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Interview With the President Responses to Written Questions Submitted by the EFE Spanish News Agency

June 24, 1980


Q. Spanish democracy goes on, and the people there strongly desire its consolidation. How does your administration evaluate His Majesty's role in Spain's democratic development, and that of the political forces?

A. We in America share the desire of the Spanish people to see democracy flourish. True democracy frees its citizens to realize the best in themselves and to require the highest standard of their government.

Certainly, as you suggest, the role of His Majesty the King has been central in the development of democracy in Spain. At the same time, coming from a nation with a vigorous democratic tradition, I well appreciate the vital role played by responsible political parties, both in positions of leadership and of opposition, in developing and maintaining a viable and vigorous democracy.

Most important, of course, is the determination of a nation's people to maintain its free institutions. It is a continuing process and, in Spain, one which our Government and our people have watched with admiration and support.


Q. Mr. President, could we have some general remarks on your forthcoming trip to the Mediterranean countries of Europe? What is going to be your agenda?

A. The initial purpose, of course, was to participate in the annual economic summit taking place in Italy this year. As I looked at the planning for the trip, it seemed to me a good opportunity to accept the generous invitations from the Governments of Spain, Portugal, and Yugoslavia to pay visits to these Mediterranean nations as well.

These visits, while not as lengthy as I would have liked, will provide an opportunity for me to exchange views on a range of subjects and at a time when consultation and cooperation among good friends are not only desirable but imperative.

There have been critical developments in recent months which affect our nations and our citizens. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan carries strategic implications for the well-being of all nations which value peace and independence. Iran's holding of hostages threatens internationally accepted rules of civilized conduct among nations. We have questions on European defense and security, as well as other regional and bilateral issues to discuss. In brief, the agenda is full.

Moreover, I am delighted that an opportunity has arisen for me, personally, to express the admiration and support of the American people, so many of whom are of Hispanic origin, for Spain's historic transition to democratic government. This evolution is being carried out with maturity and sensitivity. It is one of the most inspiring political developments of our generation.

I anticipate with pleasure meeting again with His Majesty the King and with President Suarez, both of whom I have had the honor of receiving at the White House, and with other Spanish officials and citizens.

On a personal note, my wife and I have had a lifelong respect and admiration for Spanish life and culture, and we are delighted to have the opportunity, finally, to pay a visit to Spain.


Q. Mr. President, how do you assess, as of this moment, the relations between the United States and Spain? And how do you view Spain's role in Europe and the Western World?

A. Relations between Spain and the United States are better than at any time in recent memory. As democracies with shared interests and perceptions, our two countries consult frequently on the challenges facing the world today. We work together in many areas—political, military, and economic—and our cooperation has intensified with the advent of Spanish democracy. This warm spirit of friendship sets the tone for my visit to Spain.

In addition, we are bound by ties of family and culture. Hispanic peoples from various areas who have made their lives in the United States have enriched our society in ways beyond measure.

Moreover, Spain is an integral and important part of Europe and the Western World. With its rich history and culture, Spain has already given much to our civilization. As a young and vibrant democracy, it has much more to give. This is a role that we in the United States welcome and applaud. We look forward to increased cooperation with Spain in many areas where we can work together to meet the challenges to our common interests.


Q. Because of its historic ties, Spain feels linked by a special relationship to the Arab and Mediterranean countries. Could you comment on this attachment and similar close Spanish ties to Latin America?

A. While physically and politically part of Europe, Spain nonetheless has a unique perspective on the Arab and Mediterranean world. The Complex reasons for this are rooted in history and geography. The resultant heritage has endowed Spain with a special insight into the Arab world. We understand this fact and appreciate the way in which it complements Spain's growing institutional relationship with the West.

For different, deep historical reasons Spain has a special relationship with the nations of Latin America, a role which the United States welcomes. Spain's interest in Latin American affairs, as exemplified by participation in the Andean Pact, is a salutary development. Spain has an important role to play in modern Latin America as an historic source of cultural energy and a contemporary example of democratic vigor.


Q. The next round of talks of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe will take place in Madrid next fall. Is the United States in favor of these talks to take place as planned? How do you view prospects for the meeting in general?

A. Although the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has gravely damaged the climate of East-West relations, I consider the Madrid CSCE meeting to be in the interests of the signatories of the Helsinki Final Act, including the United States. We do favor going ahead as planned.

The United States and other countries will use the important opportunity the CSCE meeting provides to call attention to how well or poorly the signatory countries have lived up to their obligation since the 1975 Helsinki summit. This review is particularly important with respect to the human rights and humanitarian provisions of the Final Act, where there have been serious failures by some countries to carry out their commitments.

Additionally, the Madrid meeting offers us the chance to work out further measures to improve the implementation of the Final Act by achieving balanced advances in all significant areas it touches. Finally, the meeting should ensure that the Helsinki process continues through a regular series of future review meetings such as that planned for Madrid.


Q. What are the present policies of your administration towards the Latin American countries?

A. From its inception, my administration has acted on the conviction that the Latin American countries play an important global role. The national aspirations of individual Latin American and Caribbean countries for independence, self-expression, and economic development are important both to the Third World and to the West, particularly to countries like Spain and the United States, which share with them a multitude of personal and historic ties.

U.S. policies seek relationships that support these traditions, these aspirations, and this potential. We maintain continuing dialogs that give balanced treatment to their interests and ours. I have personally emphasized the need to forge better direct people-to-people ties that stress the basic values of our common civilization and take advantage of opportunities to create closer and more balanced relationships. I am encouraged by the improvement in respect for human rights in most Latin American countries and the trend towards democracy. We Americans strongly support this pattern.


Q. The present situation in Central America and the Caribbean area—does it deserve any special consideration for your administration?

A. Yes, of course. The nature of the Caribbean Basin is changing rapidly, and so is the structure of relationships between the nations of the region and the West. We believe the challenge before us is not to resist these changes—many of which are natural and inevitable—but to support them in new and constructive ways.

With other concerned nations, we are seeking to:

—encourage moderate and democratic forces throughout the area;

—facilitate economic development and the equitable distribution of wealth;

—promote observance of internationally accepted standards regarding human rights;

—rejuvenate processes of regional cooperation; and

—assure security against external aggression.

In Nicaragua, we are providing assistance to help the country recover from its devastating civil war and encourage the evolution of a pluralistic, truly independent Nicaragua.

In El Salvador, the Christian Democratic military government is carrying out unprecedented reforms in land-holding and banking. For that reason, we believe it offers the best hope for a moderate democratic outcome. We are supporting it, and believe it deserves the economic and political support of West Europeans.

The peaceful and democratic evolution of these countries and others in the Caribbean Basin is the only path to the establishment of self-sustaining democracies in this important area. It is also the path which we support, but the path which Cuba, in many ways and often with violence, seeks to obstruct. As in Spain, so in the Caribbean, the United States supports and applauds the strengthening of democracy.

Jimmy Carter, Interview With the President Responses to Written Questions Submitted by the EFE Spanish News Agency Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251331

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