Remarks With Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn Before Their Meeting
Secretary of State
FOREIGN MINISTER ASSELBORN: So, good afternoon. It’s a real pleasure for me to welcome here John Kerry. He is Secretary of State of the United States of America, who is very, very appreciated in the European Union. All my colleagues in the European Union, they know about his experience, his competence, and also his energy. Personally, I always had a good – a very good relation and I was privileged to have good discussions with John Kerry, be it in the Security Council, be it in the European Union, and also beyond. So I think, John, if you allow me to say that we became friends.
Now, it’s a tragic day. The flags are at half-mast. You know that in Nice, dozens of victims again in a barbaric act of violence, so our thoughts are with the victims, with the families, and after the meeting we’ll stop a moment at the Gelle Fra, so our monument, to prove our solidarity with France. But I think that yesterday in Moscow, John Kerry spent – what I heard – about 12 hours with Sergey Lavrov, and the outcome of these negotiations could be crucial to stop the war in Syria, so with all the negative consequences that we know for the European Union, and therefore our thanks and our support to both of the foreign ministers.
On Turkey, we hope that calm will come back very soon. We are convinced that Turkey has to develop the democracy. We need a viable democracy in Turkey without violence, without victims. So in the European Union, and I think also the United States, we help Turkey to go this way.
Now, in our meeting we will touch upon other issues. One of the issues will be Brexit. Unfortunately, we know the result of the 23rd of June. Yes, we have to deal now with this result as European Union and, I think, also as UK, because European Union and UK, we need each other in the future and we have to negotiate a very, very strong and effective relationship between both of us.
Next point is certainly migration. We know that migration is a global issue, and we support the initiative of President Obama in September in New York, and also the initiative of Mr. Ban Ki-moon. It’s a global issue but Europe has still some problems to find and to speak with one voice, and here we have to continue our efforts.
And the last point, John, I think we have to speak also about this – that’s trade, TTIP. The challenge will be, if you know – and John Kerry knows the oppositions also in Europe and in his own country – we have to try to create conditions to reassure our citizens that all we are doing in these negotiations will not diminish or dilute the competencies of the parliaments, the competencies of the governments, and that we will stick to the high standards on both sides concerning the right of the consumers, protection of the consumers, labor standards, and also in environmental standards.
So it’s a bumpy road ahead, but if we have the will to come through, I think, on both sides, there is a political will to find a best way out. So thank you again, and I will – I spoke a little bit more than three minutes, I think, but every 11 years a secretary of state in Luxembourg, so I was allowed to do it. Please. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: So let me say what a pleasure it is for me to be here in Luxembourg, and particularly here at the invitation of and in the presence of my good friend, Jean Asselborn. Jean and I have really maintained a very close and solid working relationship throughout the time that I’ve been Secretary of State. I’ve enjoyed his company and I, most importantly, respect and appreciate his and Luxembourg’s many contributions of common sense and of courage to the challenges that we face in the world – as we have put together the coalition to deal with Daesh, ISIL, as we are coping with the challenge of terrorism on a global basis, but also as we face economic choices. Jean just talked about Brexit.
Let me begin, if I may, by saying just a couple of words about events in Turkey and where we stand. Last night, late, as I was leaving Moscow, I talked to President Obama. We agreed directly at that time – and I think the President has already read out our phone call – that the United States, without any hesitation, squarely and unequivocally stands for democratic leadership, for the respect for a democratically elected leader, and for a constitutional process in that regard, and we stand by the Government of Turkey. It is our understanding that things are now calm, that order is being restored. I talked directly with my foreign minister counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, last night, at the time where things were still uncertain as to what was happening, and expressed my confidence in him and in the government and our readiness to be supportive. And at this moment, all of our embassy personnel are 100 percent accounted for and okay. We are working to determine that all of our citizens who are traveling in Turkey are equally well taken care of and protected.
There was, obviously, an unfortunate loss of life, and so we extend our sympathies to all of the families of the victims to – and our hope that in the immediate hours here, things will remain calm, that there will be a constitutional process and a legal process that will deal appropriately with coup plotters. But as of this moment, Turkey’s cooperation with us in our counterterrorism efforts, in our NATO obligations, and in our regional efforts with respect to Syria and ISIS have not been affected negatively. All of that has continued as before.
I’m sure that people will wonder about allegations of who may have instigated this and where support came from. The United States will obviously be supportive of any legitimate investigative efforts, and under due process and within the law, we will be completely supportive of efforts to assist the Government of Turkey, if they so request.
Now, I want to thank Luxembourg for a very special friendship. I just had the privilege of meeting with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Guillaume, who recently visited Wisconsin in the United States. There is a large population of Luxembourgers in Wisconsin and in – there are elsewhere, but a very large one there. He was extremely warmly received, as he should be. There was a great sense of connection. But we have connections way beyond that – through world wars and through the building of democracy and the aftermath of war. Luxembourg is an important voice, much bigger than its population, much stronger and present than its size. And we have respect for that and appreciation for it.
With respect to Brexit, I’d just say everybody knows that we, the United States, did not want it and did not think it was a good idea, but we respect that the voters voted for it and we respect that Britain has a new government. And I’ve already talked to my counterpart, the new foreign minister, and I will do all I can to carry out President Obama’s instructions to all of us to make this as smooth and as absent of disruption as possible.
I will say also that while sometimes things look bleak and difficult, there’s opportunity in everything, and you have to find the opportunity, you have to work to do that with creative leadership. And I am absolutely confident that if people approach this thoughtfully, studiously, soberly, with creativity, there is a way to find strength out of whatever we do ahead. And the reason I say that is that the very same interests and the very same values that brought us together before that vote are still as important today, after it, as they were then. And so we have to organize ourselves around those values and around those interests, and I’m confident that we will do so.
So with your permission, Jean and I are going to spend a little time talking about all these things, but I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASSELBORN: Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, have you received a request to extradite Mr. Gulen?
SECRETARY KERRY: No, we haven’t received any request with respect to Mr. Gulen. We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gulen, and obviously, we invite the Government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that stands – withstands scrutiny, and the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately. And I’m confident that there will be some discussion about that.
QUESTION: Given the closeness of military ties between Turkey and the United States as NATO members, how could this happen without any hints to people in the United States?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, not very hard, frankly. If you’re planning a coup, you don’t exactly advertise it to your partners in NATO. So it surprised everybody, including the people in Turkey. I must say, it does not appear to have been a very brilliantly planned or executed event, but let’s reserve all judgment until all the facts are in. I don’t want to comment on it except to reaffirm what I said earlier: We do not believe that that’s the appropriate way to proceed. Turkey has an electoral process, a democratic process, plenty of opportunity for people to contest their ideas in the marketplace of democracy, and we stand by the democratically elected leader and leadership of Turkey, and we made that very clear last night to them and to others.
Thank you very much.