DCSIMG

News Archives






Secretary Clinton’s Joint Press Availability With Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (Via interpreter) Distinguished members of the press, today we have a very important friend with us, and we are hosting — and I’m very pleased to be hosting her in Istanbul and is Secretary of State of the U.S., Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Right after the fourth Contact Group meeting yesterday in order to complete our bilateral meeting, we worked together today. And I would like to welcome her again. And the United States and the Turkish relations are the best structures — are among the best structures, diplomatic relations of the world — of the modern world. After long years of war and after — before that as well, so the Turkish-U.S. relationships have always had their specific characteristics, and they have contributed to the global peace, and they have been very strategic. And over the recent times with esteemed Obama and Clinton, this tradition has continued in a strong way. And in the visit of the esteemed Obama, he — so we have gone beyond being strategic allies, and there is a modern partnership. Over the last two or three years, we have had very intense diplomatic contacts, and this has become obvious and important again.

In our relationships — relations with the United States not only in the field of security, but also in the economic and also diplomatic areas, we are determined to maximize them. And for this reason, over the recent months, my (inaudible), which I have talked to recently over the recent months has been Mrs. Clinton. We have talked on the phone very often. And so the previous telephone conversation transferred some of the items of the agenda to the next one. And on our latest phone call, we decided to meet in Istanbul and make a discussion and also an evaluation. And in the deliberations we had yesterday, it was impossible for us to talk about all the agenda — both Mr. Obama and also his Excellency, President Abdullah Gul. So we are trying to do what it takes to be model partners. In our today’s talks, we talked about regional issues and also developments in the Middle East and also the influences and impacts of these developments on the region. And also we shared — we exchanged information and also ideas about this and also some developments in the (inaudible) and following the (inaudible) meeting and also the latest point that reached in the relations of Armenia.

And so we also discussed very extensively and also in the Bosnia-Herzegovina as there is a functioning (inaudible). We also talked about the importance of a functioning state in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Balkan world and between Serbia and Kosovo. We also reiterated and shared the support (inaudible) extent for these relationships. And also in the context of developments in the Middle East, and we have talked about the latest developments in our relationships between Turkey and Israel. In addition to this, the Turkey-EU relations and also the latest point reached in the negotiations about Cyprus. So we’ve had the potential to share — exchange information about this and all these very extensive (inaudible) and in this beautiful Istanbul air, I’m very pleased to have — we are very pleased to have discussed all these issues.

Due to the latest PKK attacks and as it is the case all the time, cooperation against terrorism has always been — has been one of the primary items of our agenda for this reason, and we talked about the need and we emphasized the need for the solidarity against terrorism and so the Turkish-EU — I’m sorry, U.S. relationship will be used in the best way — in the most effective way. I would like to welcome her once again, and I believe that we’ll be in contact from now on, and we’ll be having very often negotiations, and we are going to continue to manage all these issues again. So I would like to welcome Mrs. Clinton and her very esteemed — her distinguished delegation.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister. And let me say how much of a pleasure it is personally for me to be with you here in Istanbul and what a great honor it is to represent my country in these important discussions.
Let me begin by once again offering our condolences for the loss of Turkish soldiers in Southeast Turkey. As I told the foreign minister and as I told President Gul last night and as I will repeat to the prime minister when I shortly see him, the United States stands with our ally, Turkey, against terrorism and threats to internal and regional stability. Our commitments to Turkey and its security is rock solid and unwavering.

Two years ago in Ankara, President Obama pledged to renew the alliance between the United States and Turkey, and especially to focus on the friendship between the Turkish and American people. Today, we can say with confidence that our bonds are sound, our friendship is sure, and our alliance is strong. Our partnership is rooted in a long history and a very long list of mutual interests, but most importantly it is rooted in our common democratic values. It is through the lens of this shared democratic tradition that the United States welcomes Turkey’s rise as an economic power, as a leader in the region and beyond, and as a valued ally on the most pressing global challenges.

I’d like to say just a few words about the future of our relationship and why I believe it is so important to both our nations. First, on the economic front, because of the seriousness of the strategic issues we confront together, the economic dimensions of our relationship can too often be overlooked. But as President Gul and President Obama have affirmed, the growing economic cooperation between Turkey and America is providing new energy to us both. So far this year, trade between us is up more than 50 percent. That means more jobs and greater prosperity in both our countries. But we see even greater potential ahead and we are committed to furthering and expanding trade and investment. We are both entrepreneurial peoples, and the more we work together, the more creativity and talent we will unleash. So I am delighted that Turkey will host the second Global Entrepreneurship Summit here in Istanbul later this year, building on the progress that we made last year in Washington.

There’s also a chance to foster even closer ties between our people, our businesses, and our communities. For example, in the run-up to the summit, the public-private initiative called Partners for a New Beginning is working with the Coca-Cola Company, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, and other partners to offer Turkish women entrepreneurs new seed grants, training, and mentoring.

Through our Global Entrepreneurship Program and other initiatives, we are working with Turkish high schools and universities to link the next generation of Turkish business leaders with young counterparts in the United States.

Today, the foreign minister and I discussed additional ways we can further strengthen our ties. Turkey’s upcoming constitutional reform process presents an opportunity to address concerns about recent restrictions that I heard about today from young Turks about the freedom of expression and religion, to bolster protections for minority rights, and advance the prospects for EU membership, which we wholly and enthusiastically support.

We also hope that a process will include civil society and parties from across the political spectrum. And of course, I hope that sometime soon we can see the reopening of the Halki Seminary that highlights Turkey’s strength of democracy and its leadership in a changing region.

I think across the region, people from the Middle East and North Africa particularly are seeking to draw lessons from Turkey’s experience. It is vital that they learn the lessons that Turkey has learned and is putting into practice every single day. Turkey’s history serves as a reminder that democratic development depends on responsible leadership, and it’s important that that responsible leadership help to mentor the next generation of leaders in these other countries.

So I am excited that we are here and we have talked about all the issues that the foreign minister has mentioned, from, of course, the successful meeting of the Contact Group yesterday about Libya, the situation in Syria, what is happening in Afghanistan, where Turkish troops are training Afghan forces to take on their own security, and of course, our mutual efforts against violent extremism, against terrorists, including the PKK.

So again, let me thank the foreign minister for his hospitality and for the breadth of our discussion. And it seems like our conversation never stops, Foreign Minister, so I look forward to the next chapter.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. This is for both of you. Madam, this is on the Syrian opposition.

Madam Secretary, there was a meeting of the Syrian opposition today. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what it’s going to take for the U.S. to show some support for the opposition, start dealing with them a little bit more. What would you like to see in terms of a viable opposition before you engage with them, and what do you think of this conference today?

And for the foreign minister, can you talk about Turkey’s contacts with the opposition and whether you think this is the type of opposition that could work towards a democratic transition in Syria? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that the foreign minister and I discussed our shared interest in seeing an end to the violence and a respect for the will of the Syrian people for political and economic reform. Yesterday, we witnessed the largest demonstrations to date in Syria, an effort to try to convey directly to the government the pent-up desire of the Syrian people for the kind of reforms that they have been promised. And at the same time, we saw continued brutality by the government against peaceful protest.

Now, Syria’s future is up to the Syrian people, but of course, the efforts by the opposition to come together, to organize, to be able to articulate an agenda, are an important part of political reform. And we believe that every country should permit such organizing and the support of opposition. We think that makes for more accountable, more effective government. So we’re encouraged by what we see of the Syrian people doing for themselves. This is not anything the United States or any other country is doing. It’s what the Syrians are doing, trying to form an opposition that can provide a pathway, hopefully in peaceful cooperation with the government, to a better future.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) including Syria, of course, our approach is really explicit within the region and it depends on some sort of principles. And we’ve got two basic principles. The first one is with our peaceful and brotherly countries within the region, we want to – we want them to continue the political will in a more democratic way. Of course, they have to (inaudible), they have to consider the demands of the society. If there is a political system which doesn’t consider the demand of the public, then it won’t be viable for that political system to survive. That’s why in Syria we feel the need to experience a reformation process which takes into account the demand of the public society. And of course, this transformation should not be (inaudible) in a ways that brings about conflict and also violence.

So we want the Syrian brotherly country to start the transformation process at once and we don’t want the Syrian Government to use excessive violence on the public. One of the most important principle of a political transformation is to have an opposition, of course, with (inaudible) negotiation with (inaudible). He had mentioned that they were going to have a multi-political group within the parliament. Of course, we want this to take place in Syria with a natural process. I hope that the Syrian country has got opposition parties, and we would like the opposition parties to raise their voice and to have a common point of view in the end. We want the Syrian sustainability to be strengthened and we want a more sound and viable political system within Syria.

And with the meeting that took place in Turkey, we, from the very beginning, have stated that Turkey is a democratic country (inaudible) meetings to take place in Istanbul in Turkey. This is a natural conclusion that is brought by the democratic environment in Turkey, and there in our country we also run meetings which criticizes the democratic aspects of Turkey as well. And we are not in a position – we don’t want to be commented as a country which interferes with the domestic affairs of Syria. I wish that in the Damascus, for instance, such meetings were to be held so as for those reformations to be concluded, as long as the meetings do not bring about any conflict, any violence. Of course, these meetings can take place. This isn’t a bad will that we show against Syria. All these meetings are for the sake of Syria to come up with a sound transformation, reformation. Of course, there are opposing ideas due to the political system of Syria. They also take place in Istanbul in Turkey. I hope that Syria is going to come more powerfully, more strongly, at the end of this process with a more sound democratic environment.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I am sorry (inaudible), but I would like to ask my question to the guest (inaudible). Secretary, in Cyprus you want the negotiations to be sped up and you want it to be concluded by 2012. Mr. Davutoglu – if this happens, Davutoglu says that the relations can be frozen between the European Union and Cyprus. So what is your approach for a referendum that is going to take place in Cyprus in regard to speeding up negotiations of Cyprus? Do you want to take a more active role if such a referendum takes place? And do you see a risk between the relations between you and Turkey if this referendum were to take place?

SECRETARY CLINTON: First of all, as you probably know, the United States very actively promoted the referendum that was presented to the population of Cyprus back in 2005 – right, 2004. And we were disappointed by the outcome, because we thought that that would have resolved a lot of the issues that are still being very difficult to overcome. We don’t think the status quo on Cyprus benefits anyone. It’s gone on for far too long. We believe both sides would benefit from a settlement, and we strongly support the renewed, reenergized efforts that the United Nations is leading and that the Cypriots themselves are responsible for, because ultimately, they’re the ones who have to make the hard decisions about how to resolve all of the outstanding issues.

We want to see a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and we would like to see it as soon as possible. We would like to see it by 2012. And that is something that the UN has said. That’s something I know Turkey believes. It’s something we believe. And we’re going to do everything we can to support this process and finally try to see a resolution.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you. (In Turkish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, we’re done. Oh, okay.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Do you want a couple more questions? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, no. (Laughter.)

 


Readout of the President’s Meeting With His Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain

The President met today and had a productive discussion with His Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, following the Crown Prince’s meeting with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.  The President reaffirmed the strong commitment of the United States to Bahrain. He welcomed King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s decision to end the State of National Safety early and the announcement that the national dialogue on reform would begin in July.  He also expressed strong support for the Crown Prince’s ongoing efforts to initiate the national dialogue and said that both the opposition and the government must compromise to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.  To create the conditions for a successful dialogue, the President emphasized the importance of  following through on the government’s commitment to ensuring that those responsible for human rights abuses will be held accountable.  The President noted that, as a long-standing partner of Bahrain, the United States believes that the stability of Bahrain depends upon respect for the universal rights of the people of Bahrain, including the right to free speech and peaceful assembly, and a process of meaningful reform that is responsive to the aspirations of all.

 


FACT SHEET: Transition and Reform in Morocco

In this moment of profound change in the region, the United States supports Morocco’s efforts to promote ongoing democratic development through constitutional, judicial, and political reforms. In March 2011, King Mohamed VI promised comprehensive reforms that would guarantee free parliamentary elections, create an independent judiciary, and assure that human rights are upheld for all. These initiatives build on other meaningful reforms in Morocco that include increased rights for women and youth and universal access to free education. We recognize the King’s effort to respond to citizens’ demands, and we urge continuing and rapid implementation of these crucial reforms. Morocco has made significant achievements in the economic, social, and political realms, and can demonstrate its regional leadership by pursuing further democratic reforms. We value Morocco as a strategic partner, and we will work with the people and government of Morocco to realize their democratic aspirations.

Public Diplomacy and Diplomatic Outreach

The United States engages the Moroccan government at all levels to support the reforms announced by King Mohamed VI and encourage their swift implementation. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with the Foreign Minister of Morocco in March 2011 to discuss a number of bilateral and multilateral issues; the “Arab Spring” was at the forefront of their conversation.

We continue to voice support for Morocco’s reforms, and their implementation, through domestic and foreign press outlets. We use public diplomacy programs to promote dialogue, engage Morocco’s vibrant civil society, encourage a responsible media, and increase understanding of democratic values.

Democracy and Governance Support We are working with the people and government of Morocco to support their efforts to further consolidate the rule of law, raise human rights standards, promote good governance, empower youth, and work toward meaningful, long-term constitutional reform.

The United States holds a robust and ongoing dialogue on human rights and political freedoms with the Moroccan government, and works in partnership with the Moroccan government on promotion of the rule of law and justice sector reform.

 
LEARN MORE ABOUT: , , ,


William J. Burns: Remarks to Egyptian Press

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you very much and good afternoon. I am very happy to be back in Cairo. I first visited Egypt In 1974 when I was an 18 year old student, and over the many years since then I’ve developed enormous admiration and respect for Egypt and Egyptians. This is obviously a moment of extraordinary promise and also extraordinary challenge for Egypt. The courage and the tremendous peaceful determination that were so clear in Tahrir square really have captured the imagination of the rest of the world.

The U.S. admires what Egyptians have already achieved. We know that the road ahead will not be easy and that this is just the beginning of a complicated democratic transition. We know also that it’s a transition that can only be navigated by Egyptians themselves. But we have great faith in the capacity of Egypt to make a successful transition and to set an example for the rest of the region, which I think is especially important at a time of such profound change across the Arab world. The truth is that Egypt is uniquely equipped and positioned to play that kind of leadership role.

The United States will do everything that we can to help. We continue to believe, as President Obama has said, that Egypt’s transition needs to be open and inclusive. It should lead to real political change, and to realizing the aspirations for freedom, dignity and opportunity that were so clearly on display in Tahrir Square. We want to listen to the priorities of Egyptians inside government and outside government, listen to their priorities for political transition, for economic recovery and modernization and try as best we can to connect our resources and our support to those priorities. We will continue to encourage, as President Obama has emphasized publicly, concrete steps that will help to build on the momentum of transition that’s already grown, steps like the constitutional changes which are currently being drafted, careful preparations for elections, the release of political detainees and the lifting of the emergency-law.

We are committed, the United States is committed, to long-term partnership with Egypt, a partnership that is partly about relations between governments but also about relations between our two societies. We are convinced that we have a great deal to gain by working together, especially as I said before, at this moment of profound transition across the Arab world. With those opening comments, I would be delighted to try to respond to your questions. And thank you again for making the time to meet this afternoon.

QUESTION: Please brief me on the future of cooperation between Egypt and the U.S.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I would say several things. First, the U.S.-Egyptian partnership is a long-standing one. We are proud of the record of cooperation in increasing economic opportunities for Egyptians and our cooperation on a range of shared regional and global challenges. I’ve met with a wide range of Egyptians inside and outside government, civil society activists, representatives of many different parts of Egyptian society, and we aim to continue those kind of contacts. And we will continue to do everything we can in the spirit of our partnership to support Egypt’s economic recovery and continued modernization and to support Egypt’s open and inclusive political transition and to work with Egypt in dealing with a growing number of regional challenges. I don’t think the partnership between our two countries and between our two peoples has ever been more important than it is today.

QUESTION: Could you please tell us how you perceive the Egyptian priorities?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: It is for Egyptians to set their priorities, but it seems to me, as President Obama has said, that following through in a rapid, orderly and open way in a transition that will realize the aspirations of Egyptians for freedom, for opportunity and for dignity is an extraordinary priority. That’s a road that Egyptians are going to have to chart for themselves, but there’s a lot that can be learned from the experience of other transitions around the world. That includes careful preparations for elections, for example, and the importance of recruiting as wide a range as possible of people and leaders in society so that there is feeling of full participation. That, it seems to me, is at the top of the list of priorities. Connected to that, obviously, is the question of economic recovery. Egypt has a strong economic foundation despite the disruption that has been caused recently to tourism and to other sources of income. It seems to us that the essential economic priority is to build toward long-term economic modernization so that the benefits of economic growth, the benefits of economic opportunity can be felt by people across society not just a small section of society. That’s a challenge for any society, but that’s also an important priority.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. received any requests from the Egyptian Government to freeze the assets of former President Mubarak and his family?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We have a number of law enforcement channels through which we cooperate with the Egyptian Government. We have received in the past, in the recent past, several requests of the sort that you mentioned. I’m not aware of any yet with regard to former President Mubarak. Certainly, we remain committed to the rule of law and will use those law enforcement channels to deal with any requests we get.

QUESTION: You talked about with the government and the civil society, do you have discussions with the Moslem Brotherhood, who are part of the Egyptian society, and how much does the U.S. government fear that the MB would become in the majority?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I haven’t sought a meeting with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. As a general principle, as you know, the United States is committed to meeting with a wide variety of leaders and activist groups in Egypt–individuals and groups who are committed to the rule of law, committed to a democratic process, and committed to peaceful, political competition and equal rights. And we will continue to look forward to dialogue of course with a wide range of people.

Now, in regards to Egypt’s political future, and the question is when Parliamentary elections are held and who might benefit, those are decisions that Egyptians have to make. As I said before, I have considerable faith in the capacity of Egyptians to make good choices about their future and, most importantly, to create a political system that is going to be fair, and allow for, not only equal rights across society, but also a fair and open competition.

QUESTION: I’ll be curious to hear your account of what the Egyptian government officials that you have been meeting with have been telling of what you perceived as a message they have been sending you and or what are their priorities right now in terms of ending this transition? What do you think on that?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think, in my experience, Egyptians inside and outside government are pretty good in speaking for themselves and so I’ll let them describe their priorities. All I would say is that my strong impression is that there is an understanding across Egyptian society, including on the part of officials with whom I have met, of the importance of moving ahead on the political transition in a way which reassures people that this is going to produce real political change and that is going to lead over time to the sort of democratic system that Egyptians in Tahrir Square and outside of it clearly aspire to. There was also an appreciation in my conversations of the importance of addressing economic concerns as well along the way.

Recognizing as I said before that Egypt has a solid foundation in which to build infrastructure which is reasonably well developed, and the possibility of attracting foreign investment, I think the surest way to attract foreign investment, the surest way to have tourists return to Egypt is to demonstrate progress in a successful political transition. If that process continues, it seems to me that Egypt is not going to have difficulty over time in attracting that kind of interest from foreign businesses as well as from tourists.

QUESTION: You said that you will commit to have a dialogue between the American government and those who are the legitimate parties or movements. If the Muslim Brotherhood had a chance and became in power in Egypt, will you have accept that or how will you deal with them?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I am a big believer in taking things one step at a time. I think the challenge before Egypt right now is how to create a democratic framework, to create a framework for an electoral process that is going to allow for a free and fair competition. And then we’ll see what comes out of that process.

But I think the focus right now, certainly for Egyptians but for all of the rest of us who want to be supportive of Egypt’s political transition, is trying to establish the kind of rules of the road and the respect for rule of law which will make for long term democratic success in Egypt.

QUESTION: How does the U.S. perceive the shift in terms of the Egyptian relations with Israel and with Iran as well? Also how does the U.S. explain the backing, financial and otherwise to the Egyptian regime?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: That is a collection of very good questions. Let me start with a few comments about the region, then on Egypt, and then the question on corruption. On the region in general, I think that we are obviously witnessing a period of profound changes. I don’t think any society in the Arab world is going to be immune, or across the region for that matter—I’m not limiting it to the Arab world, is immune from the aspirations for freedom and dignity and opportunity that we have seen so clearly here in Egypt. We can only hope that the peaceful determination that we saw in Tahrir Square is matched elsewhere because, certainly, we are troubled, as I know many Egyptians are, by the images that we have seen in Libya in recent days and by the violence which has occurred elsewhere in the region.

It’s very important for Americans to understand that stability is not a static phenomenon in the Middle East or any place else. Societies and leaderships that don’t address the aspirations of their people for participation politically, for opportunity economically, are going to have a very hard time remaining stable. So we need to understand that, maybe we need to understand that more clearly in the future. So that’s my general point.

Secondly, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has reaffirmed its commitment to Egypt’s international agreements and treaties, including the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. It seems to me that as Egypt looks at its relations around the region and its approach to the Arab-Israeli peace process, it’s going to be driven by its own self interest, but I think Egypt will continue to play a crucial role in any hopes for reviving the Israeli-Arab peace process. There are lots of reasons to be concerned about Iranian behavior in the region, whether its nuclear ambitions or its support for violent extremist groups. Those are concerns that we and others in the region share.

On the issue of corruption, is a significant problem in Egypt. No society is immune from that. The US has its own challenges with corruption sometimes. Those have to be addressed, applying the rule of law. They have to be addressed fairly, so that it’s clear that nobody is above the law or can get around the law. But what’s important, I think, is to create modern economic institutions that create a fair playing field and offer opportunity for everybody in society and don’t allow particular individuals to benefit unfairly. It takes time to build that, but I think it’s going to be very important in the years ahead for Egypt to do that, just as it has been important for the US to continue to try to do that.

QUESTION: I know that your visit is devoted to Egypt, but since most of my colleagues have asked questions about Egypt, I’d like to ask about Libya and what is going on there. I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen the US standing as squarely behind the Libyan people as they were behind the Egyptian people, while the Libyans are being butchered. What will the US do?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, I think if you saw a statement that Secretary Clinton made last night, you will see clearly that the US strongly condemns the violence that we’ve seen in Libya, makes very clear that what we’ve seen in terms of use of force against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable and needs to stop now, that the US will stand behind the aspirations for universal human rights for Libyans, just as we stand behind those aspirations for people throughout this region and around the world. We will continue to make that clear, and we will continue to work with others in the international community, particularly through an emergency UN Security Council session, which is scheduled to take place later today in New York, to do everything that we can to stop the violence and the bloodshed, which I agree with you, is horrific.

QUESTION: Are they talking about a UNSC resolution?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I don’t know. I can’t predict what the outcome of that emergency session will be today, but all I can tell you is that there is a deep, deep sense of concern shared by members of the Security Council, and I know also by our friends in Egypt and around the world. Egypt has hundreds of thousands of workers in Libya right now. All of us are horrified by the images that we’ve seen.

QUESTION: There will be a referendum on the constitution and parliamentary elections and then Presidential elections. Will the US government plan to ask for monitoring of those votes?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: The issue of monitoring, both domestic and international monitoring of elections, is a well-established practice around the world and I think it is a very useful way of ensuring that the rules of the game are applied. This is obviously something that we’ve strongly encouraged in the past, not just in Egypt, but in other societies around the world, and we will continue to strongly encourage it as a matter of the self interest of Egypt, because I think it helps, as it does in any society in the world, to ensure a fair and transparent process.

QUESTION: People are saying that Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, intends to run for the presidency. I heard that the US and Israel object, could you please comment?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We don’t get a vote in Egypt’s elections. We don’t get a vote in who runs in Egypt’s elections, and I think that Amr Moussa is entirely capable of making that choice himself.

QUESTION: There’s a perception in Egypt that the US relationship with Egypt has always been built on what Egypt’s stance toward Israel would be, and that the backing of the Egyptian leadership went through decades of infringements of the basic human rights of the Egyptian people. Will there be any guarantees to the Egyptian people that the US will start correlating the aid package to Egyptian leadership to their performance domestically?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: All I can stress to you, as I said before, is that I think the US-Egyptian partnership is important for a number of reasons. Certainly, our shared experience in trying to promote a truly just and lasting comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is one of those issues, but there are a number of others. Particularly, as I said, to look at a region that’s gone through such a profound period of transition now, it is equally in our interests, as it is in Egypt’s, for Egypt’s transition to be successful and for us to work together in dealing with lots of shared challenges around the region. Certainly, we have an important stake in supporting human rights around the region, and I think we need to be consistent in doing that. It’s a concern, not just of the US administration, but of the US Congress and American society in general. I think this is an area in which we have not always been as clear as we should be. As I said before, stability is not a static phenomenon in the world. Societies have to adapt and have leaderships have to address the very legitimate concerns of people. We have to take that into account in our relationships around the world, as well. We’ve tried to do so in the past, but I can assure you, we are focused on that even more clearly as we look to the future.

Thank you very much. I wish you good luck. It’s certainly a fascinating moment to be working as journalists in Egypt. So, good luck.

 
LEARN MORE ABOUT: , , ,


United States Supports Strengthening of Colombian Judicial Sector

U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William R. Brownfield was present at the 12th Regular Jurisdiction Meeting held November 5-6, 2009 in Paipa, Boyaca. Regular jurisdiction in Colombia includes civil, family, labor, and criminal matters. This is an annual event organized by the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice to bring together key members of the Colombian judicial branch and discuss topics related to the sector’s development. This year the topic was Access to Justice.

Thanks to the support provided by the U.S. Government – through its Agency for International Development (USAID)- and the Department of Justice, two important US justices participated at the event: David Briones, Texas Senior U.S. District Judge and Edward Prado, 5th U.S. District Judge.

The U.S. Government has strongly supported the strengthening of the Colombian judicial sector. Under Plan Colombia, the U.S. government has allotted over US $150 million to strengthen the country’s judicial system in order to make it more effective and accessible.   This has included providing support for conversion to the criminal accusatory system, training and technical assistance to members of the judicial sector, strengthening of the justice administration, greater access to justice for vulnerable and underserved populations, and support and aid to the general population so they can be a part of the judicial reform.

 


Secretary Clinton’s October 30-November 1 Visit to Cambodia

Secretary Clinton’s two-day trip to Cambodia October 30-November 1 highlights the United States commitment to enhanced, sustained, and comprehensive engagement in Southeast Asia, as well as our desire to assist the Cambodian people in their efforts to recover fully from decades of conflict, to achieve political and legal reforms, and to strengthen economic development. This trip is the first Secretary of State visit to Cambodia since then-Secretary Powell visited in 2003.

The United States has a strong interest in a Cambodia that contributes to regional stability, upholds democratic values, and integrates fully into the international economy. Our wide-ranging assistance programs touch on all aspects of Cambodian life and affirm these strategic interests. Secretary Clinton will encourage Cambodia to continue its recovery from conflict and its progress on democratic development. She will stress the importance of a credible opposition and respect for human rights in a stable, well-functioning democracy and highlight our interest in seeing Cambodia continue to play a constructive role in regional stability. She will also express appreciation for the country’s rich cultural heritage and underscore the critical role Cambodia’s young citizens play in the country’s future prosperity and development.

Sustained and Deep Engagement with Cambodia: Our engagement with Cambodia achieves a variety of political, security and humanitarian objectives. The United States provided Cambodia more than U.S. $70 million in foreign assistance this year, which goes to addressing issues such as human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, corruption, maternal and child health, and humanitarian mine action. Our maturing security cooperation with Cambodia represents a joint commitment to ensuring international peace and security, and continuing the transformation of the Cambodian Armed Forces into a transparent, accountable, and professional military. The U.S. partnership with the Lower Mekong Initiative is another example of how we are engaging with Cambodia to promote a multilateral response to the transnational challenges we all share, such as climate change and infectious disease.

A Democratic, Secure, and Prosperous Future for Cambodia: Our commitment to a democratic, secure, and prosperous Cambodia is reflected in the nearly $7 million we have contributed to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge Tribunal), which seeks to bring to justice the Khmer Rouge senior leaders and those most responsible for the atrocities of the late 1970s, while also serving as a model for Cambodian rule of law, judicial independence, and national reconciliation. While in Cambodia, Secretary Clinton will visit Tuol Sleng, the former Khmer Rouge torture and interrogation center, will emphasize the need to fight corruption and improve transparency in all parts of the government, and will meet with opposition leaders to highlight the importance of a vibrant political arena where all voices are heard.

The Role of Cambodia’s Youth: The Secretary’s participation in a town hall event will provide an important opportunity to have a free-flowing discussion with Cambodia youth about challenges and opportunities facing the country, and how the United States can help. In turn, her outreach to Cambodia’s youth will promote an even better understanding of the United States and our shared values.

 


Anniversary of the Death of Sergei Magnitskiy

Today we mark with sadness the one-year anniversary of the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitskiy, who died of apparent medical neglect in pre-trial detention in Moscow’s Butyrsky Prison.

We welcome President Medvedev’s statements in support of judicial reform and rule of law, but note with regret that no one has been charged in connection with this case, despite a Justice Ministry investigation. The United States continues to call for the Russian authorities to prosecute all responsible for Mr. Magnitskiy’s death and protect the fundamental rights of all, including those in prison.

For more information on the human rights situation in Russia, click here.

 
LEARN MORE ABOUT: , , , ,


Transcript of President Obama’s Interview with Novaya Gazeta

1. Do you agree with the opinion expressed by many Russian and European politicians that the United States is primarily responsible for the economic difficulties that their countries are now living through?

No. We all are experiencing a severe economic crisis that is affecting the lives of many people in countries around the world.  This crisis resulted from a culture of irresponsibility regarding financial matters that took hold over a number of years in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.  I am proud of our efforts to lead by reforming our regulatory and supervisory systems and promoting an era of responsibility, so that the U.S. and global economies will be stable and growth will be sustained. We of course have an obvious interest in developing policies that stimulate economic growth in the United States, but we also believe that economic growth in our country also will nurture economic growth around the world, including in Russia.
In the 21st century, we all -Americans, Russians, and everyone else – have an interest in fostering world economic growth that benefits us all. We need to spend less time thinking about who is to blame and more time working together to do what needs to be done to get all of our economies moving in the right direction.

2. Do you agree that lies and greed – -  lies about the state of markets and greed of their participants — are the main reasons for the current economic crisis?

As I said to Congress in February, our economy did not fall into decline overnight.  Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank.  We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy.  Yet we import more oil today than ever before.  The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform.  Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for.  And though all these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election.  A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future.  Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.  People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway.  And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

3. Many experts believe that the 21st Century Financial Regulatory Reform you proposed may become the most significant innovation in the U.S. financial system since the era of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  What do you consider to be the most important element of this reform?  Are we at the doorstep of new transparency of business and finances? 

Our regulatory and supervisory reform plans, announced a few weeks ago, are sweeping and important.  The plans include three important components. First, we’re proposing a set of reforms to require regulators to look not only at the safety and soundness of individual institutions, but also — for the first time — at the stability of the financial system as a whole. Second, we’re proposing a new and powerful agency charged with just one job: looking out for ordinary consumers. Third, we’re proposing a series of changes designed to promote free and fair markets by closing gaps and overlaps in our regulatory system — including gaps that exist not just within but between nations. We are called upon to put in place those reforms that allow our best qualities to flourish — while keeping those worst traits in check. We’re called upon to recognize that the free market is the most powerful generative force for our prosperity — but it is not a free license to ignore the consequences of our actions.

4. On November 18, 2005 Senators Obama, Biden and McCain together with other Senators adopted Resolution 232 on the trial, sentence and imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovskiy and Platon Lebedev. The Resolution said that “in investigations that present a threat to authorities, Russian courts become instruments of the Kremlin, and cannot be responsible or independent.” Have you been following the new trial of Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev?

I do not know the intimate details of these new proceedings, though my advisors most certainly do. However, without knowing the details, it does seem odd to me that these new charges, which appear to be a repackaging of the old charges, should be surfacing now, years after these two individuals have been in prison and as they become eligible for parole. Nonetheless, I think it is improper for outsiders to interfere in the legal processes of Russia. Instead, I would just affirm my support for President Medvedev’s courageous initiative to strengthen the rule of law in Russia, which of course includes making sure that all those accused of crimes have the right to a fair trial and that the courts are not used for political purposes.
 
5. “Restarting” the relationship implies cooperating with Russia in those areas where it is possible. Does this mean weaker attention to Russia’s observation of civil rights and liberties, and to persecution against and murders of journalists? Specifically, to [the need to] apprehend and punish those who ordered and committed the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya?

Of course not. I seek to reset relations with Russia because I believe that Americans and Russians have many common interests, interests that our governments recently have not pursued as actively as we could have. For instance, I believe that Americans and Russians both would benefit from fewer nuclear weapons in the world, greater control over nuclear materials around the world, a defeat of extremist elements in Afghanistan and Pakistan, an Iran that produces nuclear energy but not nuclear weapons, and a North Korea that refrains from launching missiles and exploding nuclear weapons and instead returns to the negotiating table. I also believe that Americans and Russians have a common interest in the development of rule of rule, the strengthening of democracy, and the protection of human rights. As I said in my inaugural address: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” I then emphasized in my Cairo speech that “I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things:  the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.  These are not just American ideas; they are human rights.” These are ideas embraced by your president and your people. I agree with President Medvedev when he said that “Freedom is better than the absence of freedom.” So, I see no reason why we cannot aspire together to strengthen democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as part of our “reset.”

6. Will you sign the new START treaty if Russia conditions its signing upon non-deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe?

In our meeting in London on April 1st, President Medvedev and I issued a joint statement on instructions for our negotiators for this new treaty. These instructions very explicitly did not mention missile defense as a topic of discussion for these negotiations.
At the same time, we understand Russian sensitivities to this issue and have sent several high-level delegations to Moscow over the last several weeks to engage in a serious dialogue about U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense.

My government is completing a comprehensive review of all of our missile defense programs, including those in Europe. Given the threats around the world, especially those growing from North Korea and Iran, our goal is to enhance missile defense for the United States and our allies in Europe and elsewhere. As I have said many times, such a system has to work, be cost effective, and must address the real threats to the United States and our allies, not imaginary ones. When discussing our plans for Europe, we first and foremost are seeking to build a missile defense system that protects the United States and Europe from an Iranian ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead. We are not building and will not build a system that is aimed to respond to an attack from Russia. Such thinking is simply a legacy of the Cold War.

We have not yet decided how we will configure missile defense in Europe. But my sincere hope is that Russia will be a partner in that project. If we combine our assets on missile defense, the United States, Russia, and our allies will be much safer than if we go it alone. I see a great potential here, and I hope to have a robust discussion with President Medvedev about these possibilities for cooperation on missile defense when I am in Moscow next week.

7. In the course of your presidential campaign, you competed with Hillary Clinton. Does this hinder your joint work now?

Absolutely not. This is the beauty of democracy. Secretary Clinton and I engaged in a hard-fought, very competitive race for the nomination of our party. By the way, without question, these primaries made me a better candidate for the general election against Senator John McCain. But in democracies, once the election is over, then all Americans who care about our country get back to work. It was because of how well I got to know Secretary Clinton during our campaign that I knew she would be such an excellent Secretary of State, and she has served our country with excellence.

 
LEARN MORE ABOUT: , , , ,


U.S. to Run for Election to the UN Human Rights Council

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice announce that the United States will seek a seat this year on the United Nations Human Rights Council with the goal of working to make it a more effective body to promote and protect human rights.

The decision is in keeping with the Obama Administration’s “new era of engagement” with other nations to advance American security interests and meet the global challenges of the 21st century.

“Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy” said Secretary Clinton. “With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system to advance the vision of the UN Declaration on Human Rights. The United States helped to found the United Nations and retains a vital stake in advancing that organization’s genuine commitment to the human rights values that we share with other member nations. We believe every nation must live by and help shape global rules that ensure people enjoy the right to live freely and participate fully in their societies.”

“Those who suffer from abuse and oppression around the world, as well as those who dedicate their lives to advancing human rights, need the Council to be balanced and credible,” said Ambassador Rice. “The U.S. is seeking election to the Council because we believe that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights. We hope to work in partnership with many countries to achieve a more effective Council.”

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 elected members whose mission is to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights globally. The next round of elections to the Council will be held on May 15th in the UN General Assembly in New York. Members will be elected to a three-year term. The Council was created in March 2006, and is scheduled to undergo a formal review of its structure and procedures in 2011, which will offer a significant opportunity for Council reform.

 
 

Disclaimer: The Office of Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy, in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, of the U.S. Department of State manages this site as a portal for international human rights related information from the United States Government. External links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.