The United States Supports Social Responsibility and Human Rights Training for Colombian Businessmen
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the launching of the first Professional Certificate Program on “Social Responsibility and Human Rights in Business.” The event was held at the UN Information Center in Bogotá on June 24, 2010.
This joint event was organized by the Corporación Red Local del Pacto Global en Colombia (Local Corporate Network of Global Pact in Colombia), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ).
USAID director for Colombia Ken Yamashita; Human Rights Attaché at the German Embassy Matthias Braun, UN Representative in Colombia Aldo Lalle-Demoz and UNHCR representative Terry Morel, among others attended the event.
The project’s main objective is to endorse educational agreements that may provide training to businessmen in Cundinamarca, Santander, Norte de Santander, Caldas, Valle, Risaralda, Atlántico and Cesar. It seeks to create awareness on the importance to prevent the negative effects of business operations related to human rights, forced displacement and corruption that may hold a negative effect on the rights of nearby communities, its workers or the environment.
The Professional Certificate Program includes virtual and real-time classes. The syllabus includes concept documents, analysis of business cases, risk analysis and the creation of a human rights business integration plan.
USAID’s Human Rights program seeks to strengthen human rights prevention and the response to violations. It helps to protect human rights defenders and activists, as well as other vulnerable groups or individuals. It also promotes public policies, strengthens NGOs and supports victims so they may achieve their right to truth, justice and reparation.
Bogotá, C.C., June 25, 2010
OPERATOR: Welcome, and thank you all for standing by. At this time, all participants are on a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session of the call. At that time, you may press *1 to ask a question. And I’d now like to turn the call over to Ms. Susan D. Page, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Thank you, ma’am, you may begin.
MS. PAGE: Thank you very much. I wanted to let everyone know that the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Johnnie Carson met today with members of the coalition government in a very pleasant discussion on the way forward in Zimbabwe.
He recognized and applauded the economic advances that have occurred in Zimbabwe since the Global Political Agreement was signed two years ago and said that there is no doubt that the country is better off now than it was two years ago when shops were closed and inflation was rampant. He also said that Zimbabwe must now work towards making the same progress in the political sphere that it has seen in its economy. He also acknowledged that while the United States is not perfect, our strength lies in our institutions. And he encouraged the Zimbabwean coalition government to build strong institutions and to continue with political progress, because it’s political progress that will sustain economic growth.
So I’ll stop there and take questions.
OPERATOR: And at this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press *1. You’ll also be prompted to record your name. Please unmute your phone and record your name at the prompt. Once again, it is *1 for questions. One moment, please.
And we do show a question from Celia Dugger of The New York Times. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hi, Ms. Page. How are you?
MS. PAGE: Very well. How are you?
QUESTION: I’m fine.
MS. PAGE: Good, thank you.
QUESTION: I guess I’m just curious – I mean, nothing you said is anything new. Did anything – was there anything new in the exchange? Was there a particular concern (inaudible) anything with Zimbabwe about violence that’s occurring lately, or any conversation with President Mugabe?
MS. PAGE: There was no conversation with Zimbabwe during this meeting, but obviously –
QUESTION: Mugabe, with Mugabe?
MS. PAGE: Sorry. There was no conversation directly with Mugabe, but of course, they talked about the situation in Zimbabwe, and specifically about – from our side, the American delegation talked a lot about the human rights violations, the land seizures, and particularly the recent arrest of the WOZA women from – the women who had been peacefully protesting about the constitutional process and called on senior officials, especially given that this is a coalition government, that they also need to speak out against these types of abuses and not be silent.
QUESTION: Is there (inaudible) to Zimbabweans who are outside the government critical of the – of ZANU-PF? I mean, (inaudible) hearing people say that they think that the sanctions have made – that they play into the hands of ZANU and have – in some ways, could have made the United States irrelevant to the process. I mean, what (inaudible) do you see the sanctions as still playing?
MS. PAGE: Well, first of all, we – I must say that we reject the claim that our sanctions have a broad effect on the economy of Zimbabwe or even on the ordinary – on the lives of the ordinary Zimbabwean.
The sanctions are targeted. They’re targeted towards individuals and towards a few institutions that we believe have been responsible for the policies and the actions that have led to Zimbabwe’s both economic and political decline. We do regularly review our sanctions. We remove people and institutions when we believe that they are no longer posing the same kind of threat. But frankly, as long as these violations of human rights, the lack of respect for civil and political rights of the people of Zimbabwe, as long as they continue, we really can’t lift the sanctions at this time, because people are looking to us as if we are the problem. And we are encouraging the Zimbabweans to look at themselves and address the problems that they’ve brought upon themselves.
QUESTION: So nothing really new in the exchange? Nothing –
MS. PAGE: I mean, look. The reality is they are calling for – unlike when the MDC was in the opposition, they are now also calling for the sanctions to either be removed or suspended and – largely because ZANU-PF seems to have made that a centerpiece of what they are pushing on MDC to deliver.
MS. PAGE: But the reality is this is a political agreement between three parties – between ZANU-PF, between the MDC-Tsvangirai formation, and the MDC-Mutambara formation. And we are not a party to that agreement. They can’t force us to do something that we have decided to do, either via executive order of the president or through legislation.
So – but again, we stress the fact that as long as these violations of human rights, these arbitrary arrests, continued violence and brutality continue, we’re not in a position to lift our sanctions despite how they want to characterize them. And the sanctions that we have, as I mentioned, are very specific. They’re travel bans and asset freezes. And they affect 244 individuals and institutions, companies. That’s it.
QUESTION: Do you know how many individuals – how many of the 244 are people and how many are companies?
MS. PAGE: I don’t have the details in front of me, but if you want, I can get the numbers for you.
QUESTION: All right, great.
MS. PAGE: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Once again, as a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press *1. We’re currently showing no further questions.
MS. PAGE: Maybe I could just add, one surprise visitor in the meeting – although as I mentioned, the justice minister, Minister Chinamasa was there, Minister Misihairabwi-Mushonga from the MDC-Mutambara formation was there, Minister Mangoma and others – but the Zimbabwean ambassador to Washington also came, Ambassador Mapuranga. So that was a bit unexpected. And I think if you all will recall, he – Ambassador Mapuranga had called out Ambassador Carson during the Africa Day celebration a few months ago and disrupted a large diplomatic event for the African diplomatic corps by calling the ambassador names – by calling Ambassador Carson names. So that was an interesting show.
But the meeting was very cordial, very pleasant. Unlike I think what seems to be the view that we have suddenly reengaged with Zimbabwe, I’d like to dispel that myth. We have never stopped engaging with Zimbabwe. We have full diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe. They have an ambassador here, we have an ambassador there. We have a very robust program of assistance that we give to Zimbabwe to assist the Zimbabwean people. So we have always been available to speak, to meet, to try to advance our relations. And we were pleased to see this meeting take place, but again, it was hardly a reengagement. It’s continuing engagement. So I think that that was positive.
I just wanted to mention also that this year, U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe was $300 million. This was for health services, safe drinking water, education, agriculture, social protection, and a range of other essential services in line with the priorities of the new Zimbabwean transitional government. And then – that was last year – and then in – following Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s visit to the U.S. in June of 2009, President Obama pledged an additional $73 million. This is for combating HIV and AIDS and for furthering democracy and good governance. So – and then at the same time, in recognition of progress towards macroeconomic stability, the U.S. did not oppose the restoration of Zimbabwe’s voting rights at the IMF.
So these are positive things that we’ve been doing all along, and this was a meeting that was just to further consolidate our good relations.
OPERATOR: And currently, we’re showing no questions on the phone line.
MS. PAGE: Okay.
STAFF: Well, I think that’s – I think we’ll be good to go here, then.
MS. PAGE: Okay. Well, thank you all very much. As I mentioned, it was a good meeting, very cordial, and Michelle Gavin from the National Security Council staff was also present during the meeting, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer. So I think it was a good meeting and a good delegation from the Zimbabwe side as well, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue and helping the people of Zimbabwe.
OPERATOR: This concludes today’s conference. Thank you all for participating. You may disconnect at this time.
MS. PAGE: Thank you.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Denimatrix, Cisco and Mars, Inc. with the Secretary of State’s 2010 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) today. The ACE is given annually to U.S. businesses that exhibit good corporate citizenship, promote innovation, and advance democratic principles around the world.
This year’s small-to-medium-size enterprise winner is Denimatrix, for the company’s accomplishments in Guatemala. The textile and apparel company was chosen for reducing the environmental impact stemming from its production process, and reaching out to the community to help disadvantaged youth and the homeless.
This year’s winners in the multinational category are Cisco, for its programs in Israel, and Mars, Inc., for its work in Ghana. Cisco, the computer networking company, was chosen for helping to connect the Israeli and Palestinian economies and people, and engaging in several partnerships and initiatives to enhance technical capacity, connectivity, education, and opportunities for women and youth in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Mars, the confectionary manufacturer, was selected for improving farming methods, sensitizing communities against child labor, and promoting the overall well-being and sustainability of cocoa growing communities.
The three winners were chosen from 12 finalists. The other finalists were Alta Ventures in Mexico, Coca-Cola in Swaziland, Fiji Water in Fiji, GE in India, Intel in Costa Rica, PepsiCo in India, Qualcomm in China, Synopsys in Armenia, and Tang Energy in China.
Since 1999, the Secretary of State has conferred the ACE on U.S. businesses that meet social needs in diverse communities through activities in every region of the world. The Department of State is committed to working with the business community to further their best practices worldwide and to encourage efforts that improve lives at home and abroad. For more information, please visit: http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/ace/.
Introduction in Russian]
SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress.) There is no satisfaction and no harder job that I’ve had in my life than being a mother.
QUESTION: (Inaudible): “Do you have any artistic talents that you would like to employ?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: For instance, she writes, “Carla Bruni records songs. Would you like to play in a movie, for instance?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, a movie would be fine, but don’t ask me to sing, and probably not to dance either.
QUESTION: Dimitry Meyer: “What is your favorite book? Do you have one?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s interesting. I was asked this question at Moscow University when I was there in October, and I have many favorite books. But because I was in Russia and I was speaking with young people, I talked about how The Brothers Karamatov had so influenced me as a young person, and I stick with that.
QUESTION: Have you reread it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve reread it several times. Not recently, however.
QUESTION: I have, and really, it’s an amazing book.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is –
QUESTION: How he gets inside people is unbelievable.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The combination of his psychological insight and his political understanding is really unmatched.
QUESTION: That’s right. (Inaudible), can feminism be a negative social force, number one. And number two, with whom do you find it easier to work, with men or with women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I find it easier to work with people who are open, transparent, collegial, either men or women. The question about feminism – I think any “ism” can be a negative, and you have to always try to keep in balance. And certainly, I consider myself a feminist. I believe strongly that women deserve equal rights with men and equal responsibilities. And I’m very keen on helping women to continue to progress around the world.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) He writes, “I’m a second-year student in the city of Sochi. I’m interested in the acknowledgement of genocide committed by the Ottoman empire against the Armenians. Why does President Obama not recognize Resolution 252? During his campaign, he promised that the U.S. would recognize the genocide, but now that he’s President, he seems to have forgotten.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think anyone has forgotten, but what has happened that is of great import is the work going on between Turkey and Armenia. In fact, I was in Zurich last fall with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Armenia, Russia, France, other countries to witness the signing of a set of protocols to normalize relationships between Armenia and Turkey. And in those protocols, there was an agreement between the two countries to establish a historical commission that would look at all of the issues that are part of the past.
And I think that’s the right way to go, I think, to have the two countries and the two peoples focusing on this themselves. I have said many times we cannot change the past we inherit. All we can do is try to have a better future.
QUESTION: Does that commission exist now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They’re working to create it.
QUESTION: They’re working on it. I see.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: I see. Alexander Smirnoff: “Why is the possibility of travel between our countries without visa a long way off, as you’ve said? What is being done to make it easier for Americans to come to Russia and for Russians to visit America?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want to encourage a lot more travel and a lot more exchanges. And as we move forward and we get more experience between our two countries in facilitating business travel, tourism travel, education travel, every kind of travel, I think it will become, at least I hope, easy and easier. And many of our businesses want to have their business leaders come and have open-ended visas. And similarly, a lot of Russians want to be able to come and have as much time as they need. That’s what I would like to work toward.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) She writes “How do you understand the meaning of double standards in politics?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I usually think of it in terms of men and women, but it can also be thought of in terms of countries or groups. I think anyone who believes that their voice is not being heard, that they’re being marginalized, that they are somehow being treated as a second-class citizen, the victim of hypocrisy, we feel as though there’s a double standard. And I’ve seen it in many different settings over the time of my life in politics.
QUESTION: Could it be applying different standards to different countries?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It could be, or to different ethnic groups or religious groups, or between the genders.
QUESTION: (Inaudible): “Being a strong woman and devoted mother, what advice would you give to your daughter regarding a balance between family and career?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ve talked a lot about that because my daughter has come of age when a lot of the barriers that used to exist, that even I experienced as a girl growing up, are no longer there. The legal barriers have been pushed away. But there still has to be a balance in your life, and it has to be a balance that I think looks at what is lasting and most important. And for me, that comes down to family and relationships.
And I tell my daughter and her friends and the young women who work for me that it is very important, if you decide you want to have a career, a profession, to do it, go for it. But never forget, at the end of the day, no one on his or her deathbed ever says “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
QUESTION: Alexander (inaudible): “What in your view is America’s place in the modern world? Is it a force aimed at supporting the world’s equilibrium? Or is it a force aimed at changing the status quo?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s both in this way, Vladimir. It is a force to sustain an equilibrium that permits countries and individuals to progress, to become more self-realizing. I mean, we want very much to have a strong Russia because a strong, competent, prosperous, stable Russia is, we think, in the interests of the world. But at the same time, there are countries and places where the status quo is just not acceptable. Last summer, I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I went to Eastern Congo where 5.4 million people had been killed in the last 15 years, the greatest death toll since the Second World War. We don’t want that status quo to be sustained.
QUESTION: Dimitry (inaudible). He writes: “Have you got an ideal person in politics, past – it doesn’t matter when – but someone who you feel is what you would call the ideal for a politician?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are many people who I admire, including my husband, I have to add. But I think Nelson Mandela is someone I especially admire. Think of what he went through coming out of a struggle against apartheid, trying to, in effect, overthrow the Government of South Africa, the all-white government.
QUESTION: Yes, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Being in jail, and I’ve been to his jail cell, which was about as big as this table, coming out of jail after 29 years or so, and finding it within himself to not only forgive what had been done to him, but to lead his people in a positive direction. We need more of that in the world. We need leaders who are not prisoners of the past. We need leaders who can imagine a different future. We need leaders who can cut across all the lines that divide us in the world today. And no one exemplifies that more than Nelson Mandela.
QUESTION: I have one more question from a lady who says her name is Ana: “In your opinion, is American mass media independent? How true is it they show viewers and who controls it? In the case of the Russian-Georgian events of a couple of years ago, do you think the American TV channels provided a true picture of what was going on? I think that the Russian media provided a totally different view. Who are the people to believe?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: In this time of mass media, that’s a very profound question. And it’s not only about the American media or the Russian media; it is about all media. I think our country has very free media. In fact, it’s almost an excess of freedom in some people’s minds because our media now basically can say whatever it chooses to say, show whatever it chooses. And there are some in our country who regret that, who wish that there were – there was more discretion about what is shown on our media.
But it is fair to say that everybody comes to any event by looking at it through their own eyes. So I might have 10 Russians and 10 Americans looking at the same thing, but seeing it differently.
QUESTION: Interpreting it differently?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Interpreting it differently. And I think part of the challenge – and that’s why I’m so grateful for this chance to be on your show – is that we have to do more to make sure we see through the other person’s eyes, so we don’t just say, “Well, this is the way I see it, this is how I interpret it; I’m right, you’re wrong.” No, we have to say, “Well, why did you think that?” And “Let’s try to make sure we understand each other better.”
QUESTION: Well, I hope this interview is going to help a little bit, but now we’re going to take a break. We have a little bit of advertising to do.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yes. I understand that, too.
QUESTION: So don’t go away.
QUESTION: Looking back a little bit, in your book Living History that came out in 2003, you wrote that preserving your marriage with Bill and running for senator were the most difficult decisions of your life. Could you explain that a little bit?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I write in the book, there were many things going on at that time in my life and at that time in my country’s life. And trying to balance the personal and the public was extremely difficult. I come from the point of view that at the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you. You cannot make decisions that are being promoted by the press or by other political persons; you have to get very quiet and think about what’s important for you. And so there was all kinds of advice coming in at me from all directions. I think I made the right decisions.
QUESTION: Was your decision to run for president – was that also a difficult decision?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It was, but not as hard, because I worried greatly about what had happened in our country the prior years of the last administration. It’s not a secret that I disagreed politically and I thought that there were a lot of ways that America needed to be strengthened and put on a track that more resembled who we are, what our character is, and that I could make a contribution to that debate. And so I’m very happy I had the chance to run, and it was an extraordinary opportunity. And much to my amazement, the man I ran against so hard for so long, President Obama, asked me to be in his Administration.
QUESTION: And that’s another thing I wanted to ask you. During this – the debates that went on, so you said some pretty hard things about now-President Obama. Did you have any problem at all accepting this offer, actually? You know.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, he said some hard things about me.
QUESTION: Oh, absolutely. That’s the point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But that’s what politics in campaigning often is about. It was a hard job to accept because I wanted to return to being a senator from New York. I was very anxious to go back to representing New York in the Senate. And when now-President Obama asked me, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe that he was offering me this very important job. And at first, I said, well, I’m not so sure; you should think about this person or that person, someone else. But he was very persistent and he kept coming back to how, despite what superficially appeared to be a tough campaign, underneath that we had so many fundamental agreements about what needed to be done in our country. And at the end of the discussions, I concluded that it was really about serving America.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And when I started traveling as Secretary of State, it was the most common question people asked me, from Indonesia to Korea, all places around the world: How could you work with and for someone against whom you had campaigned? I said because we both love our country. That, to me, was the bottom line. What can we do to continue to serve?
QUESTION: And I take it you have no regrets.
SECRETARY CLINTON: None. No, I have no regrets.
QUESTION: When you were writing or decided to write Living History, did you already know that you were probably going to run for president?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I really didn’t. I know there are people who –
QUESTION: I’ve read, but that’s not the point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I know. There are people who say that. I didn’t know it. I knew people had talked to me about it and had encouraged me, but it’s such a grueling experience to run for president, and the job is practically impossible.
QUESTION: Pretty grueling experience to write the book.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is but we have one president who embodies head-of-state, head-of-government. You have a president and a prime minister. Other people have the same system. Some people have a king or a queen and a prime minister. We have one person. So that one person bears the entire load of symbolizing the country and running the government. So I thought long and hard about it, but it – at the end of my deliberations, I decided I would try because I thought I could contribute.
QUESTION: The book was the book and that decision was that decision –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: — and there was no –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No connection.
QUESTION: Okay. Let’s take a look at U.S. foreign policy.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You wrote an article for the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs back in 2007 and you blamed George W. Bush for the fact that the U.S. kind of had lost the respect and the trust of even its closest allies and friends. Has there been a change now? Do you feel that you’ve overcome what happened during those years?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. And here’s why. What I have seen in the last year started with relief that the prior administration was gone and a new administration was in place, a lot of excitement and anticipation about President Obama and what he symbolized and his brand of leadership, and we have worked very hard at rebuilding relationships. Just today in meeting with President Medvedev, we acknowledged that we’ve come a long way in doing that. We still have work to do because these problems are never ending. I think there’s a difference – what some people confuse. There’s a difference between being able to have an open, frank , constant communication which we now have with Russia and other partners in the world, and agreeing on everything. We’re not going to agree on everything.
And sometimes people look at me or look at another foreign minister and say, well, if you’ve got such a great relationship, why don’t you agree? Well, that’s the wrong way to look it because what we want to do is find the areas where we can agree and move forward together, like we are with the START treaty that we’re about to finish. And where we have disagreements, more of those through the kind of honest communication that we now are engaged in.
QUESTION: One of the things that you seem to disagree with is the idea of spheres of influence.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You’ve said that that’s old fashioned, 19th century, whatever and that’s something the United States does not accept. And I was thinking about the resolution that was adopted by the Congress back in 2005, which specified the right of the United States to have pretty much unlimited access to communications centers, the key areas, global resources. What’s the difference between that and spheres of influence? It sounds pretty much like the same thing.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know exactly what the Congress meant in that resolution five years ago. But what we mean is that, of course, great countries like Russia and the United States are going to have influence. They’re going to have influence globally. When your president or prime minister travel, they don’t just travel in a few places. They travel globally. And they make a case and they negotiate over all kinds of matters. So do we. But there shouldn’t be any automatic presumption that any country because of geographic proximity is within a – quote – “sphere of influence.” We have many countries to our south in the Western Hemisphere. We’re obviously going to try to influence them, but they’re independent countries. They get to make up their own minds about the direction of their foreign policy, for example.
QUESTION: Is the Monroe Doctrine still alive in your mind, which says pretty much stay out of here; this is our part of the world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. No. I mean, we recognize the new reality that in a globalized economy, you’re going to have China, Russia, the European Union. You’re going to have constant trade flows and business deals and investments. You’re going to have bilateral foreign policy agreements in the Western Hemisphere, in Africa, in Asia, everywhere in the world. The United States is going to do our best to make sure that we’re in there; we’re not going to cede any ground to anyone. But we don’t expect our partners in the Latin American region to say, “Oh, I can’t talk to Russia because I’m in America’s sphere of influence.” We don’t expect that. We think that is old fashioned and we need to move on so that every country is being given the opportunity to chart its own course.
QUESTION: Do you support the famous adage of Theodore Roosevelt about speak softly but carry a big stick?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a pretty accurate description of what American foreign policy has been off and on for the last hundred years. We know we have a lot of influence and power. We know we have a very strong military. We have extensive economic relationships. But I think what you’ve seen with President Obama is an emphasis on the “speak softly” part. How do we engage better? You’ve seen that very clearly with respect to Iran. When President Obama came in and said, “We will extend our hand if you unclench your fist,” and then directed that we all began to try to reach out, talk with Iran, get Iran to engage with the rest of the world. But at the same time, we always had the possibility of a second track of engagement, which are the kind of sanctions and pressures that we think the time has come to impose.
QUESTION: Since you brought up Iran, I was going to ask anyway: In a worst-case scenario – in a worst-case scenario, do you think it would be possible to use force in Iran?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that would not only be a worst case; that would be a very last resort. No one wants to see that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And that is why we’re working so hard to persuade Iran to change its behavior. If you look at Iran – we were just talking a few minutes ago about looking through others’ eyes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: If you look at Iran through the region, the neighbors in the area, they see an aggressive force coming out of Iran that is trying to destabilize other countries –
QUESTION: You’re speaking about Israel or you’re speaking about –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I’m speaking about the Arab world.
QUESTION: The Arab world, right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We hear this all the time. North Africa, Morocco just expelled the Iranians because they were proselytizing and fomenting against the regime in Morocco. It’s very broad, Vladimir, and so it’s not just the United States saying this. I think, as President Medvedev said, no one likes sanctions, but they may be inevitable when you try to change behavior. Our goal is to change Iranian behavior; to have them stop supporting and exporting terrorism; to have them stop proselytizing in ways that destabilize other countries of the region and the broader Islamic world.
QUESTION: But the main thing is the nuclear program, is it not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is the main thing, because, if they get a nuclear weapons program, that will launch an arms race in the Middle East the likes of which we’ve never seen.
QUESTION: And it might even provoke a nuclear confrontation.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, heaven forbid. We want to avoid that at all costs.
QUESTION: The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is a very close one. And the United States has always supported Israel, to the point where some people think it allows Israel to thumb its nose at the rest of the world. There are some people who look at it that way. Now, when Vice President Joe Biden was going to visit Israel, right on the eve, the Israeli Government announced that they were going to build 1,600 new housing units in Eastern Jerusalem, which provoked a lot of anger and you were not happy with that. And you spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, making it very clear that that was the case. You were very critical. And now according to what I’ve read about a week later, you’re tone was much more conciliatory. Why?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, because we’ve seen the Israelis recognize that the resumption of negotiations between them and the Palestinians must begin. And, therefore, they are looking for ways to improve the atmosphere and to take steps that will produce a positive reaction, not just from the Palestinians, but from all of us who are trying to create this negotiation that will lead to a two-state solution. I think that – we had a meeting of the so-called Quartet here in Moscow that Foreign Minister Lavrov called. And at the table was, of course, Russia, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, and the Quartet representative, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. We, once again, in a statement, condemned what Israel had done. And we, once again, called for everybody to get back to the main business at hand, which is charting the way toward a state for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.
QUESTION: I think it was in April in 2008, you were on Larry King. And you spoke about the enormous problems facing the new President, whoever he or she might be. And among others, you said it included winning the war in Afghanistan and ending the war in Iraq. Now, in 2002, you were among those who voted “aye” for giving Bush the right to use force in Iraq. A, do you have any regrets about that today looking back? And B, are you satisfied with what has happened in Iraq, in the sense, do you feel that democracy now is established there and when the U.S. pulls out its troops, it’s going to be all right? And finally, what does it mean to win in Afghanistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to Iraq, I have expressed very many criticisms and regrets about the way that the Bush Administration took the authority and used it with respect to Iraq. Where we are right now is that Iraq just went through another election, which by all accounts is credible, legitimate, an astonishing accomplishment in that region.
QUESTION: All things considered.
SECRETARY CLINTON: All things considered. As they form a new government, as they begin to make these decisions that every democracy has to make about how to allocate resources, we are hoping that they stay on the course that they have begun. Right now, they present at least room for optimism about where they could end up. But at the same time, we know how hard this is. I mean this is tough work trying to bring feuding parties together, people who have not worked in any kind of collegial way, get them all on the same page going forward on behalf of their country. But we’ve seen some signs that are very promising.
QUESTION: But you are confident that the U.S. will pull out its troops?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we have made a commitment. We have signed an agreement with the Government of Iraq. Now, we will have a normal relationship where we will continue to support the Iraqi Government. We will provide aid as they request, but we are going to be withdrawing our combat troops from Iraq. On Afghanistan, nobody knows better than the Russians, what a very difficult situation is presented. I think, though, we are seeing progress in creating the environment for a political solution. This is not a conflict that can be won decisively, but enough ground can be gained that the people’s confidence in supporting political reconciliation can be obtained. And that’s what we’re looking for.
QUESTION: Do you accept the idea of working with the Taliban if the Taliban is willing to talk to you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Under certain circumstances, we do. You cannot make peace with those who will not commit to peace.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You can’t make peace with those who won’t put down their weapons and participate in the political process. But if members of the Taliban renounce violence, renounce al-Qaida, commit themselves to the constitution of Afghanistan, as with many conflicts around the world, then there can be a negotiation.
QUESTION: There’s a question that a lot of Russians have brought up and I figured I’d ask it myself, because I’ve tried to bring in everything that was asked. What really is the difference between Kosovo – which was since ancient times part of Serbia and yet is now independent thanks to support by NATO and, of course, the United States – on the one hand and, on the other hand, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, which were part of Gruzia of Georgia and are now independent, thanks to the support of Russia. What is the point of the principal difference if we’re speaking about what we call the integrity of a country, the territorial integrity, in both places? It’s a problem, isn’t it? What makes it okay for Kosovo and not okay for the others?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the circumstances are very different from, again, the way we see it. With respect to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, when the component pieces were breaking up and there were efforts to create independent states, there was a great demand on the part of Kosovo to become independent, because if felt like it had been put into Yugoslavia in a way that was not commensurate with its ambitions or its identity. People basically did not accede to that, but there was internal turmoil within Serbia, which led to the ethnic cleansing that was so demonstrably upsetting to have it take place in Europe. And then, of course, Kosovo decided it wanted to be an independent state.
The way we see Georgia is that Georgia was a much more integrated country. There were different groupings of people as there are in the United States or anywhere else in the world; and that it was meant to be a country where those different experiences, cultures, ethnic identities come together. Now, we understand that from the Russian perspective and from the perspective of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that’s not perhaps how they saw it. But we see a significant difference and we regret the break-up of Georgia, because we think that an integrated, whole Georgia is much more in the interests of everyone who is in the component parts of it.
QUESTION: Except those who don’t want to be.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a problem everywhere. I mean we all face that.
QUESTION: All right. Okay. In your view, is the protection of human rights still the cornerstone of the U.S. foreign policy?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is one of the cornerstones.
QUESTION: One of the cornerstones.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, it is. Absolutely.
QUESTION: Do you find that it hinders your relationship with China? The reason I ask is because the State Department has issued a paper where China is the number one country that does not respect human rights, followed by Russia, according to the State Department papers. So the feeling, again, a lot of Russians get is that you make an exception for China because the U.S. is so involved financially in China, has such a deep interest in China, but you kind of – you say the words, but you don’t really follow up when it comes to China.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s not the case. What we are trying to do with both China and Russia, is to have such broad and comprehensive relationships that they don’t rise or fall on any one issue, no matter how important. So we always raise human rights with China. We have a very significant difference over Tibet and the treatment of Tibetans; over religion and the suppression of religion; over the treatment of dissidents, lawyers who stand up for the rights of small farmers, people who spoke out against problems after the earthquake. We constantly are raising their concerns and bringing them to the attention of the world as well as to China.
But our relationship with China is very broad. And one of our goals in the Obama Administration is to keep relationships on track. If you get – if you have a hundred things that are important, but you only talk about one of them, well, of course, everything’s going to be seen through the prism of that one, no matter how significant it might be.
So let’s take our relationship with Russia. We have spoken out against the murders of journalists. We have spoken out against some of the oppression of dissidents, because we think Russia is a great enough country that it can absorb dissident expression, that people can express their views and that it adds to the dynamism of Russia in the 21st century. But even while we speak out against that, we’re hard at work in Geneva to continue to finish the START agreement on nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: Is that going to happen soon?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, it is going to happen soon.
QUESTION: The reset button?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: What is necessary, in your view, on the Russia side for it to really work? And what is necessary for it on the American side to really work? Because it can’t be that one side says to the other, “Well, it’s going to work only if you do this.” And the other side says, “No, I’m sorry.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think both of us have to change our mindsets and our attitudes about the other. We live with an inheritance of feelings and historical experiences. We were allies in World War II; we were adversaries during the Cold War.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re now in a new era. I think one of the best changes that each of us could entertain is looking toward the future instead of constantly in the rearview mirror.
One of the fears that I hear from Russians is that somehow the United States wants Russia to be weak. That could not be farther from the truth. Our goal is to help strengthen Russia. We see Russia with the strong culture, with the incredible intellectual capital that Russia has, as a leader in the 21st century. And we sometimes feel like we believe more in your future than sometimes Russians do.
We have 40,000 Russians living in Silicon Valley in California. We would be thrilled if 40,000 Russians were working in whatever the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley is, providing global economic competition, taking the internet and technology to the next level. But in order to achieve each of our goals in our relationship, we have to break with the past. We have to be committed to an open and honest and dialogue. We have to be very honest about our differences, and I think we’ve begun to establish that level of communication. And we have to find ways of working together.
A couple of weeks ago, the State Department sent a delegation of business leaders from the high-tech industry plus a famous American actor. They “Twittered” their way through Russia. I don’t know if you had a chance to talk to any of them.
QUESTION: I didn’t, but I read about it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: They met with really smart young innovators. They met with academics. They came back blown away. They said some of the smartest people they’ve ever met are in Russia. But then we asked then, “Well, do you want to do business in Russia?” And they said, “It’s really hard to do business in Russia. It’s hard to get through the bureaucracy. It’s hard to set up the kind of arrangements that we need.” We want to break down barriers. We want to create more free flow of people and information.
QUESTION: On the 12th and 13th of April in D.C., there is going to be a global summit on nuclear safety. I wanted to ask you, do you believe it’s possible to create a nuclear-free world. And are you not of the opinion that it’s only thanks to mutually assured destruction, MAD, that there was no war between the U.S. and the USSR?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question Vladimir. I share the vision that President Obama outlined in Prague last spring of a world without nuclear weapons, but I believe it’s a long time off in the future. What do we have to do today to move us closer to this world? This nuclear security summit is one means of bringing together the world to try to do more to safeguard nuclear materials.
The United States and Russia are the leaders, and therefore we are the stewards of the nuclear arsenal that exists in the world. Mutually assured destruction or effective deterrent worked in part because we never stopped talking. We had summits all the time, even during the depths of the Cold War. We had an understanding that each of us was a rational being. Now, we might disagree with your system; you might disagree with our system. But we thought we had kind of common understandings of how human beings think about the world. We didn’t think either one of us was suicidal. We fear adversaries in the world today who are suicidal, who would obtain nuclear material and use it to such great destruction in your country, my country, elsewhere in the world.
So it wasn’t just the fact that we both had huge arsenals of nuclear weapons; it was who we were as a people, how we thought, the premium on rationality. We might see the world differently, but at the end of the day, we chose to survive and to live and to raise families and to build a better future. We can’t count on that with some of the actors on the world stage today, which is why it’s so important what we’re doing in Geneva on START, and it’s so important that we work together to move toward a time in the future.
QUESTION: One of the sticking points in the relationship today is this whole thing about the deployment of an antiballistic missile system in Europe on the part of the United States. And it seems that the United States doesn’t really understand why the Russians are so disturbed by this. And I was (inaudible) ask you what if the Russians deployed a system like that in Venezuela, saying that would protect Russia from somebody out there. Don’t you think it would rub people the wrong way, that they would see a kind of a danger there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if that is the perception, then you can see where that chain of reasoning leads. But here’s what we believe and what we are saying. When we look at the threats in the world today, as we were just discussing, we don’t see a threat from Russia, and we hope Russian doesn’t see a threat from us. What we do see is the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran, an arms race in the Middle East with no telling who’s going to be in charge of the weapons, instability in other countries, the extremist violent terrorist network, the syndicate that al-Qaida is a part of, seeking every day to get a hold of nuclear material, development of missiles by states like North Korea and Iran that can reach Russia, can reach the rest of Europe. We have offered and we continue to offer the fullest cooperation with Russia to jointly develop missile defense.
Honestly, we don’t see Russia as a threat. We believe that those days are behind us. But what we do see is the potential for others to fill that danger gap, if you will. So that’s what we would hope for in the future, is to build enough trust that we would enhance our early warning signals and our alert systems, that we would be in constant communication between our militaries, our intelligence communities, that we would have our experts working to jointly create missile defense, because it’s a sad commentary that we’re working so well together, but unfortunately the world that we helped to create, a world that does have nuclear weapons, is now being inhabited by those who don’t necessarily have the same values that Russians and Americans do.
QUESTION: We’ve been talking about U.S. foreign policy and U.S.-Russian relations. I’d like to ask you something about the United States. In your view, what is the most serious problem, or what are the most serious problems, facing the United States? And let’s keep the rest of the world out of this, just the U.S., the American people.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. I think we have several challenges. One of them is very general, and that is to make sure that our democracy, which is the oldest in the world, continues to function well and deliver results for people. Therefore, our gridlock in our political system is deeply frustrating to Americans. They look at our Congress and they say, “Why can’t you get anything done?” And our leadership, our political leadership at all levels of government, have to be able to promote – get over their partisan differences and their ideological, philosophical differences, and work for the betterment of the people. That’s the kind of general challenge we face: How do we make sure our system works for the next 200-plus years the way it has for the last.
We also, on the economic front, have to be sure that our economy continues to function for all Americans. I mean, one of the great achievements of the American economy was how broadly wealth was shared, that you could be born into a very poor family and work your way up and be a successful professional in business.
QUESTION: Called the American dream.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The American dream, exactly.
QUESTION: Is it still alive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is still alive. But as with any dream that is lived out in the real world, the world in which we are awake, you have to constantly be updating it. And we have a problem now, which I think is common to all advanced economies. Many of the jobs that we used to take for granted that employed people, gave them a good middle class life, we no longer can afford to do them. They’re being done in China or they’re being replaced by technology as productivity increases. Take airlines. Airlines during the global recession laid off all kinds of people who worked behind counters. Well, now they’re coming back and their business is picking up, but they’re saying, look, more people are using the automatic machines. They’re sticking their credit card in. We don’t need all the people behind the counters. We’ll never have those jobs back again.
We have to keep creating jobs because we have to keep the work ethic alive. We have to give people meaningful work that they’re proud to do, that provides a living for them and their families. That’s a big challenge for us.
And then we always work on our equity issues. We believe in equality. It is one of our founding values. We can’t ever permit there to be such a huge gap between those who are at the very top and those who are –
QUESTION: The rich and the poor.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The rich and the poor. And to us that’s an article of faith, but it should be to any democratic economy. You’ve got to keep generating jobs and wealth and a meritocracy so that people feel like they can climb the ladder to success.
QUESTION: Thank you. I am now going to give the floor to (inaudible) to have a few questions. I spoke to him this morning and he –
SECRETARY CLINTON: How’s he doing?
QUESTION: Well, he’s doing pretty well.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well good. Good.
QUESTION: He’s still quite famous.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m glad to hear that.
QUESTION: All right. What human quality do you most admire?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Forgiveness.
QUESTION: What human frailty would you be most likely to forgive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Stupidity. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What would you not forgive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Meanness.
QUESTION: What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Impatience.
QUESTION: What do you most regret?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t have any regrets, honestly.
QUESTION: To you, what is happiness?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Feeling fulfilled in all aspects of my life, public and private.
QUESTION: What is your favorite word?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Love. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What quality do you most value in a woman?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The same that I value in a man: humanity.
QUESTION: When you appear before God, what would you say to him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m glad I made it. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (In Russian), Hillary Clinton. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
In one of his earliest new foreign policy initiatives, President Obama sought to reset relations with Russia and reverse what he called a “dangerous drift” in this important bilateral relationship. President Obama and his administration have sought to engage the Russian government to pursue foreign policy goals of common interest – win-win outcomes — for the American and Russian people. In parallel to this engagement with the Russian government, President Obama and his administration also have engaged directly with Russian society — as well as facilitated greater contacts between American and Russian business leaders, civil society organizations, and students — as a way to promote our economic interests, enhance mutual understanding between our two nations, and advance universal values. On the occasion of President Medvedev’s visit to the United States and one year after President Obama visited Russia, it is time to take stock of what has been achieved from this change in policy and what remains to be done in developing a more substantive relationship with Russia.
Government-to-Government Agreements and Accomplishments
The New START Treaty:
On April 8, 2010, in Prague, Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the New START Treaty, a strategic offensive arms reduction treaty to follow-up on the START Treaty, which expired on December 5, 2009. The New START Treaty reduces limits on U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads by approximately one third. The Treaty provides the flexibility needed for the United States to structure its forces at the reduced level to meet national security and operational requirements.
The Treaty limits each side to 1550 deployed strategic warheads, 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles, and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers equipped with nuclear armaments. The Treaty has a strong verification regime to allow each party to confirm that the other party is in compliance with the treaty limits, including on-site inspections, data exchanges, exhibitions, and notifications about the movement and production of strategic systems, as well as a provision on non-interference with National Technical Means of verification.
In their June 24 Joint Statement on Strategic Stability, President Obama and President Medvedev acknowledged their commitment to continuing the development of a new strategic relationship based on mutual trust, openness, predictability and cooperation by following up on the New START Treaty.
Since 2009, President Obama and President Medvedev have worked closely to address the international challenge presented by Iran’s nuclear program and its failure to meet its international obligations, and have built a strategic partnership on this issue. Robust U.S.-Russia cooperation on Iran has manifested itself through the P5+1, as well as on the original IAEA proposal to supply nuclear fuel to the Tehran Research Reactor in exchange for Iran’s low enriched uranium being shipped out of Iran and held under IAEA safeguards.
As a result of Iran’s continued failure to meet its international obligations on its nuclear program, President Obama and President Medvedev worked closely with other members of the UN Security Council to reach an agreement on UN Security Council Resolution 1929, the most comprehensive set of sanctions against Iran to date, to demonstrate that there will be a cost to Iran for not meeting its international obligations on its nuclear program. U.S.-Russian partnership in crafting this resolution was critical to its successful adoption. UNSCR 1929 imposes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities; its ballistic missile program; and, for the first time, its conventional military. This was a particularly important step for Russia, which has confirmed that it will not deliver S-300 missiles to Iran, in accordance with the new resolution. The resolution will put a new framework in place to counter Iranian smuggling, and crack down on Iranian banks and financial transactions. It targets individuals, entities, and institutions – including those associated with the Revolutionary Guard.
Russia joined the United States in supporting UN Security Council resolution 1874 in response to North Korea’s nuclear test. The resolution condemned in the strongest terms the May 25, 2009, nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and tightened sanctions against it by blocking funding for nuclear, missile and proliferation activities through targeted sanctions on additional goods, persons and entities, widening the ban on arms imports-exports, and called on Member States to inspect and destroy all banned cargo to and from that country on the high seas, at seaports and airports if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a violation.
In addition to the New Start Treaty and actions taken against Iran and North Korea, the U.S. and Russia have made significant progress in developing our common nonproliferation agenda over the past eighteen months. Russia joined the United States in supporting the UN Security Council Resolution 1887 on September 24, 2009. Russia also played a critical role in President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit, held on April 12-13, 2010. On the sidelines of this meeting, the United States and Russia signed a protocol to amend the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which commits both countries to dispose of 68 metric tons or approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons-worth of excess weapons-grade plutonium. Russia recently shut down its last remaining weapons-grade plutonium production power plant.
Russia also has established an international nuclear fuel bank that provides incentives for other nations not to acquire sensitive uranium enrichment technology. In support of the July 2009, U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Nuclear Cooperation, the United States and Russia have accelerated and expanded efforts to secure and remove vulnerable nuclear material from around the world. In particular, we have worked together to remove or dispose of 475 kilograms of nuclear weapons-usable highly enriched uranium fuel and plutonium (enough for over 19 nuclear weapons) from 8 countries. This included the complete removal of all weapons-usable HEU from three countries. While it is not yet agreed, Russia has been supportive of U.S. efforts within the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to strengthen controls over enrichment and reprocessing technologies. The U.S. and Russia also continue to build upon over fifteen years of significant cooperation to strengthen the security of nuclear facilities and materials.
Over the last 18 months, the Obama Administration has expanded the volume of supplies being shipped to our troops in Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), thanks in part to Russia’s agreement to allow ground and air transit for troops and supplies for Afghanistan through its territory. At present, 30 percent of supplies to our troops in Afghanistan travel over the NDN, and of this cargo, 65 percent of the supplies being routed through the NDN transit through Russia. Russia’s participation in the NDN has allowed the U.S. to expand more efficient and direct routes that offer a strategic and vital alternative to the Pakistan routes.
Russia’s agreement to fund the navigation and flight fees for 4,300 official U.S. flights and allow air transit for unlimited amounts of commercial charter flights with supplies has been vital to bringing in troops and supplies for the surge in troops President Obama ordered as a result of his review of our efforts to secure and stabilize Afghanistan. Since the Afghanistan Air Transit Agreement was signed with Russia at the July 2009 summit, over 35,000 U.S. personnel and troops have flown to Afghanistan via the Russian routes. Russian companies also have provided vital airlift capacity for over 12,000 flights in support of our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, thirty percent of the fuel U.S. military troops use in Afghanistan, and over 80 MI-17 helicopters to the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Drug Interdiction Forces. During their meeting on June 24, 2010, President Medvedev pledged to provide 3 more MI-17 helicopters to the NATO-led effort in Afghanistan, and offered to provide more than a dozen more under a special financial arrangement.
In addition, the Counternarcotics Working Group under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission has established cooperation on reducing the supply of narcotics from Afghanistan to Russian territory, including joint operations, enhanced information sharing, stopping illicit financing of Afghan-related terrorism from narcotics trafficking, and cooperation on demand reduction.
In response to the coming to power of a Provisional Government in Kyrgyzstan in April 2010, Presidents Medvedev and Obama and their administrations closely coordinated their efforts to enhance stability. After the tragic outbreak of violence in Osh and Jalalabad in June 2010, American and Russian diplomats have closely coordinated our common responses, both in the provision of humanitarian assistance and in the development of multilateral responses to the crisis. On June 24, Presidents Obama and Medvedev issued a joint statement affirming our common interest in supporting the people of Kyrgyzstan in their efforts to prevent further violence, address the current humanitarian crisis, and restore stability and democracy.
The Obama Administration continues to have serious disagreements with the Russian government over Georgia. We continue to call for Russia to end its occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in parallel have worked with the Russian government to prevent further military escalations in the region. We have witnessed some incremental confidence building measures, such as opening the border at Verkhniy Lars and allowing direct charter flights between the two countries, and continue to press for the strengthening of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms and a return of international observers to the two occupied regions of Georgia.
Accelerating Russia’s WTO Accession:
After a long lull while Russia focused on forming its Customs Union with the Republics of Belarus and Kazakhstan, the United States and Russia have intensified their discussion regarding Russia’s WTO accession. On April 27, 2010, First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov led a high-level Russian government delegation to Washington to meet with Director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Summers, USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, and other senior Obama administration officials. This meeting produced a roadmap of necessary steps needed to be taken by Russia to accelerate its WTO accession. The United States pledged to provide additional technical assistance to help speed the process of revising Russia’s WTO Working Party Report taking into account the new Customs Union. On June 24, based on the significant progress achieved, including agreement on the treatment of state-owned enterprises, and provided that Russia fully implements the mutually agreed upon action plan for bringing Russian legislation into compliance with WTO requirements, the Presidents agreed to aim to settle remaining bilateral issues by September 30.
American-Russian Cooperation in Managing the Global Financial Crisis:
The United States and Russia have collaborated closely within the framework of the G20 on measures to address the global economic crisis, and on the coordination of the reform of financial regulation. In addition, the United States and Russia have worked to improve the governance and capacity of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Resubmission of the 123 Agreement:
If approved, the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement would provide a solid foundation for long-term U.S.-Russia civil nuclear cooperation; create commercial opportunities for U.S. industry; and enhance cooperation on important global nonproliferation benefits. The Agreement would allow for potential commercial sales of civil nuclear commodities to Russia by U.S. industry and joint ventures between U.S. and Russian firms to develop and market civil nuclear items as well as proliferation-resistant nuclear technologies. In addition, the Agreement has the potential to increase cooperation between Russia and the United States in their nuclear supply policies and approach to the fuel cycle.
On June 24, our Presidents agreed to implement a multifaceted initiative to promote energy efficiency and the development of clean energy technologies under the Action Plan of the Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Energy Working Group. The centerpiece of this collaboration will be the development of a pilot smart grid project based on the most innovative technologies to cut losses in electric power systems and reduce emissions. Russian and U.S. cities will be matched to implement similar projects, and to share best practices and technical information. The Action Plan also includes implementing energy management and technical programs to improve energy efficiency in Russian and U.S. public sector buildings. The U.S. and Russia also agreed to develop financial mechanisms to help create investment incentives for small and medium sized private companies to promote energy efficiency and clean technologies.
Creation of the Presidential Bilateral Commission:
During their meeting in Moscow on July 6, 2009, Presidents Medevedev and Obama established the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Commission consisting of sixteen working groups ranging from nuclear cooperation, space, health, military-to-military, cultural and sports exchange, to civil society. Since the creation of the commission, dozens of delegations have traveled to each country, video conferences have been held, and numerous new bilateral activities and programs have emerged to pursue projects of mutual benefit to the American and Russian people. We also agreed to add an Intelligence Sharing Working Group to the Commission. The Commission’s first annual report was published on June 24, 2010, and can be accessed at the Commissions website: www.state.gov/russiabpc
Russia and the United States agreed to renew bilateral military cooperation and have approved a work-plan for this cooperation under the Defense Cooperation Working Group of the Bilateral Presidential Commission. Russia and the United States also have cooperated successfully on anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and have committed to intensify counter-piracy cooperation. The U.S. sponsored Russia’s UN Security Council resolution for an UN-led study on the cost and effectiveness of various approaches to prosecute pirates.
Dual Track Engagement in Support of Universal Values:
The Obama Administration has pursued a strategy of dual-track engagement – engagement of Russian government officials and in parallel Russian civil society — to advance democracy and human rights within Russia. Through government-to-government channels, the Obama Administration has looked for ways to support President Medvedev’s efforts at fighting corruption and deepening the rule of law. In the spring of 2010, American and Russian officials met several times to discuss open government initiatives in both countries, interactions which produced the Joint Statement on Open Government released by our two countries during President Medvedev’s visit to Washington on June 24, 2010. The Working Group on Civil Society also has tackled the issues of anti-corruption, child protection, prison reform, and migration.
In parallel to these government-to-government exchanges, Obama Administration officials meet frequently and directly with Russian civil society leaders, be it through President Obama’s attendance at parallel civil society summit in Moscow last July, President Obama’s meeting with human rights activists from Russia and other countries in February 2010, Secretary Clinton’s meeting with human rights activities and civil society leaders in Moscow in October 2009, or everyday encounters between U.S. government officials and Russian civil society leaders in Moscow and Washington. The Obama Administration also has encouraged peer-to-peer dialogues between American and Russian civil society leaders, while at the same time expanding financial support through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for programs on rule of law, human rights, civil society, media, and political processes.
While seeking to engage the Russian government and Russian civil society in ways to promote universal values, the Obama Administration has not shied away from criticizing human rights abuses, including our public condemnation of the murder of human rights defender Natalya Estemirova, our statement on irregularities in the October 2009 regional elections, and our expression of concerns for arrests of peaceful demonstrators. Speeches by President Obama and Secretary Clinton in Moscow have underscored our commitment to defending human rights and advancing democracy around the world, including in Russia.
Supporting President Medvedev’s Initiative on Innovation:
The Obama Administration has welcomed President Medvedev’s focus on innovation and has looked for ways to support this initiative. In February, 2010, the State Department and National Security Staff led a delegation of high-tech executives to Moscow and Novosibirsk to help promote this innovation agenda, including promoting entrepreneurship, openness and transparency, internet freedom and freedom of expression, and the use of communications technologies to augment the work of traditional civil society organizations. In the wake of this visit, a new forum called “Rustechdel” has been created, matching information technology professionals with civil society actors. Russian civil society organizations in Siberia have adopted tools, such as live streaming to conduct training for Siberian non-governmental organizations in managing administrative responsibilities and promoting respect for human rights. Private sector Russian entities have teamed up with healthcare experts to establish a “Text4Baby” program, using sms texting to inform pregnant mothers of issues related to the health of them and their babies. Private sector entities from the United States are working to outfit orphanages in Novosibirsk with computers and links to the internet as well as partnering with Russian non-governmental organizations to provide mentoring in life skills and appropriate usage. United States non-governmental organizations have teamed up with Russian partners to offer prizes to Russian software developers to produce programs and tools that would help to combat trafficking in persons. In May 2010, Obama Administration officials also participated in the “The First Venture Capital Trip to Russia”, a program organized by AmBar and Rusnano which brought two dozen venture capitalist from the United States to Russia to explore investment opportunities. During President Medvedev’s visit to Washington on June 24, the U.S. and Russian government issued joint statements on collaboration in the areas of innovation and open government.
Supporting People-to-People Exchanges:
The Education, Culture, Sports and Media Working Group of the U.S.–Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission has expanded and enriched connections between Russians and Americans through arts exchanges, sports diplomacy, cultural performances, exhibitions, and engagement through traditional and social media. The State Department has committed to a substantial increase in Fiscal Year 2010 funds to support these activities. In parallel, new non-government partnerships between Russian and American student organizations, cultural groups, and artists have expanded, sometimes with but oftentimes without U.S. government support. On June 24, 2010, Presidents Obama and Medvedev issued a Joint Statement on People-to-People Connections, articulating a shared desire to see such contacts continue to grow.
The U.S.-Russian Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law:
In June 2009, the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) registered in Russia as an affiliate of the non-profit organization USRF in the United States and has begun to work with Russian institutions to develop projects that encapsulate the principles of enterprise, accountability, and partnership. Among other new projects and grants, the USRF continues to support the Center for Entrepreneurship in Russia.
Private, Non-Governmental Initiatives and Activities
Parallel Business Summits:
In July 2009, during the Presidential Summit in Moscow, American and Russian business associations convened a parallel business summit that included hundreds of business representatives and CEOs from both countries. During the June 24, 2010 summit in Washington, American and Russian CEOs convened a small meeting of representatives from a number of different sectors to discuss ways in which to expand trade and investment and foster conditions conducive to innovation in both countries. American and Russian business associations also convened a parallel business summit that included participation by senior government officials from both countries.
Parallel Civil Society Summits:
In July 2009, American and Russian non-governmental organizations, including Eurasia Foundation, the New Eurasia Foundation, and CSIS convened a parallel civil society summit to coincide with the Presidential summit in Moscow. American and Russian non-governmental organizations gathered to discuss a number of themes including anti-corruption measures, community development, health, and media among others. During the meeting, President Obama appeared, hearing reports from representatives of the different working groups and making remarks. During the June 24 summit in Washington, IREX and New Eurasia convened a steering group meeting of civil society organizations, many of whom participated during the 2009 summit, to continue discussion in many of the same thematic areas and additional ones, such as education and child protection. During the session, information technology specialists interacted with traditional civil society actors to offer suggestions and ideas for how new technologies and innovation can complement and augment the work of the different groups. The steering committee laid the foundation for institutional engagement in the coming year for expanded participation by both American and Russian groups.
Expanding Trade and Investment:
Rostechnologiya and Boeing signed a proposal acceptance to enter into a sale of 50 737 Boeing aircraft with a potential additional sale of 15 planes to the Russian national airline Aeroflot. The multi-billion dollar sale will create potentially 44,000 new jobs in America’s aerospace industry. U.S. companies have opened new manufacturing facilities in Russia in the areas of soft drinks, paper, and tractors. In July 2009, PepsiCo announced it will invest nearly one billion USD in drink and food manufacturing facilities in Russia, including a new bottling plant in the Domodedovo, Moscow region. In April 2010, a joint venture between International Paper and Ilim Pulp announced an investment of 700 million USD to build a new kraft pulp mill in Bratsk. That same month, Deere & Company announced the opening of a new manufacturing and parts distribution facility, amounting to approximately a 500 million USD investment. In May 2010, Kimberly-Clark announced the opening of a 170 million dollar plant in the Moscow region producing diapers. On June 4, 2010, GE entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Russian state corporations Russian Technologies and Inter RAO UES, to pursue a strategic cooperation relationship for the production and distribution of industrial products needed to address Russia’s growing infrastructure demands. The MOU specifically contemplates the formation of joint ventures in the areas of power generation and healthcare equipment. While the terms of the joint venture agreements have yet to be finalized, the arrangement could result in billions of dollars in revenues to GE over five years, ultimately helping to support jobs and innovation in both Russia and the United States. On June 17, 2010, Chevron Corp. and OAO Rosneft agreed to explore for oil and natural gas on a block in the Black Sea, a project that could lead to more than 1 trillion rubles ($32 billion) in spending. On June 17, 2010 American lithium-ion battery manufacturer Ener1, Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia’s Federal Grid Company (MICEX: FEES) to help develop new opportunities to use high-performance battery systems to improve the reliability and performance of the Russian electricity system, which is facing record setting demand on an aging grid. In June, Siguler Guff & Company, a U.S.-based private equity firm, made a $250 million commitment towards the development of Russia’s innovation economy through its investment in a network of carrier-neutral data centers being built in Moscow and other Russian cities. The company’s Russia-based sponsor, DataSpace, responsible for overseeing this investment, will locate its headquarters in Skolkovo, the future high-tech center. On June 23, during President Medvedev’s visit to Silicon Valley, Cisco announced a pledge of one billion dollars in investments over the next ten years in technology projects in Russia, and that it would establish a second headquarters at Skolkovo for its emerging technologies unit. U.S. angel investors in the high-tech sector have created business incubators in Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk and, working with Russian partners, have created an entrepreneurial fund for Russian start-ups. The Russian government has liberalized its visa and registration requirements for skilled workers coming to work in the area of innovation.
Changing Russian Attitudes toward the United States:
According the Pew Research Center, the number of Russians with a favorable attitude towards the United States has increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in June 2010. In another poll by the Moscow-based Levada Center, Russian favorable attitudes towards the United States increased from 38 percent in January 2009 to 60 percent in May 2010. According to Levada, the percentage of Russians with negative attitudes has decreased from 49 percent in January 2009 to 26 percent in May 2010.
Preserving U.S.-Russian Historical Legacy:
On June 22, 2010, the Russian company Renova signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Office of the Governor of California establishing a foundation that will assist in the restoration of the historic Fort Ross, the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in California at the beginning of the 19th century.