Compilation of Weekly Presidential Documents - Monday, November 29, 1999 Volume 35, Issue 47; ISSN: 0511-4187 The President's news conference with Prime Minister Konstandinos Simitis of Greece in Athens

Monday, November 29, 1999


Volume 35, Issue 47; ISSN: 0511-4187


The President's news conference with Prime Minister Konstandinos Simitis of

Greece in Athens

William J Clinton; Konstandinos Simitis



� November 20,1999



� Prime Minister Simitis. Ladies and gentlemen, with very special

pleasure, the Greek Government and the Greek people and I,

personally, are welcoming President Clinton and the American

delegation. This visit is confirming the historic friendship

relations between the two countries and between our two people, a

relationship that has been kept alive by the Greeks who have lived

and are still living creatively in the United States, by the common

struggles in other times, by our close relationship and partnership

within the North Atlantic Alliance, political solidarity, and

cooperation, our cooperation for our common goals.



� With President Clinton, we had a very friendly, open, and free

discussion. During our talks we covered all issues, those which

under the present situation have a certain importance from our

country, for going from Greek-American relations to developments in

the Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations, and the Cyprus issue. We

agreed, as regards Greek-American relations, that there is still

considerable margin for the improvement of the cooperation between

the two countries.



� Greece, thanks to its economic renewal these last few years,

provides new major opportunities for investments, trade relations,

relations in the field of technology, and other areas. For the

Balkans, our conviction is that the present situation entails

certain risks. Stability is necessary in the region, respect of

existing borders, and the strengthening of initiatives for the

reconstruction of the region, and above all, the implementation of

the Stability Pact.



� As regards relations with neighboring Turkey, we have emphasized

the need of deserving international law and international treaties

and conventions. Rapprochement, steps towards rapprochement have

been made recently. We believe that the most substantial answer is

required on the part of Turkey to the initiatives of the Greek side.



� We have agreed that Turkey's European perspective will help

establish closer links based on peaceful development and

cooperation. However, its candidature could not be accepted unless

certain conditions are met for the settlement of existing problems.

As regards the Cyprus issue, we have agreed that talks that have

just started should be substantive in order to lead to the

settlement of this issue.



� The talks with the United States political leadership are, of

course, self understood. We have had a very interesting exchange of

views, as I said, on all important issues for us. And we have also

ascertained the friendly relations between the American and the

Greek people, the close ties, not only at a political and economic

levels but also at the levels of styles and culture where we believe

our relations and cooperation should be extended. The friendship

between our two peoples is confirmed by the substantial presence and

role of a Greek community in the United States; successfully, it is

making full use of all its rights as an American citizen.



� Greece is a pole of democracy, political stability, social and

political cohesion in the wider region. Its potential is much

greater compared to the size of the country and its population. We

have established that it is in the interest of both countries for

our cooperation to safeguard and promote peace development and a

network of relations in the region that would minimize tension, and

this is why we will pursue and strengthen our cooperation with the

United States.



� This visit does not just confirm the past but also constitutes a

guarantee for the future where, together, we can respond to the new

challenges, the new challenges of a new era, of a new reality that

is taking shape at the end of this century based on mutual

understanding, equal cooperation, common resolve, and determination

to face problems together, provide new answers, build on the values

of democracy, freedom shared by our people, which are defended by

our people, the values that we want to promote.



� President Clinton. First of all, Prime Minister, let me thank you

and the members of your government for the very good meeting that we

had today. I think the Prime Minister has summarized the results of

our meeting quite well. I would like to add just a few words.



� First, the Greek relationship is profoundly important to me and to

the United States because of the values and history we share;

because of the large role Greek-Americans play in our national life,

as the Prime Minister said. But also because of two historic

transformations that have occurred in the last decade.



� The first is the transformation of southeast Europe from a

battleground between East and West to a prodding ground for

democracy and tolerance in the post-cold-war world. The second is

the remarkable transformation of Greece itself into a regional

leader with a booming economy, a vibrant democracy, with the ability

to help to pull its neighbors together and push them forward into

21stcentury Europe.



� We spoke a lot today about the role Greece is playing in the

Balkans, with its troops in Bosnia and Kosovo, with its support for

economic development and reconstruction, with its private sector

investment. Greece is carrying a heavier burden in this region than

almost any other country, but the potential payoff is very large: an

undivided, democratic Europe, in which wars like those we've seen in

the former Yugoslavia no longer happen. And I want to pay a tribute

to the Prime Minister and the people of Greece for all they are

doing in the Balkans and pledge my support for the Stability Pact

and the economic growth necessary for this to work.



� Of course, we also spoke about the road to reconciliation and

lasting peace between Greece and Turkey and the issues in the Aegean

and, of course, Cyprus. I told the Prime Minister how pleased I am

that the parties in Cyprus have agreed to start these proximity

talks on December 3d in New York, and how determined I am that they

be serious talks. The goal is to lay the foundation for meaningful

negotiations toward a comprehensive settlement. We should have no

illusions; there's a tough road ahead. But we will work closely with

Secretary-General Annan to ensure that the talks are productive.



� We talked about our growing trade and investment, about how we can

strengthen our economic relationship further. Greece's economic

renewal has made it one of the most attractive places in Europe in

which to do business. I am very pleased that its progress in

improving protection for intellectual property rights makes it

possible to move rapidly toward settling our copyright case in the




� Finally, let me just express the great sympathy and support of the

American people to all those who lost their loved ones in the tragic

earthquake last August. We will not forget the heroism of the Greek

emergency teams who pulled survivors from the rubble, not only here

in Athens but also across the Aegean in Turkey. I am very glad that

our own Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed with its

Greek counterparts to work together to strengthen their preparedness

for future disasters.



� Let me say in closing, I am satisfied with the work we advanced

today. We look to, as I said last night, we look to ancient Greece

for inspiration but to modern Greece for leadership and for

partnership. After this visit, I believe we have strengthened that




� Thank you very much.



� Turkey's Candidacy for European Union Membership



� Q. From what we know, you did ask while you were in Turkey for some

specific move by Ankara that would match the moves Greece has done

in order, also, to make her candidacy for the European Union easier.

Do you have anything concrete on that?



� President Clinton. Well, I didn't think that was my role. Let me

tell you what I did do. I spoke both at every opportunity, publicly

and privately, before the Turkish Assembly, before the business

group, before the group of earthquake survivors, and in all my

private meetings about the importance of resolving outstanding

issues between Greece and Turkey, including Cyprus.



� I specifically asked that the Halki seminary be reopened. I have

pushed a lot of issues. And I came away believing that in the next

few months, as all these issues are bubbling up-the start of the

proximity talks, the debate over whether Turkey should be given

candidacy status in the EU at Helsinki, and the continuing bilateral

talks between Greece and Turkey-which I applaud the Prime Minister's

government for his leadership in-that there will be an opportunity

to resolve a large number of these issues.



� I hope that my trip there was constructive in that regard. I

believe it was. But I would not expect the Turkish leaders to let me

be the conduit of their ultimate resolution of this. I think that I

helped to improve the climate, and I dealt with a lot of the

specific issues, and I feel good about that.



� Prime Minister Simitis. Let me add two words for my part. During

the meeting ahead with Mr. Ecevit and during Mr. Papandreou's

meeting with Mr. Cem, we emphasized the need of certain movements

and initiatives on the part of Turkey. And I believe that President

Clinton's visit was important because he referred to that question,

and it has helped, as well as the talks we had with the Turkish side

on increasing awareness on the part of Turkey that things are not

that easy. We cannot just expect for something to happen without

doing or contributing anything for our part. You help yourself, and

God will help you, as we say. We have to do something for our part,

as well.



� Greek Protests of President's Visit



� Q. Sir, the demonstrations last night ineluded extensive arson and

damage. I want to know if you're concerned by the protests, and what

you say to the Greeks who oppose your visit here?



� President Clinton. What was the last part of your question?



� Q. What's your message to the Greeks who are protesting, who oppose

your visit here? President Clinton. Well, first of all, I think that

we have to-especially in Greece-reaffirm the right of people to

protest in a democracy. Secondly, I strongly believe the protests

should be peaceful, and therefore, I deeply regret the Greeks who

had their property injured and who suffered losses through these




� But I think that the important thing is that we reaffirm the value

of the relationship between our two countries. I think that-I know

most Americans deeply value the relationship with Greece,

notwithstanding the fact that almost all of the people of Greece

disagree with our policy in Kosovo and, beore that, in Bosnia. I

believe I did the right thing, and I think most Americans believe

that we did the right thing to stand against ethnic cleansing.



� But that doesn't affect our affection for and our support for the

people of Greece and the Government of Greece. And I would hope that

most Greek citizens would, like the Greek Government, believe that

there is value in our relationship and our partnership; and that

even if we have a disagreement, we can't allow that to undermine our

relationship or our partnership.



� I would just say, looking toward the future, I, personally, admire

very much and support very strongly the leadership that Greece is

exercising in the U.N. operations in Bosnia and in Kosovo and

generally in the Balkans and throughout southeastern Europe. And I

believe that if we can, the rest of us, do our part to help the

economy grow there and provide a magnet that enables these nations

to pull together, that Greece will lead them into a very different

future in the new century.



� Prime Minister Simitis. May I also point-Greece is a country, a

democratic country where everyone can freely express his views and

opinions. But as we had emphasized before President Clinton's

arrival, our Constitution provides that these expressions of

opinions and views should be made in a peaceful way and within the

context of legality. And I'm sorry for the fact that certain people

did not observe and respect this fundamental principle of law, the

fundamental principle that allows our states to operate and




� The friendship, however, between the two people and the

partnership, our partnership with the United States, will not be

determined by these protests, but by our common goals, our common

objectives and pursuits, our efforts to handle and face problems

together. And the meeting today has shown that we share common goals

and common pursuits, and we're trying together. This is the

foundationof a friendship.



� Turkey's Candidacy for European Union Membership



� Q. Mr. President, I followed your trip in Ankara, and you seemed to

be mostly the strongest supporter of Turkey's candidacy in the

European Union. So do you think that the permanent conditionality of

Turkey's candidacy should be, first, the solution of the Cyprus

problem and, second, the acceptance of the jurisdiction of Turkey,

as far as the Court of Hague is concerned?



� President Clinton. I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understood the

question. Could you repeat both questions again?



� Q. Yes, one question actually. You seem to be the strongest

supporter of Turkey's accession in the European Union. So the

question is, do you believe or think that the permanent

conditionality for Turkey's candidacy in the European Union should

be, first, the solution of the Cyprus problem and, second, the

acceptance of the jurisdiction of a Hague Court from Turkey?



� President Clinton. Well, first of all, I believe-I have said this

already-I believe that the disputes in the Aegean between Greece and

Turkey should be referred to the International Court of Justice in

The Hague or to some other mutually agreed on and generally

recognized international dispute resolution mechanism. It seems to

me that that is the only way that either side can have a resolution

of this without appearing to cave in rather than just to let a

neutral party, respected, decide it.



� Secondly, I strongly support a resolution of the Cyprus issue.

You're right. I am probably the strongest supporter in the West of

Turkey's membership in the EU. I think I've also been the most vocal

consistent supporter for 7 years of a resolution of Cyprus. I have

worked as hard as I could on it and will continue to do so.



� Now, when the parties meet in Helsinki, the members of the European

Union-the United States is not a member-they will decide the

conditions of Turkish candidacy if, in fact, they decide to grant

Turkey candidacy.



� But let me say, on the larger issue, my feeling is that the more

Turkey is integrated into Europe and has the kind of dialog that

we've seen recently with Greece, the more the climate improves, the

more you can resolve these issues, the brighter the future for both

countries will be. And as I told the Turks-I'm not saying anything

to you I didn't say there-I do not think that bright future is

achievable until there is a resolution of the Cyprus issue. These

two countries need to go hand-in-hand into the future. And the

festering disputes have to be resolved in order for that to happen.



� Prime Minister Simitis. As I have indicated already, the Greek

Government and I, personally, had a series of contacts. I have met

and talked with all the Prime Ministers of the European Union member

states on that issue. I have talked with them in order to determine

what would be the best way that would allow us to overcome problems

in the future. It would be counterproductive, I believe, if today,

whilst these talks are ongoing, we were to focus on one or the other

point or issue. This would not facilitate the discussion.



� I believe that in the future the time will come for us to determine

all these aspects. But at present, restriction to one or two or

three issues is not helpful. We must have a global approach and look

at the final aim of this overall effort.



� Thank you.



� U.S. Trade Policy and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas



� Q. Mr. President, yesterday George 'V. Bush laid out his foreign

policy priorities. Specifically on China and Russia, he said they

should be viewed as competitors of the United States rather than as

strategic partners. I'm wondering what yourview is on that, and

also, do you feel reassured that he has a view of the world that

would make him an effective President?



� President Clinton. You know, you guys keep trying to get me into

this election. I am not a candidate. I'm not always happy about

that, but I'm not.



� Let me say this. I think we did the right thing to negotiate the

WTO agreement with China, and apparently, Governor Bush agrees with

that. I think that, as with all great countries, we are both

competitors and partners. I think there is a problem with

characterizing a country as a competitor if that means we know for

sure that for the next 20 years there will be an adversary




� We will have certain interests in common with China; we will have

certain things we disagree with. We will support a lot of their

domestic developments. We still have great trouble when people-free

speech or religious rights are restrained.



� With regard to Russia, we have a dif ference, as you know, and the

OSCE conference made clear over the present policy in Chechnya, but

we have a common interest in working together where we can. We have

served side by side with Russian soldiers in the Balkans; we have

seen the Russians withdraw their troops from the Baltics; we have

seen a dramatic reduction in the nuclear capacity, the nuclear

threat there. The Congress just gave us the funds to continue to

reduce the nuclear threat with Russia. And we have worked with them

on economic reform.



� So I would say that in both cases there will be instances of

competition, instances of partnership. But what we should be looking

for is a world in which nations, including very large nations,

define their greatness by the achievements of their people and by

their ability to profit in their relations with other nations by

bringing out the best in them, instead of by the traditional 19th

and 20th century great power politics terms of defining their

greatness in terms of their ability to dominate their neighbors or

coerce certain people into certain kinds of behavior.



� So I think we have to imagine-I have a whole different view of

this-we should imagine what would we like the world to look like 50

year from now; what major countries will have an impact on that; how

will we compete with them; how will we cooperate with them; what can

we do that will most likely create the world we want for our

grandchildren? That's the way I look at this.' So I don't have an

either/or view of Russia or China. I have a both view, I suppose.



� Prime Minister Simitis. May I make a philosophical comment on this?

We should not be afraid of competitors. We should be afraid of

ourselves when we are afraid of others.



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