Statement by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, at a Security Council meeting on Timor-Leste
Thank you Mr. President and welcome to the Council. I also wish to welcome the Foreign Minister of Timor-Leste and the Vice Minister of Brazil. Thank you, Special Representative Haq for your briefing this morning. Let me also thank you for your dedicated leadership and commitment to solidifying peace in Timor-Leste.
The collaboration among the United Nations, bilateral partners and multilateral actors has paid dividends in Timor-Leste. The continued cooperation between all stakeholders will provide critical support as this young country develops and prospers. The Secretary General’s report provides us with an important opportunity to discuss the needs of Timor-Leste to reflect on the progress of UNMIT’s planned withdrawal and to begin long-term planning for future United Nations engagement in the country.
Allow me to address four issues today. First, the United States is pleased and encouraged that the security situation in Timor-Leste continues to be stable and that security sector reform efforts continue to bear fruit. The transition of primary policing responsibilities last March from UNMIT to the Timorese national police was a critical step to in developing the capacity of national institutions to promote enduring security in Timor-Leste. We appreciate UNMIT’s essential support to the PNTL and recognize the PNTL’s successes in strengthening its own capacity. We also acknowledge and commend the commitment of the Timorese defense forces to enhance its professionalism and build its readiness including its ability to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. Work remains to be done, however. Continued efforts to professionalize the national police and military are necessary. We encourage the government of Timor-Leste to focus on establishing well-defined roles for the police and military. This is especially important as Timor-Leste moves toward elections in 2012. The United States is committed to supporting the continuing development of the military and police forces through professional exchanges, training, and exercises.
Second, as mentioned, Timor-Leste will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the first half of 2012. The importance of organizing and holding free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections cannot be overstated. We urge all political parties to respect the outcome of the democratic process and to conduct political activities peacefully. The United States is pleased to support the government of Timor-Leste’s request for election monitors and civic and voter education programs. We urge the international community to provide additional support to the election process.
Third, I would like to reiterate the importance of government institutions in capacity building in Timor-Leste. The strengthening of rule of law and governance institutions is critical to Timor-Leste’s future stability and we urge continued international support for this effort. The increased participation of women in the national police and politics is laudable and should be replicated across all institutions. Praise is also due to the government of Timor-Leste for its progress in promoting anti-corruption and transparency initiatives, including the establishment of the anti-corruption commission as well as other initiatives. We urge further work on institutionalizing government accountability, providing access to justice, and resolving truth and reconciliation issues, including the establishment of a memory institute. Strong institutions devoted to the protection of human rights, the promotion of national prosperity, and the achievement of accountability across all levels of society are critical to long-term stability in Timor-Leste.
Finally, I would like to highlight the impressive level of collaboration between UNMIT and the government of Timor-Leste in developing and ratifying the Joint Transition Plan. The plan will guide the complete withdrawal of UNMIT by the end of 2012. We encourage UNMIT and the government to continue with its implementation consistently and systematically. As the 2012 elections approach, the intensity of electoral preparations will increase and it may prove difficult to maintain simultaneous preparations for UNMIT’s eventual withdrawal. We urge UNMIT and the government of Timor-Leste to avoid delaying the implementation of the transition plan and to continue engaging international partners to ensure that capability gaps are quickly identified and filled.
With UNMIT’s withdrawal a little over a year away we have the opportunity to think collectively about the future engagement of the United Nations, including the Security Council, in Timor-Leste. The United States believes that international support for the development of Timor-Leste will continue to be critical to the country’s future. We remain committed to a sustained dialogue with the government and other stakeholders regarding a post-UNMIT UN presence in the country. The good offices of the UN, and other international support systems, will be integral to the continued development of Timor-Leste and will provide opportunities for Timor-Leste to contribute to these institutions as well. This mutually beneficial relationship is already starting to develop. Timor-Leste has progressed from a country that needs a peace-keeping force to a country that contributes to peacekeeping forces. Timorese police officers have served in overseas missions including in Kosovo in 2005 and this year in Guinea Bissau. In July of this year twelve Timorese defense force engineers began a six-month training to prepare for their eventual integration into a Portuguese contingent that will serve with the UN interim force in Lebanon. We also commend Timor-Leste’s role as an international leader of fragile states through its founding and chairing of the little G7+ group of post-conflict countries.
In closing, let me again thank SRSG Haq for her leadership and dedication, the peacekeepers of UNMIT for their work and contributions, Timor-Leste’s other supporters on the ground and abroad, and the Timorese themselves for their continued dedication to peace and security in Timor-Leste. Thank you very much.
I congratulate the Moroccan people on the successful completion of Friday’s parliamentary elections where millions of Moroccans went to the polls to elect their new political leaders. Now, working with King Mohammed VI, the new parliament and civil society can implement the amended constitution as a step toward fulfilling the aspirations and rights of all Moroccans.
The hard work of building democracy does not end when the votes are tallied and the winners announced. As we have seen in so many changes underway across the region, political leaders will be judged not only by what they say, but what they do. The United States stands ready to work with the new parliament and the people of Morocco to strengthen the rule of law, raise human rights standards, promote transparent and accountable governance, and work toward sustained, democratic reform.
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: (Via interpreter) In the name of God, most compassionate, most merciful, it is with great delight that we are honored to meet the U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton, and the high-level U.S. delegation accompanying her. This is the first visit for Secretary Clinton after the fall of the previous regime. We appreciate it a lot. We appreciate what the U.S. has provided during all this time, during all the time of our blessed revolution of February 17th, where the U.S. has offered also support for advocating for (inaudible).
(Inaudible) discussions today touched on several issues. We discussed the way of forming a high committee for the U.S.-Libyan relationship on a new track that aimed at achieving the interests of both countries. This committee, I hope that it will be announced soon, will contribute to developing the political, economic, social, and cultural relationship between the two countries.
We talked about the possibility to create a common joint scientific authority to discuss the scientific research between the U.S. experts and the Libyan researchers for an alternative economic promising future for Libya.
We also spoke about the immediate help in – for the injured of the Libyans, transferring them from the front, especially from the Sirte front.
We also talked about the issue of chemical material, and we value tremendously what the U.S. has provided in support and technical assistance in this issue.
Also we discussed the issue of the security today in Libya and how we can use the U.S. expertise in this field.
I look very much forward to a closer relationship among our nations and stronger relations from mutual respect on sovereignty and from the mutual respect and mutual common interest for the two countries. I thank Secretary Clinton again, and on behalf of my colleagues, I thank her high-level delegation for this visit that can build for a stronger relationship in the future.
Thank you, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Jibril. I want to express my appreciation to you and to Chairman Jalil and to all of the officials with whom we met today. I appreciate greatly the leadership that has been provided over the course of this remarkable year as the Libyan people demonstrated their bravery and determination. And I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya.
And on behalf of the American people I congratulate all Libyans. It is a great privilege to see a new future for Libya being born. And indeed, the work ahead is quite challenging, but the Libyan people have demonstrated the resolve and resilience necessary to achieve their goals.
Think about what has been achieved already. In crowded squares and mountain passes, Libyans stood up against a dictator’s aggression, and claimed the rights and dignity of a free people. Libyans were called rats by their own leaders and they were confronted by every possible tactic to break your spirit. But no threats dimmed the courage of the Libyan people. The United States was proud to stand with you, and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey, respecting your sovereignty and honoring our friendship. This is Libya’s moment. This is Libya’s victory and the future belongs to you.
The United States knows something about revolution and liberty. That is how our nation was born more than 230 years ago. And we know that democracy takes time; it will not be easy or quick. But we are filled with admiration for what you have already accomplished and confident in your ability to move forward.
Now, we recognize that the fighting, the bloody fighting, continues. We know that Qadhafi and those close to him are still at large. But the NATO and international coalition that came together on your behalf will continue to protect Libyan civilians until the threat from Qadhafi and those who hang to the past is ended.
In our meetings today, the chairman, prime minister, and their colleagues shared with us their plans for establishing an inclusive democracy in Libya. We agreed that the Libyan people deserve a nation governed by the rule of law, not the whims of men. We believe you deserve a government that represents all Libyans from all parts of the country and all backgrounds, including women and young people. We believe you deserve a transparent and fair judicial system. We also are convinced that revenge and vigilantism have no place in the new Libya.
And we believe you deserve an economy that delivers jobs, dignity, and opportunities to all Libyans – not just to the powerful and connected. We also share your concern about caring for the wounded and the families of the fallen, about securing weapons that may have gone missing, about integrating all the various revolutionary forces into a new and unified Libyan military.
Libya is blessed with wealth and resources, most particularly the human resources of the Libyan people. And there is a pressing need, as I was told today, for international expertise and technical assistance. That is why we welcome the idea of a joint committee between Libya and the United States to look at the priorities that the Libyans themselves have.
I am pleased that we are working together to return billions of dollars of frozen assets and that we have reopened our Embassy. We will stay focused on security: I am pleased to announce that we are going to put even more money into helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons. And the Administration, working with Congress, is going to provide $40 million to support this effort. We will also work with Libya to destroy chemical weapons stocks.
We want to expand our economic cooperation with Libya, to create new educational and cultural exchanges and deepen our engagement with civil society. First, we will launch this new partnership to provide care to your wounded. It deeply moves us that so many people dropped whatever they were doing to fight for their freedom – engineers and teachers, doctors and business leaders, students, and so many others. We plan to evacuate some of the most seriously injured to specialized medical facilities in the United States. We want to help you care for your patients here in Libya, so we will work together to establish a modern medical management system and to provide needed supplies and equipment.
We are also very focused on the young people of Libya who have the most to gain from this new freedom. And today I am pleased to announce we are resuming the Fulbright program and doubling its size to permit even more Libyan students to study and train in my country. We will also open new English language classes across Libya for young people and provide special training for Libyan veterans with disabilities because of their combat experience.
We are increasing grants and training to new civil society organizations and working with Libyan women to make sure they have the skills and opportunities to participate fully in the political and economic life of their countries.
And as with the transitions in Tunisia and Egypt, we will partner with Libya to create new economic opportunities and broader prosperity by boosting trade and investment, increasing tourism, building ties between Libyan and American businesses, and helping to integrate Libya more closely into regional and global markets.
This list is just a beginning, because we want to hear from the Libyan people, from the new government that will be established after Libya is fully liberated. But we think we share a lot of the same aspirations for our families and our countries and that we have a lot to learn from each other and give to each other.
Later, I will be meeting with students and civil and society leaders at Tripoli University, talking and listening to the young people of Libya, because it is to all of them that we dedicate our efforts on your behalf.
So again, prime minister, let me thank you for your warm welcome, and thanks to the people of Libya. And we give you our very best wishes and promise our best efforts as you undertake this journey to a new democracy. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: Thank you, your Excellency.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) The first question is for Dr. Jibril. The first question goes to Dr. Jibril.
QUESTION: A question for Dr. Jibril and Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton told you, Mr. Jibril, that there is large scale cooperation with Government of Libya. Do you think that you will be the prime minister of that government? Or in the past, you said that you will not share any other transitional government (inaudible).
A question for Secretary Clinton, who was one of the first voice (inaudible) for human rights and liberties. And you were an attorney and a successful lawyer. Today you are as successfully as Secretary of State. My question is: Do you see what is happening to the women in Saudi Arabia and in the eastern region of (inaudible)? Do you think that it is unsuitable to demand Saudi Arabia from bringing freedom just like you are asking Syria to be free, et cetera? And also Yemen – your position from Yemen is not very clear.
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: (Via interpreter) I will not be part of the upcoming government. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that I personally and the Government of the United States supports human rights everywhere for everyone. And we advocate that not only to governments but also through civil society and work to try to support the opportunities and aspirations of every individual to live up to his or her God-given potential. So we have spoken out. We will continue to speak out.
But different circumstances demand different kinds of responses, and the opportunity now in Libya is to not only chart a new future for Libyans but to stand as a model for democracy and freedom that was won with the blood of your martyrs is an extraordinary chance that comes perhaps only once in human history. So we think that what Libya has before it, the opportunity to make good on the promise of the revolution, is of the utmost importance, and that is why we are standing ready to work closely with the new Government of Libya and with the people of Libya.
We have and will continue to speak out to our friends, who we believe should do more on behalf of women and women’s rights – and I have said that many times – and with those with whom we have very serious differences, who are preventing the full aspirations and freedom of their people to flourish. But today, I am here to talk about Libya and Libya’s future and the hope that not only the United States but the world has invested in the future that Libyans will make for themselves.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) The question is to Secretary of State Clinton.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mister Prime Minister, how concerned are you about the possibility of civil war here, or any lengthy ongoing conflict with pro-Qadhafi forces? And also, could you both comment on what you believe should happen to the convicted Lockerbie bomber? Should he go back to prison?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, first of all, we are encouraged by the commitment of the Transitional National Council to taking the steps necessary to bring the country together. National unity is one of the highest priorities that Libya faces right now. And we discussed the process of forging a new democratic interim government that is transparent, inclusive, and consultative. And how that is done will, of course, depend upon the decisions that the Libyan people themselves make.
But from long experience, one factor we know must be confronted is unifying the various militias into a single military that represents the Libyan people and government. And the Transitional National Council is very focused on doing just that. They want to get all the militias under national command. They want to prevent reprisals and secure the stocks of weaponry that have come off the battlefield or have been discovered from the previous regime. And we think that the programs that the Transitional National Council have outlined to pay to the families of the fallen martyrs, to prepare programs and treatment and training for those who have served, are exactly what will be needed. Getting a national army and a police force under civilian command is essential. And the United Nations, the United States, and other partners stand ready to do that. But we are still at the point where liberation has not yet been claimed because of the ongoing conflicts that persist, and of course, the continuing freedom of action of Qadhafi and those around him.
So the Transitional National Council has to put security first. There has to be a resolution of the conflict before many of these programs can actually be put into action. And I really believe that all members of all militias must see the benefit of joining the new government, of pledging allegiance, as we say in my country, to the new government.
You know, I come from a very diverse country. We fought a civil war, and it was horrible. It was the war in which more Americans died at each other’s hands than any other, and we lived with the consequences for decades afterwards.
In today’s world, in the 21st century, that will just throw a people further behind history. So I know that the leadership understands that. They are focused on doing everything they can to end the fighting, to declare the liberation of the country, to form a new government, and to begin to pull the entire country together. So we will do everything we can to respond to that.
And we have made, of course, our strong views known about Megrahi, and I have said, many times, that we believe that he should never have been released. I raised this issue again with the leadership here. We – and we recognize the magnitude of all the issues that Libya is facing, but we also know the importance of the rule of law, and they have assured us they understand how strongly the United States feels about this and all the sensitivities around this case. We will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. This is an open case in the United States Department of Justice, and we will continue to discuss it with our Libyan counterparts.
QUESTION: Does the United States –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Will you talk in the microphone so the press can hear you, sir? Thank you.
QUESTION: You hear me now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Libya Al Hurra TV. Will the United States consider cooperating with the Libyan Islamists on delivering political process for Libya? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The democracy that takes root in Libya must be reflective of the aspirations of the people of Libya, not the desires or dictates of any outside group. So with respect to Libyans themselves, we will support a process of democratizing that respects the rule of law; that respects the rights of minorities and women and young people; that creates independent institutions, like a free press and an independent judiciary. Groups and individuals who really believe in democracy should be welcome into that process. But groups that want to undermine democracy or subvert it are going to have to be dealt with by the Libyans themselves.
There are people – and I’ve been working in this area for many years, even as a private citizen and as a United States senator. There are many people who say they support elections, but only if they get elected. They want one election, one time, and then if they are elected no more elections. So these are all the kinds of challenges that Libyans will face in putting together their democracy. But people must renounce violence, they must give up arms, they must be committed to a democracy that respects the rights of all. And then, of course, you have an inclusive democracy that includes people, but they must be committed to the goals of a true democracy.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’d like to take you a bit east of here. Today, Gilad Shalit has returned home after more than five years in captivity, and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have been released as well. I was wondering whether you could give us your reaction to the deal struck between Israel and Hamas and how that fits in, if at all, with your wider efforts to resume peace talks, for example, in the Middle East. And also slightly connected to this, we are hearing reports that the American Israeli citizen, Ilan Grapel, who’s been detained in Egypt on charges of spying, may be released. I was wondering whether you could confirm that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, we are pleased that a long ordeal, being held five years as a hostage, has ended for Gilad Shalit and he’s been released and finally reunited with his family. He was held for far too long in captivity. And we are also hopeful that Ilan Grapel will similarly be released. We see no basis for any legal action against him.
And of course, we are hopeful that there will be a return to negotiations by the Israelis and the Palestinians by the end of this month, as outlined by the Quartet statement.
So we continue to be very focused on working toward a two-state outcome that would give the Palestinian people the same rights that the Libyan people are now obtaining to chart their own destiny and make their own way in life with their own goals and aspirations being fulfilled, and that Israel would have secure borders and could contribute to the prosperity of the larger region. So we remain focused on that and we’ll continue to work toward those outcomes.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) The Libyan woman is absent from the political scene, especially at the ministries, and in the current TNC all the ministers are males. Are you going to offer support so the women can participate in the development of Libya? And also to the election, how do you see the women of Libya in the future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Prime Minister Jibril is smiling because I have raised it every time I have seen him and every time that I have seen Chairman Jalil and all of the Libyan officials with whom I have met over the last many months.
I would make three points. First, no country can become a democracy, no economy can develop as fully as it could, if half the population is not included. And the women of Libya have the same rights as their brothers and their husbands and their fathers and their sons to help build a new Libya. So we are very committed and very outspoken about what we hope will be the full inclusion of women in a democratic future.
Secondly, women also sacrificed in this revolution. Women were in the streets. Women were supporting the fighters. Women were sending their sons and their husbands off to an uncertain future, and many will never see them again. So women have sacrificed. They may not have been on the front lines holding a weapon, but they were holding together the society and supporting those who were fighting for Libya’s independence. So they have earned the right to be part of Libya’s future.
And finally, there is an opportunity here that I hope Libya will seize. I believe because you have won your freedom – no one handed it to you, you fought for it and you won it – that you will find it in your hearts to demonstrate to the entire world that Libya is not only free, but Libya is equal, Libya believes in the rule of law, Libya will educate all of their boys and girls to take their rightful places in the world. I would hope that I could come back to a free, democratic Libya in a few years, and it would be a shining example of what is possible when free people make their own choices.
So I cannot imagine how that could come to pass if women are not given the right to serve their country, to run their businesses, to be educated to the best of their abilities. So I will certainly look to ways that the United States can support the women in Libya to be able to take their rightful places in this new democratic future.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, my friend.
SECRETARY CLINTON:I know that more than 30 years ago students from this university came to this very spot to engage in historic protests, and their voices were crushed by the Qadhafi regime. But today, because of the courage of the Libyan people, we can be here together to have a conversation about what you hope for your futures and what partnership the United States can offer. So on behalf of all of the people of my country, I congratulate all of the people of the new Libya. Libya, (in Arabic.) It is wonderful to be here. (Applause.)
The last seven months have been historic, not only for Libyans, but indeed for the world, because you have faced your challenges and conducted your revolution with courage and commitment. You demanded the rights and the dignity of a free people, and you withstood the brutal assaults from those who were only wedded to the past. And now we have a new era. There will be new stories written about Libya in the history books.
But what will that story be? That, to me, is the question of the day. If you are committed to a new Libya, then how will you make your contributions? The structures of oppression have been torn down, but new structures are only being imagined now. So what – excuse me – (coughs) – I talk way too much. (Laughter.) What we all have to determine is how you turn to reconciliation and create an inclusive Libya that guarantees human rights and dignity, that delivers jobs and opportunities, that governs itself under respect for the rule of law.
Now, every democracy reflects the unique choices and passions of its people. That is one of democracy’s great strengths. We do not expect your democracy to be exactly like our democracy. We come from different backgrounds, we have different histories, and yet there are certain fundamentals about democracy that we think are more likely to produce a better outcome.
A democracy makes a virtue of the diversity of its people. No democracy can function effectively unless every group contributes. So Libya will need the talents of all of its people, young people, women, people from every part of the country. I feel strongly that in the weeks and months ahead, as you make these decisions about how to shape your democracy, women need to be part of that decision making. Because women defied Qadhafi’s troops, women supported the revolution.
I was struck by a quote that I read of a woman who was asked by a reporter why she took such great risks to be part of this revolution, and she responded by saying, “For God, for tasting freedom, for our land, for our liberty, for the future.” Well, that is what people who fight for their freedom believe, and women must be part of the new Libya.
The same is true for young people. This rising generation here at the university has given so much, and I agree with the president that you expect so much as well. And those expectations are warranted, but it will take time, effort, and some patience to achieve the goals that you seek.
We will be here as your partner. We will continue to emphasize the importance of the rule of law, respect for human rights, trade and investment, and the importance of civil society, academic institutions, and learning. We want to provide care and treatment for Libya’s war wounded, and we want to increase our educational exchanges. We will be funding English classes for disabled war veterans. We will resume educational exchanges and institute, once again, the Fulbright Program. In fact, we will double the numbers of those who will come to the United States to study. Through our Middle East Partnership Initiative, we want to connect up young Libyans from one end of your vast country to another.
There are so many possibilities and there are so many challenges. And what I want to do for my time with you is to hear from you, hear what you would like from the United States, hear what you would like from your new government. We have members with us from the Transitional National Council, who I know are interested as well in hearing from the young people of their country.
So with your permission, I would like to turn now to soliciting your views and your questions, and I will, to the best of my ability, respond to any question that is directed at me. So how shall we proceed? Shall I call on people, and you will bring them the microphone? Is that appropriate? All right. So who would be the brave person who wants to go first?
Yes, I saw your hand right there, the young women in the second row. And if your question is in Arabic we will have it translated before I try to answer it so I know what it was.
QUESTION: Hi. (Inaudible) organization for women and children. I’d like to welcome you to Libya. I hope you enjoy it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: My question, Libyan women went through tough times throughout this revolution. (Inaudible) – she got tortured, arrested, she lost her son, brother, and husband. What is the message you would like to send to Libyan women, and as a woman would you like to – do you hope to see a Libyan woman as a foreign minister or a president maybe of this country? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that Libyan women have the same rights as Libyan men. I would hope for a future of democracy and equality and opportunity for all. And I say that for these reasons: First, it is hard to imagine how Libya – the new, free Libya – will become a democracy and leave out half of the population. That doesn’t add up to me. That’s not what I hear or see from the Libyans who have so bravely fought for their freedom. And I don’t know any country that can succeed to the extent expected if half of the population is denied the opportunity to participate. So in this new democracy, I would hope to see the rights and responsibilities of women be given full inclusion.
Secondly, women did suffer during this revolution, as you yourself have just said. And we know that from the reports that came out of Libya, that are still coming out of places like Sirte. Women suffered because they demanded their own rights and were personally mistreated, and women suffered because they sent their sons and their husbands and saw their fathers and their brothers go off to fight for their freedom. So I think women in Libya have earned the right to be given the same opportunity to help build a new Libya.
And finally, I have had the privilege of traveling to over 90 countries as Secretary of State. I’ve been in all kinds of countries with all kinds of governments, and I have seen the very significant contributions that women can make. I just met – for example, you said foreign minister – I just met with the foreign minister of Bangladesh, who is a woman. I was in Indonesia recently and meeting with the finance minister of Indonesia, who is a woman. I’ve been in Malaysia and met with the governor of the Central Bank in Malaysia, who is a woman. Many of the countries that are Muslim majority and democratic, such as the three I just named, have recognized the importance of including women and giving women the opportunity to serve their country, to start businesses, to teach in universities, and to pursue their own God-given potential.
So I believe strongly that this will be important for women, but it will be equally important for men in a new Libya. And the United States will support organizations that are committed to ensuring that women can become active, responsible participants in Libyan society. I met two young women, as I was walking in, who are from a new organization called Voices of Libyan Women. And I thank them for taking on this important responsibility, and we will look forward to assisting you.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Here comes the microphone.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is (inaudible). I – first of all, I would like to welcome you here, and I volunteer with the university to help rebuild this university. I would like to ask you, many people feel that the U.S. had taken the backseat in terms of helping this revolution. Would you see the U.S. taking the lead on terms of rebuilding this country and helping? And if so, what kind of resources would you be providing and the most suitable tools to help rebuild this country?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think it’s fair to say that the United States played a unique leadership role in what happened in Libya, because we wanted to be sure, number one, that there was an international coalition in support of Libya. And I’m very pleased that there was. It was quite historic that you had the UN passing strong resolutions, which the United Nations was on the lead on, and then you had NATO coming together to protect civilians, and the Arab League, which had called for action, actually having member states participate in that coalition, the no-fly zone, the maritime embargo. The United States was actively involved, but we also thought it was important that there be a broad base of support for the Libyan revolution, and indeed, there has been. So we are very pleased by that.
We also have said – and part of the reason for my trip is to emphasize our commitment to helping Libya navigate through this next period of your history. Now, unlike many countries in the world that find themselves free of a dictatorship, Libya is blessed with natural resources and human resources that you don’t often find in many other countries. Yes, you do have oil, and now maybe that oil can be used for the benefit the Libyan people, not to enrich a relatively small group of powerful people.
And you have human resources. This great university is a testament to that. You have a lot of expertise within the Libyan people themselves, and certainly the Libyan Diaspora that came back to help win your freedom. So I don’t know that it’s so much, in Libya’s case, a question of money as it is getting expertise, technical assistance, and support for what you already intend to do. And I told both Chairman Jalil and Prime Minister Jibril we intend to support you on that. So I really believe that Libya is as well positioned as any country in recent history to make this journey to democracy successfully.
Now, that’s not to say it’s going to be easy, because it will not be easy. You have to unify your country. You know what people say. People say, “Well, Libya can’t be unified. You have the east, you have the west, you have the south. You have only six million people in this huge country. You have unprotected borders. You have so many different tribal interests.” Well, I don’t believe that. I think that you have enough of a commitment to your future to bring people together and to create that national unity, and you all will have to work on it.
I think there are several dangers, and the president referred to one. Everybody wants what they want, and they want it now. I mean, if I had a magic wand, I would have brought it with me, and I would leave it here, but I do not. And that means that it is going to take longer than anybody wants it to take. But you have to start on this journey step by step, and you have to be somewhat patient with each other as you try to work out how to organize yourselves.
But I have every confidence you will be successful, and the United States will help you. We’ll help you with resources, with technical expertise, with any kind of support for elections and for economic opportunities. You name it; we are ready to be helpful to you, but want it to be your priorities, not anybody else’s.
So many hands. How about this gentleman in the third row? Right there.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is (inaudible). I’m at the (inaudible). And thank you for every word that you said to encourage and support our revolution here. My question is: One of my goals in Libya is helping more young people to become part of the global community. What steps do you think Libyan youth should be begun with after the work to become effective partners in the global community?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a very important question, because the more Libya gets integrated into the regional and global community, the stronger Libya will be. Now, I know that you have communicated with one another and with people around the world through the internet, which is one way of being connected up to the global community. I read an interesting story about a young man here, I think, at the university, who was working to contact people in other countries that had gone through similar transitions to ask for their personal advice, and I think that kind of outreach is very important. So I would encourage you to do it, and maybe even in an organized way, to create a site where people around the world who want to help Libya, who want to contribute to Libya, who believe strongly in what you’re doing, can find a way to be of assistance. So it’s a two-way street; you’re not only reaching out, but people are reaching in.
I think when it comes to economic integration, this part of the world, namely all of North Africa, in fact, most of the African continent and the Middle East, have not been as open economically as I think would benefit you. So when you think about integrating into the global economy, think about how you can tear down barriers so there can be more trade, more commerce, more activity coming and going. Because right now, there isn’t as much as there should be, and I think there could be a lot more that would benefit Libya.
One idea that I know people in Libya are exploring is: How do you make sure that the money you earn from your oil goes to benefit the Libyan people? And there are several examples. Norway, for example, has the money from the oil industry in a trust fund, which they use for certain common purposes. You talk about rebuilding this great university. Well, there needs to be some recognition that your natural resources should be used to benefit all Libyans. And that’s another way to promote national unity, to tell people in every part of Libya, “You’re not going to be forgotten. You’re not going to be cut out. You’re going to be part of Libya’s future, because we’re going to protect the oil revenues – a certain percentage of it – for benefitting all of Libya.” There are ideas out there like that, that if you reach out, you can find out more about.
So I would encourage you to look at all kinds of possibilities for better organizing and communicating from Libya to the rest of the world, and then look at ways to integrate you, particularly economic, and then look at ideas that you can transplant and bring back to Libya to benefit the Libyan people.
Yes, this young woman right there in the second row.
QUESTION: Hello, welcome to Libya. My name is Sarah Spani. I’m an honors graduate from this university, the school of engineering, and I’m a member of women organization, name is (inaudible) Women’s Association. My question is for the last four decades, Qadhafi didn’t give any chance for Libyan people, women as well as men, to participate in any type of political or civil activities, yet we have no political parties. What is the best strategy, in your point of view, and fastest strategy to encourage our people to involve more in the political life, considering that we have elections in a matter of two years or less and we have to elect our parliaments and our president. How do we do that? How to encourage our people in the fastest time? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is an excellent and very important question, because it is, as you say, absolutely essential to create political parties, to create political agendas and platforms so people know what you stand for and what they would be getting if they vote for you. And the United States has for many years provided support to other countries that are going through this process. We don’t have any intention of picking winners or losers, but how do you do it? How do you create a political party? How do you create a political platform? How do you campaign? What are the techniques that are most useful to reaching people?
And we have several NGOs that do this all over the world and are certainly more than ready to help. So do the Europeans. They have a lot of groups that do the same. And even Latin American countries that have thrown off dictatorships in the last 20-30 years and are now democracies are ready to help.
So we can certainly, through our Embassy and our Ambassador – Gene Cretz is here with us – we can provide you with information and we can also connect you up to groups in our country and help you access groups in other places that can give you the kind of advice that you’re looking for.
I think that some of the experiences that are more recent, particularly in Latin America, maybe Central and Eastern Europe, in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia – Indonesia has been a democracy for 10 years now – could be of great benefit to you. They’re very vibrant democracies. They have political parties. Men and women run and get elected. And I think that would be one of our principal objectives, which is to help you look for and find the best ways to organize.
I want to emphasize how important it is that you organize. I mean, what often happens post-revolutions is that people are exhausted. I mean, it’s a terribly traumatic experience for a country and for people to go through. And a lot of people want to just go home, they want to get back to their jobs, back to their studies – totally understandable. And the political process they will leave to somebody else. But in a democracy, the best political process is the one that involves the most people and gets people to feel strongly about their choices and what they want from their leaders.
So I hope that you and all the young people here will get into the political system, learn how to form parties, how to make coalitions, recognize that in democracy compromise is essential. Because people do come, they get elected from different places with different ideas, and they have to then kind of work out what’s the best solution to reach. And we have a lot of experience in this and we’d be more than happy to provide some of that expertise.
Let me go way back to the gentleman sitting way back there. I don’t want to forget the people in the back seats here. This man, right here on the aisle. Yeah.
QUESTION: Hi (inaudible) graduate from dentist school. I’m trying – I’m asking is there a possibility for making a program for dentists who can train and do their internship in the USA, since here in Libya it doesn’t have the dental equipment and to make better future dentists. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look into that. I think that’s an excellent suggestion. I will speak with our dental association when I get back to the United States and see if we couldn’t work out some kind of exchange program that would assist you. I thank you for raising it.
And then the gentleman behind there in the first row.
QUESTION: Ask by Arabic?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. My interpreter is here.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) The United States of America supported the right of the Libyan people to self-determination and supported also the project for the Libyans to defend themselves. What are the Libyan people able to prove in a short time in order to get all that support from the United States, from everywhere, and the Palestinians were not able in over 50 years to achieve it? What is that the Palestinians need to do in order to get such a support like the one you gave to the Libyan people?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We need to negotiate a state that will meet the needs of the people. There are many examples around the world where, through negotiations with both sides, we were able to set forth a pathway to full statehood. It just happened in Sudan, not far from Libya, about – starting about 10 years ago, ending in 2005. There was a negotiation and resulted in a referendum and it resulted in a new state.
There is no shortcut to that, because all of these very complex issues have to be resolved. And I take this very, very seriously, very personally. You might remember when my husband was president, they got very close but didn’t succeed. And it’s something that I am very committed to following through on and intend to do everything I can to try to bring about the negotiations, because otherwise you can’t declare it, you have to achieve it through negotiations. That’s the only way that it will actually be real.
So let’s see, this gentleman right there in the middle. Yes. Here comes the microphone.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Hello, Madam Secretary. I’m Hiba Aboreg. Welcome to Libya. I’m Hiba Aboreg. I’m a medical student in this university, and what I wanted to ask you is about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is very important to the American way of life, and we are very new to this democracy, so what I was wondering was what steps do you think we, both as a government and as a people, can take to – sorry. I’m kind of nervous.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, you’re doing very well.
QUESTION: What do you think we can – what steps do you think we can take to root the freedom of speech into the Libyan identity? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I do believe very strongly that freedom of speech is absolutely essential to any democracy, so I think there has to be a guarantee of freedom of speech in your constitution and in your laws, which your new government will begin to pass, once you have your parliament, and that there has to be also a respect imbued in the people for freedom of speech. Because people in my country say things all the time that I disagree with and that I think are wrong, but we believe that more speech is the best answer to speech you don’t agree with. So you make your case, you publish articles, you go on the radio or the TV, now you go on the internet, and you make your position known. So we hope that freedom of speech will be respected and legally protected in the new Libya.
Oh my goodness, too many hands. I can’t – I don’t want to leave people out in the back, because I always feel bad about that. The man in the white shirt.
QUESTION: Maldrew Abdulli from Libya Times magazine. I would like to ask you, the United States has been supporting Libya since the beginning of this revolution. There are two things that the Libyan people now are in need of it. The injured fighters, which already have been now in hospitals and everywhere – would the United States be interested to cure somehow the injured fighters which are in hospitals now, or at least support them with medical equipment or medical staff? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And we will do both, and I thank you for asking that. We have told the Transitional National Council that we will transport some of the most seriously wounded to hospitals in the United States. We will provide medical equipment and material that is needed to operate your surgeries and other equipment that is required for the care of your wounded. And we will work with other countries to make sure that their needs are met.
And it’s not only the physical wounds, but we know that there are also traumas, psychological problems that people who are in combat experience. And that’s especially true when the people who won this revolution were not professional soldiers. They came from all walks of life. They had – many of them never fired a gun before, and they are thrust into the bloodiest of conflicts, close quarter combat in places throughout the country.
So we feel very strongly that we want to support taking care of the injured, the wounded, in body and mind, and we want to work with Libya to be able to care of your own people. So that’s one of my pledges to you.
My goodness. Yes, young woman right there. Second in, yes.
QUESTION: Hello. I’m Mana Whity, student in athletics department at Tripoli University. I would like to thank you for coming here. I’m a bit nervous. I got a question for you: To my knowledge, the Qadhafi regime has been created under Libyan (inaudible) and under support of some Western countries. What measure the United States will present to us to prevent such a regime to be created again – sorry – especially in Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that, certainly, the most important thing now is to make sure that Qadhafi and his regime are finally prevented from disrupting the new Libya. And as you know, we had a very hostile relationship with Qadhafi over many years because of his behavior and because of his actions, both inside of Libya and outside of Libya. We did appreciate the decision that he made a few years ago to do away with his nuclear program, because that made it possible for the world to be safer and eventually for you to be more secure in your revolution.
So we want to do everything we can to prevent him from causing trouble for the new Libya. We want to make sure he’s brought to justice, along with the people around him, his family members and others who are still supporting him. And that’s what we intend to do to try to help protect civilians from any reprisals by Qadhafi coming out of anywhere. We don’t know where he is, but we hope he can be captured or killed soon so that you don’t have to fear him any longer, and then you have to move forward.
One of the problems you will face is how to reconcile different people, how you will bring people into a new Libya and not spend your time trying to settle scores from the past. That will be very hard. Countries that have succeeded, like Chile or South Africa, have been incredibly successful. Even Rwanda, where 800,000 people were killed, has kept its eye on the future. Countries that keep looking over their shoulders toward the past and they want to find the guy who did the bad thing to their family 20 years ago and they want to do this and they want to do that find it difficult to move forward. There’s a saying in my country: “You can’t drive forward if you’re looking in the rearview mirror.” So how do you overcome all of those terrible experiences and feelings and stay focused on the future? That will be a hard task for Libya. But I know you can do it.
Oh my goodness. Let’s see, how many more questions do we have? Let me see here. I want to be sure to be fair in getting as many as possible. Let me – this man right there, yep, and then I’ll come to you next, okay?
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) from the library and information section (inaudible) from the removal of (inaudible) that caused disturbance not only to Libyans, but to the entire world because I did the documentation and archivals. My question is: What can be a helpful exchange between our two countries, especially with information management and libraries, and indexation such as for instance having something like the Library of Congress is very famous in the whole world, such (inaudible) has to do with all the departments of a university. How can you help us with this kind of expertise? And thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Could you repeat the question?
INTERPRETER: Yes. The question pertains, Madam Secretary, to his field. He works in the archival and library and information management of libraries. He’s very fascinated with the Library of Congress type of proto model and was wondering how could the United States help his university, his section – he’s with the entire university – how could the United States offer such expertise to this field, which is very important in information management and libraries and index section.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look into that. I think it’s a very good question, and I will, again, take it back to the United States. I will speak with our archivists and our library experts. You’re right that the Library of Congress is a magnificent institution, and we’ll see if we can provide some specific support for your information systems here. So I hope that you will contact – I hope that the young dentist and I hope you, sir, will come down and introduce yourself to our ambassador so we can follow up with each of you, okay? Good.
And yes, uh-huh.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think she’ll wait, and then once you’ve asked the question, she’ll translate the whole question so we can hear it more easily.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Madam Secretary, my question that pertains to the following: We believe that there is a new political philosophy for our country, that is, what is referred to usually as a liberalcrat or something to that effect. Do you believe that such a philosophy can happen here, and how can we promote it and make it happen?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am not an expert on any particular new philosophy, so I cannot address the specific question you asked me. I can only tell you that I think there will be room for many philosophies in the new Libya, because people will present points of view and you will be able to test them and argue about them and present your case about them. And I think through that kind of exchange of views in the political process, in the media, in the university, you can come to what are the best answers for Libya.
So you may have one philosophy and someone sitting over here may have a different philosophy, but the two of you together perhaps can come up with ways of presenting your views that will help move Libya forward. And I think that should be the goal of everyone. What will make – at the end of your efforts, are the people of Libya better off when you stopped than when you started? Is the country coming together or pulling apart? Are you creating a political and economic model that will be sustainable over the generations?
Those should be the questions I would hope you would keep in mind. Are we making lives better through what we are doing? Are we bringing people together? Are we creating systems that will truly stand the test of time? And I think every philosophy should be judged against those kinds of questions.
Yes, young woman right there? Yeah.
MODERATOR: We will have one more time for questioning.
SECRETARY CLINTON: This – okay, I’ve called on this woman, the second row, second seat here. There you go.
MODERATOR: Will you please pass the –
QUESTION: Hi, (inaudible) from the Voice of Libyan Women. I was wondering, as a woman who fought her way into politics on your own, what’s your opinion about quota?
SECRETARY CLINTON: About what?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Quotas. That’s never been an issue in my country, but it has been an issue in many countries and I think that there are many systems where quotas have been absolutely necessary in order for women to get their foot in the door. So I would suggest that you and your colleagues look at all the different kinds of quota systems. There are quota systems in India, there are quota systems in many countries in Africa, in other places in Asia. So there are many countries which made the decision that in order to ensure that women were – women’s voices were at the table, there had to be seats set aside for women. And I think that makes a lot of sense in many different countries.
So I would urge you to do a study, look at what’s worked and what hasn’t worked, and where the results have made it possible for more women to participate in political life. And it very well might work here in Libya because you’re starting from a new system and nobody is an expert in it. It’s going to be brand new. And I think you want to be sure that women’s voices are not eliminated from the very beginning of your democratic process because it would be hard to catch up.
So I think I would favor some form for Libya to start with, but I don’t have an opinion about what that would look like. You would have to design it.
QUESTION: I have a question.
You know what? There are so many hands that are up and –
MODERATOR: Sorry about that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me, if I may, Mr. President. If you will do this, Ambassador Cretz, will you stand up and will people who work with you at our Embassy, will you raise your hand? Any of our people from the Embassy, if you give your question to any of these men and women who work at our Embassy, I will answer your question and they will get the answer back to you, but – and I know there are about a hundred left, so I will do that to all of you. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Okay. We would like to thank very much, Your Excellency. Time is running out. And welcome back again to Libya. Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope to come back to the new Libya. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Okay. This is a promise. This is a promise, okay? (Applause.)
Thank you very much, President Krekshi and to all the deans and faculty and students of Tripoli University. Good afternoon. I am deeply honored to be here with you today. I appreciate greatly the president’s kind words about the support that our government provided. But the victory is yours, the future is yours, and it is a personal honor to be here in the heart of a liberated Tripoli, speaking to a brave generation of Libyans.
Statement by Chargé d’Affaires Robbins on the Invitation by the Russian Federation for International Observers for the Duma Elections
The United States welcomes the timely invitation by the Russian Federation Central Election Commission for international observers, including an Election Observation Mission from OSCE/ODIHR and Parliamentary Assembly, for the December 4 State Duma elections.
Free and fair elections that adhere to international standards are a necessary part of a healthy democracy. OSCE’s participating States have an obligation to ensure that elections throughout the region meet these standards and that citizens have the freedom to cast their votes. We are committed to the support of free and fair electoral processes that allow political parties to operate freely, that allow citizens to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and protest, that enshrine the importance of an independent media, and that enjoy the protections of an effective judicial system.
All OSCE participating States have committed themselves to the implementation of free and fair elections. As set forth in the 1990 Copenhagen Document—and reaffirmed at the Astana Summit—this includes universal and equal suffrage; secret ballots; and non-discriminatory access for parties to the media.
Domestic and foreign observers play a critical role in documenting that these principles are upheld during elections, and ODIHR has become the gold standard for election observation.
We urge all participating States to support the secondment of long-term observers to follow the elections process throughout Russia and to contribute to the provision of short-term observers to follow Election Day proceedings. We would also welcome robust participation by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. We urge the Russian Federation to facilitate timely visa issuance to all Mission members.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The United States is deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt that has led to a tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces. We express our condolences to the families and loved ones of all who were killed or injured, and we stand with the Egyptian people in this painful and difficult time.
Now is a time for restraint on all sides so that Egyptians can move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt. As the Egyptian people shape their future, the United States continues to believe that the rights of minorities—including Copts—must be respected. All people have the universal rights of peaceful protest and religious freedom.
We also note Prime Minister Sharaf’s call for an investigation and his appeal to all parties to refrain from violence. We echo these calls and stress the importance that the investigation be a transparent and credible process beginning immediately and holding accountable all responsible parties with full due process of law. To further protect religious freedom, we also support the Egyptian government’s decision to consider a Unified Places of Worship Law governing church construction and an anti-discrimination law within two weeks.
The tragic violence that has marred Egypt’s transition should not stand in the way of timely elections and the country’s continued transition to democracy.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The President is deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt that has led to a tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces. The United States expresses our condolences to the families and loved ones of all who were killed or injured, and stands with the Egyptian people in this painful and difficult time. Now is a time for restraint on all sides so that Egyptians can move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt. As the Egyptian people shape their future, the United States continues to believe that the rights of minorities – including Copts – must be respected, and that all people have the universal rights of peaceful protest and religious freedom. We also note Prime Minister Sharaf’s call for an investigation and appeal to all parties to refrain from violence. These tragic events should not stand in the way of timely elections and a continued transition to democracy that is peaceful, just and inclusive.
The United States is deeply disappointed with the conviction and sentencing of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko through a politically motivated prosecution. The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial, as well as the prosecution of other opposition leaders and members of the preceding government, have raised serious concerns about the Government of Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and rule of law.
The United States strongly supports the Ukrainian peoples’ goal of becoming a democratic and prosperous European state, and remains dedicated to strengthening bilateral cooperation based on shared values and shared interests. Ukraine, however, cannot reach this goal without redoubled efforts to protect and advance democracy and the rule of law for all its citizens. For these reasons, the United States urges the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the other political leaders and former government officials, and believes that they should have an unrestricted ability to participate fully in political life, including next year’s parliamentary elections.
Ambassador Johnson’s remarks at the Closing Plenary of the OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Other Business at the Closing of the Plenary Session)
The United States for several years has used this agenda item to follow up on the recommendations made by the fact-finding mission resulting from the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism. In April, the Moscow Mechanism was invoked concerning Belarus. Fourteen participating States took this unusual step due to the crackdown by the Lukashenka government following the election in Belarus on December 19, 2010.
We regret the Belarusian authorities’ refusal to comply with that country’s commitments by placing obstacles to implementation of the Moscow Mechanism. Notwithstanding this unwillingness to cooperate, sole rapporteur Professor Decaux, who ultimately constituted the OSCE’s fact-finding mission, was able to meet formally and informally with OSCE institutions and numerous diplomats and members of civil society, including representatives of NGOs from Belarus. His comprehensive report illustrates the seriousness, duration and scale of gross and systematic human rights violations that have taken place since December 19, 2010.
In particular, the report documents the non-compliance of the Lukashenka government—from the December 19 elections until early May—with Belarus’s OSCE commitments in the following areas: the conduct of the December 19th elections; harassment of candidates and their relatives since the election; restrictions on freedom of association, including registration requirements for political parties, NGOs and trade unions; restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including arrests and detentions of those exercising their right to freedom of opinion as well as harassment, arrests and detention of journalists as well as searches of their homes and offices; restrictions on the freedom of movement, right to peaceful assembly, and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, including torture and ill treatment, and the right to a fair trial and the independence of lawyers. The government of Belarus must address the serious concerns raised in Professor Decaux’s report, and we urge the authorities to implement the recommendations.
We continue to be concerned about the situation in Turkmenistan. It has shown little progress since the Moscow Mechanism was invoked in 2003. Basic human rights and fundamental freedoms remain severely restricted. Turkmenistan remains the only OSCE participating State that officially has a one-party political system. There is virtually no space for civil society to operate. All media is tightly controlled by the government, and the Internet is censored and monitored. According to Reporters without Borders, journalists often were “summoned for questioning, threatened with prosecution, and fired from their jobs, while relatives are also exposed to the possibility of reprisals.”
We have commended Turkmenistan’s registration of the Catholic Church in 2010. However, there continue to be significant restrictions on freedom of religion. Several religious groups remain unable to register, and the government has placed restrictions on registered groups’ ability to own property and print or import religious materials. Current law prohibits foreign missionary activity and foreign religious organizations, and the private publication of religious literature. Freedom of movement also continues to be restricted.
We remain concerned about the lack of access to persons in prison, including political prisoners. Last fall, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention publicly released its opinion that the arrest and continued detention of journalists Annakurban Amanklichev and Sapardurdy Hajiyev violates international law, and that they should be released immediately. We have received no information about former civil activist Gulgeldy Annaniyazov, who was arrested in June 2008 after returning to the country from Norway, where he had received asylum. One very concrete step Turkmenistan could take that would be a clear signal of the government’s intention to move forward with reform would be to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent and other independent observers’ access to prisons. Finally, as we have for the past seven years, we again request information about, and access to our former OSCE colleague, Batyr Berdiev. I last saw him in Vienna when the Austrian Foreign Minister honored him before his return to Ashgabat to take up his post as Foreign Minister in Turkmenistan. Many of us who have sat at this table have called him a friend. This organization bears a special burden to press for information about him, and access to him, since not so long ago, he was one of us.
The invocation of the Moscow mechanism remains an extraordinary measure, the use of which demonstrates extraordinary concern by a group of participating States for the situation in one of our countries. Belarus and Turkmenistan should follow-up on the recommendations made through this mechanism, and demonstrate their respect for their OSCE commitments, and, indeed, the OSCE process.
(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 10)
As we take stock of OSCE’s human dimension work, I want to underscore strong U.S. support for Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). It has earned its place as the key institution in the OSCE’s efforts to promote democratic development, human rights, free and fair elections, and tolerance and non-discrimination.
At a time when our core human dimension commitments remain challenged, ODIHR’s work to promote respect for human rights, provide objective assessments of the conduct of elections, and support the development of democratic institutions is even more crucial. We encourage ODIHR to focus on those core elements of its mandate, prioritize those areas where OSCE commitments are the most clearly defined, and focus on those countries where the gap between commitments and implementation is the greatest. We also believe the Director of ODIHR should be prepared to highlight key concerns and current issues that may arise in areas covered by ODIHR’s mandate.
All participating States have an interest in opposing all efforts to undermine ODIHR’s autonomy and impartiality, including in its election observation missions, as well as any attempts to turn back the clock on the progress we have made in democratic practices within the OSCE region. The United States has been, and will continue to be, in the forefront of States protecting ODIHR from political interference.
OSCE’s well-deserved reputation for election monitoring is directly attributable to its well-known, objective criteria and procedures for election observation. We strongly support the election observation work of both the ODIHR and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. We continue to believe that both of these OSCE institutions play a critical role, each providing unique and necessary expertise, and that our Organization is best served when we all speak with one voice and our institutions work together in a spirit of complementary partnership, cooperation and collaboration.
The United States continues to place great importance on the work of ODIHR, the three Personal Representatives on tolerance and non-discrimination, as well as the work of the High Commissioner on National Minorities on these and related issues. We commend the High Commissioner on National Minorities’ ongoing work on multi-ethnic societies and integration and encourage continued cooperation with the OSCE PA in this area. Although the civility of public discourse regarding national minorities had improved in many places in recent years, we are troubled that in some OSCE participating States there has been notable deterioration. This phenomenon highlights the continuing importance of the High Commissioner’s engagement.
We applaud ODIHR’s effort to address hate crimes in the region. In our view, a continued focus should be maintained on realistic, specific, targeted initiatives that will assist participating States in developing a clear understanding of and response to prejudice and discrimination, that will develop model legislation to meet OSCE commitments and data collection methods based on this model legislation, and will improve relations with minority and other impacted communities and a sharing of best practices. We are greatly pleased to see ODIHR’s new Training against Hate Crimes for Law Enforcement operational as well as the updated Annual Hate Crimes report, both of which can assist OSCE participating States in their implementation of Athens Ministerial Decision No 9/09 on Combating Hate Crimes.
We also continue to support the three Personal Representatives of the CiO as another mechanism for addressing problems of intolerance and discrimination. Their continued focus on distinct and specific forms of intolerance provides the opportunity for a concerted response at a political level as specific problems arise. We hope the Personal Representatives will continue to address the resurgence of anti-Semitism associated with increased tensions in the Middle East and increases in anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-Roma hate crimes and other forms of intolerance. While we support the joint travel of the Personal Representatives to countries, we also believe it is important for the Personal Representatives to be able to travel individually to maintain their ability to respond quickly to situations that may or may not impact the areas of the other Personal Representatives.
We look forward to the upcoming Supplemental Human Dimension Meeting on the prevention of racism, xenophobia and hate crimes scheduled for November 10 and 11.
The OSCE remains a singular forum for addressing human rights issues relating to Romani people, and we welcome the partnership between the OSCE and the EU to improve the integration of Roma in the Western Balkans.
We regret, however, that sustained engagement in areas like improving Romani access to education is frequently interrupted by the need to address a constant stream of human rights crises for Roma. We are not doing enough, and we are not doing it fast enough.
The participation of NGOs in OSCE events and field work in the human dimension is, we believe, one of the elements that makes the OSCE so valuable. We must ensure that that the OSCE remains open to NGO involvement, and indeed, would welcome discussions on how to strengthen it. We regret the time spent during last year’s Review Conference dealing with procedural issues related to NGO participation, and commend the Lithuanian Chairmanship for ensuring that OSCE rules were properly implemented this year.
The United States continues to support the work of the OSCE field missions. At the same time, we are also interested in exploring the possibility of establishing thematic missions. We believe that on some issues, thematic missions with the ability to travel to several participating States could be very effective.
We welcome the desire and willingness of some countries to host special, ad hoc meetings on human dimension themes. This is constructive, useful, capitalizes on political momentum, and should be encouraged and supported. However, perhaps when we agree to hold these ad hoc meetings, we also should agree to reduce the number of other meetings we hold so that we can give adequate focus and consideration to each. We might do this, for example, by counting the ad hoc meeting as one of the supplementary meetings for the year. After all, Supplementary meetings can be held outside Vienna, as was the case in 2005 when one was hosted by Georgia. I would stress that we consider the HDIM a unique and irreplaceable forum that must be preserved.
Finally, I would like to stress the importance we attach to reaching out to our OSCE Partner States. As an organization, we should extend our institutional knowledge and technical expertise to our Partners for Cooperation. The universally respected OSCE objectivity, expertise and professionalism in election monitoring can and should be made available to countries outside the OSCE.