White House Briefing On EU-US Summit
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Lisbon, Portugal)
For Immediate Release May 31, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS TONY BLINKEN AND DEPUTY NATIONAL ECONOMIC ADVISOR LAEL BRAINARD
Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Towers Lisbon, Portugal
4:42 P.M. (L)
MR. HAMMER: Good afternoon, everyone. Today we have Tony Blinken, Senior Director of the National Security Council for European Affairs; and Deputy National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard, to brief you on the results of the U.S.-EU summit.
Following that, Press Secretary Joe Lockhart will come up and address questions, not relating to the summit, that you might have. Tony.
MR. BLINKEN: Thanks, Mike. Good afternoon. I thought what I'd do is run you through the security side of the U.S.-EU summit, focusing on the conversations the President had with Prime Minister Guterres and President Prodi.
The discussion this morning began, first of all, with Foreign Minister Gama and Secretary Albright reporting on the achievements of the past six months in the U.S.-EU framework, and on the agenda that's been agreed for the next six months. And I think you'll find a lot of that, if you're looking for it, in the senior leadership group report that's probably floating around here somewhere and makes for fascinating reading.
The President's discussions on security focused primarily on three areas: the Balkans, Russia-Ukraine and European security and defense policy. As the President noted in his press conference earlier, we've made remarkable progress over the last decade in building a peaceful, undivided democratic Europe.
What the discussions today really focused on was the unfinished business of that project; that is, bringing Southeast Europe and bringing Russia into the trans-Atlantic mainstream and also the enduring challenge of a strong U.S.-EU partnership.
First of all, on the question of Southeast Europe, they focused their discussion in the first instance on Kosovo. They agreed that there is no global solution to the problems in Kosovo, specifically, and more broadly, in Southeast Europe, without Serbia. But, of course, we cannot work with Serbia so long as the Milosevic regime is in power. Both the U.S. and EU noted the recent events demonstrate the increasing unease and vulnerability of the Milosevic regime. They agreed that it was important to keep the focus on sanctions and also on working with the democratic opposition.
The President noted our own support for Montenegro, financial support; urged the EU to help us do more -- the EU itself has given a substantial amount of money to Montenegro in recent months. Now the challenge is supporting World Bank and EBRD, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, engagement in Montenegro to support Djukanovic.
On Kosovo more specifically, the President noted his deep appreciation for the strong EU and member-state leadership and support, in particular, for the KFOR mission and for the U.N. mission. The Europeans are now contributing about 80 percent of the troops in Kosovo, and funding about 75 percent of the United Nations mission there.
The EU has also made, the President noted, a very strong effort to speed disbursements to get money delivered faster. And he urged them to continue to do just that. The priority for the next six months in Kosovo, both sides agreed, is development of a strong judicial corrections system, fully staffing the U.N. mission there and, of course, bringing more police into Kosovo.
On the region more broadly, and on the Stability Pact, they discussed the progress that's been made, in particular, the recent donors' conference that took place last March, at which the European Union pledged some $2.3 billion, the United States about $75 million, for so-called "quick-start" projects. They agreed that there was a need to quickly start the quick-start projects, and to get them off the ground as soon as possible, so that they can show a real impact and a tangible difference in people's lives.
They also talked about the question of delivering more generous trade preferences to the region. And both the EU and the United States are working on that.
On Russia-Ukraine -- on Ukraine, first of all, both the European Union and the United States agreed strongly on a common commitment to support efforts of President Kuchma, the new Prime Minister, to pursue economic reform and development. They also noted their commitment to moving forward as quickly as possible on the closure of Chernobyl.
On Russia, the EU side described its recent meetings in its summit in Moscow with the Russians. The President talked a little bit about his plans for his upcoming meeting with President Putin later this week and this weekend.
Finally, on European security and defense policy, the President restated his strong commitment to that policy, a commitment that's been both strong and consistent. It's never been, he said, for us a question of whether Europeans should move forward with a security and defense policy, but simply how they should do it. And he stressed his desire that this continue to move forward with close links and in close cooperation with NATO.
MS. BRAINARD: Let me start first by describing the working lunch and then I'll give you a little bit of the economic discussion in the morning session. The entire working lunch was devoted to a discussion of two areas in which the EU has been working vigorously this year and in which the President has expressed particularly strong interests.
There was a long, unscripted and very lively discussion on these issues, with both sides referencing domestic initiatives and having a very similar approach on both.
In the first discussion there was a lot of back and forth on how we were preparing our own societies to take full advantage of the information economy, both in terms of giving private sector the space and the government support it needs, in terms of ensuring that our citizens are educated and have access to the new technologies, and in closing the digital divide.
There was a very lengthy discussion, in particular, of the need for the industrial countries to work together to ensure that the least developed in the emerging market nations participate fully in the information revolution; and expressed desire on the parts of both the EU and the President to move forward on concrete areas for cooperation with the developing world.
The President referenced extensively his experiences in India. He said that we need to learn from a developing country such as India where they've already made tremendous progress, and he referenced in particular his experiences in Rajasthan and their emphasis on making the Internet available through community sites and then moving from there through cooperative ownership and the kinds of opportunities that that has made available -- for instance, for farmers learning world commodity prices, for new mothers learning the sort of best in practices for caring for new babies.
He also referenced his experiences in Hyderabad, where he was exposed to the opportunities for developing countries, such as India, to develop real market niches, and talked about how we could spread those best practices to the developing world.
The second broad area where there was, again, very lively discussion and lots of agreement on the need to move forward in concrete ways was on combatting infectious diseases in the developing world, in particular those for which vaccines have not yet been discovered.
The President ran through the initiative that he unveiled earlier this year, which is targeted at HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, including a $50-million contribution to the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunizations to help distribute vaccines throughout the developing world; a tax credit to create market incentives for pharmaceutical companies of $1 billion over 10 years; a call for increased lending from the concessional lending part of the World Bank, the IDA, from between $400 million to $900 million; and a very big increase doubling over two years of our spending, our bilateral international spending on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.
These initiatives were very much welcomed by the EU Commissioner Patton, in particular, noted the tax credit is a very innovative approach for addressing market incentives and also noted that if these diseases had the same fatality rates in industrial countries, we would be seeing the market putting a lot more money against them.
The President also stressed the interrelatedness of development issues; for instance, the need to step up spending on basic education and attain our goals of universal education by 2015 as a part and parcel of the broader both health and information economy objectives; and also noted the important connections between, for instance, investments in new technology and helping developing countries achieve climate change goals without sacrificing economic development.
So I would say in that part of the discussion there was tremendous agreement. Prime Minister Guterres and President Prodi expressed their strong hope that this would become a central element of the G-8 discussions later in the year. And there was large intent and agreement to work concretely together on these issues.
In the earlier session, in the morning session, there was a very lengthy discussion on a whole variety of trade issues. I would say there was vigorous agreement on some of the shared, key priorities -- in particular, on the early launch of a round that addresses the needs of developing countries, and that also includes social issues, labor and the environment, as a matter of social justice. The other issue, of course, was our mutual interest in seeing China's accession into the WTO on very strong terms.
There was also some discussion of the agreements that the U.S. and EU have produced for this summit, in particular the launch of a consultative forum on biotechnology; an agreement on data privacy, which will allow the free flow of information across the Atlantic, while maintaining the highest protections on privacy consistent with the different domestic approaches; and finally, an agreement on trademark registrations.
There was also a lively and frank exchange on areas where our views differ. Against the backdrop of a $450 billion trading relationship, the largest in the world, there are inevitably a variety of frictions. In particular, the President raised strong concerns about subsidization of the commercial launch of a new Airbus model. He expressed some puzzlement why the European Union would not want to sit down and move forward with us on the approach that we've outlined on the Foreign Sales Corporation, and expressed again our hope that this WTO-consistent approach could form the basis for resolution of this; and finally, the hope that in the area, for instance, of bananas, that we could come together around a proposal that's been made by the Caribbean countries.
So there was a very lively discussion on the trade area, and in particular on some of the areas of difference. Thank you.
MR. BLINKEN: We'll take any questions.
Q What about beef? (Laughter.)
Q Where's the beef? (Laughter.)
MS. BRAINARD: Beef was not served, but it was discussed. (Laughter.)
Q In what way?
Q Can you stand on that? Did you make any progress on that?
MS. BRAINARD: We did not make any progress on beef. Both sides did articulate their position on the beef dispute.
Q Did you make progress on any of these issues at all? The Foreign Sales Corporation, the beef, the bananas? Do you see any positions coming closer together?
MS. BRAINARD: On some of the trade disputes, such as the ones you mentioned, there was no progress at this meeting. However, the discussion further clarified the positions of the two sides, and made clear where both sides felt they had some flexibility, and made clear our desire to resolve these disputes on terms that are consistent with and supportive of WTO rules.
Q Was progress made on any of the four trade issues? Was any progress made on any? And, if so, could you be very specific in where there was progress?
MS. BRAINARD: Well, again, there were several agreements that were finalized. There was a lot of --
Q Just the four issues, the three B's and sales tax.
MS. BRAINARD: There was no progress made on the Foreign Sales Corporation tax case, the bananas case, the beef hormones case. But, again, there was a lively and full discussion of this and I believe the positions of both sides were made clear.
Q So none of the four.
Q Will you try to encourage this new forum to take the question of the use of hormones in meat as a subject of study -- try to solve this dispute?
MS. BRAINARD: Are you referring to the Biotechnology Consultative Forum?
MS. BRAINARD: No. The Biotechnology Consultative Forum is really intended to bring in a whole variety of stakeholders, not just scientists, but more generally on the issue of biotech in agriculture. Beef hormones is a case that's being litigated in the WTO context and will remain in that context.
Q You mentioned that the EU and the U.S. both made noises that they'd like another round of WTO talks, but was there any progress in reconciling the four different agendas the developing countries -- Japan, U.S.-EU -- that this is more than simply, I hope to be a millionaire tomorrow.
MS. BRAINARD: There was some discussion at the heads level, much more, I believe, at the ministers level of some of the specific areas where resolution of differences will be needed. And there was, as I believe has been distributed here, a joint statement on the desire to move forward, on the desire to have a broad agenda that is inclusive of developing country concerns and that is inclusive of labor and environmental issues, in particular.
Q Lael, can you tell us on the safe harbor whether companies that want to participate in that have to agree to each and every aspect of the European community regime on that? And do they have to segregate the data that they're getting from European sources from all their other information that they may have?
MS. BRAINARD: On the first question there is a set of principles. It's not the European Union regime; there's a set of jointly agreed principles that the companies participating would agree to. So it would, for instance, to the extent that domestic U.S. corporations codes are in conformity with those principles, that would be satisfactory.
On the issue of segregation, I would have to come back to you on that.
Q Tony, when the President said he might make more headway than people expect in his talks with Putin, is he talking about a plutonium agreement?
MR. BLINKEN: I can't tell you what he's talking about. I think Joe will be able to deal with that later. Sorry.
Q Tony, you said the President has been strong and consistent in his support of the European defense pillar. But the Europeans don't seem to see it that way. When Solana was in Washington a couple weeks ago, he complained that there is a lot of resistance on the part of the U.S. How do you explain this difference?
MR. BLINKEN: Well, I'm not sure exactly what Mr. Solana was referring to. I don't think he would have been referring to the administration on that because, in fact, I think we have been very strongly consistent in our support for European security and defense policy.
We've had questions about how it would move forward, not whether it could move forward. And there's certainly been a lively discussion over the last couple of years of those issues -- in particular, our belief that it has to move forward in a way that works with NATO and doesn't in any way undermine it. It doesn't duplicate things that NATO is already doing, but relies as much as possible on NATO planning, for example, as the EU develops its own capabilities; and, in particular, that keeps the focus on building real new capabilities -- not just institutions.
So to that extent, we've had a lively discussion with the Europeans. But throughout this discussion -- and the President said this at the last U.S.-EU summit, he repeated it today -- we strongly support this. It follows through on, I think, something the President laid out in his first trip to Europe as President in early 1994, which is the U.S. has a strong interest in a strong Europe; it's not only good for Europe, it's good for us, and European security and defense policy is an integral part of that.
Q The President said today it would be unethical not to share national missile defense technology with other civilized nations. Does that mean that the system that he envisions might be built would protect Europe or that we would just show them papers and let them develop their own?
MR. BLINKEN: I think this is all part of an ongoing discussion. I think it's premature to get into it. Let me let Joe take any further questions on that, but I think the President simply said that this is a point he's made as a general point all along.
Q -- wasn't clear all along what he meant by what he said.
MR. BLINKEN: Let me refer that to Joe. He'll be out in a few moments to talk about that.
Q Does that mean that you'd be willing to share this with the Russians?
MR. BLINKEN: Again, let me defer to Joe on that.
Q During the meeting, did the Europeans express any interest -- the President was saying that this missile defense issue came up in the meeting and that he expressed his willingness to help civilized countries. Did they express any interest in getting that information or did they have any response at all to what he said?
MR. BLINKEN: The tenor of the meeting really was two things. One, the Europeans telling the President a little bit about what they had heard from President Putin during the EU-U.S. summit, very much along the lines of what Prime Minister Guterres told the President yesterday, which is the ongoing concerns the Russian have.
And the President in turn, again, tried to make very clear, one, that he hasn't made a decision on deploying a system; and, two, in making that decision, the criteria that he would take into account -- and in particular, an emphasis on looking at the impact on overall arms control and security. And, again, he noted, I think with some satisfaction, the fact that we've had very intensive ongoing consultations with the Europeans in NATO bilaterally on this over the last several months, and that that had been a very productive exercise in moving our own discussions forward.
Q So he brought up the sharing issue, but the Europeans didn't respond one way or another?
MR. BLINKEN: No, I think there was just not a -- there was no detailed discussion of it.
Q You understand -- is there any difference between what President Clinton is saying on this subject and what Governor Bush says? Governor Bush says our missile defenses must be designed to protect all 50 states and our friends and allies and deployed forces overseas. Are you saying they're together on this?
MR. BLINKEN: Again, I don't want to go into detail or speculate on what the President was referring to specifically. And let me again pass that one to Joe for later.
Q Can you address what seems to be a difference between what you said Guterres told the President, and then what Prodi said, that Putin didn't touch the program -- meaning the missile defense program -- in their discussions in Moscow?
MR. BLINKEN: I'm not sure where the distinction is. I can tell you that Prime Minister Guterres met separately with President Prodi. It's possible that that's the reason, but I don't know.
Q What are the U.S. expectations for the meeting the President will have with Prime Minister Barak tomorrow?
MR. BLINKEN: Again, let me leave that for Joe -- can bring you more up to date on that than I can.
THE PRESS: Joe, Joe, Joe. (Laughter.)
END 5:07 P.M. (L)