The President's News Conference With European Union Leaders in Berlin, Germany
President Kohl. Mr. President of the United States, Mr. President of the European Commission, ladies and gentlemen, first I would like to welcome you all very cordially in the Reichstag building in Berlin. I am very happy, indeed, that the joint transatlantic dialog was conducted here in Berlin with the delegations of the two gentlemen I just welcomed.
This meeting, this dialog has taken place right after the G-7 meeting in Naples, the G-7 meetings which were attended by four member states of the European Union and the President of the European Commission. So, a number of issues we talked about today were, in fact, issues that had been touched upon in Naples already to raise the issue of Bosnia. In Naples we talked at length about the report of the contact group, and we did, at the time, publish a number of statements.
The transatlantic partnership, that is the close cooperation between the European Union and the United States of America, takes on special importance at a time in which Europe is undergoing radical change. And I think it's symbolic, indeed, that they're meeting today at the Reichstag and that we talked about this topic today at the Reichstag, a site within Germany where you just have to look out the window in order to realize that a few yards away from where we are, the division of Germany and Europe was reflected in the Wall, which is now gone. On this side of the Wall we always felt, by contrast, a special closeness between and among the Western democracies, a closeness, an affinity without which the Wall would never have come down.
At the end of the cold war, with the fall of the Wall, Central and Eastern Europeans now have a chance to determine their own fate freely and openly. And that is why we shall call out to them from Berlin, saying that the Europeantransatlantic community is not a closed group. It depends on its effort and its sharing its free democratic ideas with all who want it. And therefore, closer cooperation with the countries of Eastern and Central Europe is a natural outgrowth of our talks today.
We resolved, therefore, to set up a working group which, by the time of the next transatlantic summit, which would be less than 10 months from now, this summit would be chaired by the French Presidency, which by that time would submit a draft containing coordinated procedures for the United States and the European Union in intensifying relations with the Central and Eastern European states.
All of us—and we talked about that today— must jointly remember that there remains a great deal to be done, and we must ask ourselves what can we do in order to secure the free and democratic ways of the United States and the European Union and to protect them from the increasing stress emanating from organized crime and the drug mafia. We talked about that, too, today. And we talked about setting up a working group that will deal with these issues. And at the end of our meeting this morning we asked our staff to go right ahead and not only review the situation but submit important programs as soon as possible.
And in conclusion, I would like to say that we plan to further deepen and intensify the cooperation between the European Union member states and the United States of America. We want to do it in every possible way.
Yesterday I talked about the German-American relations, and I said something which I could repeat with a somewhat different emphasis.
For decades we talked about the transatlantic bridge ensuring our security. We know today that we have to add a couple of components to that bridge. We have to add the components of economic cooperation, cooperation in the cultural area, and cooperation also in the area of bringing our young people closer together. And in that sense I think today's dialog has opened up a number of prospects for our future work, and we're going to act accordingly.
President Delors. Ladies and gentlemen, as the Chancellor has just said to you, this meeting which is taking place in the context of the Transatlantic Declaration has made it possible for us, I hope, at least, to inject a more practical and operational substance into relations between the United States and the European Union and this, of course, without creating any new bureaucracy.
Chancellor Kohl has indicated to you the two points on which there will be a joint followup: first, the development of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and, secondly, the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking.
Moreover, we shall pursue our dialog on economic matters which we began with President Clinton in January on the occasion of our last meeting. We shall continue this. Thanks to the successful holding by the American authorities of the Detroit conference, we shall seek to fight against unemployment, making possible for everyone to have a worthwhile job in society so that there should also be a greater prosperity in what is an increasingly interdependent world. We have to work together, and we shall do this in the followup to the Naples summit by organizing in Brussels a new conference, on the Detroit model, devoted to the information society: what we, the United States and Europe, can expect of this in terms of the creation of jobs, in terms of the consequences on the organization of work and on the very organization of society. And of course, in order to prepare for this, we will have to look at what we have to do in terms of education and lifelong training, in terms of the organization of our towns and cities in particular, as well.
And finally, you know that in Naples, at the request of President Clinton, the 7 decided to devote particular attention to Ukraine. An amount was even set at the request of President Clinton, an amount evaluated as being what should be given in the form of aid. And today, we decided to monitor the situation together as a result of the Presidential elections so that on the basis of a joint examination we should be able to help this country get out of its serious economic, political, institutional, and social difficulty.
So you see that the Transatlantic Declaration has got to a new phase, a more operational phase, and one of more friendly and tighter relations.
President Clinton. Thank you very much, Chancellor Kohl and President Delors. Ladies and gentlemen, the United States strongly supports the European Union. Throughout my entire administration I have advocated the cause of European union. I believe our best partner, as we look toward the 21st century for prosperity and for peace, is a Europe united in democracy, in free markets, in common security. We have supported that, and we will continue to support it.
We agreed here today to try to do something that is potentially of real significance in terms of this developing partnership between the United States and the EU and that is to set up a group of experts who can put some framework, some meat on the bones of our declarations on two areas. And you've heard them mentioned already, but I want to reemphasize them.
The first is the need to strengthen our cooperation and coordination in our support for reform and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. That is all the more important, I think, to all of us in view of the difficulties and challenges these nations are facing, and certainly it's been vividly impressed upon me on my recent trips to Latvia and to Poland.
The second thing that we agreed to do is to coordinate better our efforts in dealing with security issues and especially with organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering. These things now know no national borders. The FBI Director from the United States, Mr. Freeh, just recently made what was a highly acclaimed trip, first to Berlin and then going on to Moscow. President Yeltsin was very intent on following this up when we met with him in Naples. We think this is one area that we can work together on and really do something that will benefit the citizens of our nations, in Europe and in the United States.
Finally, let me just say that I want to particularly applaud President Delors for the white paper he issued on jobs and growth in the European Union that complemented and gave so much energy to the jobs conference we held in Detroit. We talked quite a bit today about how we can further develop our cooperation to generate more jobs and higher incomes.
And I will just close with this point. There are a lot of people who really believe that there is simply a limit to the ability of wealthy countries to generate jobs and incomes as we move toward the 21st century and there's so much more global economic competition. I do not believe that, not if we're committed to adapting our work forces, not if we're committing to expanding the barriers—I mean, tearing down the barriers to trade and expanding trade—and to the new technologies that will permit exponential growth, like the information superhighway and environmental technology. So we had a very good meeting; I'm very satisfied with it. I feel finally now we have not only recognized the fact of European union in our cooperation but actually developed a system in which we can do things together that will make a difference to the ordinary citizens of our countries.
German Armed Forces
Q. [Inaudible]—how they feel about the decision just handed down by the German high court permitting German armed forces to participate in peacekeeping operations outside the country?
President Kohl. First, I'll have to ask your understanding for the fact that I can't really assess the ruling because, after all, in Berlin here I don't know all the details involving the ruling. But I'm very happy about that ruling; there's no doubt about it, because it indicates very clearly that the highest German court, which is the guardian of our constitution, has determined that one of the missions would be in accordance with our constitution. I've always argued that; my government has always argued that.
We were given an indication by the court that such a mission would require a simple majority in the Bundestag. That's not very surprising to me, either, because I cannot imagine how any head of government of the Federal Republic would initiate such a mission without having the appropriate majority in the Parliament.
So I think what was decided there is fully in accordance with the constitution and with the view of the federal government. What's going to come out of that in the future is something that we'll have to examine in each individual case on a case-by-case basis.
If you look at the history during this century, especially German history, you'll have to pay some attention to that. But we are members of the United Nations. And if we claim the rights that membership entails, we will have to live up to our responsibilities. I think it's unacceptable and not in line with the dignity of our country for us to stand aside and refuse to take on responsibility. So I'm happy about the ruling. But that's really not the main issue for the press conference.
One more question and then we will ask our guests.
Q. Mr. Chancellor, couldn't you say a little more about the criteria which the federal armed forces will base its missions on? France has requested that the Eurocorps might be sent to Africa. Is that something you have in mind? What would be the concrete repercussions as far as German foreign policy is concerned?
President Kohl. I've given a great deal of thought to this; I've thought in concrete terms. But please understand this is a very fundamental and important question, and I would prefer to talk with my colleagues in the Cabinet about the ruling as a whole, and then we'll make a public statement. It makes no sense for you to keep on asking questions as to "What will you do if"; I won't say anything on that. There you go.
Q. Then, Mr. President, may I ask you about what your administration has called a serious escalation in Haiti and whether you feel that this now moves us closer to a military option, whether this makes it much more difficult for international observers of any kind to know what is really happening on the ground there?
President Clinton. Well, let me say, first of all, that what happened in Haiti yesterday puts in stark relief the human rights abuses that we have been talking about for some time now, the killing, the maiming, the rapes. Throwing the monitors out is just the latest expression of the desperation of that illegal regime and their desire to hide their conduct.
All I can say today is that I hope that this action will stiffen the will of the international community to support the United States in the strongest possible enforcement of the sanctions, including freezing the assets of the military and the elites supporting them. We have got to bring an end to this, and I think that, surely to goodness, the throwing out of the monitors will illustrate to the whole world that what we have been saying all along is true: This is not only an illegal but a highly oppressive regime, and we have to keep the pressure up.
Q. Mr. President, to follow, do you think that that will make it easier to make your case if it turns out that you do have to take the military route?
President Clinton. Well, I think it certainly validates the position I've taken so far, that that is an option we shouldn't rule out.
Q. Regarding Haiti, as you know, most of the generals at the Pentagon say it would not be a difficult operation to go in and overthrow the military regime there. What they're concerned about is an exit strategy, that the U.S. would not have to keep forces there for a prolonged period of time, that there would be other countries willing to participate in some sort of peacekeeping operation. Do you have any assurances there are other countries that would be willing to go in after a U.S. invasion to help out, and did you get any assurances from the European allies?
President Clinton. Well, let me just say that there are two issues; there have always been two issues there. One is the one you have just outlined, which is that the last time the United States went to Haiti we stayed for, I think, 19 years. And that is a totally inappropriate thing to do in a world in which international organizations exist and, particularly, a United Nations exists for the purpose of working with countries in trouble that need help.
Are there nations who have said that they would be a part of a United Nations mission? Yes, there are. But that leads you to the second question, which is that the United States has always—and we talked about this way back in May—the United States has always been basically moving back and forth between a Monroe Doctrine-type approach, for 200 years, in the Caribbean and Latin America and a good neighbor-type approach.
The people of Latin America, the people of the Caribbean obviously want us to cooperate with them; they want us to be friends and neighbors. They know we're the biggest country in the region. They want any kind of unilateral action by the United States to come only as a last resort. And they have reservations about it as you would expect they would. So Mr. Gray, one of the things that he has been doing so well is to try to consult with all of our partners and friends in the region and to try as far as we possibly can to, first of all, explore all alternatives and, secondly, have everyone going in lockstep and let everyone know what the United States intention and objective is. Our only objective is to restore democracy in Haiti and stop those poor people from being killed and tortured and raped and starved and basically deprived of the decency of an ordinary life.
Q. Mr. President, please permit me, a German journalist, to revisit a question that has to do with Germany taking on a greater role, taking more responsibility in the world. On that point, you are in agreement with Chancellor Kohl. Now, does the idea of German armed forces being involved in peacekeeping missions outside NATO, does that mean that you are totally comfortable with that? Aren't you the least bit uncomfortable thinking about that? And could it also mean that you could imagine German forces being involved in missions of the kind we had 2 years ago in the Gulf, for instance? Would that be all right?
President Clinton. I am completely comfortable with that. And of course, I can envision German forces being involved in something like the United Nations effort in the Gulf. Why? Because of the leadership of Germany, because of the conduct of Germany, because of the role Germany has played in developing the European Union, because of the values Germany has demonstrated in taking hundreds of thousands of refugees from Bosnia. Germany, now united is— yes, it's the largest country in Europe in terms of population and its economic strength. But Germany has been the leader in pushing for the integration of Europe, for the sharing of power among the European nations, and for setting a standard for humane conduct and support for democracy and diversity. So, the answer to that question is, yes, I am comfortable with that.
President Kohl. One minute, I would like to add something, if I may. I feel a tendency here among you to somehow apply the constitutional court decision to the Gulf war. Since that is so, I would like to say that we will be deciding on the case-by-case basis with the majority in Parliament and that following the court's ruling, we are not feeling that the Germans are now rushing to the front. I'd like to say that emphatically because I know my fellow citizens, some of my fellow citizens, and I think it's therefore an important statement for me to make.
President Clinton. Maybe I could make one little statement about this. I think all of us want to play a constructive role where we can. But we have learned not only the potential but also the limits of military power in the 20th century. And the United Nations is trying to work through what can be done on a humanitarian basis, what can be done in the way of a peacekeeping mission, what conditions have to exist in countries in order for peacekeeping missions to succeed. So I think it is important that the German people, the American people, any others paying attention to this press conference, not believe that there is some cavalier eagerness to use military power in an undisciplined way which might cause a lot of problems.
President Kohl. Thank you.
Q. Mr. President, I wanted to ask if you have any news for us today on the situation in North Korea, if anything has changed, and whether you have any response to comments that have been made in the U.S. that there possibly is a sense by some in North Korea that the idea of progressing toward progress on communication with the outside world should be halted.
President Clinton. Well, we are watching it very closely. We are concerned about what might happen, obviously. My position on that is the same that it has been from the very beginning, that that is a decision for them to make and their future is in their hands.
But we believe it is in their interest and in our interest for them to continue to freeze the elements of their nuclear program and for us to resume the talks. We hope that is what they will do. In the meanwhile, we will monitor the facts in North Korea on the nuclear program. That is where we are. The next move basically is in their court.
Q. Do you have any feelings at all from anyone in the government at this point, sir?
President Clinton. No, only the communications we've had in Switzerland with regard to the talks. And those so far have been satisfactory and not out of the ordinary. So we basically have no indication one way or the other at this moment. So what we need to do is to simply be vigilant, to simply—to look at the facts. And it's not useful to speculate, I think, certainly not in a naive way that would be excessively hopeful but also not in an unduly negative way. Let's just look at the facts and judge this situation based on the facts as they develop.
Partnership For Peace and NATO
Q. You agree then that relations with the Central Eastern European countries should be improved. Given that fact, do you think the timeline of Poland being a member by 2000 is realistic? Do you think that's a realistic prospect to hold out?
President Clinton. I'd like to make two points in response to that question. First of all, Chancellor Kohl and I have discussed this a bit and in our personal meetings. The NATO members themselves will have to get together and begin to discuss what the timeline ought to be and what the criteria for membership ought to be.
But the first and most important thing to do is to make a success of the Partnership For Peace. The Partnership For Peace, I think it's fair to say, has succeeded already beyond the expectations of those of us who proposed it at the first of the year. We have 21 nations signed up, 19 from the republics of the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries; two, Sweden and Finland, that were previously neutral are not involved in NATO.
In order to sign up, all those countries agreed to respect each other's borders and agreed to cooperate militarily to preserve the integrity of those borders. We will have our first military exercises in Poland in September. So that's my first point. I think we have to strengthen the Partnership For Peace and discuss a timeline.
To the Poles, I will say to you what I said to them directly: They have certainly shown the greatest interest in this issue, the greatest determination to do their full part, and I think have virtually assured that they are at the front of the line as NATO will be expanded, which it surely will be. We just have to get together and work out the details. It's not for me as the American President to say what the details should be.
Baltic Nations and Russia
Q. Mr. President, are you happy with the result of your visit to the Baltic countries? What do you think the next step should be there for that country getting rid of the Russian troops at long last?
President Clinton. Well, yes, I was very happy with my trip to the Baltics and with the meeting I had with all three Presidents. I am comfortable that in Latvia the Russian troops will be withdrawn by August 31st and that the controversy over the citizenship law there is being worked out, at least worked on.
In Estonia, I have passed along a message from President Meri to President Yeltsin. In Naples, we discussed it in considerable detail in our private meeting, and President Yeltsin promised that for the first time he would actually meet personally with President Meri and make a good faith effort to work this out. I still think that the troops could be able to be withdrawn from Estonia, as well, by the end of August if the last remaining disputes—there are three areas of disputes—could be resolved. And we will continue to stay on top of that. We have agreed to work together on encouraging a resolution to that, and I think it can be done.
NOTE: The President's 66th news conference began at 11:15 a.m. in the East Hall at the Reichstag where he met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl in his capacity as President, European Council, and Jacques Delors, President, European Commission. Chancellor Kohl spoke in German, and President Delors spoke in French, and their remarks were translated by an interpreter.
William J. Clinton, The President's News Conference With European Union Leaders in Berlin, Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219227