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Archive for March, 2009

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2009 International Women of Courage Awards

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
March 11, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is such an exciting occasion, and there were so many people who wanted to come today, but unfortunately, there is a limit to how many people we can let into this magnificent room. So there are people watching on closed-circuit TV all over this building, and beyond.
And it is my pleasure to welcome you to the State Department to celebrate International Women’s Day with a very special event and a very special guest. The event is the International Women of Courage Awards, and in a minute, you will meet these remarkable women and learn more about their lives and their work. And I am especially delighted to thank one person in particular whose presence here means a great deal to all of us – our First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)
Now, I know a little bit about the role that – (laughter) – Michelle Obama is filling now. And I have to say that in a very short time, she has, through her grace and her wisdom, become an inspiration to women and girls not only in the United States, but around the world. And it is so fitting that she would join us here at the State Department to celebrate the achievements of other extraordinary women, and to show her commitment to supporting women and girls around the globe.
She understands, as we all do here at the State Department, that the status of women and girls is a key indicator of whether or not progress is possible in a society. And so I am very grateful to her and to President Obama, who earlier today announced the creation of the White House Interagency Council on Women and Girls. That will – (applause). That office will help us collaborate across every department and agency in our government.
President Obama has also designated an ambassador-at-large to consolidate our work on women’s global issues here at the State Department. Now, this is a position that has never existed before, and I am very pleased that someone you all know, if you have ever worked on women’s issues – know and appreciate a longtime colleague and friend, Melanne Verveer, who’s been nominated to fill that post. (Applause.)
And I also want to thank Ambassador Susan Rice and our excellent U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which is in the middle of its annual meetings now, for the work that they are doing and for the engagement that they demonstrate.
Today, we’re focusing on the International Women of Courage Awards. It’s a fairly new tradition here at the State Department, but it’s already become a cherished institution. For the past three years, our embassies have sent us stories of extraordinary women who work every day, often against great odds to advance the rights of all human beings to fulfill their God-given potential. Today, we recognize eight of those women. Each is one of a kind, but together they represent countless women and men who strive daily for justice and opportunity in every country and on every continent, usually without recognition or reward.
And I want to say a special word about someone who could not join us, who we honor today – Reem Al Numery, who was forced to marry her older cousin when she was just 12 years old. She is now fighting to obtain a divorce for herself and end child marriage in Yemen. She was not able to be here, but we honor her strength and we pledge our support to end child marriage everywhere, once and for all. (Applause.)
We also express our solidarity with women whose governments have forbidden them from joining us, especially Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been kept under house arrest in Burma for most of the past two decades, but continues to be a beacon of hope and strength to people around the world. Her example has been especially important to other women in Burma who have been imprisoned for their political beliefs, driven into exile, or subjected to sexual violence by the military.
Our honorees and the hundreds of millions of women they represent not only deserve our respect, they deserve our full support. When we talk about human rights, what I think of are faces like these. What I am committed to is doing everything in my power as Secretary of State to further the work on the ground in countries like those represented here to make changes in peoples’ lives. That doesn’t happen always in the halls of government. It happens day to day in the towns and cities, the villages and countryside where the work of human rights goes on.
We simply cannot solve the global problems confronting us, from a worldwide financial crisis to the risks of climate change to chronic hunger, disease, and poverty that sap the energies and talents of hundreds of millions of people when half the world’s population is left behind. The rights of women – really, of all people – are at the core of these challenges, and human rights will always be central to our foreign policy.
Earlier today I met with Foreign Minister Yang of China and conveyed to him, as I do in my meetings with all other leaders, that it is our view in the Obama Administration that every nation seeking to lead in the international community must not only live by, but help shape the global rules that will determine whether people do enjoy the rights to live freely and participate fully. The peace, prosperity and progress that we know are best served and best serve human beings come when there is freedom to speak out, to worship, to go to school, enjoy access to health care, live and work with dignity.
The United States is grounded in these ideals, and our foreign policy must be guided by them. Indeed, our own country must continually strive to live up to these ideals ourselves. Not only does smart power require us to demand more of ourselves when it comes to human rights, but to express those views to others and to actually assist those who are on the frontlines of human rights struggles everywhere.
It is important that we focus on human rights because I know what inspiration it has given to me over many years. The people I have met, they have constantly reminded me of how much work lies ahead if we are to be the world of peace, prosperity and progress that we all seek.
I’ve met a lot of people, particularly women, who have risked their lives – from women being oppressed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, to mothers seeking to end the violence in Northern Ireland, to citizens working for freedom of religion in Uzbekistan, and NGOs struggling to build civil society in Slovakia, to grassroots advocates working to end human trafficking in Asia and Africa, and local women in India and Bangladesh, Chile, Nicaragua, Vietnam and many other places who are leading movements for economic independence and empowerment.
These personal experiences have informed my work. And I will continue to fight for human rights as Secretary of State in traditional and especially non-traditional ways and venues.
All of you gathered here represent the kind of broad coalition that we need – business leaders, NGO leaders, ambassadors, experts, people from every corner of our government, citizens who are moved and touched by the stories of courage that we will be hearing some more of today.
And it is exciting that we have now in our own country someone who is standing up for the best of America, a woman who understands the multiple roles that women play during the course of our lives, and fulfills each one with grace. An example of leadership, service, and strength. It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)
(The First Lady makes remarks.)
(Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Mrs. Obama, and it’s exciting to have your leadership and example for not only girls and women in our country, but those around the world.
Now, we’re going to start with the extraordinary women who we honor today. The first woman, Wazhma Frogh, from Afghanistan, is being recognized for her courageous efforts to combat sexual and domestic violence and child and marital rape throughout Afghanistan, despite facing dangerous conditions. She has come a long way, and we stand in solidarity with her and the people of Afghanistan. (Applause.)
Next, from Guatemala, Norma Cruz. We are recognizing her for her unyielding efforts to end the culture of impunity surrounding the murder and other forms of violence against women in Guatemala. At great risk to her personal safety, Norma Cruz has been outspoken and extraordinarily brave, and we are honored to have her with us today. Norma Cruz. (Applause.)
Suaad Allami, from Iraq. I told Suaad when we were waiting to come out how pleased I was to see her, and how grateful we are for the progress that we’ve seen, but we know how much more needs to be done in her country. And we honor her for bravely promoting the legal rights, the health, the social well-being and the economic and political empowerment of women in Iraq, despite threats to her own safety. Thank you so much, Suaad. (Applause.)
Veronika Marchenko, from Russia. We honor her for her stalwart leadership in seeking justice for the families of bereaved service members, young men conscripted into the Russian Army. For her commitment to seeking the truth and in promoting improved human rights conditions for those who serve in the Russian army, and being a networking presence to bring together those who served and their families to find answers to so many of the questions that no one had ever, ever bothered to answer before. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
Our next honoree is from Uzbekistan, Mutabar Tadjibayeva, for her courage, her conviction, her perseverance in promoting human rights, the rule of law, and good governance in Uzbekistan, and for standing up for justice at great personal risk. Mutabar is someone who has been in prison for quite some time, and she still has a big smile on her face, and I salute her courage and her persistence. (Applause.)
From Niger, Hadizatou Mani. Hadizatou is such an inspiring person. Enslaved by being sold at a very young age, she never gave up on herself or on her deep reservoir of human dignity. When she finally escaped from slavery, she didn’t forget those who were still enslaved. For her inspiring courage in successfully challenging an entrenched system of caste-based slavery, and securing a legal precedent that will help countless others seek freedom and justice, we honor and salute her. (Applause.)
You know, before I introduce our final honoree, who will respond on behalf of all of the honorees, I just want to say that over the course of many years of doing human rights work, and particularly on behalf of girls and women, I’m sometimes asked, well, do ceremonies like this really matter; is that just not something, you know, that you do and it’s a nice feeling, and then you go back to wherever you came from?
I know that these kinds of recognitions and moments of honor by both governments and NGOs and other institutions and individuals are extremely important. They provide a recognition of an individual’s struggle and courage that stands for so much more. They provide a degree of awareness about the problems that the individual is fighting to remedy. They serve notice on governments that the first and highest duty is for every government to protect the human rights of every individual within that jurisdiction. And they provide a degree of protection.
And so I salute those in the State Department who have recognized the importance of this and kept it going, and we are proud to continue that tradition.
Our final speaker, Ambiga Sreenevasan, has a remarkable record of accomplishment in Malaysia. She has pursued judicial reform and good governance, she has stood up for religious tolerance, and she has been a resolute advocate of women’s equality and their full political participation. She is someone who is not only working in her own country, but whose influence is felt beyond the borders of Malaysia. And it is a great honor to recognize her and invite her to the podium. (Applause.)
MS. SREENEVASAN: The First Lady Mrs. Obama, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, ladies and gentlemen, I am humbled to be in the company of seven extraordinary women receiving this award for courage, and I am deeply honored to now speak on their behalf and on mine.
We accept this award in all humility, remembering that we have been fortunate in being singled out from among countless courageous women in our countries who are dedicated to the cause of equality and justice.
It is also timely for us to remember all the women in other conflict-ridden territories, like Palestine and other countries, who have to show courage every single day in their struggle to survive and to keep their families together.
Each of us fights causes that promote equality and justice, and by presenting us with this award you honor those causes and all the people who work tirelessly for them with unflinching dedication.
This award will help to bring to the international stage our voices and our advocacy on these important issues. This occasion gives us an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the rule of law in promoting the rights of women around the world. When the rule of law is upheld, equality is upheld, the cause of justice is upheld, and human rights are upheld.
Today, we are witnessing a struggle for the souls of our nations, taking place between the forces of the old and the forces of change. We see our commitment to the rule of law, fundamental liberties, and the independence of our institutions being tested. The strength of our nations will depend on how well they withstand this test.
There are those who claim that democracy is a Western concept and is unsuitable elsewhere. There are yet others who perpetrate injustices behind a veneer of democracy. We say that democracy is universal, and a true democracy and the rule of law will prevail when the collective voices of the people are raised in its support.
On my part, I have for the past two years had the privilege to lead and serve the Malaysian Bar, a professional organization consisting of approximately 13,000 lawyers. History will bear testament to the fact that the Malaysian Bar has always been true to its first article of faith, to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interests or that of its members uninfluenced by fear or favor. In a sense, I was merely stepping into the shoes of the many other brave leaders of the bar who came before me, whereas many of the awardees today are pioneers in their struggle for justice.
This award has given us the opportunity which we would not otherwise have had, to share our stories, our successes, our failures, to reach out across our borders and to establish a base upon which we can build a meaningful network of support. These stories must be told in all our countries. By this experience, we are both enriched and enraged; enriched by what we have shared, and enraged that so many of our sisters endure intimidation and suffering in their countries. Nevertheless, ours is a message of hope that something has been achieved, despite the odds.
Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This means that although we may come from different walks of life, our struggle is common. And each success is a success for all, just as each failure is a failure for all. When we unite on a human rights platform, whether domestically or internationally, above politics and political alliances, we create more enduring partnerships and relationships. When we pursue freedom and empowerment for others, we reaffirm and protect our own.
In my interaction with the other awardees present here today, it was evident that the passion we feel for our causes is driven by the love of our homelands and our people. That, in turn, drives our passion for what is right and what is just. Our people deserve nothing less. We all believe in striving for ideals that are– if I may borrow the words – self-evident; namely, the ideals of truth, justice, goodness, and universal love and understanding. Our stories are a testament to the universality of these ideals.
We are truly and deeply honored by this award, more so, when it comes from you, Madame Secretary, yourself a woman of courage, who has inspired women around the world to reach great heights. Your untiring efforts in championing women’s rights worldwide are well known. Your immortal words that, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” resonate with all of us here.
We would also like to express our deep admiration for the First Lady Mrs. Obama, and we would also like to express our appreciation for your sharing this moment with us. Madame Secretary, on behalf of all the awardees, I thank you. And we accept the honor with humility and pride. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. These women of courage will serve to remind us every day as we do our work in this venerable building – here we are in the Benjamin Franklin Room, and I’m about to invite you to join our reception in the Thomas Jefferson Room – that our own country has a lot to live up to. But we derive inspiration from those who are struggling so hard just to realize the basic rights that we sometimes take for granted. And it is our responsibility not only to continue to do what we must here at home to realize the dream that America represents, but to use our talents and our abilities and resources to help others as well.
It is such a great privilege to be here with all of you, to be the Secretary of State at this moment of history in an administration represented by Mrs. Obama today, led by President Obama, who means so much already to so many around the world. Now, it’s our job to realize the promise that that represents. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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Remarks With Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 11, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m very pleased to welcome Minister Yang here to the State Department. I had a very productive and really good visit when he hosted me, and it’s very positive that he could come so soon and we can continue our discussions. Welcome so much, Minister Yang.
FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. I am very glad that the Chinese and the American foreign ministers could have an exchange of visits within just one month.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I am, too.
FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: And we are here to get prepared for our two heads of state meeting in London and to work together to push our relationship forward.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

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Remarks After Her Meeting With Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

Press Availability

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 11, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. I’ve just had a very productive meeting and luncheon with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang on a broad range of issues of mutual concern. As I said during my recent visit to Beijing, this is a very important relationship to both of our countries, and the United States intends to work together with China to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship, and to work together with China to address common challenges and seize common opportunities.
Minister Yang and I spent time laying the groundwork for the first meeting between our two presidents, which will take place at the London G-20 summit in April. We also consulted on preparations for the summit itself, and Minister Yang is heading over to see Secretary Geithner to continue that conversation.
The United States and China have a joint responsibility to help ensure that the summit yields tangible progress and concrete action steps toward a coordinated global response to stabilize the world’s economy and to begin a recovery.
We also covered a range of shared security challenges, including our efforts to achieve a denuclearized North Korea, to promote stability and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to address the challenges posed by Iran. We talked about how we could work together to address the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and stem the suffering of more than 1.4 million people who have been put at risk by the actions of the Bashir government.
On climate change and clean energy, we discussed the upcoming meeting between our special envoy for climate change and his Chinese counterpart.
Now, Minister Yang and I also spoke about areas where we do not agree, including human rights and Tibet. The promotion of human rights, as I have said many times before, is an essential aspect of American global foreign policy. It is part of our use and definition of smart power. And it’s essential in an era where we are emphasizing diplomacy and development.
It has been a core belief of ours that every nation must not only live by, but help shape global rules that will determine whether people enjoy the right to live freely and participate to the fullest in their societies. Indeed, our own country must continually strive to live up to our own ideals.
Our bilateral relationships cover a broad range of issues, but we make clear to all nations, including China, that a mutual and collective commitment to human rights is important to bettering our world as our efforts on security, global economics, energy, climate change, and other pressing issues. With that in mind, Foreign Minister Yang and I discussed the resumption of the human rights dialogue between our two countries. While we may disagree on these issues, open discussions will continue to be a key part of our approach. And human rights is part of our comprehensive agenda.
I also raised our concerns about the recent incident involving the U.S. Navy ship Impeccable and the PRC vessels in the South China Sea. We both agreed that we should work to ensure that such incidents do not happen again in the future.
There is no doubt that world events have given the United States and China a full and formidable agenda. And the United States is committed to pursuing a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China, one that we believe is important for the future peace, progress, and prosperity not only for both of our countries, but indeed for the entire world.
And I’ll be happy to take some questions.
MR. WOOD: First one to Arshad.
SECRETARY CLINTON: How are you, Arshad?
QUESTION: Good, thanks. Secretary Clinton, on the Impeccable, do you continue to believe that the U.S. ship was in the right, was in international waters, and was harassed by the Chinese vessels? And do you think that with your agreement to try to avoid these things in the future that the case is now closed, or this is going to be a continued irritant in the relationship?
And on the G-20 preparations, do you think that China has done enough to stimulate its economy? And how do you answer the view that, given how heavily indebted the United States is, particularly to China, that you don’t have that much leverage over them on these matters?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Very comprehensive questions. (Laughter.) With respect to the Impeccable, we have each stated our positions. But the important point of agreement coming out of my discussions with Minister Yang is that we must work hard in the future to avoid such incidents, and to avoid this particular incident having consequences that are unforeseen. And I appreciate the agreement that Minister Yang and I hold on this matter.
With respect to the G-20, the important outcome of the G-20 is a recognition and agreement among the countries participating as to the steps that we must take individually and collectively to stimulate a global recovery by stimulating demand and making investments that will bear fruit as quickly as possible. I think that the significant stimulus that the Chinese have already committed to is a very positive step.
There are a number of issues related to the outcome in London that will have to be worked through between not only our two countries but all of the countries participating. And there’s a lot of hard work to do between now and the summit in London. But there is a great commitment and willingness on the part of both our government and the Chinese Government to play productive and constructive roles in helping to move the world toward this recovery that will be essential not only to get jobs growing again, but also to alleviate the suffering of the poorest people in the world who will bear the brunt of a stalled or falling economy.
You know, we each come to this with different strengths and weaknesses. We are still the largest economy in the world. We are a flexible, agile, incredibly dynamic economy. I have no doubt about our capacity to recover. It’s not going to be easy and it, you know, will take some time, but I am absolutely confident. I think the Chinese are equally committed to stimulating growth, to being able to help push the global economic agenda as well.
Obviously, we will have difficulties in dealing with the economic challenges we face. For China, they’re an export-driven country; they need consumers to buy those exports. For us, going into deficits to the extent we must in order to put in place our recovery plan is something we’re going to have to deal with; we can’t just ignore it, even though it may be necessary now. So you know, we bring different strengths to the table that we’re trying to utilize on behalf of global growth now, and then we’ll have to deal, as you always do, with the consequences of the actions we’re taking now.
MODERATOR: Next question will be Kirit Radia from ABC News.
QUESTION: Hi, Madame Secretary. I’d like to pick up on your comments on human rights. You’ve been criticized by human rights groups, and most recently The Washington Post editorial page just yesterday, for pulling your punches on human rights in China, especially leading up to this meeting today. Despite that criticism, do you still stand by your position that human rights should take – should not take a back seat to economic and environmental concerns, get in the way of your agenda there? What explicitly did you ask the foreign minister to do today with regard to human rights in China and in Tibet, and what do you plan on asking them during this upcoming dialogue? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, human rights is part of our comprehensive dialogue. It doesn’t take a front seat or a back seat or a middle seat; it is part of the broad range of issues that we are discussing. But it is important to try to create a platform for actually seeing results from our human rights engagement. It’s also important, as I said in my remarks, that, you know, that the United States live up to our own ideals, something that sets us apart as an exemplar of human rights. So the Obama Administration is absolutely committed to a robust, comprehensive human rights agenda. We’re going to look for ways where we can be effective, where we can actually produce outcomes that will matter in the lives of people who are struggling for their rights to be full participants in their societies.
So I think that there is no doubt about our commitment. We’re exploring different ways of being effective in delivering on that commitment, and whether it’s with China or any other nation, we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to not just talk about human rights, but actually to try to advance the agenda on human rights.
Later this afternoon, I’ll be giving awards to some extraordinarily courageous women who have stood up in their own countries against human rights abuses. We’re supporting them. We’re supporting their efforts, their organizations within their countries, to not only demonstrate the importance of human rights, but to actually make changes that will benefit the people that they are fighting for. So there are many ways that we’re going to pursue a human rights agenda.
MR. WOOD: I think we have a question from (inaudible). Please.
QUESTION: You mentioned the denuclearization of – in North Korea. And yesterday, Stephen Bosworth came back and you talked with him about his trip. My question is, what did you talk about with him yesterday, and did you talk about with foreign minister of China today, in case of a possible launch of a missile by North Korea? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Ambassador Bosworth gave me a full report about his productive meetings in Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing. As you know, he was not invited to go to North Korea, which we regret. He was prepared to go on a moment’s notice to begin discussions with the North Koreans.
As I have been doing with all of our Six-Party partners – I did it last Friday night in Geneva, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, again today with Foreign Minister Yang – we believe in the Six-Party Talks, and we believe in the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. We are committed to that. We would like to see the Six-Party Talks resume at the earliest possible moment. We are outspoken in our opposition to the North Korean’s missile launch, and we believe that that is a unified position, and that each of the members of the Six-Party Talks have attempted to dissuade North Korea from proceeding.
And we are also agreed that we will discuss a response if we are not successful in convincing them not to go forward with what is a very provocative act. And there are a range of options available to take action against the North Koreans in the wake of the missile launch, if they pursue that, but also to try to resume the Six-Party Talks. Let’s not confuse the two.
The goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula remains a paramount goal, and the Six-Party Talks framework should be restarted so that we can begin to work on that.
We need to have a conversation about missile – missiles, and it’s not – it wasn’t in the Six-Party Talks. We would like to see it be part of the discussion with North Korea. But most importantly, we would like to see North Korea evidence in some way their willingness to re-engage with all of us and to work together on the agenda that they agreed to in the Six-Party Talks. And that’s what we’re working for.
Thank – oh, are you waiting?
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, may I just –
MR. WOOD: We can take one last question (inaudible). One last quick question, please.
QUESTION: Mike Lavallee from TBS.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi.
QUESTION: Hi. Madame Secretary, I just kind of wanted to follow up on your – what you said about North Korea just now. First, with the Chinese minister, they see it a little bit differently than we do, whether it’s violating UN Resolution 1718, if they – launching for a satellite launch. And I was just wondering if you were able to get any headway about agreement on that with Minister Yang.
And secondly, it seemed like you were just saying now that even if they go ahead with a missile launch, that there still may be the possibility of continuing on with the Six-Party Talks. So I was just wondering if – is that the feeling, that they are completely separate issues and that we would be able to continue with Six Party even if there is a missile launch?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, we won’t know until it happens. What we are trying to do is to restart the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible. We think that’s in everyone’s interest to do so, to continue the disablement of the nuclear facilities, to work toward the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. We believe that the missile launch, for whatever purpose it is stated to be aimed at, is in violation of the Security Council resolution.
I think that our partners in the Six-Party Talks are concerned about the missile launch. They are willing to address it if it does happen with us in a variety of ways, including the Security Council. But I don’t want to, you know, talk about hypotheticals. We are still working to try to dissuade the North Koreans. But it is important to recognize that the North Koreans entered into obligations regarding denuclearization that we intend to try to hold them to. And that is something we’re going to do regardless of what happens with their – with what they may or may not launch in the future.
These Six-Party Talks are the vehicle that we have, which have proved – which has proven to be effective, which did set forth a set of obligations which the North Koreans agreed to. And we would like to get back to those and begin discussions as soon as it would be feasible, and we’re pushing that right now.
Thank you all very much.
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Remarks With Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas At the Signing Ceremony After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 9, 2009

Date: 03/09/2009 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas sign documents at the State Department. State Dept Photo

SECRETARY CLINTON: Welcome, and it’s a great pleasure to have the foreign minister along with his delegation from Lithuania here today. Some of you may remember that the minister was a shining star in the Washington, D.C., diplomatic firmament when he served as Lithuania’s ambassador to the United States. He served for five years, and there was a great regret when he left Washington, so it’s especially nice to have him back in his new capacity. I think he’s been foreign minister since December, if I’m not mistaken.
FOREIGN MINISTER USACKAS: That’s correct.
SECRETARY CLINTON: So he’s been a foreign minister longer than I have been.
During our discussions, the minister and I affirmed our shared commitment to the common principles and common purposes that unite our countries. It is no accident that Lithuania is one of our most dependable partners and allies. Both our countries share a determination to promote democracy, uphold the rule of law, encourage broad-based economic prosperity, and we are deeply committed to NATO’s pledge of collective security.
These principles provide the foundation for our efforts to address a growing array of economic, diplomatic, and security challenges. In order to succeed in these common efforts, we have to cooperate even more closely than we already have in the past.
Date: 03/09/2009 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas prepare to sign documents at the State Department. State Dept PhotoThe instruments of ratification we are exchanging today, which are called for by the 2005 protocols regarding extradition and mutual legal assistance between our two countries, are an example of that increased cooperation. This exchange is the first of the 27 similar sets of agreements that the United States will be undertaking with all EU member-countries. These protocols will enter into force shortly, when the related agreements between the United States and the European Union take effect.
Many of the law enforcement challenges our countries face today have little respect for borders. Networks of computer hackers, financial criminals, and violent extremists often hide behind international borders and use geography to gain impunity. These twin agreements between the United States and Lithuania give our police and our prosecutors the state-of-the-art tools they need to cooperate in bringing criminals to justice on both sides of the Atlantic.
In conjunction with the similar agreements we are pursuing with all of the countries of the European Union, the agreements for which we are exchanging instruments of ratification today will help provide the Euro-Atlantic community with powerful tools to apprehend and prosecute individuals who might otherwise escape justice.
These agreements are only one small facet of the vibrant partnership the United States enjoys with the people and Government of Lithuania.
Now, I have been told that this year marks the 1,000th anniversary of Lithuania’s name. Now, we in the United States cannot claim such a lengthy history, but I am convinced that our strong relationship, cooperation, and shared values can last just as long. I look forward to working with the foreign minister as we go forward from today’s meeting working together as allies to create a stronger, safer, and more prosperous world.
FOREIGN MINISTER USACKAS: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. It’s great to be back in Washington this year, and it’s great to see you again, this time not as a senator but Secretary of State.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER USACKAS: Indeed, United States and Lithuania are bound by many ties, and we are members of NATO, we are – Lithuania is a member of the EU and enjoy very close transatlantic relationship. But most importantly, that we are bound by the human chain, human chain of the people who have been residing in United States for more than one hundred years. And I am coming here to Washington, D.C., straight from Chicago, where we had a celebration of millennium for Lithuania and where many people came to enjoy Lithuanian national music and dance.
I am here today to talk to Secretary Hillary Clinton about the challenges for the Euro-Atlantic community. We talked about energy security issues, which are very important both for Europe and for United States. We talked about our common neighborhood of NATO and the European Union, which stretches from Belarus to Georgia. And we also talked about, very important, a neighbor, Russia, with whom we have decided to re-launch – resume NATO-Russia Council only last week. We believe that NATO has an important agenda before the summit, and we look forward to working with United States so as to prepare NATO alliance for the challenges of the 21st century.
Lithuania is a trustworthy ally of United States. We’re present in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re going to be increasing our military presence in Afghanistan. And we are continuously sharing our experience of democracy building and free market with such countries as Ukraine and Georgia. We strongly – we are strongly committed to the future membership of Ukraine and Georgia. Those countries have a lot to learn from the examples and lessons learned of Central European countries. And I’m looking forward to working with Secretary of State and with her staff to advance our reforms and to share the best lessons learned with the countries I mentioned.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister. And if you will, join me now for the signing of the protocols.
(The Instruments of Ratification are signed.)
(Applause.)

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International Women’s Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 8, 2009

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2009, I am proud to honor women around the world who are blazing trails and surmounting obstacles in pursuit of equality and opportunity. Although you may not know their names or recognize their faces, these women advocates are hard at work in every country and on every continent, seeking to fulfill their right to participate fully in the political, economic and cultural lives of their societies. Often working against great odds and at great personal sacrifice, they are a key to global progress in this new century and deserve our admiration and support.

Put simply, we have much less hope of addressing the complex challenges we face in this new century without the full participation of women. Whether the economic crisis, the spread of terrorism, regional conflicts that threaten families and communities, and climate change and the dangers it presents to the world’s health and security, we will not solve these challenges through half measures. Yet too often, on these issues and many more, half the world is left behind.

This is not simply a matter of emotion or altruism. A growing body of research tells us that supporting women is a high-yield investment, resulting in stronger economies, more vibrant civil societies, healthier communities, and greater peace and stability. But even so, no nation in the world has yet achieved full equality for women.

Women still comprise the majority of the world’s poor, unfed, and unschooled. Hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth every year. They are subjected to rape as a tactic of war and exploited by traffickers globally in a billion dollar criminal business. Laws are still on the books denying women the right to own property, access credit, or make their own choices within their marriage. And honor killings, maiming, female genital mutilation, and other violent and degrading practices that target women are tolerated in too many places today.
Like all people, women deserve to live free from violence and fear. To create peaceful, thriving communities, women must be equal partners. That means making key resources available to women as well as men, including the chance to work for fair wages and have access to credit; to vote, petition their governments and run for office; to know they can get healthcare when they need it, including family planning; and to send their children to school—their sons and their daughters.

Women also have a crucial role to play in establishing peace worldwide. In regions torn apart by war, it is often the women who find ways to reach across differences and discover common ground as mothers, caretakers, and grassroots advocates. One need only look to Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Balkans, and parts of Central America to see the impact of women working in their communities to bridge divides in areas of sectarian conflict.

This week, as we celebrate the accomplishments and the untapped potential of women around the world, we must remind ourselves that ensuring the rights of women and girls is not only a matter of justice. It is a matter of enhancing global peace, progress, and prosperity for generations to come.
When women are afforded their basic rights, they flourish. And so do their children, families, communities, and nations.
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03-07-09-S-12

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03-07-09-S-07 03-07-09-S-08 03-07-09-S-09

 

-03/07/09  Interview With Mehmet Ali Birand of Kanal D TV; Ankara, Turkey
-03/07/09  Interview on Haydi Gel Bizimle Ol ; Ankara, Turkey

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Remarks With Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ankara, Turkey
March 7, 2009

Date: 03/07/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan after their joint press conference.  Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara, March 7, 2009 State Dept Photo FOREIGN MINISTER BABACAN: (Via interpreter) We would like to welcome Mrs. Clinton. We had a telephone conversation a few weeks ago, and I invited the Secretary during that telephone conversation, and I would like to thank the Secretary for having accepted my invitation and having come so quickly, I mean, after the telephone conversation.

This is the first visit of Mrs. Clinton to Turkey after the Obama administration took over and this is a very timely visit because there is a very wide agenda of the partnership between Turkey and the United States covering a vast geography and there are important developments coming up and important turning points coming up. And it is important for us to have discussions and consultations and it was important to have had that discussion to cover distance.

As you know, when we define the relations between Turkey and the United States we use the concept of friendship, the concept of partnership, the concept of being allies. And today, we have, once again, reiterated our friendship, partnership, and strategic alliance, once again. And we have been having many discussions – consultations on many areas and we have a common understanding to further deepening those consultations. In the future the topics that we discuss will be many more and we will have opportunities to discuss those issues in greater depth. Turkey and the United States defend the same values and work to disseminate those values to all four corners of the world: democracy, human rights, freedoms, rule of law, free market economy. Those are some of the values that Turkey and the United States defend, implement and try to disseminate to all parts of the world. And we do have a shared vision, in this sense, and we have common goals.

As you know, about three years ago, we had agreed upon a document called Shared Vision and Structured Dialogue. And today we will have a joint statement in writing, which will be distributed to you after this press conference. And you will see in that document that we will work to achieve even better results by working even closer together. We have, of course, taken up our bilateral relations – political, economic, cultural relations, relations on education between Turkey and the United States. We have also, on the other hand, spoken about the Middle East, Israel-Palestine , Israel-Syria, Israel-Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, developments in those countries – we’ve discussed those.; the Balkans, the Caucasus; Cyprus was also on our agenda; Turkish-EU relations was another topic we spoke about; energy, from especially a regional perspective was another area of cooperation we discussed. And our good-excellent cooperation in the fight against terrorism. That was another topic we discussed which – this is something that we will continue with the same determination in the future. We have both reconfirmed that approach.

We also evaluated our economic relations and we also very briefly spoke about Africa and North Korea although they are more distant geographies. This morning Mrs. Clinton had quite a detailed discussion with our Prime Minister and this afternoon she will be received by our president – I will be there as well – and then she will go back to her home country. She has been away for quite some time – for about a week now. She has been in this region for about a week.

So, I’d like to once again welcome Mrs. Clinton. The relations between Turkey and the United States will continue to be very important. We have both reconfirmed that importance in our discussions, and I would like to thank her very much for coming to Turkey as a sign of that importance. Thank you.

Please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Foreign Minister, and it is wonderful to be back here in Ankara. I have a special place in my heart for your country and I am always grateful to remember the gracious hospitality that I have received here and the memorable trip that my husband and I made to Turkey in 1999. It was in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake, but both Bill and I saw the courage, humanity, resilience and strength of the Turkish people, and we have never forgotten that.

The relationship between our two countries is one of alliance, partnership, and friendship. We have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to face common challenges. We share a commitment to democracy, a secular constitution, respect for religious freedom, a belief in free markets, and a sense of global responsibility. I know that President Obama and I will work with you, with the president and the prime minister, to strengthen and deepen those ties, and to create even more opportunities for us to work together.

Turkey has been a major contributor to the ongoing struggle to stabilize Afghanistan. I remember the first time I flew into Afghanistan in 2003. The officer who met me as I came off my plane was a Turkish officer. I’m also grateful for the courage and sacrifice of the Turkish troops who have served alongside American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. And thank you as well to Turkey for your key role in helping rebuild the Iraqi economy, particularly in northern Iraq. You have stimulated trade and investment and been very helpful in working with the people of Iraq as they struggle to form their own democracy.

Foreign Minister Babacan and I covered a broad agenda today, just as I did with the prime minister earlier in the morning. In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, we discussed our cooperation to defeat our common enemy, the PKK; to update NATO’s capabilities to meet 21st century challenges; and we talked about the urgent need to work with the international community toward a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

I reiterate the Obama Administration’s support for Turkey’s membership in the European Union. The United States believes it will strengthen Turkey, Europe, and our transatlantic partnership. The United States continues to support the UN-sponsored talks now taking place to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus conflict based on reunification of the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We talked about Turkey’s democracy, its multiethnic heritage, and in that context, I raised the importance that we place on reopening the Halki Seminary and efforts to reach out to all of Turkey’s communities.

The foreign minister and I concluded a joint statement that will be passed out to the press. That statement is a clear signal of our shared commitment to reenergize our alliance. I’m particularly pleased that it includes strong support for the United Nations Security Council and its work to maintain global peace and security, to deal with the issues, including terrorism and drug trafficking, organized crime, and the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is a roadmap for our progress on a range of issues.

I also am very pleased to make two announcements. The first is that we will establish a Young Turkey – Young America initiative that will enable emerging young leaders in Turkey and the United States to develop initiatives that will positively impact not just their own lives, but the lives of our two peoples, and to help build a better future.

And finally, President Obama asked me to send a personal message as a reflection of the value that we place on our friendship with Turkey. President Obama will be visiting Turkey within the next month or so. The exact date will be announced shortly. We are coordinating with the Turkish Government to find a date that works for both of our presidents and our governments.

When I return home, I will tell President Obama he will find a warm welcome when he comes here to Turkey, and he will find, as I have always found, not only a partner for the challenges and opportunities that we face together, but a friend for all times and all challenges that lie ahead. Thank you so much.

FOREIGN MINISTER BABACAN: (Via interpreter) …time, and we’re running late so we’ll take one question each, one from the U.S. side and one from the Turkish side. Now, as to who is going to ask the first question. Mrs. Clinton, you decide – first question goes to American press.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Mark Landler from The New York Times.

QUESTION: Two questions. With your emissaries now on the ground in Damascus, can you tell us whether the U.S. intends to send an ambassador back to Syria? And is the U.S. ready to work with Turkey on a Syrian-Israeli peace track?

For Minister Babacan, with the Obama Administration ready to engage in the Middle East, do you feel a sense of optimism that a Syrian-Israeli peace deal could be reached?

And then a follow-up for – (laughter). Just a small follow-up. Since you did make a bit of news a moment ago Madame Secretary. There’s been a great deal of speculation about where President Obama would deliver a major address in the Islamic world. Can we assume, if he’s coming to Turkey in the next month, that that address will be delivered in Turkey?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, Mark. No, we are just at the beginning of the planning. This decision was reached late yesterday in Washington, and we’re very excited that the President will be coming to Turkey, but as I said, we don’t even have the dates decided yet. There’s a lot of consultation that we need to engage in between our two governments, and what the program will be, the places the President will visit, we just don’t know yet. So we will let you know as we work with our Turkish partners on this very important and significant visit.

With respect to Syria, we do have two representatives of the United States Government in Damascus today meeting with the Syrians. We are just at the beginning of exploring the issues that we must discuss between us, and no decisions have been made. We’ll wait to hear back from our two representatives, and we will consult further. So we have not decided on any next steps.

With regard to the Syria-Israeli peace track, I offered my appreciation to the prime minister and the foreign minister for the leadership role that Turkey has played in bringing Syria and Israel together. The United States supports a comprehensive peace where Israel lives in peace and security with the Palestinians, and the Palestinians have their own state, and Israel lives in peace with all of their Arab neighbors, including Syria.

So the importance of this track of the peace effort cannot be overstated, and Turkey has played a very important role. Once there is an Israeli government, our special envoy will return to the region. The foreign minister and I and the prime minister and I have talked about how the United States will consult closely with Turkey as we move forward. But certainly, a peace between Syria and Israel, the normalization of relations, is something that would be a part of an agenda of a comprehensive peace effort.

FOREIGN MINISTER BABACAN: (Via interpreter) Let me add briefly the following, as you know, the peace talks between Syria and Israel were realized as four rounds, and when Mr. Olmert came to Ankara, there was an additional meeting, which we could call a fifth round. But the developments in Gaza rendered it impossible to continue those talks and we had announced at the time that those talks were suspended because in the peace process, when you have negotiations in one track, you can’t have war in another track. You can’t think of the same simultaneously.

But the situation in Gaza now and what happens from this day forward will be important. We place a lot of importance on having a permanent ceasefire, and whenever the conditions are right, whenever Syria and Israel say that they would like to re-initiate these discussions, Turkey, no doubt, will be ready to contribute to that process. But this will be upon the request coming from both sides.

Before the events in Gaza, we carried this process forward successfully with strong will, and in the future, too, whenever the two countries are ready, and whenever they make a request from us, then we would no doubt be ready again to take this process further. But the support of the international community, too, is very important, and the United States has been supporting this process from the very beginning, and there is no doubt that the international community and the support by the international community and the U.S. will continue to be important.

Now we take a question from the Turkish side. Yes, please.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) from (inaudible) newspaper. Question to both ministers, first to Mrs. Clinton. With respect to plans of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, do you plan to use Turkey as a route for the withdrawal of troops? And did you talk to the Turkish officials about your expectations in this regard today, and could you tell us the scope of that request?
And I also ask Minister Babacan for his views on that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are in the process of beginning to plan for the troop withdrawal from Iraq. President Obama has set forth the outlines of the plan. But clearly, there is a lot of work that has to go into translating our commitment to withdraw troops to the on-the-ground decisions about when and how the troops will leave Iraq. And I think it’s understandable that we would not talk about military decisions; we would not be in a position to discuss how and when our troops withdraw. We will consult with and seek advice from a NATO ally like Turkey about the safest and most effective means of withdrawing our troops.

FOREIGN MINISTER BABACAN: (Via interpreter) I had already made some statements about the subject before. This is not new on our agenda. This is something that has been under discussion at a technical level for some time, and we’ll assess the situation in close consultation with the United States.

But generally speaking, we have a positive view on this. If the timing – as to what sort of equipment will pass through Turkey and what the scope of that cooperation will be, those are things that we will be discussing. And if we don’t see any issues or problems as far as we’re concerned, we believe that we will have this cooperation. But we’re still at the very beginning, and we need to still talk about the details. And first, the American side will have – make its own preparations so that we can know what their request will be, and then we will negotiate or discuss those issues. But generally speaking, we would be willing to support this effort.

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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