Remarks With Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, European Union External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and European Union High Representative Javier Solana

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Brussels, Belgium
March 6, 2009

FOREIGN MINISTER SCHWARZENBERG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry that you – we kept you waiting for such a long time, but I have some good news. Madame Secretary confirmed that President Obama accepted the invitation to participate in the EU-27 plus United States in a formal summit in Prague on April 5th, 2009. This is great news for Europe, and I genuinely believe that the summit will represent an important milestone in the European Union-United States relation. And it’s wonderful that we have it during the Prague presidency, but it’s not for the Czech Republic so important; it’s a symbol for the whole of Europe that the President of the United States comes to a small country in the center of Europe to meet the European Union.

We also discussed possible main topics for the summit, of course, such as Afghanistan, energy security and climate changes issues, and the whole area from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea, and probably we will include, too, the Balkans in our (inaudible) on the summit. Given the fact that Madame Secretary will be accompanying Mr. President, I am pleased to invite European colleagues to Prague, too.

Today, we have touched upon several issues, such as Russia, energy security, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, the Balkans, climate change, as well as some aspects of financial crisis. We have agreed to work together to stimulate Russia to play a constructive role on the international stage. The Georgian crisis and the (inaudible) gas crisis represented a serious setback in our relations with Russia. As a result, we will incentivize cooperation with Georgia and other Eastern European partners, yet we also need to diversify the gas and oil resources.

The United States expressed support in this direction. I reassured Madame Secretary that Afghan police reform and (inaudible) mission in Afghanistan remain top priority for the EU, and Europe will maximize its efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan.

On Iran, we both agreed that only firm, united, and coordinated approach of the international community may lead to a tangible result. Continuation of the Iranian nuclear program and uranium enrichment is unacceptable.

On the Middle East we have reiterated the importance of a two-state solution. The EU will continue to support the Egyptian efforts in the peace process. The role of the Quartet remains instrumental for reaching the solution. We are pleased that the new United States Administration reconfirmed its role in the Quartet.

On climate change, the EU looks forward to the active engagement of the United States in international negotiations, and working with the United States in leading efforts to secure a global agreement.

And now, may I ask you, Madame Secretary, to take the floor.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg and High Representative Solana, External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. I appreciate the very warm reception that I have received on behalf of President Obama and our country as we work to bring U.S.-EU cooperation to a new level.

President Obama and I intend to energize the transatlantic relationship and to promote a strong European Union – and more fundamentally, a strong Europe. The EU is a union of friends and allies. We share values, interests, and a rich history of working together to confront common challenges and seize common opportunities. The lesson we have learned is clear: We derive strength from each other. A strong Europe is a strong partner for the United States, and the Obama Administration intends for the United States to be a strong partner for Europe.

Two nights ago I attended the transatlantic dinner, a gathering of foreign ministers from both NATO and EU countries. The event reinforced my belief that these two great institutions can and should cooperate seamlessly; indeed, to meet our common challenges they must. This is also a belief that President Obama shares, which is why he will attend a special EU summit in Prague after he attends the NATO summit.

The President and I believe in a strong NATO working together with a strong EU. We cannot afford to waste energy or resources. We all must be focused on the same agenda. We have embraced the EU’s new missions, like EULEX in Kosovo, where the United States is participating for the first time in an operation led by the European Security and Defense Policy. We are also committed to listening, consulting, and working in concert to deliver smart solutions to our shared challenges.

And today, as the foreign minister said, we discussed a great number of these challenges. I pledged American support for EU initiatives to build a single energy market and to diversify gas supplies. EU leadership and unity were pivotal in resolving Russia’s recent gas cutoff to Ukraine and Europe, and that leadership may be needed again in the future.

We talked about a way forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and I solicited EU input in our ongoing strategy review. Our conversation centered around the civilian elements of our new approach, including the EU’s priority on governance, rule of law, and police reform.

We also discussed the financial crisis. Together the U.S. and the EU produce half of the world’s GDP and generate 40 percent of its commerce. If we’re going to stabilize our markets and reenergize our economies, we will need a coordinated strategy in advance of the G-20 and an effort that demands joint consultation, joint leadership, and joint follow-up.

So on an array of emerging and persistent challenges, from Iran to climate change to the conflict in the Middle East, we shared ideas and laid the groundwork for future cooperation. The United States and Europe are both great centers of power – economic, diplomatic, and cultural – and we have responsibilities to match that great power. As we have so often and so well in the past, we must work together closely now and into the future, and I am confident that we will.

Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER SCHWARTZENBERG: Thank you. Javier, would you like to speak?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Everything has been said and well said.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you. Thank you very much. We have time for a few questions.

QUESTION: I’m Bob Burns of AP. I have a question for Secretary Clinton. Regarding your discussions this evening in Geneva, are you looking to set a date to begin the START talks? And also, is the U.S. willing to include in that strategic defense as part of a negotiable item; in other words, missile defense broadly?

And if I may ask the Czech minister, what is the level of your government’s concern that if the U.S. were to abandon its missile defense plans in your country and in Poland that that would embolden the Russians? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Bob, first of all, I am looking forward to my meeting this evening in Geneva with Minister Lavrov. We have a very broad agenda to discuss. And I discussed some of what I will be raising with Minister Lavrov with my colleagues here at our luncheon.

Specifically with regard to START, we are beginning the work now. There’s been ongoing contact and consultations. We intend to vigorously engage on this in preparation for having a START agreement that will continue on beyond the one that expires at the end of this year. We’re looking at all aspects of our relationship when it comes to offensive and defensive weapons, not just in START but across the board with our nonproliferation consultation.

I would just reiterate with respect to missile defense, as I’ve said numerous times before and as I believe very fervently, missile defense is an element of our joint defense posture. It obviously has to be proven to work and be cost-effective for it to be deployed in the Czech Republic and in Poland, but it is intended to be part of a deterrent and a defensive response vis-à-vis Iran and other actors that might obtain and determine to use missiles against Europe.

We believe that Russia and the United States have the opportunity to cooperate on missile defense, to do joint research and joint development, and even eventually –assuming we can reach such an agreement – joint deployment. This is the 21st century. Just as NATO is reviewing our strategic concept and the European Union is looking at its defense policy, we need to be prepared to provide mutual defense in effective manners. And we’re going to continue to explore various ways of doing that. And if missile defense is proven to work and is cost-effective, it can be a part of that overall defense.

Finally, with respect to the Czech Republic and Poland, as I said yesterday at NATO, I think both countries, their people, and their governments, showed visionary leadership in recognizing that there are new threats that need to be addressed in new ways in order for us to guarantee the safety and security of Europe against these actors, whether it be Iran or a terrorist network, whatever it might be. So that is the argument and the case that I’m taking to Russia.

But were it not for Poland and the Czech Republic being willing to step up and be part of this new defense posture, we would not be able to engage with Russia on this.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. (Inaudible) from Czech radio. A question on Guantanamo. I know that it wasn’t on the agenda today, but who knows when will you arrive here again, so I’ll use this opportunity to ask you that question.

Several European states have already stated their willingness to adopt or to take some inmates in Europe. When will United States ask officially Europe to do so, if you want to ask it? Thanks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Actually, it was on the agenda. I thanked the EU for working with us to determine a policy regarding detainees from Guantanamo. As you know, the Obama Administration has been in office a little over six weeks but we’ve already launched a very aggressive review of the detainees at Guantanamo.

When the President signed the executive order for closing Guantanamo, he said at the time that we’re going to do this right. We’re going to take every single file and review it. If we determine that it would be appropriate for a particular detainee to be relocated, we will discuss that with our friends and partners like the EU. When we are ready to do so, we will have that conversation.

QUESTION: Viola Gienger from Bloomberg News. Madame Secretary, can you comment on your views about how well Europe is handling dealing with the economic crisis at this point in relation to the joint efforts with the United States?

And Mr. Foreign Minister, could you please comment on what kind of compromises the European Union and European countries may be willing to make in order to gain the sort of unity that people talk is – talk about being needed to deal effectively with the economic crisis?

SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to the economic crisis, I think that there’s a great deal of close coordination and planning that is going on in preparation for the G-20 summit in London. As you know, Prime Minister Brown recently visited the White House and engaged in extensive conversations with President Obama and our economic team.

I think that there is a very clear set of items that will be on agenda for the G-20 that will address the multiple aspects of this crisis: how do we stimulate demand; how do we provide assistance to countries that find themselves in difficult financial condition; how do we come up with a new architecture for the regulatory framework for the new economy, which has so many different instruments and the capacity to trade trillions of dollars with the flick of a computer key. There are so many matters that we are attempting to address, and the cooperation has been very positive.

We all understand that it is in our joint interest to work together. As I said in my remarks, the United States and Europe are blessed to have so much economic capacity. Between us we have more than 800 million people, and so we have a special responsibility which we are trying to exercise responsibly. I think we’ll be well prepared for the G-20.

FOREIGN MINISTER SCHWARTZENBERG: Well, let’s (inaudible) one thing. As you well know, the presiding power in the European Union has, as a main job, a moderating job. It’s not that we decide the presidency, but that we moderate the discussion between the member-states of the European Union. You are perfectly right that there are different opinions between the European states. There are more interventionist states, there are more states who prefer a more liberal attitude, and so that’s all right for us. We are bringing the people together. We are consulting each step with our partners in the European Union. We’re discussing it as with Germany, as Britain, as with France and with Italy, with whoever is interested – also Dutch. And I do think it’s the only way in this community of 27 to reach a compromise.

We have to realize that in spite of a common market, the conditions in the different European states are very different, and the economic crisis showed different degrees of intensity and results in different European countries. There’s a different situation in Ireland and in Belgium, there’s a different situation in France and in Germany, and there’s a different situation in Hungary and Czech Republic. We have to look at it individually and make our steps according to the conditions of each single state.

COMMISSIONER FERRERO-WALDNER: May I add, because the Commission has made a lot of proposals here, that indeed our proposals are going in the direction to coordinate, to bring together. And I think Madame Secretary has mentioned all the different items that are as much on our agenda as they are on your agenda, if you think of financial regulation, the rating agencies, the question of not starting protectionism now. And all of these things will, of course, be discussed in London. They have been discussed already under the Czech presidency, as the president rightly said at the last informal European Council. We’ll be there at the European spring council, and then we hope to come together to find a common strategy, of course, at the London meeting.

MODERATOR: Last question (inaudible).

QUESTION: Darren Ennis of Reuters. Madame Secretary, regarding climate change, you just recently visited China. What sort of climate change deal is acceptable to the United States and China? Did China indicate, for instance, what sort of cuts it would like from the United – it was willing to accept?

And to Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg and to Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, how concerned are you that this weekend we may have another gas crisis? Can you bring up to date, you know, on negotiations? Have you any indication from Russia that they won’t switch off the taps this weekend?

SECRETARY CLINTON: As to China and climate change, we had very productive talks. I brought with me the Special Envoy for Climate Change that President Obama and I have appointed. He will be leading our efforts going toward Copenhagen. In addition to the ministerial talks, he was able to begin discussions with his counterparts in the Chinese Government. I was heartened that in my discussions with the foreign minister and other Chinese officials, they were quite forthcoming in saying they wanted to participate in Copenhagen.

Now obviously, just as the foreign minister said regarding the varieties of economic conditions within the European Union and indeed the world as we look at this economic crisis, the climate crisis manifests itself in different ways in different countries and their reactions will be comparably varied. Our challenge is to create a regimen that includes a number of different approaches.

President Obama said in his speech to Congress a week or so ago that we are committed to a cap-and-trade system. But we’re committed to a lot of other things. We’re making major investments now in our stimulus package in alternative energy and in basic science research, in new forms of fueling transportation and so much else, as well as upgrading our grid. The European Union is taking a similarly broad approach.

I think it’s very important that at the beginning of this effort, that China has expressed a willingness to participate. They understand they’ve got to be part of the solution. They recognize that they have just surpassed the unfortunate historic record that we have held of being the largest emitter. They now hold that position. But I also spoke about this in Japan, in Korea, and in Indonesia. Each of them have different problems. Indonesia is a very large emitter because of deforestation, so the solution for Indonesia may not be the solution for China, which may not be the solution for Europe or the United States.

What I’m hoping for is to have as tight a regime with measureable benchmarks and accountability with specified outcomes, but there will be different approaches that can fit within this regime and that’s what we’re attempting to begin work on.

MS. FERRERO-WALDNER: Well, let me answer to that. Again, we have been working from the outset with the United States. But we see with this Administration a very different attitude. We see the attitude of openness, and as Madame Secretary has said just now, we are going totally in the same direction. And we would like to a binding agreement by the end of the year in Copenhagen.

And for that, we have to go for binding commitments on the developed side. But we also want to have a different shaded approach on the developing side. And we know we still have quite a while to go. But this makes a huge difference now. Now, we have United States with us, and United States has Europe with her. So I think that is a new approach, and we are quite hopeful.

FOREIGN MINISTER SCHWARTZENBERG: Okay, that now (inaudible) answer the question which was posed to me. (Inaudible) information that I have is that Ukraine paid its debts so the flow of gas shouldn’t be endangered. About intra-Ukrainian quarrels and fights and actions, I would like to comment that task of Ukraine – or the question of Ukraine interior policy, and it’s not up to me to comment.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much.


PRN: 2009/T2-14