Transatlantic Relations - Daniel Fried
Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary
for European and Eurasian Affairs
Remarks at the National Conference of Editorial Writers
May 2, 2006
Assistant Secretary Fried: I was at a conference over the weekend in Brussels where the fascinating dynamic, this is to illustrate my larger point, the fascinating dynamic: You have the Secretary General of NATO, the chief foreign policy person of the European Union, Javier Solana, Dick Holbrooke and John McCain as panelists. They were all in violent agreement with each other that the United States and Europe, together, are united in a commitment to deal with the problems in the world outside of Europe. Solana, the European Union guy, was the most outspoken. He said, "The United States and Europe are working together every day on a common agenda." They got pushback from the journalists in the audience at this conference, who kept insisting that the U.S. and Europe must be at odds.
I jumped in at one point because I was the senior administration representative there, and I said, wait a minute, that is so 2003. [Laughter].
The good news is that the United States and Europe are back together. The bad news is that now that we're back together our reward is to get to deal with the Iran problem and a whole lot of other nasty problems in a very rough world.
But if the challenge of Iranian nuclear weapons and the larger challenge of Iran is difficult now, it would be much more difficult if not impossible to deal with satisfactorily if the United States and Europe were not back together. This is a profound shift from two or three years ago and a very welcome one.
It doesn't mean that the United States and Europe agree on every single issue. We never did agree on every single issue, including during the golden era of the Cold War, which everybody now looks back to as this wonderful time of transatlantic harmony, but if you were actually living in it every day the news was well, we disagree. We disagreed about pipelines, we disagreed about missiles, we disagreed about arms control, we disagreed hard line, soft line, détente, not détente with the Soviet Union. That was the news every day, and in retrospect we think, wait a minute, we really were pretty well knit up.
The fact is, we are pretty well knit up with Europe now. That is profoundly important.
Europeans publics are, I will honestly acknowledge, skeptical about the Bush administration. I'm not exactly making headline news. This is well known. [Laughter].
Question: A miracle of understatement.
Assistant Secretary Fried: But the news is that the strategic expression of the skepticism, which was very much in vogue in 2003, 2004, is gone. That strategic expression was that Europe should be united as a counterweight against the United States, not hostile to the United States, but to counter-balance American power. That was very much the view in vogue in many European capitals; well, Berlin and Paris, to be specific, in 2003, 2004.
That was hard for us to accept because a division within the transatlantic community means that the great centers of democracy would be divided and the world is a difficult enough place without America's most natural close partner and ally, Europe, looking over its shoulder at us.
The differences we have with Europe are, frankly, trivial compared to the magnitude of the problems that await us both in the world, and this is now the view that European governments share.
The reason I mentioned Javier Solana is that the EU was regarded as the institutional expression of a Europe at odds with the United States by those who believed in it, and now you have the foreign policy spokesman of the European Union not only stating it, but being eloquent and forceful, saying this is nonsense: We are working with the Americans; we are working on a tough agenda.
So that is good news, and it is the nature of good news that it doesn't get reported. What gets reported is, well, U.S. and Europe have to deal with Iran or we have to deal with Hamas or we have to deal with the problem of reform in the broader Middle East or Afghanistan or Iraq or the issues I call the frontiers of freedom issues the line or belt of countries where freedom's wave, which began in 1989, is now pushing ahead, Belarus, Ukraine, South Caucasus. We are working with Europe in the Balkans, but the fact is, we are working with Europe, and this is profoundly important and profoundly good news.
Unilateralism is out. Effective multilateralism is in. We are working to make NATO the centerpiece alliance through which the transatlantic democratic community deals with security challenges around the world. This is not a global NATO, but it is a NATO capable and actually, in fact, dealing with global challenges.
NATO is taking over security responsibility in Afghanistan. Ten years ago, this would have been considered too ludicrous a concept even to write an academic paper on. Now, it's reality. NATO is now taking over responsibility in the south of Afghanistan. It's had it in the north and the west. That's the easy part. South is harder. NATO is considering going to the east, which is the hardest yet, because that's the Pakistan border area. NATO's doing it. They're going to have about 17,000 troops. This is not just the Americans; it's the Germans, it's the Dutch and its non-NATO partner countries. The Australians, the New Zealanders are there.
NATO is developing, in fact, if not yet in doctrine, global partnerships. NATO provided support for earthquake relief to Pakistan. NATO has operations in the Balkans still, in Kosovo. NATO is conducting anti-terrorist patrols in the Mediterranean and NATO, famously, is providing support for the African Union Mission in Darfur, which we all know needs to be greatly beefed up. NATO won't take the lead, but the UN will, and we need to put the pieces together to stop what we've called genocide.
That is a very different NATO than the Cold War NATO, which was this wonderful machine that never actually did anything except exist. It was very important that it existed, but NATO was not in action until after the Cold War. When it went into action in Kosovo for the first time that was regarded as a stretch. Now, NATO, as I said, is in action in Afghanistan.
The United States and the European Union are in action together promoting democracy, for example, in Belarus, where we have together coordinated visa bans on the leadership of the Lukashenka regime. As I told my European Union colleagues, we're acting, and you have a dictator who is nervous.
The EU-3 France, Germany, Britain and the United States have had the lead working on the Iran issue. The list goes on and on, but underlying this is a strategic commonality with Europe, profoundly good news, profoundly important.
I will stop here and take questions. I suspect that, in retrospect, a lot of the creaking and groaning in transatlantic relations that we have heard over the past few years will look like the sounds of the transatlantic alliance getting ready to deal with 21st century problems on a global scale, rather than the sounds of a transatlantic divorce, which was all the rage to write about three years ago, so that is an optimistic view, but I think it is one based on facts.
So, with that, I am yours. Sir?
Question: You talked about NATO's involvement in Afghanistan.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Yes.
Question: What about Iraq? Initially, they were conducting some training in Europe and then they set up a training facility in Iraq.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Right.
Question: Can we see more of NATO? Can we expect to see more of NATO in Iraq?
Assistant Secretary Fried: NATO does have a training facility in Iraq. That's been beefed up. I don't expect that you're going to have NATO putting in a new mass of ground forces. We have a lot of NATO countries doing it, but right now what we are focusing on is both politically helping the Iraqi government coming into being to stand up and be effective and simultaneously, in parallel, working to get the Iraqi forces stood up so they can be more effective and since the problem in Iraq is political-military, that is, the security issues and the political issues can't be separated, it's good that we finally have the political track now moving again.
No, I don't think NATO will take on massive new responsibilities, but the training is a significant one because that's the future, getting the Iraqis stood up and capable of doing what they need to do.
Question: Two questions. The way that you describe NATO, is it becoming a counterweight to the United Nations or are these two organizations completely compatible or are they becoming more competitive?
Assistant Secretary Fried: No, it's not a counterweight, and they are certainly compatible. NATO is two things: it's an alliance of the transatlantic democracy, so it's based on underlying values; and it's a military alliance that is actually very good at putting together force packages.
NATO's military capabilities are still in transition from Cold War lots of tanks, ready to fight the Soviets to expeditionary, ready to go to Afghanistan, ready to help people in Pakistan. But when Kofi Annan called up the Secretary General of NATO a few weeks ago and said can you help us in Darfur? We're going to need it. We're going to need NATO backing. So that's a very good example of how NATO and the UN can work together.
UN peacekeeping forces have a record of action sometimes good, sometimes not as successful, like in Bosnia, sort of spectacularly unsuccessful. NATO has powerful military assets. I don't mean just combat, but transport, logistics, support and sometimes you need it, so I see compatibility. Although, I should point out, to be fair, that, in Kosovo, NATO went in without a UN mandate because there was no consensus in the Security Council, but in retrospect, and even at the time, very few people were sorry it did. It was the right thing to do. It stopped and reversed ethnic cleansing successfully.
No, we don't look at it as competitive.
Question: Loose ends from the '90s, Kosovo. What happens next?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Well, I'll tell you what can't happen, which is the status quo forever. It's not stable. It won't keep. It won't get better by itself. Some problems just don't improve with age. The UN, with our backing, has launched a process to determine, this year, Kosovo's final status.
Question: This year?
Fried: This year. Former President of Finland, Maarti Ahtisaari, is negotiating this. None of the options is ideal. We lost ideal options when Slobodan Milosevic decided to try out aggressive nationalism for political gain and he started a series of wars.
We can't go back. We can't stay where we are. We've got to go ahead. It's not fore-ordained what the outcome will be, but there are a couple of parameters. I don't foresee Kosovo being ruled again by Belgrade. They're not going back to the pre-1999 era. The administration doesn't see a Kosovo without guarantees for a minority population, which means the Kosovo Serbs. They have to have protection, the Serb communities there plus the monasteries, the historic sites. There have to be arrangements for so-called decentralization to give Serb communities daily control over their own lives, police, education. These things can be worked out.
Frankly, Serbia has to be offered a path to Europe. It can't be sort of hung out to dry as a pariah. Milosevic is dead. There's a democratic government in Belgrade. What happened in Kosovo is not their fault. These are the people who, by and large, helped overthrow Milosevic.
There are risks when you move ahead. Any time you change the status quo, there are risks. In the Balkans, changing the status quo has high risks, but we found out there were riots in March '04, which sort of woke everybody up. You can't go on like this, so we are going to move ahead. We're working with the British, French, Germans, Italians and Russians in the so-called Contact Group. It's not going to be easy, but the Kosovo issue is the last open question in the Balkans. If we get it right, then the whole region can start moving to Europe.
Question: I have to ask you, what do you see as prospects? Is this doable?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Well, sure. It's doable.
Question: By the end of the year?
Assistant Secretary Fried: It is doable by the end of the year. It will be difficult and, as I said, there are risks, but the risks of inaction we know, which is that you have a deteriorating situation and then people like yourselves would write, "Why didn't the administration do something when it had the chance?" [Laughter.] You'd be right. [Laughter.] But you'd be right to do that.
Sometimes, the U.S. government actually is capable, we think ahead, we see a problem coming, we take steps to try to avert it.
Question: God forbid. No.
Assistant Secretary Fried: That's our job.
Question: But you think it's doable?
Assistant Secretary Fried: I think it's doable. I don't think it's easy. I think that the Serbs, it is painful for them, but it's not the present Serbian government that is responsible for this wretched situation. It's Milosevic. The Kosovar Albanians also have a responsibility. They have to treat the Serb minority population better than they were treated. They have to demonstrate that they deserve they claim the right of independence and, in our view, independence has to be earned and has to be based on their achieving and making commitments to achieving European norms. It's not going to be easy, but we've got to do it.
Question: I have two questions. First, could you describe for us what are the elements that led to this transformation in the U.S.-European relationship, this new harmony, over the last two years?
The second question has to do with the absence of France from the military planning committee at NATO. Does that detract from these functional multilateral efforts, and are there prospects for drawing France into these out-of-area missions?
Assistant Secretary Fried: The issue of France and NATO and France-U.S. is a whole world of fun. [Laughter].
France has not been a part of the NATO integrated military command since the mid-1960s, so this is not new, and it's not the Bush administration. On the other hand, France has a very capable military, and France takes military issues seriously. They are very unsentimental about the use of national power when it comes time to do it, and they're very effective.
The funny thing is that France, although it doesn't participate in the NATO integrated military command, does participate in the new NATO Response Force, which is basically the NATO expeditionary force. This is an initiative that we put together after the Afghanistan operation because it became clear that NATO didn't have forces that were readily available, ready to fight together, packaged-up to go and deal with an emergency contingency. We didn't have it.. It was just incredible. We were all ready to fight the Soviets in Germany. So we're putting together what's called the NATO Response Force, and France is very much a part of that.
We have our political differences from time to time with the French, but if you get into a shooting war, the French are good allies. Their military means business.
Now how did things improve? It has a very interesting story, and basically we had the fight about Iraq between us and the Germans and the French, and this was very nasty, and I think the Europeans and Americans looked at a future we had a lot of Europeans writing that Europe ought to divorce itself from the United States and a lot of Americans writing we ought to divorce ourselves from Europe. Then I think serious people on both sides looked and said, wait a minute. This isn't a very good option. What does this get us? How does this advance any of our interests except scribblers who don't have responsibility for outcomes. [Laughter].
Question: Now, now.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Not you. No, no, no. [Laughter]. Not at all.
Immediately after President Bush's reelection, immediately afterwards the election is Tuesday, Senator Kerry concedes Wednesday afternoon Thursday morning President Bush gives his first press conference. Go look it up. You'll find there that he says he wants to reach out to Europe, he wants to work with the European Union. That was not an accident; it wasn't a slip of the tongue. The President made the strategic call. If he did it two days after the election, you can sort of figure out he had it in mind before the election.
Then this led, there were a consistent series of statements and actions from the administration: the President's statement in that press conference; Rice's first trip to Europe, where she gives a speech in Paris in Chirac's alma mater, Sciences Po; the President's trip to Europe in February, where he spends not only time at NATO but time at the European Union, which the Europeans still remember as a groundbreaking trip.
The President says I want to work with Europe. I want to work with a strong European Union. He put it we write in points and then it always comes out better when he says it himself what he said was, I don't like weak countries, I don't like weak institutions. Why would I want a weakened European Union? I want a strong partner. There are things I want to do. I'm paraphrasing, but that was about the sense of it.
The Europeans were listening to this, and they started to reach back. They were still very skeptical. They kept saying "this is a tactic, it's public relations, they don't mean it," but we kept at it, and the Europeans started to respond. Then something else happened.
The European constitution referenda which Americans didn't pay much attention to, but Europeans paid a whole lot of attention to failed. It had to be passed in all the countries, and there was a referendum in the Netherlands and a referendum in France, and it lost in France and the Netherlands. This was a body blow to this vision it didn't have to be, but it was politically a body blow to this notion of Europe united against the United States. Then you add an election in Germany, and Schroeder's out. Merkel comes in, and she had nothing invested in this Europe-as-a-counterweight-to-the-United States theory. She grew up in East Germany. She always thought America, they're the ones that really stand for freedom in the world. She's not uncritical; she came to Washington and was critical of Guantanamo and our policy there, but she is clearly a transatlanticist.
So you had on the American side and you had on the European side developments which brought the countries together, and then as we're doing this, as these things are happening inside the transatlantic world, you have outside problems growing like Iran. And the EU-3 the French, British and Germans realized the Iranians were not responding to their offers of negotiation. They were not behaving responsibly. They were acting worse and worse, and a combination of improved atmospherics, altered political dynamics and outside problems all tended to bring us together.
That doesn't mean the problems are easier to solve, but it means we have a much better chance of solving them. Long story, but that's actually an interesting chapter.
Question: What are the prospects given Secretary Rice's reference the other day to like-minded nations cooperating on Iran? If the United States and Europe hit a dead end in the Security Council and are trying to take some kind of collective action through the UN against Iran, what are the prospects of the United States and the European Union working together on economic sanctions, for example, or other states to isolate and pressure Iran?
Assistant Secretary Fried: I can't predict the future, but it's obviously a very fair question.
The Europeans, so far, when confronted with irresponsible, obdurate Iranian stonewalling, which has been the norm to date, unfortunately, have responded with firmness. I hope, but I also believe that they will continue to respond this way.
We're going back to the Security Council. If the United States and Europe remain united, then the odds increase that the Russians and Chinese will come with us. The Russians have every reason, have at least as much reason as we do not to want a nuclear weapons-armed Iran near their southern border. They have said they're reluctant to embark on a strong Chapter 7 resolution, the UN category for threats to peace, because they're worried it will lead to military action. We have made clear that we are, although we don't take military action off the table, that's not where we are. We are trying to resolve this diplomatically, and we're serious about that.
It may be that the Russians come around and the Chinese come around, so I think this is possible. At the same time, Secretary Rice, Under Secretary Burns who's in Paris, by the way, for talks on Iran have made clear that like-minded nations may have to take steps themselves. We're not talking military; we're talking political, economic steps themselves. Though obviously the UN is the preferred way forward and that's what we're doing.
This is tough business, but we're not going through the motions. We do believe that Iran will respond to pressure, and when a government shouts and screams that it will never respond to pressure, it's totally unaffected by pressure, it doesn't care what the world does, you wonder whether they mean it or they're just screaming it. I don't know, but we're going to test that hypothesis.
Question: On that point, Mr. [Robert] Joseph [Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security] when he was here said that Iran is not at the point where it feels it has to make a change. We have to get to the point where Iran feels that it has to make a change.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Right.
Question: Can you give us any idea of what non-military options might make Iran feel as though it has to make a change?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Political unity is the first necessary step. We need to send consistent signals. We've come a long way from where we were in 2004 when the U.S. and the Europeans were still quarreling amongst ourselves about tactics.
You've asked a question that I can't answer, not because I can't, but probably because I shouldn't which is
Question: But those are the most fun. [Laughter].
Assistant Secretary Fried: I know. Well, you can ask. It's my problem if I answer. [Laughter].
We are thinking very hard about what those might be, and Bob Joseph, Nick Burns, the Secretary, are all thinking about this.
Iran is not North Korea. It's not a totalitarian society. It is a profoundly undemocratic political system, but everyone who knows about Iranian society, and that's not me, by the way, and U.S. government expertise is pretty thin, but people who do know it report consistently that Iranian society is sophisticated, they're educated people. It is not closed to the world, and that many of them seem they're proud of their culture, proud of their civilization, intensely patriotic, but not certain that the regime is doing the best thing for the country.
Now Ahmadinejad has his supporters, but it isn't overwhelming. We don't know how much support there is. But they're not impervious to pressure. They're not impervious to isolation. That's why we're not going through the motions on the diplomatic track. We really believe that it can work.
Question: If you listen to Javier Solana and [European Commission President Jose Manuel] Barroso and so on, the United States sees the EU as its partner in Europe. This may be just a spectrum question, but to what degree do we deal with the countries of Europe on a bilateral basis, and to what degree through the body of the EU and the
Assistant Secretary Fried: NATO is the forum for our strategic dialogue with Europe. Chancellor Merkel has called for NATO to be exactly that. She has said NATO should be increased as a forum for strategic consultations.
Question: NATO more than the EU?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Well, we deal with We're a member of NATO. We're not a member of the EU. But we also work with the EU as an organization, and I'm on the phone with my EU counterparts all the time. It's not just theory, it's practice: Belarus, Ukraine, South Caucuses, Russia, energy. We've been dealing with the European Union intensely on energy issues. But we also have to deal the European Union is not a government quite. What is it? It's certainly not a federation. It's not really a confederation. It's more than an organization, and the Europeans themselves don't know what it is, which is one of the reasons the referenda failed, because there's this disconnect.
Nevertheless, the European Union has enormous power and enormous resources. We deal with individual countries because that helps us, both because individual countries have sovereignty, and because politics in the EU depends on individual countries. If you're working an issue in the EU, you also work with key lead countries. So on Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Lithuania have an interest. On Syria/Lebanon, if you're doing something with the EU, you've got France, clearly a lead country. On Iran, it's the EU-3.
On any given issue, you actually decide how you're going to approach it, whom you're going to call, how you're going to work it; that's what we get paid to do every day is figure that stuff out. And it's always a mixture. But it helps if you show respect for the EU, because you don't want the pro-EU forces in Europe that are quite strong to feel we don't respect it, we do. We need to work with NATO, need to work bilaterally.
Question: All three.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Yes.
Question: I was in Turkey last week and had numerous conversations on the question of Turkey's bid to enter the EU. There were two concerns that people had. One was the labor issue, and they were talking about conditions that limit labor flows into the other EU countries. The other was a question of terrorists who might use EU membership to get into other European countries.
What is the U.S. view on the overall question of Turkey's EU bid, and then, specifically, on the terrorist question?
Assistant Secretary Fried: We've always favored Turkey's membership in the European Union when Turkey fulfills the EU criteria. European Union invited Turkey to join decades ago. Decades ago. It was a very different European Union, it was a very different Turkey.
Now the formal accession negotiations are underway, and European publics are very divided. So are European governments. Some of them look at Turkey and say, oh my God, it's not Europe. They don't look like Europeans; go out to the villages, women wear scarves, they're Muslims, how can they be European? This is not government views, it's public views.
Our view is, one, you invited them. Don't move the goal posts. We're not asking Turkey to get a special deal. Turkey has to do the work. It's Turkey's responsibility, but you invited them.
Secondly, I was in Ankara last week, I was in Turkey last week myself, and I go there a lot. I don't know how many of you have been to Ankara. Istanbul has always been a fabulous city. Ankara used to be known as kind of this pit, this awful place. It's fabulously wealthy now, by Turkish standards. It's a modern affluent city. The infrastructure works. Modern buildings, clean streets, lots of traffic. It's a modern European looking city. It's got mosques everywhere. So what? Turkey is much more democratic than it was 20 years ago.
There's a party now with Islamist roots that now regards itself as a secular party and a secular republic driving Turkey toward Europe. But it's got Islamist roots. Its leaders believe profoundly and were very eloquent and forceful on the subject of Islam and democracy. They said there is no contradiction. The people who say there is a contradiction hate democracy. They don't represent Islam.
The Turks will say democratic norms are consistent with Islam. We're not an Islamic country. We're a secular republic, we have an Islamic tradition. There is no contradiction.
Now can you imagine the potential upside if a Turkey a successfully reformed, an economically successful, democratic Turkey as a secular republic but with a Muslim tradition joins Europe? You have bin Laden screaming it can't be done and the Turks saying, oh, yeah? Bin Laden screams about the caliphate. The Ottoman Empire was the home of the caliphate.
The Turks are very nostalgic about the Ottoman Empire, but they're the ones who say that Turkey and democracy are compatible. On Turkish television you have complete personal freedoms. People wear head scarves, they don't wear head scarves, and nobody gets upset. It's an issue for the university. They debate these things too, but there's a huge upside potential.
Now we've had our differences with Turkey over the past few years about Iraq, and Turkish public opinion is very skeptical about the United States, but that's partly a process of this democratization. It's fascinating.
The last thing, and I'll stop, you asked about terrorism. Look, where did the 9 /11 plotters come from? They were in Germany already. There are terrorist groups in Turkey, but the biggest terrorist group is the Kurds, and their targets are the Turks. The PKK, which is the acronym for the Kurdish terrorists, go after the Turks.
The Turks take security pretty seriously. So it's not as if they would be a terrorist exporting country. They're the ones who want the Europeans to crack down on the PKK fundraising.
It's tough for the Europeans, but EU enlargement's been a great success, and they should recognize this and let the Turks measure up.
Question: I don't think Mrs. Angela Merkel will agree with you on that. She's very much against it.
Assistant Secretary Fried: That's true.
Question: It is easy for you Americans to have [inaudible] because you don't live here. Germany's population today is [inaudible] million. By the time if Turkey joins it will be 59 million. And Turkish population of 64 million would become 82 million. The largest European country will be a Muslim country. They are saying you Americans, all of the European Americans would become a minority in 35 years. We have been [inaudible] under control. Europe is also losing its European character. Where would European values go? How do you answer?
Assistant Secretary Fried: There are a lot of Europeans who make exactly that argument. The answer to that is a very complicated one. The United States is not a nation based on blood and soil and race, although we had to live 200 years and fight a civil war to determine that. But we solved that question in Appomattox or at Antietam. We are a country, we all live here and we are a universal nation. All people can be Americans. A profoundly revolutionary idea, profoundly important. Europeans are countries of nation states, and they have a lot of trouble getting their minds around the fact that they are multi-ethnic in their populations. They brought people over as guest workers, then they sort of put them aside and said you're not really here. You're only here temporarily the Arabs in France, the Turks in Germany, the South Asians in Britain were all going to go home. They're not going home.
The Europeans have to learn to integrate and embrace the multi-ethnic societies they are and will now be.
Easy for us to say. It wasn't easy for us to do at all. It was very hard for us to do. Like I said, a civil war, 100 years later the civil rights movement. I've got a lot of Americans who said, yeah, we are a country of blood, race and soil for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of English descent. But of course as Lincoln said, that's not what the Declaration of Independence says.
It doesn't say all English settlers in America are equal to Englishmen in England, you know? [Laughter]. That's not what it says.
This is something the Europeans have got to get their minds around, and it's really hard. Just like it was hard for us. But it seems to us that the first step is simply making letting people who live in your country become full citizens, not just technically, but in reality.
The alienation of Muslim populations, because they're not one, there are obviously many groups. That alienation, they're not part of their home countries, they're not part of their countries where they live. That produces a kind of alienation, both social and spiritual and economic, which feeds radicalism. They can't go on like this. We can't go on like this. You can't stay where you are. The only way out is ahead.
Again, then the European will say, well, easy for you to say. And our answer is you're the ones with the minorities that you're not allowing to come in.
Europe has, in fact, embraced minorities before. It's been difficult, but they've done it, they can do it again. It's going to take a lot. The European idea is going to have to shift. I don't see any other way. But in this context, a European Turkey is going to help. It's not going to be a problem. It will be a help if the Turks come through with their own reforms.
Look, that's a profoundly interesting question. It's the European version of our own debates about immigrants, although it's easier for us. Ninety percent of the flags are American flags. People don't like it when there are a few Mexican flags. But there's no anti-American ideology in our immigrant population, Hispanic immigrant population. There is concern about extremist ideologies, Islamism or whatever you want to call it, in European Muslim populations. Interesting parallels.
Question: But it is Turkey's place, or challenge to make itself democratic under EU standards still, don't you think?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Oh, it is very much so.
Question: And they have a lot of steps to go through.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Absolutely. Very much their responsibility. Our argument to the Europeans is once you start negotiations, it really is their responsibility.
They did put a writer, a writer was in trouble for saying Orhan Pamuk, the famous Turkish writer, a very good one, was in trouble because he said, for God's sakes let's admit what we did to the Armenians in 1915. He got in trouble, and the Turks were so embarrassed they just dropped the charges. But what you're seeing in Turkey is a democratizing society and a growing culture of democracy colliding with a lot of the old more authoritarian traditions. It's moving in the right direction, but you're absolutely right. It's the Turks' responsibility. No free ride, no lowering the bar, no moving the goal posts.
Question: Thank you very much.
Assistant Secretary Fried: A pleasure. And everything Secretary Rice said about Russia is right, I agree with it completely. [Laughter].