THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 18, 2000
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON,
PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC OF FRANCE AND
PRESIDENT OF THE EU ROMANO PRODI OF ITALY
IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
The Oval Office
12:09 P.M. EST
Q Mr. President, are you making any progress on the Middle
East, and do you think you may try to make a trip in that direction before
you leave office?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, let me say, first of all, the parties
are reengaging and they've asked us to be involved, and that's good. But
we're going to be on their timetable, so I can't say for sure. I'm
willing, as always, to do whatever I can and I will do whatever I can. But
the timetable will be up to them.
Q Mr. President, millions of people at home in France and in
Europe are wondering: what is Bill Clinton going to do after the 20th of
January? So outside the library and the Democratic Party's future, are you
set on to anything international?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I hope that I will be able to be
involved in a lot of the things that I have cared greatly about here. I'm
very interested in the economic empowerment of poor people around the
world. I'm very interested in efforts that President Chirac and President
Prodi and we're all making together to try to fight AIDS and deal with
public health problems around the world.
But I think it's important that at least that, for a time, that I
do what I can to help President-elect Bush have a good transition and that
he have the chance to do his job in a way that is uninterrupted by me or
anyone else, and I need to find an appropriate way to continue my
And, of course, now I have a Senator to support. I have to go
out and make a living, so I'll do that, too.
Q (Question asked in French.) (what is the future of the
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: (Answered in French.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Will you translate what he said to the press?
We've got some Americans over there, though. Just roughly summarize what
TRANSLATOR: I can't because I didn't take any notes. I'm sorry.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Jacques can tell him what he said.
TRANSLATOR: Well, essentially, President Chirac said that the
relationship between -- first of all, he thanked President Clinton for his
role in helping at the construction of Europe, and secondly, he also
mentioned that the relationship between the Europeans -- I hope I
understand you correctly, Mr. Chirac -- and the Americans would be, he
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I think that there is too much preoccupation
at the moment. The relations must change, of course, because the world is
changing. Europe is large. But we are all convinced that there is no
future if there is not a strong, strong common action between the U.S. and
Europe. And NATO is the natural place for this. I see only necessity of
adaptation, not necessity of change.
Q President Chirac, like, I imagine, for a lot of people, you
will miss President Clinton. I think you had friendly relations with him.
How do you see the relationship with the new American President?
PRESIDENT PRODI: Concerning Europe, European troubles?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I want to repeat that I think that the action
of President Clinton has been extremely positive for Europe and also for
our transatlantic relations. And for that, I want to express the credit to
the esteem and the friendship of all Europeans for President Clinton.
And so the path is now open and I have no doubt that there is a
will, a determination both in the United States and in Europe, to continue
to advance, hand in hand, in order so progress can be made, both on a human
and on a political level in order to continue to construct Europe. And I
will say that I hope that this will be done in a spirit of universal
solidarity. And I have no doubt that our relations with the new American
President will also be excellent.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say, I basically agree with that. I
would like to -- we've gone through a period here, an eight-year period in
the aftermath of the Cold War in which we dealt with three very large
questions; and we in the United States, one of them indirectly: how do we
feel about the European Union, the deepening of the European Union and the
expansion of the European Union.
From the time I started running for President, I strongly
supported that. I think that's good. I want Europe to be more integrated
if the Europeans want it, and I want the European Union to be bigger if the
Europeans want it. I think, on balance, that's a very good thing for world
peace and prosperity and for the strengthening of freedom.
Second question: What would we do with NATO? Well, we expanded
NATO; I expect it to continue to expand. President Chirac has got some
countries he wants in NATO and I agree with him. And we had a new
relationship with Russia, which I hope will be strengthened and with
The third big question: What would we do with southeastern
Europe, with Bosnia and Kosovo, Serbia. And I think while there is a great
deal of work still to be done in all three places -- and we're going to
talk about that -- on balance, the fact that the United States and Europe
stood for freedom, stood against ethnic cleansing, stood together for an
entire Europe that is free, was a very great thing, and gives a much
brighter prospect to the 21st century.
So I believe that the new administration will find that these
three developments are all positive, and I think that the relationship
between the U.S. and Europe will be positive. Will there be trade disputes
and other disputes? Of course there will. But that's natural, and I would
say that those are high-class problems.
We're not worried about the survival of freedom here; we're not
worried about the survival of our democracy. We're not worried about
whether we share the same values. So I feel very good about this, and I
think the future will be quite good between the United States and Europe.
Thank you. It's been a great honor. These men have done a great
job and I've enjoyed their personal friendship and our partnership, both of
them. I'm very, very grateful.
Q Will you meet again?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I certainly hope so. You know, they might
not have as much time for me when I'm out of office, but I'll have more
time. And I love France and I love Italy, so maybe I can find some reason
to walk the streets and see the people, be of some use in the future.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:18 P.M. EST