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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
English transcript of the joint press conference by Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister and current President of the European Council, George W. Bush, US President and José Manuel Barroso, European Commission President

Date of release : 22-02-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : EU-US leaders meeting

Jean-Claude Juncker: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As heads of state and government of the European Union, we have been very happy to host the President of the United States here, at the heart of the European institutions. Once again, I wish to thank him for this visit, and for the initiative that he has taken to come to Europe so rapidly after the beginning of his second term as President of the United States.

In the course of our discussions, we have touched on a whole range of issues, which it is clearly impossible to summarize here before you. As on so many occasion of our history, we have once again noted today that if we work together, if we pool our strengths, we, Europeans and Americans, can make all the difference. We have the strength for it, we have the legitimacy for it, and we have the means for it - because we have the same ambitions for the world: an ambition of democracy, of freedom, the ambition of fighting together against terrorism, the ambition to jointly strive towards putting an end to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

On our shared flag we have the words freedom and democracy, and we take care of the obligations that ensue from them: the struggle against poverty, the struggle against under-development. And consequently,  in a very studious, constructive and friendly atmosphere, we have addressed a number of problems.

As regards the Middle East, we both do consider that peace prospects are better than they have been for a long time and we are looking forward to cooperate in close partnership with the United States and other important members. It is of crucial importance, we do think, to go back to the implementation of the road map. The Gaza withdrawal opens prospects for a negotiated two states solution, as defined in this road map. That means that we have to make sure for Israel that peace, security and recognition by all countries in the region are guaranteed. And that means for the Palestinians that they have the right to have a viable, democratic, independent, and territorially continuous state.

As regards Iraq, we applauded the courage of the Iraqi people and the results of recent Iraqi elections as far as the outcome was concerned. We are pursuing our common engagement in Iraq. The United States and the European Union stand together, in support of the Iraqi people, and the new Iraqi government, which will soon come into action. To that end, should the new Iraqi government request it, the United States and the European Union are prepared to co-host an international conference to provide a forum to encourage and coordinate international support for Iraq.

We spoke at length about the Middle East, and in particular of Lebanon, of Lebanon, this country which is lurching from misfortune to misfortune and from tragedy to tragedy. We vigorously re-condemned the assassination of the former Prime Minister, we insisted on respect for the related Security Council resolution and its immediate implementation, and we, the United States and the European Union, call together for the instauration of an international enquiry commission.

I wouldn’t touch upon the other issues we discussed; I leave this to the President of the US. George.

George W. Bush:
Mister Prime Minister thanks, José it is good to see you Sir, thank you. I am looking forward to having dinner with you and with Javier Solana and Jean-Claude Juncker tonight. Listen, it is an honour to be here, I appreciate the invitation in form of an extraordinary meeting and I’m honoured you did so. My first trip after my inauguration was to Europe and that’s the way it should be, because Europe and United States are close friends. In my talk to the leaders in the room, I started by saying this earlier: there should be no doubt on your mind that my government and United States wants the European project to succeed. It is in our interest that Europe be strong, it is in our interest that the European Union work out whatever differences there are and become a continued, viable and strong partner. It is in our interest for commercial reasons, we trade a lot, we talked about the need to continue trade and to work out our disputes in a sensible way. It is in our interest, because the values that caused the European Union to exist in the first place, the values of human rights and human dignity and freedom are the same values we share. And we have an opportunity to work together to spread those values.

We talked about Iraq and I appreciate the contributions and the new suggestions. I appreciate your contributions in Afghanistan. We talked about how hopeful the Middle Eastern peace situation looks and I told the leaders that my government will be very much involved in the process. We believe peace is within reach. Therefore I want to work with the European Union to achieve that objective.

We talked about aid, the need to work together to fight disease, like HIV/AIDS, which we are doing and will continue to do.

 I brought up global warming: I said that the Kyoto debate is beyond us, as far as I am concerned. Now is the time to focus on our abilities and research capacities to develop technologies that make the air cleaner. So that our people can have the standard of living they expect. At the same time, it will do good to the earth. So it was a very optimistic, hopeful meeting. I appreciate very much the hospitality of the leaders, and I am anxious to continue our dialogue after this press conference.

Jean-Claude Juncker:
José Manuel

José Manuel Barroso:
Thank you. I think that, on behalf of the European Commission, that this visit of President Bush is really a very very important one. Europe and America have re-connected. This visit has highlighted all that unites Europe and America. It has focused the eyes of the world on all that we share. I believe that the relationship between the United States and Europe is the world’s strongest, most comprehensive and strategically important partnership. The United States and the United Europe, this is really the indispensable partnership. If we look at the scale of the challenges ahead, like terrorism, poverty, one thing is certain: these are not challenges that any nation can tackle alone. Europe knows that, the United States know that. Even working together, it is not sure that we will solve these problems, because of their magnitude. But we must try and I believe that together, we will prevail. The reality is that the world is safer and more prosperous when Europe and America work together as global partners.

Today, we have had the opportunity to discuss many of the challenges on the transatlantic agenda: on the Middle-East, on transatlantic trade. There is a common outlook on many fronts. I believe that the European Union and America will be very strong partners in supporting the efforts of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to move towards a lasting peace in the Middle-East. We know that President Bush and America are fully engaged. There is a unique opportunity for peace-making. The European Union and the United States are committed to bring prosperity and solidarity across the broader Middle East. Building on the European Union side, on the decade of dialogue and assistance through the Barcelona process.

On Iraq, the Commission is and will remain committed to a stable and democratic country. We will continue to offer substantial political and financial support to the process of democratic transition and we hope that if the new Iraqi government makes a concrete proposal for joint action, we will be ready to assist.

We also have a shared commitment to development and I agree that we must measure ourselves by results, helping countries to progress towards the Millennium Goals. We must give urgent attention to Africa. We need a quantum leap in terms of resources and policies. We will talk later about how we can work together also to fight climate change. The United States and Europe, I think I can say this, agree that climate change constitute a major challenge, and now we need to develop new methods of working together to get results that are effective over the long term. President Bush mentioned for instance the prospects opened now by new technologies. We are very much wishing to work together with the United States in this field.

The United States and Europe are the two largest economies in the world. We are determined to deepen the transatlantic economic partnership. Trade and investment are the bedrock of transatlantic relations. We want to build on this. Our common objective must be to remove obstacles to transatlantic trade and investment as well as making a success of the Doha development round, which is a catalyst for global growth. Europe is committed to promote growth and jobs through knowledge, investment and opportunity. That is what the Lisbon Agenda stands for. This visit has given new life to the partnership between Europe and the United States. I believe that transatlantic relations have turned a corner. A new listening partnership is emerging. The challenge now, is to turn this new spirit into reality and show the world, we are able to turn it into concrete results. Thank you.

Jean-Claude Juncker
: So, we will take three or four questions. Two coming from the European side, two from the US side. Dr. Wernicke please:

Christian Wernicke, Süddeutsche Zeitung, a question to US President and Prime Minister of Luxembourg. This EU-US Summit fuels speculations that there will be now two transatlantic tracks on foreign and security policy, one is the good one, or the good old NATO and the other one is the new one, that’s direct EU-US strategic talk. So is this meeting between the EU and US, this special summit, a kind of historic foundation of a new second-track outside of NATO on EU-US relations.

Jean-Claude Juncker:
I always wanted to make history, but I don't think that this time is the moment for doing so. We have an ongoing transatlantic dialogue inside NATO. It can be improved and we discussed this morning, together with the President. And we have an ongoing transatlantic dialogue inside the framework between the US and the European Union. We will have another summit by the end of this semester, in June in Washington, where we are trying to deliver as concrete results as possible on the basis of the good atmosphere we laid down in the course of this meeting. We shouldn’t make a distinction between NATO and the European Union. These are two different things, but there are strong family relations and links between the two this is not a question or, or. It is a question and, and.

George W. Bush:
I agree, I mean, I don't view these two meetings as mutually exclusive meetings, I think they are both important, they are a both a part of an important dialogue with Europe. NATO was set up for security matters. The EU was set up as a way to make Europe function better, be able to achieve objectives for their people. The United States looks forward to working with Europe both within NATO and as the European Union. You know, I've been meeting with the EU a lot since I 've been the president. It is certainly not the first meeting, and your question kind of made it sound like we finally showed up and met! It isn't the first time we meet with the European Union in my presidency. As a matter of fact, we do so on an annual basis, and I look forward to the meetings and they are constructive and they are important.

Russians seem to be pushing back against some of the things you have said, Mister President. Their Ambassador to the US wrote today that cannot be a sole standard for democracy. So what I am asking is just how flexible you think the standards for democracy can be?

George W. Bush:
First, we've got a constructive relationship with Russia and that’s important. I've got a very good personal relationship with President Putin, and that’s important. It is important, because it enables me and our country to remind President Putin that democracies are based upon the rule of law, and the respect for Human Rights and Human dignity and a free press, you will be happy to hear. And that a constructive relationship allows me to remind him that I believe Russia is a European country and European countries embrace those very same values that America embraces. And I'm looking forward to continue my dialogue with him.

Jean-Claude Juncker:
Next European question.

European Voice, a question for President Bush. President you came to Europe with a very constructive speech and indeed you said very few things, the Europeans couldn’t agree with. But actions speak louder, so do you actually commit to take more into account the Europeans positions on international matters and do you actually commit to, for instance prevent from launching actions/strikes against a sovereign state: state like Iran, without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council?

George W. Bush:
I, you know, look. Let me talk about Iran that’s a place where I am getting good advice from European partners. After all, Great Britain, Germany and France are negotiating with the Ayatollahs to achieve a common objective, something that we all want and that is for them not to have a nuclear weapon. It's in our interests for them not have a nuclear weapon,  It's also in our interests for them not to continue funding terrorist organisation like Hezbullah, which has the desire to stop the Middle East Peace process from going forward. And so these are great interlocutors on behalf of the position we share. So there is an example of concrete action. I'm also looking forward to working with our European partners on the Middle Eastern Peace Process. Tony Blair is hosting a very important meeting, in London, and that is a meeting at which the President Abbas will hear that the US and the EU are desirous of helping this good man set up a democracy in the Palestinian territories, so that Israel will have a democratic partner in peace. I laid out a vision, the first US president to do so: we have said that our vision is two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace. That is the goal. And I look forward to working concretely with our European friends and allies to achieve that goal. And finally, this notion that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said, that all options are on the table.

(inaudible question)

Is this a question on Russia?

Yes Sir. Do you believe, Sir that Russia is backsliding in its march towards democracy? What troubles you the most about that, and how is that going to shape your conversation with President Putin in two days from now?

George W. Bush:
I like a country with a free press, and an independent free press. And there has been some moves where the Russian government has, for better use of the word, didn't licence certain members of the press. I think its very important that President Putin hears not only from me, in a private way, which he will, but also hear some of the concerns I heard around the table today. There were some concerns from the Baltic nations. And I look forward to carrying their message, that its very important for President Putin to make very clear why he's made some of the decisions he's made, and as well as respect his neighbours, and I'm confident that can be done in a cordial way. It is important for us to keep a constructive relationship with Russia; we've got a lot to do together. We've got a lot of common projects that will make people more secure around the world. One of which is to make sure that nuclear stockpiles are safeguarded. I look forward to talking to him about that. But I'll also remind him that US believes strongly in democratic values. Thank you.

Jean-Claude Juncker: That was it, thank you!

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This page was last modified on : 23-02-2005

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