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Friends, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is obviously a very difficult time for all of us. The horrible images that were broadcast around the world from New York and Washington will, I think, stay with us as long as we live. We are, as President Bush has said, suddenly confronted by evil -- the very worst of human nature.
And also by tragedy -- by the knowledge that thousands of lives have been suddenly ended -- and that tens of thousands of others -- their friends, parents, siblings and children -- will be forever marked by the loss of a loved one.
This is not just America's tragedy -- there were citizens of 26 different nations in the World Trade Center on Tuesday.
So many of us know someone who may be lost. The horror can quickly become personal. One of my closest friends in college died some years ago at a young age.
He and his wife had a son -- their lives revolved around him. He was on the 104th floor. When we talk about thousands of casualties, we are really talking about thousands of individuals, each with their own story.
I had prepared a speech today about the transAtlantic relationship. I had planned to focus on the many, complex issues that we deal with in our daily work here in Brussels. This is indeed a very complicated, multi-faceted relationship, and I don't want to minimize the necessity of continually working through the many problems, disputes, and simple little irritations that took up so much of my working hours here.
However, a tragedy like this has a capacity to concentrate the mind on what is really important. So I've decided to put aside that speech, and talk instead about not only what I believe really matters about this relationship -- but the reasons why it is worth working hard to nourish and build upon it.
I -- and indeed everyone at the US Mission -- have been overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and support we have received over the last few days. The official support of course has been outstanding: the extraordinary sessions of the General Affairs Council, the Commission, and the Parliament, the rapid pledges of expert assistance, and then last night's NATO decision to invoke Article 5 -- all point to the deep wellsprings of friendship between the US and the European Union.
Just as important though has been the extraordinary outpouring of personal support. All of us at the Mission have received numerous calls from friends and acquaintances, and even from many we don't even know.
This sense of solidarity is going to be extremely important in the coming months. I know no more about who or what motivated this terrible crime than any of you. But several things are already clear:
First, although these terrorists' proximate target was the United States, their real enemy is ultimately a whole way of life -- a society based upon democracy, freedom of expression, and the rule of law -- in short the principles that are at the core of everything that we in America and Europe hold to be essential.
Second, these terrorists are convinced that America and Europe can be cowed by violence -- that rather than stay the course and refuse to yield to intimidation, we will abandon our principles and step back from the role we must play in the world.
Third, they are seeking to drive a wedge in our alliance, hoping that we will be unable to muster the resolve to carry out a concentrated, long-term effort to eliminate this threat.
I have no illusions about the difficulty of this challenge, but we will prevail. We are doing and will continue to do everything we can to track down those responsible for this terrible crime. With the assistance of our friends and allies, we will be able to put a formidable range of expertise and resources into this struggle.
I leave Brussels with a great sense of confidence in the ability of the transatlantic relationship to meet this new test. I was moved by President Prodi's words yesterday, when he said that, "In the darkest hours of European history, the Americans stood by us. We stand by them now."
What underlies this statement is something that we all too easily forget in our day-to-day management of US-EU relations -- the fact that this is much more than just an economic relationship. Yes, the economics are important. The figures that we quote so often -- $1 trillion in investment, a billion dollars a day in trade, the millions of job created -- confer immense benefits on our societies.
But too often, we gloss over the range of values and interests we share. Too often, we throw out a ritual line or two in a speech about our common values, before launching into lengthy criticisms of one another on our policy differences. The result is a focus on our disputes and differences rather than on commonalties.
This is wrong. In fact, my personal experience in working with so many Europeans during these last two years in Brussels is how well the US and the EU can work together when we put our minds to it. I have sat down across the table with the Commission on dozens of different issues -- many such as hushkits, GMOs [genetically modified organisms], and bananas, you know about, others you never heard about. And invariably we emerged with a great deal of mutual respect, and many real, long-lasting friendships.
No, we haven't yet solved every issue. Yes, there are some real structural and political constraints on both of us. But the disputes are simply the exceptions by which we define the enormous scope of our cooperation. In my personal experience, the key to resolving disputes has been getting each side to rise above the minutiae of an issue and focus on what are our ultimate societal objectives. That is where the commonalties are.
This is as true of our security as our economic relationship. Look at our growing success in working together in the Balkans, where since the conflict in Kosovo our cooperation has been excellent on a whole range of issues.
Look at the recent NATO and EU cooperation in southern Serbia and Macedonia. Why have we worked so well together? Because our common interests and values there were so obvious that we got beyond our worries about the theory and agreed on the practice. And it works.
Look, too, at how hard [EU Trade Commissioner] Pascal Lamy and [U.S. Trade Representative] Bob Zoellick are working to hopefully lead the world toward the launch of a new WTO Round in Doha. They recognize that the WTO [World Trade Organization] plays a vital role in the world economy, and that only the US and Europe can demonstrate the leadership needed to win world consensus on a new round.
The result is a renewed sense of common purpose that does not ignore our differences, but one that will allow us to rise above them. As a result, we have also been able to solve several bilateral cases and successfully manage others. A year ago, who in Brussels or Washington would have predicted that trade would become one of the bright stars in our relations?
I don't want to minimize the differences. Just put them in context. As Tuesday's horrific events remind us, there are those who are not interested in little differences of process. They have fundamentally different values, different objectives, and have no scruples about taking thousands of innocent human lives in pursuit of their goal.
So if I may be permitted one parting word of advice to both sides, it is this: we need to recognize that the US-EU partnership requires special care, particularly in what is after all its early stages. Remember, we are talking about something very different from the sum total of the US bilateral relationships with the 15 EU member states.
As is true of all partners, we have to constantly work on the relationship. We can have disagreements on issues, but we need to effectively communicate our positions, have real dialogue, recognize each other's interests and come up with alternatives.
It will also require thinking creatively about how to ensure that the relationship, as it grows and changes, continues to deliver on its full potential. There are lots of ideas out there (maybe they are good ideas, maybe not) -- Gordon Brown's call for a transatlantic marketplace or Henry Kissinger's new book talks about the need to revamp the relationship, reviving the idea of a Transatlantic Free Trade Area are only two out of an array of possibilities worth thinking about. The key is that we remember our special importance to each other and act on that knowledge.
As is particularly obvious at this moment, the US is not just another "third country" for the EU. Likewise, the EU is no longer just a group of sovereign countries acting as a trading block. We are big and important and special for each other. Let's take the time and effort to give this partnership the space in which it will flourish.
Next Friday, I will leave Brussels, and the US Mission, and return to private life in Boston. Ironically I will be flying into Logan airport, the very airport from which took off the two planes that hit the World Trade Center. Tuesday's tragedy is -- for me personally -- an indescribably sad ending to what has been a truly extraordinary experience here in Brussels.
I leave nevertheless with a great sense of pride in what we have accomplished over the last two years, and gratitude to all those who have made this an unforgettable personal and professional experience.
I will certainly continue to follow very closely the progress of this great transatlantic relationship -- participate and offer my assistance in any way I can. But I also have great confidence that there is a firm structure in place to continue to nurture our relationship.
Rockwell Schnabel -- who has been nominated as my successor and whom I have already met and spoken to many times -- will bring a wealth of government and private sector experience to the position. I know that you will treat him as graciously as you have me, and I hope his and your continued efforts will be crowned with success. Thank you.
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