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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > May

Press Conference at the French American Press Club

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Hotel Clarion St. James et Albany
Paris, France
May 22, 2003

MODERATOR: Thanks all very much for coming. We want to in the name of the French American Press Club, Christian Malar and I would like to thank you all for coming and tell you what a great honor for us it is, right after the first anniversary of the club, to have the Secretary of State here along with Howard Leach, who is our honorary co-chairman, the ambassador, the U.S. Ambassador here. Especially in this room, which is where Lafayette, a great friend of the United States, first met Marie Antionette, hoping to get her to convince Louis XVI to lend a little military support to this new country, the United States of America. The Secretary has a few brief remarks and after that weíll take some questions.

Secretary Powell Press Conference at the French American Press ClubSECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you very much Jim and Christian, for giving me this opportunity to appear before the club and also to congratulate the club on its first anniversary. I did not know the historic significance of this room, but it is quite appropriate. Lafayette goes back to my early days in the military and brings back memories of the alliance that was formed so many, many years ago between the United States and France, an alliance that has held steady for all these many, many years, with its up and downs, with its little disruptions and disagreements that come along from time to time, befitting two democracies, that occasionally have different points of view. But, what will never change is that there is this tie between the United State and France, a tie that has been created by shared values, created by working with each other in times of war and by being part of a great alliance for 50 years, or so.

And so, itís a pleasure for me to be back in Paris at this time and to participate in the G8 ministers meeting, which is the reason for my visit. I look forward later this afternoon, and in the course of the eveningís conversation and tomorrow, to talk to my G8 colleagues about matters of interest, regional issues, Iran and North Korea, where we are with respect to Iraq, and also other transnational issues; countering the flow of drugs from Central Asia and the range of issues you would expect such a group to deal with.

I am also especially pleased to be here today, when, in a few moments -- I hope -- the United Nations Security Council will act on a resolution, and my staff is poised in the front with scorecards, to let me know what the final vote was should it occur while I am up here. But, I told them I already know what the final vote count will be, even though I will not share it with you yet. But, I am quite confident that the resolution will pass.

It is a resolution that will lift sanctions, after thirteen years, off the backs of the Iraqi people. It is a resolution that will bring back together the international community to help the liberated people of Iraq build a better society, a better country, to repair the infrastructure in the country that was devastated, not by the war, but by thirty years of dictatorial rule. It will show to the Iraqi people that the international community is there for them, notwithstanding the disagreements that have occurred in the past with respect to this conflict. We are now united to move forward. And, it is a resolution that will quickly allow Iraq to have a stream of revenue available to it. Initially, under the control of the provisional authority, as it must be, but with total oversight of an international board and with the participation of the World Bank and the IMF so everybody can see, that the provisional authority will be using these funds solely to benefit the Iraqi people and for no other purpose.

It was important to get the resolution lifted as fast as possible, in order that oil could flow, not only to provide revenue for the Iraqi people, but also so that the system would keep operating so that gasoline and cooking gas and other consumer products would come out of refineries as the oil was flowing.

The resolution will also show that there is a vital role to be played by the United Nations. As President Bush and Prime Minister Blair said a few weeks ago, it was important that we recognize a vital role for the United Nations and I believe this resolution does that, by designating the Special Representative of the Secretary General to work in every way with the interim Iraqi administration, when it is formed, to work with the coalition provisional authority, and to help in the process of moving this through phases that will now be right in front of us. First, the administration that we are responsible for, the coalition, and then, setting up an interim Iraqi administration and slowly give them authority as they demonstrate capability and ultimately grow that into a government that will be a government of the people of Iraq, as determined by the people of Iraq, and not imposed upon them. A government that we are confident will live in peace with its neighbors, not develop weapons of mass destruction, and not use the wealth of the people of Iraq, in the form of its oil, to do things which threaten regional stability.

It will take time to get there, but as President Bush has said, and other coalition leaders have said, we are committed to the task. We will stay there for as long as it is necessary and not one day longer, but we will not leave until we have accomplished the mission, which is to put in place a representative form of government that respects the rights of all of the people of Iraq. We will work hard to be make sure that all the residual features of that dictatorial regime have been eliminated, so that there will be no continuing threat to the process of reconstruction and to the process of raising up a new government.

So, this is a wonderful day for the people of Iraq, who have been liberated, and now they see, I hope, with a very, very overwhelming vote, the United Nations as a group, through the Security Council, coming to assist them. And, I think they will see that more and more nations, in the coalition of the willing, now with additional support of a UN resolution, more and more nations who were not initially in the coalition of the willing, as well as those who are, to come to Iraq and help with stability and peacekeeping operations as well as reconstruction activities. And so, let me close on that note and, I think it is much more interesting if I were to take questions than to sermonize and I open the floor to questions.

MODERATOR: One of the few prerogatives that occur to being co-chairman is that you get to ask the first questions and Christian, do you want to fire away?

QUESTION: Yes. Mr. Secretary, should the French give a "yes" vote, which is likely to happen according to what we can hear, would you consider it as a first step towards the beginning of Franco-U.S. reconciliation after this big, huge bone of contention between the two countries.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I am quite sure France will give a "yes" vote as my colleague Dominique de Villepin said yesterday, and I think it is a step in the right direction of moving forward together. When we were all in Brussels, all the ministers were together in Brussels, a few weeks back, I said this is the time for us to come back together, not fight the battles of the past, come back together because we now know what we are all doing together and there is no disagreement. We have to come together to help the Iraqi people and everybody voting for this resolution today will join in that effort, in that crusade really, to help the Iraqi people. Not a crusade for conflict, but a crusade for peace, a crusade to help people to a better life.

But does it mean that the disagreements of the past simply are totally forgotten? No, that was not a very pleasant time for any of us and we have to work our way through that. There are still some suggestions that the coalition was operating without legitimacy. We were operating with legitimacy, legitimacy provided by U.N. Resolutions 678, 687, and 1441. There is no question about that and we are not achieving new legitimacy with this resolution that somehow provides a legitimacy that didnít exist in the past.

And so, I think that now that we are together in this resolution, we can move forward together and work out any remaining tensions or difficulties from the past disagreements.

MODERATOR: A few weeks ago, Mr. Secretary, you said that France would face "consequences" because of its actions before the war. Does it still face consequences and also, is this a new form of American foreign policy that countries that donít go along with the United States are liable to be punished.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we havenít, I wouldnít say we have punished France. There has been a review of some of the activities that take place between the United States and France on a bilateral basis, some of our military activities, joint military activities are being looked at in light of the changed circumstances.

But, you know I have to remind people, when you say to the United States, "Is this a new form of foreign policy that we are going to start punishing people who disagree with us?" No, but you take note of those who disagree with you and you try to find out why and if it is appropriate to draw some conclusions and consequences follow those conclusions: thatís the way it is.

I might, I just have to point out that it was the French government, that when other European nations, the first group of seven and the V-10, came to the side of the coalition of the willing, it was the French government that took them to task for daring to speak their own minds and not simply support the position that had been taken by the French government and to imply that there might be consequences for such a decision with respect to EU accession and other such matters. I hope that we can get all of that in the past, work out any remaining sharp edges, any remaining difficulties that are still there as a result of this disagreement.

We have been through these periods of tension before in our relationship and I am confident we will get through this one. But, we have to be sober-minded about it and we have to, take a hard look at where we are and where weíre going as we move forward and I think todayís actions, which are expected, action which is expected momentarily in the Security Council, is a step forward.

QUESTION: Is the Middle East peace process stalled, and is that a subject you will be dealing with in your meetings with the ministers here.

SECRETARY POWELL: I am sure Iíll have a chance to discuss it with my colleagues; itís on everyoneís mind. We are fully engaged in trying to move the Middle East peace process forward. As has been reported, we have had delegations from both the Palestinian side and the Israeli side in Washington over the past forty-eight hours, trying to bridge some of the differences that exist. President Bush, a couple of days ago, spoke to both Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas. My trip a week or so ago was also for that purpose, starting to narrow the differences and get closer to a way forward.

We believe the road map is the way forward. Itís the way to achieve the vision that President Bush laid out in his 24 June speech of last year and it is also consistent with the vision that came out of the Arab-Beirut summit last year. So, it always tough going in the Middle East account, as I call it, but we are committed to taking advantage of this moment of opportunity with the removal of one dictatorial regime, Saddam Husseinís regime, and with a new leader of the Palestinian people in place, a Prime Minister who, we believe, is a good interlocutor to have. President Bush is determined to take advantage of this moment of opportunity and we are working very hard on it right now.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary (inaudible), how does the U.S. administration intend to deal with the chaotic situation in Iraq, and with the deadlock in the Middle East on the Middle East peace process and with the terrorist attacks that are hitting everywhere in the world.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, with respect to Iraq, we are hard at work trying to restore stability in the country and to impose order and security throughout the country. In the aftermath of the conflict, the system collapsed. The military system totally collapsed, the police system collapsed, and we discovered that there was much more damage to the infrastructure from the years of neglect on the part of Saddam Hussein that had to be dealt with. All of those issues are being dealt with. Ambassador Bremer is over there with a strong team, we are slowly restoring basic elements of the infrastructure, the electrical systems, sanitary systems, waters systems, other systems will come online as ministries are rebuilt. We are making sure that senior Baíath party leaders are not a part of that reconstruction. It will take some time and we will put the effort into it that is required. Additional troops are being made available for the Baghdad area, and I think you will see the situation improve over time.

With respect to the Middle East, I think I have answered that question and you will see continued engagement on my part and, of course, on the part of the President in trying to get the parties together, get both parties to recognize that we have to end the terror and the violence that must come to an end and at the same time, the Israeli side has to be prepared to take steps that would improve conditions of daily life for the Palestinian people and also steps that will provide for the Palestinian people a sense of what awaits them in the future. What awaits them in the future is the vision that President Bush has, of two states living side by side in peace.

With respect to terrorism, terrorism, as we have said from the week after 9/11 President Bush started focusing on this, it is a worldwide problem that threatens all civilized nations and itís going to be there as long as organizations such as Al Qaida is there, and other similar organizations. Iraqs may come and go, and other crises will come and go, but terrorism is something that is going to continue to be a threat to us all and that is why it is more important than ever, that we cooperate closely, in intelligence sharing, law enforcement activities, use of military force as appropriate and just make sure the international community rallies against all forms of terrorist activity and we will be discussing that at our conference here today.

QUESTION: Secretary, following up on that, is there anything specific that the ministers can discuss and take action on, on terrorism here in Paris and although you talk about taking first steps towards reconciliation, is that possible when you have some retaliation still from the United States. Do you agree with the Pentagonís decision, for instance, to decide that France cannot participate in the annual allied military exercises in Nevada this summer?

SECRETARY POWELL: There has been a lot of Al Qaida activity, whether the overall threat is rising or if we are seeing a peak right now and then it will recede again, I donít know. We have damaged Al Qaida quite a bit by what we did in Afghanistan and a lot of work that has been done here in France and Germany and a lot of other countries to go after cells and pull them up. But, it is still a threat and I think what we will do here today is review what has happened, recommit ourselves to working, not only within the G-8, but with all of the other countries that each of us interact with, encourage them all to pass the various counter-terrorism conventions that are out there, and not all of them have been passed by every country. But no specific actions are required at this particular point. And now, the second part of your question.

QUESTION: Asking about the Pentagonís decisionÖ

SECRETARY POWELL: To the best of my knowledge, on the one with respect to "Red Flag", my understanding is that if for one reason or another you miss a year then you have to get back in queue and I think thatís, that they are not in queue this year. But, the Pentagon is taking some other steps as well that change the nature of their relationship with the French military and I am going to leave that to the French military and my colleagues in the Pentagon to work out.

It doesnít reflect on overall administration policy, it reflects that fact that the Pentagon wants to review the various kinds and levels of activities with France and other nations in this current environment with the high tempo, lots of things going on, and they have decided that they have to review all of these efforts. Some of them have been reviewed to the point where the Pentagon feels they have to cut back on some of the exchanges they have been having with France as well as "Red Flag" which is for a different reason, but there are some other aspects too, that the pentagon is looking at.

QUESTION: Does that undercut your efforts?

SECRETARY POWELL: My efforts are on track. I am her in Paris, Iím looking for with my meetings will Dominique de Villepin and we have got a great vote coming up in the UN in a few moments.

QUESTION: Speaking about the Pentagon, (inaudible), you addressed a letter to Mr. Rumsfeld concerning the presence of the under aged in Guantanamo Base. Are you ready to make further steps in this issue in the next months and what about the status of those prisoners?

SECRETARY POWELL: Secretary Rumsfeld and I have been discussing how to expedite the movement of people out of Guantanamo, once we have learned all we are going to learn from them in intelligence matters and once we assure there are no criminal matters, or war crimes, or things of that nature, that they should be held for. So, we have expedited the process the process of answering those questions about law enforcement and crimes, or intelligence and crimes and we are trying to expedite the arrangements that we make with countries that they are going back to -- their home countries.

And in the last week or so, we have concluded agreements with two countries and their citizens are returning, in the process of returning home. The only one Iíll mention right now is Saudi Arabia and there is another one that just needs another day or two to complete the agreement. And we are working on all of the other countries now, in an aggressive way, to see if we can clear up these cases, particularly, if they involve people who are young and unlikely to have had much intelligence information in the first place and unlikely to have been party to serious crimes; they sort of got caught up in the war.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary (inaudible), may I ask what are the latest news about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein?

SECRETARY POWELL: The mobile vans that you may have been reading about, it is becoming clear that these vans can have no other purpose than the production of biological weapons. Our intelligence community has been very thorough in its examination and has ruled out any other option. I think thatís a clear indication that Saddam Hussein had the programs of the kind we were talking about. The vans look exactly like the pictures, the cartoons that I used during my presentation on the 5th of February. And, Iím sure that as we send more investigative teams in and a very, very expert group of individuals - a couple thousand of them are on their way now - and as they go through all the documents and as they take a look at all the potential places where weapons of mass destruction might have been stored, might have been developed, there will be more information forthcoming.

There is no question that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and every nation that voted for UN resolution 1441 last November 8th acknowledged that, because the very basis of the resolution was that Saddam Hussein and that regime was in material breach of its obligations. By not accounting for its weapons of mass destruction, and by denying things that were known to be true from previous inspections and by submitting a false declaration they made themselves they made themselves even more in breach of their obligations and I am confident that the evidence will prove that that finding of guilt in 1441 was accurate and was a solid basis for subsequent actions that were taken.

QUESTION: Saddam Husseinís whereabouts?

SECRETARY POWELL: Je ne sais pas. I donít know, I donít know if heís alive or if heís dead. The one thing I do know is heís not governing.

QUESTION: Alain Loyau, from líExpress. Do you think, as Time Magazine this week, that may be the war against Al Qaida will never end?

SECRETARY POWELL: Terrorism has been around throughout history in one form or another. Al Qaida is perhaps the most virulent form of terrorist organization Iíve ever seen and it will not go away easily. It has been damaged, let there be no doubt about that. We hurt it badly in Aghanistan, we caused it to have to rearrange its way of doing business and (inaudible). We learned a lot about its finances, we learned a lot about how they pass information. We learned a great deal about Al Qaida which allowed us to roll up cells in other parts of the world.

It doesnít mean we have totally destroyed it and we have to keep at it. Maybe the day will come and I hope it does and I hope itís in the very near future where they give it up because the risk to them are too great. The surge weíve seen right now over the last week or so, if all of it turns out to be Al Qaida, thereís still some question as to whether theyíre all Al Qaida or not, but the surge we have seen now is the first such surge since 9/11 of this kind and I hope that by the action they have taken in recent days, they tell us more about who they are and where they are, theyíre giving themselves away to some extent by undertaking these terrible activities and weíll just keep at them.

We will not give up. The President has made this clear from the very beginning, he has made this a major priority of his Administration and it ought to be a major priority of every government in the world - to go after Al Qaida and similar terrorist organizations who use the killing, the murdering of innocent people for political objectives. France has been a victim of this, the United States has been a victim, every civilized world has been a victim. Every civilized world must share in this effort.

QUESTION: Channel 22 Israel. Secretary of State, what do you think about French plan to convene an international conference for the Middle East and is there is any possibility of summit meeting between the President and Mr. Abu Mazen and Sharon about if this peace process is not going as planned?

SECRETARY POWELL: The road map eventually leads to conferences of various types, and sooner or later I hope sufficient progress will be made that in an actual conference can be held. It is a proposal that is out there from everybody that sooner or later an international conference is needed. But there is no point trying to jump over everything to get to an international conference until one knows what one is having a conference about other than just having a conference. So a conference is there in the future at some point if progress is made on the roadmap.

With respect to President Bush meeting with Prime Minister Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Sharon, he was going to meet with Prime Minister Sharon this week but the terror attacks put that off. I am quite confident that the President at some point in the future would welcome an opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Abbas. And that is all I can say about it right now.

QUESTION: Rivoli, ABC News. The situation in North Korea. Is it time for the Russians and the Chinese to play more of an integral role to make the situation without (inaudible) nuclear power more of a multilateral negotiation tactic or is it still, or are you still employing bilateral negotiation tactic? Where do you stand on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: There will be, there will be (inaudible) there can only be a multilateral solution. North Koreaís possession of nuclear weapons, which they say they have, is unacceptable to South Korea, to Japan, to China, to Russia, to the United States, to the world.

And so....Excuse me a moment. 14 - 0. Thank you very much. Somebody wasnít there.

And so it is unacceptable. The only way it can be dealt with is with all the nations who have an equity in this involved. It is not just the U.S.-North Korea bilateral issue, however much North Korea says it is, or how many times they say it. It has to be dealt with multilaterally. The Chinese understand that. Thatís why they were willing to not only host the three-party meeting we had in Beijing, but to participate fully in that.

I think that the other nations who have an interest in this, South Korea and Japan, want to be part of that multilateral grouping if there are future meetings and in my conversations with my Russian colleagues last week in Moscow, it is clear that Russia is also committed to a de-nuclearized North Korean Peninsula, and is willing to play a political role in helping to bring that about.

North Korea has to understand that its going to be multilateral, and that their repeated threats, their repeated claims, their suggestions of that which they might do or might not do is not going force us into a bilateral discussion with them. It is not going force us into giving a concession that just lead to further demands for further concessions.

We want to help North Korea. The President has made this clear from the beginning. It is a country with a starving population, and plutonium cannot be eaten. It is time for them to realize that they have to give up these programs and some of the other things they are doing in order for their neighbors to assist them through this terrible period that they are going through.

QUESTION: (inaudible) claims that they indeed have reprocessed (inaudible).


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just given the announcement of the vote that you just made, do have any instant analysis or reaction to the fact the Syrians didnít show up for it? You have expressed displeasure with Syria in the past.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, no, no, no. You do the instant analysis. Iím the Secretary of State.


QUESTION: Is there a price to pay for this?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I am not reading a great deal into it, frankly. They chose not to be present for the vote. I believe their permanent representative was called back for consultations and maybe he didnít get a phone call in time. But they chose not to be present for the vote and thatís understandable. 14-0, does that mean itís over?


QUESTION: Tim Franks, BBC. I am just wondering how confident you can be, sir, that problems of Iraq (inaudible) you talked again today about American leading a coalition of the willing in future. As far as France is concerned, it has made it very clear that it wants to have a multipolar world to. For example, increase European Unionís role in terms of defense and common foreign policy. Given that, how confident are you that the eruptions over Iraq are a (inaudible)? Equally, how concerned are you that perhaps the direction France is going now may serve to replicate these eruptions all over again?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have learned over the many years Iíve been in this business, either as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or National Security Advisor, to avoid taking a snapshot and converting that into a photo album of how things are going to be.

Letís take a look at what happened with Iraq. The United States did not go off last September by itself and jump into a war because we had nothing else to do that September. We took it to the UN. We took it to the international community. The President of the United States stood before the UN General Assembly and laid out the problem, laid out the charge.

And why did we bring it UN, why did we stand before UNGA? Because it was a UN problem. It was a regime that for twelve years had said, "We will not comply." Then we spent seven weeks in the most intense diplomatic effort I have ever been involved in working with members of the Security Council to put in place a resolution that was passed unanimously 15-0, that said serious consequences would flow. So, we worked as a team.

Where it came apart was that when we saw the inspectorsí work for several months, it became clear to us that Saddam Hussein was playing the same old game of deceiving, of denying. He gave a false declaration. And we felt very strongly that if he wasnít called to account now and faced the serious consequences intended in 1441, he would escape again. And that is where the disagreement came and that is why the second resolution did not succeed in terms of passing in the UN. It did succeed as political action in that it emboldened the United Kingdom, and Spain, and Italy, and Australia, even in the absence of that second resolution, to get parliamentary approval for what they did.

The coalition went in. It took care of the regime. The regime is gone. And now, the United States, it is working once again with this resolution today with the international community, to try to bring us all together for the purpose of helping the Iraqi people.

And so we will have many discussions about whither Euro, whither Europe, whither the United States, is the transatlantic community broken up. Is it back together?

These are always with us. I have been through many of them over the years on every imaginable issue from the posting of ground-launch cruise missiles, Pershings, in the mid-eighties, all the way up to when the end of the cold war came when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and everyone was saying, "Well, we donít need NATO anymore."

The only trouble was everybody kept trying to join this alliance that nobody needed anymore. And my Russian general friends would say, "We got rid of the Warsaw pact, why donít you get rid of NATO?" I said, "Iíd love to, but people keep asking for membership applications. Itís a little hard to close down a club that has a waiting line."

And so, I have been through this so many times, and I am telling you what the future is going to hold. The future is going to hold a world that will still have a strong transatlantic community. It will be a world that in the next couple of months, within a year, will have 26 members of NATO and 25 members of the European Union. With those added numbers comes more opportunities for debate and discussion, but that is what democracy is all about - debate and discussion.

There will disagreements, there will be fights, but there will be more in which we agree, more areas in which we can come together as a transatlantic community to deal with some of the transatlantic and now increasingly international problems we face.

Look at what we are doing: NATO is going to Afghanistan to take over ISAF, NATO is considering what it might do in Iraq, NATO just said it would help Poland discharge its responsibilities that it has taken upon itself in Iraq. Weíve got what we are doing in the Balkans. Right after 9/11, when the United States needed help protecting its air space, NATO AWACS came to the United States and flew over our skies, in our skies, through our skies, protecting American people with European crews.

So there is so much we are going to do together. The quartet, the European Union, the Russian Federation, the NATO-Russian Council, there is so much that is going right in this transatlantic community, that when a problem comes along, or disagreement comes along, such as weíve had over Iraq, letís argue about it, letís fight about it, letís not paper it over, letís not pretend it didnít happen. It happened. And there is still some tension over it. But let us remember what keeps us together: shared values, shared beliefs, and a commitment to help our people to a better life.

But more importantly, as the wealthiest part of the world, a commitment on the part of all of us to help the people around the world to a better life. As long as we keep our eyes on those values, the transatlantic community is going to be fine, and Iíll let others decide whether uni-polar, multi-polar, bi-polar, whatever, you know. I donít use those terms very often because I am not sure what they mean.

QUESTION: Athens news agency. Please (inaudible) How do you find the Turkish (inaudible) to open the border (inaudible) do you think that (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it was a positive initiative to open the border, especially coming at a time where diplomacy did not work, where the sides were not able to come together on Secretary General Annanís latest proposal. And then suddenly, the opening of the border and what I have been watching for the last couple of months now are people going back and forth. Talking to people they have not talked to in a long time. And I think the more of this that goes on, people are going to start asking, "Why canít we find a solution to this problem?" And so, I am pleased that this kind of transiting is taking place, and I encourage more of it.

QUESTION: German Television. I would come back to the relationship between USA and Europe (inaudible) trouble we still have this impression that every effort towards an independent Europe would be interpreted against American interest.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I donít think that is the case. I think that we believe we are well integrated in NATO, as the North Atlantic community, and we have been very supportive of Europeís effort to create a European security and defense program (ESDP). I have been supportive of that since the very first day of my service as Secretary of State.

We have been very supportive of the European Unionís effort to take over in Macedonia, which they have now done. Something like 26 or (27) countries coming together to provide the force there, we were supportive of that. And so, we, our support of European efforts to develop its own political and military identity. Where we get uneasy is if it seems that this would do harm to the greatest political and military alliance that the world has ever seen, which has served us so well: thatís NATO. But there is no reason that Europe canít have its equities dealt with in ESDP or similar organizations and in harmony with what NATO does.

We had a little concern recently when the meeting in Brussels took place on the 29th of last month. And four nations, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium suggested (inaudible) to the headquarters. I was a little concerned about that because I think what we need right now is more capability in European defense structures, and not more headquarters. But this is a matter for the Europeans to decide, not Americans to decide. We will continue to play an active full role in NATO and in all of the various ways in which I interact with the European Union and the President interacts with the European Union.

I spend as much time working with my colleagues in the European Union, in fact, a lot more time with my colleagues in the European Union than I do with my NATO colleagues on a day to day basis. Both are important. And so we encourage Europe to develop the capabilities of (inaudible) play a more important role with respect to defense. And I think we have demonstrated that it can be done in harmony with NATO.

Thank you very much.

Released on May 23, 2003

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