The International Republican Institute (IRI) hosted the leadership of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Washington from September 26-October 1, 2007. The delegation, headed by Wilfried Martens, President of the EPP and former Prime Minister of Belgium, and Antonio Lopez-Isturiz, Secretary General of the EPP, met with U.S. political and policy leaders. During their meetings the delegation discussed issues in the transatlantic relationship, including energy and climate policy, missile defense and related security questions, the relationship of the U.S. and Europe with Russia and China, and the future expansion of the EU and NATO.
During their time in Washington, the delegation held a series of successful meetings with legislative leaders on Capitol Hill. President Martens and the group met with Senator Robert Bennett or Utah, Senator Jim DeMint or South Carolina, Congressman Pete Hoekstra Michigan and Congressman John Boozman or Arkansas, all of whom expressed interest in broadening the relationship among politicians in Europe and the United States.
President Martens, and the delegation, also engaged in substantive discussions with administration representatives, including Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy; James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Mary Beth Long, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security.
Continuing their relationship with policymakers in Washington, the delegation met with officials at the American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The EPP group also met with Dr. Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
President Martens said the visit “anchored the work that we started three years ago with the IRI. We have now reached a turning-point because we have managed to establish a constructive and substantive dialogue with our political partners based on our common transatlantic values. I am convinced of the importance to deepen and to expand our political relations in the U.S.”
IRI President Lorne Craner, Senior Vice President Georges Fauriol, and Vice President for Programs Elizabeth Dugan welcomed the delegation to IRI headquarters for a luncheon during the visit. President Martens discussed the EPP’s recent activities and the future outlook of the party as it prepares for the 2009 European elections.
Through its European Partnership Initiative, IRI partners with the EPP to promote transatlantic relationships and dialogue on issues of mutual concern to European and American policymakers.