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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott
Address to the conference, "A Wider Europe: EU Enlargement and U.S. Interests," Washington, DC, March 12, 1998

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(As delivered)

European Union Enlargement: An American Perspective

Thank you, Sir Christopher [Meyer]. Like so many of the friends and colleagues in this room, I've had numerous occasions over the years to enjoy and appreciate the hospitality of this embassy, and it's a pleasure to be back here this morning.

Let me start with an assertion of policy. The U.S. Government believes that the European Conference is an important and positive development, not just for Europe but for North America as well, and, indeed, I think, for the whole world. I'm glad to have a chance to share with you, Sir Christopher, and your guests, our reasons for that judgment.

First, a word or two of historical perspective:

Support for European integration has been a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy for half a century. Both the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations supported Jean Monnet's and Robert Schumann's path-breaking work to establish the European Coal and Steel Community. The Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson Administrations supported the creation and early development of the European Economic Community and Euratom. The Nixon Administration supported the expansion of that community to include the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark. The Reagan Administration supported its further enlargement to include Greece, Spain, and Portugal as well as creation of the European Single Market.

It's against that backdrop that the Clinton Administration has strongly supported the community's continued evolution toward the closer union of today. Three years ago, we applauded the admission of Finland, Sweden, and Austria, and we support further enlargement to the 11 new members that the EU approved at the Luxembourg summit in December.

We have always believed that a politically united Europe would be a stronger partner to advance our common goals, both within the Transatlantic community and around the world.

As a corollary, we believe that an economically united Europe would create a more attractive and promising environment for American trade and investment.

That raises the issue of the European Monetary Union. On what terms and by what timetable the euro comes about -- who joins the EMU and when - are strictly European decisions. We have no say in that proces nor do we want one, nor are we eager to offer our advice from the sidelines. We recognize the difficult choices that all Europeans face in bringing EMU to fruition. That said, the U.S. Government's attitude on the EMU is essentially positive and supportive.

Some American commentators and experts are skeptical about EMU (as are many of their European counterparts). Some think it won't work or that it will do more damage than good to Europe's economies, while others fear that if it does work on its own terms, it will be bad for us. For example, they worry that a successful euro would be a threat to the U.S. because it would undermine the dollar's standing in the global economy.

We in the Administration do not agree. We believe that there is room for more than one strong currency in the world. The only proviso here is that a currency can only be as sound and as strong as the economy that backs it up. The dollar's future role will depend heavily on the credibility of U.S. macro-economic policy and the dynamism of the U.S. economy. By the same token, our bottom line on European Monetary Union is this: the more the single currency helps Europe develop a robust and healthy economy that is open to world markets, the more successful and welcome the project will be. As my friend and colleague Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers often puts it: If EMU works for Europe, it will work for the United States.

Let me turn now to what I know has been one of the most persistent and contentious issues in the debate within Europe over integration, that is, the question of deepening versus broadening. From our vantage point, these two activities are like walking and chewing gum -- they're something that a healthy individual, or a healthy community, should be able to do at the same time. There's not an either/or choice between the two. In fact, the right kind of broadening and the right kind of deepening of the EU should be not only compatible but mutually reinforcing.

Our view on the subject is guided by a simple principle, and it's this: Integration in Europe, like integration elsewhere, should help the countries involved transcend traditional boundaries of habit and history, of geography and culture, of ethnicity and religion. It should induce the nations and nationalities involved to look outward rather than inward, forward rather than backward.

By the same token, cooperation within regions should reinforce cooperation among regions. That principle guides our own efforts regarding NAFTA, APEC, and our determination to remove economic barriers to an open transatlantic marketplace. It is this emphasis on openness -- openness of outlook and openness of access -- that underlies our hopes for and occasional concerns about the EU.

To its credit, the EU already has committed itself to expanding -- to bringing in new members. The U.S. not only welcomes this commitment, we also have done what we appropriately could to encourage it.

As just one example -- a rather timely and important one -- the Clinton Administration has made no secret of its hope that the enlargement of NATO will be conducive to the enlargement of the EU.

This is not just a matter of NATO setting an example. Rather, as it takes in new members, NATO will create an expanding zone of security -- an environment which, because it is more stable and peaceful, will be help the EU expand eastward.

Many of Europe's new democracies are well on their way to meeting the economic conditions for EU membership. But EU governments and Western investors must also be confident about the long-term security of the region. And that's what NATO is all about.

While there's no longer a question about whether the EU and NATO will expand, there is still debate about how far the process of enlargement will go. With respect to NATO, the door that the Alliance leadership opened last July in Madrid must remain open to all European democracies that aspire to and meet the qualifications of membership. Were it to prove otherwise -- were the door to swing shut behind Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic -- the Alliance and its enlargement would not only fail to be a force for integration, it would become the opposite: It would create a new dividing line, a new Iron Curtain, a new gray zone, a new strategic limbo -- only further to the east. It would foment among the nations that were excluded mutual suspicion, military competitiveness, insecurity, instability, perhaps even disintegration and violence.

I am leaving later today on a trip that will take me to several states in southeast Europe, including Slovenia, Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Ambassador Geoane, I'm sure, will preview for you, as he has already previewed for me, the message I will receive in Bucharest. An important part of my message to his government and to the others with whom I'll be meeting in the days ahead will be to reaffirm the open-door theme of our policy on NATO enlargement.

We hope that the EU's door will remain open as well. We appreciate the difficulties and complexity involved in joining the EU. But we still support the EU's eventual expansion to all those states that were invited to the European Conference.

That brings me to the question of Turkey. No one thinks Turkey's full integration into the European mainstream will be easy. Turkey has created its own obstacles to integration, from its record on human rights to its share of responsibility for the failure to find a solution to the Cyprus question.

On the one hand, Turkey has been a part of the European system for 400 years and in this century, starting with Ataturk 75 years ago, Turkey has consciously and strategically oriented itself Westward. At the same time, though, Turkey is still developing its democratic institutions, still trying to strike a balance between secularism and the predominant faith of the citizenry and between the values of tolerance and those of order.

But in our view -- speaking as friends both of the EU and of Turkey, with a huge stake in the fate of both -- the tension and uncertainty I've just described make it all the more important that the EU put the accent on Turkey's potential for inclusion in the new Europe. And the reason for that is simple: Turkey is more likely to make the right choices about its own future if the EU makes clear that it is holding a place for Turkey when it is ready.

There is another reason why we Americans hope that the new Europe will define itself as expansively, as inclusively as possible -- a reason that goes beyond the specific issue of Turkey or any other single country. Not only do we need a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous, and at peace -- we also need a Europe that is our partner in meeting challenges in all corners of an increasingly interdependent world. We need such a Europe because we cannot meet those challenges alone and because Europe has an enormous capacity to work with us in advancing and defending common interests.

In fact, the U.S. and the EU are already working hand-in-glove on quite a few far-flung enterprises. We have been doing so for some time. I'll cite just a few illustrative examples. EU participation has been key to the launching of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, enabling it to address the threat of nuclear proliferation and promote regional stability on the Korean Peninsula. The EU's law-enforcement authorities are collaborating with ours against narco-traffickers in the Caribbean. We have just launched an initiative for joint U.S.-EU coordination with Poland and Ukraine to combat international prostitution rings that prey on vulnerable women in those transitional societies. EU and U.S. health experts are helping to develop a global early warning network against communicable diseases; EU and U.S. specialists are establishing a network of environmental centers in Ukraine, Russia, and elsewhere in the NIS. Our efforts to coordinate U.S. and EU development assistance have paid off in the fight against infectious diseases in West Africa, against poverty in South Asia and famine and malnutrition worldwide.

Earlier this week we saw a vivid example of the need for transatlantic cooperation in the field of diplomacy and security. I am referring to the Contact Group ministerial meeting that Foreign Secretary Robin Cook convened in London in response to the dangerous and deteriorating situation in Kosovo. The Belgrade authorities' crackdown had -- indeed, it still has -- the potential of igniting the most explosive of all the powder kegs in the Balkans. If Kosovo truly blows, it could be worse than Bosnia, with the risk of spreading in all directions, including south and east.

When Slobodan Milosevic unleashed his interior police and his helicopter gunships against the Kosovar Albanians, he clearly hoped that the international community would dither and scold and issue feckless warnings while he carried out a lightning campaign of mass expulsions, summary executions, and terror. Fortunately, Mr. Cook, Mrs. Albright, and their colleagues did better than that. They confronted Milosevic with an unpleasant surprise. They called for a UN arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia, a freeze on the import of equipment that might be used for the repression of Kosovo, travel restrictions on Serbian officials responsible for the outrages, and a moratorium on various financial and commercial transactions. The Contact Group has another set of sanctions ready to impose if Milosevic has not, by the end of next week, withdrawn his special police units, ceased his campaign of violence and intimidation against the civilian population, allowed humanitarian workers into the region, and committed his regime to a political dialogue with the Kosovar Albanians.

So on balance, the London meeting of the Contact Group was a good first step that will be judged favorably by future historians as long as there is steady, firm follow-up. We absolutely must show resolve and boldness and solidarity in the days and weeks and months to come to get ahead of the vicious cycle under way on the ground in Kosovo. The dire emergency there is, in a way I hope we all recognize intimately and, if we're not skillful in addressing it, disastrously related to the peace of Europe.

Let me, therefore, relate it to the topic of your symposium here today and to the Conference in London -- and that is to the institutional evolution of European unity. Only if we pass the test of Kosovo will this episode augur well for what we all recognize is one of the most difficult challenges for Europe -- that is, the attempt to forge a common foreign and security policy.

Progress in that direction has been slow, even tortuous. That's not surprising, since the national equities involved in diplomacy, especially when backed by the threat of military force, are the crown jewels of sovereignty. Nonetheless, the EU has, under the Amsterdam Treaty, put in place some procedural innovations that should, over time, lead to a more integrated European response to international events. Moreover, even in the absence of a de jure common EU foreign and security policy, de facto commonality is already a fact of international life, sometimes -- though not always -- for the better. EU member states are increasingly apt to consult in their deliberations and coordinate in their decisions.

I can't say that we in Washington always relish this development, since it sometimes makes more difficult our job of persuading our European partners of the wisdom of our own policies. Moreover, when we are less than fully persuasive in bringing Europeans around to our view -- and when Europe speaks as one -- the resulting disagreements are all the more jarring.

I'll be frank on a related point: From our perspective, we have found that EU member-states sometimes seem more concerned about the harmony of process than the effectiveness of outcome -- more concerned, in other words, with the preservation of consensus and mutual accommodation than with results. Hence our concern, from time to time, that this tendency toward what might be called lowest-common-denominator-ism on the part of individual European states would be all the more the reflex response of those states if and when they ever organize themselves to act as one.

That question lingers. But, as I say, the answer is not inevitably discouraging. The way in which we have been able in the last few years to take joint and effective action in Bosnia -- and in recent days in Kosovo -- is grounds for some hope.

Partly because of that experience, on balance, the United States supports the continued development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. We do so basically for two reasons: first, because on those many occasions when we do agree, our collective voice and our collective action is that much clearer and stronger than if we are speaking and acting individually; and, second, on the really fundamental issues, we agree far more often and far more profoundly than we disagree.

We agree on the importance of the free flow of goods, information, capital, technology, and know-how. We agree on the need to consolidate young democracies and integrate emerging markets into the global economy. We agree on the urgency of combating weapons of mass destruction, crime, drugs, and terrorism. We share an interest in the stability of the greater Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

But most important, we share a commitment to certain universal principles whereby men and women should order their political lives - a commitment to democratic governance, to civil society, to respect for the rule of law and human rights, and to ethnic and religious tolerance.

More than once in the century now coming to a close, Americans crossed the Atlantic to shed their blood and spend their treasure to defend those principles against the forces of tyranny and murderous nationalism. Bosnia and Kosovo have been reminders that the struggle is not over. This time, at least, Americans do not have to traverse an ocean to be part of the good fight. We're already there. We're there to stay.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]

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