Denmark is among the smallest allies of the United States. But it is also true that Denmark is among the biggest allies of the United States.
No other country has maintained unbroken diplomatic relations with the United States for longer than the Kingdom of Denmark.
After my meeting with the president of the United States in the Oval Office earlier this year, I was therefore particularly pleased to be able to state that the relationship between the United States and Denmark has never been better. Our common values, shared destiny and visions have been further fortified by the horrors of September 11.
On the first anniversary of that somber date, Danes will think back with sympathy and sorrow on the victims of the terrorist attacks against the United States and their bereaved families. One year later, our solidarity with America is undiminished.
September 11 was a defining moment calling for determined action in defense of humanity and fundamental freedoms. Acting can entail dangers but the dangers of inaction are far, far greater. In the face of today's new threat, the only way to pursue peace is to pursue those who threaten it.
Denmark's close ties with the United States and the trans-Atlantic bonds between Europe and the United States are of paramount importance to Denmark. These relations are at the very core of Danish foreign policy. Denmark will never forget the essential contribution of the United States in defense of European democracies in two world wars and the Cold War. Nor shall we forget the generosity of the United States when it came to the staggering task of rebuilding a ruined Europe.
America and Denmark see eye-to-eye on the real challenges facing us today. In the fight against terrorism, Denmark was, is and will be fully behind the United States. Our best soldiers have been in Afghanistan on the ground and in the mountains, fighting alongside U.S. special operations forces. The danger is far from over and the international community must not waver now.
Our agreement is unequivocal that international terrorism must be fought and that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must be prevented. Such weapons must not fall into the hands of terrorists and ruthless dictators.
Denmark shares with the United States a grave concern with the spiral of violence in the Middle East. Both the United States and Denmark have deep-rooted ties with Israel. As many Americans remember, the Danes in 1943 managed to save most Danish Jews from the Nazi occupation regime.
Israel has a right to defend itself when attacked by suicide bombers. But military intervention is not a viable solution to the conflict. Israel's defense against terror should not lead to the death and suffering of innocent Palestinian civilians. Without the will to have peace, there will be no peace.
We welcomed President Bush's speech on June 24 and share his vision of two states living side by side in peace and security. In order to achieve this objective, important reforms of the Palestinian Authority are necessary, and we look forward to working together with the United States and other relevant partners to assist the Palestinians in this important work. Through our cooperation in the Middle East Quartet, the EU and the United States must ensure that progress is made on all issues in order to re-create hope for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
We also share the vision of enlarging NATO and EU, and removing dividing lines in Europe. From the outset, Denmark supported the independence of the three Baltic States from Soviet occupation and tyranny. We have continued to assist them in many areas, including the defense field. The clear support of the United States for the creation of a Europe whole and free is much valued and demonstrates genuine American engagement in Europe. We need the United States, and I believe the United States needs us. The enlargement of EU and NATO could be thought of as a new Marshall Plan.
Denmark assumed the EU presidency on July 1. On the issues outlined and many more, we look forward to working closely with the United States in strengthening trans-Atlantic cooperation.
Clearly, far more unites us than separates us. It is therefore not surprising that there is no bigger celebration of the 4th of July outside the United States than in Denmark. It has taken place every year since 1912 at Rebild National Park. This year, I gave an address there in the presence of Her Majesty, the Queen. Many Danish immigrants to America have over the years become loyal and enthusiastic U.S. citizens while still maintaining ties to their old country. Thus, Denmark and the United States share deep-rooted cultural and historic bonds.
Over the last 50 years, a large number of young Danes have been given the opportunity of spending time in the United States to study, travel or work. Some have settled in the United States, but most have made good use of their newly won skills in Denmark. Many young Americans have had a similar experience in Denmark, living with Danish families and studying with young Danes. The impact of these exchanges is immense. The numerous lasting personal ties across the Atlantic, built up from such visits, have strengthened and rejuvenated the old bonds of friendship and constitute one of the pillars on which our mutual trust is founded.
I am confident that this trust will continue to tie us together in the coming decades.