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FACT SHEET: The State Department Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative’s Support for the Democratic Aspirations of the Tunisian People

Since January 2011 and in immediate response to the Tunisian Revolution, the United States has committed approximately $55 million in non-security assistance in support of Tunisia’s democratic transition. The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the Department of State is the principal contributor to the overall non-security assistance the United States is providing, leading the U.S. Government’s efforts to support the Tunisian people during this historical transition. After January 14, 2011, MEPI realigned its budget to free up more than $26 million, supporting more than 30 projects in Tunisia working directly with Tunisian society. Through its regional office in Tunis and headquarters in Washington, DC, MEPI has worked with Tunisians since 2002, supporting their aspirations for prosperity and long-term stability. MEPI currently supports programming in the following areas:

Enhancing Tunisian Civil Society
MEPI continues to expand its engagement with local civil society organizations through its unique local grants program, which directly supports civic groups throughout the country. MEPI local grants respond to priorities and proposals from local organizations, ensuring that Tunisians remain in front of their democratic transition and have opportunities to get involved in civic life. Since January 2011, MEPI’s Regional Office in Tunis has awarded more than 15 new local grants to advance the role of Tunisia’s civil society with a focus on women and youth. Grantees such as the Center for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) are working to increase public awareness about citizen rights, gender equality, and active citizenship. MEPI has awarded two larger grants to Mercy Corps and Search for Common Ground, both working with Tunisian civil society organizations across the country to promote civic engagement with youth from the capital and coastal cities to the interior of the country.

Expanding Freedom of Expression and Strengthening Political Participation
New MEPI projects are empowering citizens, especially women and youth, to share their ideas with national and international audiences and to discuss social issues and governmental actions through blogging and internet-based media sites. MEPI local grantee Club UNESCO created a youth-run web-radio station to cover political events, and the Tunisian American Association for Management Studies (TAAMS) is working with youth to develop their sense of responsibility for the democratic process while instilling the values of tolerance. The Institute of International Education (IIE) is building the capacity of civil society organizations to effectively use new media – such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other internet-based tools – to strengthen constituent outreach, inform and engage communities, and improve communication with government institutions on social and political issues. MEPI is also working with the Institute of War and Peace Reporting to increase the quality of local news coverage by engaging with members of the media and citizen journalists, placing an emphasis on accurate political reporting throughout the country.

Advancing the Rule of Law
MEPI is assisting Tunisians to develop and promote a new legal system that is accessible and fair and that protects the rights of all citizens. In partnership with the American Bar Association (ABA), MEPI is promoting legal reforms across a range of sectors in Tunisia. ABA is partnering with the Tunisian Bar Association and other legal entities to reform Tunisia’s electoral code, address citizen electoral complaints, and improve women’s legal rights and participation in the political process. Later this year, ABA will work with its Tunisian partners to organize a national forum on the role of women in transitional processes focusing on comparative experiences; women’s rights in law and constitutional reform; and advocacy for law reform. Participants will include women jurists, rights groups, civil society organizations, and political party representatives, among others.

Widening Economic Opportunity
Since January of 2011, MEPI has increased its assistance in market-relevant skills training, job placement, and access to start-up business resources. With MEPI support, the Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) recently launched job placement and entrepreneurship programs for youth throughout Tunisia. MEPI’s regional partner Injaz Al-Arab is inspiring a culture of business innovation among Tunisian youth through business plan competitions for hundreds of young entrepreneurs. In addition, the Commercial Law and Development Program (CLDP) and the Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC) are supporting entrepreneurship and franchising, as well as reforms to the country’s commercial legal infrastructure.

The United States is committed to supporting the Tunisian transition and the Tunisian efforts to build strong foundations for democratic growth and economic opportunity. MEPI plans to devote additional resources in the months and years ahead to assist Tunisia in becoming a more pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous society, as well as a stable and successful example of democratic transition in the region. For more information about MEPI, please visit www.mepi.state.gov. Click here to learn about the President’s Framework for Investing in Tunisia, or visit www.whitehouse.gov.

 


The U.S. and Tunisian governments sign the Joint Political and Economic Partnership (JPEP)

On September 22nd, on the margins of the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the U.S. and Tunisian governments signed the Joint Political and Economic Partnership (JPEP). As I reflect on the remarkable events that led to the Tunisian revolution, it is clear that the voices of workers and youth everywhere must continue to be heard. Secretary Clinton’s signing of this strategic partnership symbolizes the solidarity that the American people feel with Tunisians as well as with people struggling for democracy in the region and beyond.

It has been less than a year since the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor, who felt powerless to feed his family, started in motion the dramatic events of the “Arab Spring.” While the causes of the revolutions are numerous – rising food prices, youth unemployment, political oppression, and the struggle to provide basic necessities for loved ones – the people’s call for basic dignity could no longer be repressed.

During the Tunisian revolution, the voice of workers, demonstrating on the streets, helped force out the old regime and usher in a new transitional government. The people, exercising their newly found right to freedom of assembly, have demanded that the transitional government be accountable to the Tunisian people. The right to associate – a basic human right – is at the core of any democracy. On October 23rd, Tunisians will exercise another fundamental right – the right to vote in democratic elections, in this case for Constituent Assembly.

It is clear that respect for human rights and sustainable democracies are most effectively built on a strong foundation of social and economic inclusion. As Secretary Clinton has said:

“We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization, cut off from markets and out of reach of modern technologies…And we cannot advance democracy and human rights when hunger and poverty threaten to undermine the good governance and rule of law needed to make those rights real.”

Tunisians understand this as they endeavor to build an inclusive democracy and claim the right of all Tunisians to have a voice in how they are governed and in how they live their lives. The people of the United States stand with Tunisians as they take this important step to strengthen their democracy.

 


Joint Statement on the U.S.-Tunisia Joint Political and Economic Partnership

Preamble

Though our bilateral friendship has existed for over 200 years, the events of December 2010 – January 2011 leading to the Tunisian Revolution have given the relationship between the United States and Tunisia an even greater impetus. The courageous struggle of the Tunisian people that led to the fall of an oppressive regime literally changed the course of the history of the Middle East and North Africa region in an irreversible way, and continues to inspire today. Now more than ever, the United States stands with the people and Government of Tunisia as they chart a course towards greater political inclusiveness, socio-economic development and responsible participation in the international community.

In recognition of our long-standing bilateral relationship, strengthened in recent months by Tunisia’s democratic transition and its commendable effort to undertake critical political and economic reforms, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tunisian Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Mouldi Kefi met September 22 to inaugurate a new framework for bilateral cooperation, the U.S.-Tunisia Joint Political and Economic Partnership (JPEP). Under this framework, the ministers decided to coordinate on a range of issues of mutual concern and identify areas for future collaboration.

Since January and in immediate response to the Tunisian Revolution, the United States has committed $40 million in support of the Tunisian transition. With these funds, we have supported Tunisia’s efforts to lay the groundwork for responsive, accountable governance and to prepare for elections. The United States has also been helping to build the capacity of Tunisian civil society organizations, political parties, and media to mobilize and effectively advocate for the interests of the Tunisian people. The United States is committed to helping the judicial authorities to ensure accountability, equality and impartiality under the law, and to support a redress of grievances stemming from the former regime.

Upon conclusion of the first exchange under the framework of the U.S.-Tunisia JPEP, the Governments expressed their political commitment to the following additional cooperation.

Democracy, Governance and Civil Society Support

In order to support Tunisia’s transition to democracy, the United States is committed to working in partnership with Tunisia’s government institutions and with Tunisian citizens as they seek to ensure that Tunisia’s elections and political systems are fair, open and transparent and that all its citizens have the opportunity to engage in every aspect of the country’s transition. The governments decided to work in partnership with the people of Tunisia to seize opportunities to strengthen political processes, enhance civil society, advance the rule of law, promote transitional justice and human rights, and encourage the development of an independent, professional and pluralistic media sector.

Defense & Security Sector Cooperation

To demonstrate our mutual commitment to Tunisia’s construction of a new society governed by the rule of law and respect for human rights, the Governments intend to conclude negotiations before the end of the current year for a foreign assistance program to support the development of more transparent, responsive, and accountable criminal justice institutions.

To demonstrate our shared commitment to fighting the terrorist threat, the Governments resolved to cooperate closely through increased training assistance, information-sharing, and work to counter extremist messaging.

To further strengthen bilateral legal cooperation, the Governments intend to begin negotiations this fall on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty concerning criminal matters.

In continued support for Tunisia’s national security efforts and to advance our broader bilateral military cooperation, the United States is resolved to assist in reinforcing the defense capacities of Tunisia.

Academic and Cultural Cooperation

To demonstrate our mutual commitment to expanding two-way academic, professional and cultural cooperation, the Governments have decided to collaboratively develop a strategy that increases mutual understanding and responds to the Tunisian government’s request for assistance in four specific areas:

1.  Provide advisory capacity to Tunisian students pursuing post-secondary degrees, with a specific focus within the areas of science and technology, engineering and computer sciences;

2.  Strengthen the research and development capacity of Tunisian higher education institutions;

3.  Build institutional and human capacity among Tunisian students and workforce on a technical level through vocational training and other means, and,

4.  Develop policies and programs that stimulate innovation and lead to flexible academic programs that meet student needs.

Through this strategy, the Governments aim to increase the quality of education, specifically in the sciences; improve the employability of their citizens; and boost job creation.

The Governments also recognize the importance of language learning, and in particular expanding English language learning and training opportunities among Tunisian educators and youth. The Governments intend to continue their efforts to expand existing English language programming in Tunisia, and continue to look for innovative means to scale up English-language initiatives.

Socio-Economic Cooperation

To reinforce our mutual commitment to creating broad-based economic opportunity for Tunisia’s citizens, the Governments resolve to deepen and broaden their cooperation on creating an environment conducive to business and entrepreneurship. That cooperation includes providing regulatory, legal and institutional support to advance transparent governance and combat corruption, and to develop more effective financing for entrepreneurs and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Tunisia.

To demonstrate our mutual commitment to promoting increased travel and trade, enhancing productivity, and spurring high-quality job opportunities and economic growth, the Governments expect to launch negotiations for a bilateral “Open Skies” Air Transport Agreement in 2012.

The Government of the United States and the Government of Tunisia, in recognition of the Tunisian Ministry of Finance’s aim to improve fiscal discipline in tax collection, decided to collaborate on assistance projects. The Governments recognize that the Domestic Finance for Development (DF4D) initiative introduced by President Obama and Secretary Clinton is an excellent vehicle for this effort, as it encompasses improvements in tax administration, reduction of corruption and an increase in fiscal transparency.

To promote entrepreneurship for job creation, the Governments decided to engage in targeted technical assistance to support GOT restructuring of, and innovation in, its microenterprise enabling environment.

To build the capacity of vocational training institutes and increase the employability of their graduates, the Governments decided to increased partnerships between U.S. community colleges and Tunisian vocational-technical training institutes. The United States is also prepared to offer targeted technical assistance in support of GOT efforts to reform aspects of the vocational-technical system in Tunisia.

The Governments decided to partner on technical and agricultural information-sharing and cooperation through Tunisia’s incorporation into the U.S. government’s Middle East and North Africa Network of Water Centers of Excellence and regional Water and Livelihoods Initiative.

To improve the capacity of the Tunisian agricultural sector and to facilitate trade, the Governments intend to pursue training for Tunisian agriculturalists from public and/or private sector institutions through the United States’ Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Programs next year.

Under the auspices of the 2002 U.S.-Tunisia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), the Governments intend to meet in Tunis by the end of September to exchange views on

ways and means to re-launch bilateral discussions within this framework, building on the results of the three TIFA Council meetings held in 2003, 2005 and 2008. The two sides intend to develop concrete steps they could take to stimulate trade and investment between the U.S. and Tunisian business communities. The Governments intend to explore the possible expansion of trade in mutually decided sectors.

As the next chair of the Group of Eight, the United States is committed to continuing efforts with all the countries of the Deauville Partnership to advance the goals of democratic transition and economic reform, and providing a platform of ongoing support that focuses on trade and investment promotion, coordinated international and regional financial institutions support for homegrown economic and governance reforms, and enhanced support to private sector development.

To galvanize the interests of potential investors in the Tunisian market, the Governments intend to undertake events that link potential investors to the Tunisian diaspora who are, indeed, among the best and most genuine exemplars of the benefits of doing business in Tunisia. To that end, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation intends to explore how to catalyze significant new American private sector investment in Tunisia, including expansion of small-to-medium enterprise lending, as well as opportunities in franchising, infrastructure, and renewable resources and clean technology in the country.

Signed in New York this 22nd day of September 2011, in the English language ——————————–                                                                                                                     ———————————-

Mohammed Mouldi Kefi                                                                                                                             Hillary Rodham Clinton
Foreign Minister, Tunisia                                                                                                                          Secretary of State, United States

 


Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Tunisian Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi At Signing Ceremony

SECRETARY CLINTON: I wanted to just say a very few words about how important this is to the United States. In the last year, the people of Tunisia have stood up and demanded their universal rights. And by doing so, they have changed the course of history. In just one month, Tunisians will exercise their newly-enshrined democratic rights and vote for a constitutional assembly.

Now when I visited Tunisia, the one thing everyone wanted to know is: What could the United States do to help the young men and women who courageously went into the streets to realize a better economic and political future? Beginning just days after the revolution, the United States began to deliver $40 million in assistance for Tunisia’s democratic transition. We have supported the Tunisian people’s efforts toward responsive, accountable government and helped to prepare for free, fair, and competitive elections.

Today, Tunisians are looking for new investments, increased transparency, greater access to global and regional markets, and new assistance for their entrepreneurs. That is why we are launching the U.S.-Tunisia Joint Political and Economic Partnership, which is a foundation for our relationship that will not only support the short-term needs of the Tunisian people, but also their long-term economic aspirations. Tunisia is open for business, and we want people to know that, and I particularly want American business to know that.

Also, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is examining Tunisia’s eligibility for a threshold program, which would help Tunisia design and undertake a democratic reform program with an aim toward economic reform. Through our Overseas Private Investment Corporation, we are working to boost franchising and lending to small and medium-sized businesses.

Now, the United States and Tunisia have a long history of partnership and collaboration. In fact, only two years after the United States declared our independence, we signed our first agreement of friendship, cooperation, and trade. Since then, we have traded, collaborated, and built bonds of friendship between us. This signing is another step forward in our long relationship, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the minister and the government, as we proudly stand with Tunisia at this critical time in your history, and do all we can to assist you in realizing a future of peace, progress, and opportunity.

Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER KEFI: Thank you very much. Well, I think I have nothing to add to what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. True, our relationship goes back 200 years ago, and as you mentioned, Secretary of State, Tunisia was among the first countries to recognize the young, independent state of the United States.

What happened in Tunisia on the 14th of January is almost the same as what the fathers from the independence did to this country, from George Washington, to Jefferson, to Adams, to Benjamin Franklin, when they wrote the Constitution. We the People, our hope, our wish, is that tomorrow the new constitution of Tunisia, a democratic, free, independent country, will be also We the People. And we (inaudible) from the American long democracy.

Our political relations are very good, and I’m glad the Secretary of State mentioned this first partnership – political and economic partnership we are signing, the new Tunisia, the first country is the United States, and we are grateful for that, Secretary of State. We hope we build on this document and we see more American businessmen coming to Tunisia. Tunisia is open and ready for business. And after the number of high officials from the United States, your congressmen who came, and even some major CEOs who already went to Tunisia, we hope that we put more flesh on the bone, and that our bilateral relationship on the economic, cultural, (inaudible) investment, trade will be boosted by this document we signed together.

We are glad we are now sharing the same values of freedom, democracy, and we are glad to be part of this elite like the United States.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, if you could update us on your work on the Middle East – how were your meetings last night, was there any progress with your meetings with Abbas and Netanyahu, and also is the Quartet any closer to coming to a statement?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say this. I think it is important to note that regardless of what happens tomorrow in the United Nations, we remain focused on the day after. And I was encouraged to hear from both the leadership of the Palestinians and the Israeli Government their continuing commitment to direct negotiations. They both recognize that there has to be a resolution of the outstanding issues to produce a functioning Palestinian state that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and there have to be agreements that provide Israel with the security that it seeks living side-by-side with the new Palestinian state.

So I am – as I have been, I remain committed to working with the parties to obtain the goal that the United States supports; that is, a two-state solution. And as President Obama said yesterday in his speech, we will leave no effort or stone unturned in our commitment to achieving that.

Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: How about on a Quartet statement, Madam Secretary? Is there any progress on that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re continuing to work as hard as we can on everything, Arshad.

 


FACT SHEET: The Community of Democracies’ “Democracy Partnership Challenge: A Race to the Top for Emerging Democracies”

CONTEXT: As a new wave of democratization spreads across the world, the Community of Democracies (CD) is working to support successful transitions to democracy. During the upcoming Community of Democracies 6th Ministerial in Vilnius, Lithuania, the organization will launch a new initiative, the Democracy Partnership Challenge, to encourage and support reforms in countries that have experienced recent democratic breakthroughs. The Democracy Partnership Challenge creates a global “race to the top,” which seeks to facilitate progress by leveraging the resources and expertise of countries within the CD to assist those that have demonstrated the will to democratize, but who need external support to consolidate their gains.

OUTCOMES

Moldova and Tunisia selected as the first winners of the Democracy Partnership Challenge. After a rigorous review process, Moldova and Tunisia have been selected as the countries to inaugurate the Challenge. Both have demonstrated a strong commitment to strengthening democracy, and their governments are eager to work with partners to build on their progress.

Moldova takes an introspective look at the state of its democracy. The democratic leadership of Moldova is committed to carrying out fundamental reforms which continue the country’s transition to a European democracy, including ensuring a separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and respect for human rights and freedom of the media. In its application, Moldova requested small amounts of assistance in the areas to bolster its efforts in the areas of security sector reform, government transparency, decentralization, migration policies, and judicial reform.

Tunisia looks forward and identifies areas in which small amounts of assistance will have a critical impact. The new Tunisian leadership is dedicated to essential reforms that will ensure the stability and longevity of their new democracy. In their application the Tunisians specifically sought assistance from the Community of Democracies to reform public administration, the security sector and the judiciary, support regional development, and promote the role of civil society to succeed in their transition to a democratic state.

The Community of Democracies calls upon countries to “Pay it Forward.” Two task forces are being established to channel resources and expertise to the priorities that have been designated by Tunisia and Moldova. As President Obama recently announced in Warsaw, the United States will co-chair the Moldova task force with Poland. Countries represented at the Ministerial have come through transitions of their own and each has had help in overcoming immense challenges. During the Ministerial, countries committed to the success of Moldova and Tunisia’s transitions will be asked to join the task forces, dig deep in support of these new democracies, and repay the help they have all received along the way.

 


FACT SHEET: Tunisian Transition and U.S. Support

With our 200-year long relationship with Tunisia as a solid foundation, the United States is committed to working with the people and government of Tunisia to lay the groundwork for lasting democratic reform and sustainable economic development.

The United States recognizes that the Tunisian transition will be rooted in Tunisia’s history, traditions, and hopes. We are contributing financially to help the people and interim government of Tunisia meet key benchmarks on their transition trajectory.

To help Tunisians lay the groundwork for responsive, accountable governance, we are supporting the interim government’s efforts to prepare for elections. We are also helping to build the capacity of Tunisian civil society organizations, political parties, and media to mobilize and advocate for the interests of the Tunisian people.

To help Tunisians build a stronger and more equitable economy, we are supporting academic exchanges and skills-training, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, making financing available to small businesses, helping the government implement foundational fiscal reforms, and seeking to expand the bilateral trade relationship.

We continue to work with Tunisia’s numerous international partners to coordinate assistance for the democratic transition. We are supportive of the contributions of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and the contributions of other countries, to help Tunisia overcome its significant economic challenges.

 We are also grateful for the assistance that the people and interim government have provided to the tens of thousands of migrants and conflict victims fleeing the violence in Libya. We have contributed financially to the various international appeals for assistance to help Tunisia and other border countries respond to this humanitarian crisis.

We have embraced the opportunities that both traditional and new media tools, such as Facebook, offer to provide an open line of communication between Tunisian citizens and the U.S. government, and are eager to hear what Tunisians think about this period of momentous change.

The United States was among the first countries to denounce the former regime’s brutal crackdown on the protests that ultimately led to former president Ben Ali’s ouster, and among the first Western countries to send senior officials to Tunisia after the fall of the Ben Ali regime in January. A number of other senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Clinton and Members of Congress, have since traveled to Tunisia to reaffirm our support for the transition.

 


Secretary Clinton’s Interview With Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic

Click here for the full interview.

QUESTION: I wanted to start with something that was interesting. The day after you – I stayed in Tunisia when you left, and the next day, I was downtown, and there was a demonstration that just happened to be forming when I was standing around, which is convenient.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: And I was – this is – I was – great, young people yelling about something. I couldn’t figure out what it was immediately. And so they’re in front of the interior ministry, and I mix in with the crowd and I find out that they’re – what they’re demonstrating for is the interior ministry has banned women from wearing a hijab in their photo IDs for their national identity cards, and this was a demonstration for the hijab. And I asked – I said, “Is this something that you would compel?” And they said, “No, but in our vision of society, people would know the role of men and the role of women.” And I thought to myself at this moment, “Man, I wish Hillary Clinton was here so I could ask her what she thinks of this.” Now it’s my chance.

These revolutions are moving in some ways that are pleasing to the American mind and some ways that aren’t pleasing. And I’m wondering, on the issue of the hijab in particular, because this is obviously an area of preoccupation for you, women’s roles in these societies – that’s not what you want to hear? How do you feel about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I have spoken to this on other occasions because what I want to see is the freedom to choose for women and men in responsible ways that are protected by the laws of their society so that – my model, of course, would be our own country.

QUESTION: Sure.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, women are able to dress as they choose in accordance with their own personal desires, and I would like to see that available to women everywhere so that there’s no compulsion, there’s no government coercion. It is a choice, and –

QUESTION: So the redline is compulsion or anything –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely.

QUESTION: — on the continuum of compulsion.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely, anything on the continuum of compulsion. Now I think there are security issues with, like, the burqa, but if you’re talking about the hijab, which is the head scarf –

QUESTION: Yeah, the head scarf.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — for me, that is not a redline. Now, when people start to say, “Oh, but there are certain things women should not be permitted to do and the only way we can stop them from doing them is by passing laws against them,” like you can’t drive in Saudi Arabia or you can’t vote or you – they just had a riot in Bangladesh because the government wants women to inherit equally. That’s a redline, and that infringes on the rights of women, and therefore, I am against it and I think any society in the 21st century that is looking toward modernization, and certainly if they are claiming to be democratic, needs to protect the right to make those choices.

QUESTION: The – should we fear the Muslim Brotherhood?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we don’t know enough yet to understand exactly what they’re morphing into. And I’m – I mean, for me, the jury is out. There are some Islamist elements that are coming to the surface to Egypt that I think on just the face of it are –

QUESTION: Coming out of jails, in fact.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Coming out in jails, coming out of the shadows that are inimical to a democracy, to the kind of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience that was the aspiration in Tahrir Square.

QUESTION: Right. Should we – talking about redlines, is there a redline – I want you to talk for a second about redlines, not only for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but all of these sort budding Islamist or Islamically oriented parties. But is there something short of a law? I mean, is there a situation in which a woman can find herself in a country where it’s not necessarily the law that you have to wear the hijab, but that a culture is created by the government that would cause you to raise a flag or –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Of course, but that’s true in any society. I mean, you can go into neighborhoods in the United States where people dress a certain way because they don’t want to be out of touch, where boys wear pants down to their knees, which nobody has compelled them to do but they pick up the cultural norms, or where girls are improperly dressed by my eyes, but that’s what they see in the media.

So certainly, there are cultural norms and there are family expectations and there are even religious admonitions. But so long as there is not the coercion of the state, then I’m not going to be pointing figures at people who make certain choices that I would not make, but within a democracy should be protected. But when it comes to political decision making, then I think you have to be very careful that the people who are in those positions are understanding of their obligation to protect decisions that they do not necessarily agree with.

It’s almost impossible to imagine in today’s world, but there might be a family in our country that doesn’t want their children to learn to drive because they think it’s against their religion. Well, that’s very different than the family that says we don’t want our children to get medical assistance. And our courts steps in and says, “That’s too far even for parental authority.” And similarly, in societies, you do not want so-called political decision makers, political parties, or political leaders to be making decisions that are going to infringe on the range of opportunities that should be available to both women and men.

QUESTION: Talk about – maybe I’ll fold this redline question into a broader question – should the U.S. now be using the bully pulpit to – going to countries and say, “You know what, we have a system, liberal democracy, that works really well, and since you’re in this very fluid moment, you should look into this.” In other words, engage in the battle of ideas –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely.

QUESTION: — with Islamist parties.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with everybody. It’s not just – I mean, the Islamist parties are the ones that, obviously, we look at with most worry. But there are remnants of old regimes that are also trying to prevent progress and keep people economically denied opportunity and politically denied their rights.

So in this kind of transition there are ideological foes of democracy, there are economic and commercial foes of democracy, there are political foes of democracy. So I think we need to be competing in the arena of ideas and information.

QUESTION: Is that a little bit neoconish?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I don’t think so. I think that’s what we believe in. We believe that more speech is better than less speech. We deplored the guy in Florida who burned the Qu’ran, which is so hard for other people to understand around the world because they say, “Well, if you thought it was terrible, you should have stopped it.” And we say, “No, we overwhelmed it with speech deploring it and speech calling for tolerance and respect.”

So I testified before Congress a few weeks ago. I said we are losing the war of ideas because we are not in the arena the way we were in the Cold War. I don’t think that belongs to a political party or a political philosophy in our country. I want to see us out there pitching our ideas. Now, we need to do it in a way that’s more likely to be understood and received than just asserting it in a conclusory way, but no, we need to be much more engaged. And frankly, just at the moment when there’s this ferment for democracy breaking out – 20 years-plus after the Berlin Wall fell, and we invested so much money and effort over so many decades to get behind the Iron Curtain, to talk about what democracy was, to keep the flag of freedom unfurled in people’s hearts, to get our messages in through every means of shortwave radio and smuggling bibles, and we did all kinds of things just to give people a sense that they weren’t alone and that maybe their ideas about the human spirit were not subversive. Well, we have cut back on all of that. We don’t have those messages going out.

And I look at – China is starting an English-speaking television network around the world, Russia is, Al Jazeera, the BBC is cutting back on its many language services around the world. We’re not competing. I just feel like we’re missing an opportunity. And I’m well aware of our budget constraints and all of the difficulties we face, but now is the time – not in an arrogant way, but in a matter-of-fact experiential way.

We have figured out how people from every part of the world, every kind of person you can imagine can live together, can work together. It wasn’t easy. It took a long time, but I think we know a little bit about how to do it, and it we want to offer whatever assistance we can.

QUESTION: Right. The flip side of that question is: Is – has this moment taught us that foreign policy realism, the realist school, is kind of dead as a philosophy? I mean, you’re sounding very idealistic where –

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. I think I’m very hard-headed. I’ve never understood the division between so-called realists and so-called idealists. I mean, I don’t know how you get up in the world every day, doing what I do, if you don’t have some sense of idealism, because you have to believe that as hard as it is you’re going to prevent the dictator from oppressing his people, you’re going to help to stop the war, you’re going to figure out a way to get clean water to thirsty people and cure kids of disease. And at the same time, I don’t know how you go through the day and expect to be successful without being very hard-headed and realistic. So me it’s not an either/or.

QUESTION: Which brings me to one of the contradictions, and they’re – everybody’s demanding of you and your Administration a kind of over-arching doctrine, and we’ll get to that in a second. But one of the obvious contradictions here is that while on the one hand you are pushing for democracy, democratic reform and achievement in Egypt and Tunisia, places like that, you’re also, in some ways, have gone into the monarchy business in the sense that we have a lot of allies – Jordan and Saudi Arabia, most notably – who are feeling pressure, are going to feel some pressure on the democratic front, and our direct interest is in supporting and keeping these guys on their thrones. I mean, is – does this contradiction bother you? I mean, a monarchy being sort of silly idea for Americans anyway.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. No. But I wouldn’t accept the premise. I mean, I think that we believe in the same values and principles full stop. We believe that countries should empower their people. We believe that people should have certain universal rights. We believe there are certain economic systems that work better for the vast majority of people than other subsystems.

So I think we’re very consistent. I think that’s been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for at least the last century. At the same time, we live in the real world. And there are lots of countries that we deal with because we have interests in common. We have certain security issues that we are both looking at. Obviously, in the Middle East, Iran is an overwhelming challenge to all of us. We do business with a lot of countries whose economic systems or political systems are not ones we would design or choose to live under. And we have encouraged consistently, both publicly and privately, reform and recognition and protection of human rights. But we don’t walk away from dealing with China because we think they have a deplorable human rights record. We don’t walk away from dealing with Saudi Arabia –

QUESTION: And they’re acting very scared right now, in fact.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they are. They’re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it. But they’re going to hold it off as long as possible. And they are –

QUESTION: Who would’ve thought that something that happened in Tunisia could –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Think about it. But that’s how –

QUESTION: (Inaudible) it’s amazing.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, you think about historical events.

QUESTION: But what do you do to get these kings who are – I spent – before I joined the trip, I was in Jordan for a week. The King’s under more pressure than he’s ever been. He’s a good guy, he’s a great ally to America, he’s not a murdering whatever like Qadhafi, but he’s a King, and he’s got problems in sort of managing the government. How do you specifically help get these guys – I guess the best way to say it is ahead of the curve?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We offer as much support and advice as we possibly can.

QUESTION: It didn’t work with Mubarak.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, it did not work with Mubarak, and it wasn’t for want of trying. President after president –

QUESTION: I’ve done some reporting on this.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — secretary after secretary –

QUESTION: I believe (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Everybody tried, and –

QUESTION: Wouldn’t Aboul Gheit sometimes sort of preempt you by talking about how far he’s moved democratization before you even –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, or criticize me for raising it one more time.

QUESTION: Well, whatever, whatever. But for bringing it up as a preemptive kind of –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely.

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But we also are trying to be practical to help, too. So for example, the King has not only some political challenges and economic challenges that he is working toward addressing, but Jordan is one of the water – most water-deprived countries in the world. So a few months ago, I announced a big Millennium Challenge grant of – I don’t know – something like $250 million to help them deal with their water problems, because I believe that it’s not only that we go and sit and say, “You should do this, and you should do that,” which is easy to say, but that we’re a real, friend, partner, and ally. And we say, “Look, here’s some positive, tangible progress we can help you make.” And that’s true across the board where we deal with people who are in the throes of transition and we think have their hearts in the right place, but face some difficult issues.

QUESTION: Right. Talk about – the one thing I didn’t understand was this Bashar al-Asad moment when you talked about him as being a reformer or being seen by others as a reformer. This is where the question of – and I’m not – I’m saying this in a value-neutral way. There is always going to be plasticity or strategic hypocrisy in the way you have to deal with the world. But shouldn’t we be blowing some of these winds of change in the direction of Damascus and Tehran as well? I – and –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we don’t –

QUESTION: Talk about Bashar and –

SECRETARY CLINTON: We don’t have to blow. The winds are blowing. There’s no stopping them. And what we have tried to do with him is to give him an alternative vision of himself and Syria’s future. So when a number of the members of Congress who have gone over to Syria come back and say both publicly and privately, “We think he really wants to reform, but he’s trying to put together the political pieces to be able to do that,” I think it’s worth reminding him of that. And since I’m not going to be on a phone conversation with him, and I’m not going to fly to Damascus, I think that’s one way of communicating with him. He’s got to make the decisions, and thus far, it doesn’t look like it’s heading in the right direction. But there was certainly a lot of hope that he would begin to introduce the kinds of reforms that would help Syria get ahead of the curve.

QUESTION: Would you be sad if his regime disappeared?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It depends upon what replaces it.

QUESTION: Nicely put. And Tehran, talk about that a little bit because, obviously – I mean, I’ve been covering that for years – they are this looming shadow over the entire – I mean, every aspect of every problem that you’re dealing with has an Iran component. They’re scared. They’re also seeing some opportunities, obviously. Salafism in Egypt is not necessarily – even though there’s doctrinal issues – it’s not a bad thing for them to see the rise of Islamic parties necessarily. But how do you contain them, box them in, move them toward actual reform, encourage the people to rise up as they did in 2009? What’s the calibration?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, I regret deeply the way that the regime in Iran is treating their own people, the level of hypocrisy that they have demonstrated in responding to the uprisings across the region.

QUESTION: I think in Farsi it’s called “chutzpah.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I think that’s right. And they have demonstrated quite a talent for totalitarianism, and they have –

QUESTION: Nicely put. I like it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And they have imposed a relentless mind control regime that has –

QUESTION: Apparatus –

SECRETARY CLINTON: — apparatus, mechanism that has begun to go even into what is in their textbooks, what you can learn, what you can talk about. That is so contrary to the kind of mentality of the modern Iranian from everything we know, but it is a scary place now to live in. And in –

QUESTION: What can we do as a –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we’re doing it. I think we are – at first, in 2009, there were a lot of very knowledgeable Iranians inside and outside of the country who said, “Don’t overstate it, don’t oversell it, this has to be homegrown, don’t turn it into something that America is doing, we need to be able to stand on our own feet,” sort of the same way Tahrir Square was. I mean, this is our revolution; everybody else get out of our way. And the force with which the regime just slammed that down and has continued to morph into a kind of military dictatorship with the Revolutionary Guard basically in charge has made it even more imperative that we do everything we can to support those who are standing up for human rights and real democracy in Iran.

QUESTION: I guess the way to ask it is: Can we capitalize on the Arab spring? Are the –

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think so. I think so, and I think we are. I think we are very clearly saying that the Iranians are trying to take credit for something they had not only nothing to do with, but they are exactly in opposition to and should be given no credence whatsoever.

QUESTION: This question that you hit on is really interesting. At what point is the sort of the Heisenberg principle of foreign policy come in when an American saying something actually hurts the message, that the messenger is actually more important than the message. When I was in Jordan, I was talking to a very high-ranking Jordanian – the country is named after his family – but who was bemoaning a recent visit by Joe Lieberman and John McCain. Not bemoaning – he likes them – but saying they came in and they say, “Push for democracy, constitutional monarchy, openness, et cetera, et cetera, but don’t let the Muslim Brotherhood rise up.” And this is a very interesting message and I think the royal court is sort of saying, “Well, which one do you want us to do? How far do we go, and how far do we allow the American – to be seen as an American message.” So this – it’s the nuance question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a big nuance question, Jeff. And when I came in here, I said, look, I think there are these three trends that we have to pay attention to that are separate and apart from dealing with nations, dealing with regions, dealing with ideologies. Power is diffuse. It is no longer the province of just governments. It – there’s too much going on in the world today. People know too much. So we have to start dealing with people on a more direct basis, which is why I did a lot of the stuff I did –

QUESTION: Right. And by the way –

SECRETARY CLINTON: — the (inaudible) and all that stuff.

QUESTION: By the way, the realist camp did hold for 50 years, Scowcroft-Kissinger, that dictators, benevolent or otherwise, one address, deal with the leader, let them sort out the problems beneath them –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: — that, I mean, I know you’re arguing against the idea that there are discreet streams of foreign policy thought, but –

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not arguing –

QUESTION: — but you are talking – yeah.

SECRETRY CLINTON: Look, I’m not arguing against it. I’m just saying that it’s not either/or.

QUESTION: Okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay?

QUESTION: All right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: So that today, that to me would be impossible, so the realist position today is you have to deal with people, that America – and it’s of the things that I think –

QUESTION: You’re adopting realism, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, absolutely.

QUESTION: Yeah. Okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But because realism –

QUESTION: Pick a mantle of it and –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. Well, realism evolves.

QUESTION: Right. Okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, we aren’t living in Bismarckian Germany right now. And can you imagine any Secretary of State like Henry Kissinger being able to go anywhere secretly today? I don’t think so.

QUESTION: You mean being sick in Pakistan for a week –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.

QUESTION: — while he’s actually in China. Yeah.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. I mean, wouldn’t it – so it’s not –

QUESTION: You would kind of like it, though.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course I would.

QUESTION: Yeah. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: But it’s not possible. So I can live in the real world –

QUESTION: I know. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: — and realpolitik has a lot now to do with real life, and so we have to have a meeting of the concepts here, if you will.

Secondly, with connection technology, there is absolutely a dispersal of power through information that was unimagined a decade ago, let alone 50 years ago. So even if you thought you could just deal with one guy in one country and you could check it off your list of concerns, that’s impossible now. The way technology has exploded means that we are all living in a totally different environment. It has changed everything. And to pretend otherwise, that there’s some kind of great doctrine out there that can be taken from the heavens and imposed upon the global national body, is just not realistic anymore.

QUESTION: Is there – a couple more things. The – I’m not a fan of coherence. We have this bias toward coherence. Everything has to be tied up neatly.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But everybody wants that.

QUESTION: Everybody wants coherence. Is there, however, some sort of coherent storyline that you can identify what’s happened since the poor vegetable seller –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely.

QUESTION: — self-immolated.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, I’m now being blamed in some Arab capitals for having caused this with my speech in Doha, even though –

QUESTION: You get it coming and going.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I do, don’t I?

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Even though the vegetable dealer actually –

QUESTION: That was before.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — set himself on fire.

QUESTION: But you were working on the speech, to your credit –

SECRETARY CLINTON: I was working on it and –

STAFF: Forgive me, to her credit –

SECRETARY CLINTON: To my credit.

STAFF: You’re the reporter, huh?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. Right.

QUESTION: To your credit. No, you – I mean, I know the speech was in – Jim was telling me –

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right.

QUESTION: — the speech was in motion.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. I mean, because what I saw happening was so clear to me that what was going on was just this movement below the surface that despite the leaders’ either refusal or blindness to see what was going on, it was moving. And we have just lost our breath over the last many years trying to get people that we worked with ahead of the curve. So I gave that speech in Doha, and it was fascinating, and I noticed it at the time. A lot of the government leaders were like, “No, didn’t want to hear it.” The business leaders, the NGOs, were on the edge of their seats. They were nodding at each other. They were poking each other in the arm. They –

QUESTION: You literally felt that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I could see it. I could literally see it where I was sitting as I was delivering it, and then during the question-and-answer period.

So, I mean, the leaders might have chosen to be oblivious, but people in the society, not just the young people, but people of all walks of life, they knew that there was this beginning change. And it was, “Do they go with it? Are they afraid of it? Do they make it their own?” That was –

QUESTION: Stipulated that you get it coming and going on these questions, do you – and I just want to come to two final things on the Middle East peace process – but the – stipulate that and that you’re never going to get – somebody in Egypt is going to think of you as the best friend of Mubarak and somebody in the Gulf is going to think of you as sort of a wild-eyed Wolfowitz or something.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) I don’t know about that.

QUESTION: Yeah. No, I –

SECRETARY CLINTON: You can say I’m wild-eyed but don’t compare me to that. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I just threw it out there, talking it out. No big deal.

No, but it’s interesting because you hear, not only here but in the White House also, people are saying, “Oh, you guys are so statist and you’re so slow on Yemen or so slow on this,” but you’re hearing – but you’re also hearing from not only Otto, but a lot of people accusing you of the sky is falling –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I do have this – I mean, my doctrine is the Goldilocks Doctrine – not too hot, not too cold, just right.

QUESTION: I get that. But how do you – so how do you deal with the hypocrisy that is a necessity in diplomacy, meaning that you’re going to deal with a Qadhafi one way because you can and you’re going to deal with a Yemen in a different way? Or do you not see it as strategic hypocrisy or a kind of malleability or –

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t. I honestly believe that each place is different. There are trends, but I think following the fall of the Berlin Wall, how Germany responded and Poland responded, you couldn’t say that there was one template that fit all. I mean, you had the – you had –

QUESTION: That was an easier one, though.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know that it was. At the time, I don’t know that it was. I mean, people – I mean, we all are prisoners of our own experience. And you can look at transitions to democracy in Latin America and in Europe – look at Spain and Portugal. I mean, there are no – there’s no two that are exactly alike. There may be common trends, and you hope you get to the same point at the end of the journey, but you look at – I mean, Yemen is a very different country than Libya in every way you can imagine. And Tunisia –

QUESTION: I mean, Yemen is the classic case of a country where, if it falls, I mean, we know that something’s happening. Al-Qaida really put — .

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s that. Plus there’s the southern secessionists, plus there’s the Hutis –

QUESTION: The Hutis, yeah.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — yeah, with the potential involvement of Iran. I mean, you’ve got a lot of different factors at work there.

QUESTION: Come to the Middle East peace process for one second. The Israelis and a lot of their allies in America will say, “See, the Arab revolt proves that the people were not upset about Palestinians; they’re upset about a lack of accountability in our governments, et cetera, economic opportunity — ”

SECRETARY CLINTON: They’re upset about both.

QUESTION: And – well this is what I wanted to ask you. Is the – I mean, because we are coming to a head on this thing by September. Is – how related to the Arab Spring or whatever you want to call it is the Middle East peace process? And how could it – if you believe that – how could it affect it in adverse or positive ways?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think a lot of it is sequencing, Jeff. I mean, right now, people in Egypt, for example, are very focused on their own future. That doesn’t mean that the Arab-Israeli conflict doesn’t come up, because it came up when I was there, but it didn’t come up as the only subject people wanted to talk to me about, which was sometimes the case in the past. It came up as, “Okay, for now we’re going to honor the Camp David accords, but you know we’re going to have to take a look at this when we get a new government and we get more stable, we figure out what our relationship really is. We’re not going to be an automatic supporter of the peace process. But right now, we got to get our economy going, we got to get our political transition done.”

So it’s not like it’s off the table. It’s just stuck on a corner until other matters get tended to. But if you talk to King Abdullah of Jordan, it is still very much on the mind of Jordanians because they live with it every single day. And I –

QUESTION: So lack of progress could have an adverse effect on –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, here’s – I mean, this is nothing that I haven’t said many times and said it with my Israeli friends because I love Israel and I feel so strongly about the future. Right now, you have a secular leadership in the West Bank that has made economic progress and has made security progress. You have an uncertain environment that Israel is now having to cope with, and I do not in any way discount how difficult that is because I think it is – it has been very challenging for understandable reasons – what is happening in Egypt, you’ve seen Israeli commentators saying they’re not so sure that change in Syria is in Israel’s interest.

QUESTION: I was wondering if that had some influence on the way this government here has been talking about –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it certainly didn’t escape my notice. You have a situation in Lebanon that is uncertain. So Israel has real problems that it has to deal with in new ways now with all of the changes going on. I still believe it is very much in Israel’s interests and Israel’s security to really turn their attention to the peace process and to hammer out an agreement under appropriate safeguards for Israel’s security with the Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: One final thing on that subject: The – about four years ago, I interviewed you in the, I guess, Russell Building in your – one of your previous iterations. And you were talking about Israel and how to get them to make the concessions necessary for peace. One of the things you said that really struck me was that in your understanding of the Israeli mindset, the Israelis will move on these issues when they feel the warm embrace of the United States –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: — when they know that somebody is behind them. And when they feel alienated from the United States, as they did for the first couple years of this Administration – I mean, with the government, at least – they’re less apt to move. Does that still hold true or has the prime minister, the current prime minister, shown no desire to move with a warm embrace or without a warm embrace?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but I think he has some very serious concerns that have to be addressed. But I would just –

QUESTION: National security concerns or coalitions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: National security and – I mean, I think that’s the first and foremost of his concerns. But obviously, he’s in politics. I’ve been in politics. You also have to worry about your political position. But this Administration, the Obama Administration, has probably done more for Israeli security in as short a period of time as any administration in the past. The kind of assistance and support that we have given to Israel in order to assuage some of the legitimate security concerns that Israel has, the work that we are doing to try to contain Iran, the sanctions that we, much to everyone’s amazement, were able to negotiate, the pressure that we’ve brought to bear on Iran – we have really been closely coordinating on key issues that are fundamental to Israel’s security. So I think that that has to be the way we’re judged, because we certainly have delivered on that.

QUESTION: Why don’t they feel a warmth?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I – I mean, I have a great time whenever I go there, so – (laughter) –

QUESTION: I’m not going to bring it up again.

 


Ambassador Kelly: Response to the Statement by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States warmly welcomes you to the Permanent Council, President Grybauski. Lithuania has already demonstrated strong leadership in its 2011 Chairmanship of the organization while concurrently presiding over the Community of Democracies, and we look forward to working with you, Ambassador Norkus and his very able team, and the rest of our partners as we move toward the Vilnius ministerial.

We firmly believe our common security must be rooted in our shared OSCE principles and commitments. When we gathered in Astana last December, we recommitted ourselves to building a “free, democratic, common and indivisible” security community, free of dividing lines, where the use of force is unthinkable, human rights and fundamental freedoms are fully respected, and economic and environmental cooperation is the norm. While we have made progress toward this vision, we must do more to ensure full respect for our shared principles and implementation of our shared commitments.

For the United States, the OSCE’s work in the human dimension remains the highest priority, and we strongly support Lithuania’s emphasis on the human dimension. We welcome your commitment to advancing freedom of the media and expression, applaud your recognition of the importance of independent human rights institutions, and support your efforts to ensure that civil society can operate freely. Only by ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms can we guarantee truly comprehensive security in the OSCE space.

In that regard, we welcome Chairman-in-Office Azubalis’s upcoming trip to Tunisia to consult with the government on ways the OSCE might assist their budding democracy. Clearly, the protracted conflicts pose a lingering challenge to our common security. We appreciate Lithuania’s intent to build on the OSCE’s past contributions and look for ways to boost confidence. We remain committed to the restoration of a meaningful OSCE presence in Georgia and to the achievement of concrete improvements in the security and humanitarian situations on the ground.

We also remain committed to the soonest possible resumption of formal 5+2 negotiations on the Transnistria conflict and to the implementation of measures to promote freedom of movement and reduce political-military tensions, even as we seek a larger settlement of the conflict. And we remain firmly committed to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, under the auspices of the Minsk Group.

Key to the OSCE’s future is a greater capacity to respond to crises and to prevent conflict from erupting or reigniting. We are grateful for the efforts undertaken by Lithuania to ensure the success of the Community Security Initiative in Kyrgyzstan, and we appreciate Lithuania’s approach to following up on the Corfu Process and on discussions before and at the Astana Summit. We are convinced the time has come to take concrete actions, making optimal use of existing resources and tools and addressing areas where gaps have been identified.

Also key to the OSCE’s future are our efforts to strengthen conventional arms control and confidence- and security-building measures. We remain committed to materially improving military transparency by updating the 1999 Vienna Document. Ensuring our common security also necessarily involves efforts to counter transnational threats, such as terrorism and violent extremism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber attacks, organized crime, and illicit trafficking in weapons, drugs, and people. Responding to these threats – and bolstering stability in states such as Afghanistan – requires sustained cooperation.

In the economic and environmental dimension, we seek to achieve real progress in efforts to prevent or mitigate energy-related crises, promote good governance, and facilitate efficient cross-border trade. Given sufficient political will, Madam President, we believe we can deliver on the promise of the OSCE’s commitments and ensure comprehensive, lasting security. The United States will continue to do everything it can to support Lithuania’s Chairmanship of our organization. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 
 

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