Remarks With European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek After Their Meeting
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of State
April 27, 2010
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SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) welcome President Buzek here to Washington. Actually, we have a number of European Union officials in town this week for discussions and consultations on how to broaden and deepen the transatlantic partnership between the United States and Europe. This partnership is essential to solving a wide range of shared challenges from energy security and climate change to terrorism and global governance. The volcanic ash that disrupted travel last week was a reminder of just how interconnected and interdependent we are, Mr. President.
I’m delighted that the president will be opening the European Parliament’s congressional liaison office here in Washington. Ties between the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress date back to 1972 when a congressional delegation for the first time visited the parliament in Brussels and Luxembourg. And this new office will build on that history of communication and collaboration. The European Parliament plays a critical role for the European Union, the people of Europe, and indeed the world. The recent Lisbon treaty has strengthened it further, including its role in international affairs.
As a former senator who served for eight years in the United States Senate, and now a Secretary who depends upon the Congress for advice and consent, I think that strong legislative voices in foreign policy are quite valuable. So we look forward to continuing to work together.
Today, the president and I discussed a number of issues. And I mentioned, of course, our commitment to working to resolve the outstanding matter of the terrorist finance tracking program, which is currently on the agenda of the European Parliament. This is a vital program that has saved lives and it is absolutely essential to cooperation between the U.S. and the EU in our common efforts to combat terrorism.
We understand Europeans’ privacy concerns, because protecting our citizens’ privacy is a priority for us as well. So we will work together to find solutions that ensure the program both enhances our mutual security and respects our values.
We also discussed Iran, because together we have consistently, in Europe and the United States, called on Iran’s government to respect the rights of its people and to resolve international concerns over its nuclear enrichment aspirations. Iran’s continued disregard for its international obligations underscores the importance of united international pressure to change its policies. And the United States is working with our partners at the United Nations, our partners in the European Union on tough new sanctions that will further sharpen the choices that Iran’s leaders face.
So I know that the president has a very busy schedule today, as he has for the last two days and the rest of this week. So again, let me thank you for your visit and your friendship.
PRESIDENT BUZEK: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for invitation, for having possibility to meet you as representative of American Administration. It’s very important just now in first month of Lisbon Treaty working in the European Union, and we feel that we are better organized. Maybe it’s not so clear on this side of Atlantic Ocean yet, but we are quite sure, especially from point of view of the European Parliament, we are very similar in the power and possibilities of action with American Congress, so at least two institutions are very similar on both sides of Atlantic Ocean.
And from our perspective, I cannot add anything what was said a few minutes ago by you, Madam Secretary of State. But I only want to mention a few points. Really it was very good discussion. We touched much more even points than you mentioned a few minutes ago. But for me, two points are very important because we differ slightly, but visibly enough, in approach in both points so important for our citizens – American citizens and European citizens. One is climate issue. And we say sometimes in European Union, well, Americans are not supportive at all. And we would like to save our planet because we know very well what is going on in Bangladesh and 8,000 islands in Pacific. But we agree you have different approach, and we must go deeper and to analyze why it is so big difference. Maybe we are wrong; maybe you are wrong.
It is another issue – it is global stability. We also want to have global stability – we Europeans. But you have different approach. We feel it. But I am quite sure you have the same task. We see the same result at the end, but we don’t have very good cooperation. And you American say very often, you’re European, you are not supportive at all. You are not going alongside with us.
So thinking about the same, having the same heritage, the same basic values built for centuries, we cannot have full agreement, so we need cooperation. As Madam Secretary said a few minutes ago together – maybe I don’t remember – we must work together to understand more, something like that – it’s a citation.
So it’s truth and we are ready for that. And we are – we just start working together to reduce the size of Atlantic Ocean to something like (inaudible) lake.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUZEK: It would be great we could do that, even having Iceland in the middle sometimes with volcano we can manage, even going by ships from one side to another. Because 200 and 300 years ago was no other possibility for Europeans than to go by ships --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
PRESIDENT BUZEK: -- to United States and to stay forever.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUZEK: So now, we are exchanging in different way. So thank you very much once again.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUZEK: We didn’t mention here so many points which were very interesting during our discussion. But still, it was a great discussion.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.
PRESIDENT BUZEK: Thank you much. Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: We have time for one question on each side. For the U.S. side, Kirit Radia, ABC News.
QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary. Hi, Mr. President. Madam Secretary, two questions very briefly. One, a clarification on the comments by Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell on North Korea this morning in Hong Kong, where he suggested that North Korea could face some penalties if it’s found that they were responsible for the sinking of the South Korean ship – if you could tell us what that might exactly be?
And a question on Iran. There was a meeting between Iran and the IAEA over the weekend. Has anything come out of that meeting that might have clarified their position on a deal on the fuel swap? And how does that affect your timeline for the sanctions? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: First, I really have nothing to add to what Assistant Secretary Campbell said. This is an evolving situation and I don’t want to comment on it further. We will be closely consulting with our South Korean allies and other partners in the region.
With respect to Iran, so far as we are aware based on the readout of the meeting between the Iranian foreign minister and the director general of the IAEA, there was nothing new that was presented. We have, for some weeks, been working intensively with our P-5+1 partners on a new Security Council resolution that will spell out the consequences for Iran’s continued defiance of the Security Council on its nuclear program. We are very committed to following through and completing that process sometime this spring.
And I have to say that Iran knows the address – because they visited, over the weekend – of the IAEA, and that’s where their response should be directed. That’s where they should be expected to put forth what they are willing to do to meet the concerns that are not just U.S. concerns, but the concerns of the international community.
And we still don’t have anything other than just an ongoing effort to try to influence public opinion as opposed to sitting down and providing an answer to the outstanding offer on the TRR, which is many, many months old now.
MR. CROWLEY: On the European side, (inaudible) from the Polish press agency.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, President Buzek sort of complained a little bit about cooperation of United States with the European Union. Can I ask you to complain a little bit? So what do you think should the European Union or European Parliament should do to become a more valuable, better partner for the United States? For example, in terms of – you know, policy towards Russia or providing more troops to Afghanistan or what?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think complaining is part of being in politics on either side of the Atlantic. Years ago when my husband was President, there was a lot of complaining in the White House about the Congress, and then when I was in the Congress, there was a lot of complaining about the White House, and it just kind of goes with the territory.
I think that what President Buzek said is right, that we have so much in common, but that doesn’t mean that we see everything the same way. And that requires greater interaction and consultation, and post-Lisbon, that consultation should include the European Parliament as well as the European Commission and the European Council. And that is the purpose of his trip here, to begin to enhance that level of consultation and cooperation.
So rather than commenting on any one particular issue, I think the overall approach that President Buzek laid out for us to understand each other better is exactly what we should be doing. We have the same goals when it comes to contentious issues like climate change, global stability, the global economic recovery. But we don’t always see every step in the same way. So let’s continue to work together.
In our private discussions, President Buzek said sometimes these meetings can seem endless and boring, but when you look at European history over the last hundred years, it reminds me of one of Winston Churchill’s most famous comments. He said jaw-jaw is always better than war-war. I’d rather see people talking themselves into abject boredom than engaging in conflict. And I marvel at the fact that we have actually seen this extraordinary historical movement toward European unity in the last decades. And the United States is fully supportive of that. But that doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree, just as within Europe, they don’t always agree, and within the United States, we don’t always agree.
PRESIDENT BUZEK: If I can add a few sentences, we say that it is better be boring than warring. So it’s just something about European Union today. And, well, I feel really that we are something like great, fantastic, good old couple. It means sometimes we disagree, there’s a big tension, but we cannot leave (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right.
PRESIDENT BUZEK: So it’s very important. Tension is necessary if you want to improve our relations, and also to maintain so complicated, dangerous and uncertain world around.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Indeed. Thank you all very much.
PRESIDENT BUZEK: Okay. Thank you.
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