Posts Tagged ‘Bishkek’

Our very busy Secretary of State visited both Uzbekiatsn and Kyrgyzstan today, and, true to form, she took time to visit with embassy staff and their families in both locations.   Can anybody name a prior SOS who made such efficient use of  travel time and reached out to broader populations than this one?  I didn’t think so.  No one before her has managed time quite this way or addressed such diverse audiences.  These embassy visits are special because they are the people who work so hard to make these visits run smoothly and safely.

Meeting With Staff and Their Families of Embassy Tashkent


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
December 2, 2010

Date: 12/02/2010 Description: Secretary Clinton speaks to the Embassy Community in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  Charge Duane Butcher on left. - State Dept Image

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, and I appreciate all of the great work that the chargé and all of you have done in order to prepare this visit. It has been a very important trip for me. I started this morning in Kazakhstan, went to Kyrgyzstan, here I am in Uzbekistan, and I will end the night in Bahrain. So this is a four-country day.

But this is one of the most important visits that I could make anywhere because I want to thank you for the work you are doing on behalf of the relationship between the United States and Uzbekistan. I want to thank you for, sometimes against great odds, promoting democracy and human rights, working to improve the lives of the people of Uzbekistan. I was delighted to sign an agreement on science and technology in order to try to find other ways to connect with and promote positive cooperation between our two countries. And you will have an ambassador soon; we’re waiting for confirmation of Ambassador Designate Krol. Things move a little slowly sometimes in Washington after elections, but we are pushing hard.

I also, in addition to thanking the chargé, want to thank Nicholas Berliner – where is Nicholas? Is Nicholas here? Thank you, Nicholas, for the extra hours that you worked. I know that our mission in Uzbekistan is in excellent and experienced hands. And I really want to thank each and every one of you, Americans and Uzbeks alike. You’re helping to advance our cooperation in so many areas. We’re stepping up our political exchanges. We’re revitalizing the annual bilateral consultation. You helped to set up the Northern Distribution Network that supplies our troops in Afghanistan and so much more.

This relationship is crucial. But it is also in a region that where just 20 short years ago – and that is really the way to think about it, because it puts into perspective that, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it still is very difficult to work to support democratic institutions, civil society, human rights to promote freedom and opportunity for all people. I just had a few minutes with some of the local Uzbek NGOs and activists who depend on you for support of their work. These are brave people. I met a woman who I spoke with in 1999 in Istanbul at a conference against human trafficking, and her work still continues.

So the same power, the persistence, and particularly the support of the United States is critical. I also want to recognize the local staff and long-term employees. You have been absolutely critical members of this mission for years, and I know that you sometimes face challenges working for the United States. I’m aware of that, but I appreciate it because you are truly on the front lines not only in strengthening and deepening our relationship, but also working to find ways to improve individual lives as well as the entire population.

We are grateful for your dedication and your professionalism, not just in Tashkent, but I know that a number of you have served in Iraq. You are a sought-after commodity and we are grateful to you. I’m especially proud of the way that you all came together over the summer when violence broke out in southern Kyrgyzstan and refugees flooded over the border.

I had a very long talk at that time with President Karimov, and he referenced it in our meeting today, because I stressed the importance of Uzbekistan supporting those refugees during that time of violence and conflict, and I said at the time that our embassy and our government would support the government of Uzbekistan doing that. And you did. You donated and distributed money, clothing, medicine, and supplies. You provided comfort and care and you underlined our commitment.

You are the first post to adopt our smart messaging system, to harness social media tools such as web chats to push out our public diplomacy. The embassy’s Facebook page is doing a wonderful job of responding to people who comment and also correcting misconceptions about American policy. I understand it helps to convene people face to face in the Chai Chat Club, wherever that is — (laughter) – and ping-pong parties, which I would love to participate in sometime. So thank you and thank you for what you’ve done to make this visit a success from our part in raising a lot of very challenging but important issues with the government, supporting civil society, and signing the Science and Technology Agreement.

Now, I want to shake as many hands as I can on the way out, and I particularly appreciate your bringing your children because much of what we do – certainly how I see my job in the State Department as your Secretary of State – is what we can do to make life better for the next generation. How do we give people the commitment that they can count on to improve their own lives, seek out their own opportunities, and make life better not just for their families, but for the larger society. So thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)


Meets With Embassy Personnel and Their Families


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
December 2, 2010

Date: 12/02/2010 Description: Secretary Clinton greets Embassy Bishkek staff in the Kyrgyz Republic. - State Dept Image

AMBASSADOR GFOELLER: Dear friends, dear Embassy Bishkek community, it’s an extraordinary honor and pleasure to introduce to you a person who really needs no introduction, which is our boss, Secretary Clinton.

Secretary Clinton, I’m incredibly pleased to introduce my team to you. This is a fantastic team that’s been through a lot during the past year. They’ve pulled together and achieved amazing things, not a single American injury in all of the violence that took place. And I think we can honestly take credit, a little credit, for helping to make sure (inaudible) on the road to democracy. Very personally, you have been an inspiration to me for many years. Your statement that women’s rights are human rights has always reverberated with me. I think it reverberates with many, many in our community. When I was Consul General in Jeddah before coming here, I had several of your statements on women’s rights printed up and translated into Arabic and put on little cards and I would give them out to my Saudi women friends. A lot of them are still floating around Saudi Arabia. I wanted to give you your own. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. I am so delighted. This is great. Well, I will put this in my pocket and carry it around, myself. But it’s nice to know that we have a common message that you carried forward when you were in Jeddah, and I appreciate very much your hard work over many years, serving our country with such distinction. We are very grateful to you.

I also want to thank Larry Memmott for lending his talents to this important mission. And it is exciting for me to be back in Bishkek after having visited here the first time, back in 1997. Reminders of Kyrgyzstan’s past are everywhere. I remember the 50-foot statue of Lenin towering over downtown. Somebody told me it’s still there.

There was a lot of optimism about the future. I did a ribbon cutting at the American University in Kyrgyzstan, which is now the American University of Central Asia which the United States has continued to support. I was made an honorary professor at that time, and that was 13 years ago. So that’s probably the longest sabbatical ever. (Laughter.)

I just met with the president, and I am pleased to see the developments of the past year. Because, as the Ambassador said, one could not have predicted that it would have gone as well as it has. There is still a long way to go, but the fact that the government will be formed today, or shortly, and that there is an agenda for democracy that is taking hold is very reassuring.

I’m finally delighted to visit the Silver Diner Embassy of Central Asia. (Laughter.) I know that this is a warehouse as opposed to the chancery – (laughter) – but it’s probably bigger than the chancery, and it certainly is bigger than your largest conference room, which I am told holds, like, 10 people. I guess you know that we’ll be breaking ground on a new chancery next year, and that will give those of you who will still be here when it’s finished, and those who will follow after you, a safer, more comfortable work environment.

But I want to thank all of you for what you do day in and day out. I know that this has been a difficult post during this past year. There were very real security concerns for you and your families. I know many of you slept here at the embassy. We followed what was happening on an almost minute-by-minute basis. Assistant Secretary Bob Blake is here and he came out right in the midst of the worst of the violence to demonstrate American support and solidarity. But through it all you have kept up your morale, you have stayed focused on your work, and you have made a real difference. So your commitment to this mission is inspiring.

In just the past year, you helped monitor elections, you organized debates among the candidates, you gave shelter to families whose homes had been destroyed. And your work is producing real results for the people of Kyrgyzstan.

It’s really quite remarkable that, in less than six months, the government organized a constitutional referendum and held parliamentary elections. At the press conference that I just had with the president I praised the government for that accomplishment. There are many countries that have been holding elections for a lot longer and still don’t get it right. These elections were universally accepted, which no one could have predicted, and I know that the United States contributed to that.

I am proud of what we’ve accomplished, but there is so much more we have to do. We have to help the government and people of Kyrgyzstan expand the circle of freedom and broaden civil society, develop economically and democratically to fulfill the potential that we know resides here.

And I particularly want to thank our locally engaged staff for everything you’ve done. I know some of you had real serious concerns about your own families and your own personal security. And I am grateful because we, literally, could not run any embassy anywhere in the world without those of you who know so much more than our rotating U.S. Government officials ever can know. And we rely on you, and we need you, and we’re grateful to you. We appreciate your sacrifice. We appreciate your understanding.

I pledged our support from the Government of the United States to Kyrgyzstan. We are going to try to be even more helpful in working with the government and the people as they tackle a lot of these very difficult issues. We know that stability and security in Central Asia is particularly important to Kyrgyzstan, which is vulnerable from so many different directions, and we will do all that we can to be a good partner and a good friend.

So, thank you for being part of this exciting mission at this an important moment in the history of relations between our two countries. I look forward to coming back, seeing the new chancery some day, or at least the ground breaking, because it takes forever in the government to build these chanceries. (Laughter.) But we’re going to get started on it. For that, I hope you are going to be pushing to make sure it’s accomplished.

But thank you all very much, and thanks especially for the extra work that went in to my visit, because I know how hard you work every day, and then along comes the Secretary of State, and you have to work even more. I’ll be out of your hair shortly. I think I have one more stop. And then my plane will take off, and I become somebody else’s responsibility in Uzbekistan. And you have deserved, I think it’s fair to say, Ambassador, a great wheels up party. (Laughter.)

So, thank you all very much. (Applause.)


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