George W. Bush was in the Baltics today addressing the people. His talk was on freedom and opportunity, a theme that will forever be associated with him.
RIGA, Latvia (AP) – President Bush on Saturday saluted the leaders of fledgling democracies in three Baltic nations that endured Soviet oppression for half a century, and said they could help Russian President Vladimir Putin see the benefits of living in a free society.
“I will continue to speak as clearly as I can to President Putin that it’s in his country’s interests that there be democracies on his borders,” Bush said at a news conference with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
“We recognize your painful history,” Bush said.
Bush’s decision to visit the Latvian capital and Georgia on his trip to Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany prompted a letter of protest from Moscow, which viewed it as meddling in Russia’s backyard.
“The idea of countries helping others become free, I hope that would be viewed as not revolutionary, but rational foreign policy, as decent foreign policy, as humane foreign policy,” Bush said.
He said the Baltics set an example for other countries emerging from tyrannies and oppressive governments.
“You rank very high as far as I’m concerned in the freedom movement,” he said.