Bloomberg News

Biden Says Mideast Revolutions Seek Political, Economic Freedom

December 06, 2011

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said protesters that toppled leaders in the Middle East and North Africa this year seek to bring political and economic freedom to their countries.

Popular uprisings that succeeded in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, as well as the dissent against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, require risk, initiative, determination and “a unifying ideal,” Biden said today at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Istanbul.

The world is at a historic “inflection point” and to prevent the sectarian violence that marred it for centuries, political systems are needed based on the rule of law as well as the protection of basic rights, including freedom of speech and religion, Biden said.

“They aim to do more than merely change the government,” Biden said. “They also want to end practices like authoritarianism, corruption and stifling of freedom of expression -- practices that make political and economic freedom impossible,” he said. The protesters “are seeking to build something far larger than just something for themselves.”

Countries should provide an environment of freedom to nurture creative minds and improve their nation’s wealth, Biden said.

The U.S. isn’t immune to the global financial crisis, Biden said, adding that he still is “optimistic” even amid the “difficult” economic times.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who leads the government’s economy team and spoke at the summit before the vice president, said the world lacks political-decision mechanisms to resolve economic problems, and blamed “some” European countries for leadership shortcomings.

Biden said during his visit to Turkey he discussed a range of issues that are of mutual concern to both countries, including the Obama administration’s support of Turkey’s relations with Israel, its stance against Syria, operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and combating the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

--Editors: Paul Richardson,

To contact the reporter on this story: Emre Peker in Ankara at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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