Thursday, November 8, 2007

Speech by Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic before the Congress of the United States of America

I want to start by telling you something: For France, friendship first and foremost means being true to one's friends, to one's values, to one's history. France is the friend of the United States of America. It's not just the President of France who is talking, I am only the mouthpiece of the people of France.

Since the United States first appeared on the world scene, our two peoples - the American people and the French people - have always been friends. The hardships our two countries have undergone have strengthened this friendship.

Friends may have differences; they may have disagreements; they may have disputes as families do.

But in times of difficulty, in times of hardship, friends stand together, side by side; they support each other and help one another.

In times of difficulty, in times of hardship, America and France have always stood side by side, supported one another, helped one another and fought for each other's freedom.

The United States and France remain true to the memory of their common history. It is our duty to remain true to the blood spilled by their children in common battles on both sides of the Atlantic. But the United States and France are not merely two nations true to the memory of what they accomplished together in the past. The United States and France are two nations that remain true to the same ideal, that defend the same principles, that believe in the same values.

The American dream. From the very beginning, this American dream meant putting into practice what the Old World had merely dreamed of building.

The American dream. From the very beginning, from its origins, this American dream meant proving to all mankind that freedom, justice, human rights and democracy were no utopia but rather the most realistic policy there is and the most likely to improve the fate of each and every person.

America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who - with their hands, their intelligence and their hearts - built the greatest nation in the world: Come, and everything will be given to you. She said: Come, and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent. The America we love throughout the world is the country that has this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance, since in America, failure is never definitive.

Here, in your country, in this land, the humblest and most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. This is what constitutes the moral value of America. America did not teach men the idea of freedom. America taught them how to practice it. And she fought for this freedom whenever she felt it threatened. It was by watching America grow that men and women understood that freedom was possible. And this is what gives you a special responsibility.

What made America great was her ability to transform her dream, the American dream, into hope for all mankind.

America liberated us. It's an eternal debt. And as President of the French Republic, it's my duty to tell the people of America, whom you represent in your diversity, that France will never forget the sacrifice of your children, and to tell the families of those who never returned, the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, that France's gratitude is permanent.

On behalf of my generation, which did not experience war, on behalf of our children who will always remember, to all the veterans here today and, notably the seven I had the honor to decorate yesterday evening, one of whom, Senator Inouye, belongs to your Congress, I want to express the French people's deep, sincere gratitude. I want to tell you something important: Whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one's family.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is more important than all the disagreements we may have had and all the agreements we may have in the future. This is the bedrock of the relationship between France and the United States of America.

Together, united, we must fight against terrorism. On September 11, 2001, all of France - horrorstruck - rallied to the side of the American people. The front-page headline of one of our major dailies read: "We are all, on this September 11, 2001, Americans." And on that day, when you were mourning for so many dead, never had America appeared to us so great, so dignified, so strong. The terrorists had thought they would weaken you and they made you greater. And the entire world felt admiration for the courage of the American people. That's the truth. And from day one, France decided to participate shoulder to shoulder with you in the war in Afghanistan. Let me tell you solemnly today: France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what's at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic Alliance. Let me say solemnly before you today: Failure is not an option.

Terrorism will not win because democracies haven't the right to be weak, and because the free world is not afraid of this new barbarism. America can count on France in the fight against terrorism.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in the name of the French people, I say to you:

Long live the United States of America!

Long live France!

And long live the friendship between France and the United States of America!


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