DRL’s program in Algeria addresses the issue of in-country “disappearances.” The program implementer supports efforts of civil society organizations in studying, advocating, and reporting on credible alternatives for an inclusive, democratic and legitimate national reconciliation process.
Elections and Political Process Development Programs:
Two DRL elections and political process strengthening programs provide training to any interested Egyptian groups and coalitions including political parties in campaign management, media relations, and platform development. The projects also train women and youth how to engage effectively in the political process by learning about issue advocacy and how to vote. The programs also provide technical assistance to Egyptian poll observers and civil society groups to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and make sure all rules and regulations are followed. Participants in these programs are self-selected, and DRL does not fund direct support to political parties.
One DRL labor program helps to build the capacity of independent worker organizations. This project will also work to advocate for workers’ rights and promote freedom of expression and access to information about independent labor and trade unions. Another DRL labor program supports efforts to enhance freedom of association and improve collective bargaining at the local level. The project will assist in developing a campaign on worker’s rights as well as trainings on effective collective bargaining techniques, dispute resolution, and the enforcement of national legislation.
Independent Journalism and Media Program:
A DRL program works with interested local media outlets and reporters to provide multimedia journalism training, including electronic media. The program features specialized training for female and youth citizen journalists on election day coverage and integrating contributions of other citizen journalists into election reporting.
DRL supports programs in Iran that focus on democracy, human rights, and rule of law.
DRL has a robust Iraq program and is one of the lead bureaus in the promotion of democracy and human rights in-country.
DRL programs focus on democracy and governance, human rights, and women’s issues.
One DRL democracy and governance program seeks to train Iraqi activists who will eventually be able to serve as full-time in-house trainers for political parties and civil society organizations at the regional and local levels. In addition, the program works with the legislative and executive branches to improve governance capacity.
Another DRL program focuses on human rights issues. The program implementer provides specialized research and training intended to expand and deepen the general population’s understanding of the historical context, scope, legal underpinnings, and practical functions of the Human Rights Commission. In addition, the program provides community outreach and assists the National Human Rights Commission to establish popular legitimacy as well as constitutional legitimacy.
A successful DRL program focused on women’s issues trains women in the media and provides media access and outlets for, by and about women. Through the program implementer’s trainings and mentoring, the program seeks to stimulate political dialogue, enhance women’s issues media coverage, and to galvanize support for women’s human rights.
Current DRL programs in Jordan focus on independent media and the economic empowerment of women.
DRL’s partner implementer seeks to improve the reporting skills of broadcast media professionals, develop women’s radio production skills, develop a radio business news program, and provide accountability on issues ranging from human rights to rule of law.
Another DRL program in Jordan enhances the capacity of civil society and strengthens women’s civil society coalitions, especially at the grassroots levels. The program intends to increase mobilization and action on working women’s rights; develop women’s skills as educators and organizers; assist women to develop strategic alliances with local, national, and international NGOs; and increase public awareness and support for working women’s priorities.
The robust DRL programming in Lebanon focuses on such topics as electoral reform, independent media, the rule of law, and civic and political participation targeting youth and women.
One DRL program implementer provides technical assistance to improve the legal framework for elections in Lebanon and to increase the capacity of electoral authorities so that future elections can be managed in a professional manner, according to accepted international standards.
Another DRL partner seeks to stimulate a national dialogue on challenges facing the country, inform decision-makers of citizen priorities, and help political parties and other civil society organizations reach out to the Lebanese public across confessional lines. The development of issue-based policy is critical to supporting sustainable democratic practices and institutions in Lebanon.
In addition, DRL supports a clinical education program aimed at strengthening the rule of law in Lebanon. Young law students will gain public advocacy skills and provide pro bono consultations to communities that lack access to human rights representation.
DRL programming in Morocco supports the rule of law through human rights law education and prison monitoring.
A DRL partner works to open a law clinic focusing on human rights and public interest law on a pilot basis and in partnership with a Moroccan law school. The clinic will include a public education component for advanced students to conduct public legal education and outreach activities at local schools and in the community.
Another DRL initiative enhances the ability of a local partner NGO to process and monitor prisoner complaints, raise awareness of the treatment of prisoners, and conduct advocacy on behalf of prisoner rights.
DRL supports good governance initiatives in Saudi Arabia.
DRL’s partner organization seeks to address the strengthening of legislative projects and political leadership capacity-building; broaden the exposure of Saudi officials to democratic practices; and promote transparency, oversight, and anti-corruption in municipal councils. This program also works to improve the political environment and receptivity for future programs implemented within the Kingdom.
DRL’s Syria programs support democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
In the West Bank and Gaza, DRL supports anti-corruption and conflict resolution programs.
One DRL program provides Palestinian youth an understanding of corruption and how to combat it through transparency, accountability, and integrity.
Another DRL program is designed to build the capacity of Palestinian Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers and administrators to incorporate age-appropriate peace and conflict resolution curricula into ECD programs operated by NGOs throughout the West Bank and Gaza.
Good morning. Mazel tov on this conference – the second one of its kind – it’s encouraging to see that it has doubled in size from last year. I am pleased to be joined by members of the European Parliament, the Israeli Ambassador, leaders of Jewish communities throughout Europe, Jewish organizations and students, and, of course, media representatives.
The subject of this conference is timely as in the 21st century we are still regrettably faced with anti-Semitism. In a world that is increasingly connected, sharing ideas across borders adds to the growing global dialogue, be it constructively or intolerantly. Jewish media needs to be a part of that conversation.
People get their news from many sources these days. Studies by the Pew Research Center and Advertising Age tell us that 77% of adults use the internet – 90% of whom are 18 to 29 years old. When it comes to time spent online, Facebook tops its rivals, with a user base of 517 million people, 70% of whom live outside the U.S. Another trend is the increased use of mobile phones, because they are cheaper than the cost to access the internet in many places. In the developing world, mobile phone applications bring the news to people’s hands.
74% of U.S. adults read newspapers at least once a week in print or on-line; this tends to be an educated, affluent readership. However, despite the trend in the U.S. and Western Europe of decreasing newspaper circulation, the rest of the world is experiencing a boom in newspapers in terms of titles and circulation. But what about the others, those who are less educated and less affluent? TV dominates among the less educated, although the internet is gaining on TV as the public’s main news source. Even relatively poor populations now consider TV a necessity, especially in the developing world. All these trends point to more media consumed around the world, starting with the youth, whose time is mostly spent on social media. This next generation – our future—means that Jewish media needs to adapt to play the changing media game, not only in Europe, but across the developing world.
In my role as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, I have been tracking the rise in anti-Semitism around the world, most notably in Europe. Let me assure you of the unwavering commitment of the Obama Administration to this cause. The President began his Administration speaking out against intolerance as a global ill. In his historic speech in Cairo, he signaled a new path that embraces a vision of a world based on mutual interest and mutual respect; a world that honors the dignity of all human beings. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have honored me with this appointment and have elevated my office and have fully integrated it into the State Department.
We are attempting — through diplomacy, public messaging and grassroots programs all over the world — to confront and combat hatred in all its ugly forms, whether it is hatred directed against people on account of their religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation or differences of political opinion or due to their country of origin. Anti-Semitism is one such form of hatred rooted in historical forces that go far beyond any current policy debate. If we want to change this trend, we need to stand together in our efforts to promote tolerance, acceptance and compassion. In that vein, we need to support and encourage Jewish and non-Jewish media outlets alike in their efforts to reveal the ignorance inherent in hateful ideologies like anti-Semitism.
I am here in Brussels on the tail end of a trip which began in Saudi Arabia. I have also visited Jordan, Lebanon and Lithuania. In Lithuania, I spoke to teachers in a Holocaust education program, co-sponsored by the Lithuanian and U.S. Governments. I saw first-hand the impact that social institutions, especially schools, can have on developing a sense of tolerance and responsibility in the minds of our children. These experiences remind me of the importance of the work that I have been charged with as the Special Envoy.
When this year began, I planned to focus my efforts on fighting anti-Semitism in the Arab media and Islamic textbooks. On my recent trip, I met with a range of government officials, women’s and youth groups, and interfaith and non-governmental organizations in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. I also met members of the press and bloggers in the Middle East.
In meeting with press, I am so often inspired by the efforts of journalists, news correspondents, photographers and others in the field to bring to light the important issues we face every day. While I am encouraged by the endless opportunities offered by the media, I also feel a sense of anxiety about its potential for misuse. A phrase, image or sound bite can affect millions of people in an instant, especially where no counterweight is present. In a world of increasing anti-Semitism, it is crucial that we understand the power of the media to change the minds and hearts of those who hate. Likewise, it is crucial for us to work hand in hand with other groups in their struggle for tolerance through the media.
In many countries, restrictive laws and administrative measures constrain fundamental rights to freedom of expression. The United States recognizes that areas for improvement exist in combating religious intolerance; however, we believe that the best response to hateful speech is debate and dialogue that condemns it and fosters tolerance. Not only do we believe that particular restrictions on expression violate universal human rights, we are convinced that they are counterproductive and exacerbate the very problems they seek to address.
I firmly believe that the most effective way to counter hateful speech and forms of anti-Semitism is by raising voices and taking actions that counter it. Bringing these hateful ideas to light reveals them for what they are and allows people to speak out against them. As President Obama said in Cairo, “suppressing ideas does not make them go away.” The media acts not only as the vehicle to amplify a variety of ideas, but it can also help expose the negative aspects of discriminatory ideas and actions. It is for this reason that I make it a priority to meet with bloggers and journalists wherever I go. The Jewish community must use media to put the spotlight on anti-Semitism and other hate speech wherever and whenever it appears.
At the State Department, we use the full range of media outlets at our disposal to get our message out; we use our webpage, State.gov; our embassy webpages; our blog, DipNote; Twitter; Facebook; webchats; traveling speakers; You Tube; Flickr; and daily press briefings. We tweet in nine languages – Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu and have over a 100,000 followers. We have a daily press briefing with domestic and international journalists, issue press releases, place op-eds, make speeches and provide testimony to Congress, as well as post online the remarks of the Secretary of State and other Department principals. We also have briefings for foreign journalists through our Foreign Press Centers in New York and Washington, as well as in media hubs around the world, including here in Brussels. The State Department uses international media engagement to communicate our priorities. In the same way, it’s critical that Jewish media and non-Jewish media cover Jewish priorities, and work together to combat anti-Semitism and intolerance.
As the President’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, I am charged with both monitoring anti-Semitic incidents and combating intolerance. As a child of a Holocaust survivor, anti-Semitism is extremely personal. When I was old enough to begin to understand what my father went through as the only member of his family to survive World War II, I asked him how he handled his guilt and kept his sanity. He didn’t miss a beat and said: “I survived to have you, Hannele!” – thus taking that guilt off his shoulders and putting it squarely on mine – and, as a result, I have dedicated my life to eradicating anti-Semitism and intolerance with a sense of urgency and passion that only my dad could give me.
Our daily actions are of great import, and I hope this conference will help us create connections in partnering to combat intolerance and promote understanding in our world. In addition to the larger communications managed by the State Department’s bureau of Public Affairs and bureau of International Information Programs, one of the things I do is to compile a weekly summary of news articles from around the world – thanks to the Internet, we have access to many sources, including some of the publications represented here today. These items are subsequently posted on my Facebook page under the heading “What We Are Hearing” so that social media users are more aware of anti-Semitism around the world.
I have been on the job for over a year now – and I’ve been hearing about six significant trends in anti-Semitism around the world:
I meet people who think anti-Semitism ended when Hitler killed himself. However, anti-Semitism is not History, it is News. More than six decades after the end of the Second World War, anti-Semitism is still alive and well, and evolving into new, contemporary forms of religious hatred, racism, and political, social and cultural bigotry.
This stems from the fact that traditional forms of anti-Semitism are passed from one generation to the next, and updated to reflect current events. We are all familiar with ongoing hostile acts such as the defacing of property, and the desecration of cemeteries with anti-Semitic graffiti. There are still accusations of blood libel, which are morphing from the centuries-old accusations by the Church that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood for rituals, to accusations that Jews kidnap children to steal their organs. Conspiracy theories continue to flourish, and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” continue to be best sellers in many countries, often being taught to religious students as truth. For example, in April, the state-run radio in Venezuela urged everyone to buy and read “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” I asked my colleague, the Special Representative to Muslim Communities, to issue a statement condemning this action. Her voice, and those of others, helped lead to that official being fired in May.
A second phenomenon is Holocaust denial. It is being espoused by religious leaders, heads of State, such as in Iran, in academic institutions, and is a standard on hateful websites and other media outlets. As the generation of Holocaust survivors and death camp liberators reaches their eighties and nineties, the window is closing on those able to provide eyewitness accounts and thus we have a heightened sense of urgency to promote Holocaust education, create museums and memorials, and carry the memory and lessons of the Holocaust forward. I am happy to report that in Lithuania, and in other European countries, the U.S. and OSCE provide funding for teacher training in Holocaust education to battle this trend.
Ironically, we also see the antithesis of this as there is a third, disturbing, parallel trend of Holocaust glorification which can be seen in events that openly display Nazi symbols and in the growth of neo-Nazi groups. In Latvia recently, a notorious neo-Nazi made blatantly anti-Semitic statements, including incitements to violence against Jews, on a Latvian television talk show. Holocaust glorification and the growth of neo-Nazi groups is especially virulent in Middle Eastern media – some of which is state owned and operated – calling for a new Holocaust to finish the job. Truly bone-chilling.
A fourth concern is Holocaust relativism – where some governments, museums, academic research and the like are conflating the Holocaust with other terrible events that entailed great human suffering, like the Dirty War or the Soviet regime. No one, least of all myself, wants to weigh atrocities against each other, but to group these horrific chapters of history together is not only historically inaccurate, but also misses the opportunity to learn important lessons from each of these historic events, even as we reflect on universal truths about the need to defend human rights and combat hatred in all of its forms. History must be precise – it must instruct, it must warn, and it must inspire us to protect universal values as we strive to mend this fractured world.
The fifth trend is the increasing tendency of blurring the lines between opposition to the policies of the State of Israel and anti-Semitism. What I hear from our diplomatic missions, and from non-governmental organizations alike, is that this happens easily and often. I want to be clear – criticism of policies of the State of Israel is not anti-Semitism. But we record huge increases in anti-Semitism whenever there are hostilities in the Middle East. This form of anti-Semitism is more difficult for many to identify. But if all Jews are held responsible for the decisions of the sovereign State of Israel, when governments like Venezuela call upon and intimidate their Jewish communities to condemn Israeli actions – this is not objecting to a policy – this is anti-Semitism. When all academics and experts from Israel are effectively banned or their conferences boycotted, or individual Jews are held responsible for Israeli policy – this is not objecting to a policy – this is anti-Semitism.
Natan Sharansky identified the “three Ds” that cross the line: “It is anti-Semitic when Israel is demonized, held to different standards or delegitimized.” This is more readily illustrated by the fact that the U.S. is often the only “no” vote in international bodies where countries seem to have an obsession with singling out Israel for disproportionate condemnation.
The sixth trend is the growing nationalistic movements which target ‘the other’ – be they immigrants, or religious and ethnic minorities — in the name of protecting the identity and ‘purity’ of their nation. When this fear or hatred of the ‘other’ occurs or when people try to find a scapegoat for the instability around them, it is rarely good for the Jews, or for that matter, other traditionally discriminated against minorities. The history of Europe, with Russian pogroms, Nazism and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans provides sufficient evidence. When government officials talk about protecting a country’s purity, we’ve seen that movie before. This is a good opportunity for Jewish media to reach out to other faith-based media to educate its counterparts on the problems we face and encourage them to report on these issues. We, in turn, should be prepared to reciprocate.
The State Department monitors these trends and activities and reports on them in all 194 countries in two major annual reports: The International Religious Freedom Report and the Human Rights Report. They are posted on the State Department website and on HumanRights.gov. I am now involved in developing a major training initiative for State Department employees so they can better monitor what is happening in the countries where they serve, and sensitize them to the various forms of anti-Semitism. This will make our annual reports more comprehensive, and allow us to do an even better job of monitoring and confronting anti-Semitism in all its forms. These reports tell us that many countries are pushing hard to advance human rights and fight discrimination. It also tells us that there is so much more work to do. If we don’t chronicle it, if we don’t name it, we can’t fight it.
My approach to combating anti-Semitism is not just to preach to the choir, so to speak, but to join in partnership with non-Jews in condemning it – partnerships with governments, civil society, international institutions, business leaders, labor unions, and media.
And I would encourage all of us here to reach out to our counterparts in non-Jewish media, be it secular or faith-based. Sometimes, the messenger is as important as the message. If the non-Jewish media speaks out against anti-Semitism, people will take notice.
Last summer, Secretary Clinton launched an initiative to strengthen civil society across the globe and she instructed the State Department, including all overseas posts, to treat civil society as strategic partners because such relationships help us to build bridges among ethnic and religious groups and to change a culture – from one steeped in fear and negative stereotyping to one of acceptance and understanding; from narrow mindedness to celebrated diversity; from hate to tolerance.
I have an official website on State.gov and I am using Facebook and other social media to connect with all people – especially youth — globally, and to encourage them to go beyond words, speeches, or even lectures by providing a vehicle for them to DO something tangible to promote tolerance and practice mutual respect. In February, my colleague Farah Pandith, the Special Representative to Muslims Communities, and I launched a virtual campaign called 2011 Hours Against Hate. We are asking young people around the world to pledge an unspecified number of hours to volunteer to help or serve a population different than their own. We have a Facebook page for this initiative, as well as a page for it on State.gov. We ask them to work with people who may look different, or pray differently or live differently. For example, a young Jew might volunteer time to read books at a Muslim pre-school, or a Russian Orthodox at a Jewish clinic, or a Muslim at a Baha’i food pantry. We want to encourage them to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.
Farah and I began meeting with hundreds of young people earlier this year – students and young professionals – in Azerbaijan, Spain and Turkey – countries that in their histories celebrated Jews and Muslims co-existing and thriving together. They want to DO something. They expressed strong interest in the campaign – and we have already surpassed our goal of 2011 hours pledged against hate. Really, we have just begun. Last week, Farah and I met with youth and interfaith leaders in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon.
These are just some examples of how I and the Department of State use media daily. Anti-Semitism has been around since the beginning of Judaism, but since then, too, good people of all faiths and backgrounds have striven to combat it. The Jewish tradition tells us that “you are not required to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.” Let’s all work together – let us, the Jewish, other faith and secular media representatives here today, use all forms of media at our disposal in our fight against anti-Semitism.
Today Secretary Clinton met with Belarusian and Belarusian-American human rights activists including “We Remember” President Irina Krasovskaya and Belarus Free Theater co-founder Natalya Kolyada to discuss recent events in Belarus. The Secretary condemned the conduct of Belarus’s presidential election and crackdown on political leaders and activists, civil society representatives and journalists. She stressed her concern for detainees and for their family members, noting the U.S. Embassy in Minsk’s efforts to remain in close contact with them.
The United States and the European Union have issued two joint statements condemning the violence and calling for the immediate release of all who are detained. The Secretary repeated this appeal and also urged an end to repressive acts against the opposition, the media and civil society. The Secretary told the activists that we are watching the government’s actions closely and considering our response to those actions. The United States will continue its support for and engagement with the people of Belarus.
AMBASSADOR ZHARBUSSYNOVA: Ladies and gentlemen, today I am truly honored to welcome the Secretary of State Madam Hillary Clinton. Madam, all of us present here today are grateful that despite the challenging schedule and the long flight, you were willing to have this meeting with representative of the civil society and other organizations and students of the university.
Now that Astana air is filled with the Helsinki spirit, it is especially important for the civil society to realize that they are an integral part of the OSCE process. And just the last week alone, Astana hosted a number of key events which have effectively demonstrated the importance and the possibility of a constructive dialogue between the officials and nongovernmental organizations. Among them, the OSCE and the NGO forum initiated by the chairmanship and the Office for the Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and also, of course, the review – the last segment of the Review Conference which was attended by a large number of NGO representatives from OSCE countries. And the participation of the civil society at these events was highly remarkable and not just because of the large number of the participants, but primarily due to the recommendation they introduce to the documents.
Many participants of these events are here among the participants of this meeting, and men and women – they are men and women with strong intentions to make our world a safer place for everyone. And I am more than sure that our meeting – this interactive dialogue – will incorporate both crucial and important issues. Clearly, your persona is well known all over the world, however I would like to share with the audience some facts characterizing you as a human being and a woman.
Growing up, Mrs. Clinton had a dream. She dreamt of being an astronaut. Thus, she approached NASA, yet at that time she was turned down because NASA did not allow at that time women into its space programs. To my mind, this to some extent influenced your later becoming a champion of human rights, democracy, and civil society. Your famous speech in Beijing in 1995 when you declared that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, inspired women all over the world and helped to galvanize a global movement for women’s rights.
As the First Lady, you worked on many issues related to children and families. You launched the U.S. Government’s Vital Voices Democracy Initiative. Today, Vital Voice is a nongovernmental organization that continues to train and organize women leaders across the world. And given this occasion, Madam, I would like to express the help of women of Kazakhstan that the Vital Voices chapter will be open here in the nearest future. We are looking forward to the cooperation with this organization.
In 2000, Hillary Clinton made history as the first lady elected to the United States Senate and the first women – the first woman elected statewide in New York. In the Senate, she served on the Armed Services Committee, the House Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Select Committee on Aging. She was also a commissioner on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Hence, it is of no surprise that President Barack Obama invited Mrs. Clinton for the position of the Secretary of State underlining that Mrs. Clinton is capable of successfully leading the U.S. State Department and working on the realization of an ambitious foreign policy agenda jointly with the President. It is a great importance for our nation and our people that in this foreign policy agenda, Kazakhstan is positioned as a strategic partner.
We have had the pleasure of welcoming you in Kazakhstan in 1997 and we are very honored to welcome you here today just on the eve of the historic OSCE summit. (Applause.)
And now let me introduce the moderator of today’s evening, Mrs. Iva Dubichina, whom you well know as she worked here for several years as the head of the Freedom House mission in Kazakhstan. She made many friends in Kazakhstan and she looks forward to continuing this cooperation.
Iva, the floor is yours. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: Good evening. Indeed I have made many friends in Kazakhstan, but this role of moderator will make me probably the most hated person at the end of the day in Kazakhstan.
So, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, my dear colleagues and friend, it is a great honor and a privilege to give the floor to the U.S. Secretary of State, Her Excellency Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Iva. Well, good evening. And it is an absolute delight for me to be here in Astana on the eve of the OSCE Summit and to have this opportunity to meet with you. I very much enjoyed my visit, as the ambassador reminded us, in 1997, and I have looked forward to returning. And I am grateful for this warm welcome, Ambassador. Thank you, Rector, for your invitation. And as you saw the young musicians who were playing as you may have walked in this evening, the youngest one was one of the Rectors’ daughters. And so education is a family commitment.
And I also want to recognize the other officials and dignitaries who are here this evening, and I’m very grateful that I have a chance to address so many strong activists for democracy, for human rights, for freedom, and for a better future, not only in Kazakhstan, but across Central Asia, Europe, and indeed the world.
When Kazakhstan hosts the first summit of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe ever held in Central Asia tomorrow, that will send a very strong message that the work of the OSCE and the Helsinki principles are not confined to one group of people or to one group of nations. They indeed are applicable around the world. I will be meeting with many government leaders to talk about a range of issues that affect all of us, from our mutual interests in the security of Afghanistan, to nuclear nonproliferation, of which Kazakhstan is a leader, to the diversity of energy supplies and so much else.
But first, my very first stop was to come and meet with you, because strong democracies, thriving economies, and stable societies cannot be built by governments alone. There must be a partnership between governments and vibrant institutions and free societies that work together to solve the problems that we face in the 21st century.
Thirty-five years ago, when the leaders of North America, Europe, and the Soviet Union came together to sign the Helsinki Final Act, they committed themselves to a core set of human values, including the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, thought, and religion. These values are as fresh and relevant today as they were 35 years ago, and they are absolutely critical to the building of sustainable societies and nations that are committed to creating a better set of opportunities for all of their citizens.
I know in this auditorium tonight there are many activists who represent many organizations that are making a difference in your societies and countries. I’d like to just mention a few of these groups because they are standing up for the core Helsinki principles. As the ambassador said, I served on the Helsinki Commission when I was a senator in the United States Senate, and I have followed the work of so many individuals and organizations that have consistently stood for the principles that all of us agreed to 35 years ago. I developed a special respect for the work of nongovernmental organizations, the work that many of you do to bolster civil society, women’s rights, expand opportunity, promote tolerance, and so much more.
Tonight, I would particularly like to honor the Almaty Helsinki Committee. You have worked for decades to advance peaceful, democratic change based on the noble principles of the Helsinki Act, principles that we continue to hold dear.
I also would like to commend the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law for its work toward developing the National Human Rights Action Plan and recognize the role that that Evgenyi Zhovtis, a leading human rights activist, played in drafting this important document.
And I would like to salute Galina Morozova, who has devoted herself in the past 12 years to fight against human trafficking. She has sheltered hundreds of women. She has made herself vulnerable, because in the face of death threats she has fought for tougher sentences for traffickers. And she has worked with the government and with law enforcement agencies to change their attitudes and to help them understand that human trafficking is the modern form of human slavery.
There are so many people who have worked hand in hand to advance democracy and human rights. And I particularly was pleased to see some of the women who are on the front lines of change in Kazakhstan, some of whom I met in 1997, some of whom I have seen in other settings, but all of whom I greatly respect.
But I also want to commend the Government of Kazakhstan, because this government has made more progress than any other in the region and has committed itself to continuing that progress. Civil society groups help hold governments accountable, but governments have to be responsive. So I’d like to thank Adil Soz, the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, for its vital role as a media watchdog, because the OSCE commitments include the right of all citizens to know and act upon their rights. And it takes both brave journalists and independent local monitors to fight violations of press freedom.
I could go on and on, because really so many of you could be acknowledged and thanked. But I want to hear from you. I want to hear about what you see as continuing challenges, what you see as the changes that you are seeking, and how we can better all work together. Many of you took part in the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference that ended yesterday, and you noted the systematic and persistent human rights problems in many post-Soviet states. We will certainly work with you and with the governments involved to try to address these problems.
But I do think it’s important to just take a step back for perspective. We have come a very long way in just 35 years. When you get to be my age, 35 years seems like a very short time. In 1975, the international community embraced a revolutionary idea, that security among states was directly connected to the way that their citizens were treated within states. And in the decades since, we have seen time and again that countries need more than military and economic security if they are to achieve stability, prosperity, and progress. They need vibrant civil society.
President Obama and I understand this. I started my career at a nongovernmental organization called the Children’s Defense Fund. He began his as a community organizer in Chicago. We live in a country where civil society movements have been the engine of major social advance. Change is not easy anywhere. It wasn’t easy in the history of the United States and it is not easy anywhere else in the world. It takes persistence and it takes a commitment by people, sometimes generation after generation. We found that in the struggle to abolish slavery, to establish civil rights, to empower women, to protect our environment. And we have watched civil society write history, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the end of apartheid in South Africa, to the spread of democracy. Thirty-five years ago when the Helsinki commitments were made, very few people predicted the end of the Soviet Union. And yet 15 years later, it was no longer.
So think about the work you are doing in the urgency of the moment, but also with the perspective of what it takes to create change. We now have so many organizations ready, willing, and able to help you – foundations, universities, other nongovernmental organizations. We now can communicate to understand what is happening in countries and societies far from our own. We can become global problem solvers. And that is what I hope we will determine to do going forward, and that we will bring governments into partnerships.
One of your neighboring countries, Kyrgyzstan, has just undergone a dramatic change, culminating in a free parliamentary election. Now, the road ahead is hard, and I will be going there on Thursday to meet with the president and the people that are working with her, but that is a courageous moment that now must be built upon.
No country can be fully free unless human rights defenders are given their rights. That means right to counsel and trials. It means journalists who can bring their attackers to justice and prevent impunity. It means pollsters who can ask questions about public attitudes. It means that civil society groups are not harassed by the tax police, or that the rule of law is protected and respected even when everyone disagrees with a position that is taken by an activist.
I really believe that we are at a particularly important moment in history. The 20th century ended totalitarianism, two bloody world wars, a cold war, and now in the 21st century we have to make good on the sacrifice of all those who came before us. And this is not just for activists, but for government leaders as well. Because if you want your country to grow, if you want your people to prosper, if you want all of your citizens to fulfill their own God-given potential, then governments must respect human rights.
My country will continue to advocate for democratic government, civil society, free markets, and we will continue to do so in part by supporting education and exchange programs that empower civil society groups. And I hope at tomorrow’s summit we will reconfirm our commitment to a community of freedom, security, and prosperity, stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
Each government will finally be judged by how it lives up to the promises that it makes. Constitutions can be written with all kinds of promises, but they’re not more than paper if those promises are not implemented. Laws can be passed promising all kinds of protections, but they really are not worth much unless they are enforced.
So governments hold so much of the future in their hands, but they are not the most powerful determinant. That is the people themselves, and particularly the organizations that bring people together in civil society.
So it is an honor for me to be here. I look forward to hearing your questions and your comments, your ideas that you think would make our partnerships here in the OSCE and between my country and yours even more effective. Thank you for the work that you do every single day. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: Ladies and gentlemen, before I open the floor for questions, and I will use the right to first question that I have as a moderator. I would like to tell you that we have around 45 minutes for questions, so I would like to ask you to keep your interventions as short as possible so that we have more time for people to ask questions or to make short interventions.
I will be calling those of you who I know by name, and those who I don’t I will describe their appearance, so sorry if I miss a thing or two about your outfit because it’s really not visible from here. But let me use my right – or abuse my right, I don’t – know as moderator to ask the first question, and it will be about the OSCE because we are here in Astana because of this organization.
So in the ‘90s, OSCE was high on the list of U.S. foreign policy priorities, and it was then when the OSCE adopted a number of key documents stressing the importance of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law as requisites for security. However, in the last few years this model is somewhat challenged by a number of member states of the OSCE and other countries, and that the OSCE as an organization is experiencing some difficulties and tough negotiations are held, some observers are even questioning the value-added of the organization. So how high is the OSCE on the list of your priorities?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Iva, first, it’s very high on the list of my priorities and this Administration’s priorities. It won’t surprise you to hear that I agree with you that in the 1990s, when my husband was president, the OSCE was considered a very important part of our foreign policy. And the Obama Administration agrees with that, and I have taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to the OSCE, including coming here to Astana, to be sure that the good work that was started 35 years ago continues.
Now, the times change and there are new challenges, but I think the core values of the OSCE remain as important today as they were in the past. And it is, in my view, part of the foreign policy of the United States to be more involved in supporting multilateral organizations like the OSCE. And one of the difficult issues that we are grappling with in the OSCE is whether or not countries that once signed up to the core documents and principles underlying the OSCE will continue to support them.
And so we are very committed to making the OSCE more active, more vital, more relevant, and frankly, challenging any members who are not willing to abide by the very principles that they agreed to support when they joined the OSCE. Nobody is made to join the OSCE. It is a voluntary organization. But if you join it and then you say, “But I don’t really believe in the human dimension pillar of the OSCE, I don’t really support the Helsinki Act,” then why did you join?
And so what I want to do is keep the emphasis on the importance that the OSCE plays and the very significant connections between successful countries and following Helsinki principles. Because if you want to be a successful country in the 21st century, eventually you’re going to have to accept that you must do more on behalf of human rights. So I think that from my perspective, we are reinvigorating our commitment to the OSCE.
MS. DUBICHINA: That’s really encouraging to hear. So now I am opening the floor for questions. And because we are in an academic institution, I will give the first question to a student, so let me try to locate a student. Yes, that young lady there with a white shirt.
QUESTION: (inaudible.) My microphone is not working? Good evening, Madam Secretary. I am a student of Eurasian National University. My name is Camila and my question is if you have chance to meet a politician of any period of time of human history, who would you like to meet with, and why?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a wonderful question. I have been very privileged in my life to meet many extraordinary people, many brave and courageous people, many people that risk their lives for freedom and for human rights and for women’s rights. I think that the person who I have been most impressed by in my meeting has been Nelson Mandela. I think what Nelson Mandela demonstrated through all those years in prison, which could make you a very bitter person – you could come out of prison hating – but he came out of prison determined to create a society in South Africa that didn’t look backwards but looked forwards.
And I’ll tell you a quick story about why I am so impressed with him. I’ve had the privilege of spending a lot of time with him over the last 18 years, and I went to his inauguration as president in 1994 in South Africa. And after the big ceremony where he gave the speech and the bands played, he invited a large group of visitors from around the world to a lunch at the presidential house. In the morning it had been inhabited by the last white Afrikaner president, in the afternoon it was inhabited by the first African president.
And at this lunch, then-President Mandela stood up and he said, “I am very honored to have all of these distinguished visitors from around the world, but the three most important people to me who are here that I personally invited are three of my former jailers from Robbens Island.” And he asked these three white men to stand up, and he said, “I had many jailers over 27 years,” I think it was. “These three men treated me with dignity and respect. They may have been my jailers, but they related to me as a fellow human being.” And I will never forget that.
And I thought in politics and civil society, we often draw lines against people, the good people and the bad people. And sometimes things are done to you that are very hard to forgive. But here was a man who was telling the world, “I can see through the prejudice, the stereotypes, and I can see the human beings because they saw me as a human being. And I will never forget that.” So he is someone who I highly admire and deeply believe is one of the great leaders of the world and of all time. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) but you will have to go out of the row and find the microphone. Yeah, you will have to move forward to the microphone (inaudible). I’m sorry. It’s so complicated, but –
MODERATOR: I will translate it for you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Please translate.
MODERATOR: The microphone was not working. So what do you think will happen (inaudible) the government (inaudible) the situation in Kyrgyzstan, the events in Kyrgyzstan.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Madam Secretary, what do you think about the future of Kyrgyzstan, and what do you think – and what kind of role the civil society of Kyrgyzstan can play in the future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will be going to Kyrgyzstan the day after tomorrow because I want to meet with not only the president, but other leaders there, talk to civil society, and get my own firsthand impression. But I will say three things. First, I think that the people of Kyrgyzstan have spoken very forcefully in favor of representative government and democracy, and all of us need to help them. Secondly, as with any society, there are tensions. There are tensions between ethnic and nationality groups, and all of us need to try to help ease those tensions and to support efforts by civil society and by the government to punish the wrongdoers who were behind a lot of the rioting, but to do so in accordance with the rule of law, but to also look for ways that people can work together and create more a inclusive society.
And finally, the elections which were held, nobody knew who was going to win. That was a remarkable election. It was an election where people really had to go out and think for themselves and cast their votes. And now they have to try to put a government together, which means they have to what I call “practice politics.” They have to actually listen to each other and try to figure out what they can give and what they can ask as they put together a government. It is a very difficult path they have chosen for themselves, but the United States will do everything we can to support them. I very much appreciate the role of the government of Kazakhstan, which has been extremely helpful in supporting Kyrgyzstan, and we have to keep working together. We have to do everything possible to help them succeed at their important effort to bring democracy to Kyrgyzstan. So let’s work together on that. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Trying to get some gender balance, so (inaudible) please.
QUESTION: Thank you, your Excellency. By giving the (inaudible) the world’s (inaudible), which was (inaudible) in the United States recently and includes one very landmark provision requiring transparency from energy in many companies, do you think that assuring energy security should play a more important role at the OSCE agenda? And more specifically, do you think that OSCE, as an organization, should endorse (inaudible) EITI? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the EITI is a very important development. And that is, for those of you who may not know, the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. And it is an effort for civil society, the private sector, and governments to work together. Really any country consists of – it’s like a three-legged stool. You have a government, you have an economy, and you have a civil society. And sometimes if it gets out of balance, if the government is too strong, the stool is not stable. If the economy is unregulated, as we have seen in the world in the last two years, the stool is unstable. So the EITI is a good example of government, the private sector marketplace, and civil society working together.
And I appreciate the commitment that Kazakhstan has made to the EITI. I think it’s the kind of initiative that the OSCE should be looking to replicate. What else can we do to enhance that kind of cooperation, that commitment to an outcome that will actually benefit everyone, even though in the short term it might take away the privileges of some? So I’m looking forward to reviewing the recommendations that have come from the NGO meetings, the civil society gatherings that have taken place her Astana, because I know that you all have made some very specific recommendations. But I certainly believe – to go back to Iva’s point – that the human dimension part of the OSCE has to be supported strongly, and we intend to do so. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Okay. The wheelchair (inaudible) – I’m sorry. The lady in the wheelchair. Yes.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Clinton. My name is (inaudible). I represent here the network of organizations of women with disabilities in Kazakhstan. And my question is, we know that U.S. embassy and the national (inaudible) in Kazakhstan on women’s affairs has signed a memorandum on cooperation in gender equality issues. So my question is: How do you see the role of the interests of women with disabilities in this cooperation and the role of our organizations and our network in this process?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for asking the question. I don’t know if you could hear her, but she was asking about the memorandum of understanding that our embassy has with organizations on gender equality, but what about women with disabilities. Well, let me broaden your question. What about people with disabilities? I think in many societies in the world today, people with disabilities are seriously discriminated against. They are not given opportunities for schooling, for jobs, to live independently, even if they are able to. So I think that the struggle for the rights of people with disabilities is one of the big question marks that hangs over human rights work.
The United States in the last 30 years has made progress in how we treat people with disabilities. We change laws and we’ve enforced them. In fact, the very first job I did right out of law school when I went to work for this group, the Children’s Defense Fund, was going door to door as part of a big national survey – and this was back in 1974 – as part of big national effort to find out how many children were not in school. Because if you looked at the data, you would see, according to the census figures, the number of births in a year, and you would then go up in a couple of years and then you would look at school enrollment figures, and you would see that they were not the same. So I went to a couple of communities, and I knocked and doors, and I asked people, “Do you have any children who aren’t in school?” Now, some had children who were working already. They had gone to work to help support their families. But the majority of children who were not in school were children with disabilities. They were children who were deaf, or blind, or in a wheelchair. And the schools were not equipped to educate them. They were not what we call “handicap accessible.” The children couldn’t even get into some of the schools if they were in a wheelchair or other – suffering from another disability.
So we began to pass laws to open up our schools to children with disabilities, and then to open up our places of employment, and then to require accessibility so that if you went to a public facility there would be a way in, if you were in a wheelchair for example. So we’ve made progress, but we still are working on it. And I think that worldwide this is an area that doesn’t yet have enough attention. I’ve appointed a special representative for people with disabilities in the State Department to work with activists and governments around the world. So really, the short answer to your question is we want to make sure that people with disabilities are on the agenda of their countries and that the countries can share information about how to help.
And then let me say the final thing is some disabilities are preventable – polio, which we still have problems with in many parts of the world and there was a slight epidemic of polio here in Central Asia which Kazakhstan helped us address; spinal bifida, which can be prevented with folic acid and other supplements. So we need to do more in – during of a woman’s pregnancy and labor and delivery to make sure we prevent disabilities that are preventable. And then we have to work to make sure that people with disabilities, either because of a genetic issue, or an accident, or a disease get a chance to live up their own potential. We have blind judges; we have deaf doctors; we have people in our country who have overcome their disabilities, but we need to make sure every person with a disability gets a chance to do that. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Person in back.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, my name is (inaudible). I represent two NGOs. One of them observes election in this country, and another on women leadership fund. First of all, of course, I would love to emphasize my exciting with your brilliant, I would say, career . (Inaudible) politics, political. And here’s my question related to this. What would be your key suggestions, recommendations to women in this country, Kazakhstan women, who wants to get in this (inaudible). Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me go back to something the ambassador said when she was here talking. I helped to start an organization called Vital Voices, and I know some of you know it because some of you have attended some of its programs. And we’re going to bring a women’s conference — and Vital Voices will be part of it — to Central Asia next year because we want to reach out and renew our relationship with so many of you who are doing such good work. And I think that – I received the book of women in Astana who are doing astonishing things, and I am very impressed by that.
But I think that organizations like Vital Voices or like Women in Business and others that are represented here have to be constantly reaching out to young women. Young women need to be brought in and given the opportunity to participate when they’re in a university, like here, and creating more avenues for women to develop their own interests, to start their own businesses, to become an academic, to become an advocate, a lawyer, go into government, go into the Foreign Service. And that takes a lot of encouragement, because it is still hard. And it’s not only hard in Kazakhstan; it’s hard everywhere. It is still challenging, and it is something that I see all the time.
And as I traveled around the world and I do events like this, I’m very often asked a question like yours – well, how does a woman become active in politics or become whatever she chooses in her own interests? There is no substitute for preparation and for the best education you can get. But there’s also no substitute for the encouragement and support of other people. And that’s why I think a lot of these organizations that are represented in the book you gave me can take an even bigger role in helping to encourage and support and prepare women to take leadership positions.
And I would offer the continuing support of the United States – not just our government, because we do try to support women’s activities –and I made it a core priority in American foreign policy because I know from so much that I both have seen and so much research that had been done, countries that utilize the skills and talents of half their population will actually become stronger and more prosperous and secure. But also because I think that this is – this century really is the century for women’s full empowerment and for women to make the choices that are right for them.
And I say this everywhere. Not every woman wants to be a secretary of state, or an ambassador, or an activist on behalf of freedom and human rights. But every woman should have the same choices as her brothers, her husband, her father, her son, and then make that choice as to what is best for you consistent with your own responsibilities and how you see your life. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Because you mentioned the (inaudible) conference and because the event is on empowerment of (inaudible) in Central Asia, I see an organization that works in many countries in Central Asia, the (inaudible).
You have to step — you have to step out. Yeah.
QUESTION: Is it working? Yeah. Madam Secretary, thank you for coming here, (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Can you move it up? Yeah, it’s hard to hear. Yeah, there it goes.
QUESTION: I’m from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, one of several organizations which have been part of organizing the Parallel Civil Society Conference these last two days. And as we finished yesterday, some of our colleagues are struggling in prison, and many of them could not be present at our conference. The U.S. Administration is now two years into reengagement on Uzbekistan, and during this time, the human rights situation continues to deteriorate, and it’s now actually 14 human rights defenders in prison. The Parallel Conference discusses their fates and the fate of political prisoners in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is, in fact, such a repressive country that no organization is able to find out how many political prisoners there are.
When you go to Uzbekistan next week, would you be able to raise this question with the Uzbek Government, that there is great international concern for our colleagues in prison? And what could you be able to do for our colleagues in Turkmenistan? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for the work that you’re doing. And of course, I will raise that. I will raise it at the very highest levels of the Government of Uzbekistan. And I think that this is an issue that we face everywhere around the world. It is deeply distressing to us because there should be the rule of law. There should be an inclusive society where different voices can be heard. And I raise it in every corner of the world with leaders where we believe it continues to be a problem. And I will certainly raise it in Uzbekistan. And although I will not be going to Turkmenistan on this trip, I will see the leaders. And as I have in the past, I will continue to raise that issue with them. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: There is a desperate student right there.
QUESTION: Good evening, Mrs. Clinton. My name is Damira. I am a student of Eurasian National University. And I know you were a student, and as we know, you were the head of student government of Wellesley College. Can you recall some mostly interest in events, projects, and things which you did? It’s really interesting for me because I’m a member of student government.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good, I’m glad you are. And I appreciate your question. I met three other – where are the two young men and the young woman that I met earlier who are members of the student government? And I’m a very big believer that if you care about government, politics, if you want to be active, starting by being involved in the student government teaches you some good lessons. When I was president of the Wellesley College Student Government many years ago, it was during the height of the Vietnam War, and there was a lot of protests in college campuses in my country. And as the president of the college government, I had to deal with a lot of issues that I never would have dealt with if I had not been in that position.
And I think that it’s not for everyone; some people have other interests, they’re not concerned about it. But no matter what you decide to do in the future, if you want to go into government, if you want to run for office, if you want to head an organization, if you want to be active in your society, it teaches you good skills, and it teaches you the basics of what it’s like to be in a democratic political system. You have to get along with people. You have to listen to them even if you disagree with them. You have to try to find compromise. In some circles, even in my own country now, compromise is considered a bad thing. But in fact, compromise is often the only way to resolve any issue peacefully – you give a little bit, the other person gives a little bit, and then you try to move forward, and you make incremental progress.
So I learned a lot being in student government, and I’m glad to hear you are in student government, and I hope that it proves to be an interesting experience with a lot of useful lessons for you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Yes, you, sir, in the middle. Yes. Just you have to – yes, you are.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Why don’t you come around the front?
MODERATOR: The gentleman, if you –
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s too hard. Just come around the front and let – yeah, that’s fine.
MODERATOR: That’s probably –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
QUESTION: Thank you. Your Excellencies, I am representing (inaudible) Association of Kazakhstan. So we have discussed a lot, what kind of questions that I can to — ask from you, from favorite music tools or to your favorite internet websites. So – but however, we agreed that for us – what you can suggest for us for internet owners? Where is balance between freedom of expression and responsibility for information, what we are providing in internet? Because it’s our business and we have to understand, is it legal or it’s illegal information? So what is the balance?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a really good question. Obviously, I’m thinking about that a lot these days. (Laughter.) I’m a big believer in internet freedom. I gave a speech about it at the beginning of this year. Because if you think about freedom of expression, in my own country, in our Constitution, we protect freedom of expression. But freedom of expression used to be person-to-person, newspapers that were distributed maybe to 10- or 20,000 people, and that was a lot.
And today, you have the vehicle of the internet, where you can say anything about anyone, and it can be all around the world, and people don’t have a chance to respond, they don’t say, “You’re taking that out of context, that’s inaccurate, that’s not true.” You just are at the mercy of whoever puts the information in and whoever takes it out. So we know that this is a difficult line to draw. And I respect the seriousness of your question. And I think it is always better to err on more – err on the side of more expression, more information, and then try to counter it with other information and make it clear what the context is.
But it’s also true that some information is very hurtful. We have cases in my country where teenagers went on the internet and said terrible things about other teenagers, totally lies, made up. And it’s so distressing to – it was usually girls or boys. Sometimes it was about their behavior or their character. Sometimes it was true, like to say that a young boy was gay. But that was a private matter, but they put it on the internet. And these young people have killed themselves. I mean, we’ve had a number of young people killing themselves because they felt so embarrassed, so humiliated because anything can be put on the internet.
So it’s a question we’re all going to have to deal with going forward, because it’s a wonderful means of communication. I mean, we can sit here in Astana and have a conversation with somebody in New York, and we can punch a button or move your mouse and get information about anything that you’re interested in. So it’s a great gift to human knowledge and communications. But just as we found in the past, where what you said could be harmful, we have to come up with the right kind of framework.
But we also have to be very careful that governments don’t overreact. Governments could say, “Well, now it’s even worse if you say something bad about us because it’s not just talking to a small group in an auditorium. You can tell everybody in the country, so we’re going to have to throw you in jail.” A lot of governments are throwing bloggers in jail because they get on the internet and they say, “Our leaders are corrupt, or our leaders are dishonest, or our leaders did this, that or the other thing,” and for expressing that opinion they go to jail. So that’s an overreaction, and we cannot permit that.
So somewhere, we’ve got to support that freedom of expression, whether it’s from an individual or from a journalist, but there also have to be some rules of – or some sense of responsibility that has to be inculcated. So that’s what we’re all struggling with, because this is a new phenomenon. This is something that, 10 years ago, we didn’t deal with even. So I think your question is a very important one, and human rights activists, as well as governments, are going to have to come together to understand how best to deal with this. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: Another guest from (inaudible).
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) and I represent the NGO division of Georgia, which works for minorities in need of protection in Georgia. First of all, Madam Secretary, let me – is it a possibility to send a person to U.S. Department of State and its employees and policies which provide very strong protection to human rights (inaudible) of Georgia, in particular as it was the case of (inaudible) organization with other (inaudible) authorities. There’s a great problem in protection (inaudible) by ambassador of United States in Georgia.
But my question is that in your intervention, you mentioned (inaudible) and you mentioned how important this deal is to keep human rights and human (inaudible) agenda, even with some of the policy problems. But, unfortunately, in our countries, these issues are often put aside by our governments. And that is why external support and support of U.S. is very important for us always.
Now, unfortunately, some representatives of civil society feel that new foreign policies of Obama Administration may be (inaudible) less support. But returning to your statement today, it’s still very much hope that you, U.S., will still advocate for us and will support the ideas of human rights priority in our developing countries. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and let me reassure you that we are absolutely committed to supporting human rights. We continue to look for ways that have most likelihood of success, because we know that in some countries, we can try one approach and it doesn’t work, so let’s try another approach and see if it does work. So what I have directed our teams, our embassies, our diplomats to do is try many different approaches.
And look, I think in some countries, if an American ambassador or other diplomat creates a relationship with a leader or a set of leaders, and behind the scenes pushes, that’s more effective than going public. In other countries, going public is more effective. So we’re trying to expand what we call the toolbox so that we have many different tools to work on and support human rights.
MS. DUBICHINA: Thank you. And (inaudible).
QUESTION: (inaudible) (Applause.) My name is (inaudible). I’m a graduate of (inaudible) of Technology, and I’m a councilmember of (inaudible) Association. And I have a question. For example, I am a native Kazak, I speak Kazak language. And here in this community, when the discussion started, everybody started speaking Russian and English, even though it’s Kazakhstan and here we have a role of taking our native language – and I was just informed that I can ask a question only in Russian or English.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no, ask it in Kazak, so then translate –
QUESTION: So – but –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Ask it in Kazak and then translate it. So that –
QUESTION: The point is that here in Kazakhstan, if I don’t speak Russian and English, I wouldn’t be able to ask a question, okay? My first question is: How many politicians, successful politicians, do you have in U.S. who don’t speak English?
SECRETARY CLINTON: None, none. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: But let me just say a word. I think that’s a very legitimate question. I mean, the issue of language is still a very complicated and controversial one in many places. And it is – in my country, for example, we have many, many different languages. I think – when I was senator from New York, I think in the New York City schools, there were something like 170 different languages and dialects. Now, the school system was able to provide support for large groups of children. So children whose first language was Spanish got support; children whose first language was Chinese got support. But if you had a language that were – that there were not many people who understood it or spoke it, it was very difficult.
So our emphasis has always been, in the United States, to respect your native language but to encourage and educate everyone to learn English so that we have a common language. And we tried to accommodate people like – again, obviously, the example from New York. We might have ballots written in both English and Spanish, where we have a lot of older people who came to the United States from Latin America – they have not yet been able to learn English – or in what we call Chinatown or Koreatown, where we have large groups of people who speak Chinese or Korean.
But my point is that there should be respect for native languages. And I wish I spoke another language. I only speak one language, and I feel very disadvantaged in the modern world because I only speak one language. So I think that you’re lucky you speak and understand three languages.
QUESTION: Oh, yeah.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I think it’s important to respect other languages but also to have a common language. So I understand the personal feeling behind your question, and I hope that maybe you can become a professor of the Kazak language and keep it alive and vital for the future and look for ways that people can communicate with each other. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: Ma’am?
QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary, I’m (inaudible) government association, where I work in Kazakhstan with civil society organizations. Well, right now, participation in civil society (inaudible) for institutional support of international society, but also increasing of support from the social (inaudible). But for us as well as for human rights NGOs or for social NGOs, it’s still a question for institutional support or technical assistance for institutional support. Is there any interest from State Department to provide such kind of support to (inaudible) technology? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I would like to know more about what you mean by institutional support. Because I think it is important to look for ways to help build stronger civil society institutions. And perhaps I can ask our Ambassador or Embassy to meet with you to get a better idea of what you mean by that. We provide a lot of support for individuals. We provide opportunities, one you told me that you missed in Los Angeles, working on human trafficking issues and learning what we have been doing. So there’s a lot we can do with individuals, and there’s a lot that we can do giving support to organizations. So please let us know more about what you mean by institutional support.
MS. DUBICHINA: And I just said that we (inaudible) person in this room because they are – all 600 people want to (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ll take questions. We’ll take maybe five more.
MS. DUBICHINA: Okay.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Five more.
MS. DUBICHINA: Okay. Five more questions. So, you.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is (inaudible) and I represent the future* leader exchange. My situation – I spent a year in America the previous year, and as you already mentioned in your conference, American Government is going to support exchange (inaudible) countries. But I have experienced, both at your country and my country, they have low level of cultural understanding. And what is your perspective on that issue? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s it’s often the experience when a student comes to the United States to find that many Americans don’t know much about Kazakhstan, for example. They don’t know much about Central Asia. And part of the importance of your coming is that now many more people know about Kazakhstan than did before you came, because you were able to educate people. And I think that the United States has such a diverse population, and we kind of take it for granted that people basically live the way we live, because most Americans don’t have that experience outside of a pretty small number comparatively who have travelled to places like Kazakhstan.
So one of the things that I did as First Lady and when I came here in 1997, I would go on a trip and we would, of course, bring United States journalists with us so that there would be some coverage. So maybe people would say, “Oh, she’s in Kazakhstan. Where’s that? Let me find out more about that country.” And then when I would got back, I would kind of do a presentation and invite people to the White House or some other setting to talk about the places that I had been. Because I’m well aware of the fact that – even when I was growing up, I never went to foreign countries until I was an adult because I had never had that experience.
So for many Americans, it’s a real opportunity. You may be coming to my country to experience the United States, but the people you come into contact with, you’re like an ambassador for Kazakhstan, and we think that’s a good, cooperative relationship. And that’s why we want to do more of that, and try to enhance awareness on both sides, learn more about America and have more Americans learn about other countries.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: Nobody there is raising their hand. Over here.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) national office of Central Asia. I would like to ask you about what do you think about the future of (inaudible) and what do you think about including (inaudible) issues in priority issues of office for (inaudible) institutions of human rights?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Future of what?
QUESTION: The future of office for (inaudible) insufficient in human rights, OSCE (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I think it’s a very important part of the OSCE and I think we need to do more to expand support for democracy and institutions in civil society working on behalf of democracy, and create more opportunities so that government leaders will meet with and hear the views of civil society members, including those working on behalf of democracy within the OSCE framework. Really, when the Helsinki principles were adopted 35 years ago, it was democratic countries and nondemocratic countries who adopted them together. And I think it was one of the most important human rights documents ever adopted. And it gave a lot of hope to people inside the former Soviet Union that change could happen and that people outside cared about what was going on in their situation.
And I think now we need to send a similar message, that yes, we – the Soviet Union no longer exists, we have many new countries at different levels of democratic development, and we need to keep working to support the democratic institutions in those countries and to support the democratic defenders and activists as well. And that should be part of what OSCE stands for.
MS. DUBICHINA: (Inaudible) right there.
QUESTION: Yes, (inaudible). Let me welcome you once more to Astana, Kazakhstan. My name is (inaudible). I’m president of program, the company that administered (inaudible) program. In most mainstream newspapers today, an article was published quoting the address of Ambassador Hoagland to our state secretary. And I quote: “The real international story of Kazakhstan will not be the official conclusions of the public meetings. The real story of Kazakhstan will be that Kazakhstan is a more confident state which respects the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.”
So does that reflect your official position? Can we confirm, as of today (inaudible), that Kazakhstan is a modern, confident state which is open and democratic? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think Kazakhstan has made remarkable progress. And I think certainly, in the economic sphere, it has grown and developed at a very fast and steady pace, even through the economic slowdown that the world has experienced. I think that Kazakhstan has set goals for itself and has been meeting those goals. And I think that being willing to be the chairman in office for the OSCE and a hold this summit was a very important commitment by the Government of Kazakhstan. But I know that there is still much more work to be done. I know that there are many issues that are not yet satisfying the people about what should be done in the human rights regime, in the democracy development.
So I think it has to be a balanced picture. There is a positive story to tell in the fact that all of you are here. I go to many countries where this would not have been permitted, to be honest. The fact that you all are here, that you’ve been here for a couple of days, that you’ve had the meetings that you’ve had, that the government is committed to the OSCE, I think that’s all a very positive story. Yet every country can do better. Kazakhstan may be further along than the countries in this region, but if you compare where I know Kazakhstan wants to be in 10 or 20 years, there’s a long road ahead. But let’s be proud of the positive success, let’s be fair about the criticisms, and let’s encourage the changes that will benefit the people of Kazakhstan in terms of democracy and human rights.
So I think it’s important not to be either too optimistic or too pessimistic. I think you have to strike the right balance, and I’m certainly supportive of the steps that have been taken, and I’m also more than willing to raise issues like the human rights defenders and others who work in this society to make sure that they can play a productive role in the new Kazakhstan. So let’s look at it from a balanced perspective and try to be positive where we can positive and be constructive about what changes are needed where they are needed. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. There are a couple of hands way back there.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Madam Secretary, we’re very proud to see that – we all over the world are very proud to see that your husband, Bill Clinton, went himself to North Korea to free journalists for imprisonment. That is the way that he showed his respect not only to the citizens of his own country, but also to the members of the press, to the journalists.
Unfortunately, my husband, who is a journalist, is here in this country, the country who is now the chairman of OSCE. The chairman of the country who is hosting the OSCE summit is still holding my husband in jail. And I know that he is jail termed, (inaudible), but there is no way to see that he will be free in the time that he is supposed to go free. (Applause).
Unfortunately, my husband did not have a chance to use his own attorney at his trial. He has no way to seek support from the outside. And no matter how I was trying to help him, there’s no success. So I was trying to seek support from my own government, from some organizations that fight for human rights, and there is no success. So my question to you, first of all, what is your opinion about something like this, and will I be able to ask you for your support when you meet with the members of my government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: First, I am sorry about your husband. I cannot comment. I don’t know anything about his case. But let me make three points.
Number one, we believe strongly in the rule of law, and that includes the right to counsel, to have your own attorney, to have someone who will advocate for you and will, if necessary, go all the way through the court system to try to get justice for you. And that is, to me, a fundamental human right, that you have a rule of law and a system of justice. And since most people are not lawyers, they cannot defend themselves and they need competent counsel to be able to do so.
Secondly, journalists are particularly vulnerable in the world today. Journalists are being killed, attacked, imprisoned all over the world, and particularly in the OSCE countries, where it’s contrary to the Helsinki principles, where journalists are supposed to be protected. I have spoken out about the abuse of journalists in Russia, where you know a number of leading journalists have been brutally attacked and even killed. And that, to me, is – runs counter to the claims that the Russian Government is making on behalf of a new and different and democratic future.
So whether it’s Russia or Kazakhstan or anywhere else, journalists are particularly vulnerable and deserve protection. Even though many people don’t focus on what happens to journalists, it is an indicator of the rights and freedoms of everyone else to speak out and to not be imprisoned or persecuted by their government.
Thirdly, when I meet with governments, I raise the issue of political prisoners, of journalists who have been imprisoned. And if you would talk with our Embassy, then we will have information about your situation and we will certainly follow up on it.
MS. DUBICHINA: Thank you, (inaudible). (Applause.) Out there, the lady in pink or red.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. For now, a journalist has an opportunity to ask a question. Just recently, we knew of the proclamation by WikiLeaks of some correspondence of U.S. embassies, including the representatives with their governments. Will you raise this question to your meetings here in Astana with other government leaders and with members of other countries? I know that some of the questions that probably you will be discussing in your meetings in Astana were already covered by the WikiLeaks correspondence.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I, of course, have been reaching out to governments and leaders around the world over the last week. I will continue to do so. As I said before I left Washington yesterday, we consider it regrettable that the information that was meant to be confidential has been made public.
And I am particularly worried about the human rights activists, the religious leaders, the critics of governments who speak to members of our Embassy about abuses in their own country, whose names may either be in a reported cable or who may be identifiable because of the description of the person. So I believe that this was a very irresponsible, thoughtless act that put at risk the lives of innocent people all over the world without much regard for those who are most vulnerable, including journalists.
I also think that it’s important always to maintain a level of candor in discussions. That’s not only true for governments; it’s true for journalists, it’s true for academics, it’s true for doctors, lawyers, and businesspeople. Everyone has a right to depend, to some extent, on confidential communication. And that, of course, has been breached in this incident.
But I think that the foreign policy of the United States is very clear. We have moved vigorously in the last 22 months in the Obama Administration to repair the damage that we inherited to reinvigorate organizations like the OSCE to become much more internationally oriented, to work with friends, partners, and allies around the world on threats that we face, like Iran becoming a nuclear power by nonproliferation. And so we will continue to pursue the policies that we are, despite the efforts by some to disrupt that.
And let me say one other word about Kazakhstan. I think Kazakhstan deserves the warmest credit for removing the nuclear material that you inherited on your territory. And the United States has been your partner in doing this. I think nonproliferation is a human rights issue. I think the effort to go after the nuclear material that can fall in the wrong hands, that can be used to terrorize, maim, kill people, contaminate large areas is a fundamental human rights issue. And in this area, Kazakhstan has been a world leader, and I want to publicly express my appreciation for that. (Applause.)
MS. DUBICHINA: Thank you very much for showing (inaudible), but that you would actually stay for half an hour longer than planned. That shows your (inaudible). (Applause.)
The United States closely followed the first round of parliamentary elections held yesterday in Egypt. Egypt’s elections, this year and next, represent an important opportunity for progress. Egyptians will only have full confidence in their elections when the government is able to address existing flaws, and ensure full and transparent access by independent civil society monitors and candidate representatives to all phases of the electoral process.
Reports from domestic civil society monitors, candidate representatives, and government officials on the conduct of yesterday’s elections give us cause for concern. We are disappointed by reports in the pre-election period of disruption of campaign activities of opposition candidates and arrests of their supporters, as well as denial of access to the media for some opposition voices. We are also dismayed by reports of election-day interference and intimidation by security forces. These irregularities call into question the fairness and transparency of the process. We continue to believe that allowing international observers to monitor and freely report on elections, a normal practice in the region and around the world, is very important in building public confidence in a fair and open election.
The United States has a longstanding partnership with the government and the people of Egypt, rooted in common interests and shared aspirations for the future. We look forward to continuing to work with the Egyptian government and with Egypt’s vibrant civil society to help them achieve their political, social, and economic aspirations.
In response to the Russian Federation, the United States does not believe that raising concerns in the Permanent Council under Current Issues is inappropriate or meant for any political end. On the contrary, we believe it is not only an appropriate form of conflict prevention – as has been mentioned previously in our Corfu discussions – but an obligation, a commitment on all of our parts under the Helsinki Final Act. The Permanent Council, and particularly this topic of Current Issues, exists for peer review and dialogue.
With respect to the question of evenhandedness raised by the Russian Federation, the real answer is for each participating State to fulfill our media freedom commitment equally. When that is the reality, individual participating States will have no more cause to feel singled out, either by the Representative on Freedom of the Media, Mr. Haraszti’s office, or by other international watchdogs like the Committee to Protect Journalist, Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House.
Mr. Chairman, as President Obama has said, we are trying to reset our relationship with the Russian Federation and we are actively seeking out areas of agreement. In that respect, I might note that our two governments appear very close to completing a new START agreement. But, we also recognize areas where we will continue to disagree, and we will not shy away from confronting those differences in an open and forthright manner. We are not afraid of criticism by our partners. As we advance our relations with Russia, we will not abandon our principles or ignore concerns about democracy and human rights. We are willing to listen to any concern of criticism that might be made about our government during Current Issues.
My Russian colleague is correct in stating that there are ―no ideal states.‖ I would note, however, that if the United States is number 44 in the world on freedom of the press, the Russian Federation is 148th. And I would note specifically the comment that has been made by the very report he cited that ―Russia continues to be one of the deadliest countries for journalists.‖
In our statement on Freedom of the Media in the OSCE Region, we emphasized the fact that grave threats are gathering in the OSCE area, impacting on the universal right to freedom of expression. I note that in none of the incidents cited by Ambassador Azimov did he allege that: violence was perpetrated against journalists in the United States with impunity; that journalists were killed and investigations were not conducted; that overly harsh prison sentences or outrageously punitive fines were imposed; or that the U.S. Government demonstrated outright hostility towards the exercise of freedom of speech—i.e., all of the items that I referred to as areas of concern in our observations on the previous agenda item. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Obersteinergasse 11/1 ▪ Vienna, Austria A-1190 ▪Tel: (+43-1) 31339-3201▪Fax: (+43-1) 31339-3255 firstname.lastname@example.org Page 2 of 2 http://osce.usmission.gov
With regard to the extremely rare cases in the United States where a reporter has been jailed, it is not for the content of their reporting, but for failing to comply with a subpoena in a criminal investigation – the rule of law prevails. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that in such cases, reporters enjoy no privileges that exempt them from having to provide testimony before a grand jury. Nonetheless, the Administration supports passage of a federal media shield law provided it does not undermine the government’s ability to enforce the law and protect national security.
Mr. Chairman, we would like to respond fully to the specific cases cited by Ambassador Azimov, and we will be glad to do so in writing to save time–as you would like us to be increasingly short and brief in our statements in the Permanent Council sessions. We are, of course, also willing to discuss any cases informally and in human dimension review events. We do so in the hope that we can count on the Russian Federation’s continuing commitment to fruitful conversation on media freedom – not just the Russian Federation, but all 56 of us – whether the cases under discussion be those in the United States, or Russia itself.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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.
The United States places great importance on combating anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination around the world. I have the privilege to serve as the Special Representative to Muslim Communities. I am also pleased that my colleague Hannah Rosenthal, the United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, is with us today here in Astana. Our presence here demonstrates that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance worldwide.
In her seven months in this position, Special Envoy Rosenthal has traveled widely in the United States and internationally. On these trips, she regularly meets with government officials, NGO representatives, and academic leaders, as well as with local Jewish communities and interfaith groups. The issue she hears raised again and again is that 2009 saw a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism internationally. This has been documented in the Department of State’s Human Rights Reports.
In addition to an increased number of violent attacks against Jews and synagogues in Europe and elsewhere, 2009 saw growing incidents of harassment of Jewish children in their schools; desecration of Jewish institutions; and increasingly violent and virulent rhetoric in graffiti, as well as in various media. In recent weeks, we have seen legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies cross the line into anti-Semitism. Natan Sharansky teaches us that anti-Israel sentiment crosses the line into anti-Semitism if Israel is demonized, delegitimized or held to a different standard than any other country.
2009 has also seen the pervasiveness of wildly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This includes irrational Holocaust denial, actually denying the historical reality. This includes Holocaust glorification, in which community leaders ask God to be able to “finish the job” of the Holocaust. This includes Holocaust relativism, where the genocide that was the Holocaust — the systematic extermination of the Jewish people — is minimized by being equated with large-scale acts of political violence, including decades of repression.
The United States supports international organizations like the OSCE and the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research and in order to promote Holocaust awareness and remembrance as a tool of teaching tolerance and understanding for the next generation and so that countries can understand their role and responsibility during the Holocaust.
Anti-Semitic messages still abound in the media and on the Internet. Despite these problems, freedom of expression is a human right for which we must maintain our respect and commitment — in fact, the United States believes that it is through permitting the free flow of expression and ideas that good speech can prevail over bad. The response to anti-Semitic speech and other forms of intolerant speech must therefore, include speech to counter such views, and while fully protecting freedom of expression, encompass a better understanding of and strategy to address the potential of various forms of media to incite violence. And when hate speech is identified, we must all strongly condemn it, calling on governments, to join together in condemning shameful, historically absurd and offensive speech.
As we in the OSCE refocus our attention on commitments made at prior meetings, steps must be taken to guard against indifference to injustice, no matter who is the victim. We must strive to ensure Muslims in the OSCE region are not marginalized, stereotyped or discriminated against. Discriminatory religion laws with onerous registration requirements repress peaceful religious belief. This is particularly true when a legal structure with multi-tiered layers of qualification metes out privileges and rights for majority faiths in a country, with the effect being to eclipse and restrict minority religious groups.
Stereotypes and prejudice towards Jewish communities persist around the world, which is why we must ensure continued support for the OSCE’s anti-Semitism initiatives. In one OSCE participating State Hannah recently visited, a government official she met with actually gave credence to a modern version of the medieval anti-Semitic blood libel lie, discussing an accusation that Jews kidnapped children to steal their organs. Through the work of this conference and the ongoing efforts of OSCE participating States and non-governmental organizations we will continue to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance and discrimination.
We must work together to ensure that all participating States implement OSCE commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms — freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion — as these are at the heart of our efforts to promote more tolerant, pluralistic societies. My colleagues on the U.S. delegation and I look forward to working together with all of you in the future to advance these important goals.
Jews cannot fight anti-Semitism alone. Muslims cannot fight Islamophobia alone. Roma cannot fight – alone. The LGBT community cannot fight – alone. And the list goes on. Hate is hate, but we can overcome it together.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good afternoon! Thank you so much for coming today, and thank you, Secretary Clinton. Not only are you such an outstanding leader for our country – but you have been a caring friend. When I was facing the scariest moments of my life having been diagnosed with cancer, you called me and were the last phone call I got before surgery and I know that’s why I’m perfectly fine now. We Jews have a name for this. You, Madame Secretary, are a Mensch.
I also had the honor and luck to recently spend some time with you in Poland at the Community of Democracies. All the countries there look to you with such promise and admiration – they hung on your words, they all watched you talk, I think they were hoping some of your talent would rub off on them. I got to watch leadership as it is executed and exuded. How lucky was I that I got to spend that time with you?
I love my job. I have always been lucky to have the opportunity, the platforms, the support, the energy to be part of making a difference in people’s lives. The opportunity you have given me, Madame Secretary and President Obama, has me working with courageous non-profits around the world, learning from them what their needs are and strategizing with them on how to meet those needs. And being the Special Envoy provides me the opportunity to meet with and build relationships with Prime Ministers, with Foreign Ministers, with Chancellors and Ambassadors. And working in the State Department gives me the opportunity to work with dedicated and impressive people who have traveled all over the world and they work hard to find better ways to advance human rights, democracy, and world peace. American influence around the world stands up for, and fights for, the voiceless and the persecuted. We get to use diplomacy, relationship building, funding, and promoting democracy and human rights to all corners of the world. How lucky are we?
But in the little over six months that I have had the opportunity and honor to work for you, Madame Secretary, I have seen some disturbing trends. Trends that have led to dramatic increases in acts, attitudes, and expressions of anti-Semitism. These trends fall into six major categories:
Anti-Semitism can be seen in age-old canards and accusations – from Jews controlling the media or the banks, or plotting to control the world, or ancient blood libel in new forms, outrageously accusing Jews of killing people to steal their organs.
In addition to those bad old-fashioned forms of anti-Semitism, we see newer forms. Holocaust denial is spewed by heads of state and religious leaders. This is especially poignant since you and I just got back from Schindler’s Factory where Schindler was able to save the lives of so many right outside of Auschwitz-Birkenau – that incredibly efficient mass killing factory.
We also see Holocaust relativism, diminishing the Holocaust’s unique stories and lessons and conflating it with other repressive regimes. Holocaust relativism not only distorts history, it diminishes the accountability, the understanding, the lessons of how cultured people could become willing executioners hoping to annihilate an entire people.
We are even seeing Holocaust glorification where there are calls to ‘finish the job’ – on major television shows, in sermons, in written blogs.
While criticism of policies of any government is appropriate, especially among strong democracies, anti-Israel sentiment crosses over into anti-Semitism all too often. The famous human rights fighter Nathan Sharansky gives us guidelines to use to know when anti-Israel activities move over into anti-Semitism. He calls it the three D’s: when Israel is demonized, when Israel is delegitimized, or when Israel is held to a different standard than all other countries – that is when we feel the increase in anti-Semitism. Why is it that when there is activity in the Middle East we know to expect increases in anti-Semitism? Why is that normal? Why is that expected in our embassies and consulates around the world? Why is this happening? It is not OK, it is not acceptable.
The sixth trend that is impacting anti-Semitism comes from the fear people all over the world from many different backgrounds are feeling – fear due to financial pressures, fear due to lack of acceptance of diversity and change, fear due to the sense that the world is out of control, fear of the ‘other’.
But while Jews remain a despised people in some quarters, we are not alone. Our cousins, the Muslims, are also feeling the hatred, born of fear and ignorance. Christians are being expelled from some countries. Roma face incredible discrimination and abuse. Baha’is hide their faith in many countries. And the list goes on and on. Hate is hate and we have to work together to confront it, to combat it, and to eradicate it.
So what will success look like for this job of monitoring and combating anti-Semitism? Our monitoring has been integrated into the very fabric of the State Department – we highlight it in the annual Human Rights and International Religious Freedom Report. So people all over the Department focus on anti-Semitism as an integral part of our annual reports.
But how to define success in combating anti-Semitism is much harder. How to change age-old religious, racial and political hatred of Jews? Success for me will be measured by how many other people condemn anti-Semitism. It is not a Jewish problem – it is a problem for all of humanity. Success will be building coalitions, it will engage interfaith and inter-ethnic groups, especially young people – to recognize anti-Semitism, to call it out to condemn it, to demand that governments, non-governmental organizations, media, religious leaders and everyone condemn it.
Success is finding and highlighting groups working around the world who every day work to advance acceptance, respect and tolerance. Like the Three Faiths Forum – an NGO in the United Kingdom- where Jews and Muslims and Christians work in teams to visit every single high school. Like the Interfaith Youth Core, that is centered in Chicago but has programs around the world. They train interfaith teams of people to be future leaders for our world. Or Civitas of Bosnia, which helps interethnic groups co-exist and become media literate for their advocacy. Like the Ukrainian tolerance camps and tolerance clubs for teenagers, which bring together Jews, Muslims, Greek and Russian Orthodox, and many different ethnic groups to learn from each other and how to advocate on behalf of each other. And the list of best practices, thankfully, goes on and on.
Success is never overnight, especially for this age-old hatred, but we must use every single day to move the needle, confront the hatred and expand the table of discussion and conversation. That is my priority as your Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
So I have this wonderful platform to do just that. I work with so many of you out there representing Jewish, interfaith, and inter-ethnic organizations. I work with you United States government employees in advancing acceptance, respect and tolerance. And I work with this Administration’s leaders – so committed to making the world a better place for our having served.
How lucky am I?
I’ll tell you how lucky. As lucky as I am to work with Mike Posner, who is the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and the rest of the DRL gang, my biggest and most wondrous contribution and achievement has been my incredible, beautiful, brilliant and extremely fun daughters, Shira and Francie, here with their loves, JP and Josh. How lucky I am to have my sister here? She would turn herself inside out if it would in some way alleviate pain for me. By my Aunt Sy and Cousin Joanie who represent my mother’s side of the family. And dad is here in memory only, in our hearts. Since he was the only survivor of his family from the Holocaust my family is quite small. Oh, how I wish my parents could be here today to help us all celebrate all this world mending we are doing together.
The Jewish tradition tells us that we are not required to finish repairing the world, but neither are we allowed to desist from doing our part. We have a lot of world fixing to do – and with all of the energy in this room, and with the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Clinton, we will get this done.
Thank you for this honor, for the trust you have in me, for the vision of what our world could be, for your caring. Thank you.