We are very saddened and outraged by news of the murders of Stanislav Markelov, the director of the Rule of Law Institute, and Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova. Mr. Markelov was a respected human rights advocate, working to expose corruption and violations of basic freedoms and Ms. Baburova was working in the great tradition of independent journalists, seeking the truth and fighting against injustice. We extend our sincere condolences to their respective families and colleagues, and we hope that those responsible will be caught, tried and punished, and that the long series of unsolved murders of journalists will come to an end.
Gazeta.ru: So what is your schedule, what are your meetings, with whom are you speaking?
Under Secretary Burns: We have had a series of meetings with senior government officials, business leaders, and civil society representatives to talk about our relationship. After one year in the Obama administration, I think we’ve made real progress in laying a solid foundation in our relationship, in identifying and expanding areas of common ground, in dealing with differences that we have honestly and maturely, in building a relationship which is a genuine two-way street, which can bring benefit not only to Russia and America, but to the international community in general on a range of issues.
Gazeta.ru: So it was a kind of revising of the reset process?
Under Secretary Burns: It’s an opportunity to look at what we’ve accomplished in 2009 and how we can build on that in 2010 in a wide range of areas. Certainly US-Russian leadership in the nuclear field is very important for both of us and for the rest of the world. We’ve made very good progress toward a new START agreement, which I’m optimistic can be concluded soon. But we’ve also made progress in our common efforts in Afghanistan, in trying to build stability there and in dealing with the threat posed by Al-Qaida and violent extremists. We work very well together on a range of nuclear non-proliferation challenges like North Korea and Iran. We are looking for ways we can expand our economic relationship, which already is producing a number of examples in which American and Russian businesses work together to produce some of the world’s most modern aircraft, modern automobiles, modern factories, creating jobs and opportunities for both Americans and Russians. We formed, as you know, a new bilateral Presidential commission with a number of working groups. What we want to do now in 2010 is turn that from the stage in which you organize the commission and begin discussions to the stage where you produce tangible results that serve both of our interests. So it’s a full agenda, it’s an ambitious agenda, but I think it’s one that serves the interests of both countries.
Gazeta.ru: And returning to the START negotiations, the postponing of the process of the deal [i.e. the failure to get the treaty finished -Ed.], now is always seen in Russian public opinion with disappointment. Now what are the substantive differences between the Russian and American approaches to the negotiations and to the final accord?
Under Secretary Burns: Well as I said, I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to complete this agreement soon. The negotiations in truth have only been underway for less than a year. It’s a technically very complex treaty to accomplish. But I do think we share an interest in making real reductions in our strategic arsenals, to do that in a way that is verifiable, but which is less costly and less operationally complex than the existing START agreement. There do remain a few issues, related mainly to verification, that have to be sorted through. But I believe they will be sorted through in the coming weeks.
Gazeta.ru: You know, when the Presidents met in July in Moscow, they said with 100% certainty that the treaty will be done by the end of the year. So why were the presidents so optimistic in the beginning and why is the process taking so long?
Under Secretary Burns: I don’t think it should be surprising to anyone that a technically complex treaty takes some time to complete. It’s important for both of our interests not to rush that process. Over the course of the last few months since the July summit we’ve made considerable progress. We’re on the verge of completing the agreement and like I said, I’m optimistic that we’ll complete it soon. And I think that will not only serve the interests of both of our countries, but it sends a very important signal to the rest of the world as we approach further important events, like the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty this coming May. It’s important for the United States and Russia, who together control more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, to show responsible leadership in how we reduce and manage our own remaining arsenals. So for all those reasons it’s very important that we continue to move ahead, not only to complete this agreement, but to build on it in our cooperation on a range of nuclear issues.
Gazeta.ru: Now what about the Iran issue? Can we assume that the Russian position towards the Iranian nuclear program has leaned more towards the American one? So if Russia before stated that it will not support sanctions and now under some circumstances Russia can join with Western nations in having this kind of tension towards Iran? And does Russia have any guarantees that its national economic interests, I mean the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant and so on, will be kept intact if the sanctions will go on?
Under Secretary Burns: First, I’ll let my Russian colleagues speak with regard to Russia’s position towards Iran. What I would say is that the United States and Russia, along with our other international partners, have worked closely and effectively together on the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The United States and Russia have worked very well together in supporting a very creative proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Tehran research reactor to meet an Iranian request for fuel in a way that would make use of the stockpile of low-enriched uranium that Iran has already developed. It’s unfortunate and regrettable that Iran has not found a way to say yes to that proposal. And it’s unfortunate and regrettable that Iran has not followed through on the other tentative commitments it made when we met at the beginning of October in Geneva. The United States believes that we need to keep the door open to negotiations and engagement. But as part of our common two-track approach with regard to Iran, we will also need to begin to look at ways in which we can make clear the consequences of not responding constructively to the very creative proposals that the international community has put forward. So as I said, Russia and the United States are working together quite closely and effectively on this issue and I expect that this will continue.
Gazeta.ru: It was often said that Russia has some influence over the Iranian issue, in terms of the special relationship between Tehran and Moscow. But during the last few months, we have seen that the relationship between Russia and Iran has become more complicated. We have postponed realization of the Bushehr station, we have seized the S-300 missiles that should be shipped to Iran but have not. Also, we have the refusal to deal with Russian uranium. So does this complicate negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program?
Under Secretary Burns: What’s important is for the international community to send a strong common signal to Iran that the issue here is not Iran’s right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program; none of us are challenging that. The issue here is whether Iran lives up to its responsibilities, like any other member of the international community, to meet international standards – to demonstrate to the rest of us the exclusively peaceful nature of its program. And as I said, I think it’s important for the United States, Russia, and our other partners to send a strong common signal that we seek a diplomatic solution to this problem but at the same time we’re quite determined to ensure that Iran lives up to its international responsibilities. Russia’s role in that is important and the United States looks forward to continuing to work closely with Russia and our other partners.
Gazeta.ru: The non-proliferation issue is one of the issues that are being discussed in the format of the working groups. How do you estimate the intermediary results of the working groups of the presidential commissions?
Under Secretary Burns: I think we’ve made a good start. We’ve begun a process to form sixteen different working groups under the umbrella of the presidential commission. One of the purposes of my visit, as I said before, is to review where we stand and especially how we can work together now to translate this structure and the discussions that have begun into tangible results. Certainly in the area of our cooperation in non-proliferation we already have a lot to build on. We’ve accomplished a lot, even over the course of the last year. The United States and Russia, for example, lead an international effort to fight against the possibility of nuclear terrorism. The United States and Russia are working closely together to prepare for the nuclear security summit that will take place in the United States this spring, to try and ensure the safety and security of nuclear materials around the world. This is an area in which the United States and Russia both have unique capabilities and I think unique responsibilities for leadership. But there are many other areas, in health, in energy efficiency, in business development, in promoting exchanges in culture, in sports, and in education, in which I think we can widen the agenda for cooperation and interaction, not only between our two governments but between Russian and American societies. So I think we’ve put in place a useful structure but now the challenge before us is to turn that into practical initiatives.
Gazeta.ru: Russian opinion [is beginning to lean towards] the recent idea that maybe the Americans indeed intend to bring together Russian and American societies in terms of cooperating among opinion leaders. But [some see] the Russian [government], as using the Presidential commission as another tool for the big diplomatic game. Do you think this view is adequate or do you think it’s something else?
Under Secretary Burns: I think the Presidential commission has the potential to build stronger ties and stronger understanding, not just between our two governments but between our two societies. I offered a number of examples where I think we can promote those kinds of exchanges. As I said, the United States is going to differ with Russia on a number of issues and we are not shy about expressing our concerns. That’s true with regard to human rights issues sometimes, with regard to the cases of murdered journalists, which we like many others, have raised over the years and will continue to. We will do that in a spirit that is not lecturing, that is not patronizing, but that’s honest and that fits the kind of mature relationship that I think we’re building. So it seems to me that the structure of the Presidential commission is something that could be useful to both of us.
Gazeta.ru: Returning to the July summit of our presidents, it was said that Afghan issue, the Afghan air transit of lethal cargo, it was presented as a big result. In fact we all know that the American side used this possibility to transit its lethal cargo only once. Was this done because of the pressure from Russian bureaucrats?
Under Secretary Burns: No, we’ve used it several times already and I think you’ll see us making increasing use of what is a very helpful transit agreement in the coming months as the United States follows through on the increase in the military and civilian presence that President Obama has recently announced. Afghanistan is an area in which the United States and Russia and our other international partners share a strategic objective, and that is to defeat Al-Qaida and the violent extremists connected to it and to help Afghans build a stable state. That is a big challenge, but it’s one that both of us have an interest in and I believe the transit agreement will contribute to that increasingly in the coming months.
Gazeta.ru: The last question: NATO. NATO retains its focus on the enlargement to the east and Ukraine and Georgia are still on the list, maybe not in the next few years but in the next decade. What can you say to the Russian public to remove this very critical issue from the agenda?
Under Secretary Burns: Well first I would say, as the NATO Secretary-General has said and as President Obama has said, that NATO views Russia as a partner, not as an adversary. I think the clearest example of that is what I mentioned before, our common interest in Afghanistan and the ways in which we are working together to stop the flow of narcotics out of that country and to promote stability in Afghanistan. It’s true that the possibility of further enlargement of NATO remains on the table. The door is open, as all of NATO’s members have made clear, to enlargement in the future. But I would simply stress, first, that there are high standards that have to be met for membership that any new prospective member would need to meet. Second, that any prospective new member has to make the choice to pursue membership. And third, that a membership decision has to be accepted by all of the members of NATO.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: The Secretary is going to Moscow as part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to rebuild an effective, constructive relationship with Russia on a wide range of areas of common interest. This is based on the view articulated by the President very early in the Administration that he believes that we can find areas of common interest to work together on, even if we may disagree in other areas. And that effort has been ongoing sine the start of the Administration, and this will be a further step forward in that effort.
They – I can (inaudible) the schedule. She – the Secretary is going to begin with a discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov and his team, more than two hours of discussions, which will provide time to cover, we hope, the full range of issues that they need to talk about. And those will, no doubt, include issues like Iran, the Middle East, Afghanistan, missile defense, Russia’s neighborhood, and no doubt, many others – climate change.
And it will also be an opportunity to work on and discuss the advancement of the Bilateral Presidential Commission. As you know, the Presidential Commission launched at the summit last summer is headed by the two presidents, but it is co-chaired by the Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Lavrov. And more than half of the 16 working groups have now met, and it’ll be a chance for the two – the Secretary and the foreign minister to review the work that has been done in the working groups that have met and to look at what needs to be done in the others. Indeed, some of those working groups have met in Moscow on this trip. Today, some of the chairs of the subgroups of the Bilateral Presidential Commission are in Moscow now meeting. So that will also be an agenda item with the foreign minister.
And then after going to the Embassy for a meet and greet to thank Embassy staff, she’s going to have a reception with civil society to meet with a range of pro-democracy and human rights groups. It’ll be an opportunity to underscore our interests and engagement on those issues. She will visit the Boeing Design Center in the afternoon, which will highlight U.S.-Russian economic cooperation. Boeing has hired a number of Russian (inaudible) Russian engineers who are working on plane design and other things there.
She will then go to meet President Medvedev at his house, rather than meeting at the Kremlin. He’s invited her to do this meeting at his home just south of Moscow. That’ll be an opportunity – a more relaxed setting to go through the same large set of issues that (inaudible). And then she will go to the opera with some of you to see Love for Three Oranges.
Do you want me to do the following day now?
QUESTION: Yeah. (Inaudible.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: (Inaudible) with Russian officials. She’s going to do interviews in the morning, including with Ekho Moskvy, an independent Russian radio station. She will attend and participate in a ribbon cutting to dedicate the Walt Whitman statue, which is part of a cultural exchange organized and sponsored by former Representative James Symington. And she’ll do that (inaudible) and then a town hall at Moscow State University, which will be an opportunity for her to engage in open and free-flowing discussion with the students at the university.
MR. KELLY: Okay, thank you, Phil. We’ll now –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, we’ve been – the number was not finalized at the beginning. It was – we’ve been working on that (inaudible) wanted to acknowledge the original plan. It was never finalized at the beginning (inaudible) a process to figure out how many were appropriate. And I think it’s at 16 now.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Richard. And it is a pleasure to be back here at the Council with two working arms. That is something that I am very happy and grateful for, and I thank you for referencing what has been the most difficult balancing act of my time as Secretary of State: Pulling off my daughter’s wedding, which I kept telling people as I traveled around the world to all of the hot spots, was much more stressful than anything else on my plate. (Laughter.) It is a real delight to see so many friends and colleagues and to have this opportunity here once again to discuss with you where we are as a country and where I hope we are headed.
Now, it’s clear that many of us and many in our audience are just coming off of summer vacation. Yesterday at the State Department felt a little bit like the first day of school. Everyone showed up for our morning meeting and – (laughter) – looking a lot healthier than they did when they left. And it is also obvious that there isn’t any rest for any of us. The events of the past few weeks have kept us busy.
We are working to support direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and next week I will travel to Egypt and Jerusalem for the second round of these negotiations. In Iraq, where our combat mission has ended, we are transferring and transitioning to an unprecedented civilian-led partnership. We are stepping up international pressure on Iran to negotiate seriously on its nuclear program. We are working with Pakistan as it recovers from devastating floods and continues to combat violent extremism. And of course, the war in Afghanistan is always at the top of our minds as well as our agenda.
Now, none of these challenges exist in isolation. Consider the Middle East peace talks. At one level, they are bilateral negotiations involving two peoples and a relatively small strip of land. But step back and it becomes clear how important the regional dimensions and even the global dimensions of what started last week are. And what a significant role institutions like the Quartet, consisting of the United States and Russia and the European Union and the UN, as well as the Arab League, are playing, and equally, if not more so, how vital American participation really is.
Solving foreign policy problems today requires us to think both regionally and globally, to see the intersections and connections linking nations and regions and interests, to bring people together as only America can.
I think the world is counting on us today as it has in the past. When old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, people turn to us. When the earth shakes or rivers overflow their banks, when pandemics rage or simmering tensions burst into violence, the world looks to us. I see it on the faces of the people I meet as I travel, not just the young people who still dream about America’s promise of opportunity and equality, but also seasoned diplomats and political leaders, who, whether or not they admit it, see the principled commitment and can-do spirit that comes with American engagement. And they do look to America not just to engage, but to lead.
And nothing makes me prouder than to represent this great nation in the far corners of the world. I am the daughter of a man who grew up in the Depression and trained young sailors to fight in the Pacific. And I am the mother of a young woman who is part of a generation of Americans who are engaging the world in new and exciting ways. And in both those stories, I see the promise and the progress of America, and I have the most profound faith in our people. It has never been stronger.
Now, I know that these are difficult days for many Americans, but difficulties and adversities have never defeated or deflated this country. Throughout our history, through hot wars and cold, through economic struggles, and the long march to a more perfect union, Americans have always risen to the challenges we have faced. That is who we are. It is in our DNA. We do believe there are no limits on what is possible or what can be achieved.
And now, after years of war and uncertainty, people are wondering what the future holds, at home and abroad.
So let me say it clearly: The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century.
Indeed, the complexities and connections of today’s world have yielded a new American Moment, a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways. A moment when those things that make us who we are as a nation – our openness and innovation, our determination and devotion to core values – have never been more needed.
This is a moment that must be seized through hard work and bold decisions to lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come.
But now, this is no argument for America to go it alone; far from it. The world looks to us because America has the reach and resolve to mobilize the shared effort needed to solve problems on a global scale in defense of our own interests, but also as a force for progress. In this we have no rival.
For the United States, global leadership is both a responsibility and an unparalleled opportunity.
When I came to the Council on Foreign Relations a little over a year ago to discuss the Obama Administration’s vision of American leadership in a changing world, I called for a new global architecture that could help nations come together as partners to solve shared problems. Today I’d like to expand on this idea, but especially to explain how we are putting it into practice.
Now, architecture is the art and science of designing structures that serve our common purposes, built to last and to withstand stress. And that is what we seek to build; a network of alliances and partnerships, regional organizations and global institutions, that is durable and dynamic enough to help us meet today’s challenges and adapt to threats that we cannot even conceive of, just as our parents never dreamt of melting glaciers or dirty bombs.
We know this can be done, because President Obama’s predecessors in the White House and mine in the State Department did it before. After the Second World War, the nation that had built the transcontinental railroad, the assembly line, the skyscraper, turned its attention to constructing the pillars of global cooperation. The third World War that so many feared never came. And many millions of people were lifted out of poverty and exercised their human rights for the first time. Those were the benefits of a global architecture forged over many years by American leaders from both political parties.
But this architecture served a different time and a different world. As President Obama has said, today it “is buckling under the weight of new threats.” The major powers are at peace, but new actors – good and bad – are increasingly shaping international affairs. The challenges we face are more complex than ever, and so are the responses needed to meet them. That is why we are building a global architecture that reflects and harnesses the realities of the 21st century.
We know that alliances, partnerships, and institutions cannot and do not solve problems by themselves. Only people and nations solve problems. But an architecture can make it easier to act effectively by supporting the coalition-forging and compromise-building that is the daily fare of diplomacy. It can make it easier to identify common interests and convert them to common action. And it can help integrate emerging powers into an international community with clear obligations and expectations.
We have no illusions that these goals can be achieved overnight or that countries will suddenly cease to have divergent interests. We know that the test of our leadership is how we manage those differences and how we galvanize nations and peoples around their commonalities even when they do have diverse histories, unequal resources, and competing world-views. And we know that our approach to solving problems must vary from issue to issue and partner to partner. American leadership, therefore, must be as dynamic as the challenges we face.
But there are two constants of our leadership, which lie at the heart of the President’s National Security Strategy released in May, and which run through everything we do:
First, national renewal aimed at strengthening the sources of American power, especially our economic might and moral authority. This is about more than ensuring we have the resources we need to conduct foreign policy, although that is critically important. I remember when I was a young girl, I was stirred by President Eisenhower’s assertion that education would help us win the Cold War. I really took it to heart. I didn’t like mathematics, but I figured I had to study it for my country. (Laughter.) I also believed that we needed to invest in our people and their talents and in our infrastructure.
President Eisenhower was right. America’s greatness has always flowed in large part from the dynamism of our economy and the creativity of our people. Today, more than ever, our ability to exercise global leadership depends on building a strong foundation here at home. That’s why rising debt and crumbling infrastructure pose very real long-term national security threats. President Obama understands this. You can see it in the new economic initiatives that he announced this week and in his relentless focus on turning the economy around.
The second constant is international diplomacy – good, old-fashioned diplomacy – aimed at rallying nations to solve common problems and achieve shared aspirations. As Dean Acheson put it in 1951, “the ability to evoke support from others” is “quite as important as the capacity to compel.” To this end, we have repaired old alliances and forged new partnerships. We have strengthened institutions that provide incentives for cooperation, disincentives for sitting on the sidelines, and defenses against those who would undermine global progress. And we’ve championed the values that are at the core of the American character.
Now there should be no mistake. Of course, this Administration is also committed to maintaining the greatest military in the history of the world and, if needed, to vigorously defend ourselves and our friends.
After more than a year and a half, we have begun to see the dividends of this strategy. We are advancing America’s interests and making progress on some of our most pressing challenges. Today, we can say with confidence that this model of American leadership, which brings every tool at our disposal to be put to work on behalf of our national interest works, and that it offers the best hope in a dangerous world. I’d like to outline several steps we’re taking with respect to implementing this strategy.
First, we have turned to our closest allies, the nations that share our most fundamental values and interests, and our commitment to solving common problems. From Europe and North America to East Asia and the Pacific, we are renewing and deepening the alliances that are the cornerstone of global security and prosperity.
And let me say a few words in particular about Europe. In November, I was privileged to help mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which closed the door on Europe’s broken past. And this summer in Poland, we marked the 10th anniversary of the Community of Democracies, which looks ahead to a brighter tomorrow. At both events, I was reminded of how far we have come together. What strength we draw from the common wellspring of our values and aspirations. The bonds between Europe and America were forged through war and watchful peace, but they are rooted in our shared commitment to freedom, democracy and human dignity. Today, we are working with our allies there on nearly every global challenge. President Obama and I have reached out to strengthen both our bilateral and multilateral ties in Europe.
And the post-Lisbon EU is developing an expanded global role, and our relationship is growing and changing as a result. Now, there will be some challenges as we adjust to influential new players such as the EU Parliament, but these are debates among friends that will always be secondary to the fundamental interests and values we share. And there is no doubt that a stronger EU is good for America and good for the world.
And of course, NATO remains the world’s most successful alliance. Together with our allies, including new NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe, we are crafting a new Strategic Concept that will help us meet not only traditional threats, but also emerging ones like cyber security and nuclear proliferation. Just yesterday, President Obama and I discussed these issues with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen.
After the United States was attacked on 9/11, our allies invoked Article V of the NATO charter for the first time. They joined us in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban. And after President Obama refocused the mission in Afghanistan, they contributed thousands of new troops and significant technical assistance. We honor the sacrifices our allies continue to make, and recognize that we are always strongest when we work together.
A core principle of all our alliances is shared responsibility. Each nation must step up to do its part. An American leadership does not mean we do everything ourselves. We contribute our share, often the largest share, but we also have high expectations of the governments and peoples we work with.
Helping other nations develop that capacity to solve their own problems – and participate in solving other shared problems – has long been a hallmark of American leadership. Our contributions are well-known to the reconstruction of Europe, to the transformation of Japan and Germany. We moved them from aggressors to allies, to the growth of South Korea into a vibrant democracy that now contributes to global progress. These are among some of American foreign policy’s proudest achievements.
In this interconnected age, America’s security and prosperity depend more than ever on the ability of others to take responsibility for defusing threats and meeting challenges in their own countries and regions.
That’s why a second step in our strategy for global leadership is to help develop the capacity of developing partners. To help countries obtain the tools and support they need to solve their own problems. To help people lift themselves, their families, and their societies out of poverty, away from extremism and towards sustainable progress.
We in the Obama Administration view development as a strategic, economic, and moral imperative. It is central to advancing American interests – as central as diplomacy and defense. Our approach is not, however, development for development’s sake; it is an integrated strategy for solving problems.
Look at the work to build institutions and spur economic development in the Palestinian territories, something that Jim Wolfensohn knows firsthand. The United States invests hundreds of millions of dollars to build Palestinian capacity because we know that progress on the ground improves security and helps lay the foundation for a future Palestinian state. And it creates more favorable conditions for negotiations. The confidence that the new Palestinian security force has displayed has affected the calculus of Israeli leadership, and the United States was behind building that security force along with other partners like Jordan. But the principal responsibility rests on the decisions made by the Palestinian Authority themselves. So with our help and their courage and commitment, we see progress that influences negotiations and holds out a greater promise for an eventual agreement.
Now, this is the right thing to do, of course. We agree with that. But make no mistake, it is rooted in our understanding that when all people are given more tools of opportunity, they are more willing to actually take risks for peace. And that’s particularly true when it comes to women. You knew I would not get through this speech without mentioning women and women’s rights. We believe strongly that investing in opportunities for women drives social and economic progress that benefits not only their families and societies, but has a rebound effect that benefits others, including us as well.
Similarly, investments in countries like Bangladesh and Ghana bet on a future that they will join with neighbors and others in not only solving their own rather difficult challenges of poverty, but then helping to be bulwarks that send a different message to their regions. We take into account also the countries that are growing rapidly and already exercising influence, countries like China and India, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, as well as Russia.
Our third major step, therefore, has been to deepen engagement with these emerging centers of influence. We and our allies, indeed, people everywhere have a stake and they’re playing constructive, regional, and global roles. Because being a 21st century power means having to accept a share of the burden of solving common problems, and of abiding by a set of the rules of the road, so to speak, on everything from intellectual property rights to fundamental freedoms.
So through expanded bilateral consultation and within the context of regional and global institutions, we do expect these countries to begin to assume greater responsibility. For example, in our most recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue in China, for the first time, development was on the agenda, something that the Chinese are doing in conjunction with their commercial interests, but which we wanted to begin to talk about so that we could better cooperate and we could perhaps share lessons learned about how best to pursue development. In one country in Africa, we’re building a hospital, the Chinese are building a road; we thought it was a good idea that the road would actually go to the hospital. It’s that kind of discussion that we think can make a difference for the people that we are both engaged with.
India, the world’s largest democracy, has a very large convergence of fundamental values and a broad range of both national and regional interests. And we are laying the foundation for an indispensible partnership. President Obama will use his visit in November to take our relationship to the next level.
With Russia, when we took office, it was amid cooling to cold relations and a return to Cold War suspicion. Now, this may have invigorated spy novelists and armchair strategists, but anyone serious about solving global problems such as nuclear proliferation knew that without Russia and the United States working together, little would be achieved. So we refocused the relationship. We offered a relationship based on not only mutual respect, but also mutual responsibility.
And in the course of the last 18 months, we have a historic new arms reduction treaty, which the Senate will take up next week; cooperation with China and the UN Security Council on tough new sanctions against both Iran and North Korea; a transit agreement to support our efforts in Afghanistan; a new bilateral presidential commission and civil society exchange that are forging closer people-to-people ties; and, of course, as we were reminded this past summer, the spy novelists still have plenty to write about, so it’s kind of a win-win. (Laughter.)
Now, working with these emerging powers is not always smooth or easy. Disagreements are inevitable. And on certain issues such as human rights with China or Russian occupation of Georgia, we simply do not see eye to eye, and the United States will not hesitate to speak out and stand our ground. When these nations do not accept the responsibility that accrues with expanding influence, we will do all that we can to encourage them to change course while we will press ahead with other partners. But we know it will be difficult, if not impossible, to forge the kind of future that we expect in the 21st century without enhanced comprehensive cooperation.
So our goal is to establish productive relationships that survive the times when we do not agree and that enable us to continue to work together. And a central element of that is to engage directly with the people of these nations. Technology and the speed of communication, along with the spread of democracy, at least in technology, has empowered people to speak up and demand a say in their own futures. Public opinions and passions matter even in authoritarian states. So in nearly every country I visit, I don’t just meet with government officials. In Russia, I did an interview on one of the few remaining independent radio stations. In Saudi Arabia, I held a town hall at a women’s college. In Pakistan, I answered questions from every journalist, student, and business leader we could find.
While we expand our relationships, therefore, with the emerging centers of influence, we are working to engage them with their own publics. Time and time again, I hear, as I do interviews from Indonesia to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Brazil, how novel it seems to people that an official would come and take questions from the public. So we’re not only engaging the public and expanding and explaining America’s values and views; we’re also sending a message to those leaders. And as we do so, we are making it clear that we expect more from them and that we do want the kind of challenges that we face to be addressed in a regional context.
Think about the complex dynamics around violent extremism both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and emerging out of those two countries to the rest of the world, or the process of reintegrating Iraq into its neighborhood, which is a very tough neighborhood indeed. Regional dynamics will not remain static. And there are a lot of other players who are working day and night to influence the outcomes of those particular situations.
And we know too that other emerging powers like China and Brazil have their own notions about what the right outcome would be or what regional institutions should look like, and they are busy pursuing them. So our friends, our allies, and people around the world who share our values depend on us to remain robustly engaged. So the fourth step in our strategy has been to reinvigorate America’s commitment to be an active transatlantic, transpacific, and hemispheric leader.
In a series of speeches and ongoing consultations with our partners, we’ve laid out core principles for regional cooperation and we’ve worked to strengthen institutions to adapt to these new circumstances.
Look at the Asia-Pacific region. When we took office, there was a perception, fair or not, that America was absent. So we made it clear from the beginning that we were back. We reaffirmed our bonds with close allies like South Korea, Japan, Australia, and we deepened our engagement with China and India.
Now, the Asia-Pacific currently has few robust institutions to foster effective cooperation and reduce the friction of competition, so we began building a more coherent regional architecture with the United States deeply involved.
On the economic front, we’ve expanded our relationship with APEC, which includes four of America’s top trading partners and receives 60 percent of our exports. We want to realize the benefits from greater economic integration. In order to do that, we have to be willing to play. To this end, we are working to ratify a free trade agreement with South Korea, we’re pursuing a regional agreement with the nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and we know that that will help create new jobs and opportunities here at home.
We’ve also decided to engage with the East Asia Summit, encouraging its development into a foundational security and political institution. I will be representing the United States at this year’s East Asia Summit in Hanoi, leading up to presidential participation in 2011.
And in Southeast Asia, ASEAN actually encompasses more than 600 million people in its member nations. There is more U.S. business investment in the ASEAN nations than in China. So we have bolstered our relationship by signing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, announcing our intention to open a mission and name an ambassador to ASEAN in Jakarta, and a commitment to holding annual U.S.-ASEAN summits.
Because we know the Asia-Pacific region will grow in importance and developing these institutions will establish habits of cooperation that will be vital to stability and prosperity.
Now, effective institutions are just as crucial at the global level. So our fifth step has been to reengage with the global institutions and to work to modernize them to meet the evolving challenges we face. We obviously need institutions that are flexible, inclusive, complementary, instead of just competing with each other over turf and jurisdiction. We need them to play productive roles that marshal our common efforts and enforce the system of rights and responsibilities.
Now, the UN remains the single most important global institution. We are constantly reminded of its value: the Security Council enacting sanctions against Iran and North Korea; peacekeepers patrolling the streets of Monrovia and Port-au-Prince; aid workers assisting flood victims in Pakistan and displaced people in Darfur; and, most recently, the UN General Assembly establishing a new entity called UN Women, which will promote gender equality and expand opportunity for women and girls, and tackle the violence and discrimination they face.
But we are also constantly reminded of its limitations. It is difficult, as many of you in this audience know, for the UN’s 192 member-states to achieve consensus on institutional reform, including and especially reforming the Security Council. We believe the United States has to play a role in reforming the UN, and we favor Security Council reform that enhances the UN’s overall performance and effectiveness and efficiency. And we equally and strongly support operational reforms that enable UN field missions to deploy more rapidly, with adequate numbers of well-equipped and well-trained troops and police, and with the quality of leadership and civilian expertise they require. We will not only embrace but we will advocate management reforms and savings that prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
Now, the UN was never intended to tackle every challenge, nor should it. So we are working with other organizations. To respond to the global financial crisis, we elevated the G-20. We convened the first-ever Nuclear Security Summit. New or old, the effectiveness of institutions depends on the commitment of their members. And we have seen a level of commitment to these enterprises that we will continue to nurture.
Now, our efforts on climate change – and I see our special envoy, Todd Stern, here – offer an example of how we are working through multiple venues and mechanisms. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process allows all of us – developed and developing, north, south, east, and west – to work within a single venue to meet this shared challenge.
But we also launched the Major Economies Forum to focus on the biggest emitters, including ourselves. And when negotiations in Copenhagen reached an impasse, President Obama and I went into a meeting with China, India, South Africa, and Brazil to try to forge a compromise. And then with our colleagues from Europe and elsewhere, we fashioned a deal that, while far from perfect, saved the summit from failure and represents progress we can build on. Because for the first time, all major economies made national commitments to curb carbon emissions and report with transparency on their mitigation efforts.
So we know that there’s a lot to be done on substantive issues, and there must continue to be an emphasis on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, so that they are cemented into the foundations of these institutions.
This is something that I take very seriously, because there’s no point in trying to build institutions for the 21st century that don’t act to counter repression and resist pressure on human rights, that extend fundamental freedoms over time to places where they have too long been denied.
And that is our sixth major step. We are upholding and defending the universal values that are enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Because today, everywhere, these principles are under threat. In too many places, new democracies are struggling to grow strong roots. Authoritarian regimes are cracking down on civil society and pluralism. Some leaders see democracy as an inconvenience that gets in the way of the efficient exercise of national power.
So this world view must be confronted and challenged everywhere. Democracy needs defending. The struggle to make human rights a human reality needs champions.
And this work starts at home, where we have rejected the false choice between our security and our values. It continues around the world, where human rights are always on our diplomatic and development agendas, even with nations on whose cooperation we depend for a wide range of issues, such as Egypt, China, and Russia. We’re committed to defending these values on the digital frontiers of the 21st century. A lot has been said about our 21st century statecraft and our e-diplomacy, but we really believe that it’s an important additional tool for us to utilize.
And in Krakow this summer, I announced the creation of a new fund to support civil society and embattled NGOs around the world, a continuing focus of U.S. policy.
Now, how do all of these steps – deepening relations with allies and emerging powers, strengthening institutions and shared values – work together to advance our interests? Well, one need only look at the effort we’ve taken this past year to stop Iran’s provocative nuclear activities and its serial noncompliance with its international obligations. Now, there is a still a lot of work to be done, but we are approaching the Iranian challenge as an example of American leadership in action.
First, we began by making the United States a full partner and active participant in international diplomatic efforts regarding Iran. We had been on the sidelines, and frankly, that was not a very satisfying place to be. Through our continued willingness to engage Iran directly, we have re-energized the conversation with our allies and are removing all of those excuses for lack of progress.
Second, we have sought to frame the issue within the global nonproliferation regime in which the rules of the road are clearly defined for all parties. To lead by example, we have renewed our own disarmament efforts. Our deepened support for global institutions such as the IAEA underscores the authority of the international system. And Iran, on the other hand, continues to single itself out through its own actions, drawing even criticism for its refusal to permit IAEA inspectors to visit from Russia and China in the last days. Its intransigence represents a challenge to the rules that all countries must adhere to.
And third, we have strengthened our relationship with those countries whose help we need if diplomacy is to be successful. Through classic shoe-leather diplomacy, we’ve built a broad consensus that will welcome Iran back into the community of nations if it meets its obligations and will likewise hold Iran accountable if it continues its defiance.
This spring, the UN Security Council passed the strongest and most comprehensive set of sanctions. The European Union then followed with robust implementation of that resolution. Many other nations are implementing their own additional measures, including Australia, Canada, Norway, and most recently, Japan. So we believe Iran is beginning to feel the impact of these sanctions. But beyond what governments are doing, the international financial and commercial sectors are also starting to recognize the risks of doing business with Iran.
Sanctions and pressures, however, are not ends in themselves. They are the building blocks of leverage for a negotiated solution, to which we and our partners remain committed. The choice for Iran’s leaders is clear, and they have to decide whether they accept their obligations or increasing isolation and the costs that come with it, and we will see how Iran decides.
Now, our task going forward is to continue to develop this approach, to develop the tools that we need, and we have to strengthen civilian power. Now, when I was here last year, we were just at the beginning of making the case to Congress that we had to have more diplomats and more development experts. We had to have greater Foreign Service and Civil Service personnel. Congress has already then appropriated funds for more than 1,100 new Foreign and Civil Service officers. USAID has begun a series of reforms aimed at reestablishing it as the world’s premier development agency. Across the board, we need to rethink, reform, and recalibrate. And in a time of tight budgets, we not only have to assure our resources are spent wisely; we have to make the case to the American taxpayer and the members of Congress that this is an important investment. That’s why I launched the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. We call it the QDDR, a wholesale review of State and USAID to recommend how we can better equip, fund, and organize ourselves. I’ll be talking more about that in the coming weeks as this review is completed and published.
But we recognize the scope of the efforts we’ve undertaken. I had a lot of wonderful advice from my predecessors. And one of the most common pieces of advice was: You can either try to manage the building or manage the world; you can’t try to do both. (Laughter.) We are trying to do both, which is an impossible task to start with.
But we’re not trying to do it alone. We are forging a closer partnership with the Defense Department. Bob Gates has been one of the strongest advocates of the position that we are taking, that I am expressing today. He constantly is encouraging the Congress to give us the funds that we asked for. But there’s a legitimate question, and some of you have raised it, I know in print and elsewhere: How can you try to manage or at least address and even try to solve all of these problems?
But our response in this day where there is nothing that doesn’t come to the forefront of public awareness: What do we give up on? What do we put on the backburner? Do we sideline development? Do we put some hot conflicts on hold? Do we quit trying to prevent other conflicts from unfreezing and heating up? Do we give up on democracy and human rights? I don’t think that’s what is either possible or desirable. And it is not what Americans do. But it does require a lot of strategic patience.
When our troops come home, as they are from Iraq and eventually from Afghanistan, we’ll still be involved in diplomatic and development efforts, trying to rid the world of nuclear dangers and turn back climate change, end poverty, quell the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, tackle hunger and disease. That’s the work not of a year or even of a presidency, but of a lifetime. And it is the work of generations.
America has made generational commitments to building the kind of world that we wanted to inhabit for many decades now. We cannot turn away from that responsibility. We are a nation that has always believed we have the power to shape our own destiny and to cut a new and better path, and frankly, to bring along people who were likeminded from around the world. So we will continue to do everything we can to exercise the best traditions of American leadership at home and abroad, to build that more peaceful and prosperous future for our children and for children everywhere.
Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. HAASS: Well, thank you. And I will ask a slightly longer first question than I normally would while you fumble with that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. (Laughter.) Very kind of you.
MR. HAASS: The old stall tactic, filibuster, and you may recall that from a previous life.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I do, but I never knew it would be so common. (Laughter.)
MR. HAASS: Yes, it’s – Council on Foreign Relations, we’re trying to keep up. We’re trying to keep up. Touché.
Let me start where – you okay?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
MR. HAASS: Let me start where you began – where you ended rather – which was with all these things we want to do, and you called for strategic patience in Afghanistan and so forth. Yet the United States is soon approaching a point where the scale or size of our debt will exceed our GDP. It’s a question of when more than if. Where does national security contribute to the solution to running deficits of $1.5 trillion a year, or do we continue to carry out a foreign and defense policy as if we were not seriously resource constrained?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Richard, first, as I said, I think that our rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interests and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally. I mean, it is very troubling to me that we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny, but to have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years.
So I don’t think we have a choice. It’s a question of how we decide to deal with this debt and deficit. I mean, it is – we don’t need to go back and sort of re-litigate how we got to where we are. But it is fair to say that we fought two wars without paying for them and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either, and that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility.
So the challenge is how we get out of it by making the right decisions, not the wrong decisions. There’s a lot of wrong things we could do that would further undermine our strength. I mean, it is going to be very difficult for those decisions. And I know there’s an election going on and I know that I am, by law, out of politics, but I will say that this is not just a decision for the Congress; it’s a decision for the country. And it’s not a Republican or a Democratic decision. And there are a lot of people who know more about what needs to be done and who, frankly, have a responsible view, whose voices are not being heard right now, and I think that is a great disservice to our nation. Whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative, a progressive, whatever you call yourself, there is no free lunch and we cannot pretend that there is without doing grave harm to our country and our future generations.
So when you specifically say, well, what about diplomacy, development and defense, we will have to take our share of the burden of meeting the fiscal targets that can drag us out of this deep hole we’re in, but we’ve got to be smart about it. And I think from both my perspective and Bob Gates’s perspective, and we talked about this a lot, Bob has made some very important recommendations that are not politically popular, but which come with a very well thought out policy. And what I’ve tried to do is to say, “Look, we’re going to try to be smarter, more effective.” In our QDDR, we’re recommending changes in personnel policies, in all kinds of approaches that will better utilize what we have. But we needed to get a little more robust in order to catch up to our responsibilities.
A quick final point on that. When our combat troops move out of Iraq, as they’ve been, that will save about $15 billion. That’s a net win for our Treasury, and it’s the policy that we have committed to along with the Iraqis. The Congress cuts my budget of the State Department and USAID for trying to pick up the pieces that we’re left with. We now have the responsibility for the police training mission, for opening up consulates that have to be secure. So even though our troops are coming down and we’re saving money, and what we’re asking for is considerably less than the $15 billion that we are saving by having the troops leave, the Congress cuts us.
And so we have to get a more sensible, comprehensive approach. And Bob and I have talked about trying to figure out how to present a national security budget. It’s a mistake to look at all of these items – foreign aid, diplomatic operations, defense – as stovepipes. Because what we know, especially from the threats that we have faced in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, is you have to be more integrated. So let’s start thinking from a budget perspective about how to be more integrated.
So there’s a lot that we can do on our side to help. But the bottom line is that the public and the Congress and the Administration have to make some very tough decisions, and I hope we make the right decisions.
MR. HAASS: Let me just follow up on that because you broached the political issue, and let me do it in the following way. I don’t have a crystal ball any better than anyone else’s, but let’s assume some of the pundits are essentially right and Republicans pick up quite a few seats in the House – whether they have control or not, who knows, they pick up a few seats in the Senate – so government is more divided come the new Congress when it takes office early next year. What does that mean for you? What are the opportunities? What are the problems in that for being Secretary of State?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I won’t answer that as a political question because I don’t want to cross my line here. But I will say that I have found a lot of support for what we’re trying to do on both sides of the aisle in both houses, and I think we will continue to have that. And I’m hoping that we can maybe reestablish something of a détente when it comes to foreign policy that cuts across any partisan divide.
Like, take the START treaty; we have unanimous support for that. Our two chief negotiators, Rose Gottemoeller, our Assistant Secretary, and Ellen Tauscher, our Under Secretary, are here and they did a terrific job. And we’ve had a very positive endorsement of it by former secretaries of State and Defense, of both parties, the Joint Chiefs have come out, everybody’s come out for it. And it’s a political issue. I wish it weren’t because most of these treaties pass 95 to nothing, 90 to 3. They have huge overwhelming majorities in the Senate.
But we know that we have political issues that we have to address, which we are, and talking to those who have some questions. But I hope at the end of the day, the Senate will say, “Something should just be beyond any kind of election or partisan calculation,” and that everybody will pull together and will get that START treaty done, which I know, from my own conversations with Eastern and Central Europeans and others, is seen as a really important symbol of our commitment to continue working with the Russians.
MR. HAASS: Let’s ask one last question, then I’ll open it up to our members. You’re about, as you said, to head back to the Middle East for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian talks. The op-ed pages have been filled. I would say a majority of the pieces have been quite pessimistic. Why are the pessimists wrong? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think they’re wrong because I think that both sides and both leaders recognize that there may not ever be another chance. I think for most Israeli leaders that I have known and worked with and especially those coming from sort of the right of Israeli politics, which the prime minister does, it’s like Mario Cuomo’s famous line: “They campaign in poetry and they govern in prose.” And the prose is really challenging.
You look at where Israel is and the threats it faces demographically, technologically, ideologically, and the idea of striking a peace deal with a secular Palestinian Authority that is committed to its own people’s economic future makes a lot of sense if it can be worked out. From Abbas, he was probably the earliest and at times the only Palestinian leader who called for a two-state solution going back probably 20, 30 years, and for him, this is the culmination of a life’s commitment.
And I think that the Arab League Initiative, the peace initiative, put the Arab – most Arab and Muslim countries on record as saying that they could live with and welcome a two-state solution. Fifty-seven countries, including some we know didn’t mean it, but most have followed through in commitments to it, has changed the atmosphere. So I know how difficult it is, and I know the internal domestic political considerations that each leader has to contend with, but I think there is a certain momentum. We have some challenges in the early going that we have to get over, but I think that we have a real shot here.
MR. HAASS: So I’ll open it up and what I’ll ask is people to identify themselves, wait for a microphone, and please limit yourself to one question and be as short as you can. Sir, I don’t know your name, but just – pick up.
QUESTION: How are you, Secretary Clinton? My name is Travis Atkins. I’m an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations focusing on Sudan this year. And my question is if – you mentioned Darfur once in your talk – if you could elaborate a little bit on our ramped up efforts in Sudan as we head towards the referendum there in January.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. Thanks for asking and thanks for your work on Sudan. We have a very difficult set of challenges in Sudan. Some of you in this audience, those of you who were in government before like John Negroponte and others, you know this firsthand – the situation in Darfur is dangerous, difficult, not stable.
But the situation North-South is a ticking time bomb of enormous consequence. So we are ramping up our efforts to bring the parties together, North and South, the African Union, others to focus on this referendum which has not been given the attention it needs, both because the South is not quite capable of summoning the resources to do it, and the North has been preoccupied and is not inclined to do it because it’s pretty clear what the outcome will be. The African Union committee under Thabo Mbeki has been working on it.
So we are upping our diplomatic and development efforts. We have increased our presence in Juba, we have sent a – we’ve opened a – kind of a consulate and sent a consul general there, we are – Princeton Lyman, whom some of you know, is – sort of signed on to help as well with Scott Gration and his team.
MR. HAASS: Until last week, a senior fellow here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right, and Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson. It’s really all hands on deck, so that we’re trying to convince the North and South and all the other interested parties who care about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to weighing in to getting this done. The timeframe is very short. Pulling together this referendum is going to be difficult. We’re going to need a lot of help from NGOs, the Carter Center, and others who are willing to help implement the referendum.
But the real problem is what happens when the inevitable happens and the referendum is passed and the South declares independence. So simultaneously, we’re trying to begin negotiations to work out some of those intractable problems. What happens to the oil revenues? And if you’re in the North and all of a sudden, you think a line’s going to be drawn and you’re going to lose 80 percent of the oil revenues, you’re not a very enthusiastic participant, what are the deals that can possibly be made that will limit the potential of violence? And even if we did everything perfectly and everyone else – the Norwegians, the Brits, everybody who is weighing in on this – did all that they could, the reality is that this is going to be a very hard decision for the North to accept.
And so we’ve got to figure out some ways to make it worth their while to peacefully accept an independent South and for the South to recognize that unless they want more years of warfare and no chance to build their own new state, they’ve got to make some accommodations with the North as well. So that’s what we’re looking for. If you have any ideas from your study, let us know. (Laughter.)
MR. HAASS: We’ll turn to Carla Hills.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, first of all, thank you for a really far-ranging, extraordinarily interesting talk. You mentioned strategies that are regional, and I’d like you to just say a word more about this hemisphere. You gave a wonderful speech at the border of Mexico where you asserted that we had responsibility for the drugs coming north and the guns going south. Talk a little bit about how we are implementing strategies to turn that around and also to gain friendships that would be helpful throughout Latin America.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Carla, thank you for asking about this hemisphere, because it is very much on our minds and we face an increasing threat from a well-organized network drug trafficking threat that is, in some cases, morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America.
And we are working very hard to assist the Mexicans in improving their law enforcement and their intelligence, their capacity to detain and prosecute those whom they arrest. I give President Calderon very high marks for his courage and his commitment. This is a really tough challenge. And these drug cartels are now showing more and more indices of insurgency; all of a sudden, car bombs show up which weren’t there before.
So it’s becoming – it’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago, where the narco-traffickers control certain parts of the country, not significant parts. And Colombia – it got to the point where more than a third of the country, nearly 40 percent of the country at one time or another was controlled by the insurgents, by FARC. But it’s going to take a combination of improved institutional capacity and better law enforcement and, where appropriate, military support for that law enforcement married to political will to be able to prevent this from spreading and to try to beat it back.
Mexico has capacity and they’re using that capacity, and they’ve been very willing to take advice. They’re wanting to do as much of it on their own as possible, but we stand ready to help them. But the small countries in Central America do not have that capacity, and the newly inaugurated president of Costa Rica, President Chinchilla, said, “We need help and we need a much more vigorous U.S. presence.”
So we are working to try to enhance what we have in Central America. We hear the same thing from our Caribbean friends, so we have an initiative, the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. And our relationship is not all about drugs and violence and crime, but unfortunately, that often gets the headlines. We are also working on more economic programs, we’re working on Millennium Challenge grants, we’re working on a lot of other ways of bolstering economies and governments to improve rule of law. But this is on the top of everyone’s minds when they come to speak with us.
And I know that Plan Colombia was controversial. I was just in Colombia and there were problems and there were mistakes, but it worked. And it was bipartisan, started in the Clinton Administration, continued in the Bush Administration, and I think President Santos will try to do everything he can to remedy the problems of the past while continuing to make progress against the insurgency. And we need to figure out what are the equivalents for Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
And that’s not easy because these – you put your finger on it. Those drugs come up through Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, through Central America, Southern Mexico to the border, and we consume them. And those guns, legal and illegal, keep flooding along with all of the mayhem. It’s not only guns; it’s weapons, it’s arsenals of all kinds that come south. So I feel a real sense of responsibility to do everything we can, and again, we’re working hard to come up with approaches that will actually deliver.
MR. HAASS: Speaking of guns, I’m going to be shot if I don’t ask a question that comes from one of our national members, and thanks to the iPad I have on my lap, I can ask it. Several have written in about the impact of the mosque debate in New York, about the threat to burn Qu’rans. How do – what’s your view on all this from the Department of State? How does this complicate your life? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, we’re a country of what, 310 million-plus right now and – I mean, it’s regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get the world’s attention, but that’s the world we live in right now. I mean, it doesn’t, in any way, represent America or Americans or American Government or American religious or political leadership. And we are, as you’ve seen in the last few days, speaking out. General Petraeus made the very powerful point that as seemingly small a group of people doing this, the fact is that it will have potentially great harm for our troops. So we are hoping that the pastor decides not to do this. We’re hoping against hope that if he does, it won’t be covered — (laughter) –
MR. HAASS: Bonne chance.
SECRETARY CLINTON: — as an act of patriotism. But I think that it’s unfortunate. I mean, it’s not who we are, and we just have to constantly be demonstrating by our words and actions. And as I remind my friends around the world, in the environment in which we all now operate, anybody with an iPhone, anybody with a blog, can put something out there which is outrageous. I mean, we went through the cartoon controversy. We went through the Facebook controversy in Pakistan. Judith McHale, who is our Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, is on the front lines of pushing back on all of this all the time. And so we want to be judged by who we are as a nation, not by something that is so aberrational. And we’ll make that case as strongly as possible.
MR. HAASS: Time for one more?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sure.
MR. HAASS: Okay, let me first of all apologize for the 283 of you who’s questions will not – (laughter) – get answered. And let me also say that after the Secretary completes her next answer, if people would just remain seated while we get you out quickly and safely.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Safely? Do you think they’re going to storm the stage? (Laughter.)
MR. HAASS: This is the –
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know. I’m looking at this audience. There’s a – (laughter) – a few people I think that might. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thanks, Richard. Barbara Slavin, an independent journalist. Madam Secretary, it’s a pleasure and I appreciate the responsibility on my shoulders. I have two very quick ones.
MR. HAASS: (Off mike.)
QUESTION: Very easy ones.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Is it the role of the United States to support the Green Movement, the opposition in Iran? And if so, how should we be doing that?
And secondly, you’ve hardly mentioned North Korea. Is U.S. policy now just to let North Korea stew in its own juices until the next Kim takes over? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to the first question, it is definitely our policy to support freedom and human rights inside Iran, and we have done so by speaking out. We have done so by trying to equip Iranians with the tools, particularly the technology tools that they need, to be able to communicate with each other to make their views known. We have strongly condemned the actions of the Iranian Government and continue to do so.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that Iran is morphing into a military dictatorship with a sort of religious, ideological veneer. It is becoming the province of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and in concert with some of the clerical and political leadership. And I don’t think that’s what the Iranian Revolution for a Republic of Iran, an Islamic Republic of Iran was ever meant to become.
So I know there’s a great deal of ferment and activities inside Iran that we do try to support. At the same time, we don’t want to either endanger or undermine those very same people so that it becomes, once again, the U.S. doing something instead of the U.S. being supportive of what indigenous efforts are taking place.
We know that Iran is under tremendous pressure. Early returns from implementation of the sanctions are that they’re feeling the economic effects. We would hope that that would lead them to reconsider their positions, not only with respect to nuclear weapons, but, frankly, the export of terrorism. And it’s not only in the obvious places with Hezbollah and Hamas, but in trying to destabilize many countries in the region and beyond, where they have provided support and funding for terrorist activities as far away as Argentina.
So I think there is a very, very sad confluence of events occurring inside Iran that I think eventually – but I can’t put a time frame on it – the Iranian people themselves will respond to. And we want to be helpful, but we don’t want to get in the way of it. So that’s the balance that we try to strike.
Now, with respect to North Korea, we are continuing to send a very clear message to North Korea about what we expect and what the Six-Party process could offer if they are willing to return and discuss seriously denuclearization that is irreversible. We are in intense discussions about this with all the other Six-Party members and we’re watching the leadership process and don’t have any idea yet how it’s going to turn out. But the most important issue for us is trying to get our Six-Party friends, led by China, to work with us to try to convince whosever in leadership in North Korea that their future would be far better served by denuclearizing. And that remains our goal.
MR. HAASS: As always, thank you so much for coming here, first of all, but also giving such a thorough and complete and serious and comprehensive talk about American foreign policy. And I know I speak for everyone that we wish you Godspeed and more in your work next week and beyond. Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks, Richard.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I would ask them, please, to recognize that President Obama is very committed and very sincere about working together with President Medvedev and with Russia. Obviously, this is challenging for many reasons, but I think the 68 percent who answered yes understand that Russia and the United States have so much in common that we need to be working more closely together. And we have an opportunity with our two presidents to really forge a new relationship, and that’s what we’re working for.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I often meet with several officials in the countries where I go. It’s usual that I would meet with a foreign minister and a president or a prime minister for three reasons – first, to convey the continuing commitment that President Obama and I and others feel to the highest levels of government in a country. Second, to go into more depth with all officials about exactly what we are working on together. And thirdly, even though we’re living in an age where people communicate over the electronic media or the internet, nothing substitutes for building personal relationships.
And at the end, the President sets the policy. I carry out President Obama’s policy. Minister Lavrov carries out his president’s policy. So making sure that we’re all communicating is very important.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I thought it was a very successful meeting. I don’t want to give grades because that’s not my business, but I am very satisfied by the meeting. It was open. I find both in the meetings that I’ve attended in London and in New York with President Obama and President Medvedev that he is very engaged, he is very knowledgeable. There is not a subject you can raise that he does not respond and know what he wants to express.
The two presidents have very good personal chemistry. I think they trust each other. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to agree. I mean, you don’t agree in a family on everything. But it does mean that there is an atmosphere of goodwill and of a positive sense that we can do things together that maybe in the past were not possible.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would have enjoyed meeting with Prime Minister Putin, and we certainly had intended to do so, but our schedules didn’t work out. So I’m looking forward to seeing him on a future occasion.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Look, I believe in a world in which our interdependence and our interconnectedness is recognized. And we’re not living in a bipolar world; we’re not even living in a multi-polar world. We’re living in a world of interdependence and we need multiple partners. I like to think of it as a multi-partner networked world.
So it is far better to have two great countries like China and Russia cooperating commercially, looking for ways to support the economic growth and prosperity of their respective peoples. I think that’s to the good not only of China and Russia, but to the world as a whole. The United States is not threatened or worried by relationships between other countries. We just want to be sure that there’s a sense of equity and parity in this partnership world that we’re developing, because we have so many difficult challenges.
And it is imperative for countries like Russia, the United States, and China to lead against the forces of disintegration and destruction so that we can stand united against those who would undermine the opportunities that we are seeking to promote.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I do, and we have evidence of that. During the United Nations General Assembly, I attended a meeting with Minister Lavrov, Minister Yang from China, as long – as well as our other counterparts. We agreed to a very strong statement that basically told Iran that the international community expects Iran to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities. And in it, we said we want to pursue engagement and diplomacy, but it might not work. It is our preference, but as President Medvedev said, sometimes sanctions and pressure are inevitable. So we are pursuing that.
And then at the October 1st meeting in Geneva, among the P-5+1, very important steps were agreed to. Number one, Iran agreed to open its covert facility to inspection. Number two, they agreed in principle to ship out their low-enriched uranium, actually to Russia, to be reprocessed. Number three, that there would be another meeting shortly after to continue this important dialogue. So I think that we’ve come a long way in the last six months.
Now how we get to where we’re going, which is the goal of preventing Iran from being a nuclear weapons power – they are entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but they are not entitled to nuclear weapons. And so we have to continue to work closely together, and we are. And President Medvedev reaffirmed that yesterday.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: What we are doing is negotiating a new START agreement to reduce our nuclear arsenals. As part of that agreement, we do want a system of verification, and verification would include visits by our respective experts to one another’s facilities. Again, we are open to this. We want to make sure that Russia knows that we are complying with the agreement and, as we say, vice versa; we want to have that level of verification. So that’s part of what’s being negotiated. We hope to have this agreement done by its deadline of December 5th.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s our goal, because the current agreement, the current START agreement expires December 5th. So we want to have a new agreement to be able to replace it.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do, and I was very encouraged. President Medvedev said let’s get it done. In fact, he said our negotiators should go to Geneva and they should be locked in a room until they finish negotiating and come out with the agreement. And we said okay, we’ll tell them to pack a big suitcase.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, they should come out with an agreement so that we can begin the important business of reducing our nuclear arsenals.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t really respond because I don’t know what he has said. But of course, President Obama is committed to taking steps that would move our world toward a world without nuclear weapons. Now, we know that’s not going to happen in the near future, but it is really important for Russia and the United States to lead.
Russia and the United States have not only the largest arsenals in the world, but we have been the stewards of nuclear weapons. Other countries may have them, but people look to us to set the tone and to provide the leadership. So I’m hoping that our efforts on nonproliferation, which we’ve agreed to pursue together – President Medvedev will be at the summit that President Obama is holding in April in Washington on nuclear security – we’ve agreed to work together to try to round up any vulnerable material so it won’t end up in the wrong hands. I think our cooperation is getting deeper and broader all the time, and I think that’s important.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no decisions have been made, and what ideally we would like to do is to cooperate jointly with Russia on missile defense. You see, we believe that the threats in the future come from countries and terrorists who are not responsible stewards of the enormous power of destruction that nuclear weapons represent. They may not even be deterrable.
Remember, during the worst of the Cold War, the United States, and then, the Soviet Union, we never stopped talking about nuclear arms. We never stopped communicating. We might have gotten too close to the line, but we always pulled back. And we kept the world from suffering from such terrible weapons.
Missile defense is meant to protect people from the ambitions that some places like Iran may have or al-Qaida may have. So when we did a review of what the prior administration had decided about missile defense in Europe, we concluded it didn’t meet the threat that we were worried about. We do not believe Russia and the United States pose a threat to one another. What we believe is that these other actors pose threats to both of us.
So we have offered for the closest cooperation between the United States and Russia. We would be happy to be making these decisions jointly with Russia. So we haven’t made final decisions at all, but we’ve changed what we are doing because we think it is more reflective of the real threat we face.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I can’t speak to that. I think that’s really up to the technical experts. I don’t know.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and I have no reason to believe at all that anything would be deployed in Georgia. No, I have no reason to believe that, and that is, I know, a matter of great concern to the Russian Federation. But again, that’s why we would like to work with – we would like to eliminate the concerns. We would like to have a joint missile defense program to protect our people, your people, our European friends and allies, to put as broad a missile defense system so that we can guard against short and medium-range missile that might have nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: We talked about Georgia. Now we do have a difference there, and even though we are working hard to not just reset our relationship, but deepen our relationship, we will disagree about Georgia. Georgia is providing troops in Afghanistan. We are training Georgians to be able to go to Afghanistan. But we’re also making it very clear that we expect both the Georgians and the South Ossetians and the Abkhazians and everyone else to avoid provocative action, to deal with whatever problems they have through peaceful and diplomatic means.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Minister Lavrov did not ask me that question, but we will help the Georgian people to feel like they can defend themselves.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think he knew the answer. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all. Yesterday at Spaso House, I was honored to address a group of activists on behalf of civil society, democracy, anticorruption, human rights, and very clearly said the United States stands by our values. We support those who are struggling on behalf of the universal rights of men and women and who want to see their country improve and become even stronger and better. So we are very clearly committed to supporting people who are democracy advocates in every sense of the world.
We also believe that we can have a broader, more effective relationship, government-to-government, than perhaps the prior administration did, because we think we have a lot to work on together. We also think we need to do more people-to-people. I think that there are some misunderstandings that are sometimes held by the Russian people about what we are doing and why we are advocating for certain actions.
But I have no doubt in my mind that democracy is in Russia’s best interests, that respecting human rights, an independent judiciary, a free media are in the interests of building a strong, stable political system that provides a platform for broadly shared prosperity. We will continue to say that and we will continue to support those who also stand for those values.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I mentioned the names – I mentioned the killings of journalists, and I said that this is a matter of grave concern not just to the United States, but to the people of Russia, and not just to the activists, but to people who worry that unsolved killings are a very serious challenge to order and to the fair functioning of society, and that we did not believe that enough was being done to make sure that no one had impunity from prosecution who might have been involved in any such criminal acts.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think all of these issues of imprisonments, detentions, beatings, killings, it is something that is hurtful to see from the outside. I mean, every country has criminal elements, every country has people who try to abuse power. But in the last 18 months – well, and even going back further – there have been too many of these incidents. I met an activist yesterday at Spaso House who was badly beaten.
And I think people want their government to stand up and say this is wrong, and they’re going to try to prevent it and they’re going to make sure the people are brought to justice who are engaged in such behavior.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I hear Kazan is a beautiful place. And when I travel, I like to go places in addition to the big cities, the capitals. Of course, when I come to Moscow, I spend most of my time with officials, although I was able to go to the opera last night and I also was able to go to the Boeing design center and see Russian engineers working with American engineers.
But I also like to get out of the capital. I know in my own country, you get a better feel if you get out of Washington, D.C. for example. And what’s particularly attractive to me about Kazan is that you have a mosque and a Russian orthodox church side by side in the capital there. And the larger Tatarstan is predominantly Muslim, but people live very peacefully together, and in an interfaith way. So I wanted to come and see that for myself and I wanted to also have a chance to hear from them about how successful that has been.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, thank you for this opportunity to have this interview and speak directly to the Russian people, and particularly at a radio station that has been such a strong voice for positive change inside Russia. And I’m very excited about what we can do together. We have so much more in common than sometimes people give us credit for, but we do have to keep working to understand each other better and to find common ground, and I thank you for this opportunity to express myself to your listeners.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
QUESTION: On December 5, 2009 the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expired, but negotiations regarding a new one between Russia and the United States have so far failed. What are the major obstacles for the new treaty?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to complete this agreement soon. It’s a technically very complex treaty to accomplish. We share an interest in making real reductions in our strategic arsenals, and that is the most important point. To do that in a way that is verifiable, but which is less costly and less operationally complex than the previous START agreement is the key challenge, and we are working through it together.
QUESTION: Given that the Cold War is long gone, why it is imperative to have this treaty signed? What may happen if it does not go through?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As President Obama said in Prague, the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War. While the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. As more nations seek to acquire these weapons, the United States and Russia, as nuclear powers, have a special responsibility to lead in efforts toward a world without nuclear weapons. By taking concrete steps such as the new START Treaty, we can reduce our own stockpiles and encourage others to do the same. Presidents Obama and Medvedev have both recognized the importance of having a quality agreement that meets the needs and interests of both sides and I am confident that we will be able to get there together.
QUESTION: It seems that two presidents, the Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, and the U.S. President Barack Obama were quite optimistic about the new treaty throughout their meeting and telephone conversations last year. However, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on December 29th expressed certain concerns about U.S. «aggressiveness» and disruption of the nuclear balance. He suggested linking the U.S. missile defense system in Europe to the treaty in question. What would be your response to Vladimir Putin’s concerns?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As both Presidents agreed in Moscow, the subject of the new START treaty will be strategic offensive arms. We are more than willing to discuss missile defense and other defensive systems with our Russian partners, but we feel that the best way forward is to give each issue the full and separate attention it deserves. We are discussing missile defense cooperation with the Russian Government, and we hope to cooperate on missile defense with Russia to address a range of threats from around the world. Russia and the United States have unique missile defense assets which if used together in a cooperative manner could enhance the security of both countries.
QUESTION: A year ago, you, Madam Secretary, proclaimed a «reset» in the U.S.-Russian relationship. Has this «reset» materialized?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The reset is now well-established, but the true test of its success is how we expand our cooperation in areas of shared interest. We are working closely together in addressing the issues revolving around Iran’s challenge to the international community on nuclear non-proliferation. We are making progress on the new START Treaty. We’ve also made progress in our common efforts in Afghanistan, in trying to build stability there and in dealing with the threat posed by Al-Qaida and violent extremists. We have also been working closely on North Korea and Middle East peace negotiations, together with other members of the international community to tackle these challenging issues which affect the entire world. And finally, with the Bilateral Presidential Commission, we are broadening contacts through expanded cultural and educational exchanges, law enforcement cooperation, joint projects in health and the environment, and other activities which will improve the lives of average Americans and Russians.
QUESTION: Iran is already the hottest political issue of 2010. Given that Iran failed to satisfy requests from the United States and other members of the International Commission involved, what are the odds that the United States will use military force over economic sanctions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The U.S. has always been committed to try to resolve the problem of Iran’s nuclear program through peaceful means. We have worked very closely with our international partners in pursuing engagement with Tehran, including by working with Russia, France and the IAEA to find a creative way to provide fuel for Iran’s medical research reactor in spite of its continuing violation of UN Security Council resolutions on its nuclear program. But Iran has repeatedly refused these opportunities. Now Iran has announced it will accelerate its enrichment activities in defiance of the Security Council’s decisions. We believe Iran’s dangerous steps must have consequences, so we will be working further with Russian and our other partners in applying pressure on Iran to persuade it to reconsider its continuing resistance to engagement on the nuclear issue.
QUESTION: Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser during President Carter’s administration, in an interview (with The Daily Beast website) in late September 2009, said that the United States will attack Israeli jets if they fly over Iraq on their way to attack Iran. To which extent does this view of the former national security adviser, known to be close to President Obama’s administration, reflect the official point of view of Washington? Do you, Madam Secretary, exclude the possibility that Israel may attack Iran on its own? What will be the consequences?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I hold Mr. Brzezinski in high esteem, but he is of course speaking as a private citizen. We remain focused on trying to convince Iran to work with the rest of the world in a constructive manner. Only by doing so can Tehran have a more productive relationship with its neighbors and the international community at large, a relationship the Iranian people deserve.
QUESTION: The United States is about to deploy more troops in Afghanistan. What goals does your government hope to accomplish there, where others, including the USSR, failed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As President Obama said in his announcement of his new Afghanistan strategy, our ultimate goal is to defeat Al-Qaida and prevent their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan. To that end, we have devoted new resources to disrupting terrorist networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, promoting a more effective Afghan national government that can eventually lead the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist fight, and working with our partners and organizations, such as the UN, to reinforce the stability of the constitutional government in Pakistan. By taking this multi-layered approach, we believe we will be able to help bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region as a whole.
QUESTION: World media has written time and again about the threats coming from Pakistan. There are allegations that Pakistan gives shelter to terrorists and that some members of the Pakistani secret service are helping Afghan Taliban. What is your view of the situation in Pakistan, given that this country has nuclear weapons? Aren’t you afraid that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal may end up in the hands of extremists?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Clearly, you cannot expect to bring stability to Afghanistan without also assisting the Pakistani government in combating terrorism in the region as well. That is why the President’s new strategy looks to assist Pakistan in ensuring stability and constitutional civilian rule. We are increasing and broadening our economic assistance to Pakistan with a focus on creating economic opportunity as a means of thwarting extremism. In addition, we are working with Islamabad to strengthen its governmental capacity to ensure that the country as a whole can fight off the terrorist threat from the Taliban and Al-Qaida. We understand that there are no simple solutions to the problems in the region. By adopting an approach that looks to reinforce the economic and governmental capacity of Pakistan and Afghanistan, we will be able to secure our own future security as well as that of the region.
QUESTION: Returning back to U.S.-Russian relations: There have been ongoing discussions both in Washington and in Moscow between the adherents of the so-called “realpolitik” approach, and those who believe that the Russian government should be held accountable for the violation of human rights. President Clinton’s administration was a huge supporter of the Russian democratic development. President G.W. Bush’s administration was inclined to a different approach, in which pragmatism prevailed over human rights issues. What is your approach?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As I said when I visited Moscow, I believe that the Russian people yearn for their rights just as much as Americans or anyone else does. The reset of relations between Russia and the U.S. is not merely on a government to government level but also about bringing our two peoples closer together. And it is on the strong foundation of accountable governance and the rule of law that we can strengthen the many ties between our two nations.
QUESTION: There are plenty of people in Washington who believe that Russia is not ‘grown-up’ enough for democracy, and the United States will be better off supporting authoritarian regime in my country. What will be your argument in support of the first or the second approach?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We reject the idea that some countries are not ready for democracy. We believe that human rights are universal and that all people, regardless of where they live, thrive in an open society where ideas are exchanged freely. This competition of ideas leads to more accountable governance and a more innovative, prosperous economy, which form a solid foundation for the kind of relationship that we are looking for with Russia and Russians. The discussions I had with students and non-governmental activists when I visited Moscow last October reinforced my conviction that Russians share these same basic aspirations.
QUESTION: Previous US administration was fairly aggressive in its rejection of the Russian government’s claims that the former republics of the Soviet Union are “its zone of special privilege interests”, countries like Ukraine and Georgia first and foremost. What is your view on that? Would you consider Ukraine and Georgian membership in NATO any time soon?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The United States stands by the principle that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions to chart their own foreign poliices and to choose their own alliances. We reject the notion of zones of influence as 19th century ideas. We fully support the decisions of NATO and its ‘open door” policy toward membership for both Georgia and Ukraine.
QUESTION: Vice-President Joe Biden, while on his visit to the Caucasus last year expressed a very harsh opinion regarding Moscow’s politics towards the post-Soviet countries. Is it to say, that you and Biden have a different approach to the issue?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Both Vice President Biden and I support the President’s vision and policies. We all want to seek a fruitful working relationship with Russia. At the same time, we recognize that there will be differences. The United States continues to fully support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. We, like the overwhelming majority of countries in the international community, consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be integral parts of Georgia.
QUESTION: Research has been done that problems with obtaining visa to European Union and the United States contribute to the negative view Russian people hold of the West. Would you consider free entry anytime soon between our countries?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Our visa policies are based on U.S. law and the concept of reciprocity. While visa-free entry into the U.S. is a long way off, we can do more to ease travel for our citizens in the short run. We are actively working with the Russian government through the Presidential Bilateral Commission to make it easier for both Russians and Americans to visit each other’s countries and see for themselves just how much we have in common.
QUESTION: One, personal question, if you don’t mind. It has been announced that Chelsea has got engaged (Congratulations!). Does your current job leave any time to be involved in her wedding plans?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Like any mother of a bride to be, I am excited and happy for my daughter.
QUESTION: There has been lots of discussion regarding harsher sanctions towards Iran. However, many believe that these sanctions would most likely be ineffective at this point. How does the United States plan to deal with these new developments? Does the West have any concrete ideas and means to stop Ahmadinejad?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sanctions, when imposed by the UNSC and enforced by all countries can be very effective. Years of sanctions against Libya, which was pursuing a nuclear weapons research program, ultimately contributed to Tripoli’s decision to drop that idea. We have no illusions in the case of Iran that Tehran will be easily persuaded. We are concerned that steps toward uranium enrichment and testing of missile systems pose a increasingly greater threat to the international community. It would be irresponsible of us not to do all we can to address that threat.
QUESTION: More than 60 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama in December protesting the appointment of Mr. Surkov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian presidential administration, as the co-chair of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Civil Society Working Group. The legislators called him “one of the masterminds behind Russia’s authoritarian course” and urged President Obama to boycott these meetings until he was replaced. What would be your response to the congressmen’s letter?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The Civil Society Working Group under the Bilateral Presidential Commission met for the first time January 27 in Washington. We believe the meeting was a success, having launched a process of dialogue on key issues, including the fight against corruption. The final session of that day brought U.S. and Russian governments and NGO representatives together to share experiences and consider how together they can work to address common problems. Our goal is to have government launch this dialogue and work on various themes between NGOs and other representatives of civil society in both countries, but we hope that we can step back as these contacts and relationships flourish on their own. As for who leads the Russian government delegation to the Civil Society Working Groups, that is a decision for President Medvedev.
QUESTION: We just read that President Clinton had a heart surgery. How is his health? The New Times would like to pass our warmest wishes to President Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for the kind words about Bill, I will be sure to share with him. He is doing very well. . As you know he has plunged back into work on assistance to Haiti, which both President Obama and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon asked him to help with. His energy and commitment to helping others in need drive his efforts.
As the President made clear in his speech to the General Assembly today, the promotion of human rights and democracy is central to his vision of the world we are trying to build. Freedom, justice, and peace in the world must begin with freedom, justice, and peace in the lives of individual human beings.
Over the past year, the Administration has helped to advance this vision in the following ways:
Engaging Multilaterally to Advance Universal Values
Taking advantage of our membership, we have used the U.N. Human Rights Council to:
- Extend international mandates to monitor and address human rights situations in several countries, including Burma, Burundi, North Korea, and Cambodia.
- Lead an effort with 55 other countries to criticize the human rights situation in Iran and express solidarity with victims and human rights defenders on the first anniversary of the contested election.
- Champion new resolutions on Guinea and Kyrgyzstan calling for accountability and heightened commitment to human rights protection and promotion in the wake of human rights crises in both countries.
- Press for stronger engagement by the Council and other U.N. human rights mechanisms in Haiti, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and partnered with Afghanistan to build international support for a resolution on preventing attacks on Afghan school children, especially girls.
- Speak out on serious human rights abuses in Iran, North Korea, Burma, Sudan, China, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Syria, Russia, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere.
- Protest politicized efforts of some members to target Israel while ignoring problems in their own countries.
Committing Significant Assistance in Support of Democracy and Human Rights
With our substantial commitments of foreign assistance, we have:
- Invested more than $2 billion in 2009 alone to strengthen democratic institutions, civil society, the rule of law, and free and independent media, including more than $263 million in support of democratic institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our investments in Sub-Saharan Africa will grow to over $310 million in 2010.
- Provided targeted legal and relocation assistance to 170 human rights defenders around the world, through the Human Rights Defenders Fund, providing a lifeline of protection for raising sensitive issues and voicing dissent. Our efforts help to amplify the voices of activists and advocates working on human rights issues by shining a spotlight on their progress.
- Invested in the capacity of local organizations to promote participatory, pluralistic, and prosperous societies in the Middle East and North Africa through the Middle East Partnership Initiative.
Taking Concerted Action in Key Areas
Exercising global leadership, the United States has:
- Created unprecedented transparency in the extractive industries by passing a new law that requires all oil, gas, and mining companies that raise capital in the United States to publish information about the payments they make to governments.
- Urged the G-20 to make corruption a core part of its agenda going forward, with a focus on critical areas including foreign bribery, transparency in the global financial system, visa denial, asset recovery, whistleblower protection, and public-private cooperation.
- Embraced a commitment to Internet Freedom and launched a State Department task force to develop concerted strategies for advancing it in particular countries.
Pursuing Democracy and Human Rights in Our Bilateral Engagement
- China. In May 2010, the Obama administration held its first bilateral human rights dialogue with China. During the two-day meeting, the U.S. exchanged views with Chinese officials on key issues of concern and laid the groundwork for regular experts’ dialogues on legal, labor, and religious freedom issues.
- Colombia. In September 2010, President Obama and incoming Colombian President Santos announced the “U.S.-Colombia High Level Partnership Dialogue,” which includes a robust agenda on human rights.
- Egypt. The Administration criticized the government’s extension of the emergency law in May. Nevertheless, as promised, the government’s narrower application of that law resulted in the release of thousands of individuals detained under that law, including many political activists and journalists.
- Guinea. Working alongside key stakeholders in Guinea as well as international partners, the United States supported Guinea’s first ever successful democratic elections, which will soon culminate in a second round that will transition the country from military to civilian rule.
- Honduras. We assisted the Honduran people and the Organization of American States (OAS) to negotiate a Honduran solution to the restoration of democratic and constitutional order following the June 2009 coup, and have since supported President Lobo in the prevention, response and investigation of politically motivated violence against journalists and other citizens active in civil society.
- Haiti. We have supported efforts by the Government of Haiti and the UN Mission to Haiti to establish security systems in the camps of displaced persons to defeat violent crime, exploitation and trafficking of orphans/children, and prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based crimes. We are currently assisting the Government of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Commission, the OAS and CARICOM to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections in the wake of the devastating January 12 earthquake, with the goal of ensuring a government with a legitimate mandate to govern and reconstruct.
- Iran. The Administration has spoken out on numerous occasions against human rights abuses in Iran, and successfully undertaken actions in the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly to formally condemn the regime’s actions on human rights. The Administration also played a seminal role in forcing Iran to withdraw its candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.
- Iraq. The U.S. played a key role in support of Iraq’s successful national parliamentary election held on March 7, 2010. International and independent Iraqi observers expressed confidence in the integrity of the election. The U.S. continues to provide the majority of support to address the needs of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons, and resettled over 17,000 Iraqis to the United States refugees this past year.
- Kenya. Working alongside the international community, the United States supported Kenya’s recovery from the devastating post-2007 election crisis. Through robust high-level engagement, including by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Clinton, and programming focused on conflict mitigation and capacity-building for democratic institutions and civil society, the United States has stood by the people of Kenya as they move to implement the ambitious reform agenda brokered by Kofi Annan in the wake of the violence, culminating in a peaceful and credible August referendum in which Kenyans adopted a new constitution, the centerpiece of the agenda.
- Kosovo. We supported the holding of successful municipal elections in November 2009, marking a significant milestone for Kosovo in building a multi-ethnic, democratic society. The elections enjoyed increased voter participation by all ethnic groups and international observers generally praised the organization and conduct of the election.
- Kyrgyzstan. The United States responded immediately to the appeal of President Otunbayeva for assistance in the aftermath of the April 7 uprising, re-targeting a significant portion of our existing $53 million in assistance to address new priorities, and provided an additional $58 million in assistance following the violence in June. The U.S. has also worked closely with the international community to support efforts to restore stability, and establish inter-ethnic harmony, democracy, the rule of law, economic security and prosperity.
- Russia. President Obama and Secretary Clinton participated in parallel, peer-to-peer civil society summits that were held during the period of our government summits in July 2009, and June 2010. The President and high-level Administration officials also gave interviews to independent Russian media, met with Russia’s political opposition and civil society organizers, and have promoted the rule-of-law and freedom of speech, press, and assembly as essential elements of Russia’s economic modernization.
- Somalia. Following an extensive policy review, the Obama Administration reoriented U.S. policy on Somalia, which resulted in the provision of capacity-building support and democracy and governance training to Somalia’s Somaliland government in advance of its June elections. Hundreds of thousands of Somalilanders turned out to vote in their fourth election, which international observers deemed free and fair.
In one of his earliest new foreign policy initiatives, President Obama sought to reset relations with Russia and reverse what he called a “dangerous drift” in this important bilateral relationship. President Obama and his administration have sought to engage the Russian government to pursue foreign policy goals of common interest – win-win outcomes — for the American and Russian people. In parallel to this engagement with the Russian government, President Obama and his administration also have engaged directly with Russian society — as well as facilitated greater contacts between American and Russian business leaders, civil society organizations, and students — as a way to promote our economic interests, enhance mutual understanding between our two nations, and advance universal values. On the occasion of President Medvedev’s visit to the United States and one year after President Obama visited Russia, it is time to take stock of what has been achieved from this change in policy and what remains to be done in developing a more substantive relationship with Russia.
Government-to-Government Agreements and Accomplishments
The New START Treaty:
On April 8, 2010, in Prague, Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the New START Treaty, a strategic offensive arms reduction treaty to follow-up on the START Treaty, which expired on December 5, 2009. The New START Treaty reduces limits on U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads by approximately one third. The Treaty provides the flexibility needed for the United States to structure its forces at the reduced level to meet national security and operational requirements.
The Treaty limits each side to 1550 deployed strategic warheads, 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles, and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers equipped with nuclear armaments. The Treaty has a strong verification regime to allow each party to confirm that the other party is in compliance with the treaty limits, including on-site inspections, data exchanges, exhibitions, and notifications about the movement and production of strategic systems, as well as a provision on non-interference with National Technical Means of verification.
In their June 24 Joint Statement on Strategic Stability, President Obama and President Medvedev acknowledged their commitment to continuing the development of a new strategic relationship based on mutual trust, openness, predictability and cooperation by following up on the New START Treaty.
Since 2009, President Obama and President Medvedev have worked closely to address the international challenge presented by Iran’s nuclear program and its failure to meet its international obligations, and have built a strategic partnership on this issue. Robust U.S.-Russia cooperation on Iran has manifested itself through the P5+1, as well as on the original IAEA proposal to supply nuclear fuel to the Tehran Research Reactor in exchange for Iran’s low enriched uranium being shipped out of Iran and held under IAEA safeguards.
As a result of Iran’s continued failure to meet its international obligations on its nuclear program, President Obama and President Medvedev worked closely with other members of the UN Security Council to reach an agreement on UN Security Council Resolution 1929, the most comprehensive set of sanctions against Iran to date, to demonstrate that there will be a cost to Iran for not meeting its international obligations on its nuclear program. U.S.-Russian partnership in crafting this resolution was critical to its successful adoption. UNSCR 1929 imposes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities; its ballistic missile program; and, for the first time, its conventional military. This was a particularly important step for Russia, which has confirmed that it will not deliver S-300 missiles to Iran, in accordance with the new resolution. The resolution will put a new framework in place to counter Iranian smuggling, and crack down on Iranian banks and financial transactions. It targets individuals, entities, and institutions – including those associated with the Revolutionary Guard.
Russia joined the United States in supporting UN Security Council resolution 1874 in response to North Korea’s nuclear test. The resolution condemned in the strongest terms the May 25, 2009, nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and tightened sanctions against it by blocking funding for nuclear, missile and proliferation activities through targeted sanctions on additional goods, persons and entities, widening the ban on arms imports-exports, and called on Member States to inspect and destroy all banned cargo to and from that country on the high seas, at seaports and airports if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a violation.
In addition to the New Start Treaty and actions taken against Iran and North Korea, the U.S. and Russia have made significant progress in developing our common nonproliferation agenda over the past eighteen months. Russia joined the United States in supporting the UN Security Council Resolution 1887 on September 24, 2009. Russia also played a critical role in President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit, held on April 12-13, 2010. On the sidelines of this meeting, the United States and Russia signed a protocol to amend the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which commits both countries to dispose of 68 metric tons or approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons-worth of excess weapons-grade plutonium. Russia recently shut down its last remaining weapons-grade plutonium production power plant.
Russia also has established an international nuclear fuel bank that provides incentives for other nations not to acquire sensitive uranium enrichment technology. In support of the July 2009, U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Nuclear Cooperation, the United States and Russia have accelerated and expanded efforts to secure and remove vulnerable nuclear material from around the world. In particular, we have worked together to remove or dispose of 475 kilograms of nuclear weapons-usable highly enriched uranium fuel and plutonium (enough for over 19 nuclear weapons) from 8 countries. This included the complete removal of all weapons-usable HEU from three countries. While it is not yet agreed, Russia has been supportive of U.S. efforts within the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to strengthen controls over enrichment and reprocessing technologies. The U.S. and Russia also continue to build upon over fifteen years of significant cooperation to strengthen the security of nuclear facilities and materials.
Over the last 18 months, the Obama Administration has expanded the volume of supplies being shipped to our troops in Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), thanks in part to Russia’s agreement to allow ground and air transit for troops and supplies for Afghanistan through its territory. At present, 30 percent of supplies to our troops in Afghanistan travel over the NDN, and of this cargo, 65 percent of the supplies being routed through the NDN transit through Russia. Russia’s participation in the NDN has allowed the U.S. to expand more efficient and direct routes that offer a strategic and vital alternative to the Pakistan routes.
Russia’s agreement to fund the navigation and flight fees for 4,300 official U.S. flights and allow air transit for unlimited amounts of commercial charter flights with supplies has been vital to bringing in troops and supplies for the surge in troops President Obama ordered as a result of his review of our efforts to secure and stabilize Afghanistan. Since the Afghanistan Air Transit Agreement was signed with Russia at the July 2009 summit, over 35,000 U.S. personnel and troops have flown to Afghanistan via the Russian routes. Russian companies also have provided vital airlift capacity for over 12,000 flights in support of our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, thirty percent of the fuel U.S. military troops use in Afghanistan, and over 80 MI-17 helicopters to the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Drug Interdiction Forces. During their meeting on June 24, 2010, President Medvedev pledged to provide 3 more MI-17 helicopters to the NATO-led effort in Afghanistan, and offered to provide more than a dozen more under a special financial arrangement.
In addition, the Counternarcotics Working Group under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission has established cooperation on reducing the supply of narcotics from Afghanistan to Russian territory, including joint operations, enhanced information sharing, stopping illicit financing of Afghan-related terrorism from narcotics trafficking, and cooperation on demand reduction.
In response to the coming to power of a Provisional Government in Kyrgyzstan in April 2010, Presidents Medvedev and Obama and their administrations closely coordinated their efforts to enhance stability. After the tragic outbreak of violence in Osh and Jalalabad in June 2010, American and Russian diplomats have closely coordinated our common responses, both in the provision of humanitarian assistance and in the development of multilateral responses to the crisis. On June 24, Presidents Obama and Medvedev issued a joint statement affirming our common interest in supporting the people of Kyrgyzstan in their efforts to prevent further violence, address the current humanitarian crisis, and restore stability and democracy.
The Obama Administration continues to have serious disagreements with the Russian government over Georgia. We continue to call for Russia to end its occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in parallel have worked with the Russian government to prevent further military escalations in the region. We have witnessed some incremental confidence building measures, such as opening the border at Verkhniy Lars and allowing direct charter flights between the two countries, and continue to press for the strengthening of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms and a return of international observers to the two occupied regions of Georgia.
Accelerating Russia’s WTO Accession:
After a long lull while Russia focused on forming its Customs Union with the Republics of Belarus and Kazakhstan, the United States and Russia have intensified their discussion regarding Russia’s WTO accession. On April 27, 2010, First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov led a high-level Russian government delegation to Washington to meet with Director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Summers, USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, and other senior Obama administration officials. This meeting produced a roadmap of necessary steps needed to be taken by Russia to accelerate its WTO accession. The United States pledged to provide additional technical assistance to help speed the process of revising Russia’s WTO Working Party Report taking into account the new Customs Union. On June 24, based on the significant progress achieved, including agreement on the treatment of state-owned enterprises, and provided that Russia fully implements the mutually agreed upon action plan for bringing Russian legislation into compliance with WTO requirements, the Presidents agreed to aim to settle remaining bilateral issues by September 30.
American-Russian Cooperation in Managing the Global Financial Crisis:
The United States and Russia have collaborated closely within the framework of the G20 on measures to address the global economic crisis, and on the coordination of the reform of financial regulation. In addition, the United States and Russia have worked to improve the governance and capacity of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Resubmission of the 123 Agreement:
If approved, the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement would provide a solid foundation for long-term U.S.-Russia civil nuclear cooperation; create commercial opportunities for U.S. industry; and enhance cooperation on important global nonproliferation benefits. The Agreement would allow for potential commercial sales of civil nuclear commodities to Russia by U.S. industry and joint ventures between U.S. and Russian firms to develop and market civil nuclear items as well as proliferation-resistant nuclear technologies. In addition, the Agreement has the potential to increase cooperation between Russia and the United States in their nuclear supply policies and approach to the fuel cycle.
On June 24, our Presidents agreed to implement a multifaceted initiative to promote energy efficiency and the development of clean energy technologies under the Action Plan of the Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Energy Working Group. The centerpiece of this collaboration will be the development of a pilot smart grid project based on the most innovative technologies to cut losses in electric power systems and reduce emissions. Russian and U.S. cities will be matched to implement similar projects, and to share best practices and technical information. The Action Plan also includes implementing energy management and technical programs to improve energy efficiency in Russian and U.S. public sector buildings. The U.S. and Russia also agreed to develop financial mechanisms to help create investment incentives for small and medium sized private companies to promote energy efficiency and clean technologies.
Creation of the Presidential Bilateral Commission:
During their meeting in Moscow on July 6, 2009, Presidents Medevedev and Obama established the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Commission consisting of sixteen working groups ranging from nuclear cooperation, space, health, military-to-military, cultural and sports exchange, to civil society. Since the creation of the commission, dozens of delegations have traveled to each country, video conferences have been held, and numerous new bilateral activities and programs have emerged to pursue projects of mutual benefit to the American and Russian people. We also agreed to add an Intelligence Sharing Working Group to the Commission. The Commission’s first annual report was published on June 24, 2010, and can be accessed at the Commissions website: www.state.gov/russiabpc
Russia and the United States agreed to renew bilateral military cooperation and have approved a work-plan for this cooperation under the Defense Cooperation Working Group of the Bilateral Presidential Commission. Russia and the United States also have cooperated successfully on anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and have committed to intensify counter-piracy cooperation. The U.S. sponsored Russia’s UN Security Council resolution for an UN-led study on the cost and effectiveness of various approaches to prosecute pirates.
Dual Track Engagement in Support of Universal Values:
The Obama Administration has pursued a strategy of dual-track engagement – engagement of Russian government officials and in parallel Russian civil society — to advance democracy and human rights within Russia. Through government-to-government channels, the Obama Administration has looked for ways to support President Medvedev’s efforts at fighting corruption and deepening the rule of law. In the spring of 2010, American and Russian officials met several times to discuss open government initiatives in both countries, interactions which produced the Joint Statement on Open Government released by our two countries during President Medvedev’s visit to Washington on June 24, 2010. The Working Group on Civil Society also has tackled the issues of anti-corruption, child protection, prison reform, and migration.
In parallel to these government-to-government exchanges, Obama Administration officials meet frequently and directly with Russian civil society leaders, be it through President Obama’s attendance at parallel civil society summit in Moscow last July, President Obama’s meeting with human rights activists from Russia and other countries in February 2010, Secretary Clinton’s meeting with human rights activities and civil society leaders in Moscow in October 2009, or everyday encounters between U.S. government officials and Russian civil society leaders in Moscow and Washington. The Obama Administration also has encouraged peer-to-peer dialogues between American and Russian civil society leaders, while at the same time expanding financial support through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for programs on rule of law, human rights, civil society, media, and political processes.
While seeking to engage the Russian government and Russian civil society in ways to promote universal values, the Obama Administration has not shied away from criticizing human rights abuses, including our public condemnation of the murder of human rights defender Natalya Estemirova, our statement on irregularities in the October 2009 regional elections, and our expression of concerns for arrests of peaceful demonstrators. Speeches by President Obama and Secretary Clinton in Moscow have underscored our commitment to defending human rights and advancing democracy around the world, including in Russia.
Supporting President Medvedev’s Initiative on Innovation:
The Obama Administration has welcomed President Medvedev’s focus on innovation and has looked for ways to support this initiative. In February, 2010, the State Department and National Security Staff led a delegation of high-tech executives to Moscow and Novosibirsk to help promote this innovation agenda, including promoting entrepreneurship, openness and transparency, internet freedom and freedom of expression, and the use of communications technologies to augment the work of traditional civil society organizations. In the wake of this visit, a new forum called “Rustechdel” has been created, matching information technology professionals with civil society actors. Russian civil society organizations in Siberia have adopted tools, such as live streaming to conduct training for Siberian non-governmental organizations in managing administrative responsibilities and promoting respect for human rights. Private sector Russian entities have teamed up with healthcare experts to establish a “Text4Baby” program, using sms texting to inform pregnant mothers of issues related to the health of them and their babies. Private sector entities from the United States are working to outfit orphanages in Novosibirsk with computers and links to the internet as well as partnering with Russian non-governmental organizations to provide mentoring in life skills and appropriate usage. United States non-governmental organizations have teamed up with Russian partners to offer prizes to Russian software developers to produce programs and tools that would help to combat trafficking in persons. In May 2010, Obama Administration officials also participated in the “The First Venture Capital Trip to Russia”, a program organized by AmBar and Rusnano which brought two dozen venture capitalist from the United States to Russia to explore investment opportunities. During President Medvedev’s visit to Washington on June 24, the U.S. and Russian government issued joint statements on collaboration in the areas of innovation and open government.
Supporting People-to-People Exchanges:
The Education, Culture, Sports and Media Working Group of the U.S.–Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission has expanded and enriched connections between Russians and Americans through arts exchanges, sports diplomacy, cultural performances, exhibitions, and engagement through traditional and social media. The State Department has committed to a substantial increase in Fiscal Year 2010 funds to support these activities. In parallel, new non-government partnerships between Russian and American student organizations, cultural groups, and artists have expanded, sometimes with but oftentimes without U.S. government support. On June 24, 2010, Presidents Obama and Medvedev issued a Joint Statement on People-to-People Connections, articulating a shared desire to see such contacts continue to grow.
The U.S.-Russian Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law:
In June 2009, the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) registered in Russia as an affiliate of the non-profit organization USRF in the United States and has begun to work with Russian institutions to develop projects that encapsulate the principles of enterprise, accountability, and partnership. Among other new projects and grants, the USRF continues to support the Center for Entrepreneurship in Russia.
Private, Non-Governmental Initiatives and Activities
Parallel Business Summits:
In July 2009, during the Presidential Summit in Moscow, American and Russian business associations convened a parallel business summit that included hundreds of business representatives and CEOs from both countries. During the June 24, 2010 summit in Washington, American and Russian CEOs convened a small meeting of representatives from a number of different sectors to discuss ways in which to expand trade and investment and foster conditions conducive to innovation in both countries. American and Russian business associations also convened a parallel business summit that included participation by senior government officials from both countries.
Parallel Civil Society Summits:
In July 2009, American and Russian non-governmental organizations, including Eurasia Foundation, the New Eurasia Foundation, and CSIS convened a parallel civil society summit to coincide with the Presidential summit in Moscow. American and Russian non-governmental organizations gathered to discuss a number of themes including anti-corruption measures, community development, health, and media among others. During the meeting, President Obama appeared, hearing reports from representatives of the different working groups and making remarks. During the June 24 summit in Washington, IREX and New Eurasia convened a steering group meeting of civil society organizations, many of whom participated during the 2009 summit, to continue discussion in many of the same thematic areas and additional ones, such as education and child protection. During the session, information technology specialists interacted with traditional civil society actors to offer suggestions and ideas for how new technologies and innovation can complement and augment the work of the different groups. The steering committee laid the foundation for institutional engagement in the coming year for expanded participation by both American and Russian groups.
Expanding Trade and Investment:
Rostechnologiya and Boeing signed a proposal acceptance to enter into a sale of 50 737 Boeing aircraft with a potential additional sale of 15 planes to the Russian national airline Aeroflot. The multi-billion dollar sale will create potentially 44,000 new jobs in America’s aerospace industry. U.S. companies have opened new manufacturing facilities in Russia in the areas of soft drinks, paper, and tractors. In July 2009, PepsiCo announced it will invest nearly one billion USD in drink and food manufacturing facilities in Russia, including a new bottling plant in the Domodedovo, Moscow region. In April 2010, a joint venture between International Paper and Ilim Pulp announced an investment of 700 million USD to build a new kraft pulp mill in Bratsk. That same month, Deere & Company announced the opening of a new manufacturing and parts distribution facility, amounting to approximately a 500 million USD investment. In May 2010, Kimberly-Clark announced the opening of a 170 million dollar plant in the Moscow region producing diapers. On June 4, 2010, GE entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Russian state corporations Russian Technologies and Inter RAO UES, to pursue a strategic cooperation relationship for the production and distribution of industrial products needed to address Russia’s growing infrastructure demands. The MOU specifically contemplates the formation of joint ventures in the areas of power generation and healthcare equipment. While the terms of the joint venture agreements have yet to be finalized, the arrangement could result in billions of dollars in revenues to GE over five years, ultimately helping to support jobs and innovation in both Russia and the United States. On June 17, 2010, Chevron Corp. and OAO Rosneft agreed to explore for oil and natural gas on a block in the Black Sea, a project that could lead to more than 1 trillion rubles ($32 billion) in spending. On June 17, 2010 American lithium-ion battery manufacturer Ener1, Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia’s Federal Grid Company (MICEX: FEES) to help develop new opportunities to use high-performance battery systems to improve the reliability and performance of the Russian electricity system, which is facing record setting demand on an aging grid. In June, Siguler Guff & Company, a U.S.-based private equity firm, made a $250 million commitment towards the development of Russia’s innovation economy through its investment in a network of carrier-neutral data centers being built in Moscow and other Russian cities. The company’s Russia-based sponsor, DataSpace, responsible for overseeing this investment, will locate its headquarters in Skolkovo, the future high-tech center. On June 23, during President Medvedev’s visit to Silicon Valley, Cisco announced a pledge of one billion dollars in investments over the next ten years in technology projects in Russia, and that it would establish a second headquarters at Skolkovo for its emerging technologies unit. U.S. angel investors in the high-tech sector have created business incubators in Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk and, working with Russian partners, have created an entrepreneurial fund for Russian start-ups. The Russian government has liberalized its visa and registration requirements for skilled workers coming to work in the area of innovation.
Changing Russian Attitudes toward the United States:
According the Pew Research Center, the number of Russians with a favorable attitude towards the United States has increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in June 2010. In another poll by the Moscow-based Levada Center, Russian favorable attitudes towards the United States increased from 38 percent in January 2009 to 60 percent in May 2010. According to Levada, the percentage of Russians with negative attitudes has decreased from 49 percent in January 2009 to 26 percent in May 2010.
Preserving U.S.-Russian Historical Legacy:
On June 22, 2010, the Russian company Renova signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Office of the Governor of California establishing a foundation that will assist in the restoration of the historic Fort Ross, the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in California at the beginning of the 19th century.
Today, we join with others in the international community to highlight the continued and urgent need to combat exploitative child labor around the world, with a special emphasis on addressing the particular challenges faced by girls. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has noted, “the status of women and girls is a key indicator of whether or not progress is possible in a society.” However, throughout the world, girls continue to be disadvantaged in many ways, including through discrimination, limited access to schooling, and traditional roles that still relegate certain forms of work to girls.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that approximately 100 million girls throughout the world are child laborers, often working in hazardous and exploitative conditions. The U.S. Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices calls attention to global trends in child labor each year. We continue to see girls exploited as domestic workers, lured into commercial sexual exploitation, and working in hazardous conditions in agriculture and other sectors.
On this, the tenth anniversary of the ILO’s groundbreaking Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, we must redouble our efforts to eliminate child labor and other obstacles hampering girls’ achievements. Through our promotion of labor diplomacy, as well as our forging of key partnerships at home and abroad, the Department of State will continue to engage widely to raise awareness of the marginalization of girls, and to advocate for girls’ equal access to education and programs for legitimate vocational and professional training, and promote meaningful alternatives to child labor.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Five years ago this week, the longest running war in Africa came to a close. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan ended a stubborn and violent civil conflict between North and South and offered fresh hope of real peace for the Sudanese people. This historic achievement was shepherded and encouraged by the international community, but it could not have happened without the leadership and political will of the parties in Sudan.
Since 2005, the ceasefire has, for the most part, held. Northern troops have pulled out of the South and a new government of national unity was formed in Khartoum. A regional government of Southern Sudan was created in Juba. Oil wealth has been shared with the South. The parties have made progress on some of the disputed border areas of Abyei and have passed legislation to prepare for elections and the 2011 referenda on self-determination.
Now, these are positive steps, but they are not enough to secure lasting peace. Threats to progress are real, reform of key institutions has been sporadic, and true democratic transformation – envisioned in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – remains elusive. Violence in the South is rising and tensions continue in border areas. So today, the parties in Sudan have a choice. They can revert back to a dark era of conflict or they can move forward together toward a lasting peace.
In April, Sudan will hold its first national elections in 24 years. Less than a year after that, the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei will determine whether to remain part of Sudan or form an independent country. These elections are important milestones in Sudan’s evolution, and the parties should be commended for overcoming major hurdles to get to this phase. But now they must work to ensure that the elections and referenda take place on time, with their outcomes respected.
The parties in the international community have barely begun to grapple with the potential outcomes of this historic upcoming vote, so we must work diligently together over the next year to prepare Sudan and the region for all potential scenarios.
I’m very pleased to be releasing a joint statement with Foreign Minister Store and Foreign Secretary Miliband from Norway and the UK pledging the commitment of our respective governments to helping bring peace to Sudan. Among areas of concern will be the impact of the election decision on Darfur, where human suffering continues on a mass scale and a six-year-old conflict remains unresolved.
Let me reiterate what I have said before, that the conflict in Darfur and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be seen in tandem. The United States continues to push the Government of Sudan and the Darfur rebels to facilitate the work of aid agencies in the region and to allow full access for UNAMID. We continue to encourage mediation in all parties to find a solution to choose to participate for the Darfuris in the elections, preventing their further marginalization. We are concerned by the potential increase in violence if the status quo remains.
In the months ahead, strong leadership will be even more essential, especially in light of setbacks that have already occurred during this pre-election process, so there’s serious work to be done by everyone.
In Southern Sudan, no matter the outcome of the referendum, Southern Sudan must increase its institutional capacity and prepare to govern responsibly, whether as a semiautonomous region within Sudan or a newly independent nation.
I have been tracking the increasing interethnic and tribal violence in the South over the course of 2009, and I share the concerns raised in recent reports that highlight the death of more than 2,500 people and displacement of more than 350,000. These stark figures illustrate the need for the Government of South Sudan to improve governance and security in the South with the assistance of international partners, including the United States.
The National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement must be willing to make the compromises and commitments necessary to build mutual confidence and achieve stability and lasting peace. Specifically, the National Congress Party must recognize that, as the dominant political party, it bears greater responsibility in ensuring the full and successful implementation of the CPA.
The NCP, therefore, must use its executive order to suspend elements of the national security and public order laws that are incompatible with free and fair elections. There must be no efforts to restrict freedom of speech and assembly. And there must be no prohibitions on peaceful protests. There must be sincere efforts to appoint members of the two referenda commissions and determine criteria for voter eligibility. And both parties must begin immediately on negotiations on the critical issues surrounding the parties’ relationships and use of shared wealth and resources after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement expires in July of next year.
The parties of Sudan cannot afford to delay and there can be no backtracking on agreements already reached. The risks are too serious: Renewed conflict between North and South would prolong human suffering and threaten stability and peace throughout the greater region.
Because Sudan is at a critical juncture after almost a half century of conflict, we hold all parties accountable if progress is impeded. The lives and futures of 40 million people are at stake. The United States is committed to helping the Sudanese parties and most particularly the Sudanese people to achieve a real and lasting peace that is long overdue. We will continue to provide leadership and mobilize international coordination in support of peace in Sudan.
I’d like now to ask our Special Envoy Scott Gration, who has been working tirelessly over the last year, to come forward, make a few comments, and answer any of your questions, and I will be seeing all of you later for a press avail.
MR. GRATION: Thank you very much. I’d like to start by just giving you a brief overview of what has happened in the last year and then tell you a little bit about the future and then take your questions.
This last year has had some highs. We’ve seen progress on Abyei when the ruling was handed down from the Court of Arbitration at The Hague. That was rather successful. We’ve seen the relationship between Chad and Sudan improve, and that, we believe, will help the security in Darfur. We’ve seen the registration for elections be pulled off, really in many ways better than what we expected; 79 percent of the eligible voters registered. That was almost 16 million people out of the 20 million eligible voters.
There are, however, things that need to be fixed. We’re very concerned about the situation in Darfur. The security situation continues to be bad. People continue to live in situations that are dire. They are fearful of their lives in some areas, and certainly they’re fearful of being harassed and some folks with sexual-based violence. We have got to make a bigger difference in the security there.
We’re also very concerned about the security in the South. You’ve all seen the numbers. The trend is up, and we’re very concerned that the security issues, the tribal fighting, the inter-community conflicts that are taking place, could be factors that make it more difficult to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and, if the South chooses to secede, will make it more difficult to birth that nation.
At this point, I’d like to take your questions on any topic.
QUESTION: Andy Quinn from Reuters. I have a question. When the policy review was announced late last year, some analysts and activists criticized it as too much carrot and not enough stick. And the Secretary talked about setbacks that have happened since that review was unveiled, which may indicate that this idea of engaging Khartoum more isn’t really bringing the results. So my question to you is: What is the current state of discussions about what happens to the Khartoum government and the NCP if they don’t deliver on these areas of progress that the Secretary outlined – public security, the election law, all of these things? And what are you saying to them will happen if they don’t make the progress that you’re demanding?
MR. GRATION: What we’ve seen is that there have been some progress in terms of passing the laws. As you know, the referendum law for Southern Sudan was passed, as was the referendum law for Abyei . The Popular Consultations Law, the National Security Act, and the Trade Union Law and a variety of other laws were passed by the end of the national assembly period that ended at the end of last year. So there have been some progress.
And what we’re taking a look now is taking a look at those areas where there’s been progress and taking a look at those areas where there hasn’t been progress, where we need to have more push and more pressure. And right now, we’re getting ready for a review at the deputies committee level that will be happening at the end of this month, and at that point the deputies will consider the facts on the ground and they will take a look at these based on benchmarks and ideas that we’ve put forth in the classified working papers, and then we’ll proceed.
QUESTION: Is there some secret annex about – there’s all this debate about – I mean, are there pressures ready, at the ready, to employ? And also, you know, you said they passed these laws, but at the end of the year there was – the congress – the parliament changed some of the wording of this. I mean, are you really satisfied?
MR. GRATION: Yeah, let me just (inaudible) tell you about the working papers. There are working papers that were developed in the course as we were preparing the Sudan strategy that we laid out for you in October. Those working papers are NSC working papers, but they do outline a system of pressures and incentives that can be used to push or pull the situation in Sudan to get those things accomplished that the international community believes should be accomplished.
In terms of those laws, you’re correct that the national assembly made some modifications to the laws. The – specifically, the Southern referendum law. That law was reintroduced into the national assembly and it was passed without amendment and it was passed in the way that President Bashir and Vice President Kiir had agreed on the 13th of December. So all those annexes and changes and amendments were not part of the final bill that was approved by the national assembly.
So what I’m trying to tell you is that both the SPLM and the NCP agreed with the wording on the 13th of December, and that wording is the wording that was passed at the end.
QUESTION: Sir, your own plans for travel to Sudan?
MR. GRATION: Yes, I will be going to Kenya and Uganda beginning on the 26th and then I’ll end up at the Africa Union summit at the beginning of February. I do plan to go back into Sudan in the middle of February. The reason for the delay is there’s a couple things that we’re working through, and just because I’m not there doesn’t mean we’re not coordinating. We work via email, video teleconference and teleconference on the phone lines almost on a daily basis.
Right now we’re in contact with President Mbeki and we’re seeing how the Africa Union and his new role with the high-level panel and his involvement in the CPA implementation and in Darfur. We’re also taking a look at what Mr. Gambari will be doing. We’re also supporting what is happening in Doha as civil society and the rebels will come together around the 21st of this month for continued negotiations.
So there’s a lot of issues that we’re working hard, but it makes sense for me to go back in February. Again, as I pointed out, my focus will be on security in Darfur because I believe that if we can fix the security, the lawlessness, the banditry, the carjackings, the hijackings, if we can get that kind of thing taken care of, the rest of issues that have to do with humanitarian access, eventual voluntary return, and the other issues that are looming out there can be taken care of. But they cannot be taken care of with the current situation that we have, where local rule of law is not sufficient and where local criminal elements rule the day.
And in the South, we’ll continue to work on issues like conflict mitigation, working between the tribes to make sure that they have adequate security forces and that we can stop the crises before they turn into violence.
QUESTION: Are you planning to meet with President Bashir (inaudible)?
MR. GRATION: No, I have no plans to meet with President Bashir, nor have I met him in the past.
QUESTION: Do you feel that the conditions currently exist on the ground today for elections to be free and fair?
MR. GRATION: I believe that we are working hard on processes that will allow credible elections to be had in April. The one thing that you must remember is that these are the first elections that have been held since 1986, so we have a gap of almost 24 years since we’ve had this kind of transformation that we’re seeing right now.
We believe that the elections are important for several reasons. One is, is that it allows all the parties of Sudan to participate in the process. They will each have an opportunity to put their candidates up against the legislative seats, and if they want to they can put up candidates against the governmental seats at the state level and at the national level. So this gives an opportunity for all parties to play, not just the SPLM and the NCP.
Number two, it is a process that we’re seeing has a lot of momentum. We didn’t expect that almost 79 – four out of five people would go out and register to vote. This is huge, and we’re excited about that opportunity, and we would like those elections to take place in a way that the people’s will can be made known and that they can learn how to participate in the government process.
The other thing that’s important for us is that – the timing of the election. We would like those elections to take place in April because the rains start right after that. And we believe that if they are delayed, the rains will be a problem. In some areas the rains, as you know, will keep people from being able to get to the polling places.
The other thing is that we start registration for the referendum in Abyei and in the South in July, and it would be good if we cold separate those two events. We believe that the election gives us an opportunity to practice those elements that will be so important in the referendum. If we can get it right on how to do voter education, get the laws passed, get the commissions up and running and funded, to get the processes out just in terms of the logistics and admin of printing ballots, making sure that the system has security so people can come and go freely, to make sure it’s transparent, and to make sure that those results are passed out in a way that everybody recognizes that this is credible. That is so critical, not only to the election but to the referenda that will be taking place in January of 2011.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. GRATION: Thank you very much.