Posts Tagged ‘Azerbaijan’

Remarks With Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Baku, Azerbaijan
June 6, 2012

FOREIGN MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: Welcome for those who are from the foreign press to Azerbaijan. I am really happy to greet Secretary of State Madam Hillary Clinton to Azerbaijan precisely on the days when we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of establishing of our bilateral relations. On the 25th of December of ’91, the United States recognized the independence and – of Azerbaijan, and through these years, we managed to establish a strong partnership and strategic cooperation in various fields, fields like energy, fields like security cooperation, combating terrorism, drug trafficking, humanitarian cooperation, and so on.

Today we have very, very interesting and very, very intensive discussion. I am really happy that Secretary – Madam Secretary is coming to Azerbaijan for the second time within no less than two years. The last time it was on the 4th of July celebrating the independence of the United States here in Baku.

And one of the major priorities of today’s discussion was, of course, resolution of the Armenia and Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. There was a few ideas which were sounded with (inaudible) with Madam Secretary as one of the co-chair of the Minsk Group, where we’re standing and how we can make an appropriate steps to reach the breakthrough on the issue of settlement.

As I already told yesterday to our media, on the 18th of this month we are planning to have a meeting with Armenia – my Armenian counterpart in Paris together with the co-chairs. And again, that’s trying to bring the impetus to reaching more sooner a breakthrough in regard to this very longstanding conflict.

We also discussed the issue of Afghanistan, where our soldiers are shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers from United States of America, from the alliance trying to strengthening and building peace. Energy issue was an issue of another very, very interesting discussion, and regional issues as well.

So in two words summarizing what I said, Azerbaijan is firm and we are recognizing that with all the support which is extended to us by international community and particularly by United States, we’ll move forward on the path of being a more secular Muslim state, and that’s how we see our future on the globe.

And now, Madam Secretary, if you can, the floor is yours.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Foreign Minister, and I am very glad to return to Azerbaijan for my second visit as Secretary of State. It’s especially good to be here after the Eurovision crowds have departed. But for me, it’s a great opportunity to once again highlight the relationship that we’ve had between our two countries for the last 20 years. Our nations have been steadily strengthening the bonds between our governments, our businesses, and our people.

In my meetings with the president and the foreign minister today, we focused on three key areas: security, energy, and democratic reform. On security, I reiterated my appreciation for Azerbaijan’s past contributions in Iraq and Kosovo and its vital ongoing work in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan is essential to the transportation of troops and nonlethal supplies that support the international effort in Afghanistan. Today, we discussed the continuing important role of the Northern Distribution Network and the importance of supporting the Afghan people after 2014 when they transition to full responsibility for security.

We also had in-depth discussions about Nagorno-Karabakh, including the most recent incidents and deaths along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As I said earlier this week in Yerevan, I am deeply concerned about the danger of escalating tension, which could have unpredictable and disastrous consequences. This cycle of violence and retaliation must end, and everyone should work to keep the peace and comply with the obligations under the 1994 ceasefire agreement. I have stressed to President Aliyev that the United States is prepared to do whatever we can to help reach a settlement based upon the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. And I have asked the president, as I have asked the president of Armenia, to work together to exercise restraint and to take the steps necessary for peace, not conflict.

Regarding energy, the United States works closely with Azerbaijan on energy security. It is a common strategic interest for both countries and one of the great global challenges of our time. Today, I briefly visited the 19th annual Caspian Oil & Gas Show, and I conveyed to the president and foreign minister our great appreciation for the central role that Azerbaijan plays in efforts to diversify supplies of oil and gas as well as the routes over which they are transported. The United States supports Azerbaijan’s goal of establishing a southern corridor for natural gas exports to Europe, a crucial link that will solidify Azerbaijan’s ties to the Euro-Atlantic community. And I look forward to even deeper cooperation in this area.

Finally, the president and foreign minister and I spoke about the importance of fostering a vibrant civil society, embracing and furthering democratic reforms, which will add greatly to the long-term success and prosperity of Azerbaijan. The United States remains strongly committed to working with the government and people to advance respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. And we, as we always do, urge the government to respect their citizens’ right to express views peacefully, to release those who have been detained for doing so in print or on the streets or for defending human rights.

I commend the president and the government for the release on parole of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, whom I had a chance to see earlier today. And I hope he and all who are members of civil society in Azerbaijan continue their work, which is really work that strengthens society, strengthens the opportunities for Azerbaijan to become an even stronger and greater country, because we believe that countries that flourish in the 21st century will be those that respect the rule of law, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, other universal rights.

I also had the opportunity to discuss the progress that is being made with a group of civil society leaders, and we stand ready to help Azerbaijan on this important journey.

For 20 years the United States and Azerbaijan have been working to build a constructive, comprehensive relationship that benefits the people of this country and the larger region. There’s been a lot of progress made in 20 years. One only has to open one’s eyes to see the progress that has occurred. But we need to go further. I have great confidence that Azerbaijan can both continue the path of economic prosperity and continue on a path toward political reform.

And Mr. Minister Elmar, I thank you again for another productive visit.

FOREIGN MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: Thank you very much. Now, Madam Secretary kindly agreed to pick up our questions, I mean answers.


QUESTION: (Off mike.)

QUESTION: One question for you each, if I may. Madam Secretary, on Syria, there’s been increasing talk from Russia and UN officials of setting up a new contact group, of creating or organizing a new conference of states to push forward a plan, and that this conference could include Russia or even UN. What do you think about such an approach, and what will your talks this evening in Istanbul be about?

Mr. Foreign Minister, we’ve all seen the tremendous wealth in your country and its progress, but recently the State Department issued its Annual Human Rights Report and offered some harsh criticism of the government’s human rights record, notably on freedom of expression. When will your government be able to offer its citizens the full respect for human rights that they deserve?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with regard to Syria, as you know, I’ve been stressing that it’s time for all of us to turn our attention to an orderly transition of power in Syria that paves the way for a democratic, tolerant, pluralistic future. It’s clear that President Assad cannot and has failed to bring peace, stability, or positive change to the Syrian people, and in fact has worked against all three.

So tonight in Istanbul, I will meet with some of our most concerned and active partners to assess where we are, to determine what steps we can take together. The work is continuing on sanctions. In fact the Friends of the Syrian People sanctions implementation group is meeting in Washington today and coordinating on new sanctions measures and closing loopholes on the existing regime. We will look for additional measures that we can take to pressure Assad and alleviate suffering. And we’ll also discuss this evening the essential elements of a democratic transition strategy.

Then I will see Kofi Annan in Washington on Friday to discuss next steps, including our shared efforts to encourage Russia and China to use their influence to end the bloodshed and work with the international community in promoting a transition. Until I’ve had those meetings and heard the opinions of those most directly involved, I won’t prejudge whether we will hold a conference and who would be invited to the conference. It’s a little hard to imagine inviting a country that is stage-managing the Assad regime’s assault on its people.

So we will have more to say as we move forward.

FOREIGN MINISTER MAMMADYAROV:   Thank you very much, by the way, that you recognize that the wealth is coming to Azerbaijan. (Laughter.) We are on the way. We’re just in the beginning of this.

But you just asked me about the Human Rights Report. Of course, I always responded to this question that the human rights cannot come within a night. It’s a generational issue. It’s a process, and the most important to be inside of the process.

I believe – and I strongly believe – that Azerbaijan is doing a lot for building up more stronger civil society, more stronger respect of human rights, and building up strong with the rule of law. Human Rights Reports issued by State Department – as a person who used to work in the United States for years, I can tell you that there is a lot of criticism, not regarding Azerbaijan, but the other countries as well. And we understand that there is no angels in the world. But it means that we are in the process. We’re doing our best, and we want to be better and better for sure.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Victoria.

QUESTION: Thank you. AP News Agency. My question will be to Secretary Clinton. Just few hours after you had visited Yerevan and expressed your concern about the incident on the contact line and have called the both parties to refrain the use of force, the Armenians subversive groups tried to enter the Azerbaijani armed force line, and as a result, five soldiers were killed. And by the way, it’s not the first time during your previous visit to the region the same – the very similar military incident took place. So how do you perceive this fact?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m very sad about it. As you know, I’m sure, when I arrived in Yerevan, there had been three Armenians killed, and I heard exactly the same concerns about that as I heard today in Azerbaijan. It is painful to think about these young soldiers or anyone being killed, and there’s no military solution to this conflict. We mourn the senseless deaths of Azerbaijani and Armenian alike. And we should honor their deaths by recommitting ourselves to peace and doing everything we can, as quickly as possible, to pursue a path towards peace.

There will be a meeting in about, I guess, two weeks between the two foreign ministers who will meet with the Minsk co-chairs. And we will explore some new approaches that I have had the opportunity to discuss with the foreign ministers and with the presidents, because there has to be a solution.

It’s the year 2012. It is past time that we resolved this issue, and I’m going to do everything I can – and I’ve pledged that to both presidents – to help facilitate a resolution and the end of the deaths of anyone around this tragic situation. Thank you.


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Mme. Secretary was in three countries in one day today.  After departing Georgia, she spent a busy day in Azerbaijan, met with Embassy Baku families and staff, and then was wheels up for Istanbul where we see her deplaning.  She is in Turkey for talks on Syria.

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Meeting with Staff and Families of Embassy Baku


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Baku
Baku, Azerbaijan
June 6, 2012

Well, it’s wonderful to see you again. How many of you were here when I was here two years ago? Oh, good. (Laughter.)

Well, it’s great to be back and to have this opportunity to thank you in person once again for the outstanding work you do every day on behalf of this very important relationship between our two countries, and I want to thank Adam Sterling for taking the reins in Baku once more. I know it’s been difficult not to have an ambassador for much of the last few years, but we are very lucky to have Adam’s leadership. And I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that we’ll put the ambassador-designee who has his hearing next week on a fast track, because I certainly heard firsthand from the government here how much they are hoping to get an ambassador and be able to go from there.

I’m glad to be back in this beautiful chancery garden, though I know it is a somewhat bittersweet reminder that Embassy Baku just lost a member of the Embassy family. I know how difficult it was for you when Myaka passed. He had been – was one of the very first employees when our Embassy opened in 1992, and he was one who saw our relationship grow over the last 20 years. He was, by all accounts, an exemplary colleague, and the tree that you planted in his memory will be a lasting memorial to his service.

During the past few years, you’ve done so much. You worked hard to gain openings for freedom of political expression and to support the people of Azerbaijan, to stand up for our values and our interests, to work on behalf of American businesses. I just came from the Gas & Oil Exhibition and saw a number of the American businesses represented there. I thanked the locally employed staff for your critical monitoring services during the past election. Our Foreign Service and local staff are empowering women and girls to become innovative business leaders. And I’m especially pleased to hear about your work helping girls at risk of early marriage develop practical skills, find jobs, and gain financial independence.

And when you launch programs that show farmers how to produce enough crops to feed their families and have enough left over to earn a decent living, you are truly expanding economic opportunity. Just as when you connect American businesses with Azerbaijan markets, you’re helping create American jobs. And when you talk to Azerbaijani students about opportunities to study in the United States, you are helping to build bridges between our people. So on these and so many other areas, I’m very grateful.

I spoke specifically to President Aliyev today about building a new, state-of-the-art chancery for you to work out of, and I reminded him that this discussion began when my husband was president. So – (laughter) – we need to speed it up, and we’re trying to do just that. I hope one day soon you can work together in one modern and secure location. In the meantime, I especially want to thank Gunnery Sergeant Lance Grubin and the Marine security guards for all the extra hours they put in to help keep you safe over the last year.

Now I know that you’re going to keep working long after I’m gone, and I know that secretaries, charges, ambassadors come and go, and our locally employed staff provide the memory bank for all that went before and are absolutely instrumental. And I know that many of you representing the United States Government in all our various incarnations here in this mission are going to be absolutely devoted to doing everything you can during your time here in Baku to broaden and deepen this significant relationship. I think we’re making real progress. There’s a long way to go, but it is one of the most strategically located countries if you look at any map, and the opportunities for us to work closely on everything from security to the economy to human rights to opportunity for women and others is just unlimited.

So please take a moment to think about how much you’ve already done, and I look forward to hearing from Adam and then from the new ambassador all that you are continuing to do. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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Mme. Secretary was accompanied to the Batumi International Airport by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.  She was greeted with a beautiful bouquet in Baku, Azerbaijan by Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

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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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Remarks With Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov Before Their Meeting



Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 3, 2011




SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. It’s a real pleasure for me to welcome my colleague here in Washington once again. The minister and I have had the great opportunity of meeting on numerous occasions in the last two-plus years of the Obama Administration, and I just want to underscore the strategic importance of the relationship between the United States and Azerbaijan and the range of issues that we are working on together – bilateral issues, regional issues, even global issues. We are very committed to broadening and deepening our relationship and we are also committed to continuing to work through the Minsk Group to try to resolve the longstanding conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

So we will have a lot to talk about this afternoon, but it is a pleasure to see you once again.

FOREIGN MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. You said whole agenda – (laughter) – now I just want to add that I am totally subscribed to it, and I believe that the relations between Azerbaijan and the United States is developing quite well. I’ll just mention that the nature of it is a strategic one. Of course, we need to even more deepening and strengthening our cooperation. Thank you very much for all the words of trying to bring more peace and stability to the region, particularly the resolution of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh problem. There was a recent statement by the presidents which I believe also helpful from the point of view that this unresolved conflict is on the screen of the international community.


FOREIGN MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: And we all together have to work more harder to make a breakthrough.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you, Elmar.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you all.

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Today in Munich, Secretary Clinton had bilaterals with the new French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and with Foreign Minister of Azerbaijian, Elmar Maharram Mammadyarov.  Once again, despite her heavy schedule, Mme. Secretary looks absolutely smashing!

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Well, on a two (or maybe more) country day half-way around the world, the releases come in sporadically. This is from earlier today in Azerbaijan.

Joint Press Availability With Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Heydar Aliyev International Airport
Baku, Azerbaijan
July 4, 2010

MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: Dear guests, as you are aware, we have the pleasure and honor to have with us yesterday night and today Secretary of State Madam Hillary Clinton. We had very, very interesting, very frank and open discussion on bilateral issues. Of course, one of the utmost important was the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict resolution.
The United States has a co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group, playing its own vital role to bring peace and stability into the region, and trying to resolve, as soon as possible, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Besides that, in the agenda was different other issues of mutual interest, including the energy security. And there was open discussion on the regional affairs, what’s going on in the region, in our country, and particularly the vision of Azerbaijan for the future, the development of the south Caucasus and the entire region.
So, my understanding that — the very important visit of the U.S. Secretary of State — thank you, Madam Clinton — and it was a very, very interesting and very, very frank discussion.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to thank the foreign minister, President Aliyev, and the people of Baku and Azerbaijan for a very warm welcome to me and my delegation.
This is my first visit to your city and your country. And I am leaving very impressed by what I have seen. This is a dynamic city that has long stood at the crossroads of Eurasia. And the bonds between the United States and Azerbaijan are deep, important, and durable. We know that, for centuries, travelers and traders have met and prospered here, learning from one another, forming new connections and networks of cooperation. And I am looking forward to continuing that tradition, and working towards some common interests and aspirations.
We have a lot of business trade between our two countries. We have many vibrant cultural and commercial ties, many exchanges, particularly educational exchanges. I met five young people today who have come on exchanges to study in the United States, and I would like to see that expanded, and I would like to see American students and professionals and academics and others coming here.
Our soldiers have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And we deeply appreciate the commitment and sacrifice of the people and government, as we continue these important missions. Today the president and I discussed the ways that we can deepen that partnership. We share a strong interest in regional sovereignty, security, and prosperity, and we are working together on global challenges, such as combating violent extremism, and providing adequate energy supplies that are made available in an environmentally sustainable way.
As the foreign minister said, we discussed at length the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Minsk Group process working to resolve it. The United States remains committed to a peaceful resolution based upon the Helsinki principles of non-use of force or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples. President Obama reaffirmed this commitment in a joint statement with the presidents of Russia and France at the recent G8 summit. And I underscored it in our discussion today. We stand ready to help both Azerbaijan and Armenia achieve and implement a lasting peace settlement.
The final steps toward peace are often the most difficult. But we believe peace is possible and necessary. And it is a prerequisite for building a secure and prosperous future in both nations. All the people of Azerbaijan and the wider region deserve to live in peace and security, and to have the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential. The United States cannot resolve the conflicts in this region, but we can be a partner and a supporter and an advocate for those resolutions. The future of the Caucasus is in the hands of the people here. And I am confident that the people of Azerbaijan have the opportunity for a very positive future.
We also discussed political reform yesterday at the Community of Democracies meeting in Krakow, Poland. I spoke about the importance of civil society, and I reiterated the importance today. When members of civil society are respected and allowed to work free of intimidation, democracies flourish and societies prosper. I view Azerbaijan as a country of tremendous potential. And we hope that it will be possible to resolve and move beyond some of the difficult cases that have raised concerns about media freedom and the status of civil society.
The United States supports the upcoming parliamentary elections in November, and we stand ready to assist, as a friend and partner, as a people and government continue their journey toward democratic and economic progress.
So, again, let me thank you, Mr. Minister and the president, for your friendship and your hospitality. And I look forward to continuing to work closely together with you.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, now it is questions from journalists. First question from Public TV of Azerbaijan.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that I intend to deliver the same message in Armenia that I have delivered here in Azerbaijan. As you know, when Presidents Obama, Medvedev, and Sarkozy made their statements as the presidents of the Minsk Group co-chair countries, they stressed the importance that we attach to finding a peaceful settlement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
We believe there has been progress. And we believe that both Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize that any lasting settlement must be based on the Helsinki Principles. As you probably also know, both the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have held very intensive talks over the past year, including two weeks ago at St. Petersburg with President Medvedev. But this is a high priority for the United States, and we think it is now time to complete work on the basic principles to enable the drafting of a final peace settlement. And we stand ready to help in any way that we can.
The United States strongly condemns the use of force at the line of contact, and we deeply regret the loss of life, whether it be an Azerbaijani soldier or a civilian or an Armenian soldier or civilian. We think that the 1994 cease fire agreement must be enforced, because while we are working to assist you in resolving this matter, we have to protect the lives of the — of soldiers and civilians who are living on or near the line of contact.
I will certainly do everything I can to try to assist in bringing the parties together to resolve this. And in the meantime, we will continue, in the United States Government, to provide humanitarian assistance that is focused on alleviating the suffering of vulnerable groups in Azerbaijan, especially the large numbers of internally displaced persons. I met two young women who were displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh. And we will provide food, clothing, health, emergency shelter, medical supplies to vulnerable populations, especially the IDPs.
With regard to 907, as you know, presidents continually have waived the restrictions in 907 and have — previous administrations have also tried to repeal it. Speaking personally, for myself, I would like to see it repealed, but that’s up to the congress. And until the congress agrees, then we will continue to waive its effects on Azerbaijan as we move forward.
And finally, my party will raise the last issue you mentioned, about the body of the soldier.
MODERATOR: The second question from David Gollust, Voice of America.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, do you come away from your stay in Azerbaijan with any encouragement about some of the human rights questions that you have raised?
In the case of the two bloggers who apparently are imprisoned, essentially for a case of ridicule of government officials, Mr. Foreign Minister, is your government going to take another look at that particular case?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, David, the United States supports democracy because we think it is the best system devised by human beings to provide the greatest amount of opportunity and freedom for individuals. And we see a lot of progress in Azerbaijan in the last 18 years. But we are very clear in encouraging and calling for more, because we think it’s in the best interests of this country and its people.
So, as the foreign minister said, we had a very frank discussion about a range of issues. Support for Azerbaijan’s democratic future has long been a cornerstone of American policy. It’s part of a comprehensive policy. There are many aspects. We have a complex, comprehensive relationship. And whether you’re talking about energy security, or you’re talking about counter-terrorism, or you’re talking about democracy, it is all part of our engagement with Azerbaijan.
And we continue to support the efforts that are undertaken by the government to expand and protect free expression and independent media, and have called that more be done because we think these are pillars of democracy. I have in the past, and did again, raise the cases of the two young men. And it is something that has a great deal of attention focused on it, not only in our country but around the world.
So, we believe that there has been a tremendous amount of progress in Azerbaijan. But as with any country, particularly a young country — young, independent country like this one — there is a lot of room for improvement. Since it’s the Fourth of July I should say that when we began our journey toward freedom, independence, and democracy 234 years ago, we had a very long road that we are still not yet at the final destination. When our Declaration of Independence was signed, and then our Constitution was promulgated, only white property-owning men could vote. We had to fight a civil war to free the slaves. We had to pass an amendment to permit women to vote. We had to have a civil rights movement to truly expand the rights to African-Americans and other minorities. And we have done so much else.
But it is a not-yet-perfect union. And we keep working. And that’s one of the things I love about democracy, and I love about America, is that we are very self-critical, and self-reflective, and keep trying to do better and better, and I think it’s important to remember that on our Independence Day.
MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: It’s very difficult to add any words to the comprehensive response by Madam Secretary. But I can tell you that, yes, we discussed this issue, because the issue of democracy-building was always in the agenda of Azerbaijan-United States relations, and it is still there.
Of course, if you just pick up one or two cases, it’s different, whether — if you would look at the whole, overall developments. And I agree with the assessment of Madam Secretary, with regard that we made it a long way, but very strong efforts to reforming what we had in the beginning of 1990s and what we have today, with regard to the democracy building in Azerbaijan.
We particularly believe that one of the (inaudible) for democracy is stability plus reforms and development. And it’s a process. The most important thing is to be in the process. If you just don’t pick up one or two cases, but if you would just assess the overall situation, it’s very important that the country itself and the civil society and everyone would feel in conformity with the — to be within this process.
So far, I believe my country is in sight. We are doing quite well with the different programs, with the different international organizations like Council of Europe, or United Nations, or any others who are in charge with or dealing with democracy-building efforts. So far, we’re in sight. And I believe that this is the future of the state. There is no doubts of that. And this is the only way how we can proceed to strengthen government independence and sovereignty. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Third question from Azerbaijan News Agency.
QUESTION: My question is to Madam Secretary. You mentioned that you discussed democracy issue. And you said that there is a tremendous progress in this. But, according to reports of international organizations and United States, the situation is worsening, year by year. And Azerbaijan is in the — very deep in the least.
If you mean that there is a progress, can you explain how it goes on? And there is an opinion in Azerbaijan that in bilateral relations the priority — democracy is not the proper place. First are oil, security, or something other. Can you tell us what priority is the place of democracy?
And taking into account that you didn’t meet the leaders of the opposition, what is your message to other democrats? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that we don’t prioritize in the sense that we put one goal above or below another, because we think that they are interconnected. And democratic reform is always one of our top goals for any developing country.
I think that the progress is particularly evidence in energy and economic reform, in some of the business rankings about how Azerbaijan has improved its doing business climate. The security cooperation that we have on an ongoing basis is important to both of our countries. And democracy is something that we always raise. It is part of our ongoing dialogue with your country, and especially your government.
We have worked with the Ministry of Finance, with the Central Bank, with other entities to advance anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing and anti-corruption. We have worked with NGOs and individuals. We have spoken out when we thought that changes needed to be made.
So, I think it’s like saying, “Is your relationship with any important country with whom you are engaged about only one thing? Or is it about three or four things in some rank order?” And I can only tell you that we have a comprehensive agenda that includes everything and more that I just spoke about. I did meet with a group of young people today, and I really appreciated that opportunity.
This is my first trip, but I can tell you it won’t be my last trip. I look forward to returning, and having more time to be able to discuss in depth some of these issues. But I have spoken out about individuals cases and about the need for democratic reform in the past. I will continue to do so, as I am doing right now.
MODERATOR: And the last question from columnist Arki Zavorski.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Nagorno-Karabakh has been a whole issue for a long time. Do you detect a build-up in tension in the past months? And, if so, what do you think the U.S. should and can do to prevent it escalating into something worse?
And, related to that, how essential do you think it is for that — to get the Armenia and Turkey process back on track?
And I also have a question for Minister Mammadyarov. (Inaudible) some years ago famously said that the Politburo has moved to Washington. Do you think it is still in Washington, or have things moved since then?
MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: I am not following the question.
QUESTION: After the fall of the Soviet Union, (inaudible) famously said the Politburo —
MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: Ah, moved to Washington.
QUESTION: — has moved to Washington. Is it still in Washington? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You can answer. I want to hear that answer. I don’t understand the question, but I want to hear the answer.
MINISTER MAMMADYAROV: Yes. You see, it’s — of course, the answer will be the same hypothetical as the question, itself.
I believe that, of course, the United States is playing a great role for maintaining, first and utmost importantly, international peace and security in the world, as is enshrined in the United Nations charter, together with the other four members of the UN Security Council.
We believe that United States is also a global power, is interested in bringing and spreading stability and prosperity all around, in all corners of the world. And besides that, if you took a look inside of the — our bilateral ties, how it’s developed through the years of our — after restoration of independence for Azerbaijan, it’s an open secret that United States provide us a great support, particularly in so very important and vital project like building up of the oil pipeline (inaudible). It’s — we know clearly that U.S. Administration — both, by the way, Republicans and Democrats — was very strongly behind the project. And, at the end of the story, this is starting to be a success story for the region. I think we are probably one of the few that can say that, with assistance of the construction and after the inauguration of the pipeline, the real money and the real prosperity comes particularly to Azerbaijan, at the same time it is also supporting Georgia.
We wish that the same will be addressed to Armenia. But then we come to address the issue of the conflict resolution. As soon as we will settle, at least we will start the first step, implementation of the — proposed by the co-chairs, ideas how to settle — how to move on this. I think that it will be a very serious breakthrough to — for the three south Caucasus states.
And in this regard, of course what Madam Secretary said, the role of United States is enormously important.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would only add that we are very committed to trying to bring the parties together to resolve the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and reach a durable peace settlement. We understand that there was a lot of activity over the past year, both with respect to Nagorno-Karabakh and on the Turkey-Armenia normalization track.
And, unfortunately, we haven’t seen the breakthrough that we want to see, because we do think it’s very much in this region’s interest to be able to have more integration, more trade, more economic activity that will enable the entire region to prosper. Azerbaijan, economically, is doing quite well, and better than their neighbors in the south Caucuses. And so, the idea that we could create a more integrated regional market, open borders, end conflicts, is very much in the line of vision for the United States, because we think that is in everyone’s interests.
So, we will continue to work very hard toward that. But, as I said in my remarks, ultimately the future of any one nation and the future of this region is up to the people themselves. They have to make the hard decisions. The United States stands ready, as we have in the past on other matters, to support the implementation of any agreement that the parties decide upon.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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OK, here I go rhapsodizing all Keatsian again, but you cannot blame me since the Secretary of State is looking particularly lovely this Fourth of July as she continues her whirlwind tour touching down in Azerbaijan and then Armenia today.

Landing in Azerbaijan in a beautiful new pantsuit.
With President of Azerbaijan, Aliyev.

Bilateral with President Aliyev.
Landing in Armenia.
Being greeted by Armenian President Sargsyan (Sarkisian – I have seen it spelled variously).

Bilateral with President Sarkisian.
HI HILLARY!!!!!  Looking good!  Happy Fourth of July!!!!!!!!!!

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Opening Remarks at a Roundtable With Azerbaijani Civil Society and Youth Leaders

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Mugham Club
Baku, Azerbaijan
July 4, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you so much, Chargé. I am very, very pleased. And thank you for your service here. I know you will be leaving shortly for your next assignment. So, thank you. And thanks to all of you for being here. This is a special occasion, because it is the Fourth of July, our Independence Day, and I am delighted to be spending it here in your country and with all of you. And I especially appreciate this lovely setting.
As the chargé said, one of the parts of my job that I relish is getting a chance not just to talk, but to listen, and having the opportunity, particularly with young people, because I am well aware of the fact that most of the work that I and others in governments around the world will affect, for better or worse, the lives that you lead in the future. And it is exciting to have heard some of what you are doing in moving Azerbaijan forward. And I want to hear more about that.
I have a lot of optimism about the potential of Azerbaijan. I think it is strategically located. It is a country that has an extraordinary story to tell the rest of the world, the resources to be able to develop in a short period of time — 18 years — that you have been independent from the former Soviet Union. And the United States is committed to helping you and your fellow citizens build a prosperous, independent, democratic, sovereign Azerbaijan.
And I happen to think that a lot of the success of countries in the 21st century over the long term will be because they are open societies, they have an opportunity for dialogue, and they learn and adjust. And it is certainly my priority, as Secretary of State, to support democracy, to support freedom, to support young people. And that includes social activism, Internet freedom, and the new ways that your generation communicates that are really changing the map of human interactions.
And I think that technology may change, but the United States’s commitment to freedom of expression does not. We have had a long journey — 234 years — since our declaration of independence. And we have had to overcome a lot of obstacles. We have had to change a lot. When our country came into being, only white property-owning men could vote. And there were many injustices, and many areas that were not living up to our ideals. And so, every country has to be on a journey. And I think it’s important for citizens, not just governments, to be part of leading that journey. And I think, too, that making your democracy stronger gives even more people the chance to live up to their own God-given potential, which, to me, is part of what we are supposed to do in life together.
I think that, while considerable progress has been made here, you know better than I there is work to be done. There are still lots of challenges. And, for example, President Obama and I have both received many letters about the two young bloggers who are in prison. Those are the kinds of issues that every society has to deal with, and has to try to come to grips with. And I certainly have raised those in my meetings today.
Democracy is not only about elections. It is about a free press. It’s about independent judiciary. It’s about transparent and accountable institutions and leaders. And, in today’s world, it’s about the way new technologies and social media can help the democratic dialogue flourish.
So, with that, let me turn it over to you and hear about your interests, what you are doing, ways that you think the United States can be more helpful.

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As always, she thanks the people who make her trip run smoothly, and who are out on the front lines representing us abroad. I love this picture of her and this new pantsuit.  I found these pictures of the embassy staff and softball team later.   When I lived in Haiti, the one place in the country where you knew you could find balls, bats, mitts and masks was the embassy compound even though all the hard balls and soft balls were manufactured there.  Hard to believe it’s on the same island with DR.

Remarks at Meeting With the Staff and Families of Embassy Baku

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Baku
Baku, Azerbaijan
July 4, 2010

SPEAKER: Madam Secretary, on behalf of our entire embassy family, we welcome you to the embassy, and welcome you to our garden.
SPEAKER: Please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you. Well, Happy Fourth of July to all of you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: This is a wonderful way to celebrate the American Independence Day, here in this beautiful garden, and to be with all of you here in Azerbaijan, where independence and the values of freedom and equality and opportunity enshrined in our Declaration of Independence are all the more meaningful for this young, independent country.
This has been a very whirlwind trip, and I thank every one of you who has helped to make it possible. And I thank you, too, for all the work you have done this past year to further and steady our relationship between our country and Azerbaijan, and we are trying to do everything we can to support you, including working for a new embassy compound — although you won’t have a garden like this, I’m afraid. That’s kind of a trade-off, isn’t it?
Earlier today I had a productive meeting with President Aliyev, and assured him of the importance of Azerbaijan to the United States, and that we are committed to working in partnership to enhance global security and promote democracy and stabilize the region.
I just came from a meeting with some young people at the Mugam Club in the historic, beautiful old city, who are working to promote civil society, protect human rights, develop a free media in the country. They are the reason that I come to work every day, because much of what I do is about the next generation. And I was very proud and impressed to listen to them, and especially 5 of the 10 had studied in the United States under the exchange programs that some of you help to run.

We are very focused in the Obama Administration on working to strengthen our relationship, and supporting the modernization, the secularization, the democratization of this very exciting country at this time in history.
I want to thank Chargé Donald Lu for his steady leadership during this past year. He has kept everything running during a difficult time without the help of an ambassador. We are working very hard to get our new ambassador confirmed, and hopefully he will be joining you shortly. And, in the meantime, I welcome Adam Stirling as the new chargé, and will look forward to working with him.
Now, I can imagine that for our locally-engaged staff, who have never celebrated an American Fourth of July — which means that you have never eaten barbeque or gone to a fireworks or gotten sunburned with your family out in some beautiful place — it might seem a little bit distant to be here in Baku, celebrating the founding of our country. But for Americans this is a very special day. And it’s a day that we really do take time out to appreciate the founding of our country 234 years ago, and all that we have had to do over those years to create a more perfect union, to overcome injustice, discrimination, to make sure that the circle of opportunity grew bigger and bigger, so that it could encompass every American.
So, I thank each and every one of you on this Fourth of July for your hard work: our foreign service and our civil service officers, all of our colleagues from other U.S. government agencies, our Peace Corps volunteers, our family members, and especially our locally-engaged staff. We honor your sacrifices and your dedication. And I wish you a very safe and happy Independence Day. But, more than that, I wish you a day every single day of this upcoming year of greater cooperation and partnership to deepen and broaden our relationship.
And I know that when someone like me comes, it adds to your workload. So I am hoping that with the outgoing chargé and the incoming chargé, that maybe they will give you the rest of the Fourth of July off. What do you think? That’s a departmental, Secretary of State directive.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But thank you all very much, and I look forward to shaking as many hands as I can before I have to head to the airport. Thank you and bless you for the work that you do.

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