President Bush told Estonian television that with the end of World War II, the Baltic nations saw the end of fascism but "they saw their homelands be taken over by a repressive ideology." He said he understands why Baltic presidents will not be attending the ceremonies on May 9 in Moscow: "These are difficult decisions because -- and they reflect the difficult times. And I honor those decisions. But I understand."
On terrorism, President Bush said the number of incidents is increasing because the United States has made efforts. "If we weren't trying to find the enemy and bring him to justice, the world would look relatively peaceful. But we're on the offense."
The President told Lithuanian state television that he told President Putin in Slovakia that he felt it was important for the Russian leader to understand the Baltic leaders don't view the end of World War II as "a great moment of celebration."
"But I did make it clear to President Putin that there is great angst, and people don't view this as a liberating moment, and hopefully that he will work with the Baltics in a cooperative way, because it really is in Russia's interests to have free countries and democracies on her border," President Bush said in this interview. "The more democracies on the border of a country, the more peaceful a country will be."
Dutch TV asked the President about the Dutch being on the opposite end of the spectrum from him on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, drugs and how Republicans and some Americans don't want to move toward the Netherlands on these issues. Asked if he shares that concern, Bush said that Holland is a free country where people decide policy and the government reflects the will of the people. "And so if that's what the people of Holland want, that's what the government should reflect."
Bush brought up the International Criminal Court as an example of where the U.S. and the Netherlands will differ and explained why the U.S. will not join it: "We don't want our soldiers being brought up in front of unelected judges. But that doesn't mean that we're not going to hold people to account, which we're doing now in America. And nor does it mean that even though we may disagree on the court, that we can't work for other big goals in the world."
The President also sat down for a 40-minute roundtable interview with foreign print reporters Thursday morning at the White House, Travers reports. He noted at the start that this is his first trip to both Georgia and the Netherlands.
". . . I view this as a celebration to end tyranny, although I fully recognize the Baltics ended up with a form of government they weren't happy with. It's a moment to remind people that when the world works together, we can end tyranny. And it will be an interesting observation to remind people tyrants still exist."
"Historically, no question the United States never recognized the form of government imposed upon Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. As a matter of fact, you might recall the history of the embassies that were here, that were treated as independent embassies with the flags of the free countries flying above those embassies -- in other words, we never recognized what took place. That's because we believed in your freedom. And that hasn't changed. I was proud to represent my country the day the three Baltic countries entered NATO."
On his relationship with Putin: