|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique
January 11, 2001, Palacio de Viana, Madrid, Spain
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
FOREIGN MINISTER PIQUE: (in Spanish) Good afternoon. Good afternoon to everyone. Madame Secretary, thank you for your attendance. As you have just seen, we have signed a joint declaration between the government of the United States and the government of Spain that marks the collaboration and the relationship between the governments of both countries. It is the culmination of a process of reinforcement of our relations that has been developing for a long time and that both parties think could already today offer a qualitative step forward. I have to say that this is the work of many people who preceded those of us who have had the honor of signing this declaration. But I would like to make a special mention of the role of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. As you know, she is going to finish her work in just a few days, the 20th, and I want to express something that I believe is shared by many people, including all the foreign ministers with whom I have had occasion to mention this. Madeleine Albright has been an excellent Secretary of State. She has done an extraordinary job. She deserves, without equivocation, to be able to pass into history as a person that has made an enormous contribution to the strengthening of democracy throughout the world, to the strengthening of peace, to the consolidation of the values that are at the base of what has been and what is the U.S., and to the values that Spain and the U.S. share. I would like to thank her personally in the name of the government of Spain her intense work, her strength, her dedication, her intelligence, her imagination, and I want you to know, as already both the President of Spain and His Majesty the King of Spain have had the chance to express in private, that Madeleine Albright has in the Spanish people, all the members of the government, and the King of Spain, a friend. She will always be welcomed in Spain. She can come any time that she feels it is opportune. We will be very honored to receive her and continue to share her friendship, and her affection.
And I would also like to extend our gratitude to the Clinton Administration as a whole, taking this opportunity with the knowledge that soon, on the 20th , there is going to be a change in the administration. I believe the global performance of the Clinton administration has been very positive. This is reflected by the opinion of the U.S. citizens as well. I believe the contributions of the Clinton administration to peace, stability, and security in the world have been very important contributions. In many different areas, in many areas of conflict throughout the world, in Latin America, and in the Balkans, we are witnessing the last days an extraordinary effort that he is making and hopefully will succeed. And especially in the Middle East peace process. We are all determined that in the end, we can refer to the year 2001 as the year of peace in the Middle East. I believe it is only fair to recognize this in public and officially in the name of the Spanish Government.
I would also like to express my satisfaction about the content of the joint declaration we have just signed, because it has been the result of sometimes challenging, yet very rewarding work by both Administrations. It brings together what we proposed and that which received the immediate support of Secretary Albright, the establishment of a framework for our relationship from today on that includes all possible aspects of our relationship. This includes the political realm, where we have established a regular dialogue and consultation mechanism in the international forum, the improvement of our economic and commercial relations, and scientific, technological, and cultural cooperation, which is extremely important. This collaboration includes items that are very important to both countries such as cooperation in fighting organized crime, terrorism, and combating pandemic diseases. The agreement will enhance an already existing framework. This document has a final section that states that both parties are going to continue to work to expand the declaration's contents, looking to the future.
All this refers to the growing role Spain wants to play in the world, in accordance with the international projection of our country. Our country has changed dramatically in the last few years, in the last decades. Today, Spain is one of the most open countries in the world, from a commercial perspective. Of the OECD countries, only Canada has a more open economy. Spain is the number six investor in the world. Spain is no longer a country of emigration, but a country of immigration. Spain is one of the most important donors of aid for development cooperation, and the most logical thing is that our foreign policy is coherent with these enormous internal changes. This leads to expanding our international role, and our foreign engagement, assuming the responsibilities derived from the internal transformation that Spain has undergone.
All this said, we thought it was appropriate to open this new qualitative phase in the relations between our two countries. We want our relationship to be one of preference. There are historical roots that ground this relationship. Spain is a European country, one that supports the building of Europe and want to take a leading role in Europe's integration process, but at the same time, keeping our transatlantic link. Our relationship with America is one of our distinctive elements. And it is not only focused on Latin America, but with the continent as a whole, and increasingly, with the U.S. In a few years, there will be more Spanish speakers in the U.S. than in Spain, which from a cultural viewpoint is very important and will lead to a stronger relationship between the two countries. We trust in this relationship and have many areas of collaboration that have proven themselves to be effective, among those in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Colombia. I believe those are good examples that show how cooperation between the two countries can contribute to peace, human rights, and democratic consolidation.
I want to express once again my enormous satisfaction and personal gratitude to Mrs. Albright, the Clinton administration, and my certainty that we are opening a new era, not exactly new, but an era of growing understanding, collaboration, and agreement between two countries.
I have the honor of calling on Madeleine Albright to speak. Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much Mr. Minister and it's really wonderful to have had this opportunity to have visited you. I only wish I could stay here longer and show more visibly how our cooperation is enlarging and becoming even more interesting. I have held very productive discussions today with King Juan Carlos, with President Aznar, and Foreign Minister Pique on the state of the relationship between the United States and Spain. And as today's joint declaration indicates, the friendship of our two countries is strong and the declaration will make it even stronger. Today's signing sets the stage for a new and enhanced U.S.-Spain partnership and it tells us what we have accomplished already, and at the same time sets out a plan for strengthening our ties well into the 21st century. I would like to thank President Aznar and Foreign Minister Pique for proposing that we adopt the declaration and for helping it to come about in such a timely fashion. In our private talks, we have reviewed the various aspects of the document and discussed ways we can move ahead on the agreed upon areas of cooperation. At the political level, we will seek to intensify consultations between the two governments, particularly between the Secretary of State and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and in the future we will focus attention even more on Latin America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the promotion of democracy and human rights, as the Minister has mentioned. On defense matters, we remain committed to the 1989 agreement on defense cooperation and the principles that inspired it. We have agreed to establish a bilateral commission to discuss defense policy matters such as the modernization of U.S. facilities at Rota and Moron. In the economic sphere, we expect to continue improving our already close cooperation in international financial institutions. The United States very much welcomes Spain's emerging role in the world economy and recognizes the need to consider Spain's interests in various international economic fora. The declaration also announces our intention to seek funding for joint projects that will help us address pressing global problems, from pollution to infectious diseases, to organized crime and terrorism. Finally, let me say that I am especially gratified to be able to complete this declaration before leaving office. This is going to be, unless something untoward comes up, the last document that I will have signed as Secretary of State, and I think it is most appropriate that it be with one of our closest allies, one whom we value so deeply, and with whom the future is even more promising than the past, because we have been working together so very, very closely. The United States greatly values Spain as a friend and ally and partner, and today we really set the course for future cooperation.
I would also like to thank you very much for your personal words of kindness. These are wonderful positions. I've enjoyed every minute of mine. And it's very hard to give it up, especially when one has such really wonderful colleagues as you, with whom one can have truly engaging and interesting discussions, not about just the daily bread and butter of what we talk about, but the future of Europe and our relations throughout the world. So, it is a little bittersweet that I have a chance to sign this final document here, because we have still a lot to talk about, but I'm not disappearing, so as a private citizen I will be there. And I really think that the remarkable relationship that our two countries have enjoyed will continue and from wherever I am, I will do my best to make sure that it works out. Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER PIQUE: (in Spanish) Thank you, and in any case, we will miss you.
QUESTION: (in Spanish) I'd like to ask both ministers a question related to defense. We have read today in a Spanish daily newspaper that the U.S. and Spain want to enlarge the base at Rota. There is a reference to one agreement for a 25,000 million-peseta investment. In return, the U.S. allegedly wants the unlimited use of this base. I'd like to confirm if this is true, and whether or not the Spanish Government would accept this, and if so, whether the opposition is to be consulted and the public informed.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that I think that clearly we have had a good relationship in terms of defense all this time and we want that to continue, and I think that it's very important that any agreements that are carried on be the kind that have the acceptance of both countries. As I said, we remain committed to the agreement on defense cooperation that was signed in 1989, and we also believe that all these kinds of agreements need to be reviewed and updated, and that is why we have agreed to establish a bilateral commission to do just that. And the modernization of Rota is part of what this is about, and obviously we want to have use of it. So I think that this is why one does these things, and why they are agreed to in a collegial and cooperative and respectful way.
MINSTER PIQUE: (in Spanish) Thank you. I'd like to add a personal reflection. I have also seen this article this morning, and when I was able to overcome the shock, I thought it probably is not within the Minister of Foreign Affair's duties to deny the crazy things that are published sometimes. This is all I can say. Secretary Albright has been very concise. We are talking about the modernization of the bases, which is absolutely obvious, as everything needs to be modernized. Many of the items described in that specific article have already been approved and started already. They are normal investments, such as enlarging the port, and improving the re-supplying facilities for the aircraft. All of this fully is in accordance with the current 1989 agreement regarding enlarging the aircraft parking area in Rota, according to the spirit of friendship and collaboration of the 1989 agreement. We are analyzing the agreement with good will and a positive spirit, and we hope to be able to explain the details in the future. To draw conclusions like the one that I have seen today is an outstanding exercise of imagination using diplomatic language. The 1989 agreement clearly notes Spanish sovereignty over the bases, describes their use on a joint basis, and describes a process of previous authorization for every movement. This has always been that way and will continue to be that way. We are now discussing the technical revision of the 1989 agreement with the same philosophy, along with the reinforcement of a bilateral committee, as it has to be for two countries that are friends and allies. The fact that the article even mentioned Alaska and Florida seems to me like an evidence of its outrageousness.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And if I could add, everything is done in complete transparency.
QUESTION: If I may ask you both about the Middle East. Foreign Minister Pique, you spoke to the Israeli Foreign Minister and I understand that you are planning to see Nabil Shaath this evening. I was wondering if you could give us your assessment of what kind of state the Middle East peace process is going to be in as it's handed over to the next administration? And Madame Secretary, could you tell us what the prospects are now for a visit by Dennis Ross and what can realistically be achieved between now and January the 20th? Thank you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me, as I have said I think to you every day, we are continuing to work very hard to try to reconcile the different reservations to the parameters as stated by the two parties. At this stage, and as I've also mentioned a number of times, the important point here is to do everything that can be done to reduce the violence. And those various people involved in it in the region have undertaken certain commitments and are fulfilling them to various degrees. Dennis Ross' visit has been delayed, and I don't know exactly to when, because when I left him he wasn't sure, and he is prepared to go at any time that it would be useful, and called upon by the parties in order to be able to reconcile these differences. But clearly, we are running out of time. That is very evident. And I would just like to state here, as I stated in all my discussions with the President and his Majesty, that it is very important for the parties to understand that the parameters put forward by President Clinton are bold and I think would make a great difference if seized upon, and it's up to the leaders themselves to make the decisions. We can put down parameters based on the President's best judgement of what he's heard, but ultimately the leaders themselves have to make a difference and those were the kinds of subjects that we talked about.
FOREIGN MINISTER PIQUE: (in Spanish) I'd like to add some comments regarding this question. I believe the Secretary of State has made the most important points. We appreciate the Clinton administration's efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Camp David attempts did not succeed. But I want to highlight President Clinton's latest efforts at the request of the parties. I think the document presented by President Clinton is a wonderful document that establishes the parameters that must fix the peace agreement limits. Within this playing field, it is necessary to make clarifications, which the parties are legitimately entitled to request. From our viewpoint, it is essential that the parties must be in agreement on the definition of the parameters that will be the starting point of a definitive negotiation that leads to peace. I believe that we are facing a unique opportunity. Time is running out. I would like to repeat what the Spanish Government said yesterday to Israeli Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, and is going to repeat today to Palestinian Minister Nabeel Shaath. The parties have to have the courage and the determination to take advantage of this opportunity and make a positive decision, and accept [Clinton's] proposal, culminating the peace process as soon as possible. It is unlikely that we will see an opportunity as fortuitous as the current circumstance in the future, and this is why it is important to involve the leaders of both parties as soon as possible.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Could I just add, in case people think that foreign ministers don't work all the time, that Foreign Minister Pique and I were on the phone several times during the Christmas holidays, in terms of trying to do what could be done to push the process forward, because Spain has a truly important role in all of this.
QUESTION: (in Spanish) I would like to ask Secretary of State if she perceives any anti-American sentiment with relation to the so-called "Balkan syndrome" within Europe's NATO alliance members.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think the whole question of the depleted uranium issue, that I'm not sure I would give it the name of the Balkan Syndrome, is obviously something that has been of concern to the Europeans and has been something that the United States has tried to do the best to answer. It primarily relates to NATO actions in the Balkans, and so the questions really need to be referred to NATO, but NATO is taking the concerns expressed by the allies seriously and the NATO members have had detailed discussions in Brussels this week. We've endorsed the idea of NATO setting up a working group to address the concerns of the allies, and also a spokesman for our Department of Defense, the Pentagon, has commented extensively on the subject and we have stated very clearly that we have found no link between the illnesses and the exposures to depleted uranium, and for more detailed answers, I'd refer you to NATO. But I truly do think that this is an issue that the publics should have a response to, and Secretary General of NATO Robertson gave a very full briefing yesterday, including having some slides and things that would explain to journalists and some military medical experts with him to explain to journalists the various parts. I would hope that this was not an issue that was being used by others for their personal agendas. I think that what is very important, and Foreign Minister Pique was mentioning it in his opening remarks, I think that the United States and Europe cooperated in a magnificent way on the issue of the Balkans. One of the major policy goals of the Clinton administration, actually based on some of the things that had happened in the first President Bush's administration, which was to try to get a Europe that was whole and free and undivided, to which they contributed the reunification of Germany. We have worked very hard to get the Balkan piece of the puzzle into place, and with the help of the Spanish diplomats, as well as Spanish military, we have been able to do that. The last missing piece of the puzzle is in place now. And we have worked to expand NATO. So, I think that there has been a huge amount of cooperation on these kinds of issues, and I think that the Balkan situation, as much as any, shows that when the United States and Europe cooperate, we can achieve a great deal. And if both Europeans and Americans consider it to be their responsibility to finish the job, I think we can all be proud of what has been done.
FOREIGN MINISTER PIQUE: (in Spanish) If you will allow me to make a brief comment regarding that question. As you know, Spain is a full and committed member both of the Atlantic Alliance and the European Union. The opinion of Spain on this topic is very clear. We are completely in agreement with what the Alliance is doing, what NATO is doing, with regard to their attitude of transparency and serious and rigorous analysis. As Javier Solana recently reminded us, too many people with too little knowledge have spoken on about this issue. Therefore, we support what the Atlantic Alliance is doing, and we understand that it is an issue that should be addressed by the Atlantic Alliance. This is perfectly compatible with needs of the European Union and with the advances both organizations are making with regard to increasing their cooperation in the areas of security and defense in the future. There are various examples of these advances in the conclusions of the Nice Summit, such as the approval of the rapid intervention force, the expansion of our capacities. With all of these advances, it still is somewhat insufficient as problems still exist with regard to the establishment of concrete relations between NATO and the European Union. We have already reached an agreement regarding consulting mechanisms. There are still problems because of the position of one country, in this case Turkey, (inaudible), but we have advanced very much and we must continue along this road. But, regarding this issue, the Spanish position is very clear. This issue must be resolved within the sphere of the Atlantic Alliance and in the method that the Alliance is currently using.
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