Posts Tagged ‘EU’

More high compliments for our Hillary. She is so loved and respected.


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


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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U.S. and Europe: A Revitalized Global Partnership


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Brookings Institute
Washington, DC
November 29, 2012

Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. It’s wonderful to be back at Brookings. It’s always a joy to be introduced by such a longtime friend and colleague as Strobe Talbott and to have this opportunity to discuss with you how we have, over the last four years, revitalized our transatlantic alliance. I also want to recognize and thank members of the diplomatic corps who are here.

There is no better venue for my remarks than here at Brookings. Through the Center on the United States and Europe and initiatives like the Daimler Forum on Global Issues, Brookings provides an essential forum for examining how the United States and Europe can work together to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. After all, in the democracies of Europe, we find countries with shared strategic and economic interests and with whom we share a long history, deep cultural ties, and cherished values. That makes us natural partners in advancing our interests, both within Europe and throughout the world.

But I must begin by being very frank. When President Obama and I came into office, this relationship was frayed. There were skeptics and doubters on both sides of the Atlantic. Europeans were asking hard questions about what the transatlantic partnership could deliver for them and whether it was even still relevant in the 21st century. And many Americans were asking the same questions.

At the same time, at the start of the Administration, we faced some rather daunting global challenges, among the most difficult in decades: a global economic downturn, an aggressive regime with nuclear ambitions in Iran, two unfinished wars, uncertainty about America’s global leadership and staying power. From day one, President Obama and I made clear that if we were going to make progress, we had to do the hard work of renewing and reinvigorating our partnerships around the world, and that began with Europe.

We knew it couldn’t happen overnight. As then-Senator Obama said in Berlin in 2008, “True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require the burdens of development and diplomacy, of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other, and, most of all, trust each other.” Four years later, we are showing that this partnership can deliver results for all our people.

Next week, I will make my 38th visit to Europe as Secretary. Visits to other parts of the world often get more attention, because I think it’s kind of taken for granted in a way that we’re going to be going back and forth across the Atlantic. But indeed, 38 visits to Europe is something that I have been delighted to do because of the importance we place on these relationships.

In Prague, I will see senior officials to discuss our efforts to promote Czech energy independence and to advance human rights and democracy. In Brussels, I’ll meet with NATO allies to talk about the broad range of security challenges we face. I’ll meet with EU counterparts to discuss the future of energy security. In Dublin, I’ll join my colleagues from the OSCE to renew and review our progress in advancing security, democracy, and human rights across Europe and Eurasia. And in Belfast, I’ll meet leaders and citizens to reiterate America’s commitment to a peaceful, prosperous Northern Ireland. It is a full schedule, but it demonstrates the commitment we’ve brought to our transatlantic partnership.

Today, I’d like to discuss briefly how these efforts have helped the United States and Europe meet a number of key security challenges: the war in Afghanistan, the crisis in Libya, Iran’s nuclear program, and strengthening our strategic defenses. At the same time, our transatlantic partnership has arrived at a critical moment. Decisions we’ll soon face about our shared economic interests will determine how well we can thrive together in the years to come. So I want to describe the work that lies ahead of us as well.

But first, let me review what I think we’ve accomplished in the past few years because I think it speaks volumes of the value and importance we’ve placed on the relationship. We began by working to improve the lines of communication that had become strained. See how diplomatic I’ve become? (Laughter.) American and European diplomats have come together thousands of times in the past four years to discuss issues both familiar and new, from security to trade to clean energy. It may not be glamorous work, but it is the hard daily work, the necessary work, of rebuilding the mutual trust and confidence on which our partnership depends.

Ultimately, our goal was to face, head on, the issues that had driven a wedge between us and get back on the path of cooperation. Consider Afghanistan. For close to a decade, tens of thousands of European troops have served alongside American service members in the largest and longest overseas deployment NATO has ever undertaken. At the same time, many thousands of European diplomats and development experts served with ours as well. But four years ago, support for this effort was fading. Strained budgets were making some governments look twice at the cost of the commitment. Many in America worried that the United States would be left to bear the burden on its own and doubted that our alliance would stay the course.

Instead, we came together with our allies and charted a common path forward. It started in Brussels in 2009, when we agreed that getting the job done would take a stronger military presence on the ground. The next year, in the summit in Lisbon, we agreed on a timetable for transitioning security responsibilities to the Afghans by the end of 2014. Earlier this year at the summit in Chicago, we reaffirmed the core principle of “in together, out together,” and made commitments on financing, supporting, and training Afghan security forces beyond 2014. In Tokyo last summer, we pledged ongoing economic and civilian support for the Afghan people following the transition.

And together, we are helping the Afghans take back their country and secure their future. Al-Qaida’s core leadership has been decimated there. Three-quarters of the population now live in areas where Afghan forces have taken over lead responsibility for security, and conflict has moved farther away from population centers.

Now, believe me, we know there is an enormous amount of hard work ahead, and success, however one defines it, is far from guaranteed. But we worked past our differences; we kept our eyes on the most important goal, helping the Afghan people lay the foundation for their own progress and better futures for themselves.

Even as we shored up support for a decade-long conflict in Afghanistan, we also showed that the Alliance can answer the challenges of today. When the Libyan people demanded their freedom and Qadhafi threatened to hunt down the people of Benghazi like rats, we responded. And we all shared the burden. Early on, the United States knocked out Libya’s integrated air defenses, and later we provided other crucial assets. Our European and Canadian allies policed the skies, carried out the bulk of air strikes, provided logistical support, and enforced the arms embargo at sea.

Think for a moment about the NATO action in Kosovo in the 1990s. In that mission, the United States dropped nearly 90 percent of the precision guided munitions, compared to our allies’ 10 percent; in Libya, it was the other way around.

Now, Libya was not a flawless operation. European air forces were severely stressed, and we are concerned about further defense cuts by our allies that could impede our ability to undertake necessary defense and such operations in the future. But Operation Unified Protector showed that NATO still has a critical role to play in advancing our common security interests. And we’re taking advantage of the lessons we learned to make the Alliance more effective.

Beyond NATO, there may be no better example of our cooperation than the way we are holding the Iranian Government accountable for its illicit nuclear program. Few would argue that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are anything less than a grave threat to its neighbors and the world. But four years ago, during a serious economic slowdown, the conventional wisdom said that the EU had no appetite for deploying the most powerful diplomatic tool we had to put pressure on the regime, a total embargo of Iranian oil.

Well, we set out to prove the conventional wisdom wrong. We built a strong coalition of nations, persuaded other oil suppliers to step up production, and created the space that the EU needed to put a boycott in place. We coupled that action with unprecedented global sanctions and some creative solutions that are making it harder for companies to do business with Iran: going after Iran’s central bank; working with insurers, shippers and oil companies to keep Iran’s oil resources bottled up inside their own borders. As a result, Iran’s oil production is down a million barrels a day. That costs the Iranian government $3 billion every month.

The United States, as President Obama has said repeatedly, is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. I think we have also shown that diplomacy is our preferred approach. But the window for Iran to negotiate seriously is not open indefinitely. Through the E3+3 process and multilateral fora like the IAEA, the United States and European leaders are pushing Tehran to live up to its international obligations and abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

We’re also modernizing our defensive capabilities across Europe to guard against 21st century threats. We’re maintaining our largest permanent military presence outside the United States there, while at the same time updating our ballistic missile defense to protect against threats from outside the continent. These new technologies are helping protect potential targets in both Europe and America. We’ve already deployed a critical radar in Turkey, and agreed to home-port Aegis missile defense cruisers in Spain. And in the coming years, new interceptor systems and their American operators will be deployed in Romania and Poland, enhancing our defensive capabilities for years to come.

So on a wide range of global security issues we are more closely aligned with our European partners than we’ve ever been.

Now, of course, Europe and the United States are never going to agree on every issue, just as Europeans will not always agree among themselves. Just today, in fact, a number of EU member states are likely to take a different position from us on a measure at the UN General Assembly granting observer-state status to the Palestinian Authority. The United States opposes the resolution, which we believe will do nothing to advance the peace and the two-state solution we all want to see. At the same time, however, we and our European partners agree on the most fundamental issues and share a common objective: two states living side by side in peace and security.

We can all also agree that we are better off working together on this issue, just as on the others that I have mentioned. Imagine what the world would look like if we did not. A Libyan dictator, left to his own devices, slaughtering his own people. A safe haven for terrorists in Afghanistan. Iran leveraging its oil supply to underwrite a nuclear weapons program. That is not a world in which Americans or Europeans or anyone else would be better off.

So what we have achieved in the last four years is a record we must keep building on, because there are even more consequential and in many ways more difficult challenges that lie ahead.

For example, we look to our longtime European allies to help improve security and build new economic relationships in Asia. And let me be clear: Our pivot to Asia is not a pivot away from Europe. On the contrary, we want Europe to engage more in Asia, along with us to see the region not only as a market, but as a focus of common strategic engagement.

Another ongoing challenge we need to deal with together is Russia. We’ve made progress with Moscow on areas such as nuclear arms reduction, sanctions on Iran, and trade, and we seek to expand our areas of cooperation. But the reality is that we have serious and continuing differences on Syria, missile defense, NATO enlargement, human rights, and other issues. It will be up to us and our European partners to continue looking for opportunities to engage with Russia and to make progress on the issues that matter to us.

There are so many other areas that are ripe for cooperation, from supporting the transitions in North Africa and the Middle East, to responding to climate change, to relieving famine in the Horn of Africa, to managing relationships with emerging powers. But if the United States and Europe are not strong, stable, and prosperous in the long-term, our ability to tackle these and other issues will be put at risk. If we can’t make the necessary investments in defense, diplomacy, and development, our partnership might not bear the weight of these 21st century challenges.

So while we build on our recent successes, we also need to remain focused on areas where our partnership still has work to do. Perhaps the most important question in the years ahead will be whether we invest as much energy into our economic relationship as we have put into our security relationship. At a time when countries are measuring their influence as much by the size of their economies as by the might of their militaries, we have to realize the untapped potential of the transatlantic market. This is as much a strategic imperative as an economic one.

After all, so many of the things we do around the world depend on our economic strength – from providing defense, to investing in emerging markets, to aiding development, to responding to crises. And there may be no greater threat to our security and our transatlantic partnership than a weak economic future on one or both sides of the Atlantic. If we’re serious about strengthening our economic ties, we each need to build stronger foundations at home. For the United States, this means making tough political choices. It means investing in our own competitiveness to set the platform for stronger economic growth. And it means addressing our domestic fiscal challenges.

As you know, Washington is gearing up for another round of budget negotiations. And I am again hearing concerns about the global implications of America’s economic choices. And although I am now out of politics, let me assure you that for all the differences between our political parties here, we are united in our commitment to protect American leadership and bolster our national security. Reaching a meaningful budget deal is critical to both. This is a moment, once again, to prove the resilience of our economic system and reaffirm American leadership in the world.

And we are counting on Europe to do the same. First and foremost, that means resolving the Eurozone crisis. And we’ve seen some good progress recently. Over the summer, the European Central Bank announced that it would stand behind governments that are implementing critical reforms, which has effectively reduced borrowing costs for these countries. And a few weeks ago, Greece took an important step by passing a budget and reform package that makes tough trade-offs. And just this week, European governments and the IMF agreed on measures to reduce Greece’s debt burden.

Ireland and Portugal have implemented sweeping reforms that should improve their competitiveness. Spain and Italy are also on the path to reform and eventual recovery. This has not, of course, been easy, but after two years of vigorous debate and a dozen elections, the 17 governments of the Euro area remain united in their will to maintain Europe’s monetary union. Time and again, skeptical governments and crisis-weary voters have chosen to keep the Eurozone intact and to keep trying to resolve the crisis.

Now, we recognize that this is fundamentally a European problem that requires European solutions. America can’t and shouldn’t try to dictate any answer or approach. But even as the risks of financial crisis recede, I want to urge European leaders to keep working to address the challenge of economic growth and jobs. The Eurozone economy is slipping back into recession as austerity policies take effect. France and Germany, which have largely weathered the economic storm so far, are also beginning to show some signs of slowdown.

So it’s vital to the entire global economy that European leaders move toward policies that promote credible and sustainable growth and create jobs. But even as we’re making these tough choices on our own, there’s a great deal more on the economic front we can and must be doing together. Like tackling global imbalances, which are creating a drag on the recoveries in both America and Europe, and perhaps more importantly, working to strengthen our transatlantic trade relationship.

Now of course, Europe is already America’s largest trade and investment partner. And we have made some progress building on that. We have revitalized the Transatlantic Economic Council and set up the U.S.-EU Energy Council. We’ve broken down regulatory barriers and are working to establish standards, common standards, for manufacturing, and our collaboration with the private sector is starting to show results in developing smart grids and other new energy technologies.

But despite that progress, the United States remains one of only a handful of WTO members not to move beyond Most-Favored-Nation status with the EU. We need to do better. In the face of rising challenges to our shared economic model, and the growth of barriers to trade that have emerged not at borders but behind them, we need to continue to promote a rules-based order of open, free, transparent, and fair competition in the global marketplace.

That’s why we are discussing possible negotiations with the European Union for a comprehensive agreement that would increase trade and spur growth on both sides of the Atlantic. We have more work to do, including addressing longstanding barriers to trade and market access. But if we work at it and if we get this right, an agreement that opens markets and liberalizes trade would shore up our global competitiveness for the next century, creating jobs and generating hundreds of billions of dollars for our economies. So I hope we will continue working to find a way forward, and make stronger trade and investment ties a major strategic goal of our transatlantic alliance.

Now, the path ahead for Europe and for our partnership will not be an easy one, but I’m confident that we will, once again, do what is necessary because we have done it so many times before. We united to rebuild a continent devastated by war. We built NATO to protect a continent threatened by Soviet domination. And we’re continuing to work together on the unfinished work inside Europe, like European enlargement and integration, which the United States has championed for decades.

We are looking forward to Croatia’s accession to the EU next year. Last month, as Strobe said, I traveled to the Western Balkans with High Representative Ashton, where we expressed our support for the aspirations of the people there to be integrated into Europe and the Euro-Atlantic Alliance. We support the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia that is taking place under the good offices of the EU. And we hope to see movement toward normalizing relations.

And let me add what a pleasure it has been working with Cathy Ashton. Not only is she a great diplomat and a personal friend, but it is exciting to see the EU becoming a more cohesive voice in world affairs.

We also must continue advancing the work of democracy and human rights in those parts of Europe and Eurasia that are not yet where they need to be. Ukraine’s October elections were a step backwards for democracy, and we remain deeply concerned about the selective prosecution of opposition leaders. In Belarus, the government continues to systematically repress human rights, so we must continue to push for the release of political prisoners and support those brave activists standing up for the rights of the people of Belarus. We welcomed Georgia’s elections and the first peaceful transition in that country’s history, and we continue to call on Georgia’s new government to demonstrate its commitment to democracy, transparency, due process, and the rule of law. From Eastern Europe to the Balkans to the Caucasus, the United States and the EU must continue to assist civil society, support democratic reforms, and promote tolerance throughout and within societies.

In short, we are advancing the values and principles that have underpinned our partnership for so long. And even in the moments when the United States and Europe could agree on little else, that foundation remained steadfast. In this sense, the last four years represent not a new direction, but a return to form, and a reminder of what the United States and Europe stand for: That commitment to freedom and democracy, that dedication to human rights and opportunity for all, the conviction that progress depends on our willingness to see past our differences.

There’s an old saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And over the past four years – and for decades before that – the United States and Europe have come far, together. Now we’re called to take on two tasks at once: to continue the work of advancing our shared interests and values around the world, even as we shore up the sources of our strengths at home.

If we work together, I’m confident that the United States and Europe are up to the challenge, that our partnership will not only endure but it will thrive and grow stronger, and that we will carry forward the work of every generation of Europeans and Americans alike – to build a more just, more prosperous, more peaceful, free world. That is an extraordinary mission, and it’s a privilege to be part of trying to move it forward.

Thank you all very much.

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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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Serbia Granted European Union Candidate Status

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 2, 2012


The March 1 announcement by the European Council that Serbia has been granted European Union candidate country status is an important step forward for Serbia’s future. I want to congratulate the leadership and the people of Serbia for their hard work, commitment and determination toward this goal.

I also welcome the announcement by the European Union that it will launch a Feasibility Study for Kosovo’s Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), which builds on the European Council’s conclusions on Kosovo from December. This is important for Kosovo’s European orientation and a key sign of Europe’s commitment to Kosovo.

Greater European integration is beneficial for Serbia, Kosovo and the entire region. I commend the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia for their courage and commitment in making the tough political decisions necessary to reach these milestones. I encourage the leaders of both countries to continue making progress in the EU-led dialogue, and to fully implement the decisions already agreed upon. The United States shares strong and enduring friendships with Kosovo and Serbia, and we will continue to work closely with both countries in support of a peaceful and prosperous European future.

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Remarks With European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton After Their Meeting



Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Treaty Room

Washington, DC

February 17, 2012


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good morning everyone. It’s always a pleasure to welcome my friend and colleague, the high representative of the European Union, here to Washington. We always have a lot to discuss and we are always relying on each other, because, as I said in Munich a few weeks ago, Europe remains America’s partner of first resort on all of the global challenges we are confronting together.

I know that Cathy understands the significance of our cooperation, because she and I have had the opportunity to meet on many occasions in the last several years, and we, again today, had a very comprehensive discussion. Let me just quickly run over a few of the issues.

I will turn first to Iran. We’re very grateful to Lady Ashton for her leadership on the P-5+1. The international community has been looking to Iran to demonstrate it is prepared to come to the table in a serious and constructive way. We have been reviewing Iran’s proposal to resume talks on its nuclear activities and consulting closely between us and with our other P-5+1 partners. This response from the Iranian Government is one we’ve been waiting for, and if we do proceed, it will have to be a sustained effort that can produce results.

Turning to Syria, I know that the high representative joins me in, once again, condemning in the strongest possible terms the ongoing violence against the Syrian people perpetrated by the Assad regime. I also want to extend on behalf of myself and our government our sympathies to the family of Anthony Shadid and to the New York Times for his untimely death. He was somebody I always turned to and read very carefully, and if I didn’t have the time when I got to the press reporting, I would put it aside and read it because he had his pulse on what was happening.

Yesterday’s UN General Assembly vote demonstrated an overwhelming international consensus that the bloody assaults must end. In the face of this global condemnation, the regime in Damascus, however, appears to be escalating its assaults on civilians, and those who are suffering cannot get access to the humanitarian assistance they need and deserve. So we will keep working to pressure and isolate the regime, to support the opposition, and to provide relief to the people of Syria. I will be attending the Friends of Syria conference in Tunisia next week, where a number of nations will work to intensify pressure on the regime and to mobilize the humanitarian relief that is needed. We also hope to coordinate efforts to enable a Syrian-led transition before the regime’s actions tear the country apart. We’re looking for an inclusive democratic process.

Ultimately, our shared values between the U.S. and the EU are the bedrock of our cooperation, and we are promoting those values together. We also discussed the situation in the Balkans. We share the view that the future of both Serbia and Kosovo lies with the European Union, and the United States strongly supports the dialogue that the EU is leading to try to advance Euro-integration for both Serbia and Kosovo. Deputy Secretary Burns is encouraging both sides to remain flexible and open to compromise.

We have a – we have a very long list of what we discussed, but I’ll just end it there and turn it over to Lady Ashton with my appreciation for her leadership and the great partnership we have.

MS. ASHTON: Well first of all, can I say what a pleasure it is to be back here and to be meeting and working as closely as I do with you. It is extremely significant that we’re meeting today, because we meet on the back of having received a letter from Dr. Jalili from Iran in response to my letter from October. As you said, we are consulting colleagues and analyzing closely what this letter would mean. Let me say that I think it’s good to see that the letter has arrived and that there is a potential possibility that Iran may be ready to start talks. We’ll continue to discuss and make sure that what we’re looking at is substantive, but I’m cautious and I’m optimistic at the same time for this. It also demonstrates the importance of the twin-track approach, that the pressure that we have put on together, the sanctions that have been put there because that’s the responsibility of the international community, I believe, they’re having an effect. But we, of course, want to resolve this through talks.

And as you’ve said, Hillary, the situation in Syria is a cause for enormous concern, and we feel extremely worried about the level of violence and terror that is happening within that country. We’ve been very clear that President Assad should stand aside and should enable a process that would bring the people of Syria together, all of them. An inclusive process that can take the country forward. I want to commend the work of Nabil Elaraby, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, who has shown great leadership in bringing together the Arab community, but in coordination, working closely with the international community, to demonstrate that inclusivity and to demonstrate the leadership on the ground. I hope that the meeting next week will give us a chance to consider how we can support humanitarian efforts especially. And I will be working with the UN, the OIC, and the Arab League, as we did through the situation in Libya, on the humanitarian side of the challenges that we face. I hope it will also show, too, the international consensus to try and see the situation in Syria end.

As you said, there are hundreds of things on our agendas at all times, and we keep in constant touch, so we can deal with only some of them at every meeting. The situation in Serbia-Kosovo, of course, is very important to the European Union because we do believe, as you rightly say, the future for both lies within the European Union. The team that we’ve got there at the moment are working closely together to try and support both into their future. I hope that both will be able to work on the plan that we’ve put to them that will enable Serbia to become a candidate, will enable Kosovo to move forward with visas, with trade, with economic support, and eventually to see its future as well with the European Union. Thank you.

MS. NULAND: We have time for two today. We’ll start with The New York Times, Steve Myers.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Lady Ashton, thank you. The Iranian letter refers to a readiness for dialogue, talks at the earliest possibility, and also, significantly, no preconditions in it for those talks. And yet you seem somewhat hesitant to embrace this. Is that that you think the letter is not sincere? And what more do you need to see before you could begin, or what next steps could you see for those talks to begin? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, as I think we both have said, we are evaluating the response. And our unity within the P-5+1 has been absolutely critical in dealing with Iran in the past. It remains so going forward. It takes time to consult and to do so in a thorough manner. So we need to give time to our partners in the P-5+1 process to do their own evaluation.

But we’ve been clear about two things that I want to stress. First, as outlined in Cathy’s October letter to Iran, any conversation with Iran has to begin with a discussion of its nuclear program. And Iran’s response to Cathy’s letter does appear to acknowledge and accept that. And second, we must be assured that if we make a decision to go forward, we see a sustained effort by Iran to come to the table, to work until we have reached an outcome that has Iran coming back into compliance with their international obligations.

So we’re evaluating all of these factors. But I think it’s fair to say – and of course, I’ll let Cathy speak for herself – that we think this is an important step, and we welcome the letter.

MS. ASHTON: Yeah. I mean, exactly. We see the things that you’ve seen in the letter – no preconditions and a recognition of what we’ll be talking about. The next question, really, is to look at then where we left off in Istanbul. And you’ll recall that we put out in Istanbul a series of options for confidence-building measures, things that Iran could do that would help us move forward with the talks, things that the inspectors would be allowed to do, for example. We also said at that time they could come forward with their own ideas about what they wanted to do, so that this was a genuine open process.

So for us, the evaluation now is also about thinking through okay, where did we leave off, where do we need to go next? If we start the talks, we want to sustain them. Therefore, we need to set in train the process whereby we can be clear what it is we mean to achieve and what we’re expecting from the Iranians. And that’s what we’re in the process of doing right now.

QUESTION: Is the TRR still on the table?

MS. ASHTON: Well, when we were talking in Istanbul, there were two sets of issues: one, the confidence-building measures I’ve described; the other was support for the TRR and for, of course, a civil nuclear program. And that’s been – as I’ve acknowledged to the Iranians recently, that’s always been part of what we were offering, was to support them on civil nuclear power.

MS. NULAND: And last question, ITN (inaudible).

QUESTION: Yeah. Robert Moore with the British network ITN. Good morning. A question to you both, if I may. I wonder what your message is today to the embattled residents of Homs and other Syrian cities. Would it not be more honest and therefore more honorable to say you’re on your own, the UN Security Council is paralyzed, there are no good Western diplomatic options, don’t expect our help?

MS. ASHTON: I’m not sure that would be an honest response. I think the honest response is to say this: We are absolutely clear that President Assad should stand aside; you cannot kill your own people, you cannot be a leader, and call this leadership. Secondly, that we want to try and work as close as we can with everyone who’s willing to engage in support of the humanitarian needs of people. And we’ve supported the Arab League in its quest to try and put people on the ground to try and monitor the situation. And as you know, there are discussions going on between the UN and the Arab League about how to take that forward in the future. The honest response is we need to do everything that we possibly can to help.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s absolutely right. We have marshaled the great weight of international opinion against the Assad regime. The vote yesterday in the General Assembly was overwhelming. So I do want the people of Syria to understand and believe that there are tens of millions of people around the world who are seized with the terrible situation they find themselves in.

And we have not been deterred by the vetoes in the Security Council. We are moving forward with the Friends of Syria. They are not being abandoned. We are doing all we can to determine ways forward to strengthen the opposition, to help them convey to the entire Syrian population that they are seeking an inclusive, peaceful, democratic transition, and that those who are fearful of the future, which is understandable, whether they be Alawites, Sunni, Christian, Druze, Kurd or any Syrian, have to come together to establish a credible opposition that can then serve as their voice in dealing with the regime and dealing with the outside.

So, I think we have to be humble. I mean, this takes a large dose of humility to say we don’t have all the answers and we cannot even imagine the terrible experiences that people are going through with their children and their grandparents under such assault, but we’re doing whatever we can to try to help pave the way toward a better future for Syria.

Thank you all very much. Have a good weekend.

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Concerns About Human Rights in Belarus on the Anniversary of the December 19, 2010 Crackdown

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 18, 2011


The following is a joint statement issued by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.

Begin Text:

Today we remember the one year anniversary of the start of the brutal crackdown by the Belarus Government on civil society, political opposition and independent media. Over the past 12 months, the Belarusian authorities have imprisoned peaceful demonstrators, suppressed non-violent protests, and worked to silence independent voices. There have also been credible reports of degrading and inhumane treatment of political prisoners. A number of them have been set free, but we reiterate our call for all political prisoners to be immediately released and rehabilitated, including presidential candidates Andrei Sannikau and Mikalai Statkevich, and human rights defender Ales Byalyatski. We also express grave concern over new laws that will further restrict citizens’ fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression and that target support to civil society.

We reiterate that the improvement of bilateral relations with the United States and the European Union is conditional on progress by the Government of Belarus towards the fulfillment of its OSCE commitments and the respect for fundamental human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles. The United States and the European Union remain willing to assist Belarus as it works to meet these obligations.

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Today,  at the State Department, Secretary Clinton hosted  a U.S. and European Union meeting on energy with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu,   E.U,  High Rep Catherine Ashton and Gunther Oettinger, E. U.  Commissioner of Energy.  She then participated in a high level U.S. – E.U. Summit at the White House.   Later in the day, she was wheels up for Asia again.  This time the destinations are South Korea and Burma.  What a ball of energy she is!

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Statement of the Middle East Quartet

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 23, 2011

Following is the text of a statement issued after the meeting of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton in New York on September 23, 2011.

Begin text:

The Quartet takes note of the application submitted by President Abbas on 23rd September 2011 which is now before the Security Council.

The Quartet reaffirmed its statement of 20th May 2011, including its strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by United States President Barack Obama.

The Quartet recalled its previous statements, and affirmed its determination to actively and vigorously seek a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1515, 1850, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, and the agreements previously reached between the parties.

The Quartet reiterated its commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and to seek a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and reaffirms the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative.

The Quartet reiterated its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions. But it accepts that meeting, in itself, will not reestablish the trust necessary for such a negotiation to succeed. It therefore proposes the following steps:

1. Within a month there will be a preparatory meeting between the parties to agree an agenda and method of proceeding in the negotiation.

2. At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiation is to reach an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012. The Quartet expects the parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and to have made substantial progress within six months. To that end, the Quartet will convene an international conference in Moscow, in consultation with the parties, at the appropriate time.

3. There will be a Donors Conference at which the international community will give full and sustained support to the Palestinian Authority state-building actions developed by Prime Minister Fayyad under the leadership of President Abbas.

4. The Quartet recognizes the achievements of the Palestinian Authority in preparing institutions for statehood as evidenced in reports to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, and stresses the need to preserve and build on them. In this regard, the members of the Quartet will consult to identify additional steps they can actively support towards Palestinian statehood individually and together, to secure in accordance with existing procedures significantly greater independence and sovereignty for the Palestinian Authority over its affairs.

5. The Quartet calls upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective. The Quartet reiterated the obligations of both parties under the Roadmap.

6. The Quartet committed to remain actively involved and to encourage and review progress. The Quartet agreed to meet regularly and to task the envoys and the Quartet Representative to intensify their cooperation, including by meeting prior to the parties’ preparatory meeting, and to formulate recommendations for Quartet action.

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Remarks With European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton After Their Meeting



Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Treaty Room
Washington, DC
July 11, 2011



SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. And it is, as always, a delight to welcome High Representative Ashton back to the State Department for the continuing consultations that we have been engaged in ever since her appointment. I always look forward to these meetings and working closely with her and her team on the full range of shared challenges that confront the United States and the European Union. I think it goes without saying that this is such a consequential partnership that is rooted in our common values and aspirations as well as serving as a cornerstone for global peace and prosperity and security. Today, once again, we covered a lot of ground. Let me just touch on a few of the issues. 

First, Lady Ashton and I discussed events in Syria. The United States strongly condemns Syria’s failure to protect diplomatic facilities in Damascus, including the American and French embassies and our ambassador’s residence. As we have expressed directly to the Syrian Government today, we demand that they meet their international responsibilities immediately to protect all diplomats and the property of all countries. The Asad regime will not succeed in deflecting the world’s attention from the real story unfolding in Syria. This is not about America or France or any other country; this is about the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for dignity, universal rights, and the rule of law.

Despite promising dialogue and promises of change, the Syrian Government has responded to the people’s peaceful protests with more violence, more arrests, and more intimidation. These assaults must stop. Neither the Syrian people nor the international community will accept half-measures or lofty speeches. We call on the regime immediately to halt its campaign of violence, pull its security forces back from Hama and other cities, and allow the Syrian people to express their opinions freely so that a genuine transition to democracy can take place.

Let me also add that if anyone, including President Asad, thinks that the United States is secretly hoping the regime will emerge from this turmoil to continue its brutality and repression, they are wrong. President Asad is not indispensible, and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power. Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.

Let me turn now to Libya, which again, Lady Ashton and I discussed in preparation for the upcoming Contact Group meeting in Istanbul. We will be joined there by a growing number of international partners reflecting deep and widespread concern about the safety of Libyan civilians and the clear need for Colonel Qadhafi to leave power. As momentum continues to build in Libya, the people are not waiting to plan their new post-Qadhafi future. They are laying the foundation, organizing the institutions, and preparing the infrastructure, and the international community will support these efforts. So the United States welcomes the EU’s announcement that it is opening an office in Benghazi. Together, we will work with the UN and other partners to coordinate post-conflict assistance and help a free Libya emerge from the dictator’s shadow.

We also discussed our shared commitment to support the democratic transitions underway in Egypt and Tunisia. As I said at the Community of Democracies in Lithuania, established democracies have a responsibility to help those emerging find their footing. So we are working together to help Egyptians and Tunisians begin the slow, hard work of building sustainable democracies rooted in guaranteed human rights, accountable institutions, and the rule of law.

And finally, although we talked about many other issues, let me just mention our shared desire to support the countries of the Western Balkans as they continue to build prosperous, peaceful, and democratic societies and move toward their rightful places as full members of the European and Euro-Atlantic community. The recent agreements between Kosovo and Serbia in the EU-facilitated dialogue are a positive and mutually beneficial step. But this is only the beginning. Now the agreements need to be implemented, and we need to see more progress, particularly in the north of Kosovo. We expect both sides to continue their hard work and come to practical agreements to improve the daily lives of all people, normalize relations, and bring both countries closer to achieving their EU aspirations.
So as you can see, we had, as we always do, a lot to talk about, and of all these critical challenges, it is especially gratifying that the United States and the European Union are working hand in hand. And so again, let me thank the high representative, my friend and colleague, for her partnership and for the work that we will be doing in the future.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Thank you very much, and it’s a great pleasure, as always, to be back in Washington and with Secretary Clinton, though the heat here is rather like Juba was on Saturday. (Laughter.)

I just wanted to say to the American press as well that there was an enormous cheer from the crowds in Juba when they heard of the support from the United States when Ambassador Rice spoke, and it was a great moment. And there was a good cheer too when I spoke up for the European Union.

And as the Secretary says, we talked about a range of different topics, and I begin by endorsing what Hillary said about what’s happening in terms of the embassies of the United States and France in Syria. This is very alarming. We see the dialogue beginning; we don’t see the opposition included effectively by President Asad. It is really important that he takes note, again, of what we’ve called for consistently, which is the end to violence. And we continue to use our political and economic power to try and get him to turn away from what is a terrible situation.

We’ve been talking, as indeed I’m sure Secretary Clinton has, with Turkey about the refugees who are coming across the border. And I’ve had teams going to talk to them about the situation they find themselves in, and it’s very grave indeed. The stories that they tell us really do reflect the information that you will be– have been receiving as well.

And of course, on to Libya: We have an office in Benghazi. I was very proud to see a European Union flag flying over Freedom Square and to go to officially open the office in Benghazi. The purpose of that is an opportunity to channel our support to the people, through the Transitional National Council, and through civil society to be able to support them on security management, which is a huge issue, and also to build the institutions that they will need. A young man I met who had spent eight years in prison under Colonel Qadhafi said, “What we want is very simple. We want what you have – the everyday life of democracy.” And that’s something that we’ll work together on to make sure that in the post-Qadhafi world, with our colleagues under UN leadership, but with the Africa Union, the Arab League, with the OIC, with many others, that we continue to get ready for the post-Qadhafi world of Libya, which will be, we know, significantly better for the people there.

As the Secretary says, there are so many other countries where we’re engaged together, and we think particularly, of course, of Egypt and Tunisia. I have appointed an EU special representative to look at the area of North Africa and to support the people by bringing together the European Union institutions and member-states, especially with the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, provide additional resources. We’ve been able to find about 5 to 7 billion euros additionally, which will help to support infrastructure, public and private sector engagement, and help, for example, with housing projects in Egypt and with road infrastructure in Tunisia. These are important economic matters because they need to go side by side with the push and support for democracy and the moves to support the democratic growth in all of the countries concerned.

And then finally, again, as the Secretary said, to think about the other part of our neighborhood, the Balkans, and especially the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue. Prime Minister Thaci from Kosovo and I had lunch last week, and we talked about the potential of what we’re trying to do with the discussions, which is really to make life easier in practical ways for the people in the north of Kosovo. So it’s engaged with issues like driving license plates, ways in which we can help the movement of people between the two, and to find ways, too, to build the trust so that we can move forward with them into the future, which for both lies in the European Union.

So thank you again for the time we spent together. We meet all over the world, but we’ll meet after this trip again in Istanbul on Friday. But this is an incredibly important partnership.


MS. NULAND: We have time for two questions, (inaudible) ask two questions from the European side. The first question is from CNN, Elise Labott, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, on Syria, do you believe that the government is inciting this activity at the Embassy and kind of masterminding it? Because – and if they’re not protecting it, that would be extremely concerning.

And I just want to follow up on your comments about how, if he thinks that the U.S. is secretly hoping he’ll emerge, they’re mistaken and that’s he not indispensible. You’ve been saying over the last several months even that that window is narrowly closing. It sounds as if you’re pretty close– if not already there, that you’ve given up any hope of him turning it around. And maybe you’re not ready to say that magic phrase, but it certainly seems that that’s how you feel. If you could expand on that.

And then for both of you on this Quartet meeting today, I was wondering what you think given the situation, the Palestinians saying that they’re going to declare in September, neither one of them willing to accept the President’s markers on a state within the ’67 – some of those conditions he laid out. What do you possibly think that the Quartet could come up with tonight that could really change the situation on the ground and avoid a disaster in September?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Elise, first of all, with respect to Syria, here’s what we know. What we know is that mobs have attacked our Embassy and the French Embassy on successive days now for the last several days. Mobs have attacked the residence where our ambassador lives. And we know that the concerns we’ve expressed to the Syrian Government that they are not taking adequate steps to protect our diplomats and our property have yet to engender the kind of response we would expect to see.

And by either allowing or inciting this kind of behavior by these mobs against Americans and French diplomats and their property, they are clearly trying to deflect attention from their crackdown internally and to move the world’s view away from what they’re doing and to create some kind of ongoing conflict between Syrians and people like our diplomats. And it just doesn’t work. We expect them to protect our diplomats. We expect them to protect our embassies and our residences. And we don’t think that they are doing enough to evidence a willingness to follow through on their international responsibilities.

So we’ve made it abundantly clear that we — what we expect. We’ve also made clear that we are investigating reports about how this — these incidents have occurred and who was behind them. And we are not going to be satisfied until the Syrians protect our people, and I’m sure the French feel exactly the same way.

With respect to the Quartet, as you know, we are meeting this evening. And I don’t think either High Representative or I have anything specifically to say at this point, because obviously we want to hold the meeting and discuss in depth with our colleagues the way forward.

QUESTION: The question about President Asad and —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, look – I mean, from our perspective, he has lost legitimacy, he has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made, he has sought and accepted aid from the Iranians as to how to repress his own people, and there’s a laundry list of actions that have been certainly concerning and should raise issue with not only his behavior but those who are supporting him in the international community. And we would like to see even more countries speaking out as forcefully as we have.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Just on the Quartet, just to agree with Hillary. We meet tonight against a backdrop of wanting to try and see progress between the Palestinians and the Israelis in terms of talks. And we’ll see where we get to this evening.

MS. NULAND: The next question is (inaudible).

QUESTION: Good afternoon. You just mentioned President Asad. Can we go into that again, please? Secretary Clinton, you said you want Muammar Qadhafi to leave power. Is either of you willing to replace the name Qadhafi, though, with the name Asad, saying – are you – do you want to see President Asad to leave power? And what is the difference between those two leaders and those two countries in your eyes right now?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Well, we have to start from the principle that every country is different, so let’s not try and make all these situations that we’re confronting feel the same, because they’re not. Secondly, I don’t think we should find ourselves consistently looking at each and finding the right solution to be the same as it was for another country.

As far as I’m concerned, what we’re deeply worried about is the level of violence in Syria and the challenges for the people in terms of being able to see their requirements met, their requests met for dialogue. And we urge Asad to do what he has said, which is to host this dialogue properly. It started – a lot of people are not there who should be there, and we’ve yet to see him move forward on that.

And that’s the position that in the European Union we hold to. We really do want to see people being able to have their voices heard, the violence to end, and this chaos to stop, and then the people will be able to make their own decisions about how they go forward.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I have nothing to add to what Cathy has said. I think that it is a mistake, albeit a very tempting one, to equate countries one to the other and assume that there is one template that fits all. That’s obviously not the case, and there are significant differences in the situation in Syria from Libya.

What is comparable is a leader who has not fulfilled the promises that have repeatedly been made over his term in office that there would be economic and political reform that would provide greater opportunities to the Syrian people. And we remain committed to supporting the will of the Syrian people to have a better future for themselves, have more transparency in their interactions with their own government, to have a say in the future of their own country, to have an economic system that responds to their personal effort, and all the other values that we in the United States and the EU think are reflective of universal rights.

QUESTION: Hi. Madam Secretary, if I may ask you on the state of relations with Pakistan and the decision to suspend some $800 million in aid, what do you say to those who suggest that that may, in fact, be counterproductive to rebuilding relations with Pakistan following the bin Ladin raid?

And if I may, Madam Secretary, I’d like to get your thoughts on the passing of one of your predecessors, former First Lady Betty Ford. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the first, with Pakistan, our relationship with Pakistan is not always easy, but it’s one that we do consider vital to our national security and to our regional interests. We recognize – and you’ve heard me say this many times – that Pakistan is a valuable ally in the fight against terrorism and it has suffered tremendous civilian and military losses in taking on those extremist elements who are threatening the Pakistani people and the Pakistani state.

That said, the Government of Pakistan must take certain steps, and we have outlined those steps on more than one occasion, to ensure that we can deliver all the military assistance that the United States has discussed with Pakistan. So our decision to pause delivery on this portion of security assistance does not signify a shift in policy but underscores the fact that our partnership depends on cooperation. That’s always been the case and it must continue to be so in the future.

We remain committed to helping Pakistan build and improve its capabilities and continue our conversations with Pakistani officials as to what our financial support entails, because we’ve always had certain expectations that have to be met. And I would add that this is primarily – or exclusively a pause in military assistance, because our civilian assistance has not been affected and we continue to work closely with the Pakistani Government as to how best to deliver that civilian assistance.

With respect to Betty Ford, I will be honored to travel to California tomorrow to attend her memorial service. I feel very grateful for having known her over the years. Actually, her late husband, President Ford, gave me my first job as an intern in Washington before you were born (laughter)– and so I have always been very grateful to the Fords for what they have represented and the incredible impact that Betty Ford made during her time both as First Lady and in the years after that.

I know from my own personal experience with her, that her commitment to speaking out on issues that before she took them on were just not discussed, made a huge difference in the lives of Americans. When she went public with her breast cancer, that was revolutionary. It seems now that it was so commonplace. But I remember well when my mother’s best friend was dying of breast cancer, nobody talked about it in those days. And Betty Ford came along and made it acceptable. And then when she not only spoke out about her own struggles with addiction, but went on to found the Betty Ford Center, she made a huge difference in the lives of people. And again, she took something that had been kind of hidden away, not talked about in public or polite company, and showed that you could address it and shone a big, bright spotlight on it.

Several years ago, she gave me a tour of the Betty Ford Center, and I was so touched by the interactions that she had, because she always remained a very humble persona and never wanted to take credit for the changes that she herself had initiated, and always said, look, I just did what I thought was right, and if it’s helped people, I’m very grateful for that.

So I am delighted that we’re remembering her with such affection and admiration.

MS. NULAND: Last question (inaudible).

QUESTION: Yes. My question is on Palestine. Representative Ashton, you mentioned the celebrations in Juba when South Sudan declared independence. But if Palestine declares independence in September, I don’t imagine you’re going to have quite as unanimous approval for it. And on that score, I’m just curious what are you doing or how confident are you that the EU 27 will have a united position on Palestine being independent? Because they didn’t for Kosovo and they still don’t.

And also, Secretary Clinton, what will the U.S. do if Palestine declares independence?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Well, the important word in your sentence was “if” and we don’t yet know what resolution there might be before the UN, and we’ll all have to make our decisions on the basis of what that is. The most important issue as far as I’m concerned is to create the reality, and the work that we’re engaged in is trying to support both sides to get back into talks in order to create that reality. And in a way, that will be the most important thing and the time when perhaps real celebrations can begin.

Can I just say that Betty Ford’s reputation spread way beyond the United States, and as somebody who watched American politics from afar, I wish I’d known her. But certainly, what she did in terms of exactly as Hillary says, raising issues that were taboo, she raised them in the country I know best as well as here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that embedded in your question is the right answer. Sudan and South Sudan negotiated a peace agreement that led to independence. That is what we’re asking the Palestinians and the Israelis to do. The United States, the UK, Norway and other countries were very involved in the 2005 agreement which ended years of civil war and conflict. In the absence of that agreement, I do not believe there would have been celebration in Juba.

And so therefore, what we strongly advocate is a return to negotiations, because a resolution, a statement, an assertion, is not an agreement. And the path to two states living side by side in peace and security lies through direct negotiations. And the sooner the parties get back to that, the sooner there can be the result that many of us have worked for for a long time.

Thank you.

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Remarks at the Central American Security Conference (SICA)


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Westin Camino Real Hotel
Guatemala City, Guatemala
June 22, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, President Colom, and let me also thank Foreign Minister Rodas and Secretary General Aleman for hosting this very important international conference. I think from what we’ve already heard, the speakers have captured the scale of our common challenge and the urgency of our common response.

The turnout today is an expression of shared responsibility and a testament to the shared sense of crisis and an acute and growing concern over the violence and criminality affecting our friends and neighbors in Central America. Everyone knows the statistics, the murder rates surpassing civil war levels, the citizens who rank insecurity as their top concern, the violence that burdens economic development and foreign direct investment, the threats to democracy, the impacts on society’s most vulnerable populations, especially women and children.

But we don’t need to go through the statistics, because many of you around this table are living these brutal facts every single day. And by coming here for this important conference, we’re acknowledging a very basic truth, that no single country can overcome these facts on its own. It will take concerted action from all of us. That is why when President Obama visited Central America in March, he pledged that the United States would do our part through a new partnership that puts the focus where it should be, on the security of citizens.

And today, I am here and privileged to speak about how we intend to move forward with that partnership and make good on the promise of shared responsibility. Shared responsibility is obviously the first step, but it will mean little if it is not matched by a shared strategy, and even a shared strategy will mean little if it is not backed by the will and persistence to implement it by every sector of society and by all the international partners.

The strategy must reflect the transnational nature of the challenge we face. The cartels and criminals are not contained by borders, and so, therefore, our response must not be either. SICA’s declaration points the way forward: Strengthening the rule of law, attacking criminal organizations head-on, rehabilitating those who do fall into criminality while preventing young people from doing that in the first place, rooting out corruption, and ensuring accountable and effective institutions are essential. Building police forces and courts that are well-funded and well-equipped and capable of protecting human rights and earning the trust of the communities they serve is also.

It’s clear that in order to do so the countries represented around here and the extraordinary leaders who are here on behalf of their countries must have the resources they require. Businesses and the rich in every country must pay their fair share of taxes and become full partners in a whole-of-society effort. True security cannot be funded on the backs of the poor. Civil society must be a full partner in defining and implementing long-term solutions. And yesterday, the civil society groups here issued their own declaration, which is as crucial as what the commitments are made by SICA and governments.

And yet even in these tough economic times, as we take on the threat of criminality and violence, we also must continue to invest in education and jobs. That’s the best way to empower citizens to take their own destinies in hand. United States will back you with sustained support for this strategy, and let me add that we do so because we care about the citizens of this region and our sense of obligation to our neighbors, but also because we know that the wave of violence sweeping Central America also threatens our own country. And therefore, we see this not just as an obligation, but as a mutual responsibility.

We know from the work that the United States has supported in Colombia and now in Mexico that good leadership, proactive investments, and committed partnerships can turn the tide. When President Obama visited San Salvador, he said we would start by investing more than $200 million in Central American-led efforts to address deteriorating citizen security. In fact, the U.S. funding for the Central American Citizen Security Partnership will go even further than that. You have identified your priorities, you have set your strategy, and we will respond with almost $300 million this year, backed up by an action plan that is focused on high-impact investments to help you build new capabilities and create the reforms you need from within.

Our investments will support special vetted police units, initiatives like the SICA Regional Crime Observatory to bring technology, data, and intelligence together, support to train judges and prosecutors, a fund to encourage fiscal reform, and a new challenge grants program, starting with $20 million this year to support initiatives to bolster the rule of law. And as always, we will support efforts to protect and empower women and girls who are too often the targets of so much of the violence.

We will also support proven programs to keep young people away from criminal activity. And to that end, I challenge the private sector in the region to join us. In a new program in El Salvador, we have private sector partners who have pledged that for every dollar the United States commits to crime prevention, businesses in El Salvador will invest three dollars. I would welcome the private sector across the region to join in such an innovative approach.

We know the demand for drugs rests largely in my own country. So for the third straight year, President Obama is seeking more than $10 billion to fund demand reduction through education, treatment, and prevention in the United States. At the same time, we are accelerating our law enforcement efforts to root out the U.S. affiliates of transnational criminal organizations and stepping up the targeting of weapons trafficking networks.

Now crucially, United States support is just part of a larger and growing commitment. The assistance that comes from the Group of Friends totals nearly a billion dollars this year. And for the first time, we will coordinate that assistance in a systematic way. We intend to establish an ongoing, effective, high-level mechanism to ensure sustained coordination to make every dollar count by reinforcing each other while avoiding duplication. Today’s conference must not be a one-time effort.

A number of the institutions and countries represented here today have unique roles to play. The IDB has taken a lead. Both it and the World Bank bring crucial expertise and resources. Colombia and Mexico, guided by their own experiences, are providing invaluable leadership and assistance. Central American governments who have successes to share are also supporting their neighbors. Chile, Canada, and our European friends have stepped in with an even greater commitment.

And of course, SICA will be crucial to coordinate this regional strategy. That’s why I’m pleased to announce the United States will seek observer status in SICA. It is another demonstration of the Obama Administration’s commitment to partnership and working closely with regional institutions.

So we do have shared responsibility and now we have to see it in action. But I will underscore that the leadership must come from Central America itself, and not only from governments but also private sectors and civil societies. We will all be your ready partners, but we want and need to follow your lead.

There are models here that point the way. In Guatemala, CICIG has worked with the government and citizens to confront corruption and impunity head on. The Police Reform Commission, under the brave leadership of Helen Mack, has begun a major institutional overhaul. President Obama saw other encouraging examples on his recent visit to El Salvador. I’m impressed by your successes, President Funes, with community policing and your push to pass a special tax to fund citizen security efforts.

There are many other examples from every country, but the important thing is let’s coordinate those, let’s learn from those examples, let’s take what works, put the best practices in the effort to follow and implement the strategy that’s adopted. So the United States and the Group of Friends will be with you, and with the right leadership, cooperation, we will make progress.

As Foreign Minister Jimenez said in her remarks, two decades ago it was Central Americans working closely together on a regional basis who ended civil wars, and it will be again Central Americans working together on a regional basis who will defeat the criminality and violence that renders your citizens insecure. And we will be your partner as you define and lead the way forward.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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