The President's News Conference With European Union Leaders in Madrid, Spain
Prime Minister Gonzalez. Thank you very much. It is our pleasure to welcome to Madrid President Clinton as well as the President of the Commission. And as you have seen, we have just finished signing the new transatlantic agenda, along with an action plan. Thanks to this document and this summit between the European Union and the United States, we hope to be taking a new step forward, a quantitative leap forward, and to undertake new common action. This is enshrined in the documents we have just signed.
For the Spanish Presidency, I would like to state that this was one of our priorities. We had a meeting in Cannes in June, and we decided to prepare an agenda for the next years until the end of the century. Since then we have been working very hard, and the United States high-level group as well as the Commission and Spain have worked very efficiently. And as you will see clearly from these documents, we have a clear-cut vocation to work together from the political point of view in promoting democracy and human rights as well as from a commercial point of view, an economic point of view, and strengthening the bonds on both sides of the Atlantic as well as our struggle against terrorism and drug trafficking and organized violence.
We have common goals, and this morning we also spoke about converging actions such as the peace plan that was signed in Dayton with regard to Bosnia. I would like to point out that, keeping in mind our responsibility as the President of the European Union and the presence of Spanish troops and Spanish nongovernmental organizations in Bosnia, but I would like to point out how significant it is that the United States, that President Clinton has decided to send a large contingent of troops. And I think that this is of utmost importance for international solidarity. And this peace plan that will be signed on the 14th of December will become a lasting peace that will outlive the fight between the two communities of Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia.
So I would like to publicly thank President Clinton, his effort and the appeal he has launched to the American people to participate wholeheartedly in the peace plan. And I would also like to say that this new transatlantic plan is open to other countries on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Canada, Norway, and Iceland. And I would like to make this as broad an agenda as possible.
And now I would like to give the floor to Mr. Santer. And Mr. Clinton will be having the closing remarks.
President Santer. Presidents, ladies and gentlemen, I would just like to add some comments on what President Gonzalez has said. In my inaugural speech to the European Parliament on January 17th this year, I emphasized the importance of transatlantic links. I stressed that the EU's commitment should be reaffirmed, and I concluded that I was personally in favor of a transatlantic treaty. So today, I believe, is an historic moment for transatlantic relations, and that I think for three reasons.
Firstly, because it shows that Europe and America now have the means and the will to provide the joint leadership that the world so urgently needs. We will not lead by threatening or excluding our partners, we will lead by example. And take Bosnia. You, President Clinton, have shown such an example in Dayton, Ohio. Europeans and Americans are taking the courageous decision to send troops to enforce a peace in Bosnia. This shows that Europe and America can act together to promote peace, stability, democracy, and freedom. Moreover, we have already committed $2 billion to help the victims, and we are ready to give more in order to rebuild that shattered country. I am confident that our partners will help us share the burden.
Secondly, this is an historic moment for the people of Europe and America. This is not just an agenda for politicians and civil servants. We are determined to fight side by side in order to tackle those issues that most affect the lives of ordinary people. And together, we will see that the drug traffickers and criminals have nowhere to hide within our borders. Together, we will fight poverty and disease, and we will bring our citizens themselves closer together, students, academics, professionals, artists, and others. We want to ensure that our common cultural heritage remains the glue that binds our two continents together.
And finally, today we are making Europe and America more open for business, more open to each other, and more open to the world. If it's made in Europe, it must be good enough for America and vice-versa. That's what the new transatlantic marketplace is all about.
President Clinton. Thank you very much. Let me begin by thanking Prime Minister Gonzalez for hosting this meeting and for the very energetic leadership that he has provided to the European Community and to the partnership between the European Community and the United States. I want to thank President Santer for his consistent, firm direction to the Community, and both of them for working with me over the last 6 months to launch this new partnership between the United States and the Community.
As the cold war gives way to the global village, we have new opportunities and new security threats. We know what those security threats are. We see them every day, the ethnic and religious hatred, the reckless aggression of rogue states, the terrorism, the drug trafficking, the weapons of mass destruction that are increasingly threatening us all.
We know that poverty and job insecurity and barriers to open trade limit the reach of prosperity for all. We know that too many people remain vulnerable to disease and underdevelopment around the world. We know now that these threats respect no borders and that they demand the kind of concerted action that we adopt today with our agenda and action plan.
Until now, the relationship between the United States and the European Union has largely been one of consultation. Today we are moving beyond talk to action. These joint initiatives in our agenda will directly benefit citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.
I'd like to highlight just a few of the areas in which we have agreed to work more closely together; some have been mentioned already. First, we will together lead a global effort to organize the postwar reconstruction of Bosnia. After 4 years of war, the Bosnian leaders have agreed to peace. But now the Bosnian people need the support of the international community to revitalize their economy, to rebuild their lives, in short, to realize the promise of peace.
I have just come from visiting our troops in Germany who are training and who will soon travel to Bosnia. They are well-prepared, wellequipped, well-trained for this mission of peace. I am very proud of them. And I want to say a word of thanks to the Prime Minister and to the people of Spain for their contributions, for the people from Spain who have already done so much in Bosnia and those who will join us in securing this peace mission.
Next, we will create a transatlantic marketplace in which we continue progressively to reduce the barriers to trade, commerce, and investment. The worldwide GATT agreement was a very important step forward. But our advanced economies can do better, can grow faster. We aim to create more good new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and to reinforce the world trading system that benefits every nation.
Third, we will continue and increase our support for the Middle East peace process.
Fourth, we will join in a new initiative to combat international criminals, terrorists, and drug traffickers. As President Santer says, they should have no place to hide.
Fifth, we will strengthen our environmental cooperation in important and specific ways. We will work to reduce lead exposure, a major threat to the health of all our children; to provide countries with sophisticated environmental technologies that are developing their own economies; and to better coordinate our disaster and our development assistance to the neediest people around the globe.
All these actions will further strengthen the transatlantic community, united around democracy, free markets, and respect for human rights. Our destiny in America is still linked to Europe. This action agenda makes it clear that we will remain as firmly engaged with Europe in the post-cold-war era as we have for the last 50 years. It also makes clear that our partnership is evolving, that we recognize new challenges but that we have to meet them together.
Finally, let me say that we in the United States are very pleased to welcome the nomination of the Spanish Foreign Minister, Mr. Solana, to be the next Secretary General of NATO. He is one of Europe's outstanding leaders. We believe he will be a firm hand and a strong voice for NATO. And we offer you our congratulations, sir.
Prime Minister Gonzalez. Thank you. And now we will have questions. Please tell us who you are asking the question of.
Bosnia and NATO Forces
Q. Good morning. A question to Prime Minister Gonzalez as to whether President Clinton has asked for a greater Spanish contribution in Bosnia of a military nature in NATO, more than the 1,200 people who are there—if you've spoken about this in the general framework.
And also a question for you, Mr. Clinton. In view of the changes in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, do you think that it is fitting for Spain to become part of the central military command structure in NATO?
Prime Minister Gonzalez. With regard to the first question, which was directed to me, we have not yet established the contribution of each country. Right now, we have in Spain 1,200 people, plus the naval contingent and logistic support, which is about 2,400 people. So at present, we are going to keep up this effort, but of course, we would be willing to speak to all our allies to make sure that this is enough or if we need more.
Mr. President, sir.
President Clinton. If I might say that the most important thing is that we have enough troops and the right troops to perform the defined military mission. And we estimate that we need about 60,000. The United States has committed about 20,000; the British, about 13,000; the French, I think between 9,000 and 10,000. We have over two dozen other countries who want to contribute. Spain has made a very, very valuable contribution already, including the NATO contribution with the Spanish pilots which should not be overlooked. And so from my point of view, I think we'll be able to work together and achieve the kind of force we need.
With regard to the NATO question, I don't think that's a question for me to answer. That is a question that we will have to work through with NATO. I can only tell you this, that our American pilots and our American military personnel have been immensely impressed with the work they did through NATO in Bosnia, with the flying that we both did together and in coordination. And I can only say that I am very grateful for that.
Q. Two questions, Mr. President. Have you given the order for the 700 American troops in the NATO force to go into Bosnia? And also, the Bosnian Serb military leader, Ratko Mladic, is demanding changes in the peace agreement, and there are also some other questions being raised by the French military——
Q. [Inaudible]—start over.
President Clinton. I can repeat the questions.
Q. ——military commander in Sarajevo as well as by the Bosnian Government. Is this treaty in trouble? Is it going to have to be changed?
President Clinton. Let me answer the first question first. I have authorized the Secretary of Defense to order the deployment of the preliminary troops, the people who have to do the preparatory work, to Bosnia, as I said I would as soon as I was convinced that the military plan was appropriate. And so I have done that, and those people will be going into the area over the next couple of days. As I've emphasized to the American people and the Congress, that's a few hundred of our forces necessary to set up communications networks and things of that kind.
The answer to your second question is no, I don't think the treaty is in trouble, and no, I don't think it should be renegotiated. President Milosevic made strong commitments which he will have to fulfill to secure the support of the Bosnian Serb leaders for this agreement. And I would remind you that, of course, the Bosnian Serbs aren't happy with everything in the agreement; neither are the Croats; neither are the Muslims and the others in the Bosnian Government. That's what—when you make a peace agreement, not everybody is happy with it. So only those who were at the table have fully reconciled themselves, perhaps, to that, although a lot of the Bosnian Serb political leadership have endorsed this treaty.
So we expect, we fully expect that President Milosevic will take the appropriate steps to ensure that this treaty will be honored as it is written and that we will not have undue interference with implementing it. And we feel very strongly on that point.
European Union-U.S. Relationship
Q. Briefly, for President Clinton, with regard to the Dayton peace agreement, has this also changed the relationship between the United States and the European allies? It seems that there were several differences of opinion, politically and militarily, but also from a trade point of view. And I would like to know if in this document, which talks about a possibility of avoiding a trade war—and we have here Mr. Kantor and Mr. Brittan, who spent nights and nights trying to avoid this type of war—so I would like to know if in this new transatlantic agenda you have something against this.
And then a question for the Spanish Prime Minister. Does the fact that Spain will have the general secretariat here, does it mean that we will be in the central military command structure?
President Clinton. Let me say, first of all, this document commits both the European Union and the United States to take further steps to open our markets to each other. Mr. Brittan and Mr. Kantor worked very hard to hammer out the differences between Europe and the United States so that we could get the world GATT agreement, which is the biggest trade agreement in history and a very good step forward.
But we believe, given the development of our economies, that we can and should do more in our relationships with each other. They have committed themselves to do that, and there are already some action items on the agenda. So I feel that you will see less tension and more cooperation.
And in terms of the Dayton peace treaty, I think that that reflects—the positive European response there reflects a very high level of cooperation between the United States and Europe in foreign policy and security matters.
President Santer. I would only add that there is no—that in the transatlantic treaty or declaration we signed, there are some items to deal with—also with what we are calling now the new transatlantic marketplace. We can reduce our tariff barriers inside between the United States and the European Union.
We have also to stress our multilateral agreement between the world trade organizations. I think there are many things to do. We make a very good job in the Uruguay round. We can say that now more than $500 billion are flowing through goods and so on through the results of the Uruguay round. So we are not struggling together, but we are cooperating together, and there's a big change.
We are coming now from a consultation procedure to a joint action procedure and that—new spirit is underlying this new transatlantic declaration.
NATO Secretary General
Prime Minister Gonzalez. Very briefly, I would like to start by saying that I would like to publicly acknowledge the confidence deposited in Javier Solana, the Spanish Foreign Minister, in electing him as the Secretary General of NATO, in view of the tremendous challenges we have with regard to Bosnia in the short term and the broadening and the enlargement of the European Union to the Eastern and Central European countries in the long term.
Now, this is not a change for the Spaniards. It's merely progress of the alliance. We are going to be a loyal ally in everything we do and in everything that happens in the alliance. So we have to take things on board as they are, and I have full confidence in Javier Solana that he will undertake to carry out his responsibilities in the best possible manner. And I thank everyone again for voting him.
Bosnia and the Budget
Q. Mr. President, you've spent now almost a week on this side of the Atlantic, and you're about to get back to Washington. How, if at all, has this experience in Europe affected your thinking in regards to selling—Bosnia once to get back to a skeptical Congress and—American public, especially—and also the spill-over, if any, on how you will deal with the December 15th looming deadline with the budget? Is there any relationship between Bosnia and the budget?
The President. Let me answer the first question, and then I'll attempt to answer the second one. [Laughter] I know I can answer the first one.
I have seen again, from the address I made to the Parliament in London, to the people in the streets in Belfast and Derry, to the teeming throng in the streets of Dublin, to the Irish Parliament, and then on to a meeting with Chancellor Kohl as we met with the American troops and then coming here and having my meeting with Prime Minister Gonzalez and President Santer today, the importance of American leadership and American partnership in Europe.
You know, we fought two World Wars here. Most of our people came from here. We stayed here for 50 years after World War II, first to deal with the cold war, and then after the cold war was over we left our troops and many of our airbases here in Europe. And what we are seeing in Bosnia is an affront to the conscience of human beings everywhere, right in the heart of Europe. All the things that we need to do, all the things we talked about today—the need to build stronger economic ties, the need to confront the other security problems we have— none of that is going to happen as it should unless we deal with this problem in Bosnia, to try to stop the murders and the rapes and the butchery that has occurred. And I feel more strongly about that.
If you look—also, I think the American people should know that we have a unique responsibility at this moment in history. After the cold war, the United States was left with a certain superpower status and a certain economic standing that that imposes on us great responsibilities, along with the opportunities we have.
You know, when those people turned out in the streets in Ireland—all those young people, Protestant and Catholic alike—demanding the right to be heard on behalf of peace and their future, responding to an American President, it was because of everything America has stood for over 200 years, not just the initiatives of our administration and the things I have personally done to promote peace there but everything we represent. And I would hope that because we have the chance to do good things and because we have the chance to do it in a way that minimizes our risks and relies on our strengths, that the American people and the Congress would respond.
Now, on the budget. I do not expect Congress to link Bosnia and the budget, if that is the implication of your question. I do not believe they would do that. I think they understand that these are—both issues are too important.
The lesson I draw as an American from this trip in terms of the budget negotiations is that if we're going to be strong abroad, we have to be strong at home. And the policy we are following is working. The economy is better than it was 3 years ago. We're making progress on our social problems. We should not take a radical detour from the disciplined direction we have gone to grow the economy, to expand the middle class, to shrink the under class. And we should do nothing that would send the signal to the world that we are less successful economically, that we are promoting inequality, that we are being less humane and less caring and less sensitive as a country to our own people within our borders. That is what I know.
We have to continue—the power of the United States goes far beyond military might. What you saw in Ireland, for example, had not a wit to do with military might; it was all about values. And we should do nothing at home within our own borders that undermines our ability to project those values to the rest of the world.
Prime Minister Gonzalez. Thank you. I have promised firmly to keep on schedule, and we've reached the end. Thank you.
NOTE: The President's 109th news conference began at 11:50 a.m. at the Moncloa Palace. The President met with Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez of Spain, President of the European Council, and Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission. Prime Minister Gonzalez spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. In his remarks, the President referred to President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Sir Leon Brittan, Vice President of the European Commission.
William J. Clinton, The President's News Conference With European Union Leaders in Madrid, Spain Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/221082