Joint Press Availability With EU High Representative Federica Mogherini

Press Availability
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Justus Lipsius Building
Brussels, Belgium
July 18, 2016


HIGH REPRESENTATIVE MOGHERINI: Thank you very much. John, welcome. It’s an honor and it’s been a pleasure to welcome you for the first time at the Foreign Affairs Council with the 28 foreign ministers of our union just a few days after our leaders summit in Warsaw, where we clearly reaffirmed that transatlantic unity has never been so important and so strong. And the EU-U.S. relationship and common work is vital to both of us in addressing all foreign and global challenges. Actually, there is not one single issue related to foreign security policy on which we are not working closely together on a single – daily basis.

First of all, we discussed with the ministers the situation in Turkey. You know very well the European Union was the first to stress the importance during that tragic night to uphold the legitimacy of the institutions, and we continue to do so, condemning the coup – the attempt of having a coup. At the same time, we call for the full observance of Turkey’s constitutional order, and we as European Union stress the importance of the rule of law prevailing in the country. We share concerns about what is happening in the country these hours. We need to respect – to have Turkey respect democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. We will continue discussing this issue with the foreign ministers now at the beginning of the formal session of the Foreign Affairs Council, so expect some council conclusions also on that. But in this respect, I have to say that messaging towards the same lines – on the same lines from the very beginning between the EU and the U.S. were very potent and crucial.

Another issue where we cooperate very closely and tightly is the fight against terrorism, and this is even more important after what we saw happening in Nice, but also in the United States, in other parts of the world – Asia or the Middle East. And this will also be on the agenda of the meeting of the global coalition against Daesh this week in Washington, so we will meet again there under your leadership and strengthen our cooperation on counterterrorism in different forms.

We obviously took advantage of you coming back from Moscow to have a debrief on your talks on Syria in particular with Russian authorities. The European Union and the United States work closely together to try to have talks restarted in Geneva with a situation on the ground that needs to be built with some credibility, starting with a cessation of hostilities that holds. We exchanged in this respect, and the European Union is and continues to be ready to support even more the political transition process once the situation from the military aspects gets more under control.

We also had good exchanges on our common work on Libya – that is key for both of us – and on the Middle East peace process, where we value enormously the common work we’ve done in the framework of the Quartet that produced a significant report with important recommendations that were endorsed by the 28 foreign ministers and that we will follow up together very closely – really working hand in hand in this respect.

We also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine. Here also the European Union and the United States believe firmly that the full implementation of Minsk of is the way ahead and we’re working in that direction together.

I would like to close by thanking you, John, for your personal commitment all of these years and in these difficult months and weeks to strengthen and improve every single day the EU-U.S. relationship. I remember very well that at the beginning of the Obama Administration, he made reference to the need to, let’s say, strengthen the friendships that are based on our common values and history, and I can say that you managed in that respect. Our friendship has never been so strong and so important.

I would also like to thank you personally, and through you the U.S. Administration and President Obama, for the strong message and clear message that we always hear from you on the need for a strong and united Europe. And let me say that sometimes we need our closest friends, our best friends to remind us the extraordinary value of the European Union. And we appreciate that; we value that. This is extremely important to remind all Europeans of the responsibilities we hold not only towards our citizens but also towards our partners, so thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning to everybody. And Federica, thank you. Thank you very much for your personal comments just now. Thank you for your affirmation of the strength of the relationship between the United States and the EU, and thank you for your own leadership and friendship and for the way in which you have really conducted yourself in a very difficult job. You have 28 countries that you work with extraordinarily effectively, and we appreciate it very, very much.

And I want to thank all the members of the FAC. Today, the committee, with whom I met – it was an extremely constructive – it was lengthy. Everybody who wanted to have a chance to speak, had a chance to speak and shared thoughts and asked questions. So we had a very, very constructive exchange, an exchange which I heard I am the first Secretary of State to have engaged in – with the foreign affairs committee. And I feel very privileged for having done so, but I might say also I found it very helpful, very constructive, and I think it’s something we probably ought to be doing on a regular basis. But that’s obviously up to our friends here at the EU.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE MOGHERINI: Deal. Deal.

SECRETARY KERRY: Deal. (Laughter.) All right, it’s a deal.

To start with, I want to reiterate a message that President Obama and I have delivered frankly time and again in recent weeks, and that message is very simple and very straightforward. It is that the U.S.-EU partnership is strong – strong today, will remain strong into the future, it is enduring, and it is unbreakable. And it is all of those things for some very simple reasons.

Yesterday when I was in Luxembourg, I had the privilege of visiting the American Cemetery there, where there are some 5,000 Americans buried, including General George Patton. And I was given a tour and reminded of a history that I have personally read for many years. I have read a lot about World War II; I’m fascinated by it. And I was intrigued to see the maps reminding us of the original invasion of Normandy and the way the troops dispersed and the Canadians moving up in the north and the Americans and General Patton and the Third Army moving through. And then, of course, the Battle of the Bulge, which was the most costly battle of the war, with some 87,000 Americans losing their lives in the course of that battle alone – the largest single number of casualties in one battle in the course of the war.

And as I measured the sacrifices that were made, counted in the crosses and in the history that was reviewed there, and as I thought about the journey of the European project from its earliest days – from Jean Monnet, from Konrad Adenauer, from all of the great hurdles that have been surpassed – the unification of Germany; the creation of a single currency for 19 countries of the 28; 24 languages spoken by 28 nations; the remarkable progress the people of Europe have experienced as a result; the amazing growth in income, the growth in quality of living; the shared responsibility of the IMF, of the World Bank, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of all of the values and interests that bring us together – this is why the relationship is so important.

And all of those interests, all of those values that have united us for all of these years were the same, as I said previously, before the vote that took place in the United Kingdom as they are today. And Boris Johnson made clear today in his own comments that the United Kingdom intends to remain a critical, vital, strong component of the European relationship and of the United States relationship with Europe. So our cooperation, we have learned – our cooperation, all of us together – is essential to promoting international peace, stability, security, and prosperity. And I underscore the peace and the prosperity components of that.

Now, obviously, with a new government taking shape in the United Kingdom and negotiations upcoming on Britain’s departure from the EU, there’s obviously some uncertainty out there.

But what we came out of this meeting with today was, frankly, a remarkable sense of unity, a commitment; a calm, if you will – very calm but resolved dedication to finding the strength and finding the benefits and defining a future that keeps those interests that brought us together and those values that brought us together at the forefront of our efforts.

So the fact is we are collaborating now as intensely and as widely as we ever have, and I am convinced we will continue to do that. As the U.S., the EU, and the UK share – all of us – an interest in the smoothest possible transition and the highest levels of integration and the highest levels of collaboration, I am convinced we are all being guided by the same set of objectives.

Now, my presence in Brussels today reflects America’s commitment to that cooperation, and so did the breadth of the discussions that we had at the breakfast this morning. The fullness of our agenda is absolutely extraordinary.

To begin with, we are all united in fighting back against terror, and we were united today in expressing our grief in the wake of last week’s horrific attack in Nice. France is a founding member of the EU and one of America’s oldest allies, and the act of savagery in Nice will only strengthen our shared resolve to combat the forces of violent extremism everywhere.

Those forces may not understand that. They may take those words for granted when we say that. And unfortunately, we have been called on to say it too many times in the last months with Orlando, with Paris, with Belgium, with Nice, with Ankara. But despite these events – these spectacular moments of killing, of death and mayhem, calculated to try to scare people – we maintain our resolve and we maintain our conviction that we are in fact making progress as we need to. And that will be further elucidated in the meeting that we are having with 45 nations – with defense ministers and foreign ministers – in Washington this week, when we will come together to not only review what we are accomplishing but to self-criticize and to try to analyze what we can do better and do faster.

We also discussed this morning the unfolding situation on the ground in Turkey – a NATO ally, obviously, and a key partner to the EU. We stand squarely on the side of the elected leadership in Turkey, which President Obama and I both stated in the course of the events, in the early hours, as they were unfolding that night. But we also firmly urge the Government of Turkey to maintain calm and stability throughout the country. And we also urge the Government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation’s democratic institutions and the rule of law. And we will certainly support bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice, but we also caution against a reach that goes well beyond that and stress the importance of the democratic rule being upheld. We were pleased to see that the operations at Incirlik have been restored and we are all determined to make sure that the efforts against ISIL or Daesh do not miss a beat in the days ahead.

In addition, at this meeting today we reviewed the situation in Syria, and I briefed the FAC on my visit to Moscow over the Friday and weekend. We discussed some of the specific sequential steps that I talked about the other day that the United States and Russia have agreed to take in order to restore a cessation of hostilities and halt the indiscriminate bombing of the Assad regime and to step up efforts against al-Nusrah and to create space for a genuine and credible political transition. The meetings that we referred to – the homework that needed to be done is being done right now as I speak, and this week there will be further meetings. And I anticipate as we are ready, we will announce further steps as we go forward.

Further, we also addressed today the fight against Daesh, against ISIL. And I want to stress that the fight to cut off that group’s leadership, its finances; to reduce the ranks of fighters and to shrink its territory are underway, and each and every one of those objectives is seeing gains in each of those sectors.

We reaffirmed our support today and talked about the next steps that we need to take to strengthen the Government of National Accord in Libya. We examined how we can further back Prime Minister Sarraj’s campaign to counter Daesh, to improve governance, and to respond to economic and humanitarian needs, and also to strengthen the counterterrorism capabilities.

We also reiterate – we reiterated the United States and the EU’s strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We talked about the process now in place that I talked about further with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov for the further implementation of the Minsk agreement. We talked about the importance of continued reform within Ukraine with its anti-corruption agenda. And we also talked about the full need for the security measures that need to be put in place to be defined in a way that creates a sequential process for both political and security steps. I updated the group this morning on our efforts in Moscow to back the work of France and Germany in accelerating the pace of the Minsk implementation, especially on the security side.

Finally, we talked about the U.S.-EU economic relationship and our shared goal to conclude an ambitious TTIP this year. This remains a high priority for President Obama and for our Administration, and there’s a reason for that, and I talked about that reason with the countries there today. I know there have been a couple of comments, because I’ve read them, from certain people in the region, suggesting somehow that TTIP will not or cannot proceed forward. But we, frankly, gracefully – I hope – and respectfully disagree, because we believe that there is some mythology that has been attached to it. And it’s our job to make sure that we adequately inform people about the ways in which the facts of the TTIP actually work for the people of Europe – that it will create jobs; it will protect their interests, protect their regulatory rights, protect their ability with respect to labor and environment. And in – I think as people learn the facts, there will be an important opportunity for us to be able to take steps forward.

I also believe that in the wake of what has been taking place with respect to the discussions on the economy relative to whatever impact Brexit may or may not have, TTIP actually becomes more important, because it is a large market. And when you’re talking about a very significant marketplace between the United States and Europe, that has a very significant ability to act as a counter to whatever negatives may or may not ultimately attach themselves to whatever construct is negotiated between the UK and Europe. So I intend to be back here in the next months, giving several speeches in various places to lay out the facts and help people to understand exactly what the positive side – an upboost of economic growth, which Europe needs; of upgrade of international standards in trade and capacity for people to sell their goods in various parts of the world; and to protect workers’ rights at the same time.

So, my friends, the events of the recent weeks have really just underscored the importance of our relationship, the importance of the road ahead. And before we start to take some questions, let me just emphasize the meaning of what I just talked about with respect to the war, which a lot of people don’t tap into, don’t remember that well, or even, certainly, only understand from a history book. There’s a whole separation, obviously, of time, which has changed attitudes for some people.

But no one should forget that what we did was defeat fascism, defeat the greatest evil that the world knew at that time. And we did it through our unity and we did it through our commitment mutually to the values and the interests that we share. Since then, we’ve seen a Berlin Wall built up and then torn down; a Germany divided and then reunited; a solidarity created that created the fall of communism and the subsequent rise of democracies from the West to the East and the North to the South – more democracies today in the world than at any time in our history.

So we have stood united in order to end ethnic cleansing in the Balkans; to halt the spread of disease; to deliver food, water, medicine, and care to communities in need. We’ve rebuilt our economies after a great financial crisis. We made clear that we’re not going to be intimidated by terrorists – not in the Middle East, not in Orlando, not in Brussels, not in Nice, not anywhere.

And throughout that period, we have built and sustained and expanded and strengthened institutions that promote peace, advance prosperity, and bring us closer together for our mutual benefit – institutions like the European Union. And I ask anyone who questions the importance of the EU or its relationship with the United States to never forget not just the history that I articulated, but the increase of prosperity, the rise in the standard of living – the better health care, the better education opportunities, the better promotion and protection of rights for individuals throughout the EU – as a consequence of what we have done together.

So I believe this partnership today is not just as strong but it is equally just as important and is – as it has ever been. And I’m confident that we are going to meet the challenges before us. We’re going to turn whatever this challenge presents us into something stronger and something better for the simple reason that our interests and our values are so unique and so connected that they demand that we do so. And I look forward to any questions.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We’ll have time for very – just a couple of questions before noon, so Daniel may be first.

QUESTION: Daniel Brossler, Suddeutschen Zeitung. First question for Vice President Mogherini. There was talk in Turkey about reintroducing the death penalty. If that would happen, would that end accession talks with the European Union, and would that actually endanger arrangements the EU has, for example, in the refugee question?

And Secretary Kerry, if I may, are you worried that in Turkey actually – a NATO partner and important partner in the fight against ISIL – is shifting away from democracy to an authoritarian system? And what actually can the U.S., what can NATO do to prevent that?

And a second question, if I may, about the preacher, Gulen. Have you received from Turkey any fresh information or evidence that he might be linked to the coup attempt? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Go ahead.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE MOGHERINI: We are – you hear me? We are seeing a debate in Turkey. We are also seeing that political forces are starting to react. When we mentioned the fact that we need to preserve the legitimate and democratic institutions, that includes the parliament.

Let me be very clear on one thing – actually, on two. One, no country can become a EU member-state if it introduces death penalty. That is very clear in our acquis, as we call it. So this is for sure. The other point I would like to stress, even if this is not the institution I am entitled to speak for, but Turkey is part – an important part – of the Council of Europe. It’s an important member of the Council of Europe, and as such is bound by the European Convention of Human Rights that is very clear on death penalty. I hope I’ve been clear.

And let me add something that maybe it’s useful to stress here: We have been the first to stress the need during that difficult hours – the need for having the legitimate institutions protected against the attempt of coup. This is no excuse to take the country away from fundamental rights and rule of law, and we will be extremely vigilant on that for the sake not of the European Union or negotiations, but for the sake of Turkey itself and for the sake of Turkish people.

SECRETARY KERRY: So very quickly, let me just say with respect to NATO and the movement of Turkey, obviously, NATO also has a requirement with respect to democracy, and NATO will indeed measure very carefully what is happening. And my hope is that Turkey is going to move in ways that do respect what they have said to me many times is the bedrock of their country. I mean, I spoke with the foreign minister three times in the last days, and he assured me that they fully intended to respect the democratic process and the law. Now, obviously, a lot of people have been arrested and arrested very quickly, and so as Federica has said, I think the level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead. And we’ll work very closely, and hopefully we can work in a constructive way that prevents a backsliding, and that is our hope.

With respect to Fethullah Gulen, we have received no request for extradition. Specifically, though, President Erdogan obviously in his public comments the other day called on the United States to return him to Turkey. I made it clear to the foreign minister there is indeed a very formal process for that, and there has to be a formal extradition requirement – request submitted through the appropriate channels, legal channels. There is a standard under our system of law that applies to that. I urged the foreign minister to make certain that in whatever portfolio and request they send us, they send us evidence, not allegations. We need to see genuine evidence that withstands the standard of scrutiny that exists in many countries’ system of law with respect to the issue of extradition. And if it meets that standard, there’s nothing – there’s no interest we have in standing in the way of appropriately honoring the treaty that we have with Turkey with respect to extradition. But we – and let me emphasize that we’ve never had such a request, we’ve never had such evidence, and we are doing nothing whatsoever to stand in the way of a legitimate process which respects the treaty.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I’m afraid we have to stop due to the minute of silence at 12 o’clock that (inaudible) must attend in the Foreign Affairs Council. Thank you very much for --

SECRETARY KERRY: Apologize, folks. We ran a little late, so bear with us. Thank you.

MODERATOR: And we’ll see you after the Foreign Affairs Council. Thank you.