Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

“All Americans stand united with the people of Turkey against this campaign of hatred and violence.” —Hillary

turkeyattack

Read Full Post »

It seems as if the media has lost its collective head over two public appearances this week by Hillary Clinton after a two-month absence from the public eye. It is interesting when you consider that around this time last year she was in Istanbul at a Friends of the Syrian People Conference  that was covered so shoddily that one vice presidential candidate was ignorant of the group’s existence.  Where was the media frenzy then?  Might she have had something important to impart then?  Click on the image to see the video and remarks you did not see then since apparently it wasn’t that important at the time.  It was only Hillary doing her job.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp

If the media ever had covered Mme. Secretary’s tenure at the State Department as energetically as it has followed John Kerry’s from the start, there would never have been a need for this blog.  But while our Hillary sacrificed her personal family life to do her job in her signature dedicated manner, the press, largely,  stood aside .  We did hear interviews and reports from regulars in the press room and on her Big Blue Plane.  Most recently, Kim Ghattas published a book about these adventures.  For the most part, however these forays and the speeches delivered were given little media coverage despite MSM spending bucks to send their correspondents along for the rides.   Reports often consisted of  a correspondent quoting her while showing silent, truncated video clips of Hillary.

So one has to wonder why all the media hype this week?  What is new?  What does it mean?  What’s it all about?  Here are the facts.  Hillary Clinton appears at these two events every year.  The sole exception was the Vital Voices event last year when she was on foreign travel, once again in Turkey.  If you click on the image you can see what the media neglected to provide about that event.

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu attend the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Istanbul

Chelsea appeared at Vital Voices in her place and brought along a video from her mom.  Hillary Clinton has routinely appeared at these annual events and had she not this year, that would or should have raised the antennae,  not the other way around.  Then the questions would/should have been, “Where is she?”  “Why isn’t she here this year?”

Instead, apparently unaware of her history with these organizations and events, the press entered DEFCON 1 – maximum readiness – because she made two routine appearances at two events she tries never to miss.  In contrast, our current DEFCON level  with respect to  North Korea’s threats is 4 –  above normal readiness.

Here is the archive of Hillary Clinton’s past appearances at the events that shook the airwaves this week.  None of these, in the past, received the coverage or were attributed the gravity her appearances at the same events received this past week.  All she did this week was what was routine for her, what came naturally.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Ninth Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards

March 11, 2010 by still4hill |

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Remarks At the Women In The World Summit

March 15, 2010 by still4hill

Video: Secretary Clinton Introducing the play “Seven” at the Women in the World Summit 03.12.2010

March 15, 2010 by still4hill

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Women in the World Summit **Updated With Video**

March 11, 2011 by still4hill

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the 10th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards

April 12, 2011 by still4hill |

Video: Hillary Clinton at “Women in the World 2012″

March 10, 2012 by still4hill

Hillary Clinton’s Video Message to Vital Voices

June 8, 2012 by still4hill

So it is these two appearances that have the media all in a twirl and to which Maureen Dowd refers as  “tornado activity.”   Two things we knew Hillary Clinton would do after stepping down as Secretary of State were making speeches and writing a book.  Over the past year or more Hillary has often said she would be speaking and writing.  She never, to my knowledge, mentioned a spa,  Maureen.  Why the fact that she is doing what she said she would do should generate wide-eyed shock and speculation is as confounding as the reaction some of her supporters displayed in 2008 when, after suspending her campaign,  she went on the road to campaign for Obama-Biden as she had said she would.  Why is it lost on people that Hillary Clinton is a woman of her word?

Apparently Hillary Clinton is never so fascinating as when she does exactly what she has said she would do or is doing what she always has done while no one was paying attention. Dowd’s Op-Ed in today’s New York Times aggravates as much for what is omitted as for what is included.  As a woman and a journalist, how is it possible that Dowd does not know of Hillary’s history of speaking at the above events? Of course she has known.  Clearly she chose to ignore that history for the sake of sensation.

She sprinkled in some irritants: “commandress” in chief?  Really? That {-ess} suffix eschewed  by women of many professions is truly a stretch.  A quick check found it  primarily referring to a social event and secondarily to a wardrobe style.  It is simply snarky from the keyboard  of one whose career was never subjected to what linguists refer to as marking.  Unlike a stage performer, Dowd has never been burdened with the {-ess} mark.  She should not have applied it where it does not belong.

For four years as Secretary of State in every country she visited, Hillary Clinton declared making women full partners in society and the economy “the unfinished business of the 21st century.”  Friday was not the first time she said it.  It was more likely the thousandth, but since the media ignored all of those speeches, their readers and viewers might have the impression that this was the birth of a campaign slogan.  In truth it encapsulated her signature issue as secretary of state throughout her tenure and was no red flag.  It is her mantra.

It is arrogant of Dowd to question Hillary Clinton’s ability to learn, her learning style, and to pseudo-analyze her personal academic history in that respect.  Worse, it is needlessly disruptive at this point to set up a false comparison between her style and Obama’s.  Who says Obama gets an A cramming only the night before?  Where are the polls that assign him an A?

Many in the media point long fingers back at 2007-2008 and declare her campaign a disaster.  Certainly there are lessons to be learned there, but we should also remember that she did capture the popular vote and won primaries in landslides.  It was a failure to prime the caucus states that did not guarantee her the nomination.  If she does mount another campaign, certainly that metric will be recalculated.

Hillary Clinton’s approach to all things is to analyze and gain a thorough grounding before speaking out.  That strategy would not be inappropriate for Dowd and the rest of the media to take in view of the short shrift Hillary’s work at the State Department was given. Had they adopted this technique they would not have found Hillary Clinton’s recent activities, from book deal to speeches,  in any way surprising or even significant.  All of that was simply Hillary being Hillary doing what she said she would do and doing what comes naturally to her.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Edited to add:  For all of the reasons stated above, Arianna Huffington has proven herself to be an envious ignoramus of monstrous proportions (as we have always known) given these remarks this morning.

Arianna Huffington: Hillary Clinton sending a bad message to women

During her appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ liberal publisher Arianna Huffington was critical of Hillary Clinton for jumping back on the national stage so quickly.

“She’s obviously running,” Huffington said bluntly about Clinton’s future in the 2016 presidential race.

Huffington added that she was disappointed that Clinton didn’t take more time to rest.

Read more >>>>>

No, Arianna, she was obviously fulfilling an annual commitment. Do not count on seeing her around much over the next few weeks, since she is not running. She will be writing and resting.

Read Full Post »

There is plenty that went on today that has not come through yet, so I  will publish remarks, pressers, etc. as they come in.  I do know, however, that a great many of HRC’s loyal supporters worry about her safety when she travels so I thought I would let everyone know that she has left Istanbul.

Read Full Post »

I have been waiting all day for this video to show up somewhere in an embeddable form!   Our very attractive Secretary of State was a special guest on  “Coffee Break with Hillary Clinton,” hosted by CNN-Turk at Ceyazin Cafe in Istanbul today when two adorable, uninvited guests happened in.   Clearly, felines find her as attractive as people do!  Her reaction is priceless.  There seems to be nothing Hillary Clinton cannot take in stride.

It is my understanding, and I could be wrong, that cats are particularly loved in Turkey, home of the Angora and Turkish Van, and roam rather freely.

Oh, wow!  As soon as I posted the video, the transcript of the interview arrived!

“Coffee Break with Hillary Clinton” Hosted by CNN-Turk and Moderated by Sirin Payzin

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul, Turkey
July 16, 2011

MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) Madam, Secretary, thank you very much for joining us. It’s a great pleasure to have you here with us this morning.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, truly thank you, and thanks to everyone who is here with us on such a beautiful day. I am very grateful to have this chance just to talk with you and to talk with the audience members.

MS. PAYZIN: By the way, what a beautiful color you have. Such a —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I just saw your ring. (Laughter.) It’s one of my favorite colors. Absolutely.

MS. PAYZIN: Exactly. It bring a great luck.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s what I’m told. And I need all the luck I can get. So — (laughter).

MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) We’re going to get some questions also from Peter and emails.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good.

MS. PAYZIN: So shall we begin?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we shall.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay. We have many questions, of course about women issues and social issues and also maybe sports, but let’s begin with the politics.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.

MS. PAYZIN: You came yesterday for serious talks about Libya and have to end the conflict in this country, and you conveyed very important messages, too. But the situation in Turkey is, at the same time, pretty tense because 13 Turkish soldiers have been killed near Diyarbakir, and there is a huge, very strong angry reaction from the public against PKK. On the other hand, elected Turkish parliamenters are still boycotting Turkish parliament, and they called for autonomy in this region.

So from your perspective, what is your reaction? How do you see the situation? How do you view the situation in Turkey?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say how pleased I am to be back in Turkey. I have enjoyed coming here since the 1990s as a First Lady along with my husband and then as a senator and now as the Secretary of State. And I think the relationship between Turkey and the United States is so important because we have a lot of common concerns and also common shared values.

One of our shared concerns is about terrorism, and the United States has strongly supported Turkey in the efforts to try to eliminate terrorism, like the terrible attack on the soldiers the other day. I condemned it yesterday and I condemned it the day before when it happened. I think the key for both of our countries is to maintain our strong, vibrant, democratic institutions, our pluralist societies, our respect for the wonderful differences among us that make life interesting, but to give no quarter to terrorists. I mean, if people want to participate in the political system and they wish to put forth ideas that I may not agree with or you may not agree with, but they do it peacefully within a democratic process, that’s the way democracy should work. But they must give up violence and they must denounce it, and they cannot be associated with it if they expect to be part of the political system.

So certainly these are all decisions for the Turkish people to make, but I have been involved in many conflicts around the world in working for peace, in working to bring differences together over the divides that too often separate us. And I think we have to draw a very, very sharp line between peaceful protest, political participation, and use of violence and terrorism. And that is just absolutely something that has to be condemned and outlawed and punished very strongly.

MS. PAYZIN: Is there any official stand regarding this declaration of autonomy in this region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No.

MS. PAYZIN: United States has any reaction to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, that’s something that is certainly – that’s totally a Turkish domestic matter.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay. So I’ve got many questions about, actually, U.S.-PKK relations. Somehow, even though you’ve made several declarations and remarks about the issue, Turkish public has still doubts about U.S. stands towards PKK. They believe that you are supporting or you are not doing enough — you are not putting enough efforts to stop PKK. What would you say that? How would you answer to those questions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s absolutely untrue. And perhaps we need to do a better job of describing the very close cooperation that exists between the United States military and intelligence services with the Turkish military and the Turkish intelligence services. We have cooperated very closely in Iraq. We continue to provide intelligence whenever we get it. We were very grateful that Turkish authorities broke up an al-Qaida plot that was aimed at American targets in Ankara just a few days ago. We are in constant communication, and the United States put the PKK on our terrorist list, which is the most public way we can condemn the PKK.

So I really hope to disabuse anyone of thinking that. It’s just absolutely not true. But Şirin, you raise a question that I really want to address because I get the feeling sometimes that we don’t do a good enough job communicating between our two countries and that there are some beliefs or opinions that Turkish people have that are just not true. And so part of the reason I wanted to come here today and especially to address young people who are the future of Turkey and the future of our relationship is to get those questions so that I can do the best possible job in trying to respond to them. So I thank you for asking it because I want to make it absolutely clear we condemn PKK, we do not support PKK, and we’re working with Turkish authorities to prevent any violence that they might wish to inflict upon the Turkish people.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay. Now questions. Who wants to start? Yes, the gentleman who is behind. Microphone. Your name and favorite question, please.

QUESTION: (Inaudible). Madam, do you have — does America have the solution to the matters like — solution proposal like Cyprus any plans, like a solution made by (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: For the Kurdish matter?

QUESTION: Like, do you have a solution for Kurdish matter, like put forth by (inaudible) for Cyprus?

MS. PAYZIN: (Inaudible) plan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: So do we have a solution for the Kurdish matter, like a proposal that was made for the Cyprus matter?

QUESTION: Yes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. First of all, I think it’s important for me to say that we respect and support the Turkish Government in how it deals with the internal matters related to the Kurdish people within Turkey, and we support the democratically elected Iraqi Government in dealing with Kurdish matters within Iraq. But I will make a general point about how to deal with these historical and seemingly intractable problems, because I know that there are people from all parts of Turkey here today. And I am a very strong believer in opening up the political process as widely as possible, in respecting the cultural differences that exist between us, but doing so in a way that promotes a strong, unified, democratic society.

Now, that’s perhaps because I come from a country where everybody comes from somewhere else, and I am privileged to work with people and have always been involved with people who come from all over the world who maintain their religion, maintain their cultural ties, maintain their often family ties with their homelands. So I think that moving toward the broadest possible democratic participation so that Kurdish Turks can feel fully a part of Turkey while still believing that they can maintain those aspects of their Kurdish identity that are important to them, and again, I would stress, drawing the line at any violence or terrorism, because that is not the way you make change in democratic societies.

I spent many years along with my husband working on the problems in Northern Ireland and how to get more participation and involvement in both the political process and the labor market for Catholics who lived in Northern Ireland. Now, it was not easy and it is still not done, but we’ve made progress. Similarly, as I look around the world, I see other countries that are struggling. So I don’t have any plan, because it’s really up to the Turkish people, but I think there are certain principles that can be the guiding lights that are rooted in democratic values and that draw the line at violence. And I would certainly urge that people here in Turkey look at that.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay, a very brief follow-up. Are you disappointed by this action government because they slow down towards democratization?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I mean, I’m not here to judge the Turkish Government. That’s up to the Turkish people. You just had a very vigorous election and the election was, from everything that I read about it and watched of it, a hard-fought election. And I think it was another strong validation of the vibrant democracy that Turkey has.

But I believe that any government has to be held accountable, has to be transparent. You need a strong opposition in any government. You need checks and balances. Those are the things that I believe in because that’s the way our American system has been successful. And yet I know people looking from the outside at our system sometimes don’t understand it and think, “What are they doing? Why are they so difficult in making decisions?” So every system is unique, but there are, again, certain values that we have learned over time are essential for a democracy. And I know you’re thinking about doing a constitutional reform process, and I strongly believe in protecting people’s rights in constitutions, because there is so much diversity in Turkey. It’s one of the things that is so attractive about Turkey, and you don’t want to do anything that undermines or denies that diversity.

So I think what Turkey has accomplished in the last several decades is remarkable, and I just want to see Turkey get stronger and more prosperous and have your democratic institutions be even more durable and be an example for so many of the countries that themselves are trying to figure out how to make political and economic reforms.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for being here with us. My name is (inaudible), expert from (inaudible) agency. I’ve got two short questions. First is Turkey have recorded an 11 percent of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2011 and have been enjoying an outstanding performance in economic and financial issues lately. Then what’s your estimation of Turkish economy in following 20 or 30 years? And the second is regarding foreign trade. Turkey’s main trading partner is the EU constituting almost 50 percent of our foreign trade. So on the other hand, the trade volume between Turkey and the U.S. is still very low. Why is it so? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think it’s absolutely exciting the way Turkey has grown, and its 11 percent growth rate is phenomenal. It’s one of the highest in the world. It’s higher than what China has posted, as you know, for this similar period. And I imagine that Turkey will continue to grow, but I think the political environment in which Turkey’s growth has occurred has been absolutely critical. I mean, an open economy, a labor market that welcomes everybody into it, an effort to try to develop many parts of the country that historically have been poorer, so there’s a lot of inward investment as well as exporting that has gone into that 11 percent growth. And that is, to me, the right balance. I think Turkey’s combination of internal and external growth is a much stronger foundation than some other countries that are growing very fast but are largely export driven. You have a growing consumer base. You have a growing middle class. That’s what will enable Turkey to continue that growth over the next 20, 30, 50 years.

And what I hope is that Turkey will be an engine for economic growth in the region, particularly to the east and to the south. I am working hard to increase trade and investment between the United States and Turkey. I think there has been a natural relationship between Turkey and the European Union, and of course, the United States strongly supports Turkey’s accession and membership in the EU. But historically, there’s been all of those ties. What I would like is to see more business men and women from the United States seeking investment, seeking partnerships, seeking joint ventures here with Turkish businesses. I just came from a group that has started here in Turkey called Partnerships for a New Beginning, which the United States is working with in order to really create more linkages between American business and Turkish business, and we are very encouraging of Turkish investment in the Middle East, in North Africa, because we think Turkish businesses have a lot to teach as well as to contribute to the economic growth in other countries as well as your own.

MS. PAYZIN: Especially in the region.

SECRETARY CLINTON: In the region, absolutely.

MS. PAYZIN: Have you seen those changes? I mean, you said that you came before here with your —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I have.

MS. PAYZIN: Are you (inaudible) those changes around?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I find Turkey one of the most exciting places in the world.

MS. PAYZIN: (Inaudible) I don’t know. I mean —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I first came in the ‘90s, it was really at the beginning of the economic takeoff. And there were some businesses that had historically always done well. There were a group of wealthy Turks, like there are wealthy people anywhere in the world, but the base of economic growth has exploded in Turkey in the last 20 years. And I’ve seen that with my own eyes, and I’ve not only seen it in the statistics, which the young man just quoted, but I’ve seen it in the day-to-day life. And certainly, as I interact with Turkish business leaders, Turkish academics, Turkish media people, as well as Turkish Government officials, there is just a confidence about your future that I think is important, because that confidence should be a base for maybe some of the tough decisions about how you integrate Kurds, for example, how you develop other parts of the country. There is such a strong economic impetus to continue the political development that they really go hand in hand. So I’m excited by what I have seen.

MS. PAYZIN: We have one guest, actually, from Gaziantep, so —

QUESTION: From Karaman.

MS. PAYZIN: From Karaman. Sorry. (Laughter.) It’s about women issue, maybe — women matter.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I am (inaudible) from Karaman (inaudible). I am president of the woman commission in (inaudible) and the part of Turkish (inaudible). I have —

MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.)

QUESTION: I have two short questions. (Inaudible) yesterday you made a statement about developing business between United States and Turkey. Does it have to increase women in entrepreneur in Turkey? As you know (inaudible) labor force is very low comparing with woman population, and (inaudible) on development of economic (inaudible) woman rights. Would you like to say something about this? And other one is we have heard from the President global entrepreneurship of the State Department has started in Turkey. Could you please tell us a bit more about this initiative? Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, and thank you for both of those questions. Well, first of all, I have spent most of my adult life working for women to have the equal opportunity to participate in societies based on their choice. And I am strongly in favor of women and men making responsible choices. And so for women who need or wish to participate in the labor market because they need to help support their families and their children, or because they want to pursue a career, I think the more open a society can be to that, the more successful the economic growth of that society will be. There is just so much evidence, from the World Bank and the IMF and the United Nations that where women are able to participate fully, to have access to credit, to start their own businesses, to be given the opportunity to not only get a full education all the way through university or even graduate programs, but then to be welcomed into the workforce, there’s just a higher rate of productivity for the entire society. And it is also very beneficial to the woman and her family. So I am a strong believer in that.

Now, how do we do that? Well, obviously, the first step is to make sure there are no laws that prohibit women from having access. And I think Turkey has made enormous amounts of changes in laws over the last 20 years, so I don’t know enough to have an opinion whether there are still some barriers that are legal barriers or not, but clearly it’s imperative that there be no barriers, that women who can compete in the economic arena be permitted to do so.

Secondly, there are also still attitude problems in my society and in any society, whether women are encouraged to participate in the economy or not. And that is something that needs to be approached in the informal society. It’s not something you can pass a law about, but you have to be encouraging of girls to get the best education that they can get and for them to be able to participate and to try to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination or stereotyping that still exist in, as I say, every society.

Part of what we’re trying to do with the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that is coming to Turkey this fall is to build on an initiative that President Obama started to encourage entrepreneurship for men and women, because we know that 60 percent of the population is under 30 in Turkey. Isn’t that right?

MS. PAYZIN: Yes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And 60 percent of the population in the world is under 30, and some societies have an even higher percentage. So we have this enormous mass of young people, and we have to look at how we can create more economic ladders. There will not be enough gainful employment in government jobs. There will not be enough gainful employment in traditional corporations and businesses. There has to be an emphasis on creativity and innovation, and that means entrepreneurial energy. And we want to share ideas that we’ve learned over time in the United States by bringing entrepreneurs from the United States to meet with Turkish entrepreneurs, and to bring in young people, so that good ideas have somewhere to go, and they don’t just die or get shelved. So this Entrepreneurship Summit will be – I’m not – we don’t have the exact date yet, but it will be in fall. I will be sure – we’ll get the names of everybody here. We’ll be sure that you all are given notice of it through our Embassy.

But I think it’s important as I look out at all of you and I see a group of very energetic and affluent and educated young people here in Turkey to be thinking about what do we do with all these millions of young people who are not educated, young women who don’t feel confident enough or encouraged enough to get into the job market. That’s a ticking time bomb, as we say. If we don’t have jobs – you saw what happened in Egypt – that was as much an economic revolution as a political revolution. You saw what happened in Tunisia. Turkey is a great example, so the more Turkey can demonstrate entrepreneurial activity, the more others can learn from you. And I think that’s something that we want to work with you on behalf of that partnership.

MS. PAYZIN: Yes, yes. And there are many questions also from internet. Here’s the one. (Inaudible) and is asking you if you really believe that Turkey is the new leader of Middle East, and what do you think – do you really think that Turkey – there is a shift for Turkey from West to East?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think there’s any reason for Turkey to shift from West to East. Turkey is so strategically located between East and West; there isn’t a country in the world that literally straddles both continents the way Turkey does. So as an outsider, I’ve always thought that the debate, do you look East, do you look West, is kind of a – it’s a debate without real meaning to it, because why would you give up one for the other when you can do both? I mean, Turkey is so well positioned. Part of the reason you’ve got this 11 percent growth rate and more to come is because of your strategic geographic position, but more than that because of a mental mindset. You can look both ways, and to me, that is an incredible advantage in the world in which we find ourselves.

So I think Turkey is a regional and global leader. Turkey is a member of the G-20. Turkey has made a very strong commitment to working with not only regional problems but even global problems. And that’s, to me, the direction Turkey should go. I think that there is no sense in saying it’s either/or; it should be both/and.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay. We have two new guests. (Laughter and applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, hi. (Laughter.) So we have the kitty questions coming up.

MS. PAYZIN: Do you like cats?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. I do.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay. So — they’re lovable. (Laughter.) Okay. Since we are talking about Middle East, maybe we can – I know that there are many questions about Arab things especially, so the gentleman behind in the white shirt.

QUESTION: I am okay?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My name (inaudible) University, department of sociology (inaudible). My question will be about Arab Spring. First of all, I want to learn that — give the U.S. credit or (inaudible) this Arab Spring. If (inaudible) indicate this. And in this context, what do you think about alternative scenario if you think hypothetically? What will be the situation of Syria after Bashar Asad, and what – how do you think the Turkish role will be in this situation? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know anyone who predicted the exact events that happened during the Arab Spring, but many of us had predicted at some time the situation in a lot of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East were not sustainable. In fact, I gave a speech in Doha at a conference in early January this year in which I said that leaders had to be more accountable, they had to fight against corruption which we eroding the base of trust that people have to have with their government officials, and that there was going to be some kind of event, but I had no idea that it would be happening so quickly as it is now. So I don’t think that certainly the United States or any country that I’m aware of officially predicted this. It’s caught people by surprise in terms of the timing, but not in terms of the inevitability that there would have to be changes, either forced upon a society or made from within.

And what we are now all working on, and I’ll be meeting – I met, as I said, with the president last night, I’ll be seeing the foreign minister and prime minister today. What we are all working on is how we can be supportive as these countries make their democratic transitions. They have to do it themselves. People from the outside, whether American or Turkish, we can’t come in and tell people what to do. There has to be an internal process. But we have a lot of lessons to share. I mean, the Turkish economic success is something that would benefit all of these countries if they would come to you and say, “How did you do it?” The political and democratic progress that you’ve made would be another way to help.

So we are working with not only Turkey but other countries to try to be available to offer financial help, to offer technical expert help in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Jordan. And we’re working to try to get a peaceful transition in Yemen, which is difficult – the efforts being led by the Gulf Cooperation Council. We’re trying to encourage dialogue in Bahrain. So there’s a lot going on.

But certainly, what’s happening in Syria is very uncertain and troubling, because many of us had hoped that President Asad would make the reforms that were necessary without seeing what we’re now seeing in the streets of Syria, which are government tanks and soldiers shooting peaceful demonstrators. And I said — I know that the Turkish Government has also said — that the brutality has to stop. There must be a legitimate, sincere effort with the opposition to try to make changes. I don’t know whether that will happen or not.

And none of us really have influence other than to try to say what we believe and to encourage the changes that we hope for. I know that the Turkish Government is sheltering about 8,500 refugees from the violence across your border, and I know that the Turkish Government has tried to influence some of the decisions that were being made and encourage the government to stop the violence. But I think we don’t know how this is going to end yet, and it’s a very important outcome for Turkey because you share a 900-kilometer border with Syria. And stability inside Syria is important for Turkey, but the right kind of stability – a transition to democracy – is what would be best for Turkey and even more importantly what would be best for the Syrian people.

QUESTION: Very briefly, we know that Turkish Government and U.S., they were pretty much different when it comes to Middle East policies, especially about Syria and Iran. Now can you say that you are much more closer about Syrian issue and also Iran because Turkey basically didn’t give you enough support at the UN about nuclear issue? So what is the situation right now? How would you describe it? Closer, very close, or still distant?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, I think it’s very close and I think that I really believe that Turkey and the United States share a very similar strategic assessment about what we hope to see happening regionally and globally. We do not always agree on tactics. I don’t know two countries that always agree on tactics. I don’t know two people who always agree on tactics. And of course, we did have our differences over the vote in the United Nations, but our shared view that we want to do everything we can together to convince and prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon, which would be very destabilizing in the region, there is no daylight at all between us. And we talk about it and we work on it every single week together.

I was saying, actually, to President Gul last night that we – I think in the last two and a half years we have proven, number one, that we weather our differences. We are friends, we are partners, we are NATO allies, and we recognize that we will not always decide to do things exactly the same, but we share this strategic vision about where we would like to see the world go. And we have built a lot of trust. I’ve spent a lot of my own time visiting with the high-level Turkish officials. President Obama has developed a very good relationship with Prime Minister Erdogan. They talk on the phone. They meet frequently. And they have the kind of talks that is not formalistic and is not just polite and diplomatic. They say, “Well, why do you think that,” or, “Why do you believe that,” or, “Why are you doing this?” They have a very open exchange. That is how people who are honest with each other, who value each other, who respect each other treat each other.

So I think we are very close, but that doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree and it doesn’t mean that the media won’t take one disagreement out of a hundred agreements and say, “Oh my gosh, they’ve disagreed.” But I think both of us understand over the long run we are on the same page moving toward the kind of world we want, which is more peaceful, more prosperous, more respectful, more enabling and empowering of people to make their own decisions within a democratic context.

MS. PAYZIN: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Secretary, my name is (inaudible) and I work for (inaudible) foundation in Turkey. I am also the vice chair of an organization I think you know well, ICNL that work on nonprofit law reform.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: And we commend your leadership on legal reform for civil society in the region and in the world, and I would like to ask you – you talked about Turkey being a good example. Turkey did undergo such reforms two years ago – I was honored to work on some of them – in which we now have much more democratic laws for civil society. And I wanted to know what’s the case that you could make to governments in the region and elsewhere in the world in which we could make the case for a more legally enabling environment for civil society. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for your work. And I view society as being like a three-legged stool, where you need an honest, effective, accountable, transparent government that delivers results for people within a democratic structure; where you need a free market economy that unleashes people’s entrepreneurial energies and provides enough of a protective framework so that people are not exploited when they deliver their labor for an honest day’s paycheck; but the third leg of that stool is civil society. It’s where we live most of our lives. It’s how we associate with each other. It’s volunteer activities. It’s religious and expressive activities. And so I believe strongly that as democracy develops, strengthening civil society is essential to protecting the other two legs of the stool. And what you’ve done with the changes you’ve made in Turkey is a very strong case for that.

I think we always have to be monitoring to assure that civil society is given the room, the space it needs, to operate. But I really respect the changes that you have made. Now I would like other countries, other societies, to look to see the importance of civil society, and for governments not to be afraid of civil society. I think that’s such an important lesson that we all have to learn. I’ve been in both sides. I’ve been in civil society for many years of my life as an advocate for women and children, and I’ve been in government. And when I’m in government, I sometimes get annoyed at my friends in civil society because they’re criticizing what I do or they’re publishing reports that say that we’re not doing enough. But then I remember I used to be there. And if I hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t have made the changes that actually help the people that we care about.

So it has to be a partnership. And oftentimes, there’s tension in it because if you are in civil society, you’re going to be pushing the government to do more, and you’re going to be pushing the economy to do more. That’s the way it should be. That’s a good balance.

MS. PAYZIN: Madam Secretary, I have a bad news. Well, actually it’s a bad news for us because you have another seven minutes to go.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, dear.

MS. PAYZIN: So very brief questions.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll try to give briefer answers, I promise.

MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) Okay. (In Turkish.)

QUESTION: Hi, (inaudible) law firm. My first question is notations on criminals of speech and freedom of press. I have debated in (inaudible) several columnists and writers are under arrest. In addition, as of August the law requires ultimate offense for internet users. What would you advise citizen living in such a country? Should we be quiet in silence or should we — I mean, even through big names are in prison, or should we raise our voice? Or what is your comment?

My second question is a personal question to you. Instead of being a member of U.S. Government, let’s assume that you are a member of Turkish Government. What would you change first in Turkey? (Laughter) And what would you highlight to attract U.S. investors into Turkey? Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, first of all, if there is an area that I am concerned about with recent actions in Turkey, it is this area that you have raised. It’s the area of freedom of expression and freedom of the media. I do not think it’s necessary or in Turkey’s interest to be cracking down on journalists and bloggers and the internet, because I think Turkey is strong enough and dynamic enough with enough voices that if there are differences of opinion, those will be drowned out by others who can debate it in the marketplace of ideas. So I do think this is an area that deserves attention from citizens, from lawyers – which you said you were – because it seems to me inconsistent with all the other advances that Turkey has made. And so therefore, as someone looking at it from the outside, I don’t understand it, because, of course, I come from a country that has very, very broad protections for the media. And I know that a lot of times people on the outside do not understand that, because people say or do things in my country that personally I find just offensive and unpatriotic and anti-American, and it makes my blood boil. But we know that over time that basically gets overwhelmed by other opinions, and so you then get to a point where you’ve got a much clearer idea of what the basis of opinion and change might be.

So I would, if I were in the Turkish Government, which I am not – and I say this very respectfully – I would be standing up for freedom of expression and freedom of journalism – (applause) – and freedom of bloggers and freedom of the internet, because I think in today’s world information is so broadly available that it’s going to get out there anyway. And —

MS. PAYZIN: Will you mention this to the prime minister this afternoon when you’re going to meet him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: He and I have talked about it before, and –

MS. PAYZIN: But any new — because more and more journalists right now and Kurdish Turkish vote.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.

MS. PAYZIN: So will you again mention —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will, because I do think – I mean, as I say, this is an area where I don’t understand because I don’t think it’s necessary. I think Turkey is strong enough, I think the Turkish character, the Turkish people are strong enough that they can take whatever opinion is out there. But that’s my view of it.

MS. PAYZIN: I know there are many questions, but I have one picture to show you. This is important. This was a huge debate in Turkey, actually. I wish you could explain us — (laughter) — what you’re feeling —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I know.

MS. PAYZIN: — when you’re watching the operation against bin Ladin.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well –

MS. PAYZIN: Could you share with us your feelings on how was —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you might guess, this was a very, very small group of us at the highest levels of our government who were aware of and planning this operation against bin Ladin. And it was a very tense time. It was also the height of the Washington allergy season. So I cannot tell you exactly what I was thinking at that moment, because there’s no way I can reconstruct it.

MS. PAYZIN: But it’s lovely because everybody says that this woman. She is expressing her feelings. That’s how women are in politics. Is that —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would hope you would have feelings, because I can’t imagine not having feelings about really everything we do. Because what we are trying to do has real impact on people’s lives. And this for me was a very intense experience, because I was a senator from New York on 9/11 so I knew many of the families who lost their loved ones in the attack on 9/11, and as you remember, nearly 3,000 people, but they were from all over the world. They weren’t just Americans. And so it was a – as I am sitting there and we’re watching what we could see of the operation, this was a very emotional experience. And it was also, as I’ve said, I had also been sucking on lozenges and taking all kinds of allergy medicine. So it was a combination of all kinds of feelings and activities going on at the same time.

MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, (inaudible) lawyer, me too. (Laughter.) And I want to follow up on his point. Unfortunately, you mentioned that you don’t understand the situation with respect to press freedom in Turkey, because I think you think it’s an aberration of the system; it’s the exception. But unfortunately, it is not, Madam, right now, just over five years in Turkey, the number of those who are detained without conviction has doubled in this country. We’ve got many people from a position who are detained on shaky evidence. We would like very much you to see — we would like to see you very much to raise these issues with our government. Maybe they will listen to you more than they listen to us, and we would very much like to see you mention —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.

QUESTION: — especially, two names I would say, Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik. These are two prominent journalists of this country, and they are in prison on very shaky evidence. This is unfortunately the situation of the Turkish democracy right now. We can give many more examples along these lines. And why when we’ve got such a record in human rights —

MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.)

QUESTION: — how can you project Turkey an example of democracy in the region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. As I’ve said, I have raised this before. I will certainly be raising it again. But let me just say that I think it’s very important for citizens like yourself to raise it. I’m here for two days and then I’m gone, and I think it’s important that any imperfections in your democracy – and every democracy has imperfections – I mean, on balance, Turkish democracy is a model because of where you came from and where you are. That doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do. I mean, we still have work to do. We have problems that we have to continue to try to overcome.

So I would urge that people who have such a stake in the future of Turkey, as all of you do, raise this in a way that can get the attention of authorities without being immediately dismissed because, actually, this will strengthen Turkish democracy, in my opinion.

MS. PAYZIN: One question, one last question from the internet again (inaudible) is asking you if there will be a ground operation against PKK in coming days towards northern Iraq, what would be the reaction of Washington?

SECRETARY CLINTON: So we have supported the Turkish military and we will continue to support the Turkish military in going after PKK terrorists. And we are well aware of how dangerous terrorism is, and one of the issues we are discussing with the Turkish Government is, as you know, the United States has had military forces in Iraq – we are withdrawing those forces – whether or not there is some decision made for us to leave some forces. The fact is we are drawing down the vast majority of them, and those forces were in partnership with the Turkish Government to make sure we could do whatever possible to support the Turkish effort against the PKK. So we are working to see what else we can do once we withdraw from Iraq to provide that support.

MS. PAYZIN: Well, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, this is — oh, my goodness.

MS. PAYZIN: We have many, many questions, but unfortunately, I’m sure that you have a very —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I wish I could stay.

MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) Last words? I mean, anything you (inaudible) this visit and —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to continue this. I’m sorry that time doesn’t permit. But I would offer the invitation to those of you who had your hands up who didn’t get to ask questions to send me the questions to the American Embassy.

MS. PAYZIN: Yeah. Many questions about visas, especially, also possible investment possibilities, and social media, also women issues because —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will answer every question that you send to me. And I really have enjoyed this and I would love another chance to continue it, so maybe we’ll have chapter two sometime in the future.

MS PAYZIN: You are most welcome. Any time you like.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And finally, how many of you participated in the Turkish-American exchange program? Because – (laughter) — oh, because I announced that when I came in 2009, and now it’s really working and I can put real faces with the program. And we’re going to continue that. I would like to expand it even, if I can. But I really invite you to please give me your thoughts, your questions, your constructive criticism, because I want not only to represent my government but to represent my country, and to have not just government-to-government relations but people-to-people relations, which I will do everything I can to support.

MS. PAYZIN: Okay, very brief. (Laughter.) (Inaudible) is asking will you be the next and first female president of the United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, no. I won’t. I won’t.

MS. PAYZIN: Any hope for women? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well, look, I mean, I know that Turkey had a woman prime minister some years ago, so you’re ahead of us.

MS. PAYZIN: Not that (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t think so. I think, though, that I will support – hopefully in my lifetime, I will see a woman president, because I believe in equal rights and equal opportunities and equal responsibilities. So I think that would be something to look forward to.

MS. PAYZIN: Well, Madam Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you all.

MS. PAYZIN: Thank you. (In Turkish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Wearing one of her lovely monochromatic pantsuits in robin’s egg blue, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a visit to the Patriarchy in Istanbul today. We see her being greeted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and meeting church leaders. Some of these photos are simply exquisite. Beautiful mosaic icons! (Beautiful SOS, too!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Turkish FM Davutoglu, posted with vodpod

Joint Press Availability With Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul, Turkey
July 16, 2011

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (Via interpreter) Distinguished members of the press, today we have a very important friend with us, and we are hosting — and I’m very pleased to be hosting her in Istanbul and is Secretary of State of the U.S., Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Right after the fourth Contact Group meeting yesterday in order to complete our bilateral meeting, we worked together today. And I would like to welcome her again. And the United States and the Turkish relations are the best structures — are among the best structures, diplomatic relations of the world — of the modern world. After long years of war and after — before that as well, so the Turkish-U.S. relationships have always had their specific characteristics, and they have contributed to the global peace, and they have been very strategic. And over the recent times with esteemed Obama and Clinton, this tradition has continued in a strong way. And in the visit of the esteemed Obama, he — so we have gone beyond being strategic allies, and there is a modern partnership. Over the last two or three years, we have had very intense diplomatic contacts, and this has become obvious and important again.

In our relationships — relations with the United States not only in the field of security, but also in the economic and also diplomatic areas, we are determined to maximize them. And for this reason, over the recent months, my (inaudible), which I have talked to recently over the recent months has been Mrs. Clinton. We have talked on the phone very often. And so the previous telephone conversation transferred some of the items of the agenda to the next one. And on our latest phone call, we decided to meet in Istanbul and make a discussion and also an evaluation. And in the deliberations we had yesterday, it was impossible for us to talk about all the agenda — both Mr. Obama and also his Excellency, President Abdullah Gul. So we are trying to do what it takes to be model partners. In our today’s talks, we talked about regional issues and also developments in the Middle East and also the influences and impacts of these developments on the region. And also we shared — we exchanged information and also ideas about this and also some developments in the (inaudible) and following the (inaudible) meeting and also the latest point that reached in the relations of Armenia.

And so we also discussed very extensively and also in the Bosnia-Herzegovina as there is a functioning (inaudible). We also talked about the importance of a functioning state in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Balkan world and between Serbia and Kosovo. We also reiterated and shared the support (inaudible) extent for these relationships. And also in the context of developments in the Middle East, and we have talked about the latest developments in our relationships between Turkey and Israel. In addition to this, the Turkey-EU relations and also the latest point reached in the negotiations about Cyprus. So we’ve had the potential to share — exchange information about this and all these very extensive (inaudible) and in this beautiful Istanbul air, I’m very pleased to have — we are very pleased to have discussed all these issues.

Due to the latest PKK attacks and as it is the case all the time, cooperation against terrorism has always been — has been one of the primary items of our agenda for this reason, and we talked about the need and we emphasized the need for the solidarity against terrorism and so the Turkish-EU — I’m sorry, U.S. relationship will be used in the best way — in the most effective way. I would like to welcome her once again, and I believe that we’ll be in contact from now on, and we’ll be having very often negotiations, and we are going to continue to manage all these issues again. So I would like to welcome Mrs. Clinton and her very esteemed — her distinguished delegation.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister. And let me say how much of a pleasure it is personally for me to be with you here in Istanbul and what a great honor it is to represent my country in these important discussions.
Let me begin by once again offering our condolences for the loss of Turkish soldiers in Southeast Turkey. As I told the foreign minister and as I told President Gul last night and as I will repeat to the prime minister when I shortly see him, the United States stands with our ally, Turkey, against terrorism and threats to internal and regional stability. Our commitments to Turkey and its security is rock solid and unwavering.

Two years ago in Ankara, President Obama pledged to renew the alliance between the United States and Turkey, and especially to focus on the friendship between the Turkish and American people. Today, we can say with confidence that our bonds are sound, our friendship is sure, and our alliance is strong. Our partnership is rooted in a long history and a very long list of mutual interests, but most importantly it is rooted in our common democratic values. It is through the lens of this shared democratic tradition that the United States welcomes Turkey’s rise as an economic power, as a leader in the region and beyond, and as a valued ally on the most pressing global challenges.

I’d like to say just a few words about the future of our relationship and why I believe it is so important to both our nations. First, on the economic front, because of the seriousness of the strategic issues we confront together, the economic dimensions of our relationship can too often be overlooked. But as President Gul and President Obama have affirmed, the growing economic cooperation between Turkey and America is providing new energy to us both. So far this year, trade between us is up more than 50 percent. That means more jobs and greater prosperity in both our countries. But we see even greater potential ahead and we are committed to furthering and expanding trade and investment. We are both entrepreneurial peoples, and the more we work together, the more creativity and talent we will unleash. So I am delighted that Turkey will host the second Global Entrepreneurship Summit here in Istanbul later this year, building on the progress that we made last year in Washington.

There’s also a chance to foster even closer ties between our people, our businesses, and our communities. For example, in the run-up to the summit, the public-private initiative called Partners for a New Beginning is working with the Coca-Cola Company, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, and other partners to offer Turkish women entrepreneurs new seed grants, training, and mentoring.

Through our Global Entrepreneurship Program and other initiatives, we are working with Turkish high schools and universities to link the next generation of Turkish business leaders with young counterparts in the United States.

Today, the foreign minister and I discussed additional ways we can further strengthen our ties. Turkey’s upcoming constitutional reform process presents an opportunity to address concerns about recent restrictions that I heard about today from young Turks about the freedom of expression and religion, to bolster protections for minority rights, and advance the prospects for EU membership, which we wholly and enthusiastically support.

We also hope that a process will include civil society and parties from across the political spectrum. And of course, I hope that sometime soon we can see the reopening of the Halki Seminary that highlights Turkey’s strength of democracy and its leadership in a changing region.

I think across the region, people from the Middle East and North Africa particularly are seeking to draw lessons from Turkey’s experience. It is vital that they learn the lessons that Turkey has learned and is putting into practice every single day. Turkey’s history serves as a reminder that democratic development depends on responsible leadership, and it’s important that that responsible leadership help to mentor the next generation of leaders in these other countries.

So I am excited that we are here and we have talked about all the issues that the foreign minister has mentioned, from, of course, the successful meeting of the Contact Group yesterday about Libya, the situation in Syria, what is happening in Afghanistan, where Turkish troops are training Afghan forces to take on their own security, and of course, our mutual efforts against violent extremism, against terrorists, including the PKK.

So again, let me thank the foreign minister for his hospitality and for the breadth of our discussion. And it seems like our conversation never stops, Foreign Minister, so I look forward to the next chapter.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. This is for both of you. Madam, this is on the Syrian opposition.

Madam Secretary, there was a meeting of the Syrian opposition today. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what it’s going to take for the U.S. to show some support for the opposition, start dealing with them a little bit more. What would you like to see in terms of a viable opposition before you engage with them, and what do you think of this conference today?

And for the foreign minister, can you talk about Turkey’s contacts with the opposition and whether you think this is the type of opposition that could work towards a democratic transition in Syria? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that the foreign minister and I discussed our shared interest in seeing an end to the violence and a respect for the will of the Syrian people for political and economic reform. Yesterday, we witnessed the largest demonstrations to date in Syria, an effort to try to convey directly to the government the pent-up desire of the Syrian people for the kind of reforms that they have been promised. And at the same time, we saw continued brutality by the government against peaceful protest.

Now, Syria’s future is up to the Syrian people, but of course, the efforts by the opposition to come together, to organize, to be able to articulate an agenda, are an important part of political reform. And we believe that every country should permit such organizing and the support of opposition. We think that makes for more accountable, more effective government. So we’re encouraged by what we see of the Syrian people doing for themselves. This is not anything the United States or any other country is doing. It’s what the Syrians are doing, trying to form an opposition that can provide a pathway, hopefully in peaceful cooperation with the government, to a better future.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) including Syria, of course, our approach is really explicit within the region and it depends on some sort of principles. And we’ve got two basic principles. The first one is with our peaceful and brotherly countries within the region, we want to – we want them to continue the political will in a more democratic way. Of course, they have to (inaudible), they have to consider the demands of the society. If there is a political system which doesn’t consider the demand of the public, then it won’t be viable for that political system to survive. That’s why in Syria we feel the need to experience a reformation process which takes into account the demand of the public society. And of course, this transformation should not be (inaudible) in a ways that brings about conflict and also violence.

So we want the Syrian brotherly country to start the transformation process at once and we don’t want the Syrian Government to use excessive violence on the public. One of the most important principle of a political transformation is to have an opposition, of course, with (inaudible) negotiation with (inaudible). He had mentioned that they were going to have a multi-political group within the parliament. Of course, we want this to take place in Syria with a natural process. I hope that the Syrian country has got opposition parties, and we would like the opposition parties to raise their voice and to have a common point of view in the end. We want the Syrian sustainability to be strengthened and we want a more sound and viable political system within Syria.

And with the meeting that took place in Turkey, we, from the very beginning, have stated that Turkey is a democratic country (inaudible) meetings to take place in Istanbul in Turkey. This is a natural conclusion that is brought by the democratic environment in Turkey, and there in our country we also run meetings which criticizes the democratic aspects of Turkey as well. And we are not in a position – we don’t want to be commented as a country which interferes with the domestic affairs of Syria. I wish that in the Damascus, for instance, such meetings were to be held so as for those reformations to be concluded, as long as the meetings do not bring about any conflict, any violence. Of course, these meetings can take place. This isn’t a bad will that we show against Syria. All these meetings are for the sake of Syria to come up with a sound transformation, reformation. Of course, there are opposing ideas due to the political system of Syria. They also take place in Istanbul in Turkey. I hope that Syria is going to come more powerfully, more strongly, at the end of this process with a more sound democratic environment.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I am sorry (inaudible), but I would like to ask my question to the guest (inaudible). Secretary, in Cyprus you want the negotiations to be sped up and you want it to be concluded by 2012. Mr. Davutoglu – if this happens, Davutoglu says that the relations can be frozen between the European Union and Cyprus. So what is your approach for a referendum that is going to take place in Cyprus in regard to speeding up negotiations of Cyprus? Do you want to take a more active role if such a referendum takes place? And do you see a risk between the relations between you and Turkey if this referendum were to take place?

SECRETARY CLINTON: First of all, as you probably know, the United States very actively promoted the referendum that was presented to the population of Cyprus back in 2005 – right, 2004. And we were disappointed by the outcome, because we thought that that would have resolved a lot of the issues that are still being very difficult to overcome. We don’t think the status quo on Cyprus benefits anyone. It’s gone on for far too long. We believe both sides would benefit from a settlement, and we strongly support the renewed, reenergized efforts that the United Nations is leading and that the Cypriots themselves are responsible for, because ultimately, they’re the ones who have to make the hard decisions about how to resolve all of the outstanding issues.

We want to see a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and we would like to see it as soon as possible. We would like to see it by 2012. And that is something that the UN has said. That’s something I know Turkey believes. It’s something we believe. And we’re going to do everything we can to support this process and finally try to see a resolution.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you. (In Turkish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, we’re done. Oh, okay.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Do you want a couple more questions? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, no. (Laughter.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Center for Islamic Arts and History
Istanbul, Turkey
July 15, 2011

 


 

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Secretary General. And thank you for your leadership in organizing this meeting. I am honored and delighted to be here with so many colleagues from around the world. And it’s a particular pleasure for me to be back at the Research Center for Islamic History, Art, and Culture in this magnificent Yildiz Palace here in Istanbul. Fifteen years ago I was here when the secretary general was then leading this organization, and he and I participated in a remarkable dialogue with representatives from Istanbul’s diverse religious communities.

That conversation took place just a few months after the signing of the Dayton Accords. We were all deeply concerned about the sectarian tensions and violence, and we were all troubled by what we had seen happen in the Balkans. I had come from Sarajevo and Tuzla, where I had met with Bosnians, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims all together. And I will never forget one woman saying that neighbors began turning on neighbor because of religious and ethnic differences. And this woman asked a friend from another religious background: “We’ve known each other for so long, we have celebrated each other’s weddings, we’ve buried each other’s family; why is this happening?” And her friend replied: “We were told that if we did not do this to you, you would do it to us.” And it was as clear a statement of what incitement to violence and hatred can lead to as any that I’ve heard. And the conflict proved so costly, we are still living with the consequences today.

In our conversation 15 years ago, I remember the secretary general talking about the imperative for us to move beyond these differences and how much the three great monotheistic religions have in common, especially our respective commandments to love our neighbors and to seek peace and understanding. Well, today, this wisdom that is ageless is as important as ever. We have seen violent attacks across our world, where those who are members of minority communities – either religious or ethnic – have been killed by their neighbors. We have seen the transitions to democracy that are so inspiring in the Middle East and North Africa, but have also exposed ethnic and religious minorities to new dangers.

And in established democracies, we are still working to protect fully our religious diversity, prevent discrimination, and protect freedom of expression. So for all of these reasons, this gathering and the shared commitment it represents is vitally important. It is one of these events that has great ramifications far beyond this room.

I want to applaud the Organization of Islamic Conference and the European Union for helping pass Resolution 1618 at the Human Rights Council. I was complimenting the secretary general on the OIC team in Geneva. I had a great team there as well. So many of you were part of that effort. And together we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression, and we are pursuing a new approach based on concrete steps to fight intolerance wherever it occurs. Under this resolution, the international community is taking a strong stand for freedom of expression and worship, and against discrimination and violence based upon religion or belief.

These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all people in all places, and they are certainly essential to democracy. But as the secretary general just outlined, we now need to move to implementation. The resolution calls upon states to protect freedom of religion, to counter offensive expression through education, interfaith dialogue, and public debate, and to prohibit discrimination, profiling, and hate crimes, but not to criminalize speech unless there is an incitement to imminent violence. We will be looking to all countries to hold themselves accountable and to join us in reporting to the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights on their progress in taking these steps.

For our part, I have asked our Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook, to spearhead our implementation efforts. And to build on the momentum from today’s meeting, later this year the United States intends to invite relevant experts from around the world to the first of what we hope will be a series of meetings to discuss best practices, exchange ideas, and keep us moving forward beyond the polarizing debates of the past; to build those muscles of respect and empathy and tolerance that the secretary general referenced. It is essential that we advance this new consensus and strengthen it, both at the United Nations and beyond, in order to avoid a return to the old patterns of division.

The Human Rights Council has given us a comprehensive framework for addressing this issue on the international level. But at the same time, we each have to work to do more to promote respect for religious differences in our own countries. In the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance. We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy. So we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.

In Europe, we are seeing communities coming together to address both the old scourge of anti-Semitism and the new strains of anti-Muslim bias that continue to undermine the continent’s democratic ideals. Across the Middle East and Asia, we look to both people and leaders to resist the incitement of extremists who seek to inflame sectarian tensions, and reject the persecution of religious minorities such as the Copts or Ahmadis or Baha’is.

In Egypt and Tunisia, we hope to see minorities brought into the process of drafting a new constitution and given a seat at the table as new democracies take shape. And I know that, here in Turkey, there is a potential upcoming constitutional reform process, and we look forward to new protections for religious freedom as well. Tomorrow, I will meet with his all holiness, the ecumenical patriarch. And as I do on every trip, and as my friend Ahmet knows, we will continue to urge the Turkish Government to reopen the Halki Seminary as a symbol of Turkey’s commitment to religious freedom.

No country, including my own, has a monopoly on truth or a secret formula for ethnic and religious harmony. This takes hard work and persistence and patience. But wherever we come from and however we worship, all of us can do more in our own lives, in our positions of leadership, and in our communities, to bridge the divides that separate us. Here in Istanbul, which for so long has symbolized a bridge between cultures and continents, we have the opportunity to recommit ourselves to this goal.

Fifteen years ago in this room, the secretary general said about Istanbul, “This is a city which for over five centuries has been one of those rare lands of peace, where people of different religions live together in an environment of perfect harmony.” So if you will permit us, Secretary General and Foreign Minister, we want to take some of that spirit home from wherever we came – (laughter) – and we want to do so by transporting it in our hearts so that it is imprinted there and continues to remind us of the work ahead.

Thank you very much.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: