Remarks by Vice President Biden in a Joint Statement with Prime Minister Fischer
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: It's an honor to be with you, and an honor to be in this magnificent city of Prague. It's been a while since I've been here, and I'm delighted to be back, particularly on what is essentially a historic anniversary. It's been five years since the Czech Republic joined the European Union, 10 years since its association with NATO, and 20 years since the Velvet Revolution, which literally -- literally inspired the world.
As Prime Minister Fischer indicated -- and as we were walking down, I think he agrees we had a very good -- we had a very good meeting, and a very good discussion. And while we paid tribute to the past, we spent the bulk of our time talking about the present, and about the future.
One of the high points of my career as a United States Senator, where I served for over 36 years, was being the leader in the Senate on the expansion of NATO to include Central Europe, particularly the Czech Republic. I told the Prime Minister that the Czech Republic has validated every argument I was making back then. You've made me look very, very good in retrospect, Mr. Prime Minister, your country has. There were skeptics then. I know of none now. We see that every day in our relationships. We see that every day in Afghanistan, where our troops are serving side by side, where you are running a provincial reconstruction team in the Logar province, where you are training Afghani police, and where you will soon send back a special operations unit.
And as a parent of one who has served in Iraq and overseas for a year, let me say on behalf of the President of the United States, and me, personally -- to the parents, the husbands, the wives, the children of those deployed Czech forces -- we appreciate the sacrifice that you are making -- not just the troops, but the families. A famous Englishman once said, they who serve -- "also serve who stand and wait." So our appreciation goes out to the parents, the husbands, the wives, and the children of those deployed forces. We want you to know how grateful we are for the service and sacrifice of your troops -- your children, your husbands, your fathers -- and the burdens that that deployment places upon them.
I'm also pleased to return to the site where President Obama made his first trip to Europe, where he demonstrated again America's commitment to the transatlantic relationship and alliance and to a strong Europe, by attending the special summit with a -- with 27 E.U. leaders, and where he laid out America's vision for the world without nuclear weapons. The Prime Minister and I talked about NATO’s commitment to produce a new strategic concept, which will adapt our alliance to the threats of the 21st century, to the 21st century.
Ladies and gentlemen, I urged the Prime Minister to make sure that the final product has a distinctly Czech accent. I know it will, by the way, because one of our great former Secretaries of State, Madeleine Albright, is chairing the experts' committee that will advise NATO on this critical strategy, and she always speaks from her heart with a Czech accent.
One of the new threats to our common security comes from the spread of ballistic missiles, a growing number of which now can reach Europe. The Czech Republic stepped up and did their part in the previous missile defense plan, and today we discussed the potential role the Czech Republic could play in a new architecture, a better architecture -- an architecture that has the capacity to actually protect Europe and is not just focused on the United States of America.
And I'm very appreciative of the Prime Minister's statement to me that the Czech Republic is ready to be a part of that new architecture, and discuss the terms of this -- that this participation will take. He affirmed to me that this is a very important project for Europe, and we appreciate that, and are looking forward to working with him and the government.
A high-level defense team will come to Prague in early November to discuss this as well as defense cooperation in a range of areas. The new missile defense program is designed to meet existing threats in Europe with proven technology that will cover more of Europe, including the Czech Republic, more effectively than the previous system could have done. It also strengthens NATO's defenses against future, more advanced missile threats.
We also discussed energy security, where the Czech Republic has been a leader in Europe. And we appreciate Prague's efforts to promote greater interconnectivity for the E.U.'s gas and electric networks, greater diversification of supply and routes, including the pipeline -- the Nabucco pipeline project -- and we discussed the venture, the effort for you to diversify in the nuclear area as well.
I told the Prime Minister how much we appreciate -- and I mean it sincerely -- the Czech Republic’s leadership, which goes to the heart of our future security and our prosperity.
As you celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, Mr. Prime Minister, I think it's important for you to understand, because you were in the middle of it, all of you, and I don't think you can fully appreciate how much you inspired the world at the moment. And I hope you appreciate and understand that there are -- you are the model. You are the model as I travel through Eastern Europe -- as I travel to Ukraine and Georgia and other places, you are the model for democracy that they look to. And I am confident with your leadership you will help them on that journey as they make their journey toward a full democracy.
And I thank the Prime Minister for hosting our delegation, for the quality of our conversation, and for the great weather he arranged today. (Laughter.) I appreciate it very, very much.
So I genuinely appreciate it, Mr. Prime Minister, and I look forward to continue to work with you.