Remarks by Secretary of State Kerry With EU High Representative Federica Mogherini

BELGIUM–(ENEWSPF)–June 27, 2016

MODERATOR: Apologies to have kept you waiting. High Representative Federica Mogherini together with President Juncker just met with U.S. Secretary of State. The high rep and John Kerry are here now to make short statements to debrief you on the outcome of the meeting.

High Representative, you have the floor.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE MOGHERINI: Thank you very much. John, it’s a pleasure to welcome you in Brussels in times that are difficult, as we all know, for all of us – first of all, for the British people, but also for Europeans and for our partners. It is extremely important for us Europeans, all of us, your visit here in Brussels today. As we discussed today, our partnership stays strong and crucial, not only for the benefit of our people but also for the peace and security in the world. And this was an excellent opportunity for us to discuss the current situation, the way forward – I would not enter into details in that respect – but especially to reaffirm the strengths of our partnership, the strengths of the European Union role with partners around the world, and the continuation of our common work, first of all, in our region.

We work together, as you know, very closely on the Quartet for the Middle East. We had a chance of exchanging views on the Quartet report that we’re finalizing. We’re working together on Syria international support group. We work together on Libyan and on so many other issues. And we will meet again twice in the coming weeks – obviously, at the NATO summit, where we will also have high-level meetings at the margins, and Secretary Kerry will be with us at the Foreign Affairs Council in July here in Brussels on the 18th. This was already planned, so it’s not an extraordinary invitation. It’s something that we had already planned and that he confirmed today to continue working together very closely on all issues.

Obviously, we discussed together also with President Juncker the situation that opens up with the results of the referendum in the UK, where you know very well we are having a college of the commission this afternoon. We’re having council with heads of state and governments tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. And we will discuss the way forward, first of all, with David Cameron and obviously with all the other 27 heads of state and governments.

It is important for us to keep our U.S. friends, and John in particular, completely informed of all the procedures, all the consequences – where we are and where we’re going. And somehow walk this moment, that is for sure difficult, together, hand in hand, as friends do.

And I know he’s traveling to London later today. I would pass this clear message: The European Union is strong as before. I have to say the European Union can be even stronger in the future. We will continue to work together in this respect. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Secretary Kerry, you have the floor.

SECRETARY KERRY: Federica, thank you. Excuse me. Well, good afternoon everybody. I’m pleased to be back in Brussels, and I’m really delighted to have been able to spend some time with High Representative Federica Mogherini and with President Juncker, and to hear from them firsthand personally how they view the beginning of this transitional effort in a reflection of our respect for and the need to honor a vote which was taken by people in a democratic process. The vote did not come out the way President Obama and I and others hoped that it would, but that’s democracy, and we respect the rights of the voters and we respect the process.

So it is now incumbent on leaders to implement the will of the people and to do so in a way that is responsible, sensitive, thoughtful, and, I hope, strategic. I think it’s important to note that ever since World War II, we have been working, all of us together, on the development of a structure to be able to make our countries stronger and to be able to deliver a good life, benefits to our people. The interests and the values which have united us for such a long period of time did not change on the day of that vote. The interests and the values which brought us together to work for a common good are the same after that vote as they were before, even though politically, people may have responded differently to the situations they found themselves in. So what is important is that we stay focused on those interests and stay focused on those values.

Now, it is critical as we go forward in these next days to understand the importance of a strong E.U. . The United States cares about a strong E.U. . Why? Because there isn’t one issue on which we work today – whether it’s climate change or whether it’s counterterrorism, migration, immigration, you name it, we are working together. And it’s through the strength of those countries coming together that we are able to make good things happen.

So I think it is absolutely essential that we stay focused on how, in this transitional period, nobody loses their head, nobody goes off halfcocked, people don’t start ginning up scatterbrained or revengeful premises, but we look for ways to maintain the strength that will serve the interests and the values that brought us together in the first place. And that’s what is important.

I am confident that on those issues that really make a difference to everyday life of our citizens, we have an ability to be able to find a strong way forward. And I am also confident that with the reforms that are currently being addressed within the European parliament, the European parliament has already – and the European leaders are ahead of the – are sort of moving aggressively to respond to some of the complaints that people have had with respect to the process. So I look forward to working even more closely with my counterpart, Federica Mogherini, with the other members of the E.U. , as we seek the strength that is so important to all of our interests.

At the same time, the United States will maintain its special relationship and strong relationship with Great Britain. Great Britain is a P5 member. Great Britain has long had a special relationship with the United States. And so I am going from here to London where I will have an opportunity to be able to talk directly with Foreign Secretary Hammond – who I’ve already talked with, but meet personally – and then meet with Prime Minister Cameron.

So it is my intention, in furtherance of President Obama’s commitment to both the E.U. and the special relationship, to do everything in our power to make this transitional process as sensible and as smooth as it can be. Does that mean it doesn’t present difficulties? No, there are challenges. Does that mean it was without any impact? No. Clearly, that’s not possible either, because there are consequences. But there are ways to make certain that we’re trying to chart out a path for the future that actually strengthens the E.U. and serves the interests and the values that have brought us together and keep us together, even now as there is a political decision regarding one country’s membership, but that doesn’t alter the fundamental interests and the values that we are serving in governance.

So, thank you for the chance to be with you, and very much look forward to continuing the conversation in the days ahead. Thank you.

QUESTION: Does that mean you want a slow process for the breakup?