Rumsfeld: Ministers, past President, and I suspect future, Ambassadors, Excellencies, members of the armed forces of all nations, we thank you particularly for your leadership and for the service of your young men and women.
And Minister [Prephly], thank you so much for your warm hospitality. Your [inaudible] is a wonderful place for this evening here in [inaudible], dating I'm told back to 1611. I think [inaudible] the United States in 1620 so this has been here a while. [Laughter]
[Morris], you've done it again. Thank you [inaudible] for all of the organizers who made you look so good. Once again, thank you.
What this Alliance has accomplished this year I expect will be seen as historic. I think that our task, all of our tasks, is to try to see that during our time we meet the challenges and help to prepare our countries and our Alliance to the period ahead.
Those that are in the executive branch have work to do; certainly the members of parliament that are here and distinguished delegations from the United States [inaudible] work to do; and our hope would be that when people look back to this time they'll say yes, they did do that. They did meet the challenges and they helped our country and our world -- our respective countries and our world -- to prepare for the surprises, the difficulties, and the challenges that we'll meet in the future.
There's been a good deal of thought today about disagreements and conflict and comparing it to last year. As I look at the life of this Alliance and the relationships represented in this room it seems to me that it's always been so. There have been periods when things were here and periods when they were here and periods when they were back here, and always just a little noise, a little static in the system. But the static, I suspect, is because an Alliance like this has to make adjustments, it has to change to meet the challenges, as the security environment evolves and changes. And while some hear those noises and see conflict, I think others hear those noises and expect that what's taking place is the normal adjustments in a complicated set of relationships. Adjustments that simply have to be made.
And if there were silences I suspect it would mean stagnation and decline and disinterest and irrelevance. And what we can say about this Alliance is that none of those adjectives apply. It is growing, it is not in decline, it has energy, it has life, disagreements to be sure, but in my view what's taking place here is important, it will be seen as important, and thanks to the people in this room.
So Minister President, with your permission I'd like to propose a toast to the Alliance.