30 June 2009
26 June 2009
Nós, Governadores dos Estados que compõem a Amazônia Legal - Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima e Tocantins, reunidos em Palmas, capital do Estado do Tocantins, considerando a atual crise mundial e seus reflexos sobre a economia brasileira, que reduziu receitas e capacidade de investimento, cientes de nossas responsabilidades sociais e comprometidos com o destino soberano de nossa região, destacamos:
2- A criação imediata de grupo de trabalho composto pelos Ministérios de Relações Exteriores, Ciência e Tecnologia, Meio Ambiente e Assuntos Estratégicos, em conjunto com os nove estados da Amazônia, para rever a posição brasileira e elaborar proposta para remuneração por serviços ambientais, em conformidade com os seguintes fundamentos: i) os pagamentos devem ser destinados aos titulares das terras; ii) o conhecimento científico e a capacidade de monitoramento são suficientes para alcançar os patamares de transparência da Convenção Quadro das Nações Unidas para as Mudanças do Clima - UNFCCC; iii) mecanismos flexíveis são cruciais para gerar benefícios para áreas de alta e baixa pressão de desmatamento.
3- A premente necessidade da participação direta dos Governos Estaduais nas ações de regularização fundiária, para o que é fundamental a transferência de recursos federais para as instituições estaduais de gestão fundiária.
4- O transporte hidroviário na Amazônia Legal é estratégico para a integração e o desenvolvimento regional. Neste sentido, faz-se necessária política consistente de investimentos e a aprovação de março legal em tramitação no congresso nacional.
5- O compromisso assumido pelo Governo Federal com os Governadores para restaurar o transporte aéreo regional na Amazônia Legal requer urgência nas providências de responsabilidade do Ministério da Defesa;
6- A necessidade de regime de urgência para a tramitação da PEC 315/2008, que trata da cobrança de ICMS na geração, transmissão e distribuição de energia, e do Projeto de Lei FPE-VERDE. Neste intuito, será formalizada agenda de reunião dos Governadores da Amazônia Legal com os presidentes da Câmara e Senado Federal.
7- Necessidade de imediata revisão da distribuição dos recursos previstos na resolução CMN 3716 de 17 de abril de 2009, considerando que os estados da Amazônia Legal não estão conseguindo recuperar as perdas do FPE, causadas pela desoneração do IPI. Também reivindicamos que recursos arrecadados na própria região pela SUFRAMA, atualmente contingenciados, sejam liberados aos Estados por meio de transferências voluntárias;
Palmas-TO, 26 de junho de 2009.
Governador Marcelo de Carvalho Miranda - Tocantins
Governador Arnóbio Marques de Almeida Júnior Acre
Governador Antônio Waldez Góes da Silva Amapá
Governador Eduardo Braga - Amazonas
Governador em Exercício João Alberto de Souza - Maranhão
Governador Blairo Maggi Mato Grosso
Governadora Ana Júlia de Vasconcelos Carepa Pará
Governador Ivo Narciso Cassol Rondônia
Governador José de Anchieta Júnior Roraima
25 June 2009
13 June 2009
The future of the forest
Jun 11th 2009 | MANAUS
From The Economist print edition
Brazil’s government hopes that land reform in the Amazon will slow deforestation. Greens doubt it
THE tiny village, where naked Ticuna Indians live in wooden houses
raised on stilts, looks out over one of the rivers that becomes the
Amazon. No place seems farther removed from the ups and downs of the
world economy. But this is misleading. The Ticuna, who now have a large
reservation at Novo Paraíso near Brazil’s borders with Colombia and
Peru, took their first steps towards globalisation when they had the
misfortune to encounter Portuguese raiders several centuries ago.
Later, rubber drew the Amazon into the list of hinterlands that could
be tapped if supplies were tight elsewhere, allowing growth to
accelerate in much of the world from the 19th century onwards. And
today new demands on the Amazon’s riches will determine the future of
About 900 miles (1,500km) downriver to the east, in Amazonas state,
stands Manaus. Rubber barons built the city from the 1860s onwards. Its
early residents made up for their distance from the European centres of
fashion by trying to outdo Paris during the belle époque in
drinking and debauchery. Now Manaus’s Zona Franca is the workshop for
most of the televisions, washing machines and other white goods sold in
Brazil. Special arrangements allow firms such as Sony and LG to import
parts tax-free from elsewhere in the world and assemble them there.
Despite being surrounded on all sides by thick forest, Manaus hums with
Some 350 miles to the south-east, in Pará state, the high gold price has encouraged a few hundred garimpeiros,
or wildcat miners, to follow rumours of a strike and trek for days
through the forest to a place, not far from Itaituba, which they have
optimistically named “Bom Jesus”. They live in shacks with tarpaulins
to keep off the rain, digging square holes and sifting through the red
soil in the hope of finding a seam of gold. Malaria lurks there, and
the men say there is cyanide in the water. Apart from a visiting
government minister and some other dignitaries and journalists who have
come for the day by helicopter, there is nothing to indicate that the
Brazilian state exists. Its place has been taken by a local boss who
claims to own the land (though it actually belongs to the federal
government) and takes a percentage of any gold found, while charging
the workers exorbitant prices for supplies that are dropped off by
South by 400 miles, in Mato Grosso state, the Amazon meets the
agricultural frontier. Much of the world’s growing demand for protein
is satisfied here. The state, which was once thought to have poor
farmland, has been transformed over the past few decades and is now the
country’s biggest producer of soyabeans for vegetable oils and
cattle-feed. Mato Grosso is also home to an unproductive kind of
agriculture, which involves ranching small numbers of cattle on newly
deforested land. The forest in the state shrank by 105 square miles in
the three months from November to January, according to the Brazilian
Space Research Institute, which uses satellites to monitor
All these places are part of the Amazon rainforest, an area
one-and-a-half times the size of India, or nearly eight times the size
of Texas. Most of it lies within Brazil. It is home to 20m Brazilians,
or 10% of the country’s population. Many of them live a hardscrabble
existence in places that are hot, wet, often disease-ridden and
sometimes dangerous. These people have gone from being heroes who
answered the government’s call to populate and subdue an empty region,
to environmental criminals who are wrecking the planet, all the while
standing on the same spot and doing what they have done for decades.
No government would think of condemning so many voters to persistent
poverty in the name of saving trees. Moving them is impractical and
would be unjust, since the state moved them in the first place, under a
policy that began in the 1960s and lasted for 20 years. (Other
institutions helped too; the World Bank provided a loan that financed a
large migration from the south of the country to Rondônia state in the
days before it cared about greenery.) A vast migration was accomplished
with promises of free land, subsidies and a slightly menacing marketing
campaign that exhorted people to ocupar para não entregar
(“occupy it or lose it”). Parts of Brazil’s government still fret that
covetous foreign powers may try to annexe the Amazon forest unless the
country can find something useful to do with it.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government has often seemed to
sympathise more with these voters than with environmentalists, who are
anyway politically weak in Brazil. His first environment minister,
Marina Silva, resigned in frustration last year. This pleased the bancada ruralista,
an informal block of representatives who defend agricultural interests.
They were glad to see the back of Ms Silva, the daughter of
rubber-tappers who grew up in the forest and became the most eloquent
spokesman for the need to preserve it. This agricultural lobby makes up
20-25% of Congress, according to João Augusto de Castro Neves, a
Fires, grass, cattle
To improve the lives of Brazilians living in the Amazon, the
government has devised a set of policies known as Plano Amazônia. They
envisage an expansion of road-building in the forest, as well as some
big hydroelectric projects. Both are loathed by people who want to
preserve the trees. Plano Amazônia also contains measures to slow
deforestation, but these will be hard to enforce. Money is short, the
area to be policed is vast, and the folk who make money when the trees
are cut down are endlessly ingenious.
Many people derive their income from deforestation. In Tailândia, a
town in Pará surrounded by sawmills, some 70% of the population depends
on logging in some way, according to local officials in the state’s
finance ministry. The loggers work in tandem with cattle farmers: once
the loggers take the best trees from an area, the rest is cleared and
burnt. The farmers then sow grass and raise cattle. The land is quickly
exhausted as pasture, but it then passes to another type of farming,
while the loggers and cattle move farther into the forest and begin all
This pattern helps to explain why the rate of deforestation tends to
move with prices for beef and soya, with a lag of about a year. Yet it
is a wasteful way of using land. A recent study of some 300
municipalities in the Brazilian Amazon, published in the latest edition
of Science, shows that deforested areas enjoy a short
economic boom, then quickly fall back to previous levels of development
and productivity as the frontier moves on. Deforestation also, of
course, reduces the rainfall on which Brazil’s agriculture depends.
Consumers in America and western Europe who mind about deforestation
may think they have some influence over all this. A recent study by
Greenpeace encouraged them, by trying to show that bits of Amazonian
cow were finding their way on to supermarket shelves in the rich world.
They are wrong, however. The five leading markets for Brazil’s enormous
beef exports (the country ships more of it than the total of the three
next-largest exporters, Australia, Argentina and Uruguay) are Russia,
Iran, China, Venezuela and Egypt, according to Roberto Giannetti da
Fonseca of the Association of Brazilian Meat Exporters. And in any case
the beef produced in the Amazon is mostly eaten by Brazilians in
Even so, Mr da Fonseca says his association would like to see
cattle-ranching removed from the Amazon, because of the damage it does
to the reputation of exporters. The big soyabean exporters have already
pledged not to buy from growers in the Amazon. Greenpeace, which helped
to design the agreement, counts it as a success. This just leaves an
internal market for cheap soyabeans and beef, which supports 30m head
of cattle in the Amazon out of a total of 200m in the country.
Given the hardships that farmers in the Amazon face, it may seem
surprising that they do not just give up. One reason is that clearance
and cattle bring in extra money from other sources. The farmers are
also property developers of a kind. Jungle land can be grabbed for
nothing, avoiding what is normally a huge outlay in farming. And
ranchers often sell the land they have deforested to another user, even
though they do not legally own it. Most people who study deforestation
reckon this creates an incentive for farmers to push farther into the
forest, rather than staying where they are, spending money on improving
their land and raising productivity.
Ending this cycle is one aim of a land-reform bill that was recently
approved in Congress, though not without controversy. This law is now
with the president, who has the power to veto some of it. The
government claims that the legislation will at last enable it to
discover which farmers are operating on illegal land and in the
informal economy, and in the future will make it possible to work out
who is committing environmental crimes. Many environmentalists,
however, think the law merely rewards criminal behaviour. Ms Silva has
appealed to Lula to use his veto.
Get off my land
Holdings in America’s Great Plains, impressively neat and
rectilinear from the air, were laid out in various early land laws and
then parcelled out among pioneers. Brazil’s frontier has never
benefited from such an elegant application of geometry. A study from
Imazon, a non-profit research outfit, suggests that just 14% of
privately owned land in the Amazon is backed by a secure title deed.
The rest is covered by fake documents (usually lovingly antiqued) or
simply by right of settlement.
In the most contested parts of the forest, in Pará state, conflicts
over who owns what are sometimes settled with a gun. In 2005 the murder
of Dorothy Mae Stang, an American nun and environmental campaigner who
lived in Pará, brought this to the attention of a wider public. In his
trial, the man who pulled the trigger said he had been paid 50 reais
($20) for the job.
There are still gunmen for hire in Pará, according to the police in
Tailândia, a town of 25,000 people. Rosenildo Modesta Lima, the local
police commander, says that when he arrived there a couple of years ago
there were seven murders over one weekend; now there are two or three a
week. The police are on edge. Just the other day a heavily armed gang
attacked a police station in a neighbouring town in an attempt to get
more weapons. Two gang members were killed and a third injured.
The new law will interpose the Brazilian state into this mess,
judging between competing claims, handing smaller plots of land to
their apparent owners and reclaiming very large ones (in excess of
1,500 hectares or 3,700 acres) for the state. This will undoubtedly
entrench some old injustices. “It’s very hard to know who killed
someone 20 years ago to get a piece of land and who just arrived
recently,” says Denis Minev, the planning secretary for Amazonas state
(which has a good record on deforestation). Even so, in the long run
the measure may prove useful. “Land regularisation is of fundamental
importance for halting deforestation,” says Carlos Minc, Brazil’s
Enforcing the new regime will be as difficult as ever. IBAMA, the
federal agency charged with this task, collects less than 1% of the
fines it imposes during operations in the Amazon. “This is not
something that is feared as a serious threat by people who break the
law,” says Roberto Smeraldi of Amigos da Terra, an NGO. The sporadic
weakness of the Brazilian state is partly to blame for this. But any
government would struggle to police the frontier between forest and
farmland, which is far longer than America’s border with Mexico.
This is why many environmentalists now argue that the only way to
fix the problem is to give people who live at the frontier something
more profitable to do. The government has begun to change the region’s
economies. Since July last year farmers without titles to their land
are supposed to be denied access to subsidised credit, though this too
is hard to enforce.
Efforts to commercialise forest products, from Amazon river fish to
oils for use in cosmetics, are also under way. Amigos da Terra, in a
study of these businesses, finds them to be profitable when they form
clusters and turn out finished products. “I am convinced that in 20
years we will have a viable forest economy,” says Mr Smeraldi. “Only by
then we will have lost a lot of forest.”
Speeding up this process is one of the motives behind the $1
billion donation for the Amazon announced in September by Norway’s
government. The Brazilian government has set up an Amazon Fund for this
money and any future donations. Norway will have no say in how it is
used, but the amount of money it releases from the fund will be linked
to Brazil’s success in slowing deforestation. Germany will give
something to the fund too. Turid Rodrigues Eusébio, Norway’s ambassador
to Brasília, says lots of other countries are watching Norway to see
how the experiment goes, and will chip in if it is a success.
Amazon states hope to acquire another stream of money, in the form
of payments for not cutting down trees, from the UN initiative known as
REDD, which will be discussed in Copenhagen in December (see article).
Payments of this kind are already being made in Amazonas state: $8.1m
from private companies such as Marriott hotels and Bradesco, a big
bank, is being handed over by the state government to 6,000 families in
exchange for not cutting down any more trees. The challenge is to
extend such schemes to the trees on the edge of the farmland, which are
most at risk.
Still, argues Ms Rodrigues Eusébio, it will take more than changing
cattle-ranchers into nut-gatherers to put a stop to deforestation. To
bring a more elevated form of economic development to the region,
Brazil’s government is convinced that it needs to build more roads in
the forest. This too is controversial. Some 80% of deforestation
happens within 30 miles of a road. Seen from Google Earth, the southern
part of Pará state looks as if someone has dropped large fish skeletons
on the jungle, as spines of deforestation push into the trees from
either side of the roads. Deforestation is more severe where a road is
good, which is why the proposed asphalting of the BR-163, from Cuiabá
in Mato Grosso to Santarém in Pará, is held up by a legal wrangle.
However unpalatable road-building is, it may be needed if the people
who live in the Amazon are to lead a better life. “The Everglades are
very beautiful, but America did rule out building roads through them to
connect Miami with other parts of Florida,” says Mr Minev of Amazonas
state. The government now knows how to build roads without unleashing
the loggers, he argues. Amazonas has recently signed an agreement
creating nature reserves on either side of the BR-319, which runs from
Manaus to Porto Velho. The road will help to integrate Manaus into the
rest of the country’s economy. When the Zona Franca was established in
1967, it took 15-20 days to get goods to consumers in São Paulo, in the
country’s south-east. It takes the same amount of time today.
In this vision of the Amazon, the forest will be preserved as a
large national park with sprinklings of industry added to enrich its
inhabitants. The agriculture at its edge will be more productive than
it is today, making use of abandoned land and raising yields to meet
domestic and foreign demand without encroaching farther into the
jungle. This is aim is plausible, as well as commendable, but it will
take decades to accomplish. In the meantime, the forest will continue
to shrink. The fight today is over how fast that happens.
Copa 2014. Passa a festa, entra a segunda-feira
A Fifa confirmou, há duas semanas, a indicação de Manaus como sede na Amazônia da Copa de 2014. Depois de um domingo de comemorações, chegou a segunda-feira e a realidade da imensidão do projeto. No dia 8 de junho tivemos o primeiro evento, na CBF, no qual cada cidade teve suas atividades e cronogramas avaliados. Itens principais de interesse da FIFA e CBF neste momento são energia, telecomunicações, mobilidade urbana e transportes, além do planejamento do estádio.
Na frente de energia, Manaus tem notórios problemas que devem ser resolvidos com a entrada em operação do gasoduto (2010) e com a construção do Linhão de Tucuruí (2012). Nas telecomunicações, a Oi traz nova fibra ótica a Manaus em 2010 (vindo da Venezuela), além de interligações adicionais da Vivo (via Santarém) e a possibilidade de uma fibra ótica nova passando pelo Linhão de Tucuruí. Na mobilidade urbana, apresentamos dois projetos em conjunto com a Prefeitura, de melhoria do sistema atual (ônibus) e de implantação de novo sistema (elevado ou no solo) de metrô. Nos transportes, focamos principalmente no aeroporto, que hoje atende mais de 2 milhões passageiros / ano e que deverá ser expandido, com pista adicional, mais pontos de embarque e mais espaço para atender mais de 4 milhões de passageiros / ano, capacidade estimada necessária para atender bem aos turistas durante a Copa. Em suma, Manaus aponta soluções para todas as grandes preocupações da FIFA; resta-nos executá-las bem.
Por último, o estádio. Buscamos junto aos arquitetos desenhar o mais belo estádio da Copa, com espírito amazônico. Na busca de amortizar custos, estuda-se a possibilidade de criação de um grande centro comercial e de entretenimento, aproveitando o fluxo já existente na Constantino Nery adicionado da possível principal estação do metrô, com a disponibilidade grande de áreas para desenvolvimento imobiliário no próprio complexo. Já tivemos um grande número de questionamentos a respeito de desapropriações; para a construção do estádio e centro comercial (que é de urgente evolução), nossos estudos até o momento indicam que não há necessidade de desapropriação. Outros desenvolvimentos imobiliários que venham a acontecer no futuro podem demandar desapropriações.
Quatorze dias após o anúncio de Manaus na Copa 2014, segue uma breve prestação de contas do que se passa em nossa organização:
1. Inicia-se a construção do centro de convenções que será anexo ao estádio, onde hoje se localiza o estacionamento do estádio. Esta licitação já havia sido feita há alguns meses, dotada em parte de recursos federais.
2. Conclui-se a negociação da contratação da Deloitte, firma de consultoria que nos auxiliará no planejamento e acompanhamento das 26 frentes de trabalho. Em especial, focarão em tornar o empreendimento imobiliário como um todo o mais atraente possível para a iniciativa privada.
3. Assina-se no Confaz (Conselho de Secretários de Fazenda nacional) convênio de não-tributação da Fifa (exigência da FIFA).
4. Readequa-se projeto do centro esportivo da Zona Norte e da Colina para servir de centro de treinamento durante a Copa.
5. Reafirma-se na reunião realizada no dia 8, na Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF), o compromisso do Governo do Amazonas de promover os investimentos necessários para a realização do evento.
6. Discute-se com a Casa Civil qual a entidade que deve ser criada para cuidar do projeto Copa e como ele deve ser constituído para garantir máxima transparência e boas práticas de gestão. Estudamos a formação de conselho de notáveis para supervisionar a execução de obras, o andamento do planejamento e gastos como um todo.
São as primeiras atividades de centenas ou milhares até 2014. A jornada pode parecer longa, mas há apenas 258 segunda-feiras até o primeiro jogo da Copa.
06 June 2009
"We meet at a time of tension between the United Statesand Muslims around the world V tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United Statesand Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles V principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do V to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesiaand heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam V at places like Al-Azhar University V that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers V Thomas Jefferson V kept in his personal library.
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between Americaand Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United Statesto fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United Stateshas been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words V within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."
Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores V that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.
Moreover, freedom in Americais indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I 'believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations V to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosniaand Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
In Ankara, I made clear that Americais not V and never will be V at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.
The situation in Afghanistandemonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United Statespursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from Americaand many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistandetermined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
That's why we're partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths V more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism V it is an important part of promoting peace.
We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.
Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraqwas a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraqhave reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."
Today, Americahas a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future V and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraqtrain its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.
And finally, just as Americacan never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
So Americawill defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed V more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction V or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews V is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people V Muslims and Christians V have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations V large and small V that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers V for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them V and all of us V to live up to our responsibilities.
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United Statesdoes not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Israelmust also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
Americawill align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United Statesand the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United Statesplayed a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution,Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation V including Iran V should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.
I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments V provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld V whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit V for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in Americathat bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's Interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action V whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.
The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights.
I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladeshand Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity V men and women V to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United Stateswill partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.
Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations V including my own V this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities V those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Koreagrew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.
This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United Statesand Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek V a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.
I know there are many V Muslim and non-Muslim V who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort V that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country V you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort V a sustained effort V to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion V that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples V a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."
The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you.