"We Europeans own a lot of you, and you own a lot of us," said Bruton, the European Union ambassador to the United States. "What's good for you is good for us, and what's bad for you is bad for us."
During a private visit to the Milken Institute, Bruton met with members of the Milken Institute Associates and representatives of several European consulates based in Los Angeles. The wide-ranging discussion touched on everything from trade and energy to Turkey and violence in the Middle East.
Bruton, who while prime minister from 1994 to 1997 was deeply involved in the Northern Irish Peace Process, said he wished the United States would use some of the lessons he learned while helping end Northern Ireland's sectarian violence on the current situation in the Middle East. One of those is the willingness to talk to the bad guys.
"If we had said, 'We won't talk to them until they recognize our right to exist,' we wouldn't have talked," and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement would never have been signed, Bruton said.
Other topics he touched on:
- The two issues affecting Europe that concern him most are 1) a lack of its sources of energy, and 2) a declining birth rate.
- He believes Turkey will eventually be accepted into the EU, but that it will take much more time than many believe.
- The lack of functioning governments in Africa are the root of it problems.
- European leaders need to do a better job at creating ways to make people feel more European. ("We need to create more of a sense of 'we' in Europe.")
Bruton's talk is one of a series of meetings with global and national leaders of distinction hosted at the Institute for its Associates.
Associates breakfasts with individuals of distinction are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634, or by e-mail at msilverstein @milkeninstitute.org.