations between Serbia and Montenegro.
Solution for Kosovo must not be imposed
Belgrade, Nov 9, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said today after meeting with Greek Minister of Defence Evagelos Meimerakis that the solution for the future status of Kosovo-Metohija must be based on fundamental principles of international law, primarily the UN Charter that guarantees preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. The Prime Minister said that the solution for Kosovo-Metohija must not be imposed as that way it would not be a solution, noting that agreement between Belgrade and Pristina must be reached.
Kostunica stated that only a sustainable solution can guarantee stability in the region.
Meimerakis said that Greece opposes any imposed solution for Kosovo-Metohija and is against setting deadlines for reaching an agreement.
He noted that it is necessary to come up with a sustainable solution for Kosovo-Metohija, also taking into account stability in the region.
Kostunica and Meimerakis concluded that Serbia and Greece cherish very good and friendly relations and stressed that the agreement between the two defence ministries signed today will improve cooperation in that field.
Serbia ready to solve Kosovo issue
Belgrade/Bratislava, Nov 9, 2006 – Serbian Minister of Education and Sport Slobodan Vuksanovic stated today in Bratislava that Serbia is ready to solve Kosovo issue in line with international law, the UN Charter, international conventions and the Serbian Constitution.
Vuksanovic is taking part in a two-day conference in Bratislava themed "A Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the European Peoples' Party and European Democrats". On the first conference day he addressed guests from Europe and spoke about creating a new European space through solidarity between religion and politics.
According to the Minister's statement to the Tanjug news agency, in his speech he said that Serbia's new Constitution and the Law on churches and religious communities have brought churches back on the public scene and have given them the status of completely free and autonomous public communities of special importance to citizens and the state.
The Minister also said Serbia is ready to conclude an historic agreement with ethnic-Albanians regarding their joint life in a democratic state, as well as agree on making joint efforts towards EU accession.
This agreement is only possible if it is adopted freely and if both sides accept it. It also must be useful both for Serbs and ethnic-Albanians in Kosovo, as well as for other people living in the province, stressed Vuksanovic who is taking part in the international conference as the Serbian Prime Minister's envoy.
This is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the entire region because otherwise we would face a long period of insecurity, instability and opportunities to extend problems and incidents to the whole of Southeast Europe and the surrounding region, stressed Vuksanovic.
Participants in the two-day conference are also the Greek and Croatian Prime Ministers, Romanian Deputy Prime Minister, Macedonian foreign affairs minister, Belgrade Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar and bishops of Backa, Lipljan and Branicevo, Irinej, Teodosije and Ignatije respectively.
All UN Security Council members must unanimously support solution to Kosovo status
Belgrade, Nov 16, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica met today with Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt and stressed that all UN Security Council member states must unanimously support the decision on Kosovo's future status, adding that the solution must be founded on principles of international law and the UN Charter, which are the preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.
Kostunica pointed out that when NATO bombed Serbia it broke international law and said that it is absolutely unacceptable that any NATO member country breaches international law once more and acknowledges Kosovo independence on its own.
He stressed that Serbia's proposal, that of essential autonomy for Kosovo-Metohija within Serbian borders, is completely in line with basic principles of international law and all European values.
The Prime Minister said that any imposed solution that would not result from a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina would cause serious consequences not only in the region, but also worldwide.
Kostunica said that actual talks between Belgrade and Pristina must take place and recalled that thus far only one meeting was held in Vienna in which UN Special Envoy Ahtisaari took part.
Bildt said it is necessary to find a stable solution for Kosovo-Metohija and pointed to the fact that apart from negotiations on the future status of Kosovo-Metohija, it is important to continue talks on fulfilling standards and ensuring that they are implemented.
He welcomed the adoption of the new Constitution and said that Serbia has made significant progress in reforms, especially in economy, and achieved extraordinary growth in investment, which has also been recognised in the EU report.
Bildt said that Sweden is very interested in improving economic cooperation with Serbia.
Unilateral recognition of independence of Kosovo-Metohija legal violence
Belgrade, Nov 18, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said yesterday that he does not believe that a solution for Kosovo-Metohija can be reached by unilateral recognition of the independence of the province, because that would be a most serious violation of the UN Charter and the UN SC Resolution 1244.
In an interview to the news agency Beta, Kostunica said that in that case we would have an example of legal violence and two-fold violation of fundamental principles of international law.
He said that, on one hand, it would go against the UN Charter and the UN SC Resolution 1244, and on the other hand such a decision can not be brought without the Security Council.
According to Kostunica, ignoring the Security Council and the UN can not be without consequences for countries which take that step, a step which cannot be considered anything else but legal violence.
The Serbian Prime Minister stressed that that is particularly the case with NATO member countries because it would completely alter the light in which the so called humanitarian military intervention by NATO in Serbia in 1999 is seen.
Kostunica pointed to the fact that then a connection could be made between the military action against Serbia and the seizure of part of its territory seven years later.
In that case relations between Serbia and these countries could change radically, without regard to details. I strongly believe that they will not resort to unilateral recognition of the independence of Kosovo-Metohija and legal violence, said the Serbian Prime Minister.
According to Kostunica, not even a single political party in Serbia would tolerate any unilateral solution, at this moment.
Kostunica stressed that all political parties in Serbia, through parliament resolution, and finally through the Constitution, have taken the unified position that Kosovo-Metohija is and must remain an integral part of Serbia, and warned that responsibility lies with the other side, with those who might resort to legal violence.
He said that the Serbian government succeeded in clearly formulating and pursuing a single policy, which showed results in practically all segments.
The Serbian Prime Minister explained that Kosovo is being offered the highest degree of autonomy and that the model for autonomy has been made according to other models in the world.
Serbs and ethnic-Albanians lived together for centuries, with the strains that also exist within one ethnic community, let alone different ones, said Kostunica. He added that Serbs, during their history, never declared that they cannot live with Albanians, which is a very significant fact and should be stressed upon.
He pointed to the fact that the Serbian government presented the proposal that the province is regulated, for the first time, according to democratic principles and that Kosovo-Metohija gets substantial autonomy inside Serbia.
According to Kostunica, the government has made progress in all areas and that is something citizens can feel.
We have confronted corruption and crime, although that is a fight which continues. In that fight no one has been spared. At the same time recognition arrived from outside – by the European Commission, the World Bank, recalled Kostunica, and added that no one is trying to conceal the fact that a lot remains to be done.
He stressed that the Serbian government has achieved enormous success in cooperation with the Hague tribunal and has done more than all previous governments when it comes to the issue of the number of indictees sent to The Hague in a manner which did not create disturbance in the society.
Ultimately, it was accepted by the public that a country can not be held hostage by individuals, and that the development of the country can not be stopped because of it. I am convinced that after all that has been achieved, even though cooperation with The Hague has not been concluded, it is very near the end.
The Prime Minister denied the assertion that there was no political will to conclude cooperation with the Hague tribunal.
That is an issue of technical conditions, explained Kostunica, and added that political will undoubtedly existed and was made concrete through the Action Plan and cooperation between all security departments which has improved significantly.
He said that it is very important that the new Constitution of Serbia was adopted just a few months after Serbia became a separate state, and that our country has thus shown maturity.
The new Constitution is a good basis for further development of our country and is a result of consensus of parliamentary parties and the expression of the general will of citizens at the referendum, said the Prime Minister, and added that due to that the Constitution is indeed a historical one.
President George W. Bush smiles as he responds to a reporter's question Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, during a news conference in the East Room of the White House to address the results of Tuesday's elections. White House photo by Eric Draper
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I say, why all the glum faces?
Yesterday, the people went to the polls and they cast their vote for a new direction in the House of Representatives. And while the ballots are still being counted in the Senate, it is clear the Democrat Party had a good night last night, and I congratulate them on their victories.
This morning I spoke with Republican and Democrat leadership in the House and Senate. I spoke with Republican leaders, Senator Frist and Senator McConnell and Speaker Hastert, and John Boehner and Roy Blunt. I thanked them for their hard-fought contests. I appreciate the efforts they put in for our candidates.
I'm obviously disappointed with the outcome of the election, and as the head of the Republican Party, I share a large part of the responsibility. I told my party's leaders that it is now our duty to put the elections behind us and work together with the Democrats and independents on the great issues facing this country.
This morning I also spoke with the Democrats. I spoke with Senators Reid and Durbin. I congratulated them on running a strong campaign in the Senate, and I told them that, regardless of the final outcome, we can work together over the next two years. I also congratulated Congresswoman Pelosi and Congressman Hoyer. They ran a disciplined campaign. Their candidates were well-organized and did a superb job of turning out their votes.
I told Congresswoman Pelosi that I look forward to working with her and her colleagues to find common ground in the next two years. As the majority party in the House of Representatives, they recognize that in their new role they now have greater responsibilities. And in my first act of bipartisan outreach since the election, I shared with her the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help her pick out the new drapes in her new offices. (Laughter.)
I believe that the leaders of both political parties must try to work through our differences. And I believe we will be able to work through differences. I reassured the House and Senate leaders that I intend to work with the new Congress in a bipartisan way to address issues confronting this country. I invited them to come to the White House in the coming days to discuss the important work remaining this year and to begin conversations about the agenda for next year.
The message yesterday was clear: The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences, conduct ourselves in an ethical manner, and work together to address the challenges facing our nation.
We live in historic times. The challenges and opportunities are plain for all to see: Will this country continue to strengthen our economy today and over the long run? Will we provide a first-class education for our children? And will we be prepared for the global challenges of the 21st century? Will we build upon the recent progress we've made in addressing our energy dependence by aggressively pursuing new technologies to break our addiction to foreign sources of energy? And most importantly, will this generation of leaders meet our obligation to protect the American people?
I know there's a lot of speculation on what the election means for the battle we're waging in Iraq. I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made there. Yet I also believe most Americans and leaders here in Washington from both political parties understand we cannot accept defeat.
In the coming days and weeks, I and members of my national security team will meet with the members of both parties to brief them on latest developments and listen to their views about the way forward. We'll also provide briefings to the new members of Congress so they can be fully informed as they prepare for their new responsibilities.
As we work with the new leaders in Congress, I'm also looking forward to hearing the views of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by Secretary James Baker and Congressman Lee Hamilton. This group is assessing the situation in Iraq and are expected to provide -- and the group is expected to provide recommendations on a way forward. And I'm going to meet with them, I think, early next week.
The election has changed many things in Washington, but it has not changed my fundamental responsibility, and that is to protect the American people from attack. As the Commander-in-Chief, I take these responsibilities seriously. And so does the man who served this nation honorably for almost six years as our Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Now, after a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon.
Our military has experienced an enormous amount of change and reform during the last five years while fighting the war on terror, one of the most consequential wars in our nation's history. Don Rumsfeld has been a superb leader during a time of change. Yet he also appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during a critical period in this war. Don Rumsfeld is a patriot who served our country with honor and distinction. He's a trusted advisor and a friend, and I'm deeply grateful to his service to our country.
I've asked Bob Gates to serve as the Secretary of Defense. Bob is a former director of the CIA and current president of Texas A&M University. If confirmed by the Senate, Bob will bring more than 25 years of national security experience and a stellar reputation as an effective leader with sound judgment. He's served six Presidents from both political parties, and rose from an entry-level employee in the CIA to become the Director of Central Intelligence. During his service at the CIA and at the National Security Council, Bob Gates gained firsthand knowledge that will help him meet the challenges and opportunities our country faces during the next two years. He is serving as a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission. He's a steady, solid leader who can help make the necessary adjustments in our approach to meet our current challenges.
I will have more to say about Secretary Rumsfeld and Bob Gates later today here at the White House.
Amid this time of change, I have a message for those on the front lines. To our enemies: Do not be joyful. Do not confuse the workings of our democracy with a lack of will. Our nation is committed to bringing you to justice. Liberty and democracy are the source of America's strength, and liberty and democracy will lift up the hopes and desires of those you are trying to destroy.
To the people of Iraq: Do not be fearful. As you take the difficult steps toward democracy and peace, America is going to stand with you. We know you want a better way of life, and now is the time to seize it.
To our brave men and women in uniform: Don't be doubtful. America will always support you. Our nation is blessed to have men and women who volunteer to serve, and are willing to risk their own lives for the safety of our fellow citizens.
When I first came to Washington nearly six years ago, I was hopeful I could help change the tone here in the capital. As governor of Texas, I had successfully worked with both Democrats and Republicans to find common-sense solutions to the problems facing our state. While we made some progress on changing the tone, I'm disappointed we haven't made more. I'm confident that we can work together. I'm confident we can overcome the temptation to divide this country between red and blue. The issues before us are bigger than that and we are bigger than that. By putting this election and partisanship behind us, we can launch a new era of cooperation and make these next two years productive ones for the American people.
I appreciate your interest. Now, I'll answer some questions. Terry.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Does the departure of Don Rumsfeld signal a new direction in Iraq? A solid majority of Americans said yesterday that they wanted some American troops, if not all, withdrawn from Iraq. Did you hear that call, and will you heed it?
THE PRESIDENT: Terry, I'd like our troops to come home, too, but I want them to come home with victory, and that is a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. And I can understand Americans saying, come home. But I don't know if they said come home and leave behind an Iraq that could end up being a safe haven for al Qaeda. I don't believe they said that. And so, I'm committed to victory. I'm committed to helping this country so that we can come home.
Now, first part about --
Q A new direction.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, new direction. Well, there's certainly going to be new leadership at the Pentagon. And as I mentioned in my comments, that Secretary Rumsfeld and I agree that sometimes it's necessary to have a fresh perspective, and Bob Gates will bring a fresh perspective. He'll also bring great managerial experience.
And he is -- I had a good talk with him on Sunday in Crawford. I hadn't -- it took me a while to be able to sit down and visit with him, and I did, and I found him to be of like mind. He understands we're in a global war against these terrorists. He understands that defeat is not an option in Iraq. And I believe it's important that there be a fresh perspective, and so does Secretary Rumsfeld.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld will be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this, and how much does it have to do with the election results?
THE PRESIDENT: Right. No, you and Hunt and Keil came in the Oval Office, and Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they're going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.
The truth of the matter is, as well -- I mean, that's one reason I gave the answer, but the other reason why is I hadn't had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn't had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point.
I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspective. He likes to call it fresh eyes. He, himself, understands that Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough. And he and I are constantly assessing. And I'm assessing, as well, all the time, by myself, about, do we have the right people in the right place, or do we -- got the right strategy? As you know, we're constantly changing tactics. And that requires constant assessment.
And so he and I both agreed in our meeting yesterday that it was appropriate that I accept his resignation. And so the decision was made -- actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what I know. But I thought we were going to be fine in the election. My point to you is, is that, win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee.
Let's see here. Bret.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You said you're interested in changing the tone, and committed to changing the tone in Washington. Just a few days before this election, in Texas, you said that Democrats, no matter how they put it, their approach to Iraq comes down to terrorists win, America loses. What has changed today, number one? Number two, is this administration prepared to deal with the level of oversight and investigation that is possibly going to come from one chamber or two in Congress?
THE PRESIDENT: What's changed today is the election is over, and the Democrats won. And now we're going to work together for two years to accomplish big objectives for the country. And secondly, the Democrats are going to have to make up their mind about how they're going to conduct their affairs. And I haven't had a chance to talk with the leadership yet about these issues, but we'll begin consultations with the Democrat leadership starting Thursday and Friday.
Q Mr. President, thank you. You acknowledged that this is a message election on the war in Iraq. And so the American public today, having voted, will want to know what you mean in terms of "course correction on Iraq." And particularly in light of this fact, that last week the Vice President pointed out that you and he aren't running for anything anymore, and that it's "full speed ahead on Iraqi." So which is it? Are you listening to the voters, or are you listening to the Vice President? And what does that mean?
THE PRESIDENT: David, I believe Iraq had a lot to do with the election, but I believe there was other factors, as well. People want their Congress -- congressmen to be honest and ethical. So in some races, that was the primary factor. There were different factors that determined the outcome of different races, but no question, Iraq was on people's minds. And as you have just learned, I am making a change at the Secretary of Defense to bring a fresh perspective as to how to achieve something I think most Americans want, which is a victory.
We will work with members of Congress; we will work with the Baker-Hamilton Commission. My point is, is that while we have been adjusting, we will continue to adjust to achieve the objective. And I believe that's what the American people want.
Somehow it seeped in their conscious that my attitude was just simply "stay the course." "Stay the course" means, let's get the job done, but it doesn't mean staying stuck on a strategy or tactics that may not be working. So perhaps I need to do a better job of explaining that we're constantly adjusting. And so there's fresh perspective -- so what the American people hear today is we're constantly looking for fresh perspective.
But what's also important for the American people to understand is that if we were to leave before the job is done, the country becomes more at risk. That's what the Vice President was saying -- he said, if the job is not complete, al Qaeda will have safe haven from which to launch attacks. These radicals and extremists have made it clear, they want to topple moderate governments to spread their ideology. They believe that it's just a matter of time before we leave so they can implement their strategies. We're just not going to let them do that. We're going to help this government become a government that can defend, govern, and sustain itself, and an ally in the war on terror.
Q The message today is not full speed ahead? Is that right, that it's not --
THE PRESIDENT: We've got another man with the mic, David, please.
Q Mr. President, thank you. Can I just start by asking you to clarify, sir, if, in your meeting with Steve and Terry and Dick, did you know at that point --
THE PRESIDENT: I did not.
Q -- you would be making a change on Secretary Rumsfeld?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I did not. And the reason I didn't know is because I hadn't visited with his replacement -- potential replacement.
Q But you knew he would be leaving, just not who would replace him?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn't know that at the time.
Q Okay. May I ask you about Nancy Pelosi --
THE PRESIDENT: The other thing I did know, as well, is that that kind of question, a wise question by a seasoned reporter, is the kind of thing that causes one to either inject major military decisions at the end of a campaign, or not. And I have made the decision that I wasn't going to be talking about hypothetical troop levels or changes in command structure coming down the stretch.
And I'll tell you why I made that decision. I made that decision because I think it sends a bad signal to our troops if they think the Commander-in-Chief is constantly adjusting tactics and decisions based upon politics. And I think it's important in a time of war that, to the extent possible, we leave politics out of the major decisions being made. And it was the right decision to make, by the way.
And secondly, I hadn't visited with Bob Gates. I told you I visited with him last Sunday in Crawford. You can't replace somebody until you know you got somebody to replace him with. And finally, I hadn't had my last conversation with Secretary Rumsfeld, which I had yesterday.
Q Mr. President, I'd like to ask you, Nancy Pelosi has been quite clear about her agenda for the first 100 hours. She mentions things like raising minimum wage, cutting interest rates on student loans, broadening stem cell research, and rolling back tax cuts. Which of those can you support, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I knew you'd probably try to get me to start negotiating with myself. I haven't even visited with Congresswoman Pelosi yet. She's coming to the Oval Office later this week; I'm going to sit down and talk with her. I believe on a lot of issues we can find common ground. And there's a significant difference between common ground and abandoning principle. She's not going to abandon her principles and I'm not going to abandon mine. But I do believe we have an opportunity to find some common ground to move forward on.
In that very same interview you quoted, one of these three characters asked me about minimum wage. I said, there's an area where I believe we can make some -- find common ground. And as we do, I'll be, of course, making sure that our small businesses are -- there's compensation for the small businesses in the bill.
Q What about tax cuts?
THE PRESIDENT: Keil.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. In our discussion with you last week, which you've referenced here several times -
THE PRESIDENT: Are you bringing this up so everybody else gets kind of jealous? (Laughter.)
Q Certainly. Certainly.
THE PRESIDENT: Like Gregory, for example -- he wishes he were there. (Laughter.)
Q This is a very competitive environment. No, but we asked you about the fate of Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney. Vice President Cheney, of course, has made -- takes many of the same positions that Secretary Rumsfeld did on the war. Does he still have your complete confidence?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he does.
Q Do you expect him to stay --
THE PRESIDENT: The campaign is over. Yes, he does.
Q And he'll be here for the remainder of your term?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he will. Thank you.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes, and as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?
THE PRESIDENT: Suzanne, I've been around politics a long time; I understand when campaigns end, and I know when governing begins. And I am going to work with people of both parties.
Look, people say unfortunate things at times. But if you hold grudges in this line of work, you're never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done. And as I said, I'm going to start visiting with her on Friday, with the idea of coming together.
Look, this was a close election. If you look at race by race, it was close. The cumulative effect, however, was not too close. It was a thumping. But nevertheless, the people expect us to work together. That's what they expect. And as I said in my opening comments, there comes responsibility with victory. And that's what Nancy Pelosi told me this morning. She said in the phone call she wants to work together. And so do I. And so that's how you deal with it.
This isn't -- this isn't my first rodeo. In other words, I haven't -- this is not the first time I've been in a campaign where people have expressed themselves, and in different kinds of ways. But I have learned that if you focus on the big picture, which, in this case, is our nation and issues we need to work together on, you can get stuff done. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act is going to come up for reauthorization. There's an area where we must work together for the sake of our children and for the sake of a competitive America. And I believe we can get a lot done. And I know it's the spirit of the new leadership to try to get a lot done, and I look forward to talking to them about it.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You just described the election results as a "thumping."
THE PRESIDENT: I said the cumulative -- make sure -- who do you write for?
Q The New York Times, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, yes, that's right. (Laughter.) Let's make sure we get it -- the facts. I said that the elections were close; the cumulative effect --
Q Is a thumping.
THE PRESIDENT: -- thumping. (Laughter.)
Q But the results --
THE PRESIDENT: A polite way of saying -- anyway, go ahead. (Laughter.)
Q But the results are being interpreted as a repudiation of your leadership style in some quarters. I wonder what your reaction is to that. And do you -- should we expect a very different White House? Should we expect a very different leadership style from you in these last two years, given that you have a whole new set of partners?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I really haven't -- I'm still going to try to speak plainly about what I think are the important priorities of the country, and winning this war on terror is, by far, the most important priority. And making sure this economy continues to grow is an important priority. And making sure our children have a good education is an important priority.
Obviously, there's a shift in the Congress and, therefore, in order to get legislation passed, we've got to work with the Democrats. They're the ones who will control the committees; they're the ones who will decide how the bills flow. And so you'll see a lot of meetings with Democrats, and a lot of discussion with Democrats.
And in terms of the election, no question Iraq had something to do with it. And it's tough in a time of war when people see carnage on their television screens. The amazing thing about this election, and what surprised me somewhat -- which goes to show I should not try punditry -- is that this economy is strong. And a lot of times, off years are decided by the economy. And yet, obviously there was a different feel out there for the electorate. The economy -- the good news in the economy was overwhelmed by the -- by the toughness of this fight and toughness of the war.
And so, Jim, look, I understand people don't agree -- didn't agree with some of my decisions. I'm going to continue making decisions based upon what I think is right for the country. I've never been one to try to fashion the principles I believe or the decisions I make based upon trying to -- kind of short-term popularity. I do understand where the people -- the heart of the people. I understand they're frustrated. I am, too, as I said the other day. I wish this had gone faster. So does Secretary Rumsfeld. But the reality is, is that it's a tough fight, and we're going to win the fight. And I truly believe the only way we won't win is if we leave before the job is done.
Q May I follow, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I know, terrible principle. I'm sorry.
Q Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: You think I'm nuts? (Laughter.) You think -- you think my sensibility has left me as a result of working hard on the campaign trail, Gregory? (Laughter.)
Q But to follow, we were speaking about the war, and during the campaign, two very different viewpoints of the war came out. You spoke a lot, as Bret mentioned, about what you saw as the Democratic approach to the war, which you were greatly concerned about. Are you worried that you won't be able to work with the Democrats, or do you feel like you have to prevail upon them your viewpoint?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we're going to have to work with them, but -- just like I think we're going to have to work with the Baker-Hamilton Commission. It's very important that the people understand the consequences of failure. And I have vowed to the country that we're not going to fail. We're not going to leave before the job is done. And obviously, we've got a lot of work to do with some members of Congress. I don't know how many members of Congress said, get out right now -- I mean, the candidates running for Congress in the Senate. I haven't seen that chart. Some of the comments I read where they said, well, look, we just need a different approach to make sure we succeed; well, you can find common ground there.
See, if the goal is success, then we can work together. If the goal is, get out now regardless, then that's going to be hard to work together. But I believe the Democrats want to work together to win this aspect of the war on terror.
I'm also looking forward to working with them to make sure that we institutionalize to the extent possible steps necessary to make sure future Presidents are capable of waging this war. Because Iraq is a part of the war on terror, and it's -- I think back to Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Harry Truman began the Cold War, and Eisenhower, obviously, from a different party, continued it. And I would hope that would be the spirit that we're able to work together. We may not agree with every tactic, but we should agree that this country needs to secure ourselves against an enemy that would like to strike us again. This enemy is not going away after my presidency.
And I look forward to working with them. And I truly believe that Congresswoman Pelosi and Harry Reid care just about as much -- they care about the security of this country, like I do. They see -- no leader in Washington is going to walk away from protecting the country. We have different views on how to do that, but their spirit is such that they want to protect America. That's what I believe.
Just like I talked about the troops. I meant what I said. Look, the people that's -- are going to be looking at this election -- the enemy is going to say, well, it must mean America is going to leave. And the answer is, no, that doesn't --- not what it means. Our troops are wondering whether or not they're going to get the support they need after this election. Democrats are going to support our troops just like Republicans will. And the Iraqis have got to understand this election -- as I said, don't be fearful. In other words, don't look at the results of the elections and say, oh, no, America is going to leave us before the job is complete. That's not what's going to happen, Jim.
Yes, sir, Fletcher.
Q Thank you, sir. There's a bill that could come before the lame-duck session of Congress, that would extend voting rights to the District of Columbia, in Congress, and also give an extra seat to Utah. You've been passionate about democracy in Iraq. Why not here in D.C., and would you support this bill?
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't -- it's the first I've heard of it. I didn't know that's going to come up from the lame duck.
Q -- Congressman Davis's bill.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, it may or may not come up. I'm trying to get the Indian deal done, the Vietnam deal done, and the budgets done. But I'll take a look at it. It's the first I've heard of it. Thanks.
Let's see here. Yes, sir.
Q Mr. President, you mentioned the prospect that your successor would be dealing with the war. You'll be making your first trip to Vietnam in roughly a week. Some people are still -- are looking at the war as another Vietnam War. Are they wrong to do so? And if so, why?
THE PRESIDENT: I think they are. I think they are. First of all, Iraq, after the overthrow of the tyrant, voted on a constitution that is intended to unite the whole country. And then they had elections under that constitution where nearly 12 million people voted for this unity government. Secondly -- which is different from Vietnam.
Secondly, in terms of our troops, this is a volunteer army. Vietnam wasn't a volunteer army, as you know. And in this volunteer army, the troops understand the consequences of Iraq and the global war on terror. That's why re-enlistment rates are up, and that's why enlistment is high.
Thirdly, the support for our troops is strong here in the United States, and it wasn't during the Vietnam era. So I see differences, I really do. And you hear all the time, well, this may be a civil war. Well, I don't believe it is, and the Maliki government doesn't believe it is. Zal, our Ambassador, doesn't believe it is. But we've got to make sure it isn't by implementing a strategy which helps -- a politics strategy which helps unify the country, and a security strategy that makes sure that the Iraqis are better capable of fighting off the extremists and the radicals that want to stop progress in Iraq.
So I don't think it is a parallel.
Q Thank you, sir. During this campaign season some religious conservatives expressed support and appreciation for the work you've done. But some also expressed that they felt like they expended a lot of effort on your behalf without a lot of results. I wonder if you could tell us what parts of their agenda are still on your radar screen, and if you think they're right to be frustrated? And also, Mr. President, may I ask you if you have any metrics you'd be willing to share about your reading contest with Mr. Rove.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm losing. I obviously was working harder in the campaign than he was. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: He's a faster reader. You know, Michael, I must confess I cannot catalogue for you in detail the different criticisms. In this line of work you get criticized from all sides. And that's okay, it's just part of the job. And so I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about, but I can tell you that I believe the faith-based and community-based -- the faith- and community-based initiative is a vital part of helping solve intractable problems here in America. And I would hope that I could work with Congress to make sure this program, which has been invigorated, remains invigorated.
And the reason why I believe in it so much is that there are just some problems that require something other than government help, and it requires people who have heard a call to help somebody in need. And I believe we ought to open up grants to competitive bidding for these types of organizations, and we have done that. And it's very important that that program stay strong.
But, you know, Michael, you're probably following all these -- the different lists of concerns people have with my presidency, and I respect that. I just -- frankly, I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about in this question. I'm sure there are some people who aren't perfectly content, but there are some people that aren't perfectly content from different parties and different philosophies. All I know to do is to make decisions based upon principles that I believe are important, and now work with Democrat leaders in the Congress because they control the committees and they control the flow of bills. And I'm going to do that for the good of the country.
Let's see here -- yes, McKinnon.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. If you had any do-overs to do --
THE PRESIDENT: You don't get to do them. (Laughter.)
Q Or if Mr. Rove had any do-overs to do in this --
THE PRESIDENT: You don't get do-overs. Anyway, go ahead.
Q Well, what would they be? I mean, are there any tactical -- (laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Look -- yes, well -- I, frankly, haven't analyzed the election nearly as much as some of you have. You know, again, I think when you really look close at the results -- first of all, there's a lot of close elections. No question Iraq had an impact. But it's hard to win an election when you're trying to win a write-off -- a write-in campaign in our state of Texas. I mean, you could have the greatest positions in the world on issues and be the most articulate person on an issue, but to try to get -- to win on a write-in is really hard to do.
We had the race in Florida, the Foley seat. That's a hard race to win in a Republican district because people couldn't vote directly for the Republican candidate. And all I'm telling you, John, is that there's a -- when you dig into the races, there's a -- look, I had to go down to Houston, in Sugar Land, and act as the Secretary of State: Take your pencil into the box and then write it in. And my only -- the reason I bring that up is, I'm not sure Iraq had much to do with the outcome of that election.
Now, it certainly did in other places. One of the interesting observations I had from last night was that if you take a look at New York State, Senator Clinton ran a very strong race, but she ran a race that appeared to me to be on -- just a Senate race. She wanted to show people she had the capacity to help others win. And the same thing happened in Pennsylvania with Governor Rendell. He ran a very strong race, as did Senator-elect Casey. And my only point to you is, is that I'm sure Iraq had something to do with the voters' mind, but so did a very strong turnout mechanism in those two important states.
So they're just going to have to analyze all the different results. As far as do-overs, talk to them.
Q Americans have heard it before, there's going to be cooperation, we're going to get along. What can you do to show Americans that there -- that you'll stop and avoid any gridlock? Because they've seen it come anyway.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had some pretty good success early on in this administration. We got the No Child Left Behind Act passed, which was an important part of bipartisan legislation. We got some tax cuts passed with Democrat votes.
Let me --
Q -- partisan --
THE PRESIDENT: I know you're anxious, but -- but so we've just now got to show people we're capable of doing it. You're right, people are skeptical. And the way you defeat skepticism is perform. And I was very pleased with my conversation with Congresswoman Pelosi. It was a very gracious conversation, and -- albeit a little early in the morning, I must confess, but nevertheless, it was a good one. And my fault as I was the person who initiated the call.
But I do believe we can get some things done. I think we can set an agenda -- I hope so. I hope so. I didn't come to Washington just to occupy the office. I came to get some positive things done on behalf of the country. And there are some big issues we got to deal with. No Child Left Behind is one. Entitlements, that's going to be an interesting issue to try to deal with. And it's going to be very important in entitlements for people to feel comfortable about bringing ideas to the table -- people being Republicans and Democrats. If we do not have Republicans and Democrats at the table for entitlements, nothing is going to happen.
And, therefore, I instructed Secretary Paulson to reach out to folks on the Hill to see if we can't at least get a dialogue started that will enable us, hopefully, to move forward on a very important issue that will affect this country for a long time if we don't solve it, and that is the unfunded liabilities inherent in these entitlement programs.
We need to continue to talk about energy. Dependency upon foreign oil is a national security and economic security problem, and it's a problem that requires bipartisan cooperation. I know the Democrats are concerned about this issue, as am I.
So, in other words, there's areas where I believe we can get some important things done. And to answer your question, though, how do we convince Americans that we're able to do it? Do it. That's how you do it. You get something done. You actually sit down, work together, and I sign legislation that we all agree on. And my pledge today is I'll work hard to try to see if we can't get that done.
Q I wanted to ask you about the thumpin' you took at yesterday's rodeo. You said you were disappointed, you were surprised --
THE PRESIDENT: There you go. Rutenberg, you notice that? Taking one --
Q And that was thumpin' without a "g," correct? I just want to make sure we have it right for the transcript. (Laughter.) You said you were surprised, you didn't see it coming, you were disappointed in the outcome. Does that indicate that after six years in the Oval Office, you're out of touch with America for something like this kind of wave to come and you not expect it? And on a somewhat related note, does Nancy Pelosi look much like Bob Bullock to you?
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) That's an inside joke, I'm not commenting on it.
Secondly, I'm an optimistic person, is what I am. And I knew we were going to lose seats, I just didn't know how many.
Q How could you not know that and not be out of touch?
THE PRESIDENT: You didn't know it, either.
Q A lot of polls showed it.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there was a -- I read those same polls, and I believe that -- I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it's time for us to move on.
Q Mr. President, you mentioned entitlements, and one of the big hot-button issues for the Democratic Party is Social Security and the idea of partial privatization, which you have talked about. And I wonder if there's anything in your agenda in that way that you're willing to adjust in the spirit of bipartisanship or back off from, given how important that is to the core of the Democratic Party?
THE PRESIDENT: I told -- Ken, I told Hank Paulson to tell the members that we'd sit down and we'd listen to everybody's ideas. I put out my ideas, as you recall, I think in the State of the Union last time. And we want to hear their ideas. And hopefully out of this concept of folks sitting around a table sharing ways forward, that we will come up with a commonality; that we are able to then say to the American people, we've helped solve this problem.
But this is a tough issue. Look, I fully understand how hard it is. Social Security -- people are generally risk-adverse when it comes time to Social Security. My problem with that is, is that the longer you wait, the more difficult the issue is going to become. And some will keep pushing it. And hopefully we can get something done.
Q A little earlier you said that you truly believe that the Democratic leaders care about the security of this country as much as you do. Yet just about at every campaign stop you expressed pretty much the opposite. You talked about them having a different mind-set --
THE PRESIDENT: I did.
Q -- about having a different philosophy, about waiting -- about being happy that America gets attacked before responding.
THE PRESIDENT: What did you just say, "happy"?
Q You said they will be satisfied to see America --
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn't say, "happy." Let's make sure.
Q You left that impression, forgive me.
THE PRESIDENT: With you. Go ahead.
Q Well, I'm wondering, looking back at the campaign, and previous campaigns, do you think that it's been harder to pull the country together after the election by making such partisan attacks about national security?
THE PRESIDENT: Richard, I do believe they care about the security. I don't -- I thought they were wrong not making sure our professionals had the tools, and I still believe that. I don't see how you can protect the country unless you give these professionals tools. They just have a different point of view. That doesn't mean they don't want America to get attacked [sic]. That's why I said what I said.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. On immigration, many Democrats had more positive things to say about your comprehensive proposal than many Republicans did. Do you think a Democratic Congress gives you a better shot at comprehensive immigration reform?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I should have brought this up. I do. I think we have a good chance. Thank you. It's an important issue and I hope we can get something done on it. I meant to put that in my list of things that we need to get done.
I would hope Republicans have recognized that we've taken very strong security measures to address one aspect of comprehensive immigration reform. And I was talking to Secretary Chertoff today; he thinks that these measures we're taking are beginning to have measurable effects, and that catch and release has virtually been ended over the past couple of months. And that's positive.
And that's what some members were concerned about prior to advancing a comprehensive bill. In other words, they said, show me progress on the border, and then we'd be interested in talking about other aspects. Well, there's progress being made on the border in terms of security, and I would hope we can get something done. It's a vital issue. It's an issue that -- there's an issue where I believe we can find some common ground with the Democrats.
Q What are the odds for a guest worker provision?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's got to be an integral part of a comprehensive plan. When you're talking comprehensive immigration reform, one part of it is a guest worker program, where people can come on a temporary basis to do jobs Americans are not doing. I've always felt like that would be an important aspect of securing the border. In other words, if somebody is not trying to sneak in in the first place, it makes -- decreases the work load on our Border Patrol, and lets the Border Patrol focused on drugs and guns and terrorists. But that's a -- I appreciate you bringing that up. I should have remembered it.
Listen, thank you all very much for your time. I appreciate your interest.
Defense Secretary Nominee Boasts Strong Intelligence Background
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2006 – President Bush’s nominee to succeed Donald H. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense brings more than a quarter century of experience in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council to the table.
Bush announced today that he and Rumsfeld agreed the timing is right for a change in leadership at the Pentagon.
When he was sworn in as director of central intelligence under President George H.W. Bush in November 1991, Gates, now president of Texas A&M University, was the first career CIA officer to rise from an entry-level position to the director’s post. He served four presidents during his 26-year career, which included nine years on the National Security Council.
Gates, 63, is a native of Wichita, Kan. After graduating from the College of William and Mary in 1965, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1966 and a PhD. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in 1974.
He is a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission, which was formed in March to study the war in Iraq and make policy recommendations to Congress and the executive branch. The commission’s report is expected to be published next month.
Gates’s nomination will require Senate confirmation.
“If confirmed by the Senate, Bob will bring more than 25 years of national security experience and a stellar reputation as an effective leader with sound judgment," Bush said at a White House news conference in which he announced his intention to nominate Gates for the Pentagon’s top post.
“During his service at the CIA and at the National Security Council Bob Gates gained firsthand knowledge that will help him meet the challenges and opportunities that our country faces during the next two years,” Bush said. “He is a steady, solid leader who can help make the necessary adjustments in our approach to meet our current challenges.”
Bush said he had talked with Gates at the president’s Crawford, Texas, ranch on Sunday. “I found him to be of like mind,” the president said. “He understands we're in a global war against these terrorists. He understands that defeat is not an option in Iraq.”
(American Forces Press Service correspondent Jim Garamone contributed to this report.)
KRONIK: DEN OFFENSIVE UDENRIGSPOLITIK VIL FORTSÆTTE
Kronik af udenrigsminister Per Stig Møller i Berlingske Tidende den 16. november 2006.
INDFLYDELSE. Hvordan fremmer vi internationalt fred, fordragelighed, menneskerettigheder, demokrati og samhandel? For et lille land som Danmark er svaret internationalt samarbejde i stærke og effektive organisationer - først og fremmest EU. Men der er også brug for selvstændige danske initiativer.
Formålet med en udenrigspolitik er at sikre, at et land kan føre den indenrigspolitik, det selv vil. Metoderne hertil må naturligvis skifte i takt med, at omverdenen og trusselsbilledet forandrer sig, og nye muligheder opstår.
Det gjaldt for 50 år siden, for fem år siden, da regeringen kom til, og det gælder i dag. Men rammerne har ændret sig: I 60erne forankrede udenrigsminister Per Hækkerup dansk udenrigspolitik i det nordiske samarbejde, NATO, FN og de europæiske samlingsbestræbelser. Dengang bestod hovedproblemet i Den Kolde Krig, og truslen kom fra Sovjetunionen. Dengang var statsmagten suveræn inden for sit eget område, og konflikter stod mellem stater. I dag kommer konflikterne fra militser uden for regeringskontrol og transnationale terrorgrupper. Dengang var forhandlingsforløb styret af regeringerne og rimeligt forudsigelige, og stater forventedes at overholde aftaler. I dag kan staterne ikke vide, om en militant bevægelse vil bryde den fred, staten forudsætter. Dengang kunne man forhandle med »fjenden«. I dag kan en sådan forhandling ikke finde sted, for de totalitære islamister forhandler ikke. De vil have det hele for at ensrette alt. Med dem er intet kompromis muligt.
Religionen var ingen væsentlig politisk faktor i 1960erne, men det er den så sandelig nu. For at ruste sig til globaliseringen vil Udenrigsministeriet derfor styrke sproguddannelserne og indsigten i kulturer og religioner, hvis konfliktpotentiale alt for længe har været undervurderet i den vestlige verden. Dertil kommer midler til at fremme eksporten og til at oprette nye ambassader og brohoveder.
Miljøproblemet kom også på dagsordenen i 1970erne, men først i 1992 lykkedes det på FN-mødet i København FN at nå til enighed om de reduktioner, der gerne skal lukke ozonhullet. Klimaproblemet, som VK-regeringen gør en stor indsats for at finde internationale løsninger på, vil uløst føre til folkevandringer og bortskyllede ø-samfund. Energiproblemet er kommet til og er blevet sikkerhedspolitik, fordi Europa har gjort sig alt for afhængig af alt for få energikilder og alt for få energileverandører, der kan skrue op og ned for Europas varmeapparater, som det udenrigspolitisk måtte være opportunt.
Til denne inkomplette liste kan føjes de nye kommunikationskanaler og -midler, som på et splitsekund kan bringe oplysninger fra den ene verdensdel til den anden og sætte brand i ambassader og flag.
Og hvad stiller vi så op med det? Hvordan sikrer udenrigspolitikken på kort og langt sigt den indenrigspolitiske fred og frihed? Hvordan fremmer vi internationalt fred, fordragelighed, menneskerettigheder, demokrati og samhandel, som alt sammen skal bidrage til at demontere alle de bomber og landminer, som ligger foran os?
Disse problemer har regeringen arbejdet med fra starten. For et lille land som Danmark er svaret internationalt samarbejde i stærke og effektive organisationer - først og fremmest EU. Men der er også brg for selvstændige danske initiativer. Netop fordi den største langsigtede trussel kommer fra begivenheder og bevægelser i Mellemøsten, satte vi straks Mellemøstpolitikken ned på, hvad jeg kaldte »to ben«. Den første dag, vi i 2002 havde formandskabet i EU, lancerede vi Køreplanen for Fred, som blev endosseret af Mellemøstkvartetten i august samme år og lidt senere af Sikkerhedsrådet. Vi fortsatte denne indsats i 2003 med lanceringen af »Det arabiske Initiativ«, som skal bidrage til at styrke reform- og fremskridtskræfterne i den muslimske verden for dermed at klippe græsset under fødderne på de totalitære islamister. På baggrund af dette initiativ blev Danmark i 2005 inviteret med i G8-landenes »Forum for the Future« med de arabiske lande, hvis formål er at fremme demokrati i denne verden. Og vi er atter i år inviteret til mødet, som næste måned holdes i Jordan.
Vi søgte ind i FNs Sikkerhedsråd og har haft pladsen i 2005 og 2006. På denne post har vi fortsat bestræbelserne for at fremme fred, frihed og den internationale retsorden. Blot fra de seneste måneder kan jeg nævne vores indsats for at få opbygget en Fredsopbygningskommission, som søsattes i juni under vores formandskab i Sikkerhedsrådet. Vi gjorde den internationale retsorden til tema for Sikkerhedsrådets drøftelse i juni, og vi var i sommer medarkitekter på Sikkerhedsrådets resolutioner om Nordkorea og Libanon, ligesom vi var medansvarlige for, at Sikkerhedsrådet i september havde en særlig drøftelse af hele Mellemøstproblematikken. Den uge sluttede endda med, at USAs udenrigsminister Condoleezza Rice og jeg indbød Sikkerhedsrådets medlemmer samt en række afrikanske og arabiske lande til at drøfte situationen i Darfur for at få sat skub i en løsning. Denne lader desværre stadig vente på sig, men vi bruger alle diplomatiske midler for at fastholde verdenssamfundet på ansvaret for at beskytte befolkningen i Darfur.
I Sikkerhedsrådet påtog vi os formandskabet for anti-terrorkomiteen, fordi vi anser terroren med dens bagvedliggende ideologi og mål for den største trussel mod en fredelig fremtid. Og fordi skrækscenariet er terrorgrupper eller jihad-stater med masseødelæggelsesvåben, har vi påtaget os formandskabet for det verdensomspændende missilteknologisamarbejde, der skal forhindre, at den slags kommer i forkerte hænder.
Både gennem EU og via direkte kontakter gør vi alt for at få WTO-forhandlingerne tilbage på sporet, eftersom en løsning haster. WTO er en væsentlig faktor til løsning af handelskonflikter og fremme af den økonomiske udvikling, som skal løfte de svage ud af fattigdommen.
Og vi har siden 2001 styrket vores samarbejde med og forhold til USA. Vi deler grundværdier og mål. Vi kan være uenige i det konkrete, men er enige i det generelle og overordnede. For at styrke forbindelserne mellem EU og USA har vi fremsat 39 konkrete forslag, hvoraf nogle er sat i søen og andre har længere udsigter. Dette gælder f.eks. forslaget om oprettelsen af en transatlantisk frihandelszone (NATA, North Atlantic Trade Association) som supplement til vores grundlæggende sikkerhedsorganisation NATO.
Vi arbejder således offensivt såvel bilateralt som multilateralt. Og vores væsentligste multilaterale forum er selvfølgelig EU. Vi ligger nu engang i Europa og deler skæbne med Europa. Og Europa må stå stærkere på den internationale scene, end tilfældet er i dag. Som Jordans prins Hassan sagde til mig forleden under sit besøg ved Nordisk Råd, opfatter mange Europa som »payers, not players«! Desværre er den foreslåede traktat endnu ikke kommet igennem, selv om den ville betyde forbedringer bl.a. på det udenrigspolitiske område. Men Danmark er klar og deltager aktivt i arbejdet på at styrke, fremme og udvide et EU, som ikke alene forbedrer hverdagene, økonomien og beskæftigelsen for borgerne, men også er den sikreste garant for langsigtet fred i Europa. For selv om alt ser fredeligt ud i Europa, så er der altså nok af trusler, som kræver fælles indsats, f.eks. inden for miljøet, energien, terrorbekæmpelsen, støtten til fredsprocesserne og til den økonomiske udvikling på den anden side Middelhavet. For nok er det godt, at vi selv gør noget, men det batter jo først for alvor, når EU også gør noget. Og EUs vægt i verden er blevet endnu større efter udvidelsen fra 15 til 25 lande under dansk formandskab i 2002.
Det er i det hele taget ikke nok bare at have alle de rigtige meninger og holdninger. De skal følges op af handlinger, hvis de skal stå til troende. Som det skete, da Folketinget vedtog at gå med i Irak i 1998, Kosovo i 1999, Afghanistan i 2002, Irak i 2003, hvor Saddam Hussein ikke længere skulle have lov til at blæse på FNs Sikkerhedsråd. Det er klart, at situationen i Irak er vanskelig. Men jeg har ikke hørt noget troværdigt bud på et alternativ til fortsat at følge opfordringen fra FN og fra Iraks demokratisk valgte regering til at hjælpe landet videre.
Regeringen har netop offentliggjort skriftet »Den grænseløse verden - Udenrigsministeriet og globaliseringen«, hvori vi analyserer både muligheder og faresignaler og anviser, hvordan udenrigspolitikken og udenrigstjenesten skal geares til at gribe chancerne og afmontere farerne.
Vi har analyseret truslerne, udfordringerne og mulighederne for i tide at udvikle de rette midler til at forhindre de første og gribe de sidste. Det er, hvad en offensiv udenrigspolitik drejer sig om. Det er den, vi har ført de første fem år, og også vil følge i fremtiden.
Redigeret 16. november 2006
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