Remarks with Portuguese Director-General for Foreign Policy Ambassador Santana CarlosMarc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
April 17, 2002
AMB. SANTANA CARLOS: Thank you very much for coming. We have with us the Under Secretary for Political Affairs Ambassador Marc Grossman that has paid a visit to Lisbon for a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for an extended meeting with myself and some of my collaborators.
The main objective of this visit was for both countries, for both delegations to start preparations of the Prague Summit that will take place, I mean the Prague Summit of NATO, that will take place in November this year. So, in that respect we had a very good exchange of views, and we follow the same line. I think it's time now to prepare well that summit. NATO shall adjust itself to the new challenges and lead the fight against terrorism. And that has to do with some changes that we shall adopt in Prague regarding the capabilities, regarding enlargement to new members, and also regarding the new relationships.
In particular I would like to mention the relationship with Russia. So we have shared the common view on all these respects. We also had discussions on OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe]. As you know, Portugal has now the chairmanship-in-office of that organization, and so we discussed points of mutual interest regarding the good functioning of OSCE. We also had some exchange of views on Angola, the peace process that is going on in Angola, and also in East Timor that is indeed a case of success for the international community. We also had a brief exchange of views on the situation in the Middle East and the peace process.
Here we recognize that the United States is doing a great effort trying to put the two sides, the two parts of the conflict close together in order to reach a cease-fire. We also had a very brief exchange of views on the situation in Iraq, where we consider that Saddam Hussein shall let the inspectors of the United Nations come to this country. And so it was, in a word, it was a very positive meeting, and true to the discussions that we have had. We have recognized a large, very large margin of convergence, and we believe that our cooperation has increased even further through this contact.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you very much. I'm in the easy position of being able to be brief in the sense that Ambassador Santana Carlos has given you a very comprehensive and very fair review of what it was we did during the day.
Let me start out by thanking you and thanking the Minister and thanking all of those here at the Ministry for their hospitality today. We very much appreciate being received here, and certainly on such a busy day we appreciate of being received by the Minister. I came to Portugal as part of a larger trip through Europe for four purposes.
First I wanted to thank Portugal and thank the Portuguese people for the tremendous support that Portugal has given to the United States and to NATO in the global war on terrorism, in the Balkans, all around the world in areas that are of importance to us. So I wanted to begin every conversation I had here today by saying "thank you" for the strong support of Portugal and the Portuguese people.
Second, I want it to be clear that we reiterate the support of the United States of America for NATO. One of the points that the Minister made to me was to remind me of how important NATO is for Portugal's defense and for Portugal's security. And I was able to tell him that on that we saw things exactly the same way, that NATO was crucial for the defense and the security of the United States as well.
And the third reason to come was as the Ambassador said was to talk a little bit about OSCE. We support OSCE, we support Portugal's chairmanship in office, and we were here to reiterate that support and have a consultation on what more we might be able to do to support the successful Portuguese chairmanship-in-office this year.
And finally, as the Ambassador said, I came to consult with our Portuguese allies about where we think we are headed toward the Prague Summit in November of this year.
As the Ambassador said, we believe that NATO can be as successful in the 21st century as it was in the 20th century, and that Prague is a chance to talk first about new capabilities -- because we believe the Alliance needs new capabilities to meet the challenges of the global war on terrorism, to meet the challenges of weapons of mass destruction. Second to talk about issues of new members; and here, as the Ambassador said, I think we saw very much eye-to-eye. We take as our guidance in the United States what President Bush said in Warsaw last year, which was that we should try to do as much as we possibly can, and not as little as we can, when it comes to extending NATO membership to Europe's new democracies. And finally, as the Ambassador said, we want to focus in on new relationships with Russia, with Ukraine, and very importantly, as the Ambassador pointed out to me, with countries in the Mediterranean and to increase NATO's Mediterranean dialogue.
The Ambassador then went through all of the other issues that we discussed, and on that I will again thank him very much for his hospitality. We have a few minutes and I think he and I will be glad to answer any questions anybody might have. Thank you.
QUESTION (Portugal State Radio, RDP): [In spite of all efforts, it seems there is a general idea that in the Middle East Mr. Colin Powell's mission has failed.]
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, obviously the Secretary is traveling back to the United States today, and I have to say as I said to the Ambassador, I actually don't believe that any effort that is made to bring peace, and certainly to bring peace in the Middle East, is a failure. And so I wouldn't characterize it like that at all. The Secretary was in the area, he brought with him the power and prestige of the United States, he had the backing of countries like Portugal and the European Union, and as he said, he is making progress. This is a very difficult problem, but I don't think it's been a failure at all. On the contrary, think of the reverse. Think of the question that you would be asking me if the Secretary had not gone to the Middle East. Then the question would be, why we don't do anything? So I think the Secretary and the President are getting tremendous credit for trying, and we will keep trying, because as the Ambassador said, this is an area that is important to both the United States and to Portugal.
QUESTION (Reuters): [Can you tell us what the progress is towards the NATO-Russia deal and give us a date for that deal? My second question regards the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons: [Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Jose Mauricio] Bustani charges that the United States is organizing a "coup d'etat" against him. If he leaves, will there be increased tension between the US and Iraq?]
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Let me try to answer both of those questions, with the Ambassador's permission. First, on the question of NATO-Russia, where we stand is this: Last December NATO foreign ministers made a promise to themselves, essentially, that by the Reykjavik meeting in May we would have negotiated with the Russians a new way to do business at NATO. It's being called the NATO-Russian Council. I'm optimistic that NATO ministers will be able to meet the promise that they made to themselves and that at Reykjavik there will be an arrangement. There are still some things that need to be negotiated, but my reports -- and I think the Ambassador's reports -- are that that negotiation is going extremely well. So I'm optimistic about that. So the way I see this is, there would be an agreement among NATO foreign ministers at Reykjavik. The Italians have then proposed that there be a NATO-Russia Summit in Italy on the 28th of May to, in their words, celebrate this new relationship between NATO and Russia. That is obviously a decision for NATO. NATO is considering that Italian invitation, and I expect that they will have something to say over the next day or so. So you would have Reykjavik, you would then have a possibility of a NATO-Russia Summit meeting in Italy. And then of course, we want to look forward to the Prague Summit, because we don't want anything we do now to diminish what goes on in Prague. I think that is very important. So we hope Mr. Putin [Russian President Vladimir Putin], as he has been invited, would also come to the Prague Summit. So that's pretty much where we stand. I think that is generally a positive report.
In terms of what is going on in Geneva, I think we've spoken about this, certainly from the State Department podium, on a number of occasions. We support this organization, we want this organization to work, we don't think at the moment that the leadership of that organization is helping it work. We are not organizing coups against anybody, we are not alone in this view; countries will have to decide how they want to vote. But we have been pretty up front about this, and I don't think I really have anything to add. In terms of the question about whether it increases tension with anybody, I think this is an internal matter to this organization. We want this organization to function properly and to succeed, and to do so we think it has to have the strongest leadership.
QUESTION (Lusa wire service): [What is your impression regarding the independence of East Timor? Is the United States in favor of a reduction of UN troops immediately after independence?]
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think that the Ambassador and I agree completely that what is happening in East Timor is a success for the international community. And although, as you say, there are challenges yet to come, I think we have to stop for a minute and recognize that there is something successful happening here, and especially with these elections that have taken place over the past couple of days. I think it is fair to say, and obviously he can speak for himself, that we both agreed that the international community needs to continue to pay attention to East Timor after these elections, after a few months go by. But I think we both did agree that it would only be responsible for countries to look at the United Nations' presence there, the size of it, what it does, and then make sure that it is accomplishing its task.
QUESTION (Associated Press): [How do you view the Portuguese Presidency of the OSCE and the new developments, especially on counterterrorism policy?]
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: The Portuguese Presidency has chosen counterterrorism as one of its main themes for its year as President of OSCE, and we very much support that. And my proposition to the Ambassador and his colleagues today was that we ought to do all we can in practical ways to involve the OSCE in counterterrorism. I think it would be fair to say that that is something that we agree on.
Obviously the Portuguese Presidency can speak for itself, but for example, to have a meeting in June here to better organize how international organizations work with one another against terrorism seems to me a very good idea. To try to implement some of the counterterrorism objectives that the OSCE has already put out in the past seems to me a very useful thing to do. So in all of these areas, we want to be in support of Portugal's efforts to make the OSCE part of this global war on terrorism.
QUESTION (Associated Press): [in Portuguese: Ambassador Santana Carlos, can you confirm the date for that June meeting?]
AMB. SANTANA CARLOS: [in Portuguese] Yes, the reunion is confirmed for the 12th of June with the presence of a high official, of a senior representative of the United States.
QUESTION (Associated Press): [in Portuguese: So it is not only an OSCE meeting?]
AMB. SANTANA CARLOS: [in Portuguese] Yes, the various organizations are being contacted. As Ambassador Marc Grossman said, the idea is to establish a better coordination between all the agencies of the international organizations that also work in this area of war on terrorism.
QUESTION (Associated Press): [in Portuguese: So there are other organizations are participating?]
AMB. SANTANA CARLOS: [in Portuguese] Yes, yes, not only the United Nations or OSCE, NATO shall also be present as well as the European Union.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I have a travel constraint, but I'll be glad to take one more or stop now.
OK. Thank you all very, very much.