Posts Tagged ‘Kyrgyzstan’

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

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

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

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

We will never see anything like that from Putin.

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

Hillary Clinton at a Reception for Civil Society Leaders in Moscow

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

Hillary Clinton’s Interview with Moskvy Radio

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

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

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

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

Hillary Clinton’s Reset Meeting with Russian FM Lavrov

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

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

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks On The New START Treaty

The presidential signing took place in Prague in April 2010.

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

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

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

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

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

Our Giant Step Towards a World Free from Nuclear Danger

Video: Secretary Clinton on the New START Treaty

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

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

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

Always keep smiling, even when the struggle is hard!

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

When possible, wear pink.  It weakens resistance.

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

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

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

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

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

Powerhouse Pow-Wow: How to Jumpstart New START

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

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Senate Ratification of New START

Hillary Clinton’s New START: A Happy Beginning

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

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

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

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

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

At this OSCE conference Hillary quotes herself.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the OSCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillary Rodham Clinton

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

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

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

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

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

The entire transcript is here.

Secretary Clinton’s Townterview in Kyrgyzstan


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

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

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


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

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

Hillary Clinton at APEC in Vladivostok

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

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

Hillary Clinton At Signing Ceremony With Russian FM Lavrov

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

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


Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>



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

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

August 28, 2012 by still4hill

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

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

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

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

As I said, it is off-topic, parenthetical, and it is just me.



Read Full Post »

Of course, amid the flurry of activity involved in visiting  two countries in a single day, ministerial meetings, embassy meetings, and a visit to the Manas Transport Center,  Mme. Secretary managed to do a Townterview while in Kyrgyzstan.  She simply amazes me, and just posting her activities is often challenging on a busy day.


Townterview Hosted by KTR


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
KTR Studio
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
December 2, 2010

Date: 12/02/2010 Description: Secretary Clinton holds townterview with students in the Kyrgyz Republic - State Dept Image

MODERATOR 1: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)

MODERATOR 2: Madam Secretary, welcome to Kyrgyzstan. And on behalf of Kyrgyz youth, I would like to thank you for this great opportunity to have this informal meeting. And, here with us, the students of the American University of Central Asia and lots of other universities, representatives of civil society organizations and young professionals, me and my colleagues will be helping you to have this dialogue.

Kaarmanbek Kuluev is the anchor of the TV talk show on the Public TV and Radio in Kyrgyzstan, and Kadyr Toktogulov, he is an AUCA alumnus and correspondent for Dow Jones news wires and Wall Street Journal.

MODERATOR 1: And, sitting next to you, we have Elvira Sarieva, who is the chairperson of the supervisory board for Kyrgyz Public TV and Radio.

MODERATOR 2: And, before we start, I would like to thank the American University in Central Asia, the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, and Public TV and Radio Corporation for organizing this wonderful event. So, let’s start. (Applause.)

MODERATOR 1: This is not your first visit to Kyrgyzstan, and you have been to (inaudible) American University in Central Asia.


MODERATOR 1: Many things have changed through that. Even the students, for example, the alumni is a big one. They’re waiting for you. So how does it feel to be back?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I want to thank you for hosting this. And I want to thank, of course, our embassy and the American University of Central Asia, and the new chancellor. And I particularly want to thank public television and public broadcasting here in Kyrgyzstan. I am a big supporter of public broadcasting, and I appreciate this opportunity. (Applause.)

And it’s very exciting to be back. As you say, I helped to inaugurate the university back in 1997. It’s wonderful to return. The United States is proud to continue to support that university, and support many other important programs in Kyrgyzstan. And there could not be a better time than right now to be here, as you are forming a new government.

The constitutional referendum and the parliamentary elections were widely appreciated around the world. In fact, many people said Kyrgyzstan, in the midst of all of the problems, was able to do elections better than many other countries in other parts of the world. So I think that the people ought to be very proud of that. And the United States will continue to support the government and people. We are very committed to the future of Kyrgyzstan. So it’s wonderful to be back. (Applause.)

MODERATOR 2: Thanks so much. And I guess everybody is interested in both your key message to Kyrgyzstan and you have already met with the President of Kyrgyzstan, Roza Otunbayeva. What did you talk about?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we had an excellent meeting. And we talked about many different things. We talked about the formation of the new government, which, of course, I wish well when that is finally accomplished; the challenges facing Kyrgyzstan, in terms of economic development and opportunity and social and human development and human rights; security and stability. We really talked about a broad range of both challenges and opportunities that are facing your country.

And I think it’s fair to say that the next few years will be critically important to your future, because you are primarily students, and you are going to be able to make a contribution, not only to the improvement of your own lives, but to the improvement of your country.

So, I want to hear firsthand from you what you see happening in Kyrgyzstan, what more the United States can or should do to help to bring about a better future for the people of this country. And I enjoyed greatly my conversation with the president, because there is a great deal of hope and optimism that we have about the future. But even a friend and a partner like the United States wants to be, can only do so much. The hard work is really up to the people. And we want to support that.

MODERATOR 1: Thank you. Now, I think some of us have some questions, and so we will give the floor to students.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, was it difficult to figure out U.S. Administration’s response to April events which ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s always difficult when violence happens, and when government changes occur. But we were ready and willing to help immediately with the humanitarian issue. The results of the violence, the problems that occurred not only in April, but then again in June, where people were killed, where families were displaced, where housing was destroyed, we have provided direct aid.

And we also were quite encouraged when the interim government pledged that it would immediately carry out elections. You don’t see that everywhere. Lots of times, if there is a change in the government, especially if it’s precipitated by or accompanied by violence, you don’t see a commitment to early elections. And I remember very well lots of people around the world were saying, “They can’t have that constitutional referendum in the middle of all of the problems that are going on,” and the president and the people around her said, “No, we have to do it, because we want to prove that we didn’t do it for ourselves, we wanted to turn it over to the democratic process.” So, we were ready with help, and we were pleased at the way that – the reaction from the government and the people had proceeded, and now we stand ready to help the new government.

And there are a couple of very important issues that I think have to be addressed: continuing assistance for people in need, particularly people who have suffered because of the changes over the last month, but really trying to help with greater economic opportunity for all of the people; working on tensions between different groups in society, how do you overcome the suspicion that, unfortunately, exists; bringing to justice those who committed crimes, but doing it in a way that follows the law and the constitution and makes it clear that everyone, no matter who they are, or what they’re accused of, in a democracy, is entitled to due process; working on security and stability so that there can be a strong foundation on which the country can move forward.

So, we have been very encouraged by what we have seen since the events of April and since the violence of June.

MODERATOR 1: Let’s take some questions now.


MODERATOR 1: Please state your name.

QUESTION: Maria Ciskova (ph), American University of Central Asia. Yesterday, during the briefing with media in Kazakhstan, you said that Kyrgyz nation can be proud of their achievements. Although we in Kyrgyzstan do not have the natural resources like oil and gas, what are the achievements that Kyrgyz nation can be proud of? Thanks. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an excellent question. First, the resilience and the determination of the people of Kyrgyzstan over the 20-plus years of your independence, it has been a turbulent time. But there has been a commitment to education, as evidenced by the universities – not just the American University of Central Asia, but the other universities represented here – and, in the last year, the commitment to parliamentary democracy. That doesn’t exist in any other country in Central Asia. And it is something that I think that the people of Kyrgyzstan deserve a lot of credit for.

A parliamentary democracy can help to ease the tensions between different regions of the country and different groups of people, because in a parliamentary democracy – as you have seen with the formation of the government – people have to compromise. Compromise is not a dirty word in a democracy. In a democracy you rarely, if ever, get 100 percent of what you or your group want, because everybody’s interests and needs have to be taken into account.

So, I would say that the strong character of the Kyrgyz people, the incredible resilience that you have shown since independence, but, most importantly, the path of democracy that you have chosen now. This will not be easy. You are pioneers. Look around you in this region. You are trying to do something that no one else has done.

And I also have to say the fact that you have the first woman president of any country in this entire area – (applause) – I loved calling your president “Madam President” today. And, in fact, I announced that the United States will sponsor a conference for women leaders from Central Asia, including Afghanistan, here in Bishkek in May. (Applause.) And we are coming because of your accomplishments.

MODERATOR 1: Madam Secretary, we have a question from this side.


QUESTION: Madam Secretary, my name is Akin (ph), I am from Kyrgyz National (inaudible). And my question is, what is the final decisions of (inaudible) air base in Kyrgyzstan? Thank you.

MODERATOR 1: It’s Manas Air Base (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, the transit center. Well, first, I publicly thank the president, the government, and the people of Kyrgyzstan for hosting this air base. This air base is the central transit point for soldiers from 49 nations going into Afghanistan, not just Americans, but from across the world, from Australia to Denmark and many places in between.

And we have had some serious issues regarding the air base that we have worked to answer and resolve. I publicly said today that we are working to help the Government of Kyrgyzstan set up an organization, transparent, that will be able to provide a significant part of the fuel, and that the funding will go into the Government of Kyrgyzstan.

We are also aware of the investigation that is going on of the oil – the fuel company of the past, and we will await the results of that investigation. Of course, if there is any evidence of wrongdoing, we will work to follow up on that. But we want to be a good partner with Kyrgyzstan.

We think that it’s not only the air base that is important to our partnership; we have a much broader partnership. We have the Peace Corps here in Kyrgyzstan. We have U.S. AID, our Agency for International Development. We have many other partnerships. But we are very grateful that the people have hosted this air base. And I explained to the president that we decided at the meeting in Lisbon, Portugal a few weeks ago, of all the nations participating in Afghanistan, that we will begin to transition to Afghan security starting next year. And the goal is to have the Afghans in charge of their own security by the end of 2014. And then we will look to see if there is any continuing mission that would be of benefit to Kyrgyzstan that would be continued there.

MODERATOR 1: Another question coming from right here.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) Bishkek Humanities University. First of all, I would like to say that it’s a big honor for me to be here, and to talk to the person who has been a role model for me for several years. So my question is to you.

Also, I work in an international nongovernmental organization. I think it’s the biggest nongovernmental organization in the world. So are there any steps being taken to enhance the activity of nongovernmental organizations in Kyrgyzstan (inaudible)? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. And thank you for those kind words. And I am very happy to hear that you are working with a nongovernmental organization. Before I came in I met with some representatives of other nongovernmental organizations. I am a very big believer. I started my career as a young lawyer in a nongovernmental organization. When I got out of law school, I went to work for an organization called the Children’s Defense Fund. And I have worked over many years to promote civil society, which nongovernmental organizations are a part of.

Because, you see, if you look at countries around the world, and you think to yourself, “What are successful countries,” successful economically and politically that benefits the vast majority of their people, you need a good, functioning democratic government. You need a free market economy, properly regulated, that provides economic benefit to its people. And you need a strong, vibrant civil society. It’s like a three-legged stool, in order to be stable.

So, I think civil society has a very important role to play in Kyrgyzstan. And I would promote civil society. The United States, through our aid programs, support many organizations. In fact, universities are part of civil society, and our support for education here in Kyrgyzstan is a part of our commitment to civil society. So I am a very strong supporter, not because I have personal experience, so much as because I think civil society will be very positive for Kyrgyzstan. And it is not only an important part of a stable, democratic society, but it’s also a way for young people often to get experience that they then can take either into government or into the private sector, because you acquire certain skills that will be beneficial to you.

MODERATOR 1: There is a question on this side of the house.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) from American University of Central Asia. We know that the situation in North Korea is getting complicated. And my question concerns the entire world. Will America enforce pressure on military forces? And if yes, is your country ready to deal with China, that has strong ties both with North Korea and America?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a very important question. And North Korea poses an immediate threat to the region around us, particularly to South Korea and Japan. It poses a medium-term threat if it were to collapse to China, because of refugees and other instability. And it poses a long-term threat to the entire world, because of its nuclear program, and its export of weapons around the world.

So, the United States is very concerned about North Korea, and we want to work with the countries in the immediate region – Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States – to change the behavior of the North Korean regime, and to try to begin to move it away from its provocative behavior, like the sinking of the South Korean ship, and the attack on the South Korean island, and its proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, like the recently disclosed uranium enrichment facility.

So, on Monday – I will get back to the United States over the weekend, and on Monday I will hold a meeting with the foreign ministers from South Korea and Japan. I have already spoken to high-ranking Chinese and Russian officials. And we will discuss how we can work together to try to avoid conflict.

South Korea has exercised great restraint. I want you to think – some of you will be the future leaders of Kyrgyzstan. Think if you were in a high-ranking government position, and in the last several months a neighboring country has sunk one of your naval vessels, killing 46 of your sailors, and attacked one of your villages, killing military and civilians, and you have restrained yourself because you don’t want war. So you had not attacked, but you have got to stop that behavior. You cannot permit another country to be attacking your people. If they just continue.

So, we are going to work with our partners in this effort, to try to avoid war, to try to restrain the North Koreans, to try to convince them to give up their nuclear weapons, and to try to show them that there is another way of running a country than what they are doing, which is to the benefit of a very few people, namely the rulers. So it’s very challenging, but we are determined to try to achieve those objectives.

MODERATOR 1: (Inaudible) take one question for – I’m going to ask it myself, actually. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Go right ahead.

MODERATOR 1: So (inaudible) of foreign policy of the United States, the Color Revolution, the Russian media was accusing that the United States was the one who was directing all this Color Revolution in Georgia, Ukraine, and in Kyrgyzstan. And then, as we see, like none of this Color Revolution didn’t bring as (inaudible) a result that it had promised from the beginning.

So, how do you think – I mean, first of all, is that true, that America was directing it? And, second, why this dedication of democracy was failed in the state?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say we did not control or direct any of the Color Revolutions. The United States has always stood for democracy. We have always encouraged people to speak out for human rights. And we were very pleased when the former Soviet Union dissolved, and people were given a chance to go back to their own country, have their own governments, and chart their own futures. But that’s a relatively short period of time in human history, because, remember, it was 1989, 1990, 1991 when all of this happened. So 20 years is not a lot of time for countries to have a stable, functioning democracy.

But I think if you look at all of the countries that came out from under the Soviet Union – Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, all of these countries – they are functioning very well. They are members of the European Union, they have solid democracies, they have free market economies, they respect human rights. I think Georgia has economically developed very well. They have also been – is somebody from Georgia here?

MODERATOR 2: No, just a friend of Georgia.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there is a lot to admire about what Georgia has accomplished. Georgia has accomplished economic growth, Georgia has accomplished some important reforms against corruption. Georgia has some challenges. And, of course, they have a real problem with Russia. They had a war in 2008, and they had lost two of their provinces, which Russia claims are not independent nations that they have recognized. So, Georgia, under very difficult circumstances, has accomplished quite a lot.

Ukraine, after the Orange Revolution, had an opportunity. But I will tell you, one of the problems in Ukraine is that the people in the government could not figure out how to cooperate, and they could not make decisions. And, as a result, they did not produce the kinds of changes that people expected after the Orange Revolution. They have a new government now. Their new president is trying a different approach, because, of course, they neighbor Russia. Russia was quite concerned about the Orange Revolution and about the elections that brought reformers to power. So now the new administration in Ukraine is trying to get along with Russia, Europe, and the United States, everybody. And they are trying to do a balancing act. We will see how it works. Not clear yet how it will work.

Kyrgyzstan, in my view, has a second chance with what you have just done. You had some real difficulties with coming out of the authoritarian regime imposed by the former Soviet Union. And many of the people who have come to power immediately out of the old Communist Party apparatus knew nothing about democracy. You can’t really expect someone whose only experience was in a totalitarian system, a command economy, to automatically understand everything about how complicated democracies are.

So, I think you are off to a good start, but it is just a start. Elections are just the beginning, they’re not the end of the democratic process. So you have a lot of work ahead. And the people have to hold the leaders accountable for getting together to solve problems, because that’s what democracies have to do. So, I hope next year, year after, in 5 and 10 years, we will look back and say that Kyrgyzstan is setting the model for this part of the world. And that’s what I would like to see. (Applause.)

QUESTION: Where does Kyrgyzstan come in – over here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, there you are. (Laughter.)

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

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

So, for example, the United States and Russia have worked to achieve a new treaty to lower the numbers of nuclear weapons. It’s called the New START Treaty, and we’re working hard to get our Senate to approve it right now. We have worked to reign in Iran’s nuclear program. We have worked together to help the situation in Afghanistan. So we have found areas where we can work together. We disagree on Georgia, we disagree on some of the tactics that we have seen Russians use in their relations with other countries. We disagree with their human rights record – terrible problems that journalists have had inside Russia – but we still keep working on having a positive agenda.

MODERATOR 2: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: And let me just add. So when it comes to Kyrgyzstan, we worked together after the events of April and June to try to help stabilize the situation in Kyrgyzstan. We worked together to get the OSCE to set up a police assistance program. So we have found ways to work together. And we hope that will continue.

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

MODERATOR 2: You answered my question.

QUESTION: So, good afternoon. My name is (inaudible), American University of Central Asia. America has really strong domestic policies. So how do you think – what should the new government of the Kyrgyz Republic do to develop a domestic policy of Kyrgyzstan. I mean education and health care. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s got to be at the top of the list of the new government, because democracy has to deliver results for people. So I don’t know enough to comment with much knowledge about what all the policies should be.

But emphasizing education is key, making sure that there is universal access to primary and secondary education, that there are enough university positions for people who are willing to work hard to get their college and university degree, to be able to go and do so, and afford to do so. We are going to continue to support the training of faculty and other kinds of aid for education in Kyrgyzstan.

In health care there are some good models around the world about how to create universal access to health care. And we would certainly encourage the new government to look – see, I hope what the new government does is to look around the world at what has worked – what do you want Kyrgyzstan to look like in 10 years and 20 years and 30 years – and have a plan about how to get there. And then, do the hard work of achieving those goals. Do not get deterred by inter-ethnic fighting or political advantage or all of the stuff that happens that takes your eye off what is really important.

I also think opening up the economy – try to have the freest economy in the region and support entrepreneurs, support small and medium-sized businesses, create a good investment climate, have good laws that govern the mining industry, because you have mineral resources that can help all of the people of Kyrgyzstan. Don’t let people come in and get sweetheart contracts that will benefit only a few, but look to see how the results of taking the minerals out of the ground could benefit the schools and the health of the people of Kyrgyzstan.

So, there are many models. The United Nations can help. The OSCE can help, which Kyrgyzstan is a member of. The United States will help. We really want to see you succeed. So we are ready to provide technical assistance and any other advice and help that you need. (Applause.)

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary Clinton. My name is Elisa (ph), I am from International University of Central Asia. And my question is (inaudible) the government of America that it helped our country from establishing its independence. And my question is if your government grants some financial resources, in your opinion, which areas of business should be supported firstly?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the United States wants to help you fulfill your own goals. So we don’t want to come in and tell you, “This is what you should do.” We will come in and offer suggestions and recommendations.

But I think it’s important to help business on several levels. When I was here in 1997 I supported a program of microfinance. Do you know what that is? Where people are given small loans for their own small businesses, because you want a lot of economic activity, and you want as many people able to make a good living as possible. So, don’t forget small business. That needs to be taken into account.

Then you need good credit programs for medium-sized and larger businesses. So your banks have to be able to offer credit. And how do you set that up so that you have a good banking system? You know, we have had problems with our own banking system, so learn from the mistakes of others. Get a banking system that is well-regulated, but can meet the needs of the people.

You have these minerals that I referred to. How are you going to exploit them without destroying the environment, and without having the benefits only go to a small group of people? So, what laws do you need to make sure that the mining industry is well dispersed?

Agriculture, what’s the best way to improve agricultural productivity? So I would hope that the new government, when it’s established, will consist of people who have expertise, who understand business, who understand economy, who understand agriculture, education, health care. And they will then look around the world to get good advice and help, and you will have strong laws that protect business, so that when people come to do business they are not affected by corruption, they do not feel that their contracts will be dishonored. So there is a lot that can be done that will really begin to provide economic opportunity throughout the whole society. And that’s what I hope you do. (Applause.)

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). And, first of all, welcome to our country.


QUESTION: And here is my question. Now our country is living with tough times, and we should have good relations with other countries, also. And don’t you think that if that tension may arise – if tensions rise between Iran and the United States, then bilateral relations with Iran and Kyrgyzstan may have some impacts? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the United States doesn’t want to dictate who you have relations with. That’s up to Kyrgyzstan to decide. But we want you to go into any relations with your eyes wide open, and make sure that you are getting the best possible advantage that will help the people of Kyrgyzstan.

So, if you are doing business or in other ways involved with Iran, just know that the international community – not just the United States, but the international community, including Russia and China – passed very strong sanctions against Iran to try to convince Iran to avoid pursuing a nuclear weapons program. So, if you do business with Iran, you may run into the sanctions that the international community has placed on Iran.

So, you just have to understand that there is an effort by the higher world to try to convince Iran to be a responsible state, and to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but not for military or weapons purposes. But you are free to have relations with every country, and that is your choice. But just be sure you are going into it fully aware of both the advantages and the disadvantages in any relationship with any other country.

QUESTION: Well, I guess that’s the challenge of Kyrgyzstan, is that we are surrounded by all these neighbors with authoritarian regime, and we are trying to build democracy. And there is (inaudible) relations between the U.S. and Russia. And the media said that (inaudible) happening on the coast of Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Why do they say that? What is the reason for saying that?

QUESTION: Well, I guess – I wish I knew why journalist thinks so. But probably they’re saying it’s because Kyrgyzstan needs support from stronger countries, or at least an understanding of what’s going on in this country. And the statements done by several neighboring countries were not supportive of what’s going on in Kyrgyzstan.


QUESTION: And the fact that you’re making (inaudible) and getting back to (inaudible), it’s – the question is whether you think that that statement was true, that there is – that’s what’s happening on the coast of Kyrgyzstan and –

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to tell you that I do not believe that. And I hope that there is no basis for that, because we think having a positive relationship between Russia and the United States actually helps other countries. Reducing the tension between Russia and the United States creates more space for other countries to pursue their own national interests, because when Russia and the United States are in a tense situation, then each of us is going to try to get advantage with others, to the detriment of either Russia or my country. So, we think that the reset has actually been beneficial, because it’s lowered the tension between us.

Now, I do think that your question, though, has a different emphasis. You’re trying to be a parliamentary democracy. None of your other neighbors is. And it’s also the opinion of many now that parliamentary democracy in Russia has diminished in importance that it is not as democratic as it had once hoped to be. So you are – and, of course, China, another neighbor, is not a parliamentary democracy. So you are trying to do something which is, number one, very hard to start with; and number two, in a neighborhood where it’s never been tried, really, before.

So, are you going to face resentment and criticism from other countries? Probably, which is why I think it’s important for you to have relations with many, but not be dependent on any. Try to balance off all the different relations you have, and get the best help you can from other countries that wish to participate with you. But it’s also why the United States wants to strongly support you, because we think it’s good for Kyrgyzstan, but we also think it’s a good model for Central Asia. And if Kyrgyzstan can figure out how to be a parliamentary democracy, then other countries should also try to figure it out.

So, you’re right, that there is a lot of attention being paid to Kyrgyzstan. And we want to help you develop as strong a democracy as possible, so that you will be able to protect yourself, and develop yourself without pressure or interference from anyone else. And that’s really our goal. (Applause.)

MODERATOR 1: Madam Secretary, I have a question here.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. (Inaudible.) My name is (inaudible). I am a student of – I am a first year law student.

What is the single most important quality that you think will help women lawyers like me to succeed in today’s world? (Laughter.) Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thank you. Good luck to you. Well, first of all, you have to be very well prepared to be a successful lawyer, and that requires what you’re doing now, getting your education. And then, once you are a lawyer, it requires working very, very hard for your client and keeping up with the law. And it also requires writing and speaking well. So, practice your writing and practice your speaking.

And it requires, for a woman, usually in today’s world still, an extra amount of effort because I think it’s – the fact that women are still sometimes judged more critically. If you are in the courtroom or you are presenting a case, it still is a fact – and this is not just in Kyrgyzstan, this is everywhere – that when a man walks into a courtroom it’s rare for someone to say, “Oh, look what he is wearing.” (Laughter.) But if you walk into a courtroom, or any young woman walks into a courtroom, people are going to notice. And that will be an additional requirement that you have to meet.

So, it’s a wonderful profession. I was – I went to law school. I was a law professor, and I was a practicing lawyer. And I very much benefited from having those experiences. And then, of course, when my husband was President, I was First Lady. And then, when I was a Senator from New York, and now as Secretary of State, I use my legal training and my legal background all the time.

So, whether you end up practicing law, or you go into government, or you go into a nongovernmental organization, or you go into business, the legal training you’re acquiring will be helpful to you. So, good luck to you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR 1: People* always touch some personality of Hillary Clinton. We have some – not just silly questions, but (inaudible) –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I’ve never been asked a silly question in my entire life. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR 1: But they’re very short. So –


MODERATOR 1: — very short answer, and –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay, I will try.

MODERATOR 1: Okay. Does Chelsea have political ambition?


MODERATOR 2: Were you scared to come to Bishkek after the explosion?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry, what?

MODERATOR 2: Were you scared to come to Bishkek after the explosion that we had?



SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all.

MODERATOR 1: Okay. Which designers do you prefer?

SECRETARY CLINTON: What designers of clothes?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Would you ever ask a man that question? (Laughter.) (Applause.)

MODERATOR 1: Probably not. Probably not. (Applause.)

MODERATOR 2: How many hours do you sleep?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s my answer.

MODERATOR 1: Yeah, I got it. I got it. That was a tough one.

MODERATOR 2: How many hours do you sleep?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it really depends upon what else is going on. I’ve been kind of busy this week, so I haven’t slept many hours. But I try to get six hours. And then on the weekends, I try to make up for it, because you can’t go too long with too little sleep. It starts to impair your judgment. And so even when I can’t sleep a lot during the week, I try to catch up on the weekends.

MODERATOR 2: Okay. Which is your favorite movie?

SECRETARY CLINTON: My favorite movie? Oh, my gosh. I have seen so many movies over the course of my life. I had different favorite movies at different stages of my life. So when I was younger – much younger than you – (laughter) – I liked the “Wizard of Oz,” with – the classic version with Judy Garland. I loved that movie. I like the classic movie, “Gone with the Wind.” (Applause.)

When I was college, “Casablanca” was a very favorite movie, and, I don’t know, I must have seen it 100 times. I really like the actress Meryl Streep. So I love just about anything she is in, particularly “Out of Africa,” with Robert Redford.

Anyway, I could go on and on. But I like many different movies.

MODERATOR 2: What was the first words of Chelsea?

SECRETARY CLINTON: The first word of Chelsea? Well, “Mommy,” of course. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR 1: What do you read during your long flights?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to read a lot of briefing papers. You see these people that I travel with? They are constantly producing papers that they expect me to read and understand on short notice, and I get piles of it. I read a lot of newspapers, because I have to keep up with what’s going on in the world. But I also like to read for pleasure, so I read mysteries, I read romances. I read things – I try to read at night, even just for a minute before I fall asleep, just to kind of clear my head.

MODERATOR 2: What inspires you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: People who have the courage to stand up for human rights of themselves, and particularly others. That I find very inspiring. Leaders who put the needs of their people and their rights ahead of their own personal benefit.

MODERATOR 1: Where do you go for vacation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I love New York, so I often vacation in New York.

MODERATOR 2: Do you have vacations?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you know what? There was a period of time when I had not had any vacations. But last year my family actually took a vacation, and I highly recommend it. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR 1: Okay. And the last question. When will the American troops withdraw from Afghanistan? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: 2011 is the time to start with the transition, not just Americans, but all of the 49 nations. And then the Afghans will be expected to take charge of their own security by the end of 2014.

MODERATOR 1: We will probably have your aid in telling us that – last question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, there are so many hands. I will have to come back. (Applause.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, my name is (inaudible), I am an American University alumna and film maker. My question is related to education. Would it be possible to improve the number of Peace Corps volunteers coming into Kyrgyz schools, please? (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes. I met some of our Peace Corps volunteers at our embassy meeting just now, and I will look into that. And let me ask you. Is the most important benefit from Peace Corps or other American volunteers the teaching of English?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. And what else are you saying?

QUESTION: Not the only.


QUESTION: What else is the defense of liberty and a stronger sense of identity we get from that sort of teaching. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look into that, and we will see what we can do to try to provide more of that. (Applause.)

QUESTION: Can we please exchange students in America?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Let’s increase exchanges both ways. I would like more Americans to come to Kyrgyzstan, and I would certainly welcome more students from Kyrgyzstan to come to the United States. So we will look at how we can increase that, too. (Applause.)

And what other ideas? Give me some more ideas. Yes, just one more. I know I’m supposed to go, but I really welcome suggestions like that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible), International University of Central Asia. I would like to ask the Secretary a question. What is the strategical significance of having a USA military base in Kyrgyzstan in the next five years? And how do you see that significance changing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the significance of it now is that Kyrgyzstan by hosting the base is assisting the efforts in Afghanistan. And the reason that’s important for Kyrgyzstan is because we do not want terrorism exported to Kyrgyzstan. So this is not only about the 49 countries whose troops go through the air base to Afghanistan, it is about stabilizing Afghanistan so violence and extremism does not get exported from Afghanistan into Central Asia.

So I think there are benefits, not just material benefits but real cooperative benefits that come through Kyrgyzstan. And the future will be up to the Government of Kyrgyzstan once a new government is established.

Thank you all. Thank you. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

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

Meeting With Staff and Their Families of Embassy Tashkent


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meets With Embassy Personnel and Their Families


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read Full Post »

I would  like to point out to the people who are suggesting that Secretary Clinton resign over leaked diplomatic communications,  the majority of which originated in the Bush administration,  that were it not for her intervention with President Otunbayeva shortly after her succession to the presidency, we might well have lost access to this base which is crucial to operations in Afghanistan.   To those who would post cruder messages here, you know who you are, I will not be approving unfounded and derisive comments about this particular patriotic and dedicated woman.  She is my hero, and that is why this blog is here.

Meeting With Troops at Manas Transit Center


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Manas Transit Center, Kyrgyzstan
December 2, 2010

Date: 12/02/2010 Description: Secretary Clinton speaks with troops at the Manas Transit Center in the Kyrgyz Republic. - State Dept Image

COL SONES: How’s everybody doing this evening? (Applause.) For those that aren’t assigned to the transit center, let me introduce myself real quick – Colonel Dwight Sones, Commander here. I have the distinct honor and privilege of introducing a very special guest.

For those of you that may not know, our special guest has spent more than 40 years of her time in service to the public, whether it be as an attorney, as an advocate, as an author, as a first lady, both for the state of Arkansas and also for the United States and a two-time senator from the great state of New York – (applause) – but more importantly, as our Secretary of State. I’d like to introduce Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is great to see all of you here and thanks for letting me come by and say thank you. Colonel, thanks for those kind words and it’s a great opportunity – I can see some Christmas decorations already going up back there – to express to you our appreciation for what you do every single day on behalf of our country. I just had some good visits with the president and other officials of the government here, and then I just had the opportunity to meet with a large group of students and take a lot of questions about the United States, about our policies, about this air base, and to tell the people of Kyrgyzstan that we are going to support them as they try to establish a democratic state.

This has been a challenging year for them, and the United States has been with them, providing humanitarian assistance and other support, and we will continue to do so. They live in a region where there is not very much democracy, as you know. And part of our strong belief is that the United States has demonstrated conclusively that a democratic system that establishes the rule of law, that respects diversity, that gives people a chance to live their dreams, is by far the better system for anybody. It doesn’t matter where your country is or who you are or what your background might be.

And that’s part of the reason why you’re here. I want to thank the men and women of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing. I want to thank all of our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen who are in transit to or from Afghanistan. We greatly appreciate what you’re doing. We think it is of critical benefit to advance the interests and the security of the United States, but also of countries like Kyrgyzstan and this region as well.

In my discussions with the president today, certainly her understanding of the challenges posed by extremists and terrorists brought home for me how what we are doing here has not only benefits for our own people and eventually the people of Afghanistan, but for this region and far beyond. We are committed to helping the people of Afghanistan realize a stable and secure environment in which they themselves can build a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Now, that’s why you’re here. And as President Obama has outlined, you’re not going to be here indefinitely. I made that clear to both the government and the people with whom I met. This is a commitment, but it is not an open-ended commitment. I was in Lisbon, Portugal with the President for the meeting of NATO and ISAF, and he set forth very clearly a transition plan, starting next year in 2011, to transition to Afghan security in those parts of Afghanistan that they can take primary lead control. In fact, it’s fair to say that Afghanistan is providing lead security right now for Kabul, backed up by ISAF forces, but pretty much in the lead. And there are other parts of the country where that will happen during 2011 and that we fully intend to transfer lead security to Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

We now have 49 countries participating in this effort. In fact, I came from Kazakhstan, where they just committed to add advisors and engineers and others to the international forces. And this air base, Manas, is the gateway to our operations. The sheer volume of people and supplies that go through here that all of you handle is remarkable. I got the numbers: up to 3,500 troops every day, over 13 million pounds of cargo each month, 117 million gallons of fuel each year. This is one well-oiled machine that you are operating here. And you are the point of entry and exit for so many of those who are serving in Afghanistan.

We know that you are extraordinary warriors, but you are also extraordinary ambassadors. I got a briefing about some of what you’ve done to help the people of Kyrgyzstan: winter coats handed out in a school in Koi-Tosh; 10 tons of coal delivered to a kindergarten in Grodz so that they can stay open and heated during the winter; more than $4 million in humanitarian assistance that has been provided over the last two years. Whether you helped with one of those projects or in some other way – raising money for children’s heart surgeries or visiting cancer centers, renovating local schools and community centers – you are representing the best that our country has to offer. And it gives me a great deal of pride to be able to say this. Team Manas is absolutely essential. And we thank our locally employed staff who support and serve the transit center operations. They too are making a contribution.

Now, I know that you didn’t get home for Thanksgiving, and I know that for many of you, you will not be with your families during the upcoming holidays and for Christmas and New Year’s. But I want you to know at dinner tables across America on Thanksgiving, including my own, we have a tradition where everybody has to go around and express what they are grateful for from the previous year. And we had about 22 people sitting around the table, pretty crowded. People thanked you, not by name, but because of who you are and your service to our country.

This has been a tough time. As the colonel said, I was representing New York in the United States Senate on 9/11. I understand why we’re going in and out of Afghanistan. I understand the mission. And I fully support it. But I know that you all are at the point of the spear. You’re doing what is necessary to keep this mission going.

But I thank you. I thank you for being part of the greatest military in the history of the world. I thank you for making the sacrifice that your service demands, being far from home and loved ones. I thank you for your bravery, your daily efforts on behalf of all the rest of us so that I can sit around my dinner table on Thanksgiving in freedom and comfort while you stood watch. You will be in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season and so will your families. And I wish each of you Godspeed. Keep each other and yourselves safe as you continue both representing and defending the United States. And I hope that you all get home safely. Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

COL SONES: Madam Secretary, on behalf of the men and women of the transit center and also all the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen that are here in attendance today, we’d like to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to visit us. And we’d like to thank you for your support, your patriotism, and your dedication over the years both for the troops, but also for our nation. And on behalf of everybody here, I’d like to present you with a little memento, a coin that will remind you of the transit center anytime that you look at that.

Read Full Post »

Well I do not know how on earth I missed these three outtakes from Secretary Clinton’s press availability on Thursday in Estonia, but there they were at the State Department website which I had been checking all weekend!

Since it is impossible to have too much Hillary over a Hillary-free weekend, I am posting them even though they are a few days old and the text of this P.A. went up days ago.

Here is Hillary, for your viewing pleasure!

Read Full Post »

There had been a concern that we would lose the right to use that airstrip. Hillary saves the day!

Phone Call With Head of the Provisional Government of People’s Trust (Kyrgyz Republic) Ms. Roza Otunbayeva

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
April 10, 2010

Secretary Clinton spoke to Ms. Roza Otunbayeva to support the efforts of the Kyrgyz administration to resolve peacefully Kyrgyzstan’s current political problems and renew Kyrgyzstan’s path to democracy, economic prosperity and respect for human rights. The Secretary offered continued humanitarian assistance and United States support for Kyrgyz efforts to stabilize their political and economic situation. The Secretary spoke about regional security and the important role Kyrgyzstan plays in hosting the Transit Center at the Manas Airport. Ms. Otunbayeva confirmed the Kyrgyz administration will abide by previous agreements regarding the Center. The Secretary is dispatching Assistant Secretary Robert Blake out to Kyrgyzstan to follow up on her discussion.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: