U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
met with three top European Union officials at the State
Department June 2 in preparation for the upcoming U.S.-EU
summit June 20 in Washington, at which President Bush will
host European Council President Jean-Claude Juncker and
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
“Today, we have talked about the spread
of freedom and democracy, particularly in the Middle East,”
Rice told reporters after their meeting, adding that discussions
also focused on Lebanon, the Middle East peace process,
Iran, Iraq, Darfur, and the advances toward freedom in Ukraine,
Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
Meeting with Rice and sharing the podium
at the press briefing were Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister
Jean Asselborn, whose country currently holds the EU presidency;
Javier Solana, secretary-general of the council of the EU;
and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external
Rice declined to speculate about what the
recent French and Dutch “no” votes on the proposed
European Union constitution might mean for Europe. However,
she said that the United States’ view has not changed
that “a strong and united Europe that is able to act
as a global partner with the United States, given its democratic
values and our long history together, will only serve to
multiply the forces that are fighting for democracy and
freedom and for prosperity across the globe.”
On prospects for EU membership for Turkey,
Rice said “there will be some period of reflection
going forward, but we continue to hope for an outward-looking
Europe, not an inward-looking one.”
On Iraq, Rice noted that the United States
and the EU are co-hosting with Iraq an international conference
in Brussels, Belgium, on June 22, adding that it will present
an opportunity “to gather international support"
for the Iraqi government "as it manages the important
transition for the Iraqi people.”
Asselborn said June 22 will be “an
important day. We will have this conference with Iraq not
only to speak about Iraq, but above all, to speak with Iraq.
The conference will be a prime opportunity for the Iraqi
Transitional Authority to present its strategy and priorities
to the international community and for all of us to reiterate
our continuing commitment to a safe, to a stable, to a unified,
prosperous and democratic Iraq.”
He confirmed that Iran has been invited
to the June 22 conference, and Rice said the United States
wants “Iran and Iraq to have good neighborly transparent
relations. And to this degree that this [invitation] serves
that cause, we're all for it.”
Rice called the assassination of a Lebanese
journalist today in Beirut “a heinous act” by
someone “who’s trying to intimidate the Lebanese
people as they move through this electoral cycle. That,
I think, will not happen because the Lebanese people want
to build a new democracy.”
Asselborn predicted that Luxembourg will
approve the EU constitution when it votes on July 10. “We
hope that we can reverse this dynamic, this negative dynamic,”
He also pointed out that the proposed constitution
says that "if 20 of the 25 countries ratify, the European
Council can take a decision what to do with the other five
countries.” But it is also important to heed what
the voters in France and the Netherlands have said and try
to deal with their concerns, Asselborn said.
Following is a transcript of the briefing:
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
June 2, 2005
SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE
WITH EUROPEAN UNION PRESIDENCY FOREIGN MINISTER JEAN ASSELBORN,
EU EXTERNAL RELATIONS COMMISSIONER BENITA FERRERO-WALDNER
AND EU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE JAVIER SOLANA
June 2, 2005
Benjamin Franklin Room
(1:50 p.m. EDT)
SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I am happy
to welcome the EU Presidency Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn,
the EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner,
and the EU High Representative Javier Solana here to Washington.
We have been working actively together over the last months
and I appreciate the excellent leadership of Luxembourg
during its EU presidency. So, Jean, thank you very much
for that. It's been a great pleasure to meet with my colleagues
Today, Europe faces important questions
about its future course and this is, of course, a matter
for Europeans to decide. But I do want to say that the United
States of America is very glad that we have a strong partner
in Europe to work on vital issues of peace, of hunger, of
poverty, of opportunity and of freedom. We are confident
that this partnership will continue to grow and to be put
to use in the service of great goals.
Today, we have talked about the spread of
freedom and democracy, particularly in the Middle East.
We have discussed the situation in Lebanon and the need
to support the Lebanese people as they move forward from
Sunday's elections. We have reaffirmed our commitment to
the Quartet process to implement the roadmap in order to
achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. We also had good discussions on our ongoing efforts
to get Iran to meet its international obligations under
the Paris agreement.
We've talked about our support for the Iraqi
people as they work to build a free society. At the request
of the new Iraqi Transitional Government, the United States
and the European Union have agreed to co-host with the Iraqis
an international conference in Brussels on June 22nd, and
we've talked about the opportunities that we will have there
to gather international support for this government as it
manages the important transition for the Iraqi people.
Freedom and fresh hope are advancing in
Ukraine and Georgia and the Kyrgyz Republic. We are supporting
these countries as they face many challenges in building
We have also had an opportunity to talk
about our joint efforts to help the suffering people of
Today's discussions prepare us for an upcoming
summit of heads of state on June the 20th in Washington.
We have an ambitious agenda before us. We have a lot of
work to do. This partnership is growing and developing and
I'm very glad to have hosted my colleagues in yet another
effort to move our work forward.
Thank you very much.
MINISTER ASSELBORN: Thank you, Condi. I
am very happy to be here in Washington with my colleagues,
Javier Solana and Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. It's
the second time in this year that we have a troika together.
The first time was in Luxembourg the 10th of February and
there we prepared the conference, the meeting with President
Bush on the 22nd of February, and I thank you, Dr. Condi
Rice, for your hospitality and for the very fruitful discussions
Now, our meeting today, we concentrated,
as you said, on the summit, the preparation of the summit,
and we want to establish a global agenda for this summit
that would be very, very important to show that the transatlantic
relations are very important and very comprehensive, too.
Middle East was in the center of our discussions.
In particular, we exchanged also views on the recent developments
in Lebanon; that is, on the ongoing legislative elections
and on the state of implementation of Security Council Resolution
1559, which must be full and complete. We explored ways
in which the EU and the U.S. can support the Lebanese Government
after the elections.
And then the 22nd of June in Brussels is
an important day. We will have this conference with Iraq
not only to speak about Iraq, but above all, to speak with
Iraq. The conference will be a prime opportunity for the
Iraqi Transitional Authority to present its strategy and
the priorities to the international community and for all
of us to reiterate our continuing commitment to a safe,
to a stable, to a unified, prosperous and democratic Iraq
that upholds human rights, fully exercises its sovereignty,
and cooperates constructively with its neighbors and with
the international community.
But let me tell also -- and it was not on
the agenda but a word about what happens in these days in
Europe. We can say that Europe is a little bit hesitating.
People in France and yesterday in the Netherlands, they
gave us a message. But Europe is not denied, not rejected,
by these two countries but it seems to be misunderstood.
We have a mixture of national influence and European aims.
We will make these results, these negative results, possible.
Now, in Europe, we have to work very hard.
Problems in the world are not changed. They remain. The
EU is still able also, on the other side, to play its role
inside of Europe but also on the international side. The
presidency, as you know perhaps, said, and I will repeat
it here in the States, that we will continue the procedures
The next referendum now will be in Luxembourg
the 10th of July. This day will be very important because
a lot of people will look to Luxembourg in Europe and even
in other countries in the world. In Luxembourg, we know
that more of Europe gave always more influence to our country
and we hope that we can reverse this dynamic, this negative
dynamic, in our mind and make it possible that with a new
constitution we will have a better Europe in the world who
is better organized.
You know that in the chapter four of this
constitution is mentioned that if 20 of the 25 countries
ratify, the European Council can take a decision what to
do with the other five countries in this case if 20 countries
will ratify. So we will continue to make our work but we
have also (inaudible) what people told us and the next European
Council, the 16th an the 17th in Brussels, will be a very
important council, not only to speak about money, not only
to speak about financial (inaudible), but also to speak
about a deeper understanding of Europe. We will have a meeting,
general affair meeting, the 12th and the 13th of June in
Brussels and there we can start this work. I hope, I hope,
that in June we can give the message to the Europeans that
we have found a solution about the financial (inaudible)
that would be very, very important sign to reverse this
misunderstanding of Europe in a lot of -- in the two countries
and maybe also in other countries. But I stay very optimistic
that we can reverse this negative dynamic.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: I don't have
much to add. The agenda that we have been dealing today,
as you will note, has been well explained by Dr. Rice and
by the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Luxembourg. The only
thing I would like to emphasize in the same line that has
been done by the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Luxembourg,
that the problems that we are facing together in trying
to resolve together with the United States in a very profound
cooperation are the same today that they were a month ago,
and the determination of the European Union countries and
the European Union institution is the same: to continue
trying to work to solve these problems, to do it with our
friends, to do it in cooperation with the United States
and to try to get this world a better place. This will continue
to be our aim.
COMMISSIONER FERRERO-WALDNER: Thank you
very much. This meeting was a very good point to prepare
the summit of the 20th of June which I think would give
us the chance to have an even more strategic perspective
as global partners in the world on our common agenda that
so well has been outlined by Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
I would like to say that the Iraq conference
that is coming up on the 22nd of June is, I would say, an
example of our new dynamic between the European Union and
the U.S., and you can check out today's joint announcement
on the international conference on Iraq. There you will
see that the atmosphere is very good and also the objectives
that we want to achieve. We want Iraq to be in the center.
We want to have inclusiveness. We want to have more cohesion
also with the neighboring states and I think this will be
very, very important.
Another word on the economic side. I think
we have a huge trade relationship but we have an even stronger
potential, and in order to make this potential even improve,
there was a communication of the Commission working on the
question of how do we give regulators, how do we give businessmen
an even better chance for investment. And this should also
be looked at the next time this is working on the borders
because there, on the one hand, you have security; on the
other hand you have to have a facilitation of trade; on
the other hand, I think it's the question of avoiding obstacles,
and I think for the future there are many chances to still
do better. Maybe we can prepare this agenda for the next
summit, which will be the summit in Vienna.
Finally, let me also say a word on the constitution.
Of course, the vote in France and now especially in Netherlands,
these are real, important, serious setbacks. But at the
same time, of course, we continue to work and nothing does
prevent us from carrying all the important work in cooperation
with the U.S. and I think this meeting shows it. We are
able to work with you as well today as we did yesterday.
And some people have suggested we will now be too absorbed
in our own crisis to pursue our external policies. I promise
you, this will not be the case. All the agenda items that
have been mentioned show it clearly.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.
MR. BOUCHER: We'll start with Associated
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, could you discuss
the impact on the United States of the two referenda held
this week? And also, do the outcomes represent a setback
for the U.S. goal of EU membership of Turkey?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, there
has been, of course, a longstanding interest in the United
States in European integration, in the European project.
The President reaffirmed this and I think even strengthened
our belief and commitment in a strong Europe as a global
partner when he was in Brussels.
It is our view that a strong and united
Europe that is able to act as a global partner with the
United States, given its democratic values and our long
history together, will only serve to multiply the forces
that are fighting for democracy and freedom and for prosperity
across the globe.
And our view of that has not changed. I
think that the agenda that we have outlined here demonstrates
that we intend to continue on precisely that course. We
have a big agenda ahead of us, whether it's in the Middle
East or in Iraq or in trying to deal with a potential nuclear
breakout in Iran. We have a lot ahead of us and we're going
to continue that agenda.
I can't speak to precisely what the referendum
-- referenda mean for the way that Europe will approach
these issues in the future. That is something that Europeans
will have to decide. But we have also believed and have
said so, that a Europe that is outward-looking, not inward-looking,
that is offering a European perspective and a European future
to all of the democracies of Europe is extremely important
to completing Europe's integration and Europe's unity. And
that, of course, includes Turkey.
We work hand in hand with the European Union
and NATO to provide stable pillars of a transatlantic relationship
that I think has demonstrably been an incentive for democratizing
states coming out of crisis or coming out of revolutionary
situations, as in the case of East Central Europe, to have
a kind of lodestar to which they are attaching. And I would
hope that that remains an important goal of the European
Union because everybody has a stake in a Europe -- which,
of course, includes Turkey -- a Europe that is united around
common values. But, you know, we understand that this has
been a difficult period and that there will be some period
of reflection going forward, but we continue to hope for
an outward-looking Europe, not an inward-looking one.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, can you tell
us if Iran is invited to the conference on Iraq? If it is
not, why not? And if it is, do you plan to meet with the
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Iranians are a
neighbor of the Iraqis. I would just note that the Iranians
have been at other meetings in which the Iraqi situation
has been discussed. We don't have relations with Iran. Everybody
understands that. And we have our differences with Iran.
We believe very strongly that Iran is a state that is out
of step with what is going on in the region. And whether
it is support for the rejectionists in the Palestinian territories
or the support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran or the concerns
that the world has about Iran's nuclear weapons program
and the concerns of that the world has about Iran's own
internal developments. I mean, it's a very -- not a very
pretty picture of this "election," that is going
to take place in a couple of weeks when candidates have
been summarily dismissed by an unelected Guardian Council.
So those things have not changed with Iran.
But we understand, as I talked with Foreign
Minister Zebari yesterday, that Iran is Iraq's neighbor.
We would like nothing better than for Iran to be devoted
to a stable Iraq in which Iran is not trying to interfere
in Iraq's internal affairs, but rather, trying to support
the development of a stable and democratic Iraq.
And I'll just make one other point about
that, which is that I have never believed that the Iraqi
people, having thrown off the yoke of Saddam Hussein, now
wish to subject themselves to the rule of the Guardian Council
of Iran. And so I really do believe that the Iraqis, left
to their own devices, will find their own path.
MINISTER ASSELBORN: Can I just answer?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
MINISTER ASSELBORN: That was my purpose.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. I think they have.
MINISTER ASSELBORN: It's -- Luxembourg has
the presidency. Luxembourg has relations with Iran. Iran
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. And it's not a problem.
My point is it's not a problem from our point of view that
they are invited to this conference. We do not have relations
with Iran. And we have said, and I think I said when I was
in Iraq, we want Iran and Iraq to have good neighborly transparent
relations. And to this degree that this serves that cause,
we're all for it.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary and Mr. Solana,
what's your comment on the assassination of a Lebanese journalist
today in Beirut?
SECRETARY RICE: Do you want to start, Javier?
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Well, we have
talked about that. We learned this morning about it. And
I would like, on behalf of everybody here, to condemn this
tragedy. He was a very honest man. He -- some of us had
a relative knowledge person -- knowledge with him. And we
don't know who is responsible, but whichever is responsible
should be found and responsibly condemned.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. And let me just add
it's a heinous act that, obviously, is someone who's trying
to intimidate the Lebanese people as they move through this
electoral cycle. That, I think, will not happen because
the Lebanese people want to build a new democracy. He was
clearly someone who spoke out against foreign influences
in his country. And we don't know who is responsible for
it, but I really do hope that Mr. Mikati carries through
on his pledge earlier that there will be a full investigation
to get to the bottom of it because this -- the international
community needs to watch very carefully. The Lebanese people
are going through a difficult period. They're going through
an important period. And we have to speak out against efforts
like this to intimidate them.
QUESTION: Mr. President, since there's been
opposition from both the left and right to the constitution,
what is the way forward?
MINISTER ASSELBORN: The middle. No. I think,
as I explained to you, the way forward is to say what we
said now that Europe can function. I don't say now without
a constitution that it functions better, but it continues
to function. The constitution was to increase the internal
and also the external functioning of Europe. So now we are
in a state that two countries of 25 said to the referendum
no. I remember that nine countries said already yes and
Spain had a very clear referendum in favor of the European
We have to stay very quiet to listen to
the people, to think about the credibility of our policies
in Europe, as I told you, and in Luxembourg we will reverse
the situation, then we will have the next referendums in
autumn and you will see that the cause is not yet lost.
We have to believe in a better Europe and we have to persuade
people, continue to persuade people, that they have to answer
what is written in the text and not answer about the context.
I am not now a professor of democracy, but in some countries
this was the case, for instance, in Spain. And we hope that
we can find other countries to show the way in a positive
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.