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Posts Tagged ‘Kosovo’

 

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Remarks Commemorating 100 Years of Albanian Independence

 

Remarks

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

 

Parliament

Tirana, Albania

November 1, 2012

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remarks With Croatian President Ivo Josipovic After Their Meeting

 

Remarks

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

 

Zagreb, Croatia

October 31, 2012

 


The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you very much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MODERATOR: Andy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

Government Building

Pristina, Kosovo

October 31, 2012

 


The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Inaudible.)

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TW3 = That was the week that was. Hurricane Sandy knocked a lot of people for a loop including yours truly. So while we all continue gradually to recover, here is Mme. Secretary’s schedule for the week behind us.   I hope everyone out there weathered this terrible storm without danger to life or limb.

Public Schedule for November 2, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
November 2, 2012

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SCHEDULE
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 2, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

1:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Special Envoy for Middle East Peace David Hale, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

1:45 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Administrator Shah and Counselor Mills, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

Public Schedule for November 1, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC

November 1, 2012


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SCHEDULE
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 1, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Zagreb, Croatia and Tirana, Albania. Secretary Clinton is accompanied by Assistant Secretary Gordon, Ambassador Marshall, Spokesperson Nuland, Director Sullivan, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European Affairs Liz Sherwood Randall, and VADM Harry B. Harris, Jr., JCS. Please click here for more information.

8:35 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Zagreb, in Zagreb, Croatia.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

11:10 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Albanian President Bujar Nishani, in Tirana, Albania.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

11:30a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton attends the presentation of the Order of the National Flag, in Tirana, Albania.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

12:00 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, in Tirana, Albania.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

12:45 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers remarks Commemorating 100 Years of Albanian Independence, at Parliament, in Tirana, Albania.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

1:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Albanian Socialist Party Chief Edi Rama, in Tirana, Albania.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

1:45 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Tirana, in Tirana, Albania.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

Public Schedule for October 31, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC

October 31, 2012


SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Pristina, Kosovo and Zagreb, Croatia. Secretary Clinton is accompanied by Assistant Secretary Gordon, Ambassador Marshall, Spokesperson Nuland, Director Sullivan, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European Affairs Liz Sherwood Randall, and VADM Harry B. Harris, Jr., JCS. Please click here for more information.

8:10 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Pristina, in Pristina, Kosovo.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

8:40 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Pristina, Kosovo.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

9:20 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci and and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Pristina, Kosovo.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

10:15 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers joint press statements with Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Pristina, Kosovo.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

10:40 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci and Political Party Leaders, in Pristina, Kosovo.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

11:25 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with members of the Kosovo Serb Community, in Pristina, Kosovo.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

2:40 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, in Zagreb, Croatia.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

3:40 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, in Zagreb, Croatia.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

4:25 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a joint press availability with Croatian President Josipovic, in Zagreb, Croatia.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

7:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton attends a dinner hosted by Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, in Zagreb, Croatia.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

Public Schedule for October 30, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
October 30, 2012

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SCHEDULE
TUESDAY OCTOBER 30, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Sarajevo, Bosnia; Belgrade, Serbia; and Pristina, Kosovo. Secretary Clinton is accompanied by Assistant Secretary Gordon, Ambassador Marshall, Spokesperson Nuland, Director Sullivan, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European Affairs Liz Sherwood Randall, and VADM Harry B. Harris, Jr., JCS. Please click here for more information.

10:40 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Sarajevo, in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

11:05a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

12:10p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, EU Special Representative Peter Sorensen, High Representative Valentin Inzko, in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

12:55p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Members of the Bosnian Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic, Zeljko Komsic, and Nebojsa Radmanovic, and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

1:50p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a joint press availability with Bosnian Presidency Chairman Bakir Izetbegovic and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

4:10p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, and EU High Representative Ashton, in Belgrade, Serbia.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

5:30p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers joint press statements with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, and EU High Representative Ashton, in Belgrade, Serbia.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

6:15p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Belgrade, in Belgrade, Serbia.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

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

Secretary Clinton to Travel to Algeria and the Balkans

Press Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Video Remarks for Empowering Women

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Pristina, Kosovo
October 5, 2012

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but I am delighted to be able to send greetings to so many of you who are working to open up opportunities for women in the Balkans and around the world.Madam President, you have made a career out of building bridges to promote peace, progress, and prosperity. As the first female head of state in the region, you are a natural leader for women’s empowerment issues. Any young girl who’s wondering just how far her talents can take her, need only look to you for the answer. I look forward to continuing our work together in Kosovo and beyond.

I also want to congratulate the people of Kosovo on the end of supervised independence, which marks another tangible step forward in the history of your country. Since independence, you have worked hard to build a modern, multi-ethnic, inclusive, and democratic state. The United States will remain a strong partner and friend as you navigate the many challenges ahead. Around the world, women are blazing new trails. They are removing long-entrenched obstacles and standing up for their rights and opportunities. This conference represents a growing understanding that to create economic opportunity, political progress, and social equality, we need women’s ideas, their energy and their perspective.

More women than ever are taking a leading role in politics and government—and that’s great news. But we still have a long way to go. We know that when women thrive, societies thrive. There is a mountain of research that shows that investing in women and gender equality is smart economics.  And it’s not just the bottom line that we should be concerned about. Women are also agents of change and peace; they act as mediators and foster compromise. Time and again, especially in this region, we have seen women build partnerships and networks across ethnic and sectarian lines where men often could not. When women organize in large numbers, they can galvanize opinion and change the course of history.

I have seen firsthand—in places from Kosovo to Northern Ireland–that women can help develop sound ideas and policies. We just need to remove the barriers that prevent them from fully participating in their communities.  So we must harness opportunities like this event to build partnerships that will unleash their potential.  I can’t wait to hear from Ambassador Verveer and Secretary Albright about the new commitments, ideas, and initiatives you come up with. Your unwavering dedication is helping all people – women and men – realize a brighter future. Thank you all.

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Remarks With Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci After Their Meeting

Remarks

Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 4, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, good afternoon, everyone. It’s a great pleasure for me to welcome Prime Minister Thaci back to Washington and here to the State Department. The prime minister has shown great leadership, and he has helped to promote democracy, stability, and the rule of law in Kosovo. And he is leading his country toward the future that the people of Kosovo desire and that the United States wants to see for them, full partnership in European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.The prime minister and I had the opportunity to discuss the progress that Kosovo is making in promoting its European future. The United States strongly supports the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, facilitated by the European Union, and we welcome the agreements that have been reached to date. It’s a credit to the leaders of both countries that they are able to compromise to find the best way forward.

And the United States remains absolutely committed to Kosovo’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The agreements reached in the dialogue reinforce these while setting the conditions for Kosovo’s participation in forums with its neighbors in which Kosovo will finally have an equal voice on regional concerns. We urge both countries to stay committed to the dialogue and to fully implement what has been agreed to.

I’m going to go in English, and then we’ll translate for you. Okay? Is that all right?

PRIME MINISTER THACI: It’s okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. I also want to applaud the EU on its decision to launch a feasibility study for a stabilization and association agreement with Kosovo. This represents a step toward European Union membership for Kosovo, and it shows that leaders in Kosovo and in the EU are committed to strengthening their relationship.

Finally, the International Steering Group for Kosovo recently announced the start of preparations to end supervised independence for Kosovo in 2012. Although more work remains, the government is enacting the legislation and building the institutions that will promote democratic reform and effective rule of law for all the people of Kosovo. This decision signals that a stable and independent Kosovo is ready for full participation and partnership in the international community.

Again, Prime Minister, the United States is standing side by side with the people of Kosovo as they chart the course for their country’s future, and I want to thank and applaud you for all that you have done for the progress that we celebrate today.

PRIME MINISTER THACI: Madam Secretary Clinton, members of the press, as always it is a great pleasure to be in D.C., especially now in April with the cherry blossom, it is so beautiful. (Laughter.) The United States of America and you personally have always inspired Kosovar people with the values of freedom, democracy, and justice.

Kosovo is a young democracy. We still have a long way ahead with reforms – strengthen the institutions and economy, good governance, fight against corruption, and other affirmative agenda – in order to transform our society and make positive changes. But some things will never change. That is our freedom, our independence, our territorial integrity and sovereignty, our right to exist as a proud nation in the big family of the nations.

I use this opportunity to thank Madam Secretary Clinton for her personal role and contribution in reaching the latest agreements between Kosovo and Serbia on regional representation and IBM, integrated border management. My vision for Kosovo and the region is a future with open borders and good neighborhood relations.

Today, we discussed also about many important bilateral issues. I am proud of our eternal friendship between our two nations. We both believe that the latest agreements help open a new chapter in the relationship between Kosovo and EU as well.

All countries in the region share the same goal and the same vision for the European integration and NATO membership. But to make that happen, we still need the strong focus and presence of the United States of America and EU, not only in Kosovo but also in the rest of the Western Balkans.

Madam Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

MR. TONER: We have time for two questions today. The first goes to Brad Klapper of Associated Press.

QUESTION: Thank you. In the last couple of days, Iranian officials have floated alternative venues to Istanbul as the possible site for future P-5+1 talks: Baghdad, Beijing, even Damascus. (Laughter.) Are the United States and its P-5+1 partners willing to go to any of these places to hold the talks? And more importantly, what does this weeks-long haggling over dates and venues instead of substance suggest about the seriousness of Iran’s intentions, especially at a time when many officials, including yourself, have suggested that time is running short for a peaceful diplomatic solution?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Bradley, the EU High Representative Lady Ashton and her team are consulting with their Iranian counterparts. We understand that these consultations are at an advanced stage, and we expect that Lady Ashton will formally announce the date and place of the talks once it is finally confirmed.

Now in its response to Lady Ashton’s letter, Iran expressed its readiness to resume negotiations and engage in a sustained dialogue. And as I’ve said before, we are not interested in talks for the sake of talks. We want to engage in serious discussions that will lead to concrete results. So I want again to urge the Iranian Government to take this opportunity to begin addressing the international community’s concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program.

As I said just Sunday in Istanbul, there is still time and space to pursue the objectives that we seek through diplomacy. We want to see a peaceful resolution of the international community’s concerns. But the time for diplomacy is not infinite, and all options remain on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And until Iran comes into compliance with its international obligations and demonstrates the peaceful intent of its nuclear program, they will continue to face strong pressure and isolation. So the sooner that we can begin talks, the better it will be, and I await Lady Ashton’s confirmation of the details.

MR. TONER: All right. Our next questioner on the Kosovo side is (inaudible) of Radio Television Kosovo.

QUESTION: The question is for Secretary Clinton. The United States with the EU countries help Kosovo to be independent. Will you continue to support in Kosovo in the future for process of integration in Euro-Atlantic institution here?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I believe strongly in Kosovo’s independence and territorial integrity and in its aspiration to become a full partner in the international community and a member of the European Union, and eventually, NATO. The United States will continue to support Kosovo and work with the European Union to resolve the outstanding issues that exist between Kosovo and Serbia.

But I am encouraged by the progress that Kosovo has made, not only with respect to European integration, but economically. The prime minister told me Kosovo has grown five percent this year. That’s a very strong signal of the kind of progress that Kosovo is making, and we want to help fully integrate, particularly the young people of Kosovo, into Europe and the international community.

Thank you all very much.

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This interview requires context.  Here is the context.

Agreements Reached Between Kosovo and Serbia

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
February 24, 2012

Today, Kosovo and Serbia have taken another important step toward their common European future by coming to agreements in the EU-facilitated Dialogue on Kosovo’s representation at regional fora and a technical protocol on Integrated Border Management. I want to thank the European Union for facilitating these discussions and helping these two countries realize a brighter future.

This is an important step for Kosovo. These agreements are consistent with Kosovo’s independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty, and move Kosovo closer toward full European integration, which the United States continues to support. Kosovo will now sit at the table in regional fora as an equal partner, representing and speaking for itself.

We also hope these agreements will open the door to Serbia’s EU candidacy. Serbia’s progress toward European integration is good for Serbia, good for Kosovo, and good for the future of the entire region. We look forward to the continuation of the EU-facilitated Dialogue on other issues that impact the daily lives of the citizens of both countries.

The United States shares a strong and enduring friendship with Kosovo and Serbia. We have supported this process from the beginning, and we recognize the commitment and the difficult decisions that have been necessary in order to make progress. I want to commend both governments for their flexibility and hard work in this Dialogue. I encourage the people of both Kosovo and Serbia to implement these agreements in good faith and to support the progress that has been made. Only through dialogue and enhanced trust can both countries be assured of a peaceful, prosperous future as part of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.

Now on to the interview!

Interview With Ilir Ikonomi of Voice of America Albania

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Via Telephone
Washington, DC
February 24, 2012

QUESTION: Hello, Mrs. Secretary. I am Ilir Ikonomi with the Voice of America, and I have a few questions on the agreement today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well, thank you, Ilir. I’m delighted to talk to you. I think this is a very, very, significant step forward for Kosovo.

QUESTION: Yes. This is what I wanted to ask you. What is the importance of these two agreements reached today in Brussels?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to begin by saying how committed the United States is to Kosovo’s strengths and enduring partnership with us. And we are fully committed to her independence, her territorial integrity, her sovereignty. And I commend the government, under Prime Minister Thaci, for its constructive attitude and hard work in the EU-facilitated dialogue with Serbia. The United States has supported this process from the beginning, and we know that this is a tough political choice, but it is going to move the people of Kosovo closer to European integration, and we think that’s very much in the interest of all Kosovars.

QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary, there have been concerns – and there still are in Kosovo – that the agreement on the representation of Kosovo with a footnote which makes reference to the Resolution 1244 of the Security Council – this might jeopardize the gains achieved so far, the independence and the territorial integrity. What do you make of that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I disagree with that. I actually think that this will assist in increasing the number of countries that already recognize the Republic of Kosovo, because it will remove an excuse that there’s no progress between Kosovo and Serbia. The United States and the 85 other countries who already recognize your independence and sovereignty and territorial integrity will actually have a stronger argument, that as Kosovo is moving toward European integration we are looking to the future.

And please remember that UN Security Council Resolution 1244, in fact, paved the way to Kosovo’s independence. It required Serbia to remove security forces. The International Court of Justice carefully considered 1244, and the whole world knows the conclusion, which we firmly agree, that Kosovo’s declaration of independence does not violate Resolution 1244. So I actually think this is a very smart, very clever, and very brave decision on the part of the government, because it will move Kosovo closer to Europe, and it will increase the number of countries that will recognize it.

QUESTION: But Mrs. Secretary, do you think there is the need of some safeguards against any conditions that Serbia might come up with in the future that might prevent Kosovo from joining the European Union in the future? Because this is a major concern today in Kosovo.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that Kosovo is closer to joining the European Union by doing this then you would be if you did not, because it very much has a recognition on the part of the European Union that Kosovo will be moving towards its own candidacy, something that was not possible in the past, because, remember, there are five European countries that do not recognize Kosovo. And the United States believes that today’s events significantly advance Kosovo’s European aspirations, that it further solidifies your status as an independent nation. Kosovo will now sit at the table as an equal partner with the ability to speak with your own voice. So I think that there are so many positive advantages for Kosovo in this agreement that I am very encouraged.

QUESTION: But precisely these five European countries that have not recognized Kosovo, that you just mentioned, is this a concern to you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, of course it’s a concern. We want every country to recognize Kosovo. But we also know that it will take time and we’ve been making steady progress, which we will continue. But I believe that by being a presence, able to sit at the table with these countries, able to participate in regional events and forums – that increases the likelihood that we will obtain recognition.

QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary, thank you very much, and thank you for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. I am enthusiastic about the progress that Kosovo is making and very pleased that this important political decision will move Kosovo closer to European integration. And I encourage the people of Kosovo to stand behind the decision, support the progress that is being made. It’s come so soon after celebrating your fourth anniversary as an independent state. And I am looking forward to continuing to work with the government and the people on even better things in the future.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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Signing of the U.S.-Kosovo Agreement on the Protection and Preservation of Certain Cultural Properties

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Kosovar President Atifete Jahjaga
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
December 14, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, and it’s such a great pleasure to welcome President Jahjaga here to the State Department. I have had the opportunity of meeting with her in the past, most recently in September during the United Nations General Assembly, and I am always pleased when we have an opportunity to consult and discuss matters of great importance to both of our countries.

To Chairman Warren Miller and other members of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, as well as the ambassador from Kosovo to the United States, this is a really important agreement that we are signing today, because the United States has a special interest in helping to preserve cultural heritage sites in countries around the world, because the vast majority of Americans are immigrants and descendents of immigrants. So the work of this commission is of great importance to us.

First, I want to say a word about the president. As I have consistently, I conveyed on behalf of the United States the strong and continued support of our country for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that the future Kosovo is attempting to chart is of critical importance first and foremost for the people of Kosovo but also for the entire region. And I welcome the European Union’s decision earlier this month that we hope helps pave the way for Kosovo’s continued integration into the EU. This agreement we are about to sign commits our two governments to the protection and preservation, without discrimination, of the cultural heritage sites of national, religious, and ethnic groups that were victims of genocide during World War II.

Now, we know from experience that measures like these work. This will be the United States’ 24th such cultural preservation agreement, and in countries from Estonia to Italy, we have seen real results. Forty years ago, the United States was the first nation in the world to ratify the World Heritage Convention, and we are proud that we have continued that work over the years. And our commitment is to the preservation of all of Kosovo’s cultural heritage: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Serb, Albanian, you name it. We are committed to helping you preserve it.

I saw firsthand one of the most cherished cultural treasures, the Gračanica Monastery, a Serbian Orthodox site that dates back to the 14th century, but it’s just one of many such sites. And it’s essential that as Kosovo forges a pluralistic society, a nation that guarantees citizenship rights, equal rights to all of its people, that all of these sites be preserved for the people in Kosovo and the Balkans, as well as others throughout the world who share that same heritage.

So this is another step on the road to a thriving, independent, multiethnic Kosovo, where democratic institutions are strong and opportunities are abundant, and where I think the president has set exactly the right tone by painting a vision of what Kosovo can become.

Madam President.

PRESIDENT JAHJAGA: Honorable Secretary Clinton, thank you very much. The signing of the Agreement on the Protection and Preservation of Certain Cultural Properties is a powerful symbolic act, and part of the strong relationship and friendship between the Republic of Kosovo and the United States of America. The United States of America is Kosovo’s strongest supporter and ally. Madam Secretary, you and the American people have always stood by us in our most difficult times, in achieving freedom, and now in our process of state building.

Today, Kosovo is a multiethnic and inclusive society, where all its ethnic communities live in freedom and peace. Our approach is one of building good neighborhood relations with all the countries in the region, and Kosovo has established itself as a factor of stability in the Balkans.

Kosovo is a new country with a long history. We have a rich cultural heritage that has survived over the centuries. This past, expressed in the architectural values, in the objects of worship and religious monuments, testifies that we lived together for the centuries and represent each other’s heritage as common values.

This agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and the United States of America is another testament of our commitment to cultural tolerance and multiculturalism, and our embrace for the diversity of the members of our society regardless of ethnicity, faith, or race. The American values and ideals are an inspiration to us, and we look forward to jointly implement this agreement to further preserve our common cultural heritage. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Madam President.

PRESIDENT JAHJAGA: Thank you.

MODERATOR: The Secretary of State and the president of the Republic of Kosovo are signing an agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Kosovo on the Protection and Preservation of Certain Cultural Properties.

(The agreement was signed.)

(Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Madam President, one question, please?

QUESTION: One question?

PRESIDENT JAHJAGA: Yes?

QUESTION: Madam President, (inaudible) humanitarian convoy that (inaudible) Kosovo (inaudible)?

PRESIDENT JAHJAGA: There are the rules and there are norms that are (inaudible) the international convention (inaudible) legislation in the Congress on the issue about (inaudible) and humanitarian aid. And we are going to respect all international convention, constitution of Kosovo, and the administration of Kosovo in that process.

QUESTION: Thank you. Can you add anything to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I fully support what the president just said. In addition, we have checked with the United Nations and others. They do not report any humanitarian crisis or need. We would urge that the people of Kosovo, particularly in the north, work together. They are entitled under the constitution of Kosovo to equal rights and full citizenship. The sooner that we have the integration of all citizens of Kosovo into the unity of the state, the more possible will be the kind of future that the president is seeking for the people (inaudible).

Thank you.

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Earlier in the week, we saw the dedication of the new embassy compound in Sarajevo.  True to form,  Secretary Clinton held similar meet-and-greets with embassy staff and families both in Belgrade and in Pristina.  Here are her remarks at those events.

Secretary Clinton Meets with Embassy Belgrade Staff and Their Families

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Hyatt Regency Belgrade
Belgrade, Serbia
October 13, 2010

Oh, it is wonderful seeing you, and I want to echo all the remarks of the Ambassador about the extraordinary work that you have done over the last years. And it means a great deal to the United States, to me personally, and to the people of our two countries that you are personally helping to forge a new chapter in our bilateral relationship.

I’m delighted to be starting my day off by seeing all of you and being able to extend my appreciation. I want to thank the Ambassador for her leadership here, your DCM, and all of you for not only what you do every day but for what you’ve done in preparation and execution of my visit and, of course, of Vice President Biden’s last year.

This is such an important time for the Balkans, and in our estimation, the changes that have occurred are really seminal; they mark such a turning point, but it is still not fully determined how this will play out. Serbia and Kosovo are working on a direct dialogue. We just had another election in Bosnia-Herzegovina which brought some hope for better cooperation although still a difficult challenge. Five countries in the region are taking steps to achieve full integration into the Euro-Atlantic community, and we believe that these and other steps promote our shared goals of stability and prosperity throughout the region.

And the United States is committed to helping to advance these goals and assisting these countries as they move forward. Your work with the Government of Serbia and its civil society organizations is helping to strengthen local institutions. I had an excellent visit with a number of the civil society representatives last night that many of you helped to arrange, and it really gave me more insight into the progress but still the remaining challenges that have to be dealt with.

Our military-to-military cooperation is helping to pave the way for Serbia to increase its contributions to global peacekeeping efforts, and the extended 10-year visa eligibility now makes it easier for Serbians to travel to the United States and to form lasting bonds with our people as well.

I know there’s a lot of work ahead, but I’m kind of a “glass is half full” person. I think we look at where we have come from, and yes, there is a lot ahead of us, but we should be proud of the progress that has been made here in Serbia over the last 10 years.

Just a decade ago, Serbia was still making the transition to a democratically elected government and we were working to restore diplomatic relations between our two countries. In fact, it was just 10 years ago this week that a small group of Americans and local staff members met here at this hotel to begin planning the reopening of U.S. Embassy Belgrade. A number of the local staff who helped reopen the Embassy are here today, so I’d like you to raise your hand – all of you who were here working for this Embassy 10 years ago – so I can see you and thank you very much for those 10 years of service that led to this day.

I think that there is a big agenda on the economic development front that we are going to be pursuing, and I’m excited that we’ve broken ground on a new Embassy compound, where we’ll be able to set the gold standard for diplomatic missions in Serbia. And it will be able to house our various aspects of the mission in one place, so there’ll be a lot of coordination and cooperation. It will set a high standard for energy efficient technology and the green standard for U.S. embassies around the world. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing it finished the summer of 2012, but probably not as much as you are.

But every one of you – Foreign Service, Civil Service, representatives of other U.S. Government agencies, local staff – your families have sacrificed a great deal to advance our work over the past 10 years. Some of you may have been here when the Embassy was attacked two years ago. How many of you were here for that? And you had to evacuate your families or had to be evacuated yourselves. Some of you chose to stay even through tough and uncertain times.

Whatever your role in whatever capacity, I want to thank each of you for the hours you’ve put in and the spirit that you bring to your work each day. I am very impressed by what this government is attempting to do, by the vision that President Tadic has of what is possible for Serbia in the future. We don’t have a vote as the United States in the European Union, but if I did have a vote, I’d vote today to begin the accession process, because I think it will be to Serbia’s great advantage to be integrated into Europe, to be a member of the European Union. Serbia has so much to contribute. And I’m personally going to be lobbying members of the EU when I see them in Brussels tonight to carry the message that Serbia is ready and Serbia should not be kept waiting.

And I know too when someone like me comes, it just adds so much extra work. I didn’t expect them to shut down the city – (laughter) – but I’m sure that’s made it more complicated to get around. But you all deserve to take a deep breath and a sigh of relief when I finally take off from the airport. But I am really pleased to have this chance to personally express our gratitude to you. I know how important the work that you do every day is. I mean, I can come in, a Secretary of State can come in, a Vice President can come in, but it’s the day-to-day connections that really matter that build the strong bonds between our people. And I want to see those bonds strengthened and deepened, and I want the relationship between our governments to grow and I want to see Serbia play a larger and larger role in regional and global affairs. And I think with your help, we can contribute to making that happen. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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Secretary Clinton Meets with Embassy Pristina Staff and Their Families

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Grand Hotel
Pristina, Kosovo
October 13, 2010

Well, it is wonderful visiting the world’s youngest country and meeting, as the Ambassador just said, one of our nation’s youngest and most dynamic embassy teams. I am delighted to have this opportunity to come here. I came in part to support your work, in part to encourage the government and people of Kosovo, and in part to see the statue of my husband. (Laughter and applause.)

I want to thank the Ambassador, and Chris, you’re doing a great job here with your leadership, and your DCM, Michael Murphy, who is also doing an excellent job leading this mission here in Kosovo. And I too want to acknowledge the special guests, the number of the American troops who are serving the KFOR. KFOR is NATO’s second-largest mission behind Afghanistan, and you’ve done such an extraordinary job. I’m proud of the role that the United States troops have played. I’m particularly pleased to welcome the (inaudible) National Guard, which is one of the largest National Guards in the United States, and to thank you for your service.

I just participated in an excellent discussion with some of this country’s young people. And before that, the Ambassador and I visited with some of the newly elected mayors of the Serbian majority municipality, and before that, with the leadership of the country – the acting president, the prime minister, the foreign minister, and others. And in each case, you probably entered ears burning because the work that you do was recognized. I was thanked for the visit and the (inaudible) – what you do for diplomacy and what you do for development.

So I want to thank everyone who’s a part of Embassy Pristina and tell you that your work is being acknowledged, and I am the one who was thanked when indeed each and every one of you should be thanked for everything you’ve done to help set Kosovo on the path toward integration into the Euro-Atlantic community, a real commitment to the growth of democratic institutions and improvement in the economy and service to this (inaudible) people of this country.

Now, we are going to be working very hard with our EU partners to support a direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and to set the stage for a new relationship between Kosovo and Serbia. I thank you for your long hours that you have put in, both our civilians and our military members, because you have demonstrated unequivocally that the United States is Kosovo’s closest friend and ally, and that our voice will continue to advocate for Kosovo’s recognition. Both Beth Sreenan and Merita Stublla-Emini have been a driving force, encouraging Kosovo to strengthen the rule of law.

So where are Beth and Merita? Where are Beth and Merita? There they are. I want to thank you both. For the last year, the government has passed reforms to modernize the court system and create a professional, nonpolitical corps of judges. That’s a very important step to support this young democracy. Another of our priorities is to urge citizens to embrace Kosovo’s diversity as one of its core strengths. Jose Garzon, Jeton Cana, and Fred Boll have helped persuade Kosovo Serbs of the south to engage in legitimate Kosovo institutions and establish municipalities. So where are Jose, Jeton, and Fred? Where are they? Oh, thank you. (Applause.)

The country has also made some notable progress in combating human trafficking, and I would like to thank Angelica Maviki and Laura Salihu for working with the Government of Kosovo to develop and implement an anti-trafficking strategy, which is really an anti-slavery strategy. So where are they? Let me thank them for their work. (Applause.)

I would like to thank our Public Affairs officer, Emilia Puma, for leading the Embassy’s first foray into (inaudible). (Applause.) I am a very big believer in these new forms of communication. Getting people to organize, to talk to each other, discuss an issue, search for a solution (inaudible) American interests and certainly our diplomatic efforts.

Now, a lot has changed in the last year, and I don’t just mean the invention of Twitter or Facebook. When we first opened the U.S. office in Pristina in 1999, it employed just a few intrepid Americans and a crew of dedicated local staff who worked around the clock to press for peace in Kosovo. Today, we have more than 400 people working at our Embassy. And you could not have come this far without our excellent locally engaged staff, and I’d like all of our Kosovo staff to raise your hand so that we can thank each and every one of you. (Applause.) We could not do this work without your expertise and experience. Many of you have been with us for 10 years or even more, and I’m very grateful for your commitment.

Now, I know that there is another change coming this summer that will be further progress. And that is that for years, we did not allow children to accompany their parents here to this post. It was, frankly, just too dangerous. But next year, families with children will arrive at post for the first time, and that is tangible proof of the progress that Kosovo has made. And I, for one, am delighted that in the youngest nation in Europe, you’ll have some young Americans here (inaudible). (Applause.)

So I thank you for what you do every day, but I know that extra work goes into a visit like mine. It’s not easy preparing everything that we have to do. So I doubly thank you for the effort you made for this very successful trip of mine. So Kosovo is a place where America’s interests, America’s values, and America’s hope for the future all intersect. We have such a great opportunity to see our work make a difference in people’s lives. And so I thank you. I thank you for your commitment to our relationship with the people of Kosovo.

I was asked at the town hall interview just now what I thought, and I told the young people who were there that I am very optimistic about Kosovo, but I’m also a realist. I know it’s going to take work. There is still a lot to be done. Important changes don’t happen quickly, whether it’s in the life of a person or the life of a nation. But Kosovo is on the right track and the United States will do everything we can to be your partner and your friend as you continue down this track toward a better future.

So I look forward to continuing to work with you, with the government and people of Kosovo, and I am absolutely confident that we will see many positive changes in the years to come. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

 

 

 

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Remarks With Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
National Assembly Building
Pristina, Kosovo
October 13, 2010

 


 

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Thaci, and it is wonderful to be here in Pristina. I want to thank you for the warm welcome, and also to acting President Krasniqi and Foreign Minister Hyseni and to all of the people in Pristina who waved at me and smiled and shook my hand when I stopped to see my husband’s statue. I am very excited to be here on behalf of President Obama. I come not only officially as the Secretary of State, but personally as a member of a family very committed to the future of this country.

Today’s meeting follows the prime minister’s recent trip to Washington where he met with Vice President Biden, his visit to Washington last year when he and I met at the State Department. I was delighted to be his host then and I’m delighted to be his guest now. And for me personally, it is a great honor.


I also want to send a special greeting to all of the American troops as well as the troops from our allies and partners serving at Camp Bondsteel. I’m sorry that I could not get out to visit you personally on this trip, but I thank you for everything that you are doing to support stability in Kosovo and across the region. President Obama and I are committed to helping the countries of the Balkans achieve lasting stability and prosperity. Certainly, my husband, President Clinton, shares our commitment and is deeply connected to this place. As president, he worked hard to help the people of Kosovo live in peace, free from persecution.
He and I and President Obama and all Americans have been proud to stand with Kosovo through the years. We are honored to be your friends and your partners and we are impressed by all that you have achieved in the past few years. So my being here is a real vote of confidence, Mr. Prime Minister, in what you are doing and in the future that you are attempting to chart – a new future not only for Kosovo, but for the region. And I thank all of you for being part of that great commitment. Kosovo and the United States have been partners through war, through the intensive rebuilding that followed the war, and through Kosovo’s hard-fought journey to independence.
From the start, the United States supported Kosovo’s right to exist as a sovereign, independent state within its existing borders. We welcomed the International Court of Justice’s recent advisory opinion affirming Kosovo’s legal right to declare independence. And now we will continue to support Kosovo as it does the hard work of building a stable, prosperous, and democratic country that is at peace with its neighbors and increasingly integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community. To that end, the United States is encouraged by the upcoming dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia which offers a chance for these countries to settle practical problems and overcome obstacles to being good neighbors.
As I said to Prime Minister Thaci today and to Serbian President Tadic yesterday, some matters, like the status, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Kosovo, are not up for discussion. But the leaders of both countries must approach the dialogue in good faith and with respect for each other’s concerns. These talks represent an opportunity to address immediate and practical needs while making progress toward mutually beneficial goals – for example, increasing travel and trade. So the United States has urged both Serbia and Kosovo to come to the table with a plan – and we know that Kosovo has already presented a framework — and to lay the groundwork for a positive, long-term relationship.


Now, this is not easy. We understand that. But there are many countries in Europe and elsewhere who have long histories of conflict, such as France and Germany, that are now cooperating, trading, working together. It is our hope that in the future, we can say the same about Serbia and Kosovo.
As a brand new country with a dynamic, multiethnic population and the youngest population in Europe – as I saw in the streets with all the beautiful babies and children that I had a chance to see – Kosovo is called to do many things at once. Kosovo is called to instill a tradition of democracy and establish strong public institutions to spark sustained economic growth, attract foreign investment, and create jobs for all of those young people; to continue with a transparent plan to privatize inefficient state enterprises like the electricity and telecom companies; to establish a firm commitment to the rule of law; free, fair, transparent elections; and to encourage people from different backgrounds and ethnicities to live in harmony and work together to build a common future. All of these tasks are essential and none of them is easy.
The United States will continue to provide whatever support we can to the people and Government of Kosovo as you work toward these goals in the months and years ahead. We will assist as needed with the upcoming elections. They are a milestone for this new democracy. And we know that they will be transparent and faithful to the constitutional order. We will support the development of Kosovo’s private sector. We see great potential for Kosovo’s economy to grow, especially if you make investments in your young people, who are, after all, your country’s greatest resource.
We will support Kosovo as you prepare to join Euro-Atlantic institutions like the European Union and NATO. They represent Kosovo’s best chance at a long-term future of stability and prosperity. And we will help as Kosovo works to integrate Serb communities more deeply into the country. Kosovo’s multiethnic heritage is a point of pride for many of your citizens who recognize that your diversity is a national strength, one that we share and cherish in the United States. Later today, I will visit one of Kosovo’s cultural treasures, Gracanica Monastery, a Serbian Orthodox site dating back to the 14th century.
I will also visit with the newly elected mayors of Serb-majority municipalities, who are pursuing a path of engagement and integration with the national government. This is to be commended and actively supported. The people in these communities must see that being full and engaged citizens of Kosovo pays off in concrete improvement to their lives. Now, this is mainly a task for the central government. But here again, the United States will support leaders at every level who are working toward a united, diverse, democratic Kosovo.
While there is no question that there is a long road that we must travel together ahead of us, let us stay focused on where this road leads, a future in which an independent, multiethnic Kosovo is secure and thriving, where opportunities for young people are abundant, where democratic traditions are strong, and where peace reigns throughout the region. That is a future worth working for.
Kosovo must take the lead yourself. But I want you to know, Prime Minister, that just as we have been with you on the hard road to independence, we will stay with you. We are your partners and we are your friends and we are very committed to your future. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Now Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Thaci will take your questions. We have time for four questions, two from the local press and two from the American media. We’ll start with (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible). The question for Secretary of State: How does the United States shape their participation in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo? And when do you think this dialogue should start?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, we talked at great lengths with the prime minister because we want this dialogue to be a very positive experience for Kosovo. So starting tonight in Brussels and continuing tomorrow and then over the weekend, I and my colleagues will be meeting with European Union officials to structure this dialogue. There are a number of questions that have to be answered about the process, putting it together, which we will begin to address with our colleagues here and with the EU and the Serbians.
We think that the dialogue should start as soon as it is ready, because even though there will be elections here, and then in the following year, elections in Serbia, we believe that it is in Kosovo’s interests for this dialogue to begin and to conclude in as expeditious a manner as possible. So we’ll have more to discuss with the prime minister and your government officials once we continue and complete our consultations with the European Union.
One thing that I told the prime minister is that the United States will play a supportive role, that we believe strongly that there needs to be a very clear path for this dialogue. It cannot go on for a long time. It needs to be focused and produce results. There are some issues, like missing persons, that your experts and Serbian experts could start on tomorrow. So we have to sequence it and do it the right way. But we will be in close touch with the prime minister and the government here to report on our discussions with the European Union.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) second question, CNN.
QUESTION: Good morning. Yesterday, President Tadic made a lot of really pro-Western and pro-U.S. statements, and it really sounded like the Serbians were immediately ready to talk. What is – you said you were going to – wanted to be involved, what do you really want to do? What is that going to look like specifically for the U.S. involvement in those talks? And what message did you get from the Albanians and the Kosovars, too? What do they need to do to be ready immediately, because the Serbs said they were immediately ready?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think both sides are ready, but there has to be a structure for the dialogue. That’s what we’re working on. In fact, when the prime minister was in Washington, he delivered a proposed framework from the Government of Kosovo. And as you heard yesterday, President Tadic made very clear this dialogue will not open status issues. They have been resolved by the International Court of Justice advisory opinion. So what we have to decide on is the agenda and the sequence and the participation. This is primarily a dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, two states that border one another, that like any states which border each other, have issues that they have to work out. The EU has a stake in it because the EU cares about the stability and peace of all of Europe. And the United States has a stake in it because we are committed to a peaceful, stable Europe, and most particularly in the Balkans, and we are, as I have said, very strongly supportive of Kosovo’s independence and rights.
So I was very encouraged by what I heard yesterday in Belgrade. I’m encouraged by what I hear today in Pristina, so that’s why we’re going to get down to work tonight and tomorrow with our European Union colleagues and begin to design this structure for these dialogues which we would like to see start as soon as they are ready.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) next question (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have personally worked on behalf of countries recognizing Kosovo. After talking with the foreign minister, I have a list of additional countries that the United States will be reaching out to. We think it’s important to continue to increase the numbers of countries that recognize, particularly after the ICJ opinion, which, we believe, settled the matter of independence once and for all.
I also believe that the approach that the Government of Kosovo has been taking has really earned admiration and support from around the world. And I think that the upcoming dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is another chance for Kosovo to make its mark not only as a newly independent state, but as a democracy committed to democratic institutions, constitutional order, which we saw in action when the Constitutional Court made its decision and your president abided by it. There are lots of people who are really paying attention to how Kosovo is conducting itself. So I think that this is an issue that will gain more and more support in the coming months and years.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) last question goes to Reuters?
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, if I may on the Mideast, the Palestinians have rejected Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer to extend the talks if Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. My question is: Do you believe that Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state is fundamental to any future agreement? And are you now more or less optimistic that the two sides will get a deal in the coming months? And if you have any thoughts on President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon, given the situation there, we’re all ears. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, first of all, both sides are testing out a lot of different approaches, offers, requests, between each other. The United States remains deeply involved in working with both parties. I am personally convinced that both leaders – Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas – very much see it as in their respective interest to return to and proceed with direct negotiations. So I remain both committed and hopeful that the parties will get back into direct negotiations and begin dealing with the core issues between them.


With respect to President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon, the United States supports the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon. We reject any efforts to destabilize or inflame tensions within Lebanon. We are very committed to supporting the Lebanese Government as it deals with a number of challenges in its region. And we would hope that no visitor would do anything or say anything that would give cause to greater tension or instability in that country.
And I don’t know whether anything I might say would have any influence; I highly doubt it. But I believe that it’s a message that the world needs to convey to the Iranians because of the balance within Lebanon that needs to be maintained.
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Townterview with Students, Women Leaders, and Members of Civil Society

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
National and University Library
Pristina, Kosovo
October 13, 2010

MS. REPIC: Well, Madam Secretary, finally, it’s very glad to have you here. For the beginning, I would really like to hear from you your opinion, your thought about the biggest challenges that Kosovo actually is facing right now, having in mind that we will have very soon dialogue with Belgrade, then we will let – regional cooperation is necessary, and as well, European integration. So how are those processes actually important for every citizen, no matter of ethnicity?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question. And I want to start by saying how excited I am to be here in Pristina, to have a chance to come back to Kosovo as Secretary of State and to have this opportunity to have this conversation with all of you, particularly with the young people of this country who represent the future and who are, in your numbers, the youngest country in Europe. And so that’s exciting to me.
And I think that I see the way that Kosovo is moving forward to be very encouraging. You are building up your democratic institutions, which is very important. You’re about to have another election which needs to be as strong and transparent and free as possible with as much participation. You are working on economic development, privatizing some of the inefficient state enterprises like electricity and telecommunications. So on the democratic, constitutional, economic front, you’re making progress and the United States stands ready to help you continue that progress.
I think there needs to be improvements in services, education, healthcare, other kinds of services that the people of Kosovo are looking for, and again, we will be there to help you. I am very pleased at how there is a commitment to integration and pluralism within Kosovo. I just met with the elected Serb mayors in municipalities here and talked through with them what they’re doing to make a difference in the lives of the people that they represent. And as you said, there will be an important dialogue, starting with Serbia, that will begin to solve some of the remaining problems that still exist, which is very important for both countries so that both countries can move toward European integration.
And then in the broader region, I think that all of the countries in the Balkans have an opportunity to set a real example for the rest of Europe of how you can have integrated societies where ethnic or religious differences are tolerated and permitted to live side-by-side with people making a contribution, no matter who their parents are or what their history might be. And I hope that we will see Kosovo moving toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
The United States does not have a vote in the European Union, but we believe strongly that all the countries of the Balkans should be starting on a path toward European integration, beginning with visa liberalization for people in Kosovo, particularly young people, so that you can travel, study, work, really tell the story of Kosovo beyond your own boundaries.
So although I know the road ahead is challenging, you’ve come such a long way. And what you have overcome and what your parents and your grandparents have had to deal with really puts you in a strong position to build your own country to be a model for yourselves and for others in the region, and then to play an active role in the future in Europe. And that’s what I’m going to commit myself to help you to achieve.
MR. QENA: Madam Secretary, if I can follow up on that issue, part of your visit in Europe and in this region is to speed up, as you said, this process of European integration. But how does one overcome this condition in which Brussels is actually moving away from this integration, from this expansion – with this expansion fatigue? How – what do you see your role in overcoming this? It just seems that, yes, the criteria to get into the EU are strict, but they’ve been overlooked for a few countries. Would you see such a similar situation for this region as well? Is that something that has to happen, or is it being delayed, possibly putting this region at risk again?
Date: 10/13/2010 Description: Secretary Clinton speaks at a town hall meeting/interview at the National and University Library in Pristina, Kosovo, Wednesday Oct.13, 2010. © AP ImageSECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I will be going to Brussels this evening and I will be reporting to my European colleagues what I have seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Serbia and in Kosovo, and how strongly I personally – and as Secretary of State on behalf of my government – feel that the process of European integration is not complete without the Balkans. There must be a united, whole Europe, and it will take time. It does take time to meet all the requirements of the EU. That’s not something you can do a shortcut for. But it is a process that we believe strongly is in Europe’s interest and in the United States’ interest.
Now, in the last few years, because of the economic challenges that Europe and the rest of the world have faced, it’s natural that people would want to catch a breath and to say, “Wait a minute, we have a lot to do. If you were in the EU now, you’d be worried about Greece and some of the other economic issues that the EU has had to deal with.” But I don’t think that’s a permanent position. I think it’s a necessary reaction to the conditions that exist economically today.
Because the whole idea, since the Second World War, that European leaders have had to create a whole, united Europe at peace was a revolutionary idea. I mean, when you think about not just the 20th century, but centuries back, Europe has been the scene of so many wars, so much conflict, so many terrible tragedies. And so after the Second World War, very visionary leaders said we cannot let this happen again, and therefore, we must work to unify Europe. And I do not believe that vision is complete without the Balkans.
So you will find a strong advocate in me, constantly telling my European colleagues and friends that they must continue to reach out. And I think you’ll see Croatia moving; they’ve been on this track for a while. There may well be an invitation at the end of this month to Serbia to begin the process. So I do not think it’s over, although you cannot shortcut it. So patience is a virtue in personal as well as national affairs, but persistence pays off. And the more that Kosovo reforms, the more you are ready to stand in line and say, “I want to be part of Europe, whole, free, united, stable, at peace, prosperous.” The more prepared you are, the faster the time will go.
MR. REPIC: Well, the Kosovars would say that they are prepared. They did whatever Europe, Brussels told them, and the Western world told them. At the same time, they see Serbia moving closer to Brussels despite not fulfilling the criteria, despite not handing in war criminals. So they – do you think that they’re right in feeling that they’ve been neglected?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t. I think that until the International Court of Justice advisory opinion was rendered just a few weeks ago, there were those – not us in the United States – but you know there were those who had some questions about Kosovo’s independence. So I think the clock starts ticking – even though you may feel the pressure to move more quickly, I think the clock starts ticking now. And many of the reforms that you are undertaking – this upcoming election, how it’s conducted – and the chairwoman of the election commission, one of your supreme court judges, is here with us today – everything that you’re doing now will get a lot of attention. And I think that’s really the opportunity for Kosovo to step up and claim your place among nations.
I will continue to work for even more nations to recognize Kosovo. I think we’re up to 70 now, but we want many more. This is a process. I guess my strongest advice is stay the course. Stay on this path that you are on now. Make the changes that you know you must make. Reconcile with one another. Let’s deal with the continuing problems in the north so that your Serbian citizens in the north feel fully integrated. Let’s have the dialogue with Serbia. There’s a list, and I keep checking these things off the list that Kosovo has accomplished. And that strengthens the argument that someone like me can make to the European Union.
MS. REPIC: Thank you. Thank you for these remarks. And now, as you said in the beginning, we have so many people here, young people with – that we have some other with different backgrounds. Let’s now hear the – we – I would like to give the floor to Flander. Flander, audience who wants to say something now.
MS. SYLA: Thanks a lot. Madam Secretary, we have many, many people here who came up with questions tackling many fields of interest. I would like to start it off with something you reminded us once. We were told how it takes a village to raise a child. I would like to ask you now, if only we could be told, what would it take for the grown-up children of Kosovo who turned out into the young Europeans to raise all the villages that would make the statehood of our state?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a wonderful question, Flander, because you are absolutely right that the young people that I’m looking at right now and all whom you represent really hold the keys to the future. And I would offer just some ideas for you to consider. First, demand a lot from your education institutions. You deserve the very best of educations. And I want to have more cooperation between our universities in the United States and your institutions here in Kosovo. I want to have more exchange programs. Some of you may have already been on one of our American exchange programs to study English, to study government. I want that to be more of an opportunity. But I don’t think you should just go to the United States; we should have more exchange programs with Europe and other places in the world so that you can tell the story of Kosovo. Every one of you is a messenger about your country, your village, if you will.
I think young people bear the responsibility for bringing about integration and reconciliation. It is so important that you reach out across the lines between the majority and the minority in Kosovo, and think of creative ways of doing it. You can do it in person, you can do it over the internet, but look for ways to find common ground with your Kosovar and Serbian young people counterparts.
I think there’s an enormous amount of political activity that young people can engage in. I hope every one of you, regardless of your political affiliation, will be active in the upcoming election. It’s very important that you have a voice in the leadership choices of the future, and to be active in not just electoral politics, but civil society. There are so many areas that need your attention. I’m sure there are environmental issues in Kosovo. There are issues about people with disabilities. There are issues that affect human rights. There are many ways to become an active participant to try to improve the lives of the people of Kosovo.
So there are many ideas, but we want to be your partners, we want to work, through our Embassy and through Washington, to assist you in being young leaders. Not everybody will run for office, but every one of you in the media, in business, in academics, in civil society, in the press – every one of you has a role to play and we want to help you find that role so that you can make a contribution to your country’s future.
MS. SYLA: Prior to your visit, we’ve had a webpage and a fanpage in Facebook launched by the embassy with many, many questions. And one of those who posed a question for you is already here, and I would like to pass the mike on to him so that we can hear his question.
QUESTION: My name is Arben Sahiti. My question is that European Union has never been a truly reliable partner for Kosovo and our quest into independence. What is U.S. Government doing to ensure that the upcoming negotiation led by EU will be in line with U.S. foreign policy when it comes to the issue of Kosovo?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are trying to make every consideration possible so that this dialogue will be a dialogue between equals. When the representatives of Kosovo sit with the representatives of Serbia, we want to have an agenda and a framework for the negotiations that will help lead to resolution of any of the remaining issues, like missing persons, for example, internally displaced persons. There’s a lot of issues that are not in the headlines, but are in the daily lives of people.
The United States will play a role in this. We are going to be working with our European colleagues to design the process so that you will have confidence that your views are being heard and respected. And we want to work with our EU partners so that they will be more aware of and sensitive to the needs and concerns of Kosovo.
So I think that we’ve turned a page. The International Court of Justice opinion turned the page. And it was such a resounding decision in favor of your right to declare independence that the doubts people had – because it wasn’t, in the minds of some, as settled as it was in our minds, but now it is. So I think that is the best answer. We start from there and then we build a firmer foundation so that it’s not only the United States which is your strong partner, but the European Union as well.
MS. SYLA: We do have another question over here.
QUESTION: Honorable Secretary of State, thank you for your decision and dedication to listen to our voices. My name is Viza and I come from Farizai, from a city where, on November 23rd, 1999, President Clinton promised to the children of Kosovo that America will stand by them in every step of the way. It was a time there was a big hope for us. Those children now became teenagers and they see around a lot of other children who are still living in poverty, and their main concern is whether their mother will have something to feed them today and whether their fathers will get the jobs.
Well – we see you today here, and all eyes of Kosovo, looking a new hope that you are bringing here. And all hearts are beating with the same rhythm as yours. How can you help us? Will you help us so we could finally get – see the biggest and the brightest and the most beautiful parts of democracy and a new economy? Can the great American nation assist us in our struggle to restore our hope and turn this country to be, for us, worth educating, working, and living for? And what can we do so in the world’s eyes, we can justify better that back in 1999, Kosovo was worth fighting for to justify better the existence of a newborn country called Kosovo, and to justify better that we can be a part of united Europe?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that the United States, as my husband promised, has been your principal partner, supporter, advocate, and champion. The people of the United States have spent many, many millions of dollars in support of Kosovo. But as you well remember, it’s taken 10 years to establish a firm, internationally recognized foundation for the nation of Kosovo. During that time, the leadership and the people of Kosovo have done so much. But there is still a long way to go.
Your economy has made some changes, but not enough. There needs to be still significant reform to open up your economy. There need to be agreements with all of the neighbors, which is what I hope will come from the dialogue with Serbia, so that you will have access to more trade and economic opportunities. Some of the countries, as you know, will not recognize exports from Kosovo because they did not recognize your independence.
So as frustrating as this may be – and especially 10 years in a life is a long time; 10 years in the life of a country is a short time. So we have to reconcile the need to make as much progress as possible to see differences in the daily lives of people, to get more jobs, to get more services, to demonstrate that democracy delivers. And I spoke at length about this with the acting president, with the prime minister, with the mayors, with others whom I have met today. And it’s like the glass is half full – not half empty, half full – but we have to work to fill it all the way up.
And I think that the United States, through our Embassy, through USAID, has provided and will continue to provide economic assistance, assistance for all kinds of programs. And then the people of Kosovo themselves are really starting, in my view, to stand up for yourselves, to take your own future in hand. Any country that comes out of war and conflict has to have time to recover. It’s such a traumatic experience. And you had been through so much. I remember visiting the refugee camps across the border. In fact, I saw somebody today who I saw in the refugee camps when I was there 10 years ago. That’s a very short time, although if you’re a child, it could be your whole life.
So part of our sense of urgency is to help your government, to help your private sector, to help all of your civil society do even more to help yourselves. That’s our goal.
QUESTION: Hello, welcome. My name is Yeta. I run Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. The EU is urging Kosovars to enter dialogue with Serbia as soon as possible —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: — as soon as that practically is possible. On the other hand, is it in the best interest of Kosovars to enter the talks immediately after the elections are over, or is it more of an interest of Kosovars to first improve its position in the north, bring the north under control much more than it is today? Would this improve the Kosovars’ position in the talks to bring the north under the control more than it is today?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can only offer you my opinion, because ultimately, that is a decision for Kosovo to make. My opinion is that the status of the north is resolved. And once that sinks in, that people of the north will have to recognize that they have to integrate into Kosovo, that they must look to Pristina, that there cannot be any longer parallel institutions, that there has to be a commitment to working together as many of the Serbian communities to the south have done.
Therefore, I think it is in Kosovo’s interest to begin the dialogue as soon as possible on issues that are at first perhaps easier, like missing persons. I mean, there is a joint interest in both Serbia and Kosovo to deal with that. But to make it clear that you are having this dialogue about how to work – two countries that border each other – on your relations between the two of you, not on your internal decisions.
At the same time, I do think we have to help you do more in the north to speed the process of integration. And I met with the representatives from Mitrovica today and they recognize that there isn’t any – there’s not going to be any change in status. That decision has been made. The boundaries of Kosovo are set. So what we have to do is work out the best way to integrate the citizens of the north. And perhaps there is more that could be done more quickly, but I don’t think that should delay this dialogue.
You see, from my view, the minute Kosovo and Serbia start this dialogue, you are two nations on an equal basis talking about the kinds of things bordering nations do. The United States meets with Canada all the time about border problems, border issues, environmental problems. We meet with Mexico all the time. So I think it’s in Kosovo’s interest to start this dialogue. And we will work with your government and with the Government of Serbia and the European Union to design it in such a way that everyone accepts the framework of it.
MODERATOR: As we discuss the topic of the dialogue, we have another question.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, it’s an honor to have you amongst us. My name is Engjellushe Morina and I speak for Kosovar Stability Initiative, a think tank based here in Pristina.
I have a question, if I may, and it’s related to your declaration last night in Serbia, your press statement. You said that Serbia will be not just an EU member state, but a leading EU member state. Now, this is a country where right wing extreme groups are alive and kicking. Only a few hours later, the – Serbia’s nationals destructed a football game in Genoa in Italy. A few days earlier, half of the capital was almost demolished to pieces because of the gay parade. This is a country with territorial appetites. Its president went to visit Milorad Dodik in Bosnia during electoral campaign. And I am just wondering, is it not too early to pamper Serbia? Because to be blunt, I just shiver at the thought of Serbia as a loose cannon again. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the idea of Serbia being in the European Union is one of the ways to prevent your fears from being realized. I think integrating Serbia, integrating the Balkans, which has been, as you know better than I, historically the site of a lot of conflict and a lot of extremist activity, is in the interests of the people of the Balkans. And I do hope that Serbia moves toward EU membership and becomes a leading – not the leading, but a leading force for European integration, because then many of these issues that you are alluding to will be taken care of.
Now, I thought it was very important that the Serbian police defended the marchers in the pride parade on Sunday. If you remember some years ago when there was a pride parade in Belgrade, the police did not defend the marchers. This time, they stood for the rights of people in a very vulnerable population to stand up for themselves. That was a big change. In fact, the police were the ones who were injured by the extremist protestors. You cannot, I don’t think, judge what the future will hold until we see it unfold.
There’s no arguing about the past. We know what the past held. But at the same time that President Tadic went to visit Dodik, the Serbian parliament, I think for the first time any parliament in European history, passed a resolution apologizing for Srebrenica and recognizing the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, these steps have to be viewed as positive steps. The reality will demonstrate itself, but certainly we are seeing some very positive moves and statements out of Serbia that we wish to support and commend because we want Serbia to stay on that path. And so you have a choice. I mean, if Serbia remains out of the European Union, not integrated, then the positive trends could be overwhelmed by the negative, by the extremist voices. If Serbia chooses the path of EU membership, I think it’s much better for Serbia and for Kosovo and for the Balkans.
So will the choices immediately end extremist activity at soccer games? I don’t think so. Probably some of the worst activity at soccer games comes from the United Kingdom with their rather rowdy and sometimes crazy soccer fans. But I think what you have to look at is the entire picture, and there are many positive signs. And I believe that it’s important to reinforce those positive signs and to try to move Serbia toward integration, which will be good, in my opinion, for Kosovo and for Serbia.
MODERATOR: Next question.
QUESTION: Okay. Good afternoon. My question for the Secretary of State is: What do you think? Is it the same attitude for Kosovo as it was in administration led by President Bush and now in administration of President Barack Obama?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can only speak for our Administration, and we are very committed to Kosovo. The United States has been committed to Kosovo for 15 – 17 years, a long time now. And we – I think that’s a bipartisan, even nonpartisan commitment. The aid that we’ve provided to Kosovo continued from my husband’s administration to President Bush’s administration to President Obama’s administration. I have a very personal commitment to Kosovo. So maybe that’s something that’s a little more tangible, a little bit more that you can feel, because it’s not just official and formal; it’s personal and emotional. But our government’s policy has remained the same.
MODERATOR: And if we could, another question over here.
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Ardian Hoxha, founder of the American School of Kosova. My question is a little related to Viza’s question, because I also believe that as this whole process is going on and the United States and Eastern – and Western Europe are working towards solving the problems between Serbia and Kosovo that the economies of both countries and the region are going down. And as we know, the unemployment rate in Kosovo is the highest in the region, if not among the highest in the world. When can we, as a people of Kosovo, expect more American investment, more direct investment, not only through supporting different programs, but business? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think there are three answers to that. First, there has to be confidence by American and other investors that the business climate is friendly to business, which means you have to tackle corruption; you have to tackle organized crime, which is a problem in some parts of Kosovo; you have to continue the economic reforms that will lead to a more open economy.
Second, I think we have to do more to generate what are called “small businesses” or “micro-businesses.” I think there are a lot of entrepreneurial people in Kosovo who can’t get access to credit to start or expand their own businesses. So we need to look at ways of helping you find credit for more small businesses. There’s the big business that might come in, but actually, more jobs over the long run are created by many small businesses starting and growing. So I would like the advice of you about how we can do more to help small businesses in Kosovo.
And finally, you need to finish privatizing state industries. I know it’s a debate in your parliament. I know there are some who are worried about privatizing the phone companies, privatizing the electric companies, but it’s been our experience that privatizing companies will open up competition, will provide more jobs over the long run. There are tourist sites in Kosovo that now that we’ve got firmly the independence decision and there’s peace and stability in Kosovo, we can start working to get people to know about.
I think that now is the time that we could be holding investment conferences between Kosovo and investors in the United States. As you know, there are many successful Kosovar and Albanian Americans – every Greek and French restaurant in New York is run by somebody from either Kosovo or Albania, it seems like. Every time I go to one, that’s what they come and tell me. So we need to be looking for successful business people in the United States to help broker understanding and work with businesses here doing business training, mentoring, entrepreneurial activity.
And don’t forget the internet. I mean, the internet can give you a market globally. The internet can put your business, literally, on the world map. And it’s very cheap to do that. When I was a senator from New York, many parts of New York, particularly upstate New York away from New York City, are very poor – high unemployment, not very many businesses. And I worked to put small businesses on the internet because there are ways that you can make more money if you have a bigger market than just in your local village or community.
So we have lots of ideas and we’re ready to share those ideas, but there are certain steps that your government has to take and that your business community must take to break monopolies, open up competition, open up the market, and really let the entrepreneurial energy of the people of Kosovo start making money and putting people to work.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Actually, I just wanted to raise one question about the boundaries. When you say that northern Kosovo, the boundaries are set, we’ve heard from Moscow and more recently from Brussels saying that, well, if the three sides agree upon it, Belgrade and Pristina, well, it’s up to them really. Is that something that is viable, that if Pristina and Belgrade agree on changing the boundaries, that could happen?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that if there are any disputed areas along the boundary, which I’m not aware of so I cannot offer you an opinion on that, but I think that the general boundary is well known; it just has to be accepted.
QUESTION: That’s very clear.
MODERATOR: We are kind of approaching toward the end, so let’s have some kind of conclusions maybe. Is – I mean, is Kosovo on the right track?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think so. But really, it’s more what you think. Do you think Kosovo is on the right track? (Laughter.) Because you’re the ones who have to keep it on that track and kind of power – be the engines to move it along that track. I think you are. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean it’ll happen overnight, despite the fact that you feel very impatient. But you have to build a country and it has to be day by day, step by step. But I think you’re on the right track to do that.
MR. QENA: Before we run off, you made a short stopover in Pristina to see the statue of – (laughter) —
MODERATOR: Do you like it? Do you like it? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to say it’s quite a statue. And my husband – it still looks like he has bronze colored hair, which I like. (Laughter.) Because when I met him – you know we’ve been married as of Monday 35 years, so when I met him when we were in law school, he had very brownish, reddish hair. And the statue reminds me of that, so of course I like the statue. (Laughter.) Nobody should paint it white. Don’t paint it white. Keep it that color. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: Okay. So definitely, I mean, final messages both for the Government of Kosovo, for Serbian leaders, no matter whether they are in the north or southern part of Kosovo, so – and generally for Albanians, Serbs, and other ethnicities, what could be your, like, final and the most important messages?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The United States, starting with my husband, has made a very big bet on your future. We did it despite the naysayers who said you would never get to this point. We did it despite the foot-dragging from others that didn’t want to see you move toward the recognition of your right to claim independence. We did it because we believed that you could build this nation and this better future.
I am optimistic about your future. I hope that you are too, and I hope that particularly the young people will find ways not only to build your own personal future, but to contribute to your nation’s future. The United States will stay with you; we are your partner, we are your friend. We will provide you assistance and support. But the work has to be done here by your government, but most importantly by your people. You have to demand the changes that will make your lives better and the improvements that people will be able to see in their daily lives.
But if you stay on this course, I am confident that you will see results and I am confident that you will be part of Europe, and that as part of Europe your potential is unlimited. So please be as positive and as optimistic about yourselves as my husband and I are about you. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. QENA: We can save a bit on the applause because we just got another five extra minutes. (Laughter.) So if anyone’s got another question —
A PARTICIPANT: One question more, maybe —
MODERATOR: You just saved me, so thank you. I’m going to another question right now.
QUESTION: Dear Madam Secretary, so a pleasure to have you here and I feel I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to meet and discuss with you, particularly because I wanted to say what an incredible role model you are to all the young women and girls, not just in Kosovo but all around the world. Actually, in 2008, I was working as a reporter in New York City for Women’s eNews and I got to cover your race for the presidency with – by focusing on how you were empowering women, young women leaders throughout the U.S. But it’s disheartening to say that that context is completely different from the presence of political leaders in Kosovo, where the lack of – also where the lack of media to utilize the potential to initiate social transformation, there’s a lack of media utilizing that. And that is because a very core and fundamental value of democracy, freedom of expression, is often threatened.
So I would love to hear your views and maybe what your message would be, not to just to journalists and editors, but Kosovar institutions in particular, with regard to freedom of expression, because those institutions are not just responsible for respecting but also for promoting such a core value. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me respond on two points. First on freedom of expression, we are absolutely convinced that freedom of expression is an important value, but it’s also a necessary tool to build a vibrant democracy. So we support greater sources of expression and openness of expression and different voices being heard, not just in politics but in society as well.
But again, I would point you toward the internet. Use the internet for those freedom of expression opportunities, for your voices to be heard. And I would, of course, hope that the government would be very supportive of freedom of expression, because it is one of the core values of any democratic nation.
And my final point is on women. Half the population needs to participate fully for the nation to be as successful as it can be. Women who are able to contribute in business, in academia, in journalism, in government, in civil society, are a real treasure of this country as with any country. So if there are any remaining barriers to women’s participation or empowerment, those need to be slowly but surely removed and need to be part of the reform process that the country goes through. Because I know that there are still some – maybe not legal barriers so much as attitude barriers about what women should or should not do. That’s true in many places. But it is an obstacle to the kind of progress that needs to be made.
So I hope that more and more women like the women leaders that are sitting over there whom I met with earlier, I hope more women, particularly young women, find a way to express themselves and contribute and fulfill leadership roles, because Kosovo needs all of the talent that you can gather in order to deal with the challenges that you face. And I am confident that women will make that contribution.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Very important messages to us.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: It was very glad to have you here, and thank you very much, Madam Secretary.
MR. QENA: It’s been a pleasure, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

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