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Remarks With Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Presidential Palace
Yerevan, Armenia
June 4, 2012

FOREIGN MINISTER NALBANDIAN: Dear Madam Secretary of State, dear Hillary, it’s a great pleasure for me to welcome you again in Armenia. Your last visit to Yerevan coincided with July the 4th, the national day of the United States of America. This visit coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. The coincidence contains a positive symbolism. Less than two years we have passed since your previous visit to Armenia, but during this period we have had several opportunities to meet in Washington, in different cities, in the frameworks of international conferences. Independent of the months or the year or the place those meetings were held, they were exclusively warm, meaningful, fruitful, containing important and positive messages.

Your visit to Armenia, to the region, testifies to the United States authority special attention to the South Caucasus. The meetings between the Armenian and American leaderships – I would underscore the Washington meeting between Presidents Sargsian and Obama in April 2010 – reflects our strong will to deepen our relations. More than a century-long friendship between our two nations in which the American Armenian community has had a special role was naturally reflected in the two-decades long interstate relations.

Madam Secretary, the mutual trust and understanding existing between our two countries, thanks to our common efforts, thanks to your personal, invaluable input, are the best pillars for expanding our friendly partnership. The bilateral cooperation between the United States and Armenia, which has reached the highest point in its history, concerns such important domains as institutional reforms, deepening of democracy, rule of law, modernization of economy.

We have also close interaction in the international arena, covering regional and international security, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fight against all forms of terrorism, peacekeeping cooperations from Kosovo to Afghanistan, and other global challenges. The United States, as a co-chair country of OSCE group, has provided its permanent support to the process of the peaceful settlement of the Nargorno-Karabakh conflict. This process has been under the constant attention of the President and the State Secretary of the United States of America. Together, with the two other co-chair countries, the United States deployed intensive efforts and adopted several high-level important joint statements on the settlement of that issue.

Dear State Secretary, more than once we have expressed our common approach on the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. That position has been and remains the normalization of relations without preconditions. You have made an exclusive contribution to this process. Thank you very much. Unfortunately, the ball continues to remain in the Turkish court.

Twenty years ago, Secretary James Baker noted that free, democratic, independent Armenia and the United States of America shares the same values: democracy, liberty, market economy, defense of human rights. During those 20 years, the United States has strongly supported Armenia. Today, humanitarian assistance is gradually turning into development projects and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Dear Secretary, we express our gratitude to the President Obama’s Administration and to you personally for your commitment and remarkable contribution to strengthening of Armenian-American friendly partnership. I hope that the celebration of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations will open new, wider horizons in bilateral relations.

I would like once again to welcome you, State Secretary, and your delegation to Armenia. The floor is yours.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very, very much, Minister Nalbandian. I feel very pleased that I could be back here in Armenia once again, and I am very grateful for the warm and gracious hospitality offered by the president and yourself. And it is fitting that I would be here as we celebrate 20 years of U.S.-Armenia relations. Anniversaries like this provide an opportunity to look back on how far we have come and also to look down the road toward what kind of future we want of our relationship and Armenia’s position in the world 20 years from now. The president, the foreign minister, and I discussed this at length.

Regarding regional and global security, I thanked the president for Armenia’s contributions to our shared mission in Afghanistan and to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo. We also discussed ways to improve Armenia’s ties with its neighbors and increase stability and security throughout the region. To that end, we are committed to seeing Armenia and Turkey normalize relations, because we think this is a path forward to a better future for the citizens of both countries and we strongly support ratification of the Turkey-Armenia protocols without preconditions. We commend Armenia and President Sargsian for the leadership they have shown on this issue.

Twenty years ago, Armenia had just begun its transition to democracy. There have been positive steps, and now we need to take more. We know from experience that democracy must be built over time. It isn’t about just one campaign or even one election. It is an ongoing project. And we are pleased to see Armenia continuing to work to strengthen your democratic institutions to promote transparency, advance the rights of a free press, root out corruption, respect universal rights and freedoms.

Earlier today, I met several Armenian human rights activists who are working with courage and determination to help make reforms possible and to promote the democratic aspirations of the Armenian people. And we stand committed to working with Armenia as you continue the hard work of democratization.

I am very – I was very pleased at the reports from international monitors about Armenia’s parliamentary elections last month being generally competitive and inclusive, where candidates were able to campaign for the most part without interference. There were some electoral problems that were identified, and we hope that Armenia will work with the OSCE and others to ensure that the next election is even better.

Private sector investors are looking for an open business climate with predictable rules; an independent judiciary; transparent regulations, taxes, and customs. And we are pleased at the progress Armenia has made, and we encourage that even more progress occur this year. I am convinced that unleashing the Armenian people’s entrepreneurial energy can transform the economy, and we look forward to being your partner in doing that.

Of course, the president and I had a serious discussion of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the most recent incidents along the front lines. While I had only just learned of these incidents, I am very concerned about the danger of escalation of tensions and the senseless deaths of young soldiers and innocent civilians. The use of force will not resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and therefore force must not be used. And we are calling on everyone to renounce force as well as refraining from violence. I assured the president that I would make these points in Baku when I am there the day after tomorrow.

Now, these incidents underscore the necessity to try to keep making progress on the peace process. As a co-chair of the Minsk Group, the United States is committed to working with all the parties to find a way forward. And I am very committed that there has to be a way forward. And it’s not only the actions of leaders; it must be the actions of citizens as well to try to find a way to enable people of the region to live together in peace and dignity.

So there is a lot of work ahead of us, but I am very pleased to have this opportunity to have come to catch up with my friend and colleague, Eduard, as well as to see the president again to review very broadly regional and global matters as well as our bilateral relations. And I think it’s important that we keep working together, because I believe Armenia has a very positive and bright future ahead.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, you’re visiting three South Caucasus nations at a time of great economic and political change as well as great challenges: Armenia-Azerbaijan, Armenia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Iran, Georgia-Russia. What does the United States doing to try to open up some of those relationships, especially here in Armenia where there’s trade neither with Turkey nor Azerbaijan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our greatest interest is to see Armenia and Turkey move together toward normalization. We strongly support the efforts that have been made. We have urged the ratification of the normalization protocols without preconditions. As I said when I was here two years ago, the ball remains in Turkey’s court. And I am encouraged that there is more public discussion in Turkey and Armenia about these issues, because I think honest, open, constructive conversations are important for both sides to move forward.

With respect to Armenia and Azerbaijan, there is no linkage between the protocols process and the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations. Those are separate. But we are equally engaged and pushing hard to try to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh matter.

So on both of these issues in the region, the United States has been and will remain very actively involved. We believe that these are countries that should have open borders, should work together, should trade, should have people-to-people exchanges, because we think that it would be mutually beneficial to all concerned. And one of the reasons for my visit today is to continue working on these two separate but very important processes.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (In Armenian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I said, I am very concerned by these incidents and have called on all parties, all actors, to refrain from the use or threat of force, because there is no military solution to this conflict. It can only be resolved at the negotiating table. And of course, there is a danger that it could escalate into a much broader conflict that would be very tragic for everyone concerned.

And so the United States, along with the Minsk Group, is committed to doing everything we can. And I discussed some specific ideas with the president and the foreign minister today. I made it clear to the president that the United States believes that a peace settlement must be based upon Helsinki principles, the non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples. And you can’t take one out. They have to be an integrated whole in order to arrive at a sustainable solution.

So we will continue with our efforts. Later this month, the foreign ministers will be meeting. And we’re going to be putting ideas forth, because we think it’s in everyone’s interest to focus on achieving a breakthrough solution and avoiding the escalation of violence.

FOREIGN MINISTER NALBANDIAN: (In Armenian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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The picture is not from this event, but, as always, Mme. Secretary met with Embassy personnel and families in Yerevan today before departing Armenia.

Remarks at Meeting With Embassy Yerevan Staff and Families

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Yerevan
Yerevan, Armenia
June 4, 2012

Well, it is such a pleasure to be back here in Yerevan. And I want thank all of you for your hard work and commitment. This is a special year as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of U.S.-Armenian relations. And I saw the posters on the wall as I turned into the compound.

In the early days, 20 years ago, there were only six American officers here. They ran the Embassy out of a hotel. When the charge needed to send a cable, he’d open his hotel room window and hold an antenna outside – (laughter) – until he got a good satellite connection. So I think we’re making progress, don’t you?

I really appreciate the ambassador’s efforts Tweeting about what happens here. (Laughter.) And I think it’s fair to say that what you’re doing every single day is helping us – (laughter) – build an even stronger and deeper relationship between our two countries.

I’d also note that you started interviewing Iranian student visa applicants, something this embassy is uniquely positioned to do. We have been, from the very beginning, saying that we wanted better relations with the people of Iran and more student exchanges and other people-to-people contacts, and you are helping us do that.

I’d also like to especially recognize the local staff, who are the backbone of this and every embassy. I am very grateful to all of our Armenian local staffs and thank you for your dedicated service to this important mission.

And I want, finally, to thank the families. I just got to see some very attractive young people and took a picture with them. And I know that many of you are away from your families. I know that in many instances your families are right by your side, helping you every step of the way. But for me, it’s a family that serves. And so I thank all of you for that.

This is an exciting time in the world. It’s unpredictable. There are lots of changes, but I think it’s important for us all to keep working for greater peace, progress, and stability and prosperity in the world, and we’re going to do everything we can to help Armenia continue to develop a vibrant democracy, a strong economy, and better futures for the Armenian people. Thank you very much.

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Remarks at the Universal Rights Award Ceremony

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Yerevan
Yerevan, Armenia
June 4, 2012

Thank you very much, Ambassador, and it is such a pleasure to be here in Yerevan at the U.S. Embassy. Let me acknowledge some of the partners that the Ambassador was speaking about. Can you hear me? Okay. I want to acknowledge the governments and organizations here: the OSCE, the European Union, the British Embassy, the NGO Counterpart International, all steadfast partners in the effort to promote and protect human rights worldwide.

The men and women we honor here today have toiled and sacrificed to make human rights a reality for the people of Armenia. Their stories show us that solutions to big problems can start with the actions of one or a few people. Change begins with a group of courageous activists who fight to stop environmental degradation so Armenians can live healthier lives, begins with journalists who raise awareness about human rights violations, and a dedicated public servant who pushes the police force to reform.

The United States knows from long experience that if you want to have a stable, prosperous society, you need an accountable, effective government, you need a dynamic, free economy, and you need a civil society that supports the rights and dignity of all people. The United States believes that accountable government and leaders are one of the most important elements of successful societies.

So although we honor these men and women tonight for defending human rights, we also acknowledge them as committed to building a stronger Armenia. The United States will stand with those who defend the rights of men and women, who work toward a future where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential, and for democracy that holds such great promise for Armenia’s future. The United States and I personally believe strongly that Armenia can have a very bright future filled with opportunities for all of your people.

So let us all keep working together to forge the partnerships that carry us toward the goal of a time here in Armenia and around the world where all people are given that chance and where governments protect the rights of their people, look toward the future to determine the best path forward, create peace, prosperity, and progress for all. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) speaks during a ceremony honoring local Armenians with Universal Rights Awards at the US Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia, Monday June 4, 2012. (AP Photo / Saul Loeb, Pool)

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No public schedule has been posted for today, but in these photos we see Mme. Secretary attending a rights award ceremony at the U.S. Embassy Yerevan; meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian prior to a dinner with him; and participating in a press conference with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian prior to her nighttime departure for Batumi, Georgia.

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Here she is arriving in Yerevan and being greeted with beautiful flowers by Armenia’s Foriegn Minister Edward Nalbandian.

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Secretary Clinton To Travel to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey from May 31-June 7. In Copenhagen, Denmark, Secretary Clinton will hold bilateral meetings with senior Danish officials. She will also participate in the kick-off event for Green Partnerships for Growth, a bilateral initiative to promote green technology through public and private sector partnerships.

On June 1, Secretary Clinton will travel to Oslo, Norway, where she will meet with senior Norwegian officials and give keynote remarks at a global health conference hosted by the Norwegian government titled, “A World in Transition – Charting a New Path in Global Health.” On June 2, the Secretary will be in Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle and home of the Arctic Council Permanent Secretariat, for discussions of U.S.-Norwegian cooperation in the Arctic, including on climate change and the sustainable development of untapped resources.

On June 3, Secretary Clinton will travel to Stockholm, Sweden, for meetings with senior Swedish officials to discuss a range of issues, including green energy, Internet freedom, Afghanistan and the Middle East. In Stockholm she will also participate in a Climate and Clean Air Coalition event on short-lived climate pollutants.

The Secretary will travel to the Caucasus from June 4 to 7. In all these countries, she will discuss important issues of regional security, democracy, economic development and counterterrorism.

In Armenia on June 4, the Secretary will meet with President Sargsian and other senior Armenian officials. She will also meet with Armenian civil society leaders.

On June 5, the Secretary will open the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission plenary session in Batumi, Georgia. She will meet also with President Saakashvili and hold discussions with a broad range of political actors and civil society representatives.

The Secretary will travel on June 6 to Azerbaijan to meet with President Aliyev as well as Azerbaijani civil society leaders.

On June 7, the Secretary will co-chair the Global Counterterrorism Forum Ministerial in Istanbul, Turkey and consult with senior Turkish officials on a range of foreign policy challenges, including Syria and Iran.

On Wednesday of the past week, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Clinton emphasized the urgency and importance of U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention. The nature of her first stop in this itinerary underscores remarks she made at the time.  Yes, we do meet and negotiate with members on various oceanic councils, such as the Arctic Council, but our heft in these meetings is negatively affected by our absence at the convention table.  We would come from a position of additional strength were we to ratify the treaty and take our place among member states.

In anticipation to her visits to Georgia and Azerbaijan, the secretary released the following greetings to the people of those countries in celebration of their imminent national days.

Georgia Independence Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Georgia as you celebrate your independence this May 26.

In a few days I will have the chance to visit Batumi to experience the warmth of the Georgian people and reaffirm our commitment to Georgia’s future. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of U.S.-Georgian bilateral relations. Since regaining its independence, Georgia has made impressive progress fighting corruption, developing modern state institutions, and enhancing global security.

The United States is committed to helping Georgia deepen Euro-Atlantic ties and strengthen the institutions of your democracy, and we remain steadfast in support of Georgia’s territorial integrity. We stood with the Georgian people 20 years ago at the dawn of your renewed independence, and we stand with you today.

As you celebrate this special day, we look forward to working with the Georgian government and people to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Republic of Azerbaijan’s National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Azerbaijan as you celebrate Republic Day this May 28th.

I am looking forward to my trip to Baku in a few days where I will have the chance to talk to civil society and government leaders about Azerbaijan’s challenges and opportunities, and how the United States can support a brighter future for both our people. We will discuss new ways to partner together to promote regional security and stability, enhance energy security, and strengthen economic and political reforms.

As you celebrate your national day, know that the United States stands with you. Congratulations and best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous year to come.

So as to exclude no one, I include the secretary’s greetings to the people of Ethiopia on their upcoming national day as well.  We have no information regarding upcoming plans for a visit there, however.

Ethiopia’s National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Ethiopia as you celebrate your national day this May 28th.

The United States and the people of Ethiopia share a strong history as friends and partners. Together, we are working to enhance food security, improve health services, strengthen education, promote trade, and expand development. The United States applauds Ethiopia’s dedication to maintaining security in the region, including through important and effective peacekeeping missions in Sudan and South Sudan. I hope the coming year will yield a more vibrant civil society and private sector to help shape a brighter future for Ethiopia.

The United States is committed to helping Ethiopia achieve a more peaceful and prosperous future for all its people, and we look forward to continuing to work together toward common goals in Africa and around the world. As you gather with family and friends to celebrate your national day, know that the United States stands with you.

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No public schedule was posted today. Sorry. But we do have this.

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Remarks With Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 19, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Foreign Minister Nalbandian and I have met many times and it is once again a delight to welcome him to the State Department. The United States and Armenia have many connections and relationships that span politics and go into family and so much else that is very important to us. And we have many, many important issues ahead of us, and I look forward to continuing the important conversation that we’ve been carrying out.

So welcome, Foreign Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER NALBANDIAN: Thank you. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for a very warm welcome. I’m very glad to be in Washington and to meet with you again. The frequency of our meetings proves our commitment to deepen and to strengthen Armenian-American relations. Due to our joint efforts, we elevated our relationship to a qualitatively new level during the last years, and I would like to thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for your contribution, for your efforts, for your engagement. I am sure that this meeting will be another occasion to enhance our friendly partnership between United States and Armenia. Thank you again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, my friend. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER NALBANDIAN: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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