THE WHITE HOUSE
the Press Secretary
PRESS CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENT WILLIAM
PRIME MINISTER ANTONIO GUTERRES,
AND EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION
PRESIDENT ROMANO PRODI
Palacio Nacional de Queluz
2:49 P.M. (L)
PRIME MINISTER GUTERRES: Ladies and
gentlemen, good afternoon. A few words in English before making my statement in
First of all, let me say that this was not a business as
usual summit. It was a strategic summit. Strategic in the way we discussed the
diplomatic and security problems of our hemisphere; the new common security and
defense policy of the European Union; its relationship with NATO; our relations
with Russia and the Ukraine; our commitment to the protection of the values of
all civilization in the Balkans; strategic in our approach, bringing confidence
to multilateral way of dealing with trade issues, our commitment to relaunch
this year the new round of -- organization, and to solve in a case-by-case
situation our disputes based on the WTO rules.
But especially strategic
because we concentrated on the new global problems that represent today the
main threats to our planet -- infectious diseases, like tuberculosis, malaria,
or AIDS; the digital divide; the difficulties to make the new economy a truly
inclusive economy; and strategic because we decided to work together, the
United States and European Union, to promote a global effort to match this
challenge and to win this challenge, aiming at the next G-8 organization summit
and working together in all relevant international fora.
Portuguese) -- Ladies and gentlemen, this has indeed been a meeting in which
questions of global strategy have been a major element. Firstly, on this level
of diplomacy and security, I think that we have fully understood the importance
of our common European security and defense policy, and the interrelations
between this policy and the instruments within it and NATO, and in perfect
accord with the relations between these two organizations.
discussed in a very consensual manner the efforts that the United States and
the European Union are going to be making in their relations with Russia and
the Ukraine, considering this an essential triangle for the stability of our
And we were able to reiterate our firm commitment to what we
are doing in the Western Balkans, and our conviction that what we are concerned
with here are essential values of civilization -- in Bosnia and Kosovo, as to
the possibility there of establishing a real multiethnic community in this
territory; and a commitment to transform Yugoslavia into a truly democratic
country; commitment to guaranteeing -- or to trying to guarantee stability in
such complicated areas as Montenegro; and to offer support to all the countries
in the region in their development to offer a long-term prospect which is truly
European for the whole Balkan region.
In our discussion, we attached
great importance to the transformation of the new economy, the knowledge-based
economy, not simply to be a privilege for the richest countries and for people
and organizations with the greatest power in society, but also -- particularly
in the United States and Europe -- for all our citizens, for all our
businesses, for all our organizations; and at the same time to establish a very
strong interlinkage in our efforts with the objective of promoting a broad band
link between our education information services on either side of the Atlantic.
We want to develop our common efforts to combat separation between rich
and poor countries in this area, since we believe that this new economy is a
basic and fundamental opportunity for the poorer countries to be able to press
forward, to leap forward, and come closer to the living conditions of the more
But we can't talk about this without recognizing the
drama which exists today in the world, given the series of infectious diseases
leading to suffering and death for so many, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and
malaria. And we need to work together, seriously cooperating to promote global
action to combat effectively these diseases, and to develop in the next meeting
of the G-8 an approach on this subject, and to involve the whole international
community and all international organizations, with the support of the European
Union and the United States of America, in being catalysts in our efforts in
this area. Given the global responsibilities we have, we must also meet these
challenges of our times.
We also discussed many other questions --
foreign policy, for instance, and of course, one point that the Portuguese
government cannot fail to mention, we talked about the transition of East Timor
to democracy and independence.
CLINTON: Thank you very much. First, I would like to thank Prime Minister
Guterres for his outstanding leadership in his tenure as EU President. I thank
President Prodi, Commissioner Patton, High Representative Solana, for their
strong leadership and the work they have done for transatlantic cooperation,
and especially in Kosovo and in the Balkans in these last few months.
would like to just take one minute to put this meeting into some historical
perspective. We've come quite a long way since Portugal's first EU presidency
eight years ago. At that time, many were predicting that Europe's new
democracies would falter; that Russia would turn inward and reactionary; that
NATO had lost its reason for being; that Europe's project for a common currency
and foreign policy would founder; and that the United States and Europe would
go their own separate ways.
Eight years later, Europe's new democracies
are joining the transatlantic mainstream; Russia, for all its problems has
completed the first democratic power transfer in its entire history; we have
preserved and strengthened NATO; the EU has brought monetary union into being
and made a fast start at a common foreign and security policy, a development
the United States strongly supports. And far from moving apart, the United
States and Europe today complete the 14th U.S.-EU Summit of my presidency. So I
thank all of those who have supported those developments.
talked a lot about security in Kosovo, the Balkans, Southeastern Europe. We
talked about the European Security Defense Initiative, which the United States
strongly supports, in cooperation with NATO. And we talked about a number of
other issues, including Russia, at some length. We discussed the need to
support democracy and economic reform in Russia, and the continued need for a
political solution in Chechnya.
I'd also like to thank the European
Union for something else, which is on my mind today because of the work I've
been doing in the Middle East. I welcome the efforts that the EU has led to
give Israel an invitation to join the Western Europe and Others Group in the
United Nations. This is a very good development and I think it will contribute
to the negotiating atmosphere that is so important at this difficult and
pivotal time in the Middle East.
Just two other issues briefly. We did
talk, as Prime Minister Guterres said, a lot about the new economy, about how
to maximize its spread within our countries and how to bridge the digital
divide both within and beyond our borders. And we talked about the importance
of dealing with other common challenges -- I'll just mention two. I talked at
some length about the climate change-global warming challenge, and we have made
a joint commitment to do more to try to help developing nations deal with AIDS,
malaria and TB. And I am very grateful for the leadership and the energy of the
EU in that regard.
So, in closing, I think it's been a good meeting. I
think it demonstrated the vitality and importance of our partnership. I'd like
to thank the business leaders who are here who also have been meeting, and the
environmental leaders, and just say the from my point of view, all these
exchanges have been very much worth the effort and are leading us into a better
PRIME MINISTER GUTERRES: Senor Prodi.
PRESIDENT PRODI: Well, I am most pleased to be here today with Antonio
to discuss with our common friend, the President of the United States, the
relationship between the European Union and the United States.
before anything, I want to pay tribute to the support of President Clinton to
the European Union. You always supported European Union, without any doubt. And
this is the reason why our transatlantic ties are so good now and so strong.
And I think that -- you will go to Aachen to receive the Charlemagne Prize -- I
think you deserve it because this is the prize that is given to the Europeans.
Your predecessor, President Kennedy, was a Berliner; you now, you are
not a Berliner, but a European, I'd say, because I think that you belong to our
family, really. The United States helped Europe, even at the most difficult
point, even when Europe was becoming more and more powerful -- like making up a
Euro in the last building of our new Europe.
Now we are 375 million
people. We shall arrive to 500 million people with enlargement. And we
discussed enlargement this morning and we discussed how enlargement can be
performed quickly, well, in a peaceful way, not harming anybody, and being
accepted also by Russia. This almost was a photo op of the meeting that I had
with the Russian President Putin just the day before yesterday, discussing how
enlargement would be done, and the aim, the goals of enlargement.
Concerning the point you didn't touch in our relation, we discussed
frankly about trade. And, of course, conflicts between the two biggest trade
powers in the world are always possible. We are the largest trade in the world
and we represent more than 40 percent of world trade.
We are committed,
and we decided to be committed today to a more territorial trade system, and
all trade disputes will be settled case by case under WTO rules. This was
clear, there was a clear commitment. And we decided also that megaphone
diplomacy will be replaced by telephone diplomacy. It is more constructive,
even less sexy.
I am pleased that we have already two results of this
cooperation. After three years of discussion, we are finally able to come today
with a solution to settle our difference on that of protection, which is a very
delicate issue. And then we developed jointly the safe harbor concept. And so
we shall have, together, high data protection standards and free information
This deal has been approved today by our member states, and so
will not be reviewed by the European Parliament; it's done. WTO accession of
China will take place very soon, I hope, we hope. We are working for that, and
we are, the two teams, the American-U.S. team and the European Union teams, are
really working together for that.
And we launch today the biotechnology
consultative forum to foster public debate and create more common
understanding. I remember that this forum, which I proposed in October last
year at my first meeting with you, Bill, is made of outstanding and independent
individuals from outside the government. It's a very independent body. And I do
expect that this forum will meet in July.
And so we agreed also to go
together to the G-8 with a strong agenda on the tragic problem of sickness in
the world. We shall elaborate this strategy for tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS
fighting over all the world. This is the agreement that we have today in a very
good friendship environment.
And also, I want to add as the last
reflection that -- you talked about the Balkans -- we know that together with
the action, with the Stability Pact, with the -- that you are doing day by day,
we must find a long-term solution in the idea of European Union spirit, in the
European Union environment in order to give a long-lasting solution to the
Balkan problems. Thank you.
Q Prime Minister Guterres and President
Prodi, in a few months President Clinton will make a decision about a national
missile defense system for the United States. For an American audience, can you
explain any European concerns about deploying such a system, and whether, in
your just-completed trip to Moscow, President Putin expressed any flexibility
about amending the ABM to allow such a system?
And President Clinton,
in the system that you envision, would that allow for the missile protection
system to protect Europe and our NATO allies, as Governor Bush has suggested?
PRIME MINISTER GUTERRES: Well, President Clinton was kind
enough to inform us about what he thinks about the matter. I think he'll
express that better than myself. I'd like to say that this is a matter in which
the European Union has not an official position, but we have -- I'll say all of
us -- a main concern. We live in the Northern Hemisphere where from bering to
bering we want to have a strong security situation. We believe we have built a
lot on the process to create that. And we believe that every new move to
strengthen these must be as comprehensive as possible, as agreed by everybody
as possible, and as corresponding as possible to everyone's concerns and to
everyone's preoccupations in this matter.
PRESIDENT PRODI: Well, I have
to add also that President Clinton -- there was no yet precise proposal done.
But we discussed it on the general principle that there was no decoupling, that
there is no division between the two sides of the Atlantic. We are still, and
we are more and more joined together in our defense purpose, not only in our
economic purposes. And so the spirit in which we judge the program -- we didn't
go into the details -- was a constructive and friendly talk.
Q And the
PRESIDENT PRODI: No, the Russian President didn't
touch the problem two days ago. The program was not on the agenda and we didn't
make any head to that.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: First, let me just very
briefly reiterate the criteria that I have set out for making a decision. First
of all, is there a threat which is new and different? The answer to that, it
seems to me, is plainly, yes, there is and there will be one. That is the
danger that states that are not part of the international arms control and
nonproliferation regime would acquire nuclear weapons and the missiles to
deliver them, and that they might make them available to rogue elements not
part of nation states, but allied with them.
Secondly, is the
technology available to meet the threat? Thirdly, what does it cost? Fourthly,
what is the impact of deploying a different system on our overall security
interests, included but not limited to arms control? So that is the context in
which this decision must be made and why I have worked so hard to try to
preserve the international framework of arms agreements.
Now, I have
always said that I thought that if the United States had such technology, and
if the purpose of the technology is to provide protection against irresponsible
new nuclear powers and their possible alliances with terrorists and other
groups, then every country that is part of a responsible international arms
control and nonproliferation regime should have the benefit of this protection.
That's always been my position.
So I think that we've done a lot of
information sharing already with the Russians. We have offered to do more, and
we would continue to. I don't think that we could ever advance the notion that
we have this technology designed to protect us against a new threat, a threat
which was also a threat to other civilized nations who might or might not be
nuclear powers, but were completely in harness with us on a nonproliferation
regime, and not make it available to them. I think it would be unethical not to
do so. That's always been my position and I think that is the position of
everyone in this administration.
Q Mr. President, for Portuguese Public
Television. In the middle of this month, in Lithuania, nine countries met and
they expressed their will to be part of NATO and they want to work together.
Did you address the question of further NATO enlargement and how you all see
this kind of new "big bang"?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, the short answer
to your question is we didn't talk about further NATO enlargement. But we have
worked hard to try to make NATO relevant to the 21st century. We've taken in
new members. We have had partnerships with dozens of new democracies,
stretching all the way to Central Asia. We have specific agreements with
Ukraine and Russia. And I think we will have to continue to modernize the
structure of NATO as we go along.
And I think more and more, the
countries against whom NATO was once organized -- that is, Russia and other
members of part of the former Soviet bloc -- will see NATO as a partner, not a
former adversary, and you will see further integration and further cooperation.
That's what I believe will happen.
Q Yes, I'll start with Mr.
President. Now that you are formally a European, considering Mr. Prodi has
given you the qualification, I just wanted to ask you how do you feel about the
position that's been expressed by some members of your administration that
there is really not an adequate counterpart when they have to deal, for
example, on economic and financial matters? That there is Europe, but there are
no ministers. Every six months you meet a different President of the European
Union. Do you feel that it would be better for Europe as a whole to move
further ahead into further integration, expressing better and with more
determination their position?
And the same question is for Mr. Prodi
and for Mr. Guterres. Mr. Prodi, I know you've been attacked and some people
have been saying that Europe is really moving back into some kind of national
environment, a national policy. Isn't that a negative development? Thank you.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first, I think it's entirely a question for
Europeans to determine, how they should organize themselves and at what pace
this integration should proceed. But if you look at the roles now occupied, for
example, by Mr. Solana and Mr. Patton, if you look at the work that the EU has
done to get our common endeavors energized in Kosovo, for example, just in the
last few months, I think you have to say that the European Union is growing
stronger, not weaker, and that it's growing more effective.
should proceed from here depends upon, I think, both the attitudes of the
leaders, as well as popular opinion, and will be determined in no small measure
by what the specific circumstances are confronting Europe in the next 4, 5 to
But as an outsider, let me just say, I think that whenever
something is in the process of being born, being formed, maturing, and you want
to understand it, and then explain it to other people, which is what your job
is -- since you're in the media, you have to first understand it and explain it
to other people -- there is always the tendency to see in any specific event
evidence of a pattern which shows either that there's backsliding or
accelerating going forward. I think you have to resist that a little bit now,
because really history has no predicate for the European Union. Even the
formation of the United States out of the various states is not the same thing.
And we had quite a period of time before we had a national government, when we
were sort of a nation and we sort of weren't; when we were sort of together and
we sort of weren't; in a much simpler time, when the states had nothing like
the history all the nations of Europe have.
So I think that we all have
to have a little humility here and let this thing sort of unfold as history,
popular opinion and the vision of the leaders dictate. But I take it, from my
point of view as an American, I think that so far all the developments, on
balance, are very positive. I believe we want a strong and united Europe that
is democratic and secure, and a partner with us for dealing with the world's
challenges of the future. So I think it's going in the right direction and I
think it's a very good thing.
PRESIDENT PRODI: Well, on my side, the
answer is very simple. You know that the rotation of power is as ancient as
ancient Rome, you know, and Rome became Rome and it began with the rotation of
six months, as we are doing now. (Laughter.) But I can also add there is a
rotation of the President's Council, but there is no rotation of the President
of the Commission. And so there is some stability in this, on this power.
But I will tell you something more, just a hint, joining what Bill
Clinton told now -- look, let's stay on the path, let's stick on the facts. The
enlargement, resting on the facts, never happened in history to put together 11
currencies, you know. Let's stick on the facts -- never happen in history to
enlarge this democratic process as we are doing now.
I'm touring every
day in the new applying countries. And to see 12 parliaments working day and
night to apply the new legislation, to conform to the European legislation --
is something that it makes different with history. This is what is happening
now. And so I am not only confident that Europe is strong, but Europe will be
the real new event of the democracy of the 21st century.
GUTERRES: If I may add something. I think we have achieved a lot, but we are
not satisfied, we are going on. We have an intergovernmental conference taking
place now to improve our efficiency in decision-making, our democracy, our
transparency -- and to make sure we'll be able to cope with enlargement, and at
the same time, to deepen our integration.
And if one looks back at the
recent Lisbon extraordinary summit, I have to recognize that I, myself, was not
expecting the European Union to be able to take so many policy decisions in so
many relevant matters in such a quick frame of time, which proves that when we
want -- when we have the political will to do that, we really can have good
decisions, quick decisions, and can find the right path.
So I'm very
optimistic about the future of Europe, and I think my optimism is shared by all
those that want to join the European Union at this moment.
President, it's been a very busy couple of weeks in the Middle East, as you
know. I'm wondering whether what's happened there recently has created any new
opportunities for the peace process, what dangers it might have raised, and
whether anything that's happened there has given you new hope that the
September 13th deadline for a Palestinian-Israeli agreement will be reached?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think the decision of Prime Minister Barak
to withdraw the Israeli troops from southern Lebanon, in accordance with the
United Nations resolution, was, first of all, a daring one which creates both
new challenges and new opportunities. It changed the landscape. And from my
point of view, it imposes on -- it should impose, at least, on all parties a
greater sense of urgency, because things are up in the air again. So there is
an opportunity -- to use a much overworked phrase -- to create a new order, to
fashion a new peaceful order out of the principles of the Oslo Accord and all
that's been done in the year since.
But from my point of view it also
imposes a much greater sense of urgency. I think the consequences of inaction
are now likely to be more difficult because of this move. And so -- for
example, you have now -- just for example, you talked about the Palestinians. I
think this will heighten the anxieties of the Palestinians in Lebanon. Does
this mean that there is going to be a peace and, therefore, they will be able
to have a better life, either going home or going to some third country, going
to Europe, going to the United States; or does this mean that this is it and
there is sort of a new freezing of the situation? So there is anxiety in that
community. You see that in every little aspect of this.
I think, on
balance, it's good, because I believe they are going to reach an agreement. But
it both turns the tension up in all camps, and increases the overall price of
not reaching an agreement fairly soon, and the overall reward of reaching an
agreement fairly soon. It changes everything in a way that both increases the
pluses and increases the potential minuses. That's my analysis.
President Clinton, sir, can you confirm if it's true that tomorrow you will
meet in Lisbon with Prime Minister from Israel Ehud Barak?
CLINTON: Yes. I will, and I'm going to talk to Mr. Arafat before that, sometime
Q Mr. President, I'm from Indonesia. Since in the senior
level group it was mentioned the coordinated support for the President and
Indonesian government, how do you feel the political and economic development
in Indonesia? Thank you.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first, I think it's
worth pointing out that it's the largest Muslim country in the world, one of
the handful of nations which will determine much of the shape of the 21st
century, the next 30 or 40 years, by whether it does well or does poorly. So I
think that everything that has been done to try to stabilize the country
politically and get back to economic growth is a plus.
And I suppose,
like any outsider, my only wish is that more could be done more quickly,
because so many people within Indonesia's lives are at stake, and the rest of
us, we really need you to succeed.
PRIME MINISTER GUTERRES: If I may
say something that might sound surprising to you -- probably before this press
conference ends, our Minister of Foreign Affairs will fly to Jakarta. And under
the Portuguese presidency of the European Union, it will be held, the first
political dialogue between Indonesia and the European Union. And that also
shows the attachment we have in the European Union for democracy, peace and
stability in Indonesia.
Q The New York Times. Mr. Prime Minister, Mr.
President, could you share with us your impressions of President Putin, and the
extent to which you see any prospects for some flexibility on a political
solution in Chechnya? And President Clinton, could you kindly expand a bit on
your discussions today about Russia? And on the eve of your trip to Russia, do
you foresee any progress on any bilaterial issue, including arms control,
PRIME MINISTER GUTERRES: Well, in our last
meeting in Moscow, I must say that I was quite impressed by President Putin's
determination in creating in Russia a democratic state based on the market
economy and rule of law. It was also clear, from our point of view, that even
if our views about Chechnya are different, he said -- and he said publicly --
that he was committed to a political solution. And he also announced his firm
support to the inquiries to be made by an independent committee, his will to
see the OSC back, and to give better support to international organizations
involved in humanitarian help. And he even stressed in the press conference
that there would be people prosecuted for violations of human rights in
So even if this does not correspond entirely to what we
think, it really shows a move and a step which I believe is in a positive
PRESIDENT PRODI: I confirm that there was a precise
engagement on concrete decision to make inspections and transparency more
visible in Chechnya for the immediate weeks, for the time that is in front of
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me just say this. To start with a negative
and end with a positive, I would be surprised if we bridge all of our
differences on Chechnya, and I would be surprised if we resolved all of our
differences on the question of missile defense, although we might make more
headway than most people expect. I'm just not sure yet.
However, I do
expect that there will be two or three other areas where we will have truly
meaningful announcements that I think will make a real difference -- one of
them, in particular, we're working on it; if we get it done, it will be very,
So I think the trip is well worth it, and even in the
areas where we may not have an agreement, in some ways that may be the most
important reason for the trip of all. We shouldn't only do these trips and
these dialogues when we know we've got a guaranteed outcome. Sometimes it's
most important to be talking when there's still unresolved differences.
Q Mr. President, can you please explain the timing and reasoning behind
your visit tomorrow with Barak and tell us what you hope to accomplish?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes. They have -- first of all, all the balls are up
in the air as I just explained, and so there is both greater potential for
something happening, and also greater tension in the atmosphere, which is
causing a ripple effect in the relationship between the Israelis and the
Secondly, Mr. Barak and Mr. Arafat have set for
themselves an earlier timetable, as you know, to reach a framework agreement --
not a final agreement; that's supposed to be done in September -- but an
earlier one. And there are lots of things that need to be gone through that we
need to go through if we're even going to reach the framework agreement.
Because a lot of the toughest things have to be -- they'll have to come to
grips with those just to reach the framework agreement.
So I have been
looking for an opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Barak. As you know, he
was supposed to come to the United States a few days ago, and because of
developments in the region he could not come. Then he was going to come to
Germany and participate in an event to which he was invited anyway and we were
going to talk, and then he couldn't do that because of a holiday in Israel. So
this was the only shot we had to do it and still have enough time to meet the
deadline that both he and Mr. Arafat are trying to meet.
There's no --
you shouldn't overread this. It's not like there's some bombshell out there.
But we just really needed to have a face-to-face meeting, and we needed to do
it in this time frame. He couldn't come last week to the United States. Then he
couldn't come to Berlin to the meeting which he was also invited. So we're
doing the best we can with a difficult situation.
GUTERRES: Ladies and gentlemen, I must confess I have enjoyed sometime ago very
much a picture called "Never-ending Story," but I don't think we can repeat
that picture and transform this press conference in a new version. So, thank
you very much, all of you.
END 3:30 P.M. (L)