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VP pool report — #2
Ashley Parker • The Washington Post
February 20, 2017: 01:02 PM


Still in Brussels... Vice President Pence met with Council President Tusk, followed by a meeting with Commission President Juncker, and the leaders made comments after each. The events were open press, but below is the complete transcript of the remarks by both Pence and Tusk, whose comments were especially pointed.

Your pooler was unable to capture Juncker's (fairly brief) remarks on clear audio, although he did gently scold your pool for trying to ask the vice president why he had been left in the dark for two weeks about the General Flynn controversy. "Madam, this is a house of polite manners," Juncker said.

Below, Tusk and Pence's remarks — and again, thanks to CNN's Kevin Liptak for co-pooling:

TUSK:

"Let me, first of all, thank you for this meeting. We all truly needed it. Too much has happened over the past month in your country, and in the E.U. Too many new and sometimes surprising opinions have been voiced over this time about our relations, and our common security, for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be. And thank you for being so open and frank with me.

Today I heard words which are promising for the future, words which explain a lot about the approach of the new administration in Washington. I repaid our guest by offering honesty in my assessment of the situation. I shared our concerns and hopes. Given that I am an incurably pro-American European who is fanatically devoted to transatlantic cooperation, I could afford to be outspoken even more.

I asked the Vice President directly if he shared my opinions on three key matters: the international order, security and the attitude of the new American administration towards the European Union. Firstly, I expressed my belief that maintaining order based on the rules of international law, where brute force and egoism do not determine everything, lies in the interest of the West. And, that maintaining that order can only be enforced through a common, mutually supportive and decisive policy of the whole of the Western community. For millions of people around the world, the predictability and stability of our approach provide a guarantee, or at the very least hope, that chaos, violence and arrogance will not triumph in a global dimension. Referring to some statements made in Munich just two days ago, I would like to say clearly that the reports of the death of the West have been greatly exaggerated. Whoever wants to demolish that order, anticipating a post-West order, must know that in its defense we will remain determined.

Secondly, our security is based on NATO and the closest possible transatlantic cooperation. We must work together to modernize the forms of this cooperation. Some of them should indeed be improved. But we should also, I believe, agree on one thing: the idea of NATO is not obsolete, just like the values which lay at its foundation are not obsolete. Let us discuss everything, starting with financial commitments, but only to strengthen our solidarity, never to weaken it.

Thirdly, we are counting, as always in the past, on the United States' wholehearted and unequivocal, let me repeat, unequivocal support for the idea of a united Europe. The world would be a decidedly worse place if Europe were not united. Americans know best what great value it is to be united, and that becoming divided is the prelude to a fall. It is in the interest of us all to prevent the disintegration of the West. And, as for our continent, in this respect we will not invent anything better than the European Union.

In reply to these three matters, I heard today from Vice President Pence three times "yes." After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practice what they preach.

On Saturday in Munich, you mentioned that during your trip across Europe in 1977 with your older brother, you found yourselves at some point in West Berlin, marveling at what you saw, then crossing through Checkpoint Charlie only to see the ‘shadow of repression hanging over people.' As you know, I had been living under this shadow for over thirty years. What I vividly remember from my own past is how after martial law was imposed in Poland on December 13, 1981, President Ronald Reagan urged all Americans to light a "solidarity candle" on Christmas Eve, as he did himself. It is not difficult to imagine how this moving message of American solidarity with the oppressed Polish nation against, as Reagan said, ‘the forces of tyranny and those who incite them from without,' helped bring back hope and the determination not to give in.

In your speech you also highlighted the historic role of some American and European leaders, including Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa. I was lucky to cooperate closely with the two of them in difficult times. Similarly to us, they all believed in the purpose of cooperation and solidarity between Europe and the U.S. We cannot let their efforts go to waste. After today's talks it will be easier for me to believe that we will fulfil this task."

//

PENCE:

"Thank you President Tusk, thank you for your warm hospitality today, and thank you for those eloquent words, and your personal courage and leadership. It's an honor to meet you. On behalf of the president of the United States, I bring greetings, and I may make a note never to follow you at the podium again. Thank you again for your eloquence. Last night I was honored to have dinner with the president of Belgium. This morning I met with the European Union's High Representative Mogherini. And this morning, a very constructive and productive conversation with President Tusk, and it's an honor to be here. This afternoon, I will meet with President Juncker of the European Commission....

Saturday, as president Tusk said, I was pleased to address the Munich Security Council, to speak about the importance of the strategic alliance [inaudible]....entered the bond so many years ago in the North American Treaty Organization. But the president did ask me to come here, to Brussels, to the home of the European Union, and deliver an additional message, so today it is my privilege on behalf of president Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union. Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same marriage, the same values, and above all, the same purpose — to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And to those objectives, we will remain committed. This has been European Union's goal since before its formal founding in 1993. What began as a modest Western European trade agreement in in 1951 — freedom of movement has grown into a commitment to the four freedoms — the freedom of movement, goods, capital, services and people, the common currency and common approach to foreign and security policy.

What began 60 years ago with the Treaty of Rome among six Western European nations has grown to encompass north and south, east and west, and we welcome new states after the end of the Cold War. With this union and in cooperation with the United States, history will attest, that when the United States and Europe are peaceful and prosperous, we do the best [inaudible] peace and prosperity of all the world.

Our economies are the world's largest, accounting for half of the world's economic output. Transatlantic commerce supports 14 million jobs on both continents, and improves the lives and well-being of all of our citizens. And so today, we reaffirm our commitment to a free, fair and flourishing economies that undergird our success and a cooperation in achieving that. Maintaining and strengthening our economic vitality will require hard but necessary choices. Renewed growth means improved peace and prosperity for all.

We must be strong and we must be united, as well, in our efforts to confront threats to Europe's security and stability. It's heartbreaking to reflect that now nearly a year ago, here in the Brussels, in the heart of the European Union, three horrific suicide bombings and attacks hit close, killing 33 innocent victims, including four Americans, and injuring hundreds more. But let me say to this community, the European community: Your loses at the hands of barbaric terrorists are felt equally in every household and every heart in America, and you have our condolences and our determination to continue to do all that we can in partnership with the European Union, and all of our allies in Europe, to ensure that such attacks never happen again.

We seek to take measures and we call on the European community to join with the United States in continuing to intensify our efforts to counter radical Islamic terrorism here on the continent. This will require greater coordination and intelligence sharing among EU member states and between the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And let me assure you, the United States is committed to continuing and expanding our collaboration on the collective security of all of our peoples.

The safety and security of your union and our people depends on that increased collaboration in the global fight against terrorism and the United States will remain a full partner with the EU and all of our European allies to accomplish that.

In addition to confronting terrorism together, clearly we must stand strong in defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nations in Europe. In the wake of Russian efforts to redraw international borders by force we will continue to support efforts in Poland and the Baltic states through NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence initiative and with regard to Ukraine, the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable and demand that Russia honor the Minsk agreements beginning by deescalating the violence in Eastern Ukraine.

We urge both sides, we urge both sides to abide by the ceasefire that was schedule to begin today and in the interest of peace and in the interest of innocent human lives, we hope and pray that this ceasefire takes hold.

While the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, at President Trump's direction we will also search in new ways for new common ground with Russia, which President Trump believes can be found.

The United States commitment to the European Union is steadfast and enduring. President Tusk, President Trump and I look forward to working together with you and the European Union to deepen our political and economic partnership. We are separated by an ocean, but we are joined by a common heritage and a common commitment to freedom, to democracy and to the rule of law, and we're confident that that bond will endure and grow in the years ahead as we meet our future together.

Thank you again for your hospitality, Mr. President, and thank you all."

//

And, if you made it all the way to the bottom, a fun bit of (naval-gazing) color: As your pool motorcaded to the E.U. Council headquarters here, a small group of protestors gave Pence's motorcade the thumbs down sign. But when they spotted the pool van, they switched to thumbs up and waved, cheering, "Go press!"

Your pool is now holding back at the hotel, until Pence's final meeting of the trip, with NATO Secretary General Stolenberg.



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