Transcript of European Union/United States Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Press Availability

WASHINGTON , Dec. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following transcript of the European Union/ United States Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Press Availability was released today by the U.S. Department of Justice: 1:40 P.M...

We're negotiating information sharing agreements with them and the like, hoping to set up the possibility of admission in the next year or so. But there are a number of statutory requirements that will be difficult to meet, and so we can't predict with any certainty when they'll be admitted.

QUESTION: Could Greece get in before then, because it already meets the statutory requirements?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BAKER: Greece is eligible with respect to one of the critical elements, which is the visa rejection rate. They're below three percent, which means that they've met one of the more difficult tests. However, we have to negotiate information sharing agreements with respect to terrorism, with respect to criminal data sharing and a variety of other topics. We have begun those talks, but I can't predict when they will reach fruition.

MODERATOR: We have time for two more questions. The last question from U.S. press.

QUESTION: For Secretary Baker or General Mukasey, what role has the Obama transition team played in the talks that you've had?

The issues that you're talking about right now are going to become obviously matters that the Obama administration is going to have to deal with.

Also, the matter of the prosecution of the governor of Illinois is a matter that the Obama team is going to have to deal with. I wonder if you could give us an update on the transition and the extent of their involvement in both policy matters and prosecutorial matters.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Well, I think it's sufficient to say just from 30,000 feet they are made aware of the issues that we discussed today. Obviously, they are not participants in the talks because they are the transition team. They are not yet members of the government, but they are aware of all of the issues that we've discussed today, and are being made aware of any necessary other issues that they have to be made aware of.

The transition, certainly in the Justice Department is going smoothly, and I suspect it is going smoothly elsewhere as well.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BAKER: I will just add to that that I've been present in government at every change of party transition since the Carter administration, and this is the most civil and professional that I have seen on both sides. The incoming team has recognized that there is only one president at a time. They have recognized that it's important to speak with one voice in international relations, and they have respect that while seeking to be well-informed about all of the moves that will have to be carried on by their team after January 20 .

MODERATOR: Last question? The press have none.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

END 2:15 P.M.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice