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 Home > News & Policies > June 2001
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 14, 2001

Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer
The Scandic Hotel Crown Goteborg
Goteborg, Sweden

6:30 P.M. CET

     Q    And I'm still not certain -- did Rumsfeld come with a recommendation, did English* come with a recommendation?  Where did the -- the President conferred, did not ask them -- did not instruct them to come to this conclusion?      MR. FLEISCHER:  No.  This is something the President charged the Secretary with and the Department of the Navy.  There are people in the Department of the Navy who think differently about it, but the people at the top made the decisions they made?      Q    Civilian?      MR. FLEISCHER:  You would have to ask the department to tick-tock it.      Q    Did they brief the White House yesterday?      MR. FLEISCHER:  -- speak to the White House.      Q    Did they brief the White House yesterday?  Is that right?      MR. FLEISCHER:  Yes, there was a meeting yesterday with the White House.      Q    Is this not just an unabashed outreach to Hispanic American voters?      MR. FLEISCHER:  No, this was a decision made on the merits.  But the President had two concerns in mind.  One is ensuring that our military is trained for the mission required, and two, listening to the legitimate concerns of the people of Puerto Rico.      Q    The first one -- you come up short on the first one, though, don't you?      MR. FLEISCHER:  Can what?      Q    Make sure that the military mission --      MR. FLEISCHER:  The President is satisfied that the military mission can be maintained, given this decision, and the timeline of the decision.      Q    And why is he satisfied about that?  I mean, how did the Defense Department reassure him --      MR. FLEISCHER:  He's confident, as he's indicated today, the Department of the Navy will find another facility.      Q    Are any other similar situations being studied, for instance, Okinawa?      MR. FLEISCHER:  I can only address Vieques.  I'll have to go back and talk about anything else.  This is just Vieques.      Q    Does this mean that civil disobedience works?  (Laughter.)      MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, I was just thinking, should I answer that here in Stockholm, or wait until we leave.  (Laughter.)  No, it means the President makes his decisions on the merits of the issues that he's facing.      Q    Is this a victory for Al Sharpton?  Imprisoned Al Sharpton?      Q    Ari, the Puerto Rican leaders say that the decision doesn't change anything because the bombing was supposed to stop in two years under a Clinton agreement, and then the real motivation is to avoid the July referendum.      MR. FLEISCHER:  I think we're replowing old ground.  I've said everything I can say on Vieques.      Q    Ari, could you give us a little of the behind-the-scenes atmospherics about the meeting, the discussion about global warming?  Was there any fists pounded on the table, or --      MR. FLEISCHER:  No, it was described to me as very cordial.  I think the word for was used.  Yes, it was described to me as a very nice atmosphere.  People talked about the common responsibilities.  The President --      Q    Are these the President's words?      MR. FLEISCHER:  The President -- no, these are paraphrases.  The President talked about how we must be together, we must always work together, even when we disagree, and we'll always do so in an atmosphere of cooperation.  It's been -- yesterday and today, both -- Spain as well -- were marked by the friendliness of the reception the President received, and the friendliness with which all the meetings were conducted.      Q    What message does he have in his big speech in Poland that he hasn't been saying all week long?      SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think you're going to hear a very broad and big speech tomorrow about post-Cold War Europe and what it means for Europe to be free and at peace and whole, and how Europe, as well as the United States, stands on the edge of this post-Cold War world with so much opportunity and promise, from trade, to peace, to freedom, to advance the cause of people, hundreds of millions of people in Europe and the United States.      Q    And he hasn't said that all week?      MR. FLEISCHER:  I think it's interesting to go to Warsaw, to go to one of the former Soviet bloc countries --      Q    That is Warsaw?      MR. FLEISCHER:  -- on the eve of a meeting with the President of Russia, and an American President with a Polish NATO ally and to reflect about what this new post-Cold War world is shaping up as.  There's really something historic about that.      Q    Would you point to anything --      MR. FLEISCHER:  We still are in the new stages of the post-Cold War world.  Remember, it was only 12 years ago the Berlin Wall was standing --      Q    Yes, a lot of us were still here listening to former President Bush talk about the post-Cold War world.  We were hearing this for 12 years.  (Laughter.)      MR. FLEISCHER:  It's a good thing the post-Cold War world still is going.      Q    The Cold War is still over.      Q    But is there anything you would point to that he is going to say that was not the view of either President Clinton or former President Bush?      MR. FLEISCHER:  You can -- you will infer that tomorrow.  I mean, you will hear for yourselves and you'll -- with it.      Q    I mean, there has been a consistent message.  You know, Europe free and whole and so on and so forth, and the trade and democracy.  Is there any new wrinkle that we should anticipate?      MR. FLEISCHER:  I've given you the broad overview of it.  I don't want to go beyond that.      Q    Does he seek to define post-Cold War world as something other than post-Cold War?      MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, it's -- Europe whole, at peace and free.  I mean, that's the words he's going to use tomorrow.  And --      Q    Those are the words he used at the D-Day speech, right, last week?      Q    To describe Europe.      MR. FLEISCHER:  Absolutely.  But think about that vision of Europe. It had not been like that; it had been divided.  There was an Iron Curtain. It's gone.  Peace.  There used to be terrible conflict throughout the Balkans.  Now, it's much more limited than it ever was before.  The fact of the matter is that our alliance with Europe and the way Europe is facing its future has made it more peaceful, more whole and more free.      Q    Does he mention Iron --      MR. FLEISCHER:  And that's a change.  I mean, it's not always been like that, and when those changes take place, I know those words sound very routine to Americans, but the fact of the matter is, those words should be rejoiced around Europe and the United States.      Q    Does he reference the Iron Curtain?  Is there some parallel to that?  You know --      MR. FLEISCHER:  I think he will talk about what it was like before. He will talk about that.      Q    Is there any sense that this President in particular needs to say these words, given what may be the perception that at least during the campaign that he wasn't as internationalist, perhaps as some of his predecessors?      MR. FLEISCHER:  Actually, I think the perception during the campaign was that the President took on an element within his own party that was very isolationist and anti-trade.  And the President successfully defeated that element in the primary.  And that the President represents, as he puts it, the distinct American internationalism.  And that's a very international part of our Republican Party.  So I differ with the premise on that question.      Q    Did he change whether or not he agrees on troops in Europe, having a -- I think he said that he still would be withdrawing.      MR. FLEISCHER:  We believe that he said during the campaign that our troops should come home as quickly as possible, and that we should have open-ended missions.  And what you're seeing now is we have already reduced by some 750 the number of Americans serving in SFOR, and the President has said that we went in together, we'll come out together, and he still believes that we need to come out as quickly as possible.      Let's just do one more.  I really came over here to say hi to everybody.      Q    Hi.      MR. FLEISCHER:  No, I'm here to say bye to everybody.  (Laughter.)      Q    To what degree is the President aware of the protests, and how does he feel about them here?      MR. FLEISCHER:  I think every modern American President has gotten used to the fact that at large summit meetings, protestors are present.      But the fact of the matter is, you know, they really are hard to see from the places where the President travels and goes.  So he knows they're there, but it's a small presence.  Thanks, everybody.      Q    You said that the meeting was very cordial.  Could you just elaborate, explain what you mean exactly?  I mean --      MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, that was -- I was not in the luncheon, and that was passed on to me by somebody who was in the luncheon and the meeting beforehand.  So I just would like to --      Q    I mean, allies, some partners said something -- I mean, according to your opinion, supposedly they were open --      MR. FLEISCHER:  I would just give you what I was given there.  I'm not going to tell you about something I wasn't there to hear?      Q    So why you say cordial?      MR. FLEISCHER:  Because the person who was in the room who briefed me on it, that's how he described it.      Q    That's the only expression he used?      MR. FLEISCHER:  And very friendly.      Q    Was European defense discussed?      MR. FLEISCHER:  ESDP?      END  6:40 P.M. CET

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