Friday, September 25, 2009

President Obama Calls G-20 Big Success; Thanks City for Setting Example for Rest of the World at Close of Summit

President Barack Obama said the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit, which concluded this afternoon, was successful in establishing goals to continue the global recovery.

He started his closing press conference (for which GlobalPittsburgh had a front row seat) with a message of thanks to the people of Pittsburgh for being "extraordinary hosts."

Obama said he was told by several of the world leaders who joined him for the two-day meeting that the city had come very far since previous visits, in some cases decades ago.

"They were so impressed with the revitalization of the city," he said. "And a number of them remarked on the fact that it pointed to lessons they could take away in revitalizing manufacturing towns in their own home countries. Thank all of you for your great hospitality."

Obama said Pittsburgh is an example for the world as it recovers from economic hardship.

"Pittsburgh was a perfect venue for this work," he said. "This city has known its share of hard times as older industries like steel could no longer grow. But Pittsburgh picked itself up, dusted itself off and is making the transition to job-creating industries of the future, from biotechnology to clean energy.

"It serves as a model for turning the page to a 21st century economy, and a reminder that the key to our further prosperity lies not just in New York or Los Angeles or Washington, but in places like Pittsburgh."

Asked about protesters outside the Convention Center, Obama had this response:

"Let's keep things in perspective," he said. "For the people of Pittsburgh, if you have looked any of the other of summits that took place: in London, you had hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. In most of these summits there has been a much more tumultuous response. I think the mayor and the county executive and all the people of Pittsburgh deserve extraordinary credit for having managed what is a very tranquil G-20 summit.

"I think that many of the protests are just directed generically at capitalism and they object to the existing global financial system, they object to free markets.

"One of the great things about the United States is you can speak your mind, you can protest. That's part of our tradition.

"But I fundamentally disagree with the view that the free market is the source of all ills. Ironically if they'd been paying attention to what had been taking place inside the summit itself, what they would have heard was a strong recognition from the most diverse collection of leaders in history that that it is important to make sure that the market is working for ordinary people; that government has a role in regulating the market in ways that don't cause the kinds of crisis that we've just been living through; that our emphasis has to be on more balanced growth and that includes making sure that growth is bottom-up, and workers, ordinary people are able to pay the bills, make a decent living send their children to college; and that the more we focus how the least of these are doing, the better off all of us are going to be.

"That principle was embodied in the communiqué that was issued. I would recommend those who were out their protesting if they were really interested in knowing what was taking place in her that they read the communiqué that was issued."

Here's the link to the final communique from the G-20 leaders - http://www.pittsburghsummit.gov/mediacenter/129639.htm

Here's another link to a New York Times article talking about what really happened around that magnificent Summit table: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/26/world/26summit.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1253966609-o25Y2T6JADZB1a35Fv7TQA

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