And it is not simply a matter of us being true to our values. It’s not just a matter of idealism. I believe it is practical for the United States to support democracies. (Applause.) Because history shows us that countries with democratic governance tend to be more just, and more stable, and more successful.
Open, democratic societies can deliver more prosperity –because when people are free to think for themselves and share ideas and discover and create — the young people who are here, what they’re able to do through the Internet and technology, that’s when innovation is unleashed, when economies truly flourish. That’s when new products, and new services, and new ideas wash through an economy. In contrast to regimes that rule by coercion, democracies are rooted in consent of the governed
— citizens know that there’s a path for peaceful change, including the moral force of nonviolence. And that brings a stability that so often can facilitate economic growth.
The history of the past two centuries indicates that democracies are less likely to fight wars among themselves. So more democracy is good for the people of the world, but it’s also good for our national security. Which is why America’s closest friends are democracies — like Greece. It’s why we stand together in NATO — an alliance of democracies.
In recent years, we’ve made historic investments in NATO, increased America’s presence in Europe, and today’s NATO — the world’s greatest alliance — is as strong and as ready as it’s ever been. And I am confident that just as America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance has endured for seven decades –whether it’s been under a Democratic or Republican administration — that commitment will continue, including our pledge and our treaty obligation to defend every ally.
Our democracies show that we’re stronger than terrorists, and fundamentalists, and absolutists who can’t tolerate difference, can’t tolerate ideas that vary from their own, who try to change people’s way of life through violence and would make us betray or shrink from our values. Democracy is stronger than organizations like ISIL.
Because our democracies are inclusive, we’re able to welcome people and refugees in need to our countries. And nowhere have we seen that compassion more evident than here in Greece. (Applause.) The Greek people’s generosity towards refugees arriving on your shores has inspired the world. That doesn’t mean that you should be left on your own — (applause)
— and only a truly collective response by Europe and the world can ensure that these desperate people receive the support that they need. Greece cannot be expected to bear the bulk of the burden alone — but the fact that your democracy opens your heart to people in need in a way that might not otherwise be the case.
Just as democracies are premised on the peaceful resolution of disagreements within our societies, we also believe that cooperation and dialogue is the best way to address challenges between nations. And so it is my belief that democracies are more likely to try to resolve conflicts between nations in a way that does not result in war. That’s how, with diplomacy, we were able to shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot. With diplomacy, the United States opened relations with Cuba. (Applause.) With diplomacy, we joined Greece and nearly 200 nations in the most ambitious agreement ever to save our planet from climate change. (Applause.)