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7/4/04 - BUSH ON MIDEAST DEMOCRACY - 2004-07-07

In Turkey, as in many other nations, says President George W. Bush, people have found that, “If justice is the goal, then democracy is the answer.” Speaking to students at Istanbul’s Galatasary University after the NATO summit, Mr. Bush said that, “Turkey is a strong, secular democracy, a majority Muslim society, and a close ally of free nations”:

“Your country. . .stands as a model to others, and as Europe’s bridge to the wider world. Your success is vital to a future of progress and peace in Europe and in the broader Middle East -- and the Republic of Turkey can depend on the support and friendship of the United States of America.”

But in some places, especially the Middle East, there is skepticism about democracy. Mr. Bush says this is often based on a misunderstanding about the relationship between democracy and religious-based moral values:

“There is nothing incompatible between democratic values and high standards of decency. . . . Democratic values also do not require citizens to abandon their faith. No democracy can allow religious people to impose their own view of perfection on others, because this invites cruelty and arrogance that are foreign to every faith. And all people in a democracy have the right to their own religious beliefs. But all democracies are made stronger when religious people teach and demonstrate upright conduct -- family commitment, respect for the law, and compassion for the weak.”

“Because representative governments reflect their people, every democracy has its own structure, traditions, and opinions,” says President Bush. But “certain commitments of free government. . .do not change from place to place”:

“The promise of democracy is fulfilled in freedom of speech, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, economic freedom, respect for women, and religious tolerance.”

“These are the values,” says President Bush, “that honor the dignity of every life, and set free the creative energies that lead to progress.”