Today the Vice President is on the second day of a three-day trip through Central Europe, where he is visiting Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic. The trip comes on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – and the subsequent collapse of communist dictatorships across Central Europe. The autumn of 1989 was a remarkable season of change, when history moved with lightning speed as the men and women of the region broke free from decades of oppression.
Few could have imagined then that in just 20 years, the nations of the region would become stable democracies and would be full members of both NATO and the European Union. But they are, thanks to a lot of visionary leaders in Central Europe, and the help and support of the United States and the nations of Western Europe.
The Vice President is in the region not only to celebrate the tremendous progress that the region has made in the last two decades, but also focus on the future -- to reaffirm our alliance and partnership with these countries, and to challenge them to continue to play an increasing leadership role in Europe and on the world stage. He believes that their experience is particularly relevant to other nations in transition to democracy.
He is also talking to the political leaders in each country about our shared agenda, including the situation in Afghanistan, and the new European-based missile defense system that the President announced last month. That system is designed to meet the growing threat to Europe and U.S. forces based there from the threat of medium range missiles from Iran.
The Vice President gave a speech today at the Central University Library in Bucharest, the scene of heavy fighting in December 1989 when the Romanian people brought down the Ceausescu regime – the most brutal dictatorship in Europe. At our request, the U.S. Embassy in Romania invited not only local students, but also top diplomats from 10 countries in the region. They met with the Vice President after his speech. This afternoon, General James Jones, the President’s National Security Adviser, will meet in the Roosevelt Room with diplomats from those same countries.
Tony Blinken is National Security Advisor to the Vice President