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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Introduction of British Prime Minister, Tony Blair

Gaston Hall
Georgetown University
May 26, 2006

Prime Minister Blair, members of the diplomatic corps, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Georgetown University.

We are deeply honored to host the Prime Minister’s third foreign policy speech in a series, delivered in the national capitals of the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. It is a tremendous distinction to serve as a venue both for our nation and for academia, which strives also daily with the challenges of globalization and the international community.

Throughout Georgetown’s 217-year history, we have nurtured close ties to the United Kingdom. The first two presidents of the University were both British citizens.1

Last fall, we were honored by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who attended a seminar on faith and social responsibility. And we were privileged to award the Georgetown President’s Medal to His Excellency Sir David Manning, the British Ambassador to the United States, who joins us today as well.

We have been graced by multiple visits from the Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Blair, noted barrister and human rights advocate; and by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who twice convened on our campus his annual interreligious dialogue entitled “Building Bridges.”

Prime Minister Blair now honors us as well, after his travels earlier this week to Baghdad, where he met new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as Iraq officially formed a new government, and after his meeting yesterday with President Bush.

Three weeks after September 11th, 2001, when scores of British citizens were also killed in the World Trade Center, the Prime Minister delivered perhaps the world’s most eloquent response to the worldwide tragedy. He stated that the remembrance of the victims:

“Can and should be greater than simply the punishment of the guilty…. [O]ut of the shadow of this evil should emerge lasting good: destruction of the machinery of terrorism wherever it is found; hope amongst all nations of a new beginning where we seek to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way; greater understanding between nations and between faiths; and above all, justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed …".2

Prime Minister Blair’s emphasis on democracy, personal freedom and international, interreligious responses to societal woes around the world have also been inspirational. Because of own work with the Afghan government and people, many of us at Georgetown have seen firsthand these values taking root in Afghanistan, largely because of the hard work of the British government and people.

Last year during the G-8 Summit in Scotland, the Prime Minister provided strength and leadership to his own country when – in the deadliest bombing on British soil since World War II – suicide bombers struck rush-hour London on July 7th.

In your two earlier speeches of this series, Mr. Prime Minister, you emphasized to the British and Australian peoples that:

* “Globalization is a fact. But the values that govern it are a choice.”

That the War on Terror is not between civilizations, but about civilization.

And that “there is no prosperity without security; and no security without justice … [which is why] we cannot say we favor freedom, but sit by whilst millions in Africa die and millions more are denied the very basics of life.”

We at Georgetown understand that we must strive to engage beyond ourselves. We know that the challenges of the 21st century will not be met alone, and in fact can only be met by all of us, working together in ways that were not possible before. Because the problems of globalization – which is responsible for much neglect and hurt around the world – are also solvable because they are illuminated by the spotlight of globalization.

Universities around the world have a great mission, a bold destiny – to wrestle honestly with issues such as this. We must live the great questions of our time, seeking answers through debate, to get us closer and closer to a deeper understanding of reality, a deeper grasp of truth.

It then becomes our responsibility to teach, discover, create knowledge, and engage in the world. We must be the ones to produce the agents of change who will one day lead the nations and heal the hurt around the globe. We must be the ones to teach students to dedicate their life’s work to improving the international community, so it is more able to solve global problems. We must be the ones who inspire our graduates to go on to reform our international institutions, so they are more capable of responding to the new challenges, such as terrorism, that have no borders.

Mr. Prime Minister, once again, we are honored that you have joined us this morning to speak with us about these challenges. Welcome to Georgetown University.

1.  Rev. Robert Plunkett, 1791-93; and Rev. Robert Molyneux, S.J., 1793-96.
2.  Blair, Tony. “Labor Party Conference Address.” London, U.K. 2 October 2001.


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