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Press conference following US-EU Ministerial

Press conference following US-EU Ministerial

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman (Lisbon, Portugal)

For immediate release March 3, 2000

Press Conference By Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine

Following U.S.-EU Ministerial EU Presidency Headquarters Lisbon, Portugal March 3, 2000

FOREIGN MINISTER GAMA: (inaudible)..a very risky situation, because we had so productive talks, that we have nothing to tell to you. (laughter) This is also a change, but for stimulating your questions, I would say that we had a huge agenda, European security and defense policies and United States assessment and contributions on that, Southeastern Europe, Russia, also trade issues, Middle East, human rights, biotechnology and preparing for the next summit in Portugal. And in the meantime we also anticipated some in-between talks in Washington for Commission Secretary General and Presidency, in order to prepare the summit as a substantive summit between the European Union and the United States. This was productive, it was a sound exercise and we have been highlighting these topical issues, but not only these ones. The key point was very simple: the European Union and the United States are key players in the world, and for matching those responsibilities they must articulate in a clever manner, in a constructive manner, and we must build up targets for operating in common in the world scene. We are trying the (Balkans) issue, we have many other relevant questions, but we must overcome the so-called obsessed trade agenda and moving ahead into a global agenda. And to establish common views, common goals, common targets and a message for the most relevant international issues. We very much thank Madeleine Albright for the open talks she had with us all. Commissioner Patten had to leave. But it was quite stimulating, and this period of Lisbon will be trademark for our future work in common.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much Foreign Minister Gama, High Representative Solana, Foreign Minister Vedrine. Good afternoon, I am clearly both outnumbered and surrounded, but fortunately by friends. And it is because of friends such as these that last year was a truly remarkable one in the life of the Euro-Atlantic community. Thanks to wise leaders on both sides of the ocean, NATO was strengthened, ethnic cleansing and Kosovo was reversed, the southeast Europe Stability Pact was forged, a new OSCE charter was signed, and the U.S.-EU partnership grew even closer. Our challenge this year is to chalk up an equally remarkable record, and we took steps in the right direction today. For example we continued our productive dialogue on the European Security and Defense Identity, for which I reiterated America's strong support. My country looks forward to a Europe with more modern and flexible forces. Forces that strengthen NATO and also Europe's ability to act when the Alliance is not engaged. We will continue working together closely to ensure that NATO-EU linkages enhance both institutions, and to support the involvement of non-EU NATO allies in EU security deliberations. Obviously we are all keeping a very close eye on Southeast Europe, where Croatia's recent democratic elections were a vital step forward. We discussed the need to continue pushing towards multiethnic democracy in Kosovo, providing adequate resources to the international efforts there, and supporting democratic change in Serbia. And we agreed on the importance of building momentum through the Stability Pact, by backing our pledges with funds, designing projects that have a timely and tangible impact, and ensuring that our partners in the region also meet their obligations. Our discussions dealt as well with broad issues of war and peace. We know that when the US and the EU work together we are more effective in supporting peace in areas such as the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula; in fighting terrorism and in halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction around the globe. In this connection, I note that this Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. I look forward to the U.S. and the EU working in tandem, to ensure a positive and productive NPT Review Conference in New York next month. We also discussed the need for cooperation at the upcoming UN Human Rights Commission Meeting in Geneva. Our shared goal must be to reinforce the world's commitment to respect for fundamental human rights in every society. And finally on trade, we did focus on biotechnology. This is a vital issue on which we are striving to reach common ground, not only among governments, but also through dialogue within civil society.

Today's meetings are part of an almost continuous conversation between America and Europe. And I look forward to continuing that conversation during the coming week in the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Brussels, and I anticipate with pleasure the prospect of returning to Portugal with the President for the U.S.-EU summit in June. I must say I think this has been a remarkable summit because of the work of Foreign Minister Gama who, I think, elevated the discussion to a new level, and made it evident that the U.S.-European relationship is key to so many things happening in the world. And the American delegation is especially grateful to you, Mr. Foreign Minister, for having really produced a very, very valuable and important discussion.

QUESTION: (in Portuguese)...

FOREIGN MINISTER GAMA: (in Portuguese)...

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am very glad for Mr. Gama, that you made that last comment, because I certainly would not describe the meeting that way, either the bilateral that I had with Foreign Minister Ivanov or the trilateral. I think that it is very important to see our relationships, whether bilaterally or trilaterally, as extremely complex, where we deal with a number of issues, some on which we agree and some on which we disagree. We do disagree on Chechnya, but we had a number of very important other discussions, and as I think we said in the earlier press conference, we found the trilateral venue as useful enough in order to try to continue it. So, I definitely would not describe the meeting that way.

Then on the question you asked me, I also did not come away with the same impression, in terms of what Foreign Minister Ivanov said about the elections. He agreed that there ought to be elections. And nobody underestimates the difficulty of having them, but they are essential. Because what the international community is trying to do in Kosovo is to help the establishment of institutions that will allow them a high degree of autonomy and self-government. And local municipal elections are essential for that, and what we talked about was the importance of funding for those elections, and having them go forward later this year.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. still vetoing a European candidate for the IMF, and if so, when will the Europeans present a new candidate?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The United States has made very clear that we are not vetoing any European candidate. In fact, we believe that the IMF, as is customary, should have a European as its head.

QUESTION: Following on the question of the IMF candidate, there's been signals from Germany that they are willing to withdraw Koch-Weser's name, and that there are preliminary contacts for new names. Can you please confirm or mention any names that are being discussed, including the Italian? Also, Mrs. Albright, what is the United States looking for in an IMF candidate?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I cannot confirm any names whatsoever. I think that the IMF is a key organization as far as the international system is concerned, and we would hope that the Europeans would come around, develop consensus around a candidate who is the best possible candidate to run this very important institution. I do not think that it is appropriate to make any further comments on it.

QUESTION: Can I ask just to follow on the IMF question... I would like to ask Mr Vedrine, specifically, whether... What stage are the discussions on finding an alternative European candidate to the one that was proposed by Germany; and secondly, I would like to ask... to go back, I know trade is not the only issue between the U.S. and Europe, but there was this question raised by the WTO ruling only a little while ago over tax breaks for agricultural exports from the U.S. Mr. Patten recently suggested that both sides were very keen to avoid a damaging dispute over this particular issue. I just wondered, was this discussed at all today, specifically, and if so, you know, what was the gist of those discussions? Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER GAMA: We had a long exchange of view about all of those problems, but obviously this was not an appropriate framework for a negotiation. We exchanged views, information, and that was an important element, but this was not the negotiating platform as you can understand. But what I can consider is that we are tackling those issues in an appropriate manner, as allies and not as enemies. And that makes the difference. And that will be productive for the future.

FOREIGN MINISTER VEDRINE: (in French)...

QUESTION: Just a short question to Ms. Albright. Does this mean, what you said concerning the IMF candidate, does the U.S. expect to present the Europeans a new candidate instead of Mr. Koch-Weser (inaudible)?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: As I have said, the United States wishes to support a consensus European candidate who is most capable in leading this highly important financial institution, which makes so many decisions that really make possible the functioning of the international economic system.

QUESTION: (in Portuguese)...

FOREIGN MINISTER GAMA: (in Portuguese)...

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Just to make that absolutely clear, I mean, we do support the concept of more modern and more flexible forces in Europe and see it as strengthening NATO, and Europe's ability to act when the Alliance is not engaged. And we have had a number of discussions, probably in every venue that exists about this topic and, as we have said, we support the concept. On the question of Chechnya, let me just say this: I have already raised the subject of Chechnya with acting President Putin when I was in Moscow three weeks ago. We have made very clear to the Russians our dismay over what has been taking place in Chechenya, and I believe that what we were able to do today in our meeting with Foreign Minister Ivanov, to try to assure greater access for international groups to go in, will help in assessing further - and believe me - none of us will have any compunction about making very clear to acting President Putin what we think.

QUESTION: (in Portuguese)...To Mrs Albright I would like to include another item, if you please, what is your position about the liberation of Pinochet?

FOREIGN MINISTER GAMA: (in Portuguese)...

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: On the question of Pinochet: two principles have guided the thinking of the United States Government on the Pinochet case. First, the U.S. has always supported principles of justice and accountability for human rights violations; and two, concurrently we have sought to lend support to countries such as Chile who have really sustained a genuine effort to reestablish democratic norms and the rule of law. Now, I may regret this, but can you call on some American journalists?

(laughter)

QUESTION: (inaudible)... But I will, please, on the defense force... I would like to bring up the Bosnian situation and ask you if it would have been any different if there were a European force. I know how you felt about inaction in Bosnia, before the Administration acted, in the face of European inaction... Maybe I could say that. In any event, the logic would be that if there is a greater European engagement, there is a lesser American engagement. Is it mathematical, is it necessarily so, or will there still be times when the Americans will come charging in? And have to come charging in?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say, first of all, I think that we will always judge what is in our national interest as to when we are a part of a military action and it is hard to talk about hypotheticals, but I believe that the NATO action was necessary in Kosovo, and the way that the European ESDI has been described and as I have now said it, it will act when the Alliance is not engaged . So I do think that there are certain activities where if the U.S. believes it is in our national interest to be involved, we will be, through NATO and otherwise.

QUESTION: (in Portuguese)...

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that the Israeli government has for some time said that they would have unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, that has been their position. We regret very much the fact that there is violence, it undercuts the possibility of the peace process generally, and we hope very much that both the Israeli-Syrian track as well as the Israeli-Palestinian track will in fact resume.

QUESTION: I would like to ask a question for Mr. Gama and Mr. Vedrine, Mr. Solana as well, if he would care to reply as well. In the controversy over the selection of the IMF selection, the United States has been accused by a German official of bullying Europe. Do you feel that by vetoing a German IMF candidate that the United States is bullying Europe? And secondly, are you going to put forward another candidate, are other candidates coming forward? And again, Secretary Albright, if you would like to respond to those questions?

FOREIGN MINISTER GAMA: What I would say on behalf of the Presidency of the European Union is that we endorse the German candidate. We are still in that phase and there has been a vote, having a vote you can take conclusions, and in the regard of taking conclusions the first assessment must be done by the Germans. And we will not move from the position we have up to now, as far as we understand, and in sort of comment and reaction or assessment on the German side.

FOREIGN MINISTER VEDRINE: (in French)...

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: For my part, let me say this: The United States obviously has a major interest in the IMF, as major contributors, and I think that it is important for us to be able to state our views. We have, however, made very clear that we believe that it is appropriate for the IMF to be headed by a European.

(###)


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