Good morning. It is such a delight for me to be back in the Netherlands. Your country and mine have enjoyed close ties for more than 400 years when Henry Hudson first landed in Manhattan and we had very strong diplomatic ties going back to the earliest days of the United States. We have worked together bilaterally to address a range of global challenges and we have worked together multilaterally to address peace and security around the world. So it is so fitting that we come together today to address another extremely timely and important subject.
But before I add my comments, I want to thank Ambassador Hartog-Levin for the extraordinary service she has rendered on behalf of us in your country for the last two years and for bringing us all together this morning. And I know from my conversations with her, that it is very difficult for her to take leave of a place she loves. I know she will take a good chunk of your country home with her. So thank you, Ambassador Levin.
I also want to thank Foreign Minister Rosenthal for his comments today and for his leadership. We had a very excellent meeting yesterday and he conveyed to me personally much of what he said this morning.
And I want to mention the two Palwashas who are with us today. One, Palwasha Kakar, is in her government as a deputy minister and is doing excellent work. The other Palwasha is Palwasha Hasan – she is with the Afghan Women’s Network. She is an exceptional leader in civil society. And I think the two Palwashas represent a kind of coming together of women leaders in powerful positions, one in government and one in civil society. They are making a strong difference for their country, particularly in these times. And I want to add my acknowledgement to the Atlantic Commission for its great leadership in co-hosting this session.
Now in the aftermath of 9/11, the world’s eyes focused on Afghanistan and we made collective efforts to root out al-Qaeda, to overthrow the Taliban and to usher in peace, stability, and a better life for the people of that country. And I also want to add my acknowledgment to the role that the Dutch have played as a partner in Afghanistan, especially your contributions to security, stability, humanitarian relief, reconstruction and development in Uruzgan Province and more broadly across the country. You have been a key partner in organizing elections, fighting the epidemic of opium production and trafficking, and assisting aid organizations with clearing away deadly land mines. And this summer you have launched the initiative that the Foreign Minister talked about this morning in the northern providence of Kunduz to better equip Afghan police forces with training that they need to strengthen the rule of law and assist in the very hard work of reconciliation. You have understood both in your development work broadly and in your engagement specifically in Afghanistan that the future of Afghanistan depends, in many ways, on the degree to which women have an active role, a power sharing role in participating in the political process – certainly in re-integration and reconciliation – and are fully engaged in the economic sector and and have their rights protected. Investing in women and girls is one of the most effective investments that can be made for poverty alleviation, for security, for a country’s prosperity – and even to decrease corruption. Yes, there are studies that show as women’s roles increase in government decision making, corruption decreases.
Now I have read about your government’s recently propagated policies on development cooperation and your focus on the four areas in which the Netherlands can bring special value. And I am pleased that Afghanistan will continue to be one of your partner countries in that work. I was also pleased that the Dutch government launched the Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women fund – (the acronym, FLOW, I like the sound of that) – to promote security, economic opportunity, and political participation. You’ve clearly been guided by the research and the data which documents the soundness of these priority investments. I couldn’t agree more with your Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, Minister Knapen, who said, “Investing in women and girls is smart politics, smart economics, and smart security.” The concept of women as agents of peace and stability is also embodied in President Obama’s national security strategy, which says in part, “countries are more peaceful, more prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunities.”
And Secretary Clinton has echoed this view countless times. “The status of women,” she said, “is not only a matter of morality and justice, as important as that is – but is also a political, economic and social imperative. Put simply, the world cannot make lasting progress if women and girls in the 21st century are denied their rights and left behind.”
Following their bilateral meeting a few months ago in Washington, Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Rosenthal issued a joint statement on supporting women’s political empowerment in emerging democracies. Their statement said, “Experience shows that integrating women into transition, reconciliation and peace-building processes from the start helps to promote long-term peace and stability by ensuring a focus on critical broader priorities and needs.” They went on to say, “Where women are oppressed and marginalized, those societies become more dangerous and breed intolerance. The subjugation of women is a threat to the common security of our world, because the suffering and denial of the rights of women and the instability of nations goes hand in hand.” The United States is implementing this understanding in our strategy in Afghanistan – and obviously the Netherlands is also. We agree that Afghan women need to be involved in every step of securing and rebuilding their country.
Now let me turn for a moment to the continuing commitment of the United States to Afghanistan in this time of transition and add to what Ambassador Hartog- Levin has said this morning. In a recent address in India, Secretary Clinton described the Obama administration’s policy. “The United States is committed to Afghanistan and to the region. We will be there. Yes, we are beginning to withdraw combat troops and transfer responsibility for security to the Afghan people, a process that will be completed in 2014, but drawing down our troops is not the same as leaving or disengaging. We and the Afghans are making progress on a new strategic partnership declaration that will define our relationship after 2014. And through that partnership, we will continue to assist the Afghan army and police and the Afghan Government. And we will do everything we can to help the Afghan people rebuild after decades of war. At the same time, we are pursuing an active diplomatic effort with all the countries in the region toward two goals: First, a responsible political solution in Afghanistan, and second, stronger economic ties through South and Central Asia so that goods, capital, and people can flow more easily across borders.”
Those unambiguous redlines that Ambassador Hartog-Levin laid out, including she said, ensuring that the rights of women will be protected as the Constitution of Afghanistan provides – and let me say clearly that those rights include the right to an education, to participate politically and economically in their country’s public life, to be free from violence in their homes, workplaces and communities.
Now no one wants to see the conflict end more than the Afghan women and I have spent much time with many of them and you will hear from them again this morning. They have suffered unspeakable atrocities under the Taliban. So they want this conflict to end and they want a better life for themselves and their country but they want to be part of the process to ensure that the eventual peace agreement is sustainable. They want to be part of that power sharing that the Foreign Minister discussed this morning. This is not a favor to the women of Afghanistan. It is not just a nice thing to do. It is a necessity. Because any potential for peace will be subverted if women’s voices are silenced or marginalized. The United States will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the progress that has been made over the last decade. Secretary Clinton also noted that the diplomatic and political effort will only succeed if it is paired with a strategy to increase economic ties in all the countries of the region. None of us can provide aid forever. It is critical that Afghanistan’s economy gets going in a very strong way, that it achieves trade and investment. An Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of the region would be able to attract new investment and connect to markets abroad. This is the vision of a new Silk Road – a 21st century regional economic network that enlists the international community and private sector to ensure a sustainable, economically viable future for Afghanistan.
I had a glimpse of what is possible just a few weeks ago because the State Department sponsored as significant coming together, a conference for female entrepreneurs from Central Asia and Afghanistan that took place in Kyrgysztan. It was called “Invest in the Future.” The women were so eager to accelerate their economic journey together, across borders, in order to grow economic opportunity. As a result of the conference, the United States, multilateral organizations and the private sector have committed resources to provide women with greater opportunity for success. So simply put, neither reintegration and reconciliation nor the promotion of economic opportunity can succeed without Afghan women’s full participation.
The United States, like the Netherlands, has been committed to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. It links women with peace and security. It says that we must ensure justice for acts of violence against women and ensure that women’s participation in conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and strengthening the conditions for lasting peace and prosperity, are real. Evidence shows that integrating women into peace building processes helps promote long-term peace by ensuring that a broader set of critical priorities and needs are on the table and addressed. Moreover, women’s leadership in peace processes positively correlates with a reduction of violence and armed action, the sustainability of those peace agreements and post conflict political frameworks, as well as the evolution of democratic systems of governance.
Women have been distinguishing themselves in Afghanistan. As you heard from the Foreign Minister, the role they’re playing in Parliament, ministries and in the provincial government – and they also need to be fully included in the peace and reconciliation process as it moves forward. We and your country have advocated for their inclusion, as we have for women’s participation in the London Conference that the Foreign Minister mentioned, Kabul conference, in the Consultative Peace Jirga where the women so distinguished themselves several months ago and where they constituted roughly 20 percent of the participants, and now the High Peace Council – the lead Afghan body guiding the ongoing reintegration and reconciliation process. This has to take place on all levels – the national, provincial and local level, where real reconciliation will have to take place if the prospects for peace will truly take hold.
This is also true for the Bonn conference that will take place in December. The Afghan Women’s Network has described this as a step toward defining a vision for Afghanistan beyond 2014 and the transition. But for women to be included in the Bonn II conference, it will be up to the Afghan government, because they are in the chair of the conference and they will be putting together the Afghan delegation. And prior to Bon II, there will be a civil society meeting and it is our hope that representatives from the civil society discussion will also participate in the Bonn conference.
Countries that exclude women do so at their own peril. No country, especially one emerging from war, can afford to exclude and suppress the vital driver of economic growth that women represent. For every dollar a woman earns, up to 90 percent of it is spent reinvested in to her family and in her community. When girls go to school, even just for year, their income dramatically increases after they finish, their children are more likely to survive their families more likely to be healthier for years to come. Women’s capacity to participate and contribute economically is directly correlated to their ability to exercise equal rights, inheritance rights, land rights bear particular significance. Ultimately, access to equal economic opportunity for women and men form a very integral dimension of lasting stability and prosperity.
One of the key sectors for women’s economic participation is agriculture. I know that the Dutch, as has been said, have a great deal of expertise in this sector, as well as water management. And you are the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural goods. You have also developed a robust educational and training system for agriculture that offers so much to places like Afghanistan, which is traditionally an agricultural society. According to USAID, agriculture represents one third of Afghanistan’s economy and 75 percent of its population is engaged in farming – and that includes between 30 –60 percent of women, depending on the region they are from and what the season is. They are involved in farming, herding or otherwise connected to the agriculture industry. Women are playing an extremely important role in all dimensions of agricultural production. Increasingly their role is growing in livestock production and processing of dairy products. They make major labor contributions to a number of the marketed products. Fewer women own either land or livestock because of cultural subordination, traditions, pressure of women to cede inheritance to a relative, lack of credit, and like factors that diminish their prospects.
I remember on an early trip to Afghanistan, I had heard about how the country was importing chickens and I couldn’t understand how, when there was so much potential, that was the case. However, over time I have seen great expansion of poultry programs, through business trainings and other projects. One woman commented that she was now able to open her own poultry business. She said: ”It is unbelievable for all of us how soon our family life changed from misery to prosperity. Many chicks have grown, laid eggs. We are selling eggs, using them as a source of our food for our family and our lives are completely transformed.” And today increasing numbers of women are being trained in veterinary fields as more and more Afghans own their own livestock. The United States development and agriculture programs have focused on improving food security, increasing agricultural productivity and rural employment and to improve family incomes and well being. And this factor is particularly important for the livelihood and security of women. All of this also has a profound impact also on peace and stability. Our agriculture development programs have also focused on the high value fruit and nut production which Afghanistan has always enjoyed an extraordinary reputation. And we are working to train farmers in improving crop yields and business skills, to enable Afghan traders to expand their export markets which will be absolutely critical in the months to come.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) devoted this year’s study – they do an annual study on food and agriculture – on the vital role that women play in the agricultural sector. What the study showed is that there is a very strong economic argument for focusing on investing in women in agriculture. Yet women farmers do not have equal access to resources and this significantly limits their potential in enhancing productivity. They are often at a severe disadvantage when it comes to securing land tenure rights or owning land outright, owning livestock, accessing credit which is a major issue in Afghanistan, receiving the kind of extension training and resources that will grow her output. The FAO study shows that when women are provided with equal resources they can produce yields equal to those of men, if not greater. But because there is a gender gap in access to resources in everything from seeds and fertilizer to training, the opportunity to improve overall productivity has been limited.
We also know from the World Economic Forum’s Annual Gender Gap Report that in the countries that are closer to closing the gap between men and women on 4 metrics, including economic empowerment, those countries are far more economically competitive and prosperous.
When I was at the FAO I participated in a dinner with the Afghan Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. He described the progress that was taking place in Afghanistan in his sector and he also described some of the key challenges that Afghanistan confronts. And he said that it is absolutely vital to the future success of agricultural production that women play a greater role. His ministry has adopted a gender mainstreaming policy and strategy. However because of a lack of capacity, it has not been implemented to the degree that it needs to be.
Unleashing women’s potential by closing that gender gap in the agricultural sector is a win-win strategy. We all need to do better in our collective efforts to focus on women in the agricultural sector, as well as to ensure that they are getting a greater percentage of resources than they are currently.
Let me just say that to visit Afghanistan, whether in the capital, big cities or in the provincial and rural areas, one is immediately struck by the number of strong, courageous and capable women, many of whom are risking their lives every day in order to work as they do – alongside the men – to create a better life for themselves and their country. One evening when I was in a discussion with some Afghan women, the session opened by one pleading, “Do not look at us as victims but as the leaders that we are.” Afghan women’s contributions are critical, whether in the peace process or advancing economic opportunity and greater productivity in the agricultural sector. They are leading the way. And with our support, they can go that much farther and do that much better.
A friend gave me a small calendar that has a quotation for every day of the year and I think the quotation for today says a great deal about the collaboration between the United States and the Netherlands. It is from an African proverb that says, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk with others.” And your country, together with mine and so many others, are walking the distance, walking together to make a difference for peace and progress in Afghanistan and for a better world for everyone. I thank you for this and I thank you for all the things we are doing together.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here at the Women in Security Network of the Peace Research Institute.
This is an important time for organizations such as yours. The events of recent months—from the democratic revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa to the earthquake in Japan—remind us of the gravity of transnational security challenges. Whether motivated by the need to respond to natural disasters or democratic aspirations, governments and civil society must work together in order to promote peace and security locally and around the world. And of course, the role of women—as leaders, first responders and victims—is key to our progress.
Tonight, I’d like to share with you how the United States is elevating civilian security—and the role of women in security— in our own foreign policy, and more specifically, how we see women figuring largely in the equation to peace and security.
In the United States, we recently completed the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR, which builds on existing mechanisms in the US government to elevate critical elements of civilian power, particularly at the State Department and our sister agency USAID.
By refining and strengthening our civilian tools, the US government will better advance our foreign policy goals in concert with our military. Leading through civilian power means:
directing and coordinating the resources of all America’s civilian agencies to prevent and resolve conflicts;
helping countries lift themselves out of poverty into prosperous, stable, and democratic states;
and build global coalitions to address global problems.
As part of the changes underway, I will oversee the reorganization of Department of State entities united under the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights to:
Prevent and respond to crisis, conflict and instability;
Promote rule of law through security and justice sector reform;
Manage refugee and humanitarian crises;
Counter transnational threats such as narcotics, crime, and insurgency;
Promote effective, accountable democratic governance and vibrant civil societies; and
Advance human rights.
Among all of these difficult challenges, we are especially focused on our ability to prevent conflict in the first place. Once conflict has begun, intervention carries extraordinary costs. Late assistance limits options and extends the conflict.
So, much of what we will be doing in focusing on countries and regions that are on the brink of instability, and helping provide the tools that establish peace and growth.
For example, in Southern Sudan, seven teams of United States conflict prevention officers engage daily with the local government and others in order to influence conflict dynamics. In Kyrgyzstan, a conflict expert led a field based analysis in the south, the site of large scale ethnic violence last June, to inform thinking about USG strategies to support peaceful democratic transition. And in Central America, we are working on civilian security by addressing the underlying causes of social dislocation and discontent that leads to violence, drug abuse, and corruption. This means investing in institutional frameworks that foster greater trust and justice in society.
Of course, no matter where our civilian security efforts take place, we are ever mindful of the role of women. Whether we are facing political repression, war, climate change, or natural disaster, women and young people are on the front lines—as both victims and first responders. Despite bearing the brunt of society’s political and economic challenges, they continue to drive democratic change and social equality.
Last October, I participated in “The Role of Women in Global Security” Conference in Copenhagen. Participants in the conference observed that ten years after the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325, some improvements have been made, but women remain underrepresented in public office, at the negotiating table, and in peacekeeping missions.
So we need to be doing a better job of incorporating women into our peace building efforts at every step of the way, including in post-conflict disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform, and the rule of law activities. Because, as we pave a path for women to become change agents in their own societies, we tip the balance away from more violence and towards more equitable and positive solutions.
The conference in Copenhagen suggested best practices for increasing women’s participation in conflict prevention efforts, including:
deployment of gender-balanced peacekeeping units,
including more women in security sector and judicial reform,
and more intentional solicitation of the input of women at the community level on priorities for national budgets and international programs.
The United States is currently in the process of developing its national action to implement many of these recommendations as part of UNSC 1325. We are impressed with the work that Norway has done on its national action plan and I look forward to learning more about the details during my meetings with the MFA tomorrow.
So let me close by saying that the United States’ increased focus on civilian security, conflict prevention—and the role of women in both—is an important opportunity for increased collaboration between our country and Norway.
As President Obama emphasized earlier this year, we must confront the challenge of citizen security together, and from every direction. As we invest in the judicial systems that form the backbone of every society, so too must we invest in a future that honors all members of society and empowers the youth of our region. The violence and insecurity we face today should not cripple our hope for a better future. With that, I thank you for all that you do, and for inviting me to be here with you today. Thank you very much. I’ll open the floor to any questions you may have.
Thank you, Mr. President. Let me also thank the Government of France for hosting this important session on the stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your insightful statement. And thank you, Minister Chibanda, for your candid remarks.
The United States is committed to working with the Congolese government and the international community toward our shared objective: peace and security in the DRC and the region in which the DRC plays such a substantial role. We support ongoing efforts to increase stability, reduce the insecurity in which all too many civilians still live, ensure legitimate governance, and ensure a strong, credible democratic process for the country’s upcoming elections.
On behalf of the United States, let me again express our deep sorrow for the tragic UN air accident on April 4, in which 32 individuals lost their lives. We offer our condolences and our lasting appreciation to Special Representative Meece, the men and women of MONUSCO, and all UN personnel who work with such dedication in challenging environments.
I will focus on three points today.
First, for long-term stability in the DRC to take root, the country’s civilians need and deserve greater security. So we commend MONUSCO for its efforts to implement its mandate fully, especially its innovative efforts to protect civilians. We applaud the development of a mission-wide strategy, including the deployment of Community Alert Networks and Community Liaison Assistants. These important initiatives better connect peacekeepers with communities at risk—and enable MONUSCO, despite the all too real risks, to work quickly and effectively to respond to potential crises.
Mr. President, important progress has been made. Much of the DRC is relatively stable. Security in the east has increased. The reduction of armed groups continues. Important efforts toward reintegration and disarmament have taken place.
Nonetheless in the east and northeast, insecurity persists. State authority remains extremely weak, and violent militias continue to fuel conflict. To take two troublesome examples: the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda continue to kill, rape, abduct, and displace civilians in shocking numbers. Armed entities, including elements of the state security forces, also illegally exploit the country’s natural resources—terrorizing innocent civilians as part of their efforts to control communities that live near lucrative mining areas. That can allow them reap ill-gotten mining-related profits, which in turn sustain the conflict and prolong its suffering and abuses.
Far more must be done to deal with these violent armed groups. We remain committed to helping the DRC address this scourge, in part through security-sector reform assistance. We have trained a light infantry battalion in Kisangani, which is now operating in areas victimized from the LRA. We provided ongoing support to develop more Congolese military-justice personnel and strengthen the country’s military-justice system. We are also helping develop Congolese defense institutions.
Armed groups often rely on the mineral trade to sustain their operations. So my government is actively working to enact regulations that will require companies publicly traded in the United States to ensure that their mineral purchases do not help violent groups. We call on all member states to support Resolution 1952 and urge companies within their jurisdictions to exercise due diligence over their supply of minerals that stoke conflict in the eastern DRC. We are also working with companies, civil society groups, and governments in the region to ensure that the trade in the DRC’s minerals does not help armed groups. We continue to partner with the DRC and the region on these efforts, and we urge the DRC government to take steps to demilitarize the mines and reduce armed actors in the country’s east.
Second, second point I would like to address. The upcoming national and legislative elections could be historic. The Congolese will lead these elections, which we hope will be credible and fair. The Congolese can demonstrate their commitment as we approach the November 28 presidential and legislative elections.
Hurdles remain. A new electoral law has yet to be passed. The recently released electoral calendar is ambitious, and it leaves scant room for error. The logistical challenges are substantial. Security remains a serious concern. In the past, members of the state security forces have abused and threatened journalists. Intimidation of domestic human rights defenders continues. MONUSCO may lose key mobility and air assets that could help the elections just as they are needed most.
So we call on the DRC’s government to demonstrate the highest regard for the democratic process and to continue its work to assure transparent, open, and fair elections, with freedoms of movements for all candidates and journalists. We will be closely monitoring developments in urban and rural areas alike, as the electoral process should be credible throughout the country. We also will be providing approximately $11 million in electoral support, including election monitoring and civic education, in coordination with partners such as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and the Carter Center. We also support MONUSCO’s efforts to improve the elections’ technical and logistical aspects, as well as Radio Okapi’s work to help cover these elections.
While the international community plays an important role supporting the electoral process, ultimately, it is the Congolese government’s responsibility to provide the necessary support and security. We look forward to working with the government in this regard.
Third, let me underscore the importance of longer-term stabilization for the DRC and its neighbors. True progress will depend on tackling the underlying causes of insecurity and impunity in order to build the institutions that can support good governance.
Mr. President, the conviction of nine military personnel for ordering and carrying out mass rapes in Fizi is a milestone. By taking action, the DRC government has strengthened the message to perpetrators of sexual violence: no one is immune from prosecution.
The United States is deeply committed to ending impunity and developing democracy in the DRC, including initiatives to support free speech, governance, the rule of law, judicial independence, and accountability. For example, we have helped build up the Congolese justice system’s forensic capacity to investigate mass killings and sexual and gender-based violence. This has made it easier to prosecute dozens of rapists and perpetrators of sexual violence. We have also allocated more than $2 million in new communications technologies to better protect civilians in the Kivu provinces through early warning mechanisms and to support joint field investigations in the east by UN and Congolese military prosecutors.
The United States, working with the strategies of the DRC government and the United States*, has developed a comprehensive approach to help tackle sexual and gender-based violence. That includes $42 million in the Kivus, Orientale, and Maniema provinces to prevent future violence and take better care of survivors, as well as a three-year, $15 million initiative to scale up programs to fight HIV/AIDS. We continue to strengthen the Congolese civilian and military justice systems through long-term capacity-building and efforts to reduce impunity.
Mr. President, in conclusion, the Government of the DRC must take concrete steps to address the full spectrum of challenges the country faces. As Council members, we must also provide our political support to peace and stabilization. The United States is committed to doing so—and to working with the Congolese government and the international community toward our common objective of peace and stability in the DRC and the region.
Thank you, Mr. President.
We are concerned about demonstrations that have occurred over the past few weeks in Tunisia, which we understand to be the result of social and economic unrest. We encourage all parties to show restraint as citizens exercise their right of public assembly. We have also conveyed our views directly to the Tunisian government.
Furthermore, we are concerned about recent reports that Tunisian ISP providers, at the direction of the government, hacked into the accounts of Tunisian users of American companies including Facebook, and providers of email such as Yahoo and Google, and stealing passwords. This kind of interference threatens the ability of civil society to realize the benefits of new technologies. Cyber intrusions of all kinds, including reported attacks on government of Tunisia websites, disrupt the free flow of information and reduce overall confidence in the reliability and security of vital information networks. We urge all parties to respect the freedoms of expression and information that belong to everyone.
Thank you all for coming to the Embassy. As someone who has worked on civil society issues for decades and as a former member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, I am well aware of the hardship that many of you experience because of the work that you do. I applaud your dedication to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and to building a better society.
The United States supports your efforts – and we support you. We are encouraging governments throughout this region to partner with civil society, because human rights, economic development and state security are intrinsically linked. You know better than anyone that the countries with vibrant civil societies are best poised to make progress in the 21st century.
Your nation and your people are important in your own right. You face the challenge of building a sovereign, democratic and prosperous Uzbekistan. And other countries, including my own, have a stake in your success, because your security, prosperity and freedom enhance our own.
No country has a monopoly on wisdom in this area, including the United States. So, when we speak to your Government about issues such as religious and media freedom, torture, or child labor, we do so in a spirit of mutual respect. We raise these issues in all our interactions with the Government and will continue to make improvement of human rights in Uzbekistan an integral part of expanding our bilateral relationship. We will also continue to make cooperation with you, and all the others who are working tirelessly for the betterment of their homeland, an integral part of our agenda here.
President Karimov, in a recent speech to Parliament, expressed a commitment to building an open, democratic state in which individual rights and freedoms are valued “not in words but in practice.” We now look to the Government of Uzbekistan to do just that — to translate words into practice — and we are prepared to support and assist in that effort. I met with President Karimov. I urged him to demonstrate his commitment through a series of steps, to insure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are truly protected in this country
Despite the difficulties and challenges that persist, I that you will continue to work on the issues that matter most to your people. And we will continue to work with you. Together, we can build the bright future that everyone in Uzbekistan deserves.
In a speech today at L’Ecole Militaire in Paris, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that the United States and Europe are essential partners in meeting today’s global challenges, and stressed that we are eager to strengthen cooperation with a Europe that is strong and unified. Today, thanks to the partnership between our nation and many others, Europe is more secure than ever before. But much important work remains unfinished. We welcome the new thinking on European security that is underway on both sides of the Atlantic. As we work with our partners to strengthen and extend security in Europe, we will do so on a firm foundation of core principles. These principles include:
- Dedication to the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of all States. The United States must and will remain vigilant in our efforts to oppose any attempt to undermine the right of all countries to pursue their own foreign policies, choose their own allies, and provide for their own defense. The United States strongly objects to any spheres of influence in which one country seeks to control another’s future.
- Recognition that Security in Europe Must be Indivisible. The security of all nations is intertwined. We must work together to enhance each other’s security, in part by engaging with each other on new ideas and approaches. We want to work together with Russia to reaffirm the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the NATO-Russia Founding Act. The United States is proud of what our two countries have accomplished together during the past year. We will continue to build a more substantive and constructive relationship based on our mutual interests.
- Unwavering Devotion to the Collective Defense and Security of NATO Allies. This pledge is enshrined in the NATO treaty’s Article 5, wherein an attack on one is an attack on all. The United States is working with our Allies to develop contingency plans for responding to new and evolving threats. We are engaged in productive discussions with European allies about their potential participation in the new missile defense architecture. We are also exploring ways to cooperate with Russia in ways that enhance the security of all of Europe, including Russia.
- Commitment to Practicing Transparency in Our Dealings with Europe. To keep Europe safe, we must keep the channels of communication open by being forthright about our policies and approaches. The United States supports a more open exchange of military data, including visits to military sites. The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty also needs our attention. Our goal should be a modern security framework that strengthens the principles of territorial integrity, non-first use of force, transparency, and the right of host countries to approve the stationing of troops in their territory.
- Belief that People Everywhere Have the Right to Live Free from the Fear of Nuclear Destruction. President Obama has declared a goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we will retain a safe, secure, and effective deterrent to protect us and our allies. The United States and Russia are close to concluding a new START treaty to reduce our strategic nuclear arsenals. The United States will also chart the future of its nuclear forces in the Nuclear Posture Review, host a Nuclear Security Summit to address the risk of unsecured nuclear material, seek to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, pursue negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, and move toward ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
- Recognition that True Security Entails Not Only Peaceful Relations among States, but Opportunities and Rights for the Individuals Who Live Within Them. Governments must promote and defend the human rights of their citizens so that all can live in dignity, free from fear of violence or oppression. The United States and Europe are acting together to expand opportunity, advance democracy, and protect human dignity around the world. The United States seeks to partner with and strengthen institutions to broaden the respect for human rights, to end the scourge of human trafficking across Europe, and to reach out to marginalized groups.
A transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks is available online at www.state.gov.
Thank you, Elaine. I’m delighted to be here. As some of you may know, I have a longstanding association with the Kokkalis Program, and I have a great deal of respect for the work the program does here at Harvard. In fact, one of the core goals of the program, the integration of Southeastern Europe into Europe as a whole, is precisely what I want to talk about today. This is a region that is vital to Europe’s future and for that reason it is the focus of continued and intensive engagement by the Obama Administration.
Obviously, Southeastern Europe is not an issue that dominates the headlines the way Afghanistan or Iran does – or indeed as it did in the 1990s when the Balkans were beset by war. But I want to be absolutely clear that the ongoing stabilization and integration into Europe of the area from the Adriatic to the Black Sea is an important focus of this Administration’s foreign policy agenda. And I want to begin my remarks by explaining how and why Southeastern Europe fits into our broader conception of European security.
Secretary Clinton gave a speech last month in Paris in which she laid out the principles that animate the Administration’s approach to European security. One of the core themes she emphasized was our commitment to the indivisibility of security – the view that there cannot be security for part of Europe without there being security for all of Europe. This is a clear lesson from history. She also made clear that, contrary to speculation in some quarters that the United States is preoccupied with other regions, Europe is an essential partner of the United States and our own security and well-being requires a strong and secure Europe.
As we consider this Administration’s strategic objectives with respect to Europe, we are pursuing three main goals. First, we seek to work with Europe on the whole range of global challenges that we face together. And on issues as diverse and important as Afghanistan, Iran, and restoring the global economy, we have shown that we are working together closely and productively.
Second, we have sought to restore more constructive relations with Russia. That means we want to cooperate where our interests converge, while still being honest and firm about issues where we disagree. We are proud of the progress we have made together in the last year in negotiating a follow-on to the START Treaty, working to help stabilize Afghanistan, establishing a binational Presidential Commission, and dealing with the nuclear challenges posed by Iran and North Korea.
Finally, we seek to complete the historic work of building a democratic, prosperous, unified, and secure Europe. The last two decades have witnessed extraordinary success as the newly free nations of Central and Eastern Europe have joined the European project. But it is a project that is not yet finished. To fully achieve European – and therefore American – security, it must extend to all countries across the continent.
Which brings me to this Administration’s specific approach to engagement with Southeastern Europe. We have a vision of a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous region and we believe the path to achieving this vision for Southeastern Europe is through integration into Europe’s political and economic institutions.
Perhaps the best way to understand the logic of this approach is to briefly consider the troubled history of this part of Europe. Think about what Southeastern Europe looked like at both the beginning and end of the twentieth century. The Balkan wars preceding World War I and those of the 1990s saw the region racked by ethnic rivalry, hyper-nationalism, and bloody interstate war. These conflicts demonstrate the stakes of politics in the region – for the citizens who live there and for outside powers that were inevitably drawn in. Though the experience of the 1990s differs in many ways from that of pre-World War I Europe, I think it is fair to say that the fundamental problem that lay behind this history of conflict was the mismatch between geopolitical and ethnic boundaries and the absence of adequate political mechanisms to deal with this mismatch. What this difficult history teaches us is that attempts to resolve this contradiction through force are doomed to foster only further conflict and violence.
Other parts of Europe have faced these same challenges, and the experience of Western Europe after World War II and Eastern Europe after the Cold War demonstrates that there is another and better way: the path of political and economic integration. The solution lies in transnational cooperation and institutions that guarantee the rights of citizens, promote economic freedom, ensure the inviolability of borders, and provide a reliable forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes. Moreover, the opportunity for political engagement that crosses national borders reduces the salience and pressure of ethnic and regional disputes within nations. That is the promise of the project of European integration: the peaceful resolution of disputes through a common political enterprise and shared wealth and opportunity through a common market. The lesson of the 1990s is that significant portions of Southeastern Europe did not share in this experience and we saw the tragic human consequences. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, our work is not yet done: we want to extend this vision to Southeastern Europe and fully integrate it into the zone of democracy, stability, and prosperity on the continent.
The progress we’ve seen in Europe over the last six decades owes to the hard work of generations of Europeans bolstered by the sustained engagement of the United States. Two institutions, above all, have acted as the twin pillars of European freedom and prosperity: NATO and the European Union. They have offered security and economic opportunity to the nations of Europe, underpinned by a commitment to democracy. They began as essentially Western European clubs and eventually enlarged to encompass almost the whole of the continent. The United States wants to work with our European partners to bring Southeastern Europe fully into these institutions. But the responsibility for bringing that outcome about does not lie with the United States. European countries and institutions of course have an essential role to play in engaging with the region in a strategic and sustained manner. But the responsibility ultimately lies with the countries of the region themselves who must do the hard political work of reform and reconciliation.
When we look at Southeastern Europe today, many of the same challenges that have bedeviled the region throughout the last century still exist: finding ways to protect minority rights and to create stable, multiethnic politics. But there has been tremendous progress as well. The Balkans are a case in point. When I was last in government, in the late 1990s during the Clinton administration, war in Bosnia was still a fresh memory and Kosovo was consumed by violence and ethnic “cleansing.” Today, following a decade of hard work, we have witnessed dramatic political and social transitions. With Montenegro’s peaceful separation from Serbia in 2006 and Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, the final chapter in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia was closed. Now the nations of the Balkans are on the path toward integration into Europe’s community of political and economic freedom. Nearly every country in the Balkans has taken steps toward EU membership. Croatia has moved forward in its EU accession negotiations, Macedonia is a candidate, and Serbia and Albania have submitted membership applications. The European Union has an indispensable role to play in encouraging these countries’ commitment to reform by speaking with one voice on enlargement and by providing a clear path to membership. The countries of the region are also well on their way to integration with NATO. Croatia and Albania became members of NATO in 2009. Macedonia is on NATO’s doorstep and will receive an invitation to join as soon as the dispute with Greece over its name is resolved. At the end of last year, Montenegro embarked on a Membership Action Plan and Bosnia will do the same when it completes the necessary reforms.
The dramatic changes in the U.S. relationship with Serbia in the last decade are another example of the progress we have made. Just over ten years ago, the United States was bombing targets in Serbia. Last year, Vice President Biden traveled to Belgrade and delivered the message that the United States was ready to turn the page on this troubled recent past and wants to be a partner with Serbia. Serbia, in turn, is now led by the most democratic and pro-European government it has ever had. We support Serbia’s EU candidacy and the door to NATO membership for Serbia is open, if and when it is ready. While we have agreed to disagree on Kosovo, we should work together to improve the lives of Serbs and other minorities, and Serbia needs to do its part to ensure stability in Kosovo as a responsible EU aspirant. I sincerely believe that, with good will on both sides, U.S.-Serbian relations could be a model of productive partnership by the end of this Administration’s first term.
This record of change in the Balkans demonstrates what is possible but also what remains to be done. So let me turn to some of the remaining challenges in the Balkans, as well as what Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey can do to contribute to the full integration of all of Southeastern Europe into the institutions of Euro-Atlantic unity.
Beginning with Bosnia, the progress that we have seen since the mid-1990s has slowed recently and we must not allow it to stop. For the better part of the last three years Bosnia’s political leaders have not demonstrated the political will necessary to advance the reforms that their country needs. They have been stuck in a vicious cycle where narrow ethnic and short-term personal political interests have trumped long-term objectives that would benefit all of Bosnia’s communities. In an effort to break this corrosive dynamic, last October the United States and the EU started intensive consultations with political party leaders in Bosnia to encourage them to take the steps necessary to move Bosnia forward. These talks, led by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg, became known as the Butmir process, named for the base near Sarajevo where the talks took place. The goal of this initiative was to reach consensus among the parties to improve the functioning of the Bosnian state so as to position Bosnia for EU candidacy and the NATO membership process. It was not an attempt to radically change the structures created by the Dayton Accords, to create a centralized state, or to alter Bosnia’s two-entity structure. Unfortunately, the parties so far have not been willing to agree on how to proceed. The United States remains engaged and willing to help Bosnia move forward. We also look forward to working closely with the EU and High Representative Ashton, who is in the region this week. The EU and the United States have not always been on the same page with respect to the Balkans but the intensive joint diplomacy of recent months have shown how closely our visions are aligned, something which is essential for progress in the region. Ultimately, however, the burden of achieving Bosnia’s aspirations rests on Bosnia’s political leaders, and their willingness to compromise for the greater good. If they fail to do so, it is they who will have to explain to their voters why Bosnia’s neighbors are moving ahead with visa-free travel to Europe, EU candidacy, and NATO integration, while Bosnia is left behind.
Kosovo provides a hopeful example of how much can be achieved in a short time by cooperative and committed political leadership. Kosovo is in fact celebrating the second anniversary of its independence today. The country has made tremendous progress in solidifying its democracy, promoting reconciliation, and playing a constructive role in regional and international economic cooperation. Sixty-five countries from all around the world have now recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state. It is now a member of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Although the International Court of Justice has yet to render its advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence, the United States will remain committed to Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Kosovo’s independence is irreversible. Kosovo’s young democracy is also growing with recent successful elections. In the period leading up to the vote, the government of Kosovo made an important effort to ensure Kosovo Serb participation, which contributed crucially to the positive nature of the process.
There is, however, still a lot of work to do. The important task of decentralizing government must continue – there must be ongoing outreach to Kosovo’s Serb communities, particularly in northern Kosovo, and protection of Serb cultural and religious sites. Municipalities need support as they exercise new functions and provide services to citizens. Getting decentralization right will ensure people have access to government services throughout the country and that Kosovo provides a prosperous future for all of its citizens. On the economic front, the government must implement the reforms necessary for the private sector to grow. We are working closely with the Kosovo government, the EU, and other international partners to implement these reforms, fight corruption and organized crime, and move forward on privatization projects. Finally, the rule of law is a high priority for international assistance to Kosovo – because it is the key to success in other areas. Kosovo will need to pass and implement a series of critical laws that will modernize Kosovo’s judicial process and update its legal codes. With these reforms in place, Kosovo can continue its steady progress toward fulfilling its promise as Europe’s newest country.
There is a role for regional powers, in particular Greece and Turkey, to play as well in the development and political integration of Southeastern Europe. The Balkans are Greece’s immediate neighborhood and Athens has played an important leadership role in the region commensurate with its influence as one of the region’s largest investors. The 2003 Thessaloniki Summit, which took place under Greece’s EU Presidency, provided a historic boost to the EU aspirations of the Balkan countries and provided a roadmap for the region’s integration into Europe. We applaud the effective role Greece played during 2009 as the OSCE’s Chair-in-Office and welcome the role Greece is continuing to play in integrating the Balkans. The Greek vision of achieving the full integration of the Balkans into Europe by 2014, one hundred years after the start of World War I, is an admirable goal. A remaining challenge is the dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter’s name, which is an obstacle to Macedonia’s EU and NATO integration. We understand that this is a difficult issue but now is the time for courageous political leadership that will resolve this issue and promote the political stability and economic prospects of Southeastern Europe.
Cyprus is another example of an issue where regional leadership is necessary for progress. Though not strictly a matter of Greek-Turkish bilateral relations, both Greece and Turkey can play important and constructive roles in urging the Cypriot parties toward a lasting solution to their differences. The United States continues to support the Cypriot-led negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. Both sides have put considerable effort into these negotiations and Cypriot leaders should seize the opportunity these talks offer for a just and lasting settlement that reunifies Cyprus into a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation. The notable progress that Greece and Turkey have made in their own bilateral relations in the last decade, and especially the reinvigorated dialogue in recent months between Prime Ministers Papandreou and Erdogan, provides a hopeful and instructive example of the power of personal diplomacy and we look forward to supporting both countries as they continue to strengthen their relationship.
Turkey itself is an example of the case for the further integration of Southeastern Europe into Europe’s institutions. It is of course a very different situation than that of the Balkans: Turkey has been a valued and active member of NATO for decades and its candidacy for EU membership is already in the negotiation phase. While we recognize that the decision is not ours, we continue to strongly support Turkey’s accession to the European Union and urge Turkey to continue progress on the democratic and political reforms necessary for membership. These reforms not only further Turkey’s EU accession bid, but they also democratize and modernize Turkey. Important gestures like reopening the Halki Seminary and further movement on Turkey’s “democratic opening” to the Kurds, as well as progress on Cyprus, will also propel Turkey’s EU prospects forward.
As President Obama has said, these reforms, and Turkey’s eventual accession, are good for Turkey and good for the EU. They will cement Turkey’s place in Europe and ensure the continued vitality and strength of the EU itself. To achieve these goals, Turkey and the EU should in our view jump-start the accession process by working closely together to meet the remaining requirements of EU membership. The EU for its part can ensure that this forward momentum continues by making clear that it is fully committed to engaging Turkey’s bid for membership as the country meets reform goals.
Let me close by saying that I think this discussion of the challenges remaining in Southeastern Europe today reveals two things. First, some of the same fault lines of ethnicity, language, and religion that have caused so much strife in the region over centuries still exist. We are fortunate that they do not burn as intensely today as they have in the past. But they are still there. The second lesson is that there is a clear solution for meeting and overcoming these historic obstacles: the path of economic and political integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
The United States is committed to the progress and prosperity of Southeastern Europe and the nations of the region have an engaged and interested partner in the Obama Administration. The EU plays an essential role in the region’s development and clear and consistent political engagement from the organization could make the difference between success and failure. After all, the stability of Southeastern Europe is first and foremost a European interest. But the ultimate responsibility lies with national leaders – in the Balkans, in Cyprus, in Greece, and in Turkey – who must make the bold political choices that will produce real change. We will stand with them. The choices are hard. But the goal is worth the effort: an ever more democratic, peaceful, and prosperous region, fully integrated into Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community.
OPERATOR: Welcome, and thank you all for standing by. At this time, all participants are on a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session of the call. At that time, you may press *1 to ask a question. And I’d now like to turn the call over to Ms. Susan D. Page, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Thank you, ma’am, you may begin.
MS. PAGE: Thank you very much. I wanted to let everyone know that the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Johnnie Carson met today with members of the coalition government in a very pleasant discussion on the way forward in Zimbabwe.
He recognized and applauded the economic advances that have occurred in Zimbabwe since the Global Political Agreement was signed two years ago and said that there is no doubt that the country is better off now than it was two years ago when shops were closed and inflation was rampant. He also said that Zimbabwe must now work towards making the same progress in the political sphere that it has seen in its economy. He also acknowledged that while the United States is not perfect, our strength lies in our institutions. And he encouraged the Zimbabwean coalition government to build strong institutions and to continue with political progress, because it’s political progress that will sustain economic growth.
So I’ll stop there and take questions.
OPERATOR: And at this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press *1. You’ll also be prompted to record your name. Please unmute your phone and record your name at the prompt. Once again, it is *1 for questions. One moment, please.
And we do show a question from Celia Dugger of The New York Times. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hi, Ms. Page. How are you?
MS. PAGE: Very well. How are you?
QUESTION: I’m fine.
MS. PAGE: Good, thank you.
QUESTION: I guess I’m just curious – I mean, nothing you said is anything new. Did anything – was there anything new in the exchange? Was there a particular concern (inaudible) anything with Zimbabwe about violence that’s occurring lately, or any conversation with President Mugabe?
MS. PAGE: There was no conversation with Zimbabwe during this meeting, but obviously –
QUESTION: Mugabe, with Mugabe?
MS. PAGE: Sorry. There was no conversation directly with Mugabe, but of course, they talked about the situation in Zimbabwe, and specifically about – from our side, the American delegation talked a lot about the human rights violations, the land seizures, and particularly the recent arrest of the WOZA women from – the women who had been peacefully protesting about the constitutional process and called on senior officials, especially given that this is a coalition government, that they also need to speak out against these types of abuses and not be silent.
QUESTION: Is there (inaudible) to Zimbabweans who are outside the government critical of the – of ZANU-PF? I mean, (inaudible) hearing people say that they think that the sanctions have made – that they play into the hands of ZANU and have – in some ways, could have made the United States irrelevant to the process. I mean, what (inaudible) do you see the sanctions as still playing?
MS. PAGE: Well, first of all, we – I must say that we reject the claim that our sanctions have a broad effect on the economy of Zimbabwe or even on the ordinary – on the lives of the ordinary Zimbabwean.
The sanctions are targeted. They’re targeted towards individuals and towards a few institutions that we believe have been responsible for the policies and the actions that have led to Zimbabwe’s both economic and political decline. We do regularly review our sanctions. We remove people and institutions when we believe that they are no longer posing the same kind of threat. But frankly, as long as these violations of human rights, the lack of respect for civil and political rights of the people of Zimbabwe, as long as they continue, we really can’t lift the sanctions at this time, because people are looking to us as if we are the problem. And we are encouraging the Zimbabweans to look at themselves and address the problems that they’ve brought upon themselves.
QUESTION: So nothing really new in the exchange? Nothing –
MS. PAGE: I mean, look. The reality is they are calling for – unlike when the MDC was in the opposition, they are now also calling for the sanctions to either be removed or suspended and – largely because ZANU-PF seems to have made that a centerpiece of what they are pushing on MDC to deliver.
MS. PAGE: But the reality is this is a political agreement between three parties – between ZANU-PF, between the MDC-Tsvangirai formation, and the MDC-Mutambara formation. And we are not a party to that agreement. They can’t force us to do something that we have decided to do, either via executive order of the president or through legislation.
So – but again, we stress the fact that as long as these violations of human rights, these arbitrary arrests, continued violence and brutality continue, we’re not in a position to lift our sanctions despite how they want to characterize them. And the sanctions that we have, as I mentioned, are very specific. They’re travel bans and asset freezes. And they affect 244 individuals and institutions, companies. That’s it.
QUESTION: Do you know how many individuals – how many of the 244 are people and how many are companies?
MS. PAGE: I don’t have the details in front of me, but if you want, I can get the numbers for you.
QUESTION: All right, great.
MS. PAGE: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Once again, as a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press *1. We’re currently showing no further questions.
MS. PAGE: Maybe I could just add, one surprise visitor in the meeting – although as I mentioned, the justice minister, Minister Chinamasa was there, Minister Misihairabwi-Mushonga from the MDC-Mutambara formation was there, Minister Mangoma and others – but the Zimbabwean ambassador to Washington also came, Ambassador Mapuranga. So that was a bit unexpected. And I think if you all will recall, he – Ambassador Mapuranga had called out Ambassador Carson during the Africa Day celebration a few months ago and disrupted a large diplomatic event for the African diplomatic corps by calling the ambassador names – by calling Ambassador Carson names. So that was an interesting show.
But the meeting was very cordial, very pleasant. Unlike I think what seems to be the view that we have suddenly reengaged with Zimbabwe, I’d like to dispel that myth. We have never stopped engaging with Zimbabwe. We have full diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe. They have an ambassador here, we have an ambassador there. We have a very robust program of assistance that we give to Zimbabwe to assist the Zimbabwean people. So we have always been available to speak, to meet, to try to advance our relations. And we were pleased to see this meeting take place, but again, it was hardly a reengagement. It’s continuing engagement. So I think that that was positive.
I just wanted to mention also that this year, U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe was $300 million. This was for health services, safe drinking water, education, agriculture, social protection, and a range of other essential services in line with the priorities of the new Zimbabwean transitional government. And then – that was last year – and then in – following Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s visit to the U.S. in June of 2009, President Obama pledged an additional $73 million. This is for combating HIV and AIDS and for furthering democracy and good governance. So – and then at the same time, in recognition of progress towards macroeconomic stability, the U.S. did not oppose the restoration of Zimbabwe’s voting rights at the IMF.
So these are positive things that we’ve been doing all along, and this was a meeting that was just to further consolidate our good relations.
OPERATOR: And currently, we’re showing no questions on the phone line.
MS. PAGE: Okay.
STAFF: Well, I think that’s – I think we’ll be good to go here, then.
MS. PAGE: Okay. Well, thank you all very much. As I mentioned, it was a good meeting, very cordial, and Michelle Gavin from the National Security Council staff was also present during the meeting, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer. So I think it was a good meeting and a good delegation from the Zimbabwe side as well, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue and helping the people of Zimbabwe.
OPERATOR: This concludes today’s conference. Thank you all for participating. You may disconnect at this time.
MS. PAGE: Thank you.
It is an honor to represent the United States for the first time in the East Asia Summit.
I want to thank the leaders of the EAS for inviting the United States to participate in this forum. The conversations that take place here are of great consequence for every country in the Asia Pacific region, and the United States looks forward to being a part of them.
I bring greetings from President Obama. He shares my commitment to seeing the United States formally join the EAS and becoming your partners in a constructive and sustained effort to strengthen stability and prosperity throughout the region.
Today I would like to outline five key principles that will guide the United States’ engagement with the EAS. They all stem from one overarching goal: to help strengthen and build this organization as a key forum for political and strategic issues in the Asia-Pacific.
First, we are making an enduring commitment to this institution. We offer sustained and consistent presidential engagement—starting next year, when President Obama attends the 2011 Summit in Jakarta. We hope to work closely with the members of the EAS on its agenda and its initiatives, as well as on identifying more potential areas for cooperation. It is in that spirit that I’ve come to Hanoi today—to listen, to consult, and to collaborate.
Second, as the EAS evolves, we believe that ASEAN should continue to play a central role. Its leadership is essential to greater cooperation across the region, and its members can help this institution translate dialogue into results that benefit all our peoples. We share ASEAN’s vision of EAS as a forum where leaders can have intimate and informal discussions on important political and strategic issues. As I said earlier this week, we view ASEAN as a fulcrum for the region’s emerging regional architecture.
Third, given its membership and its growing stature, we believe that the EAS should pursue an active agenda that involves the most consequential issues of our time—including nuclear proliferation, the increase in conventional arms, maritime security, climate change, and the promotion of shared values and civil society.
Fourth, we believe that the discussions in this forum should complement and reinforce the work being done in other forums. There are many regional institutions in the Asia-Pacific, including the EAS, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting. Each of them plays an important role in the region’s peace and prosperity. It is important for these organizations to remain flexible, because as they evolve over time, it may be appropriate to refine their respective missions so that they can make the most of their strengths.
Finally, as we engage with the EAS and other institutions, we will continue to leverage the strength of our bilateral relationships, starting with our alliances. We will consult closely with our treaty allies—Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines—as the foundation of our engagement in the Asia-Pacific, and we will continue expanding our emerging partnerships with a wide range of countries, from New Zealand to India, China to Indonesia, both in the EAS context and beyond.
These are the principles that will guide the United States’ engagement with the East Asia Summit.
With these principles in mind, we look forward to joining discussions that you have had over the past few years on key strategic and political issues. I would like to use this opportunity to suggest specific areas where it would be especially helpful to coordinate our efforts.
One is nuclear nonproliferation. President Obama has set forth a vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and the United States is committed to taking practical steps to achieve this vision over time. We have signed a historic arms treaty with Russia, and we are working with the international community—including many around this table—to hold North Korea and Iran accountable to their international obligations. We have expressed our strong support to the ASEAN Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, and we look forward to working with the EAS to support and strengthen the global nonproliferation rules of the road.
Maritime security is another area in which we can all benefit from close cooperation. The United States has a national interest in the freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce. And when disputes arise over maritime territory, we are committed to resolving them peacefully based on customary international law.
With regard to the South China Sea, we are encouraged by China’s recent steps to enter discussions with ASEAN about a more formal binding code of conduct.
Climate change will affect every country in the world. But the people of this region could experience the worst effects, in the form of rising waters, extreme weather, droughts and famine, and mass migration. We look forward to working with the EAS to build on the Copenhagen Accord as we seek lasting solutions to this challenge.
Finally, I believe we can work together to advance human rights. While the United States agrees that no country can impose its values on others, we do believe that certain values are universal—and that they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Human rights are in everyone’s interest. The United States has worked with the ASEAN Secretariat and individual ASEAN members to promote these values throughout the region, including in countries where very real challenges remain. We look forward to working with the EAS on an affirmative agenda for strengthening democratic institutions and advancing human rights.
Let me conclude by once again thanking the leaders of the EAS for inviting the United States to participate in this important forum. We are committed to working with you at the highest levels, because together we have an opportunity to make real progress toward a world where all our people are free, prosperous, and safe. Thank you.
I congratulate Iraq’s political leaders on forming a new, inclusive government that respects the will of the Iraqi people, reflects the nation’s diversity, and demonstrates a commitment to democratic ideals. This government is a testament to the desire of Iraqis to settle their differences through free debate and an open exchange of ideas. Iraq’s leaders must now take the next steps to tackle the many important challenges still facing their nation and realize a brighter future for all Iraqis.
The United States will continue working with our Iraqi partners at each stage to build a strong, long-lasting relationship between our countries that promotes security and prosperity in Iraq, and stability throughout the region. Our partnership is founded on mutual respect and mutual interest as we work to achieve shared goals. With the new government in place, we look forward to expanding our economic and security relationship, promoting cooperation on science, education, and health, strengthening the rule of law and transparent governance, deepening our cultural exchanges, and improving our partnership in all the areas laid out in our Strategic Framework Agreement. We will also continue helping Iraq take up its increasing role as a constructive member of the international community.
The formation of this government is a milestone in the emergence of the new Iraq. It constitutes a resounding rejection of the extremists who sought to derail the democratic process and sow discord among Iraqis. Iraq is a great nation with a promising future, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the new government to help our Iraqi friends build on what they have already achieved.