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Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Ashton’

Speaking of Vladimir Putin Hillary says “hard men represent hard choices” and goes on to provide her analysis of him and how who he is informs his particular choices.  She says he views geopolitics as a zero-sum game where if someone is winning someone else has to be losing.

Her recommended strategy for managing a relationship with the Russians: work with them on specific issues; rally other nations to work with us against negative behavior as needed.

She betrays a clear preference for the vision Yeltsin had for Russia and mentions this moment when he turned back the forces of an old soviet-era coup.

We know Yeltsin kept a photo of her in his office.  There was mutual admiration, clearly.  For the heck of it I also share these.   They always make me smile.

We will never see anything like that from Putin.

Calling Russia the fourth most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist, she refers to this meeting with civil leaders where she spoke of press freedom and human rights.

Hillary Clinton at a Reception for Civil Society Leaders in Moscow

 Hillary Rodham Clinton
She also gave this daring radio interview on this trip and spoke of human rights.

Hillary Clinton’s Interview with Moskvy Radio

It was during the 2008 primaries here in the U.S. that term limits forced Putin to relinquish the presidency to Dmitri Medvedev whom Hillary found surprisingly conciliatory.

The approach, therefore, that was THE reset, was three-pronged:

  1. cooperation on aligned interests,
  2. firmness where interests diverged,
  3. engagement with the people.

She attributes the use of the term reset to Joe Biden who used it first.  As she looks back at her first official meeting with Lavrov,  we get a glimpse of the value she places on the use of humor in diplomacy.  Even funnier, in the book she relates how Philippe Reines tried to get the button back to correct the label, prevailed upon the Russian ambassador to Switzerland who said he would have to ask the minister, and Philippe said that his minister was going to send him to Siberia if he didn’t get it back.  Hillary said she was tempted.

Hillary Clinton’s Reset Meeting with Russian FM Lavrov

The next month the two new presidents would meet. It was a watershed moment – a very productive meeting.  Medvedev acknowledged that the U.S. was probably right about Iran nuclear intentions and the two decided that it was time to revisit the nuclear treaty our two countries share. START had expired, and nothing had been done to revise and renew it.  Hillary and Sergei Lavrov were about to be assigned what might have been their most important mission: a New START.  They, and their respective squadrons, would prove to be a close and impressive team.

A year later,  she and Secretary Gates introduced the New START Treaty.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks On The New START Treaty

The presidential signing took place in Prague in April 2010.

Immediately afterwards Hillary went on the offensive to get the treaty ratified.  In the book, Hillary manages to reduce the battle for ratification to about a page.  In real life, it took a year for the teams to hammer out the treaty (not bad considering the massive assignment) and then it took all of this to get it ratified.

Her allies on The Hill were Vice President Joe Biden, Harry Reid, John Kerry, and Richard Lugar.  Her companion in the trenches was Robert Gates.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the Announcement of the Release of the Nuclear Posture Review

Smart START – Hillary Clinton Unveils Non-Proliferation Rationale @ McConnell Center Speaker Series!

Yes, it was and is that McConnell Center (a very smart move). She also published an international op-ed.

Our Giant Step Towards a World Free from Nuclear Danger

Video: Secretary Clinton on the New START Treaty

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the New Start Treaty at the Senate Armed Services Committee

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks to Members of the U.S. Delegation to the New START Negotiations and Nuclear Posture Review Department Staff

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the New START Ratification

Always keep smiling, even when the struggle is hard!

Secretaries Clinton and Gates on Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approval of the New START Treaty

When possible, wear pink.  It weakens resistance.

The New START Treaty: It’s Time for the Senate to Vote

But, as Hillary remarks, after the 2010 mid-term elections it appeared that ratification was going to be a tough battle.  Many Tea Party candidates had been elected to Congress and some seats had been lost in the Senate.   There was pressure from the far right that threatened to get in the way.

This is just me, not Hillary, but her analysis of Putin and what drives him could also apply to some Tea Party folks who believe in a zero-sum game and think our glory days lie in a past century.  One way Putin is more advanced than they is that he is less insular.  He intends to organize with his Pacific neighbors.

I do not believe New START would have been on the agenda, however, if he and not Medvedev were president.

Video: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Richard Lugar on The New START Treaty

Powerhouse Pow-Wow: How to Jumpstart New START

Finally, right before Christmas, as if a gift, ratification!  It was a present – from Hillary and Sergei Lavrov to the world.  Thank you both and your industrious teams!

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Senate Ratification of New START

Hillary Clinton’s New START: A Happy Beginning

The instruments of ratification were exchanged in February 2011.  Hillary was so happy that they finally had gotten this done that she remarked that she was having trouble signing her own name – a problem we have not seen on the book promotion trail.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks After Exchange of Instruments of Ratification for the New START Treaty

If anyone tries to tell you she accomplished nothing or that the reset did not work,  show them this page.  She worked very hard to get this treaty and to get it ratified.  We are lucky.  This protects us all.

But as 2011 began with this extraordinary bi-national victory,  the tone shifted with the year drawing to a close.  As Hillary recounts, Russian parliamentary elections in December were marred by fraud reports,  and Putin announced his intention to run for the presidency again.

Hillary expressed concern about these reports, and when folks in Russia hit the streets to demonstrate their disapproval, Putin blamed her for the unrest.

At this OSCE conference Hillary quotes herself.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the OSCE

The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. And that means they deserve fair, free, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.

Although she argued to Putin that it was unlikely that people woke up and went into the streets because they thought she wanted them to, she does not completely reject the idea that she might have inspired some courage to protest.

As Putin retrieved the presidency and rejected an invitation to the G-8  at Camp David, she warned President Obama that Putin’s “regional integration” was code for rebuilding the empire of the past.

The reset, she tells us was what you think it was.  It delivered or disappointed according to your expectations.  A Rorschach test of sorts.  It was meant, she states, as a recognition, not as a reward.

To illustrate the complexities of the reset she provides the example of supply routes to Afghanistan.  As we saw in the Pakistan chapter, one of these was over land.  But we also leased former Soviet air bases in both Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan for air transport.

Given the world-view Hillary assigns to Putin, it is not hard to see why he might perceive our presence on former Soviet military bases as a threat.  That, indeed, is what he warned the Kyrgys and Uzbeks of – a permanent U.S. presence on these bases (that we were leasing).

A long, but necessary land route for supplies crosses Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan by rail. The complex came to be known as the Northern Distribution Network and was crucial to the Afghanistan surge.  Medvedev signed off on our use of Russian rails for this purpose in 2009 (for a price).  The movement of lethal cargo across former Soviet land provided an opportunity for Russia to exert some muscle.

When Hillary visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbekistan in 2010, she was asked where they stood in the reset.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

QUESTION: Where does Kyrgyzstan come in in your reset with Russia?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Russia and the United States, we think, have to work hard to overcome a legacy of mistrust, and try to chart a new course. So when the Obama Administration came in, President Obama and I said we’re going to try to reset relations with Russia. That doesn’t mean we will always agree, because we will not. But it does mean, where we can agree, we should. And we should try to make the world safer and more secure, fewer conflicts, fewer problems.

… But what’s important for us, for the United States, is that Kyrgyzstan be left alone to make its own decisions about what is best for Kyrgyzstan, and that no country interfere with or undermine the legitimate aspirations of the people of Kyrgyzstan to have a democracy that will fulfill the aspirations of you, and no one else. That is our hope.

QUESTION: And is there any rivalry going on between Russia and the U.S., I mean, in the region, particularly in Kyrgyzstan?

SECRETARY CLINTON:… I think it’s important for you to have relations with many, but not be dependent on any. Try to balance off all the different relations you have, and get the best help you can from other countries that wish to participate with you.

The entire transcript is here.

Secretary Clinton’s Townterview in Kyrgyzstan

 

Strategy to counter Putin’s neo-colonial agenda included helping Europe,  eastern Europe in particular, secure alternative sources of fuel and energy and reduce dependence on Gazprom since  Russia could shut down those supply lines at will.

With Cathy Ashton she initiated the U.S. – E.U. Energy Council.  Although, as she says, these efforts did not make headlines here at home, they forced Gazprom to compete and influenced Ukraine’s desire for closer ties to Europe (and freedom from Gazprom) which, in turn, relaxed Putin’s grip on the former Soviet state and emboldened Ukrainians to stand firm in their intent to join with Europe.

Joint Statement Following the U.S.- EU Energy Council Ministerial, Lisbon

 

As she brings this Russian chapter to a close she shares some personal insights and moments with Putin, including the invitation for Bill Clinton to tag polar bears with him.

Another involves her attendance at APEC in Vladivostok in September 2012.

Hillary Clinton at APEC in Vladivostok

She mentions that President Obama could not attend because of his campaign schedule here at home.  Both Putin and Lavrov resented  1) that President Obama was not there and 2) remarks she had made about Russia’s support for Bashar Al-Assad and therefore resisted a meeting with her. Protocol dictated that the former APEC host (U.S.) be seated beside the current host at the ceremonial dinner.  As the president’s representative, the U.S. CEO was Hillary and she was seated beside Putin at the dinner.  Not only did they socialize and talk issues and strategy, but Putin shared a story about his parents that no one had ever heard.

She does not mention, so I shall, that at this APEC Summit she signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Antarctic and a Joint Statement on Strengthening U.S.-Russian Inter-Regional Cooperation with Sergei Lavrov.   So the reset continued to succeed.

Hillary Clinton At Signing Ceremony With Russian FM Lavrov

Prior to leaving the department she sent President Obama an analysis of relations with Putin’s Russia and some recommendations that some thought extreme at the time.  More recent events have shown her assessment to be on target.

As was the case with some previous chapters, the final paragraphs seem directed to Putin and the Russian people more than to us.   It is excellent advice and they all should attend to it.

_____________________________________________________________

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

_____________________________________________________________

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She does not mention this, so I shall even though it is off-topic.  The APEC  summit in Vladivostok came at the end of this trip for which she cut short an already brief vacation.

Just Confirmed: Hillary Clinton to Visit Cook Islands, Indonesia, China, Timor-Leste, Brunei, and Russia

August 28, 2012 by still4hill

She had been away and working non-stop for eleven days.  There are no “weekends” for a traveling secretary of state.  It was eleven solid days packed with work.  She had  been in six countries. She was in Vladivostok through the September 9, flew home and was at the State Department for a 9:15 meeting on September 10.

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Public Schedule for September 10, 2012

Take note of the date.  She came home to more than a dozen embassies and consulates under siege and was at her office late the next evening as tragic events unfolded.

To those who question where she was and what she was doing, I can answer that she was working as she had been for two solid weeks with no break.  I would also ask them when the last time was that they worked through two weeks straight for the long hours that she worked without a day off.  To imply or assert that Hillary Clinton ever shirked any aspect of her duty as secretary of state, especially with our embassies and consulates in danger, is a reprehensible assault on a dedicated public servant – particularly when the agenda is purely political.

As I said, it is off-topic, parenthetical, and it is just me.
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More high compliments for our Hillary. She is so loved and respected.

12-05-12-Y-07

Remarks With EU High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton at the U.S.-EU Energy Council Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
European External Affairs Section Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium
December 5, 2012

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: I can safely say that you, Hillary, have been a special friend to the European Union in your four years as Secretary of State. Not only do you represent the best of diplomacy, but for me it’s been a great honor and privilege to get to know you and have the chance to cooperate closely with you. I wish you every possible success in whatever amazing thing you do next.

We’re here today for the fourth meeting of the EU-US Energy Council. Mr. Oettinger and I are very much looking forward to taking stock of what has been a very productive year in the work of the Council and to look ahead to setting priorities for the future. We see this council as an extremely valuable forum that operates at the highest level. It helps both the EU and I would say the U.S., to shape the policy and to respond to the challenges we face in energy and in climate change. We know that we need stable and transparent global energy markets if we are to ensure energy security. But we also have to work together on the long-term challenge of laying a foundation for efficient and sustainable use of energy. In particular, we’ll start looking at clean energy so that we can create economic growth and jobs and address the challenge of climate change.

So for me, I’m looking forward to a very productive afternoon. And as I began, it is a special pleasure to welcome you to the EEAS.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. Well, it’s a great pleasure for me to be here with you, Cathy, and to have a chance to see this building for the first time. I congratulate you on this beautiful building, and I enjoyed seeing a lot of the people who work here on behalf of the EU as we walked through the first floor.

And I am especially pleased that we could schedule this fourth meeting of the US-EU Energy Council, which is an example of the closer cooperation and new partnerships that have flourished between the United States and the EU over the past recent years. And that is a real reflection of your leadership, and I am grateful for the close collaboration that we’ve had on so many issues. Whether it’s this Energy Council or our recent trip together to the Balkans, we have been working so closely together, and I am grateful to you for everything that you have been doing that we’ve been able to participate in and support.

So I’m looking forward to our Energy Council meeting. As you said, this is an initiative we began in November of 2009, and I think it’s already demonstrated its worthiness. Our working groups have identified a lot of areas for mutual cooperation, and today we’ll be able to review the significant accomplishments and identify goals for our cooperation going forward. So thank you again for all of your leadership and in particular for hosting this meeting.

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Oh, how she will be missed!
12-05-12-Y-04

Public Schedule for December 5, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
December 5, 2012

 


DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SCHEDULE

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Brussels, Belgium and Dublin, Ireland. Secretary Clinton is accompanied by Assistant Secretary Gordon, Ambassador Marshall, Spokesperson Nuland, Director Sullivan, Senior Director for European Affairs Liz Sherwood Randall, and VADM Harry B. Harris, Jr., JCS. Please click here for more information.

8:45 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton participates in the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Council, in Brussels, Belgium.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:30 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton participates in the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers with Non-NATO ISAF Contributing Countries, in Brussels, Belgium.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

11:30 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at NATO, in Brussels, Belgium.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

12:45 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere at NATO, in Brussels, Belgium.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

1:45 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a press availability at NATO, in Brussels, Belgium.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

2:10 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton participates in the NATO Balkans meeting, in Brussels, Belgium.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

2:45 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at NATO, in Brussels, Belgium.
(OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHER)

3:20 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton participates in the U.S.-EU Energy Council meeting, in Brussels, Belgium.
(CAMERA SPRAY)

4:50 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with EU Parliament President Martin Schulz, in Brussels, Belgium.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

5:05 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton attends a reception in her honor hosted by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Brussels, Belgium.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

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Remarks Commemorating 100 Years of Albanian Independence

 

Remarks

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

 

Parliament

Tirana, Albania

November 1, 2012

 


I am delighted to be here and to have this opportunity to speak before this parliament of a free, independent, sovereign, democratic Albania. (Applause.) Mr. President, Madam Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, members of parliament, the honor is especially great because I am joining you in celebrating your jubilee – 100 years of independence. That was a hard-fought victory. As I walked with – I love saying Madam Speaker – with Speaker Topalli through the halls, I saw the photographs of your predecessors. So much has happened over the last 100 years, but one thing has been constant: The United States of America has been your friend and your partner, and we are very proud of that. (Applause.)

Our ties have only strengthened and multiplied. And it is not only between our governments, it is between our people. The American and Albanian people share the capacity to demonstrate resilience and resolve. You, like us, have been determined to be free, to build a thriving democracy and a flourishing economy. You, like us, hold a fierce desire to put past struggles behind you and achieve a future of peace and opportunity for all.

I am very grateful for this partnership and our historic friendship, just as I am grateful for the contributions that thousands of Albanians have made to my own country. You know so well that Albanian Americans serve in our government and our armed forces. They are entrepreneurs and teachers, engineers and artists, religious leaders, and they run some of the best restaurants in the world. (Applause.)

Albanian culture is a rich component of American life. I came to know that well as a senator from New York for eight years. And Mr. President, I was deeply honored to receive earlier today the Order of the National Flag. I will forever cherish that. (Applause.) It was yet another symbol of the strong friendship between us.

A hundred years ago this month, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson defended Albania’s independence and stopped your country from being partitioned in the aftermath of World War I. Through the decades that followed, American leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, repeatedly stepped forward to support your rights and your freedoms, not only here in Albania but throughout the region.

I appreciated greatly the kind words of the Speaker about the role that the United States played in quickly reestablishing relations with Albania in 1991 under President George H.W. Bush. And, of course, I was very honored and delighted to once again hear what my husband had done, establishing an enterprise fund. (Applause.) As President, President Clinton did establish an enterprise fund to bring U.S. investment back to Albania, supported democratic elections here, and worked with Albania and our NATO allies to protect Kosovo and restore stability to the region. And then five years ago, President George Bush became the first sitting president to visit Albania. (Applause.) And in 2009, President Obama was proud to welcome you, along with Croatia, as our newest members in NATO.

I am here today at this milestone in your nation’s history with a message for all the people of Albania. The United States stood with you for your first 100 years of independence, and we will stand with you for the next 100, and the 100 after that, and the 100 after that. (Applause.)

As I was sitting in the chair behind me, looking out at all of you and seeing your faces and thinking about your parents and your grandparents and your great-grandparents and all they endured – invasions, occupation, communist dictatorship, severe depravation – it’s hard to believe today that not long ago, Albania was the most isolated country in Europe. You had none of what you have today: political and social freedoms, self-determination, and opportunity. So many Albanians had to leave the families and places they loved to seek those elsewhere.

But you have so much to celebrate now. This jubilee is not just about the past. It is a challenge to what you will become in the future.

Twenty years ago, you were just emerging from the yoke of communism; now, the elected representatives of the people engage in debates and vote openly on the laws of the land, activities that were once impossible.

Back then, your economy was closed, and you have worked hard to open it, to create the conditions for entrepreneurship, trade, and investment, laying the foundation for even better economic opportunity ahead.

Back then, Albania was the land of hundreds of thousands of concrete bunkers, evidence of the mistrust that the communist leaders felt not only toward other nations, but toward their own people. Now you are a valued member of NATO, a valued participant in the International Security Force in Afghanistan, and I express my condolences for the first loss of an Albanian soldier there. And you are moving toward full integration into Europe as you seek accession to the European Union.

This is all grounds for celebration. But I think we all know that Americans and Albanians can never be satisfied. We have to ask ourselves, what more can we do? How much better can we make life for those whom we serve? You cannot stop now. You have the potential to become a model, not just for this region, not just for Europe, but for the world. (Applause.)

And the United States has a great stake in your success. We not only want to see our relationship grow even stronger, we want to see you grow even stronger. (Applause.) We want to see your economy, your democracy be the envy of people everywhere. We fully endorse Albania’s EU aspirations because we think that will make you stronger. It will also be good for Europe, and although we don’t have a vote on that particular membership application, we will tell all who will listen how strongly we support you. (Applause.)

Albania and the Albanian people deserve a place in the European family of nations. That is not only good for you, it will make this continent more peaceful and secure. But in order for that to happen, the next months pose critical decisions for you here in this hall, for your government, and for your people. As a friend and admirer of Albania, there are a few challenges in particular I hope you will meet. They are vital to your long-term progress.

First, please work to ensure that your upcoming elections are free and fair and seen as such by the entire world. That is first and foremost so that the people of Albania can have faith in the results and trust in you as their leaders. It’s also an important signal to the EU that Albania’s politics can function smoothly and without strife. I know many of you are focused on this issue and are taking steps now to put a clear and effective process into place, and I commend you for that.

As someone who has been in politics, and run in very contested elections, and have won some and lost others, I know how hard politics in the modern world can be. (Applause.) And I can also attest to how elections draw the world’s attention, because with Twitter and Facebook and instantaneous communications, you have to assume everything will be known, will be seen, which is good for democracy, but it puts an extra burden on those of us who are leaders. So I urge not only leaders of Albania, but the people, the citizens of Albania, to work hard to make this next election a success that reflects the depth of your commitment to democracy.

At the same time, it’s always important to remind ourselves that consolidating democracy requires more than elections. It requires the rule of law. It requires strong institutions, including an effective and impartial judiciary. It requires openness in government so citizens can hold us, hold leaders, accountable. Attributes like these ensure that democracy delivers concrete results to the people. And when those are subverted, there needs to be accountability.

Secondly, I urge you to tackle the problem that afflicts so many democracies in the world today, namely, corruption. This is a fight every country must wage and win, because all over the world, corruption is a cancer that eats away at societies. It drains resources, it blocks economic growth, it shields incompetent and unethical leaders, and perhaps worst of all, it creates a culture of impunity that saps people of their will to improve their own lives and communities.

There’s no easy to answer to this. It’s as old as human nature. I’m sure if there were an easy answer, the world would have solved this a long time ago. Rooting out corruption demands constant effort and a shared commitment. No matter your party, no matter your differences, I urge all of Albania’s leaders to summon the political will to work together, to confront this threat to your independence.

And that points to the final challenge that I want to raise with you, one that is relevant to everything else I’ve mentioned. For Albania’s democracy to thrive, Albania’s leaders will need to build a culture of cooperation that transcends political differences, what Alexis de Tocqueville, the great historian of America’s early years, termed the habits of the heart. They’re at the core of every successful democracy.

Now, this is a challenge some countries are never able to meet, but I believe Albania can. Now, again, I have personal experience with this. As a Democratic senator, I frequently worked with Republicans across the aisle to solve problems, to deal with issues that affected my state and my country. And you may have noticed that I now serve as Secretary of State for President Obama, my former rival.

People around the world still ask me how can President Obama and I work together every day as partners when we fought so hard against each other. Believe me, I did everything I could to beat him. (Applause.) But he won, and then he asked me to be his Secretary of State. And so when I’m asked how, how can two people who said terrible things about each other, spent tens of millions of dollars advertising against each other, whose supporters were arguing everywhere – (applause) – against each other, how can you two work together? I will tell you it’s a very, very simple answer. We both love our country. (Applause.) And I know there is not an Albanian here who doesn’t love Albania.

So I hope that you, too, can find your way to sincere, sustained cooperation. Hold different political beliefs, believe that you would be a better leader than the other person. That’s what politics is about. You wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t believe that about yourself. But at the end, putting individual interests and party interests behind national interests is what democratic leaders are called to do. (Applause.)

Although the Albanian people can trace your history back thousands of years, this upcoming period may be one of the most consequential you have faced, as to how you consolidate forever the gift of democracy for future generations. And there are questions that you, and only you, have to ask and answer: Will Albania continue to put into place the building blocks of good governance? Will the leaders continue to earn the people’s trust and ensure that government delivers results? Will you put aside personal and party politics for the good of the country? Will you make reforms that support economic growth by creating opportunities for all Albanians? Will you fight corruption that advantages the few at the expense of the many? Will you continue to do the hard work required to join the European Union, recognizing that it offers a path of lasting peace and progress for your citizens? Will you continue to serve as a model for the region and the world? The religious tolerance present here in Albania is a precious gift. It is hard to find in many places in this region and elsewhere. Cherish it. Use it as another argument in favor of the uniqueness of this great country. (Applause.)

These are tough questions to answer. I don’t come with the answers. I come with the questions. But I also come with a deep sense of confidence in you. (Applause.) And let me say, as you make the tough decisions that are required for your further progress for moving, as you rightly belong, into the European Union, the United States will support you in these difficult decisions. (Applause.) We believe that we’re in this together, the United States and Albania.

We know what kind of world we want for our children and future generations. It is a world of opportunity and tolerance and inclusivity. It is a world of human rights that cover everyone, that give every person the chance to fulfill his or her God-given potential. And as leaders of democracies in the 21st century, it is our solemn obligation to deliver these results for the people who put their faith in us.

I look out at you and I see the future. I believe you will face the challenges and seize the opportunities of the century ahead. And I, for one, will be cheering you on and telling everyone who will listen if you want to see true democracy in action, go to Albania.

Congratulations, and God bless you and God bless Albania. (Applause.)

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Remarks With Croatian President Ivo Josipovic After Their Meeting

 

Remarks

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

 

Zagreb, Croatia

October 31, 2012

 


The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

 

MODERATOR: (In Croatian.) PRESIDENT JOSIPOVIC: (Via interpreter) (In progress) – profile itself as a democratic (inaudible). We are today a member of NATO, soon to be a member of the EU, and this shows that the support from the American side has been very meaningful. We’ve discussed our bilateral relations that are excellent, however there is a great potential for enhancing our economic cooperation. I’m very pleased that from you, Secretary of State, I’ve heard major interest of the American side in cooperation in the economy. There is, of course, a problem of the actual openness to investment, but we are aware that the Croatian Government is preparing a number of measures to facilitate investments in Croatia, and I am sure that there will be a major number of American investors who will come and invest in Croatia.

We have discussed our cooperation within NATO, which is a very important framework for our partnership, and Mrs. Clinton has shown great interest in the Croatian assessment of the situation in the region and the possibility of Croatia as a neighboring country and soon to become a member of the EU contributing to further stabilization of the European future of the entire region. I reiterated our view that a continued enlargement process is Croatia’s vital interest and that also within the EU we should do everything for our neighbors to get support and to be tomorrow together with us in the EU. I thank the U.S. Secretary and her delegation for extremely open and constructive talk.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President, and it indeed is an honor for me to be here on my first official visit to Zagreb as Secretary of State and to celebrate the exemplary partnership between our two countries, which, as you say, dates back now 20 years. Earlier today I also had the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, and in both meetings we discussed a range of critical issues where our countries work side-by-side to advance peace and prosperity throughout the region. The United States is very proud to have the opportunity to work with Croatia in NATO, and we are looking forward to Croatia’s joining the European Union next year.

For more than 20 years the United States has stood with the people of Croatia to overcome the wars and destruction of the 1990s and to rebuild your country. But this is really the work of all of the people in this country, because you made a fundamental decision early on. You decided you wanted to join the transatlantic institutions and be part of Europe, a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. So yes, today you are not only a full member of NATO and you will be joining the European Union, but you serve as an anchor of stability and prosperity in the region and demonstrate unequivocally what people and political leaders can accomplish when they work together toward a shared goal.

Nations around the world today are making the difficult transition to democracy, and they can look to you, they can look to Croatia, as a model. This country has taken great strides to combat corruption and uphold the rule of law, from prosecuting domestic war crimes cases to reforming your justice sector. Croatia has also made it a priority to include ethnic minorities and ensure opportunities for all of your citizens. And I would like to commend the Croatian Government, Mr. President, for leading the decade of Roma inclusion this year. Whenever Roma people cannot fully participate in their communities, whether that’s getting an equal education, electing political representatives, or having the same opportunities to contribute to the economic and political lives of their countries, whole societies lose out. Because when more people in more places can contribute their talents, that adds immeasurably to what everyone is able to do. So thank you for taking on one of Europe’s most persistent challenges.

I also want to commend Croatia’s efforts to establish a regional housing program with Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is a significant step toward reconciliation with honor, and the United States is proud to contribute to your efforts. More importantly, tens of thousands of refugees who are still displaced by wars can now look forward to a better future.

Of course, there is still work to do to close the chapter on refugees and other important challenges, and we strongly support efforts here in this region and in particular Croatia’s to combat corruption and organized crime, strengthen the independence of your judiciary, and privatize state enterprises in order to open up the economy. We encourage Croatia to share your experience with your neighbors, as you have a lot of lessons that can be useful to them.

Now, as the President said, to continue building a thriving, modern democracy, you need to have your economy keep growing. So we are strongly in support of any ways to improve your business environment and attract more investors, particularly investors from the United States. You have proven time and time again you have the political will and persistence to make tough choices that deliver concrete results.

I also wish to thank you, Mr. President, and through you the people of Croatia, for the contributions you have made to NATO, UN and EU peacekeeping missions around the world. In Afghanistan, more than 300 Croatian troops serve alongside Americans and others as part of the International Security Assistance Force. And I appreciate greatly the sacrifices Croatia has made and your commitment to see the security transition through with ISAF to give the Afghan people a chance to build their own institutions and secure their own country.

Now, I brought with me quite a delegation, Mr. President. I was pleased that our new Ambassador, Ken Merten, was able to get here in time for my arrival. He’s been on the job about five days. And I was particularly pleased to bring with me the highest-ranking Croatian American in the United States Government, Capricia Penavic Marshall, who is our Chief of Protocol, who has been a longtime friend and associate of mine and whose father, Frank, has regaled me with many stories about growing up in Croatia.

So it’s not only a partnership. It’s not only that we are members of NATO together. It’s not only that our soldiers serve side-by-side. It is also the bonds of friendship and family and real cultural affinity that Americans and Croatians share. And Mr. President, we look forward to celebrating Croatia’s accession to the EU in the very near future.

Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Now we’ll take questions. (Inaudible), a question to the President and the State Secretary.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) A question to the President and State Secretary: When on the first of July next year when the Croats wake up, in spite of the objections of the Slovenians, do you expect us to be a member of the EU with a special assignment in the region?

And the second question, based on – for the U.S. Secretary: Your former ambassador, when leaving Croatia, said that there is an anti-business climate in Croatia and that the U.S. has the lowest investment in Croatia compared to other (inaudible). Does the Obama Administration see any progress over the last period of years, or is this country still in an anti-business climate? Does it pervade here?

PRESIDENT JOSIPOVIC: (Via interpreter) I am quite sure that on the first of July, we will wake up in the EU next year. And I am sure that Croatia will be a successful member of the EU, which means not to benefit honey and milk, but we will have to show what we can do. It’s a major opportunity for us, but it’s up to us to show how we will take advantage of it.

We will have an important task in the region in our own interest. Croatia’s best interest is that our neighbors also accede to the EU, of course, provided that they fulfill the EU requirements. This is important to us for the sake of peace, security, but also for the economic considerations, free movement of goods, people, among the neighboring countries and friends.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, certainly in my discussions with both the President and the Prime Minister, they expressed equally the same confidence that you will be a member of the European Union. And we certainly strongly support that, as we have over the last several years.

Regarding the economic, commercial, business, and investment climate, I think it’s important in today’s world that everyone look for ways to create jobs, restore competitiveness, and spur renewed economic growth. That is particularly important here in Croatia because you have an educated workforce, you have a developed infrastructure, you have a very favorable geographic position, you are a promising destination for investment. But you also have a very high rate of unemployment for young people that could be addressed by opening up your business sector to greater competition.

We see potential for increasing trade and investment between Croatia and the United States. And as I discussed with the Prime Minister and the President, we urge Croatia to make necessary reforms: to increase transparency, to reduce bureaucratic hurdles wherever you can, to continue with privatization in an appropriate fashion, to make it easy to start a new business, to encourage young people to be entrepreneurs, to look for energy independence, which will give you advantages vis-a-vis the rest of Europe because of your long coastline, to explore liquefied natural gas and deepening your port.

We stand ready to assist in any way. We already have several business development programs in place. Last year, we brought people together from the United States and across the region for an annual business and investment conference known as the Brown Forum, named in honor of the late former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. So we stand ready to encourage American investment in Croatia. And I must say we think that there’s a great potential here, but there do have to be continuing economic reforms which, if undertaken and implemented, will give Croatia a significant advantage vis-a-vis the rest of Europe, particularly southern Europe and especially the Balkans.

So we don’t urge you to do this for us, we urge this to do it for you, but we think it will also benefit American businesses and investors because they will find Croatia a very attractive place to do business with all of the assets you have.

MODERATOR: Andy.

QUESTION: Secretary, if I could ask you about Syria. Mr. Brahimi’s attempt at a ceasefire has evidently failed, and the violence is increasing again. What are your views on what needs to be done now to bring the violence down?

And turning to next week’s opposition conference in Doha, what gives you confidence, if you have any at all, that this could produce the beginnings of a government in waiting where the SNC has failed to do that? And are you sure that your key allies, including Turkey, are ready to swing behind whatever is the outcome of Doha? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well Andy, those are all very important and timely questions. And I want to start by thanking Croatia for their assistance in dealing with the extremely difficult problems presented by both Syria and Iran.

Look, I sincerely regret, but I, unfortunately, was not surprised by the failure of the latest ceasefire attempt. Despite its reported commitment to the UN Special Envoy, Mr. Brahimi, the Assad regime did not suspend its use of advanced weaponry against the Syrian people for even one day. And the shelling in the suburbs of Damascus was as bad last weekend as at any time in the conflict.

So while we urge Special Envoy Brahimi to do whatever he can in Moscow and Beijing to convince them to change course and support stronger UN action, we cannot and will not wait for that. Instead, our efforts, and those of our partners in the EU and the Arab League, are focused on pressuring the regime through increasing and tightening sanctions, meeting the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people who are displaced, assisting those countries that they seek refuge in, and helping the opposition unite behind a shared, effective strategy that can resist the regime’s violence and begin to provide for a political transition that can demonstrate more clearly than has been possible up until now what the future holds for the Syrian people once the Assad regime is gone.

So we are working very hard with many different elements from the opposition – yes, inside Syria as well as outside Syria. Some of you might remember I hosted a meeting in New York during the UN General Assembly. We facilitated the smuggling-out of a few representatives of the Syrian internal opposition in order for them to explain to the countries gathered why they must be at the table. This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but have, in many instances, not been inside Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years. There has to be a representation of those who are on the frontlines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom.

And there needs to be an opposition leadership structure that is dedicated to representing and protecting all Syrians. It is not a secret that many inside Syria are worried about what comes next. They have no love lost for the Assad regime, but they worry, rightly so, about the future. And so there needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria. And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over what has been a legitimate revolution against a repressive regime for their own purposes.

So the Arab League-sponsored meetings, starting in Doha next week, will be an important next step. I have been constantly involved with my counterparts, both in the EU and in the Arab League, in particular with the hosts of the meeting next week in Qatar. We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure. We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard. So our efforts are very focused on that right now. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) This completes the statements for the press. Thank you.

 

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Remarks With Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton

 

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

Government Building

Pristina, Kosovo

October 31, 2012

 


The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

 

PRIME MINISTER THACI: (Via interpreter) Honorable Secretary Clinton, allow me to express my condolences and those of the Kosovar people for the consequences of the hurricane. We pray for them, and we are visit the U.S. – will soon (inaudible) after this hurricane. Honorable Lady Ashton, Secretary Clinton, 13 years ago, Kosovo was a country that was totally devastated with over a million of its citizens driven away from their homes and thousands of people missing, many unspoken. Thirteen years ago, Honorable Secretary Clinton, you visited my citizens in refugee camps here. Those pictures are unforgettable. Today, you visit them in their own state in the independent and sovereign Kosovo. Kosovo and its citizens will be eternally grateful to the United States of America and the countries of the European Union for the powerful support that they gave to Kosovo on its long journey to freedom and independence.

Despite the significant progress we have made in – together in these 13 years of freedom and the four and a half years of independence, today Kosovo is still not the Kosovo of our dreams. We are persistently working for a European Kosovo, for a Euro-Atlantic Kosovo. We are conscious that we need to do more. There’s a lot of work to do in the rule of law, combating corruption and organized crime. Much work is still expected from us increasing the welfare of our citizens, and (inaudible) including minority communities in the public and institutional (inaudible).

Although extraordinary success has been made in integrating Serbian citizens in the south of the country, still a challenge remains in the north. I am a Prime Minister, Prime Minister of all citizens, both the citizens in the north and in south. And I guarantee (inaudible) to all. We will work extensively in attractive development projects for our citizens in that part of the country as well. We will continue to extend our hand of cooperation and provide services to all. But despite our willingness, the presence of illegal structures financed by Serbia makes our work very difficult there.

Honorable media representatives, I assured Baroness Ashton and Secretary Clinton that the institutions of Kosovo will meet all criteria in order that we may implement the will of the citizens of Kosovo and our vision to integrate as soon as possible in the European Union and in NATO. EU integration has no other alternative. Honorable Ashton, I assure you that Kosovo will continually provide positive arguments so that your work in pushing Kosovo’s EU agenda forward will be easier. We elaborated together, together with Secretary Clinton and Baroness Ashton, that the process of normalizing relations between the State of Kosovo and the State of Serbia is a determining factor of the Europeanization of the region. Kosovo is determined in this process. But let us be clear that (inaudible) will not go back; the state of Kosovo is being consolidated and strengthened every day. Kosovo’s independence and its territorial integrity and the (inaudible) state organization are internationally recognized facts and undisputable.

There are, however, many things that are in the interest of both countries and in the interest of the citizens of both states. Dialogue is the only way forward to integrate into the EU, and it is the main determining catalyzer to integrate in this – in the EU. And normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia, it goes in the best interests of Kosovo, of Serbia, of the region. It is also in the best interest for powerful investment from the EU and the U.S., and also in the interest of peace and regional stability and also for the Euro-Atlantic perspective.

So citizens in Kosovo, in Serbia, and in the region, after opening this chapter, will have more hope and more confidence in the future – Euro-Atlantic future of Kosovo.

MODERATOR: Now we invite the Honorable Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton for a press statement.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And Prime Minister, I’m delighted to be back in Pristina. I am also reminded, as you did, of my visit 13 years ago to refugee camps where the people who are now proud citizens of a new, independent state had fled to save their lives. I’m not sure any people has made as much progress in such a short period of time as the Kosovar people. The United States has been with you on every step of your journey, and we will remain as your partner and your friend as you continue forward.

Ever since I visited two years ago, I’ve been looking forward to returning and continuing the conversations that I’ve had over 13 years with the leaders and people of Kosovo about the future that you are building. I’m here today with the High Representative of the European Union, Cathy Ashton, because the United States fully supports the aspirations of the Kosovar people to be integrated into Europe and the Euro-Atlantic Alliance. We believe the dialogue that the Prime Minister has begun with Cathy Ashton and the Prime Minister of Serbia is absolutely essential. It provides the path to long-term stability, prosperity, and peace for people here and throughout the region. So we are working closely with the European Union and High Representative Ashton to advance the political dialogue that has begun.

And I personally want to commend the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Thaci took a political risk – I know a little bit about political risks – in going to this meeting in Brussels. It was the right decision. It was courageous and it was smart. I also want to commend your President. President Jahjaga has represented Kosovo very well around the world. She has changed minds and hearts about Kosovo and about your future.

My message yesterday in Belgrade is the same as my message here today in Pristina. The United States urges all parties to continue to work to implement the agreements reached to date, to reach agreements in new areas, and to advance concrete measures to normalize relations. Normalization of relations is key to future progress for both Serbia and Kosovo. But we believe in the United States that these steps taken by Kosovo are especially important for you. We think that moving toward the European Union will give you the rewards for the hard work, the sacrifice of the people of this generation and the past and future generations to come. So I urge Kosovo’s leaders to continue to carry out negotiations in good faith. Certainly, addressing the concerns of the Kosovo Serbs will be critical. I will meet with a group of ethnic Serb returnees later today, and will convey America’s commitment to helping build a future in Kosovo and throughout the region where all people of all backgrounds have a chance to succeed.

Let me be absolutely clear, not only here in Pristina but to anyone listening or watching throughout the region: The United States is firmly committed to Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to seeing the rule of law extend throughout Kosovo. We oppose any discussion of territorial changes or reopening Kosovo’s independent status. These matters are not up for discussion. The boundaries of an independent, sovereign Kosovo are clear and set. I appreciate the Prime Minister saying that he is the Prime Minister of the north and of the south, and we look forward to assisting the Prime Minister, his government, and the people of Kosovo as they translate that commitment into reality in both the north and the south.

The United States is very proud of our friendship with Kosovo. We see a country that is young not only in terms of years of being a state, but in terms of demography. You have a young population. The young men and women of Kosovo whom I had a chance to meet with two years ago, when I was here, deserve to be fully integrated into Europe. And that is our goal for you. We want to continue working with you to build and strengthen your democratic institutions and advance the economic welfare of your people. I believe in Kosovo’s future, and the United States remains deeply committed to your success.

Now for me and my family, and many of my fellow Americans, this is more than a matter of foreign policy. It is deeply personal. As I was driving in from the airport last evening, I saw that enormous statue of my husband – (laughter) – standing next to the store called Hillary. (Laughter.) I had a chance to visit both of them last time. It looks like the store is doing well, which I was very happy to see. But we have a personal commitment to your success, and we also know that getting into the European Union is not easy. There have to be changes made. And it’s not only changes by the government, but also changes by the people. But we also know Kosovo’s future lies in Europe, and we are anxious to see you move as quickly as possible in that direction.

So we will stand with you as you make key reforms to improve governance that brings you closer to full Euro-Atlantic integration. We will stand with you as you work with Serbia to resolve practical problems and overcome obstacles, and we will be there for you as you take the necessary steps toward the future you so richly deserve.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Now I would kindly pass the floor for a press statement to Honorable Lady Catherine Ashton.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Well, thank you very much. Can I first of all say how delighted I am to be back, and especially delighted to be back with Secretary Clinton, my friend Hillary, who I know has a very special place in the hearts of the people of Kosovo. Prime Minister, it’s always a pleasure to see you and to have the opportunity to continue our work together.

On this particular trip, a common theme has been our view of the importance of seeing the countries we visited being part of the European Union. And to the people of Kosovo, I say the same thing: Your future lies with the European Union, and we are eager to see you realize that ambition. As Secretary Clinton said, the road is not easy. Every country that comes into the European Union will tell you it gets harder before it gets easier. There are many things that need to be done. But they’re worth doing because at the end of it, you will have a country that is stronger economically, stronger politically, where the rule of law is observed correctly, where human rights are fully respected. And though I would also say that all countries need to continue to be vigilant and to continue on the journey that they are to take in these regards, nonetheless you will arrive at the European Union with great strength. And I personally look forward to that day very much.

The dialogue that we have begun is not easy. It’s not easy for the Prime Minister; it’s not easy for the Prime Minister of Serbia, Prime Minister Dacic, either. And I know that for the people of Kosovo, with the history and the fears that you have, it’s not easy, either. But we commit to you that this dialogue is about making lives better. It’s about normalizing life so that the people who live in the north can go about their daily lives feeling part of a community, feeling part in their lives of a society. And it’s about doing so by sitting down and talking, and talking openly and freely.

And I have to say to all of you that I believe your Prime Minister was extremely brave to come to Brussels and to be willing to come into the room and have that conversation. I also believe the Prime Minister of Serbia was brave, too. It was a good meeting. It was a first good meeting. There will be more, and soon. And its purpose will be, as I have said, to make things better. I hope you will give him your full support. I hope the Prime Minister can count on all the politicians and the people to go forward, and in doing so, to know that it’s not just the European Union that will be working hard on this, but that we will be in close contact with our friends, our partners in the United States of America, who play such a vital role in supporting not just Kosovo, but actually the European Union as a whole.

So thank you very much, Prime Minister, for all that you’re doing. Secretary Clinton, as this is our last press conference on this particular trip, what a pleasure it’s been to travel with you and to work so closely with you. And to all of you, I wish this country every possible success.

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Inaudible.)

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On the heels of her birthday weekend, and with a nasty storm heading in, Mme. Secretary is scheduled to travel early this week.  As always, we wish her a safe journey.

Secretary Clinton to Travel to Algeria and the Balkans

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 24, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Croatia from October 29 to November 2.

On October 30 in Algeria, the Secretary will consult with President Bouteflika on issues of bilateral and regional concern and will follow up the productive discussions on economic and security cooperation at the U.S-Algeria Strategic Dialogue held in Washington on October 19.

The Secretary will then travel to the Balkans to demonstrate the enduring U.S. interest, commitment and support for its future in the European and Euro-Atlantic community.  She will be joined by Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo.

In Sarajevo, the Secretary and High Representative Ashton will underline the urgent need for party leaders to serve the interests of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and accomplish necessary reforms, and will stress the immutability of the international community’s commitment to the Dayton Peace Accords.

In both Belgrade and Pristina, in addition to discussing issues of bilateral interest, Secretary Clinton and High Representative Ashton will reiterate U.S.-EU resolve for Serbia and Kosovo to build on previous agreements and advance their dialogue, as well as to encourage concrete steps that will allow those countries to progress on their respective paths to EU membership.

In Tirana, the Secretary will highlight solidarity with NATO ally Albania and help mark the 100th anniversary of Albanian independence with an address to the Parliament, while marking the critical need for greater political cooperation and the rule of law.

In Zagreb, Secretary Clinton will discuss Croatia’s role as a NATO ally, its upcoming entry to the European Union in 2013, and its economic situation.

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Yes, there were more bilaterals last night after which she hosted the Transatlantic dinner. The snip below is from a briefing last night by a senior official providing  background.

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Readout of the Secretary’s Meetings With Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders, Greek Foreign Minister Avramopoulos, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Hague, and the Transatlantic Dinner

Special Briefing

Senior Administration Official
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 25, 2012
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, and again, sorry that this evening has gone on so long, but we thought it would be worthwhile to provide you a readout on background from our Senior Administration Official. For your records, that is actually [Senior Administration Official]. We will do a brief readout of the dinner that just took place, the Transatlantic Dinner with our NATO and European partners, and then have time to take some of your questions.

So with that, let me just turn it over to our Senior Administration Official.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, and thanks to everyone for waiting up so late. Apologies it’s so late, but the dinner went on for some time. I’ll get to the Transatlantic Dinner. Maybe I can just start with the other Transatlantic engagements, European engagements the Secretary’s had since she arrived on Sunday.

This actually began with her bilat with European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy Cathy Ashton on Sunday evening. And just briefly on that, she – the Secretary spent a good hour with High Representative Ashton covering a wide range of issues starting with Iran. The High Representative is leading the negotiations, recently had some talks in Istanbul with the Iranians, was able to report on those talks, and I think both of them concluded that there’s still time and space for diplomacy, and that effort needs to go on as we pursue both tracks – the pressure track – and I think we’ve heard from a number of Europeans in the course of the week that they’re looking for ways to increase the pressure track even as High Representative Ashton leads the way on negotiations on the diplomatic track. And we’re very serious about both tracks at the same time.

They talked about Burma, obviously, with Aung San Suu Kyi recently being in Washington and the EU having its own engagements with her, and talked about how the U.S. and the EU can coordinate on supporting democratic reforms in Burma. And then they actually spent a considerable time – amount of time on democratic reforms closer to home, which is to say across Eastern Europe. As the Secretary and High Representative were meeting, we were getting election results from Belarus – not that there was much question about how those elections would come out – and unfortunately they came out as expected, which is to say reflecting an unlevel playing field. And Secretary Clinton and High Representative Ashton talked about how we together in the U.S. and Europe can keep the pressure on Belarus and make clear that so long as there are political prisoners and so long as elections are repeatedly falling well short of international standards, then Belarus is not going to be able to have the relationship with Europe and the United States that it needs.

They also talked about upcoming elections in Ukraine, and I think it’s fair to say that we – the United States and Europe are working extraordinarily closely together when it comes to pressing for and supporting free and fair elections that are going to take place on October 28th. Ukraine is hugely important to European security and stability. We have been very clear how much we regret what we see as selective prosecutions, including the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko. And Secretary Clinton, High Rep Ashton agreed the U.S. and the European Union really have the same policy, which is to say that our relations with Ukraine can only really move forward when we see an end of those selective prosecutions and free and fair elections. And they talked about how we can use the time between now and October 28th to support those goals.

There are also upcoming elections in Georgia on October 1st, and once again, I think the two of them agreed how important it was for us collectively to make clear to Georgia how important it is to have a fair and transparent and competitive campaign environment. The most important thing Georgia can do for its future is to consolidate its democracy. We have respectively raised concerns about different issues on the road to those elections, and we’ve been appreciative that the Georgian Government has heard those concerns, and in most cases, taken measures to make sure that the elections that we are going to be very active in monitoring will indeed be free and fair.

And then finally, Secretary Clinton and High Rep Ashton talked about the Balkans. Catherine Ashton is leading an effort to promote the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. Together, we support the path to the European Union of both of those countries. We think Serbia needs to come to term with an independent Kosovo in order to move forward along that path. And it’s something the United States and European Union are working very much hand in hand on to consolidate the Balkans as part of a unified Europe.

And then this evening, the Secretary, prior to the Transatlantic Dinner, had the opportunity to meet with a number of foreign ministers, including, in particular, several whom she hadn’t had formal bilats with who are new since certainly the last General Assembly, which includes the Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. Avramopoulos; the Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders; and the very new Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide. And the Secretary also met with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Just very briefly with Greek Foreign Minister Avramopoulos, of course, they focused considerably on the Greek economy, and the Secretary expressed our understanding and appreciation for the great sacrifices that the Greek people are making in the reforms that have been deemed necessary to keep Greece in the Eurozone and to turn around its economy. We know how difficult those reforms are, but it’s a core American interest to see the Eurozone not just survive but thrive, and that entails also supporting Greece. And she was able to hear from the Foreign Minister the difficult budgetary cuts and tax increases and structural changes they’re making, but we were impressed with the seriousness of the effort, and I think it was useful for the Secretary to hear about the important reforms that Greece has undertaken, and for Foreign Minister Avramopoulos to hear how strongly the United States supports what Greece is doing.

With Foreign Minister Reynders of Belgium, she – Secretary Clinton thanked him for Belgium’s strong cooperation with the United States on a number of areas, including Afghanistan, where they’ve been very much involved and are – have agreed to help support Afghan National Security Forces after 2014; our cooperation on Syria and Iran, where again Belgium is a core member of the Transatlantic community, is cooperating closely with us. And they also talked about a couple of areas of particular interest not just to us, but to Belgium, which is to say Central Africa, the Congo, and the Sahel where the Belgium Foreign Minister explained what Belgium is doing to try to promote stability in those regions.

Seeing the new Norwegian Foreign Minister Barth Eide was a good opportunity for the Secretary, who had worked very closely with his predecessor, Jonas Store. She congratulated the new Foreign Minister and noted that the United States and Norway are extraordinarily close partners who work very well together. The Secretary, of course, traveled to Norway last summer, and it was a good chance for her to touch base with the brand new Foreign Minister and talk about a number of areas of common interest.

Finally, she did a bilat with Foreign Secretary Hague, mostly focused on Syria, where it was a good chance for the two of them, who have both recently seen Special Representative Brahimi, to coordinate policy on Syria. They also touched on Afghanistan and the challenge of dealing with some of these so-called green-on-blue attacks.

A lot of these themes that I’ve already mentioned, these bilats were also the subject of the Transatlantic Dinner, and I’ll end with a readout of that, which I guess went on for almost two hours. The Transatlantic Dinner, as you all know, is something we do every year at the General Assembly, meeting of European Union foreign ministers, NATO foreign ministers, as well as Macedonia and Switzerland, plus the NATO Secretary General and the High Representative of the EU. And it’s an opportunity to talk about a number of issues on the agenda of European and North Atlantic countries. They can obviously not cover everything; they cover a number of things, but I think particularly worth highlighting would be three topics – Syria, Afghanistan, and Europe and this question of democracy in Europe that I already flagged as being one of the subjects of the bilats.

And I think what is really worth stressing when I mention these topics of Syria, Afghanistan, and democracy in Europe is how much on the same page these members of the transatlantic community are. Members of the EU and NATO are really working in an unprecedented way on each of the topics I mentioned.

Again, just briefly on Syria, there was really a consensus around the table behind the approach that I know you’ve heard about that we’ve been taking in terms of supporting the opposition and trying to coordinate the opposition so that when the Assad regime does fall, as we believe it will, there will be something in place that can provide stability, efforts to respond to the huge humanitarian crisis; of course, Turkey is present at this meeting, was able to speak about the challenges they’re facing with refugees and preparing for a post-Assad Syria and keeping the pressure on the regime.

On Afghanistan, as in previous years, the Secretary was able to thank our European allies and partners for all the contributions they have made to our efforts in Afghanistan. This was the first meeting of this group since the Chicago Summit where important decisions were made on the milestone towards Afghan lead in 2013, and then the full transition by the end of 2014. And to follow up on some of the pledges made, our belief, as you know, is that the key to transition and successful transition in Afghanistan is training, and that requires trainers and it requires funding. And we were very pleased at all of the contributions made by European and other allies in Chicago towards ANSF funding after 2014. And the Secretary reiterated the importance of continuing to finance that project and to contribute the security force assistance teams that are needed to make this a success.

I think it’s worth stressing the Secretary made clear, and I think others around the table also made very clear, that notwithstanding some adjustments to the approach in Afghanistan to deal with these so-called insider attacks, the goal and the strategy and the timeline in Afghanistan remain absolutely unchanged. And Secretary General Rasmussen made that perfectly clear as well. What leaders agreed first in Lisbon and then complemented in Chicago is very clear and has not changed, and again, I can – I think I can say that every single minister on the table who spoke about it reiterated their commitment to the same goal, strategy, and timeline, and their commitment to doing what they can to support those goals.

Finally, and I think it’s really worth stressing, the discussion on democracy in Europe was important. This group gets together, and the world in which we live so often finds itself talking about Libya or Syria or Iran or Afghanistan, but there’s still some concerns in Europe to this group. And the Secretary herself highlighted her personal concerns about some of the upcoming elections that I already mentioned – Ukraine and Georgia, the highly imperfect election that took place in Belarus, and also the climate for democracy and human rights in Russia. And the Secretary noted a number of steps taken recently in Russia that aren’t pointing in the right direction where transparency and democracy are concerned.

And we’ve already raised in other fora our concerns about the new NGO law that requires registration of foreign agents, the increased fines for protests, some selective cases of prosecution, and now most recently, a new draft law on treason which would widen the definition of treason, and then of course the Russian decision to ask our USAID Office to cease its activities in Russia. And the Secretary reiterated our regret of that decision and our belief that USAID has accomplished a lot in Russia, and our commitment to carry on as we can in supporting those in Russia who want to see a free and fair and democratic Russia.

So that’s really the highlights, I think, of the Transatlantic Dinner and the bilat….

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Stunning that with all those “pop” names on the list, nowhere do I see Catherine Ashton’s name!  Have I missed it, or is she somehow simply not on the list?  The list becomes something of a joke when Lady Gaga (# 14) outranks Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (#82) , and Catherine Ashton is left off completely.  Before the “Little Monsters” jump all over me:  Regardless of how many of you she can reach with a single tweet (that may or may not be earth-shattering – more likely not), I fail to see  how being a Tweet Star (the reason given by Moira Forbes for this ranking) makes Gaga more powerful than the first woman elected president of an African nation or how Cathy Ashton somehow does not qualify at all.

I love to see Hillary Clinton honored, but when the list is this unbalanced and disorganized it loses its gravitas and becomes just another pop item.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 11: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) speaks during a meeting of the Quartet on the Middle East Peace while flanked by US envoy for Middle East Peace David Hale (R), and EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton (L), during the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, on April 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. Secretary Clinton hosted this years G8 Foreign Ministers conference at the Blair House. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
ForbesWoman
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8/22/2012 @ 11:32AM |

The Most Powerful Women In Politics, 2012

For the second year running, three of the top five women on FORBES list of the world’s 100 most powerful women are politicians. In the list as a whole, 19 politicians hold court, including eight heads of state. It wasn’t a U.S. election year, which explains the exit of the Tea Party candidates who wielded considerable power in 2011, but overall more than half of the political returnees from last year’s list shot considerably up the rankings.

What does this say about the changing dynamic of women in politics around the world? In the words of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, alittle something like this: “People say there are not enough qualified women, that’s one of the biggest bullshit things I’ve ever heard.”

Read more >>>>

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