European Council President and Greek Prime Minister Konstandinos Simitis
European Commission President Romano Prodi
The East Room
The White House
June 25, 2003
1:20 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all for coming. We'll have opening statements, each
of us will answer one question apiece.
It's my pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Simitis and President Prodi
here to the White House. We've had constructive discussions. We had a nice
Since the end of World War II, the United States has strongly supported
European unity as the best path to European peace and prosperity. We believe,
as well, that strong ties between America and Europe are essential to peace
and the prosperity of the world.
Both the United States and the EU are threatened by global terror, and we
are determined to defeat it. Today, we have signed new agreements to increase
our legal cooperation in the war on terror, and to speed the extradition
of terrorists. Under these agreements, we will form joint investigative teams
and share information on suspect bank accounts, and expand the range of offenses
that qualify for extradition.
Today, the United States and the EU have also taken new steps to help stop
the gravest threat to our security: the proliferation of nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons. We have signed -- we have agreed to work together and
with others to strengthen export controls on dangerous materials. We also
seek new methods, including active interdiction, to stop illicit trade in
weapons of mass destruction.
The United States and the EU are working closely to meet the proliferation
challenges posed by North Korea and Iran. The recent report by the International
Atomic Energy Agency clearly describes Iran's failure to meet its obligations
to the world and to provide access for agency officials.
America and the EU agree that Iran must cooperate fully with the IAEA. We
agree that Iran must sign and comply with an additional protocol giving the
IAEA new tools to investigate clandestine nuclear weapons activities. Iran
has pledged not to develop nuclear weapons, and the entire international
community must hold that regime to its commitments. The United States and
the EU are determined to make the world not only safer, but also better.
We will work together to help the people of Iraq build a future of security,
prosperity and freedom. We'll work together to confront global poverty, disease
and oppression. And Europe and America will stand together for a Middle East
so -- that will have a just and comprehensive peace. We'll work together
to achieve the two-state solution endorsed by the parties earlier this month
at the Red Sea Summit. Progress toward this goal will only be possible if
all sides do all in their power to defeat the determined enemies of peace,
such as Hamas and other terrorist groups. Nearly every hopeful moment in
the region, nearly every sign of progress toward peace is followed by more
murders in the guise of martyrdom, as those who oppose peace do all they
can to destroy the hopes and aspirations of those who desire to live in peace.
I urge the leaders in Europe and around the world to take swift, decisive
action against terror groups such as Hamas, to cut off their funding, and
to support -- cut funding and support, as the United States has done.
We also had a good discussion today about the vital trade relationship that
brings growth and job creation to America, and to all the nations of the
EU and to the world. Today, we are launching negotiations on a comprehensive
air services agreement, better known as Open Skies, that will benefit our
consumers, our airlines, and our communities.
We've also agreed to accelerate the commercial use of clean and abundant
hydrogen energy. We're working toward a multilateral agreement to ban market-distorting
steel subsidies. And we agree on the importance of making the upcoming World
Trade Organization meeting of trade ministers in Cancun a success, so that
we can energize the global trade negotiations.
We meet at an important moment, a time when the EU is taking in new members
and writing a new constitution. And a time when both Europe and America are
facing new challenges in the world's peace and prosperity. We are united
in common values and we will seek common solutions to our shared challenges.
We've had a great meeting. Mr. Prime Minister, welcome.
PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS: Thank you, Mr. President. We had a very fruitful,
very friendly meeting with President Bush. This is our first meeting after
the crisis in Iraq. I want to stress, because many people said that there
was a serious period of strain, that the transatlantic relationship does
work, it produces results and it is important for both of us. It's been of
fundamental importance, I would say.
The economic independence between Europe and the United States is indescribable
and is of vital importance -- vital importance to jobs and economic growth
on both sides of the Atlantic, and for the global economy. Our economic relationship
sustains our security and prosperity. Cooperation with the United States
in the security and defense field is unavoidable, as it is desirable. A solid
and productive transatlantic relationship is essential for international
Europe and America share a common attachment to the fundamental values of
freedom and democracy and the rights of man, though they sometimes differ
their appreciation as how to best implement the principles.
As President Bush said, we discussed how to strengthen our relationship.
We identified issues which we have common objectives, shared interests, and
how we can both contribute. The Middle East and the application of the road
map remains at the top of the list. We have the same interest that there
is peace in the Middle East. Counterterrorism is certainly a common issue,
and that's why we also agreed on a declaration on nonproliferation on weapons
of mass destruction.
The development issues in Africa and elsewhere are ripe for a more detailed
dialogue. Economic affairs and the justice and home affairs agenda are also
subjects that can be pursued in the mutual benefit of both of us and the
wider international community. From the agreements and declarations that
we agreed today, I want to mention the mutual legal assistance and extradition
agreement is the first agreement on legal cooperation in the fight against
crime that the European Union signs with a third country.
The United States and the European Union cannot possibly have and share
on foreign policy or trade interests in all areas the same opinions. There
will be issues and times where we will differ. But friendship presupposes
that we will have to agree to differ, to accept to differ. And friendship
presupposes that we must be disciplined and manage our differences. We should
always act on the basis that what unites us will always outweigh any issue
that divide us.
I think that meeting today was a very good meeting because it allowed us
to discuss matters where we differ, trade matters, matters where we agree,
and matters where we can cooperate in order to have a common result -- I
think a common result that will be good for not only Europe and the United
States, but for all those that are interested in peace, security and growth.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Romano.
PRESIDENT PRODI: I have not to add that it was a very good meeting, because
it was a very good meeting, atmosphere. We concentrated on concrete decision
because we have not to waste our energy in talking about difference, because
we shouldn't get nowhere and the difference are shrinking. So we are growing
And we have, first of all, launched the talks for the creation of a transatlantic
open aviation area. This will change the industry of transport -- aviation
transport, and will provide better service, lower price, and more choice
for the 11 million people who cross the Atlantic every year, and even more
in the future.
Second, and this is a joint -- we are starting a major joint research effort
on hydrogen and energy. And this is important for the future, and shows that
we can work together on every issue where the touch, where -- the border
of other issue which we have these agreement, like Kyoto.
Third, we have decided to have a joint responsibility making the Doha development
around a success. And without close cooperation between Europe and U.S.,
there will be no success. And we cannot afford to fail because a third war
will be heavy, heavy damage.
On this aspect, we also exchanged our views on the reform of the -- big,
big, big reform of the common agricultural product that Europe is trying
to do, and that our discussions in this hour when we are here, you know?
And I hope that we can arrive to Doha with really a new picture of our agriculture.
And, therefore, I fully agreement with the President when he recently declared
it important that when Europe and the U.S. are united, no problem and no
enemy can stand against us. This is the real lesson.
I would -- only that if we fail to unite, every problem may become a crisis
and every enemy a gigantic monster. I say to end this with this brief analogy:
many people have said that Europe is too old. Maybe, but the old age helps
us to understand our strength and our weakness and the reality of the world.
And so, I say that we -- if we stay alone, President, Europe is too old and
the United States too young -- (laughter) -- to be able to bring peace in
this world. And it is our duty to stick together to bring peace to the world.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, thank you, Roman. You're looking pretty young these
PRESIDENT PRODI: I am not. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Here's what we'll do. We'll call upon -- each of us will
call upon a member of the press. We ask you to limit your questions to one
question, to one person. Dana Bash, CNN.
QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you. There are reports that there is a cease-fire
agreement among Hamas and a few other Palestinian organizations, that they've
promised to stop the violence for at least three months. What do you know
about that? And what -- if true, what do you expect to happen next from both
sides, both Israelis and Palestinians?
PRESIDENT BUSH: As I was walking in, somebody told me about the report.
I'll believe it when I see it, knowing the history of the terrorists in the
Middle East. But the true test for Hamas and terrorist organizations is the
complete dismantlement of their terrorist networks, their capacity to blow
up the peace process. That's the true test. It's one thing to make a verbal
But in order for there to be peace in the Middle East, we must see organizations
such as Hamas dismantled, and then we'll have peace. Then we'll have a chance
for peace. I like to remind people that there are three parties involved
directly in the territories there. There's the Israeli government. I believe
the Israeli people want peace, and I believe their government when they say
they want a peaceful state, living side by side Israel.
Secondly, there are the people of the Palestinian world who are tired of
failed leadership, tired of terrorism destroying their hopes, tired of living
in poverty, and they, too, want a peaceful state. And then there are the
terrorists, like Hamas, who do not want a peaceful state, and they're willing
to use terrorist means to destroy it. In order for there to be peace, Hamas
must be dismantled.
QUESTION: In the last few weeks and months, we heard from both sides of the Atlantic.
Some opinions, some politicians expressing concern about the European community
policy on defense and security. Did you -- they say, for example, that it
is going to undermine the NATO, generally speaking that it's going to be
a kind of threat to the United States, be worse in other things. Did you
discuss this kind of thing today, and may I have your opinion of this? And
I would really like to hear the President's opinion.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You're trying to violate the one question per person rule.
(Laughter.) It's okay. Nice try, though.
PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS: We discussed with President Bush -- this is not
a subject of discussion. I explained what we are doing in the European Union,
why this is necessary, and I think why it's in the interest of both of us.
Europe should be capable to deal with security problems at it's borders or
elsewhere in the world. And we have a very good example. Now, there is a
European force in FYROM, and this European force took the place of a NATO
force. And we discussed about having a European force also in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and instead of a NATO force, this will be, also, positive for the Balkans.
I think it's a big mistake to believe that the development of a European
and security policy takes place in the -- in adversity with the United States.
I think that both the United States and us have an interest to have a strong
defense, because a strong defense in our case will help the United States,
and a strong defense of the United States helps us also. And a good example
again, I'll bring, is Afghanistan. We discussed about Afghanistan. As you
know, there is -- there are German soldiers on Afghanistan. There are United
States soldiers in Afghanistan. We have a common policy in order to have
more peace and security in Afghanistan.
And also the question that this security policy is a threat to anybody,
I think it's ridiculous because we have a very clear policy in these questions.
If there is a confrontation, then the national law must be applied. And the
United Nations Security Council has to decide on differences, as for example,
Greece has always said, concerning the problem of the continental shelf,
it's a -- with Turkey, that the international court of justice has to decide.
So the European development in concern with defense cannot be a threat to
anyone. It's, I would say, a decisive step for peace.
QUESTION: Mr. Prodi, when you discussed Iran with President Bush, did you raise
the question of what would happen if Iran does not comply to sign up to enhanced
PRESIDENT PRODI: We discussed deeply about Iran, but I didn't ask him what
he would do, you know. I tell my opinion. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Iran must comply. It's -- the free world expects Iran to
comply. Just leave it at that. They can --
QUESTION: And if it doesn't?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We expect them to. See, you're assuming they won't. We believe
they will when the free world comes together. And if they don't, we'll deal
with that when they don't.
PRESIDENT PRODI: The dialogue with Iran is going on daily and deeply. And
we push that they accept all the inspections, even the non-, let's say, planned
inspections because we have to be sure that doesn't constitute a danger to
future peace. We have to be absolutely sure.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. If the world speaks together, they'll comply.
Thank you all very much for coming. We enjoyed it.