The President's News Conference With European Leaders in Vienna, Austria
Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me first start by saying that this was—is the 15th journey of President of the United States, George Bush, to Europe. And I'm really happy that this journey leads—it's a kind of an Austria-Hungarian journey—leads George Bush and his team to Vienna.
We had a summit, a very fruitful and a positive summit touching a broad range of subjects, from economy—quite obvious—America and Europe, we are the E-2, the economic big two powers of the world, and we spoke about common trade, foreign investment in both directions. Of course, we touched some problems, but don't forget that 99 percent of our trade volume is done without any problems. It's, per date, a sum of around $2 billion traded above the Atlantic Ocean.
And we touched foreign policy issues; we touched Iran; we touched Iraq; Balkan issues; global issues like global warming, climate change, et cetera.
Although we might have different approaches in some aspects, this should never overshadow the depth and quality of our cooperation. We covered, as I said it, a wide range of issues during our talks, from foreign policy and economic cooperation. The energy security was high on our agenda, the protection of intellectual property rights, the cooperation in the fight against terror, and the protection of human rights around the world.
In our common responsibility to promote stability and security for our citizens and the world, the European Union and United States successfully work together. There are recent examples for our good cooperation, as I mentioned, just Iran, Middle East, and Iraq.
And in one of the topics we intensively discussed today, our efforts to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons. We have come to a crossroad on the Iranian nuclear issue. Iran has to make the right choice. And we welcome a U.S. involvement, in particularly, recent historic signal that U.S. is ready to join negotiations talks if conditions for resuming negotiations are met. And this signal greatly contributed to the credibility of a united position between the key players. And I told President George Bush how much we appreciate his constructive role in this particularly sensitive situation.
The situation in Middle East is still complex. There's no doubt that the Palestinian Government has to accept the basic principles of the peace process—nonviolence, recognition of Israel, acceptance of existing agreements, the so-called roadmap. On the other hand, both America and Europe consequently argue against any unilateral steps by Israel. The escalation of armed confrontation during the recent days and weeks show the lack of a political perspective. The solution to this conflict can only be a political one based on negotiations and the principles of the roadmap.
In Iraq, we welcome the formation of the new Iraqi national unity Government on 20th of May. We strongly condemn terrorist acts, the continuing campaign of violence against the Iraqi people and their constitutionally elected Government. At the European Council last week, we stressed our encouragement for enhanced institutional and international engagement and underlined our willingness for continued supporting U.N. role in Iraq.
On Balkans, we informed President Bush on the European strategy. We have opened negotiations last week with Croatia. Macedonia is a candidate. We signed an agreement for stabilization association with Albania. We have now Montenegro independent. Bosnia is integrated, and we are, all the time, involved in positive talks with Serbia. Of course, there are open questions, and we discussed them in detail. In Kosovo, negotiations under the chairmanship of Martti Ahtisaari and Albert Rohan are taking place here in Vienna. The office of Ahtisaari is here, and we do our utmost to help and to ease.
Strong bilateral ties between Europe and USA are absolutely important. We are the most important economic partners for each other. The summit highlights only some topics. Progress made in many other areas should not be overlooked.
Today we signed an agreement on higher education and vocational training that will last for a longer period of time than the previous one, engage us in a larger quantity of programs and funds, and will reach more students and teachers—three times more students than before.
Given the worldwide increase in energy demands and, at the same time, limited resources, security of supply is of strategic importance. And therefore, we welcome the establishment of a strategic cooperation between America and Europe. And we are committed to develop a coherent energy strategy that not only emphasizes security of supply but also efficiency, sustainability, and climate protection.
This is my first statement. I now invite the President of the United States, George Bush, to take the floor, and then the President of the Commission.
President Bush. Mr. Chancellor—I call him, Wolfgang; he calls me, George W.— Jose, it's good to see you. Thank you very much for your hospitality. I also want to thank President Fischer for his hospitality as well. I've really been looking forward to this trip. I have never been to your beautiful country. I need to come back. It is—and your hospitality has been grand. I really appreciate it a lot.
We did have a very engaged and fruitful conversation, as we should. We're close partners in peace and prosperity. I've always believed that when America and the EU work together, we can accomplish big deeds. And this world needs us to work together, because there's a lot of challenges.
We talked about democracy and new democracies, and I want to thank the European Union for its strong support of Afghanistan and Iraq. Look, I fully understand we've had our differences on Iraq, and I can understand the differences. People have strong opinions on the subject. But what's past is past, and what's ahead is a hopeful democracy in the Middle East. And I want to thank your leadership, both of your leaderships, on this important issue. I believe the Maliki Government is going to succeed. I know the Government needs our help, and the European Union has stood up to help, and I can't thank you enough for that.
We talked about Lebanon and the need for Lebanon to be free from Syrian influence. We worked very closely together at the United Nations to send that clear message to the Syrians: Leave Lebanon alone; let them be; let them be a free democracy—which is a necessary part of laying the foundation for peace in the Middle East.
We talked about Israel and Palestine. I assured the leaders here that my position is firm, and that is, I envision two states living side by side in peace. And we want to help. On the other hand, we're not going to deal with a Government that has made the destruction of Israel one of its key policy platforms. How can you be side by side in peace if part of your platform is the destruction of one of the countries you're supposed to be at peace with? And I appreciate Europe being strong on that issue as well.
We talked about the Balkans, and I assured the Chancellor that Austria's role in the Balkans and the European Union's role in the Balkans is essential, and we look forward to supporting your role. In essence, the EU, particularly under the Chancellor's guidance, is in the lead on the Balkans. And we want to help. We want to be a participant in helping bring peace to that region.
I think the European Union is a vital part of helping solve the issue of the Balkans. After all, aspirations to the EU causes people to adopt the habits necessary for there to be a democracy and peace. And so we're very strongly supportive of the EU's role in the Balkans and applaud your strong role as well, Mr. Chancellor.
We talked about development and prosperity. Listen, we're trading partners, and we've got to make sure that commerce and trade and capital continues to flow freely between the EU and America. And we talked about some of the impediments to capital flows, and we discussed our desire to make sure that we continue to trade as freely as possible.
Obviously, the Doha round of the WTO was a big subject. And it's a tough subject because we're trying to make difficult adjustments to our own internal policy in order to satisfy a—in order to reach an agreement that's fair for all of us. But the good news is, is that we were very frank in our discussion with each other. I mean, the Europeans have problems with the U.S. position; we have problems with the European position; we both have problems with the G-20 position. But the point is, we're committed to a successful round. And it's going to take hard work. There's a ministers meeting here at the end of this month, and my pledge to our European counterparts is, we'll do the very best we can to reach an agreement that is—that satisfies all parties' desires.
But make no mistake about it, it's hard work. My view is, is that we can't let this round fail. A failed WTO round would be missed opportunity, particularly to help people in the impoverished—who are impoverished. The best way to help lift people out of poverty is trade. You can give all the money you want—and my Government has been very generous on the continent of Africa. We're joining with the Europeans to fight HIV/AIDS and to deal with hunger. But if you're really interested in development, the best way to do it is to have a successful round at the WTO. And I understand that, and we're committed to working for success in that round.
We talked about energy. I kind of startled my country when, in my State of the Union, I said, "We're hooked on oil, and we need to get off oil." That seemed counterintuitive for some people to hear a Texan say. But the truth of the matter is, we got to diversify away from oil. And the best way to do it is through new technologies. And we agreed we would share technologies between our nations and between the EU and the United States. The EU needs to get diversified as well. And so this is going to be a very interesting period for us as new technologies develop, and we're willing to share those technologies.
We talked about our efforts to continue to defeat the terrorists. I reminded my fellow leaders here that the terrorists still want to strike, and they want to do harm, and we have an obligation to work very closely together.
And obviously, they brought up the concern about Guantanamo. And I understand their concerns. But let me explain my position. First, I'd like to end Guantanamo; I'd like it to be over with. One of the things we will do is we'll send people back to their home countries. We've got about 400 people there left—200 have been sent back—400 are there, mainly from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Yemen. And I explained to the two leaders here our desires to send them back. Of course, there's international pressure not to send them back. But, hopefully, we'll be able to resolve that when they go back to their own country.
There are some who need to be tried in U.S. courts. They're coldblooded killers. They will murder somebody if they're let out on the street. And yet we believe there's a—there ought to be a way forward in a court of law, and I'm waiting for the Supreme Court of the United States to determine the proper venue in which these people can be tried.
So I understand the concerns of the leaders. They expressed the concerns of the European leaders and the European people about what Guantanamo says. I also shared with them my deep desire to end this program, but also, I assured them that we will—I'm not going to let people out on the street that will do you harm. And so we're working through the issue. And I appreciate your interest and appreciate your questions.
Finally, we talked about Iran. It's very important for the leadership in Iran to look at the world and say, Europe and the United States and Russia and China are united in our common desire to make sure that Iranians do not develop a nuclear weapon. And step one of achieving a diplomatic success is to share a goal. And there's no question we share the goal of Iran not having the capacity and/or a nuclear weapon. It would be a terrible situation if they developed a weapon.
And so the second phase of a diplomatic strategy is to have a common front, a common diplomatic front that says clearly to the Iranians, here is a way forward for it, but you get to choose. And so I said to the—I said to our—my counterparts here that we'll come to the table to negotiate, so long as the Iranians verifiably end any enrichment activities. The Iranians have said that they will end uranium enrichment activities before; that's what they told the EU-3. We're just asking them to do what they already said they would do.
But it's their choice to make. And I'm convinced that when they look and see that we're working very closely together, that they will see the seriousness of our intent to resolve this in a diplomatic and peaceful way.
And so the discussions were wide-ranging, which is a positive sign of a healthy relationship. We shared tactics and strategies, which is a sign of a healthy relationship. We disagreed in an agreeable way on certain issues, but we're bound to work together for the good of our respective peoples. And this meeting has been a great success, Mr. Chancellor, and I appreciate you running it. And again, I want to thank you for your hospitality.
Chancellor Schuessel. Thank you. Jose.
President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.
Thank you. Thank you very much. I think there is a very good spirit in European Union and United States relations, and we're building on that today. And as President Bush just said, it was not just a working meeting for very concrete results, but also, we were thinking aloud; we were discussing together some possible strategies for the future. And this is precisely that spirit that relations between partners like the United States and European Union should be established.
But let me just concentrate on concrete results of this summit that were already presented by Chancellor Schuessel, but I want to highlight some of them. First, we are entering into strategic cooperation on energy to promote energy security for producers, consumers, and transit countries alike. I think this is important, strategic cooperation on energy between the United States and Europe. Second, we have agreed to establish a European Union and United States high-level dialog on climate change, clean energy, sustainable development. This will address ways to deliver cost-effective emission cuts, development and employment of new technologies, efficiency and conservation, renewable fuels, and other environmental issues such as biodiversity.
We have also discussed how to deliver an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha development agenda. These negotiations are at a crucial phase. European Union and the United States have a joint responsibility to help deliver an agreement which promotes growth and opportunity, especially for the poorest. We look for a similar determination from other WTO members. And after the good exchange of views we had today during this summit, I'm convinced, I'm really convinced that it's possible to have a successful outcome of the Doha talks. And it's crucially important from a trade point of view, from a global economic point of view, but also from a development point of view.
Third, we have endorsed today a strategy for the enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries. For the first time, we have named the countries and regions which cause most concern. They will be the focus of concrete actions to reduce global piracy and counterfeiting. Proper protection of intellectual property is vital for our industry and for our consumers.
Fourth, we also agreed on the need for open investment regimes, fighting all protectionist tendencies that can happen in some of our circles. We need to boost growth, jobs, and get best control of our very dynamic transatlantic economy. Two-way investment benefits our economies. In this context, I hope we will see the finalization of the European Union-United States Air Transport Agreement, if possible by the end of the year.
We also addressed the issue that is very important in European Union of this—for establishment of reciprocal visa-free travel for all European Union citizens to the United States. I also believe this is good for our citizens; this is good for our economies.
Finally, the point I want to highlight, I want to emphasize our shared commitment to promoting democracy, freedom all over the world. The very enlargement of the European Union has been one of the greatest achievements in terms of promotion of democracy from Southern Europe, West Europe, to Eastern Europe, North Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula in the eighties to the Baltic countries, now most recently. European Union is a great success story in terms of promoting democracy. And we want to do it also globally, and we are doing it globally. And that's one of the fields where I see that the United States and European Union can do, and should do, even more together.
One thing is sure, the world now is very complex. Even together we are not sure that we will solve all issues. But if we don't—aren't working together, it will be much more difficult to face global challenges. I believe this summit was very helpful for having this closer relationship between the United States and Europe so that together, we can do our best to make the world a better place.
Chancellor Schuessel. Thank you.
President Bush. Jennifer [Jennifer Loven, Associated Press].
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Could you explain why the world should care that North Korea is test-firing a long-range missile? And what sort of penalties do you think are in order if they do so?
And to the Chancellor, if I might, where does the EU stand on possible penalties for such a test?
President Bush. The North Koreans have made agreements with us in the past, and we expect them to keep their agreements— for example, agreements on test launches. We think it would be in the world's interest to know what they're testing, what they intend to do on their test. It should make people nervous when nontransparent regimes that have announced that they've got nuclear warheads fire missiles.
And so we've been working with our partners, particularly in that part of the world, to say to the North Koreans that this is not the way you conduct business in the world; this is not the way that peaceful nations conduct their affairs.
I was pleased to see that the Chinese spoke out to the North Korean Government and suggested they not fire—whatever it is on—their missile. And we'll see whether or not the North Koreans listen. One of our strategies in North Korea has to make sure we include other countries as a part of our consortium to deal with this nontransparent regime. And China is an integral part of what we've called the six-party talks, and I am pleased that they're taking responsibility in dealing with the leader of North Korea. I think it's a very positive sign.
I've talked to President Putin about this subject. I know that we're reaching out to the Japanese, all aimed at saying to the North Koreans, this is not a—in order to be an accepted nation, a nonisolated nation, there are certain international norms that you must live by. And we expect them to live by those norms.
Chancellor Schuessel. I couldn't agree more with the question of North Korea, and the compliance with the international rules and the international standards are always a matter of great concern, always high on the priority list of foreign policy matters within the European Union. And if this happens, there will be a strong statement and a strong answer from the international community. And Europe will be part of it. So there's no doubt. We discussed it, by the way, in our debate, what to do when and if, and there will be a strong response on that.
Q. A question to President Barroso and President Bush. Thank you. Do you actually share the view that Russia is using its energy resources to oppress other countries? And in what respect does your cooperation help you now to position yourselves against that?
And if I may, to President Bush, you've got Iran's nuclear program, you've got North Korea, yet most Europeans consider the United States the biggest threat to global stability. Do you have any regrets about that?
President Bush. That's absurd. There's my statement. The United States is—we'll defend ourselves, but at the same time, we're actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy. So whoever says that is—it's an absurd statement.
President Barroso. Yes. On energy, as you know, that energy is a geostrategic question. That's why in January, President Bush called for an end to American oil addiction. That's why in February, in Washington, I asked for partnership between United States and European Union in matters of energy. That's why today we are agreeing on key principles to guarantee energy security. I also welcome the high-level—the agreement on a high-level dialog between European Union and United States on climate change, sustainable development.
These are central challenges to all of us globally. So our agreement is not against anyone, by the way, we expect the G-8 summit to be a very important point, to be a success. And we wish President Putin success at that G-8 summit. We believe it should be an occasion to reinforce our message for an open, stable, nondiscriminatory, transparent market on energy. So energy is a global issue, and it should be tackled globally.
President Bush. Steve [Steve Holland, Reuters].
Q. Mr. President. Thank you, sir. If Iran says it will respond to the offer in late August, is that a suitable timeframe? And I would ask all of you, Iran's Foreign Minister says some kind of negotiations can start before a final answer is given; are you willing to do that?
President Bush. Well, our position, Steve, is that we'll come to the table when they verifiably suspend, period. And we expect them to verifiably suspend. This is what they said they would do, to the EU-3.
Secondly, the August 22d date—is that part of your question? Yes. It seems like an awful long time for a reasonable an-swer—for a reasonable proposal, a long time for an answer. And we look forward to working with our partners. We just got word of this statement as we walked in here, but it shouldn't take the Iranians that long to analyze what is a reasonable deal.
President Bush. Well, I said weeks, not months. And I believe that's the view of our partners—weeks, not months.
Chancellor Schuessel. We agree. We spoke about Iran in length, and it is really one of the fruits of a well-balanced partnership and cooperation that we were able to offer a bold package of incentives to Iran, to the Iranian Government and to the Iranian people. And as President Bush said, it's better to agree as soon as possible. The time is limited, and I think we should not play with time.
This is—we discussed it for months and months, and I think time—there is in Greek language, there is—and I learned ancient Greek—there is a fantastic word, kairos. Kairos means "the right moment." The right moment—it's not only time; it's the right moment. And I think now is the right moment for Iran to take this offer, to grab it and to negotiate. This is a well-balanced—we got advice from everybody from the international scene—United Nations, ElBaradei here, the International Atomic Energy organization, a lot of experts, of scientists that convinced us—of course, the EU-3 and America, Russia, and China are on board. So this is their kairos. Take it. This is my advice.
Spread of Democracy/American Influence Worldwide/War on Terror
Q. Chancellor Schuessel, the European public is deeply worried by these secret prisoners that the CIA has been transporting, is transporting through Europe. Did you get the assurance today from the President that this is not going to happen anymore, that there won't be anymore in the kidnaping of terror suspects in Europe, that this is a thing of the past?
And to the President, Mr. President, you said this is "absurd," but you might be aware that in Europe, the image of America is still falling, and dramatically in some areas. Let me give you some numbers. In Austria, in this country, only 14 percent of the people believe that the United States, what they are doing is good for peace; 64 percent think that it is bad. In the United Kingdom, your ally, there are more citizens who believe that the United States policy under your leadership is helping to destabilize the world than Iran. So my question to you is, why do you think that you've failed so badly to convince Europeans, to win their heads and hearts and minds? Thank you.
President Bush. Well, yes, I thought it was absurd for people to think that we're more dangerous than Iran. It's a—we're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active. Look, people didn't agree with my decision on Iraq, and I understand that. For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us, it was a change of thinking. I vowed to the American people I would do everything I could to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I'm not going to forget them. And therefore, I will be steadfast and diligent and strong in defending our country.
I don't govern by polls, you know. I just do what I think is right. And I understand some of the decisions I made are controversial. But I made them in the best interest of our country and, I think, in the best interest of the world. I believe when you look back at this moment, people will say, it was right to encourage democracy in the Middle East. I understand some people think that it can't work. I believe in the universality of freedom; some don't. I'm going to act on my beliefs so long as I'm the President of the United States. Some people say, it's okay to condemn people for—to tyranny. I don't believe it's okay to condemn people for—to tyranny, particularly those of us who live in the free societies.
And so I understand, and I'll try to do my best to explain to the Europeans that, on the one hand, we're tough when it comes to the war on terror; on the other hand, we're providing more money than ever before in the world's history for HIV/ AIDS on the continent of Africa. I'll say, on the one hand, we're going to be tough when it comes to terrorist regimes who harbor weapons; on the other hand, we'll help feed the hungry. I declared Darfur to be a genocide because I care deeply about those who have been afflicted by these renegade bands of people who are raping and murdering.
And so I will do my best to explain our foreign policy. On the one hand, it's tough when it needs to be; on the other hand, it's compassionate. And we'll let the polls figure out—people say what they want to say. But leadership requires making hard choices based upon principle and standing by the decisions you make, and that's how I'm going to continue to lead my country.
Thank you for your question.
Chancellor Schuessel. And let me add something. I think Austria is a really a good example to show that America has something to do with freedom, democracy, prosperity, development. Don't forget, I was born in '45. At that time, Vienna and half of Austria laid in ruins. I mean, without the participation of America, what fate would have Europe? Where would be Europe today? Not the peaceful, prosperous Europe like we love it and where we live.
Nothing—I will never forget that America fed us with food, with economic support. The Marshall plan was an immense aid and incentive to develop industry, agriculture, tourism. And by the way, I said it to the President, the Marshall Fund is still working in Austria. It's now transformed into a kind—in a fund for research and development—still working.
The American people—at that time, the American Government invested billions of dollars in Europe to develop the former enemy. And now we are a partner. So I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, other countries.
Of course, we—and I thank you very much for the question on human rights and the overflights and the secret prisons and Guantanamo. And it was quite interesting to see how the debate was going on in— this morning—the President started, himself. He didn't wait that we raise the question. He came up and said, "Look, this is my problem; this is where we are." And I think we should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic. We should understand that what September 11th meant to the American people. It was a shock—for the first time, a real shock. A society values were attacked—American values, international values, European values were attacked in the home country of the President and all Americans. And we should not be naive. We Europeans are also attacked. We had bomb attacks in Madrid; hundreds of people were killed. We had bomb attacks in London subway; buses were blown up. We had detected some terrorists who tried to shoot down an Israeli plane. So we should not be naive.
And since September 11th—and I think this is important to underline—that since September 11th, we are now able to define our targets, to fight against terror and terrorists, to cut off their financial supplies, to share information, to secure our citizens, our people. This is the ultimate goal: not creating enemies, virtual enemies, but to secure our people and to secure peace in the world and to stabilize our societies.
The problem is—and I will be very frank on that, and I said it the same way like we did it here, and we say it now—we are only—we can only have a victory in the fight against terror if we don't undermine our common values. It cannot—it can never be a victory, a credible victory over terrorists if we give up our values: democracy, rule of law, individual rights.
This is important to know. And our discussion with all the European Parliament, the European governments, I personally— we are calling for the closure of Guantanamo. But our discussion today went far beyond the closing Guantanamo, because we have—we have a legal problem; we have gray areas. And there should be no legal void, not in the fight against terrorists, but also not in—for individuals to be guaranteed in their individual rights, in their freedom.
And it's quite interesting to see how the President reacted. I welcome, of course, your statement saying that you're looking forward to close Guantanamo, and it depends on the Supreme Court's decision. And we got clear, clear signals and clear, clear commitments from the American side—no torture, no extraordinary or extraterritorial positions to deal with the terrorists all—the McCain amendment, for instance. All the legal rights must be preserved.
But we have to help if we're to find a way-out strategy, to help countries to take back the prisoners, either to charge them or to release them. And there are international organizations which could help and could assist. And we discussed this in detail. And I think it's important to know that although there are differences in the legal perception, it was possible to have such a statement.
And I really want to add, after my visit to you in December '05, last December, we established a very good cooperation between John Bellinger, the leading adviser of the State Department, and the Austrian Volkerrechtsburo Bureau, the Department for International Law. And this is working. We are really working in a precise, professional way on that. So thank you very much.
Let me say, Mr. President, I'm really happy that you are here, that you were here in Vienna. Come back, if possible. You will find a little bit more from our town and from the possibilities of our city. And don't let us wait for another nearly 30 years for the next visit. All the best. Thank you.
President Bush. Good job. Thank you, sir.
NOTE: The President's news conference began at 2:50 p.m. in Zeremoniensaal Hall at the Hofburg Palace. Participating in the event were Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel of Austria and President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso of the European Commission. President Bush referred to President Heinz Fischer of Austria; Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq; Chairman Kim Jong Il of North Korea; and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Chancellor Schuessel referred to Martti Ahtisaari, U.N. Special Envoy for the Future Status Process for Kosovo; Albert Rohan, U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for the Future Status Process for Kosovo; and Director General Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency. A reporter referred to Minister of Foreign Affairs Manuchehr Motaki of Iran.
George W. Bush, The President's News Conference With European Leaders in Vienna, Austria Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/216388