Pelosi Remarks at Press Availability at Nobel Peace Center in Oslo

Dec 10, 2010, 17:00 ET from Office of the Speaker of the House

OSLO, Norway, Dec. 10, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi toured the Nobel Peace Center and Museum today following the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony at Oslo City Hall. At the conclusion of her tour, Speaker Pelosi spoke with reporters. Below are the Speaker's remarks:

I want to thank Bente Erichsen, the Director of the Nobel Peace Center, for opening up the vision of the Nobel Prize.

While we may have suspected it to be so magnificent, to have it be presented in such a beautiful way, based on values tied to the life of a very brilliant man. But giving, showing courage and values and excellence in the work of the Nobel Peace Prize winners.

I always tell this little joke about this physicist that I know who won the Nobel Prize for physics and he lived in the country. And the paper boy saw the headline in the paper as he delivered it to him that he'd received the Nobel Prize for physics. The boy said, "Congratulations on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize" and he said "I didn't get the Nobel Peace Prize, I got the Nobel Prize for Physics." And the boy said: "Well, congratulations anyway." Because for people in the world, the Nobel Prize is the height of recognition, and the Nobel Peace Prize is something very special.

And to come here today with all of the excitement that is attached to the announcement that Liu Xiaobo received the prize, that announcement made in October, to hear Chairman [Thorbjorn] Jagland.

One of my staff who is with me today, one of my senior staff is Kate Knudson, who would not be happy if I don't come close in the pronunciation. The Chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee presentation was classic in that it if there were to ever be a person to qualify for the Nobel Prize, with a justification of courage, thoughtfulness and ideas, and again, hopefulness and optimism—just the very idea of his statement, "I Have No Enemies" which was presented by Liv Ullmann, in a way that had us all in tears, but also of hope as well.

So if it seems I am taking more time, it is because many of us have been working on human rights in China issues for decades. Some of us see each other fairly regularly. For others of us, it is a reunion. It was last year in 2009, we had the 20th anniversary—we celebrated in the Capitol and on the steps of the Capitol, in every possible kind of way. When I say celebrated, we celebrated the many people who are still committed to the idea of human rights in China being advanced. It was mostly sadness, though, in which we observe those who are lost, have lost their lives, lost their freedom.

And that is why it all comes here today. And Liu Xiaobo, sort of a hero really, as was mentioned, wanted to accept the award on behalf of the martyrs, those who died at Tiananmen. It really, again, ties it all together. And the world watched while people peacefully demonstrated their desire for freedom and ending corruption and all the other elements that went into it and where the repression that came down was so severe and where people to this day lose their feeling even just talking about it.

So it is an emotional occasion for many of us. It is also an intellectual experience of the highest order. I compliment the Nobel Committee for its excellent choice. It is so overwhelming that at long last the world will know, the people of China will, somehow or other, receive the message about Liu Xiaobo and not only him—all of the others who have made sacrifices for freedom.

They always say that two people who are political prisoners are who are arrested because of freedom of speech and the press. And when they in prison, they are prisoners, and in some cases there are torturers. And this is one way to torture them, is to say that: 'Nobody knows you are here. You have been forgotten. Nobody really cares. They don't even know who you are or why you are in prison.' And certainly with the work of many activists for human rights throughout the country — the world, we tried to offset that notion. But nothing says it more eloquently, with more international recognition, than the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, that he and others like him are not forgotten.

I'm so pleased to be here with Ambassador White. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for your leadership. I know how proud we both are that last year President Obama received the Nobel Prize and joined this array of courageous, excellent leaders in the world.

So, again, it is with great emotion, great appreciation, great intellectual satisfaction to see what happened here. I could never have dreamed for all the fighting, or debating, or struggling that we've been doing over the years, that all of it could come together in such a very clear way. I could have applauded every line that the Chairman made about why Liu Xiaobo should receive this award. It was so inspired, so enlightened, and greatly appreciated.

Thank you to Liu Xiaobo. Thanks to all of you.

Do you have any questions?

Q: Yes. Speaker Pelosi, what does China's reaction against the prize as well as other recent actions and rhetoric, say about the world we're moving in, that is, the world of a rising Asia?

Speaker Pelosi. I think that Liu Xiaobo, in his comments, as beautifully presented by Liv Ullmann, said it very well. And the Nobel Committee's comments, respecting what changes have taken place in China in terms of alleviating poverty for so many people and the rest and Liu's comments about the improved conditions that it had.

Of course, China is a land of contrasts and you can make any case you want about an improvement or not for many others. But the fact is that China is a great country and it is a country to be reckoned with. I believe that all of the countries of the world, including the United States, will have a brilliant relationship — politically, culturally, economically, and hopefully in fighting terrorism and the rest — with China.

The Chairman said it so well — that Democratic countries do not go to war with each other and it would be hopeful that the Chinese would end their fear of people like Liu Xiaobo, and obviously are afraid of him and the strength of his words, have to blanket like this important occasion going into China.

So, there are some issues, should we say, that have to be dealt with. But the recognition of the important role that China plays in the world that we're talking about, expanding freedom there, and working together on climate change issues, so many, fighting terrorism. There are many things that we have to work together on.

But we also have to have in the friendship that we've never had with China, the candor that we have, because many countries, as was demonstrated here, have a strong belief in human rights and freedom throughout the world, and talk about it as a value. But we lose all moral authority to talk about it anywhere, if we don't talk about it in China.

Q: One of the main reasons that President Obama got the prize last year was his struggle against nuclear weapons. What hope do you have of getting the new START treaty ratified during this session before Christmas?

Speaker Pelosi. I have a tremendous hope to do so. It is something that is obviously of the highest priority — to pass the START treaty. It is supported by over 80 percent of the American people. There are some in the Congress — Republicans in the Congress, who have had some issues about the treaty and about how it would be debated. But I think there is a genuine attempt to resolve those differences and to have the START treaty passed by the time we leave for Christmas.

Thank you.


SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House