Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks at Swearing-in Ceremony for U.S. Ambassador to Poland Steve Mull

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
October 24, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have put this off about as long as we could. We’ve dragged our feet, we did some private diplomacy with the Senate saying, “You know, you really don’t want to confirm him.” (Laughter.) But unfortunately, here we are. And it could not be for a more deserving professional – someone who has in every way represented the United States so well for so many years. And I’m delighted that Steve’s wife, Cheri, and his son Ryan, and his extended family can be here because we know that behind all that hard work, Steve, were a lot of people cheering you on and supporting you as you undertook your various assignments. And to Poland’s new ambassador, we welcome you, and I can say I welcome you to the neighborhood. And we look forward to working with you.

I am a little concerned about one thing that has been making the rounds of the State Department. Ryan is by all accounts pretty tech-savvy – (laughter) – and when we saw a recently Photoshopped depiction of Steve’s head on Captain America’s body, we at first were hardly affected because that is how we think about Steve. The superhero Executive Secretary – and Captain America has nothing on you, Steve.

But think about it: Forty-nine trips. One hundred and one countries. Five thousand memos and documents last year alone, which he made me read. Spur-of-the-moment missions to far-flung places around the world. And yet Steve, at least in my experience with him, never broke a sweat. Okay, we need to leave tomorrow. We have to clear the following a hundred obstacles, we have to get then to a next place that is about 20,000 miles away. No worry. No worry.  It just always got done. And it was just another day’s work for Captain America. (Laughter.) And I know that because Steve was running a tremendous operation, it was easier for everyone in the building to do the jobs we were expected to do.

But that was just the day-to-day. Then crises would erupt. And they have occurred, unfortunately, all too frequently. Steve was always the first to spring into action, standing up task forces, managing rapid response personnel. Whether it was after the earthquake in Haiti, the terrible natural and nuclear crisis in Japan, or, most recently, the awful assault on our post in Benghazi and other diplomatic posts that were threatened, we never doubted we’d get the best response, the most professional response because of Steve’s leadership and hard work.

Now he learned that, I’m told, from his parents, who themselves have worked hard all of your lives. And no one comes here on his or her own. You are here because you were someone who wanted to make a difference in the world and instilled with values that have stayed with you to this day. And I’m sure that when you were a young Foreign Service Officer stationed in Warsaw, and you were literally carrying messages from President Reagan to Lech Walesa, you were someone who remembered where you came from and where you hoped the Polish people would be going, the opportunities that they would have, ending oppression and tyranny, and making clear the United States would be their partner and friend.

Now, full disclosure: a long time ago when Steve was much younger and I had a different hairstyle – (laughter) – I visited Poland as First Lady. Steve Mull was my Control Officer –  (laughter)  –  showing me around the country with a deep understanding of how far things had come, but also what challenges lay ahead. And during his prior service and in the years since, he has built a deep connection with Poland and with the Polish people. He has been a champion and advocate of their freedom and the future that they are so successfully charting for themselves.

And as sorry as we are – and you heard Cheryl really speak on behalf of all of us — to see Steve go, we cannot think of a better person to represent the United States at this point in our relationship with Poland. We have a lot of work to do on everything from energy diversification to missile defense to democracy promotion to security in Afghanistan. So Steve was there seeing firsthand Poland emerge from Soviet domination and grow into a model of a young democracy, a vital free market economy, a leader on the global stage. And I’m thrilled that he’ll be going back to continue building that essential relationship. So if you are ready, Steve, I am now ready to swear you in. (Laughter and applause.)

(Whereupon, Steve Mull was sworn in as Ambassador to Poland.)

Congratulations. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR MULL: Well, thank you all for coming. My voice is, unfortunately, broken, so my son Ryan has agreed to read my comments for you. So Ryan, over to you. (Laughter and applause.)

MR. MULL: Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Schnepf, and beloved family, friends, and colleagues. Today is a dream come true. And I am so happy to be able to celebrate it with the people who mean so much to me. I especially want to thank you, Secretary Clinton – laughter – for your support for this job, for the extraordinary honor of swearing me in today with such kind words, and for the amazing opportunity to serve on your team these last few years.

Your leadership of and loyalty to this institution and its people have enriched us beyond measure. And I know I speak for all of us with these three heartfelt words: Please don’t go. (Laughter and applause.)

Poland has been such an important part of Cheri’s and my life over the years. That’s where we spent the first years of our marriage in the 1980s and that’s where, in 1995, we became parents of our son, Ryan – (laughter) – of whom we are so proud. (Applause.)

We have only the happiest memories of this amazing land and its people. A people who know and live every day the true values of freedom, loyalty, and friendship. When Cheri and I left Poland the first time in 1986, no one – least of all me – would have predicted that someday I would return as ambassador. Just before our departure, Poland’s communist government accused me of running a NATO spy ring, probably as a means of embarrassing my contacts in Poland’s democratic community.

It was a difficult time for my family. My hometown newspaper that day led with a banner headline reading: Local Man Accused of Spying. (Laughter.) When my mother was in line at the local supermarket, the shopper in front of her gestured angrily at the newspaper and said, “Look at that. That boy should be shot.” (Laughter.)  “Hey,” my mother yelled out. “That boy’s my son, and I’ll shoot you if you don’t watch out.” (Laughter and applause.)

In the 23 years since it regained independence, Poland has proven itself as an unshakable ally of the United States standing shoulder to shoulder with us on the front lines from Iraq to Afghanistan, shining the light of democracy on those dark corners of the world that have not yet won their freedom, and volunteering to be among the first in helping the NATO alliance defend against the threat of ballistic missiles.

While our ties of blood and common values have endured for centuries, I am convinced the greatest rewards of America’s friendship with Poland are yet to come. As Ambassador in Warsaw, I will work hard to build new friendships between Americans and Poles in academia, business, culture, and diplomacy. Together, we will tighten our cooperation to expand opportunities for energy independence, drawing on the vast reservoirs of talent and innovation that our people possess. We will expand and intensify our two-way trade and investment bringing economic benefits to us both. And we will work even harder to promote democratic values and respect for basic human rights in parts of the world that are still shaking off the bonds of oppression, even as we rededicate ourselves to the principles of justice and fair play in our own societies.

Madam Secretary, I pledge to pursue this agenda with all the tools that you’ve given us through the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. I’ve got a head start on engaging with the Polish people on a more personal level, by opening a Twitter account just a few weeks ago. (Laughter.) One of my first tweets asks about what bike paths are like in Warsaw these days. A few days later, I asked what beers are now the most popular. One of my newfound followers was skeptical. “Wait a minute,” he said. “This ambassador is going to be riding around our country on a bicycle drinking beer?” (Laughter.) “He must be a fake.”

Before we finish, I want to say a special thanks to those who made today possible, including the extraordinary Sharon Hardy and Heather Samuelson and our terrific colleagues in the Bureau for Legislative Affairs, Josh Blumenfeld and Rob Fallon, all of whom worked together to pilot through this nomination in almost record time. I want to thank my outstanding team of colleagues in the Executive Secretariat, including Pam Quanrud, Julieta Noyes, Ted Allegra, Tuli Mushingi, Paco Palmieri, and Marcella Hembry, Darlene Namahoe, Diane McBride, Nancy Walker, Robin Hartle, and Ned Filipovic for being such rocks of support.

Thanks also to my new colleagues in the European Bureau, including Mike Morrow, Kate McGeary, Mara Vento, and Eleanor Chamberlin, all of whom have been enormously helpful in preparing for this assignment. A special thanks to John Dowd for his selfless and decisive friendship over the years. And to my Friday lunch crew, Ruth, Rich, Liz, and Dick, your laughs and support were enough to power me through every crisis. You don’t know the half of how much I will miss you.

I also want to take a moment to recognize two very special colleagues who have had such an enormous impact on me over the past years: Deputy Secretary Bill Burns is already so well-known as the most gifted, professional American diplomat of our generation. And working with him closely over the past four years has benefited me in ways I realize every day on the job. And then there’s Counselor Cheryl Mills, who inspired me every day with her razor sharp mind, unshakable commitment to justice, and amazing fighting spirit. If you’re ever in a fight, you need to make sure Cheryl is on your side . (Laughter.) Cheryl, thank you for making today possible.

I also want to mention the people who mean so much who are not here with us – my high school teacher Mrs. Jess Cwiklinski, the daughter of Polish immigrants herself, whose health did not allow her to travel today; my friend Peter Gazda, who fled Poland with his wife Kasia in the 1980s when their friendship with Cheri and me brought the communist secret police to their door. Peter tragically passed away much too early three years ago, but I am so glad that his wife Kasia and son Michael can be here with us today from Toronto. Ambassador Nick Rey, who also was taken from us too early three years ago, was such an influential mentor and friend for me when we worked together in Poland in the ’90s, and I am so glad his beloved wife Lisa can be here with us today. And finally, my stepfather Frank Spracklin, whom we lost just over a year ago. He would be so proud to be here today to hold your hand, mom, and to give us all hugs.

And finally, a word of thanks to the two people who bring all meaning to my life, Ryan – (laughter) – you grew up too fast – (laughter) – and I’ll miss you so much – (laughter) – as you get ready to move away to college. But don’t forget, it will be just as easy to harass you about finishing your homework from Poland – (laughter) – as it is in the dining room. And to my beautiful bride Cheri, who vowed to her parents after growing up in the Foreign Service that when she was an adult, she would never move again – (laughter) – forgive me for making you break that vow once again. I will be waiting for you in Poland with a heart full of love and open arms, so grateful that you said yes.

Thank you all for coming to share this day with us. As the Poles say, “May you all live 100 years.” Thank you.  (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks in Honor of Poland’s National Day

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Polish Ambassador’s Residence
Washington, DC
April 25, 2012

Well, this is kind of the equivalent of a block party – (laughter) – held for a very good and auspicious reason, to not only celebrate the formal opening of this new residence for the ambassador from Poland to the United States, but also to mark the – Poland’s Constitution Day, a little bit early but a good occasion to do so. And so Ambassador, we are very grateful to be your guests here this evening. And I, too, shared the excitement about the President’s announcement regarding Jan Karski and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What a fitting tribute and a great way of acknowledging the contributions of a very special man.I’m also looking forward to welcoming my counterpart, Minister Sikorski, who could not be with us tonight, but I also heard from him, along with your president, to the NATO summit in Chicago, which has the distinction, as you’re well aware, of being the second-largest Polish city in the world. So we will be especially pleased to have the leaders of a dynamic, democratic, free, prosperous, increasingly significant Poland in Chicago. And I’m sure there’ll be opportunity for some interactions with the Polish-American community.

I want to make just three serious points. As the ambassador said, our quest for freedom goes back together to the late 18th century. We, of course, were fortunate in being able to not only seek but establish our freedom at an early time so that we now are the oldest continuous democracy in the world. Poland’s history was much more challenging over the course of the succeeding years, and that is why it is especially fitting and so satisfying to see Poland today, to see the extraordinary progress that the Polish people have made, to see their resilience rewarded. The diplomatic relations between our two countries stretches back nearly a century, but the ties between Polish and American people go back much, much further.

Today, we are close allies, working together on everything from defense to sustainable energy to innovation to information technology. And Poland does play a critical role, not only within Europe and the Euro-Atlantic alliance, but globally in helping us address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. And we continue to cherish our person-to-person ties, the great connections of family and friendship, culture, history, ideals, and values that truly binds us together.

So I am delighted to be among the many here tonight who are not only congratulating you on surviving the real estate issues incumbent upon renovating an old house – (laughter) – dealing with contractors. You’ve survived that. You can survive whatever your next assignment might be, Ambassador. (Laughter.) But also to acknowledge in front of Polish media and so many friends of Poland, how highly we value this relationship, how much we look to Polish leadership, not only in diplomacy, but in economic matters, in cultural and other issues and to look forward to the next century of our close ties and working relationship.

We are very much looking forward to our trip to Chicago, to the exchange of ideas, and the charting of the path forward for NATO. Poland is one of the critical members of NATO, the most successful alliance in the history of the world. Poland has stood with us in Afghanistan. Polish soldiers have sacrificed their lives. We really rely – we rely on Poland. And I am just one of the many people in the Obama Administration who are grateful for the leadership that we see coming from Poland in Europe, and that we expect to see helping so many places as they struggle to realize democracy.

Poland ended, just a few months ago, its chair – its presidency of the European Union. And during that presidency, the Arab Awakening occurred. And it was quite touching to me that in speaking with many of the activists from Egypt to Libya to Tunisia to beyond about what they needed to understand the path ahead of them, they were very grateful for the example and the support of the United States. But they were particularly interested in working with countries like yours that had been, in the recent years, able to achieve the solidarity necessary to chart their own course. They wanted to hear from Polish activists, Polish lawmakers, Polish diplomats, Polish businesspeople. And that was a great vote of validation to what you have achieved.

So it may not have worked at the end of the 18th century, but in the 21st century, the future and potential of Poland, in my view, is limitless. So welcome to the neighborhood. I will reciprocate your offer if you need, it would seem, probably, a bushel of sugar. (Laughter.) Just come on over. I’ll do the best I can. We’ll take up a collection along the street. (Laughter.) But we are very proud to have you representing your great country here in this neighborhood, here in this city, and here working with us side by side for the kind of future we both seek. Thank you, Ambassador. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks With Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 7, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, hello, everyone. And it’s a delight once again to see my counterpart and friend, and to welcome Minister Sikorski here to the State Department. Poland is a very good friend and a trusted ally. We have deep historical and cultural ties that we cherish. Poland has just completed its tenure as the president of the European Union, where, once again, it demonstrated its leadership. It’s a model and a mentor for emerging democracies; a force for peace, progress, and prosperity around the globe. And the foreign minister and I had a great deal to talk about, but these conversations will continue in our Strategic Dialogue among our officials later this week.I just want to touch on a few highlights. Before I begin, let me once again offer our sincere condolences on behalf of the United States for Saturday’s tragic rail accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones who lost their lives. And as we have already offered, we stand ready to assist in any way.

We are also deeply concerned about the people of Syria, who continue to endure a brutal and relentless assault at the hands of the Assad regime. The minister and I discussed the latest developments, and I expressed our deep appreciation for Poland’s diplomatic role representing the United States in Damascus. And I want especially, Minister, to express our appreciation for the personal efforts of your ambassador in assisting U.S. citizens.

The regime’s refusal to allow humanitarian workers to help feed the hungry, tend to the injured, bury the dead marks a new low. Tons of food and medicine are standing by while more civilians die and the regime launches new assaults. This is unacceptable, and we agree completely with the great majority of the international community. The regime must, as it promised last November, withdraw its forces, release political prisoners, permit peaceful protests, and allow international journalists to do their job, which is to tell the truth.

Through the Friends of the Syrian People group and other avenues, we are working to increase our pressure on the regime to end its attacks on civilians and to allow humanitarian access everywhere, as well as for it to meet its commitments under the Arab League Plan. It is past time for all Syrians to break with Assad and stand against this bloodshed and for a better future. It is also past time for those nations that continue to arm and support the regime to bring an end to the bloodshed. We urge all nations to work together to support the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.

Given its own history, Poland understands better than many how important and difficult it is to stand up to tyranny. Poles remember the difficult choices they had to make, and they value their hard-won freedom. And I want to applaud the leadership of Poland during this tumultuous last year. They’ve shared their experience and their wisdom with representatives from many countries that are struggling on the path toward democracy. And I want also to acknowledge that through the leadership of Poland at the Community of Democracies, they have provided tangible support for civil society, connecting activists and officials with veterans of previous transitions. We will continue to work closely with Poland to see what more we can do.

We also discussed a wide range of common concerns from Iran to Belarus. We are working closely with Poland on many security matters. And once again, let me thank the Polish people, and particularly their troops serving in Afghanistan, for their service and sacrifice. We also agree that the new missile interceptor that Poland will host, as well as a new American aviation detachment to be stationed in Poland, will be cornerstones of our mutual security commitments. And we look forward to the Chicago summit.

So we covered a lot of ground, and I thank you for your leadership and your thoughtful analysis of the issues before us, Minister, and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: Thank you. Thank you, Hillary for those words and for having me here. Always a pleasure. And I hope next time we’ll see each other in Warsaw. Thank you for the condolences. Likewise, we regret the death of the American journalist Marie Colvin, and I am pleased that our diplomats were able to be helpful in taking her body out of Syria.

I agree with you that the democratization agenda is something that Poland and the United States can most effectively and fruitfully do together, because promotion of democracy is something that both of our nations feel in their bones. It’s not our policy, it’s what we are. And we are doing it in both the southern and the eastern neighborhood of the European Union.

As you mentioned, we discussed Belarus, and we’ve drawn plans to collaborate even more closely on monitoring developments in Belarus. We are also following the development of the situation in the Ukraine very closely. And we hope that Ukraine creates political conditions for a bigger and more intimate relationship with Europe and the West as a whole.

We’re coming up to the Chicago NATO summit, and we’ve exchanged ideas on smart defense and on what we can do together to maintain the security of Europe even while the United States cuts its defense budget and cuts its troops – troop commitment to Europe. And there are things that we can usefully do like activating the NATO response force and exercising in Poland. And we are looking forward to your air detachment coming for the first time to Poland on a permanent basis later this year.

We also have a great deal of business in common, and we are looking forward to the Polish American business summit. And it’s not just the energy field; there are other fields where more can be done. And of course, we follow the recent election and the future of our relations with Russia, an important neighbor of Poland’s.

So again, thank you for a good conversation which shows that our alliance is strong and has a great future.

MODERATOR: We’ll take two questions from the American side and two questions from the Polish side today. We’ll start with Scott Stearns at VOA.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Vladimir Putin looks to be returning to the presidency. You had some critical comments about the first round of voting. Can you tell us what you thought about the second round of voting in Russia and any hopes that the completion of that process might lead to some movement on Russia’s position regarding Syria?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think as the OSCE made clear, there were a number of concerns about this latest electoral process that should be investigated and addressed. And we also remain concerned about the arrests of peaceful protesters, which occurred again on Monday. But the election had a clear winner and we are ready to work with President-elect Putin as he is sworn in and assumes the responsibilities of the presidency.

We are going to be looking for ways to enhance cooperation on a range of difficult issues. You mentioned one of them, Syria. I talked with Foreign Minister Lavrov yesterday; I will be seeing him in New York on Monday. We continue to believe that Russia should join the international community and play a positive role in trying to end the bloodshed and help create the conditions for a peaceful democratic transition. And we will continue to speak out where we think appropriate, because as Radek said, this is not what we do, it’s who we are. We believe in democracy, we believe in human rights, we believe in the values that should underpin any great society in the 21st century, and that means for us that we recognize there has to be a lot of internal dialogue within Russia going forward so that the Russian people’s aspirations can be fully realized as well.

MODERATOR: Marcin Firlej from Polish Public TV.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Minister Sikorski, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the main topic of your discussion, but President Barack Obama in 2010, during official trip of President Bronislaw Komorowski to Washington, promised to include Poland into Visa Waiver Program by the end of his presidency. I would like to ask, what concrete steps have you taken to fulfill this promise? And Madam Secretary, can you assure Poles that they will be able to travel to the United States without visas by the end of this year?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say we know this is an issue of tremendous importance to the Polish people, but it’s also very important to the American people because of our close ties and the many family relations. Later this year, the minister and I will be joining our presidents in Chicago, which I think has the largest Polish population outside Warsaw in the world.

So this is a matter of great concern and commitment. And as you rightly said, President Obama has expressed his support for the pending legislation in the Congress that would create broader participation in the Visa Waiver Program. We are working very hard with Congress to try to get that legislation through. I will be very honest with you. We have strong support and we have strong opposition, and so we need to work together to redouble our efforts. And we have to make sure that Poland can do more right now to move toward what the existing standards are, and then hopefully, if the legislation is passed, to be able to get in position and take advantage of it, including an agreement on data sharing, which we have with 20 other EU countries.

So I know the President pledged that this would be done before the end of his presidency, and probably that will be a little longer than the end of this year. But we are going to continue to work very hard to see that it is accomplished.

MODERATOR: CNN, Elise Labott, please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. You talked about Syria and increasing the pressure on the regime. Beyond just increasing the pressure, can you talk about tangible ways that you’re working on to help the opposition? Specifically, Secretary Panetta had just told a congressional panel that you’re looking to provide technical assistance and humanitarian assistance. If you could flesh that out a little bit? And there has been a call by many senators to arm the opposition and get militarily involved. I’m wondering if you could – do you feel a lot of pressure on the Hill to do that? And if you could speak to whether you feel that that’s in the offing. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Elise, we have pressure coming from all directions, not only one direction. But what we’re trying to do, and I think the President was very clear on that in his press conference yesterday, is to do everything we can to support the opposition, which is not yet as unified and focused either inside or outside Syria as we hope it could become.

We are working to build a stronger international coalition of support for taking action on the humanitarian level, on the political transition that needs to come in Syria. And we believe that it is a matter of time – we can’t put an exact timeframe on when – but we think that Assad and his regime will not be able to survive. So we do think it’s appropriate to help the opposition, but where we’re focused on is how we help them be more unified, communicate more clearly, have a message to all their Syrian counterparts who are not yet convinced that it’s in their interests for Assad to go. And I think that it’s – we recognize it’s a challenging situation. But I don’t know that it’s useful for me to go into any greater detail than what the President said yesterday and what Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey are testifying to publicly today.

MODERATOR: The last question is for —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Can Minister Sikorski say something?

FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: Just at the end, I’d like to give a couple of sentences in Polish.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. Good, good, good. Okay.

MODERATOR: So the last question for (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, there are opinions that after recent Vladimir Putin’s win in the Russian presidential elections, Russia might even harden its line on anti-missile – American anti-missile defense in Europe. Would the United States be willing to make any concessions to accommodate possible Russian concerns in this matter?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have been very clear that missile defense is a matter for NATO. NATO has made a decision. We believe that it is in all of our interest to carry forward and implement that decision. Poland, as you know, was the first country to commit to hosting an element of the European missile defense architecture. It was the first to bring into force a basing agreement. Poland’s support for the Phased Adaptive Approach is a strong pillar within the NATO collective security commitment, and we are going full speed ahead. We have every intention and we’ve taken every action to demonstrate our seriousness.

Now, we’ve also made it clear that we would love to cooperate on missile defense against mutual threats with Russia. That is not only a U.S. position, that is also through NATO that we have sought to discuss this at the NATO-Russia Council. Thus far, we’ve not seen a lot of movement, but we are going to continue to press that with the Russians and hope that there will be an agreement at some point that could be in both of our interests. But Russia has no veto over what we do in NATO. Our commitment is to our NATO allies, to our Article 5 collective security obligations, and missile defense is an integral part of that.

And then I think Radek wants to also say a few words in Polish.

FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: (In Polish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Remarks With Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski Before Their Meeting


Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 3, 2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good morning. And it is such a pleasure for me to welcome not only a colleague, but someone who has become a friend over the last years and whose opinion I value greatly on not just matters related to Poland and Europe, but indeed global issues as well. I look forward to a productive meeting and the opportunity to reaffirm the absolutely unbreakable friendship and alliance between the United States and Poland.

We have a full agenda that will concentrate on three essential areas: building our mutual security, expanding prosperity, and promoting democracy. On security, we will discuss America’s unwavering Article 5 commitment to Poland and to all NATO allies. As was announced by our two presidents in December, we plan to establish a new permanent U.S. air detachment in Poland, build missile defenses in Poland, and as agreed at the NATO summit, develop a contingency plan in the region. And I want to thank Poland and in particular the minister for the very strong contributions that you have made to the fight against extremism in Afghanistan.

As we grow our military partnership, we continue to expand economic ties between the Polish and American people, particularly in the area of energy. Yesterday, our two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in developing clean and efficient energy technologies. This and other energy initiatives will expand economic opportunities for both our people and the Polish people and reduce Poland’s and Europe’s dependence on any one source of energy.

Since the days of the Gdansk Shipyards and Solidarity, the Polish people have known that no country can be fully secure and prosperous unless its people have a voice in their own affairs. And in just two decades, Poland has built a transparent and representative government with a vital vibrant civil society. And in fact, Minister, Poland serves as a model for others to learn from. Government officials and civil rights activists from Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere have visited to learn firsthand about your inspiring transition to democracy.

I also greatly appreciate Poland’s partnership in reaching out to the people of Belarus, including holding a donors conference for civil society organizations there. And I look forward to supplementing our strategic dialogue with a democracy dialogue, which will further our cooperation in supporting emerging democracies around the world. Poland’s example becomes only more important as more people demand that their voices be heard.

So we look forward to growing our security cooperation, creating more economic opportunities, and keeping our longstanding friendship and our devotion to democracy forever vibrant.

So thank you again, Minister Sikorski, for being here with me. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: Thank you, Madam Secretary, for those kind words about my country. Thank you for the invitation and for your personal engagement in Polish-American relations. I feel that it is fitting that our meeting is taking place on the eve of Poland taking over the EU presidency. Our goal is that our tenure make Europe stronger. Poland weathered the economic crisis better than any of our European neighbors and counterparts. We are committed to making Europe’s recovery both timely and successful. Cooperation with the United States is a part of that mission.

The meeting that we are having today is being held during a crucial moment for the Middle East and the North African region. We Poles, as you mentioned, know something about starting democratic change, and I’m very glad that we together, at the Community of Democracies last year, showed that we care about this agenda and we anticipated it. I am convinced that Europe and the United States have a role to play in that ongoing struggle.

We are on the side of ordinary citizens who want to control their lives and who are at last demanding their rights.

The EU and the United States are responsible not only for EU’s southern but also for its eastern neighborhood, and this is demonstrated by Poland’s and the United States’ unified response to the rigged elections in Belarus. And I wanted to thank you for synchronizing your position with the EU and for your strong presence at the Solidarity with Belarus Conference.

I endorse every word that the Secretary of State has said. I look forward to our discussions. If I may say just one sentence in Polish for our press.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Or more than one sentence.

FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: (In Polish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

 

Read Full Post »

This was the beginning of an unbelievable time for people like me and Hillary who grew up during the Cold War.

30th Anniversary of the Polish Solidarity Movement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 30, 2010

When the brave men and women of the Gdansk shipyards stood up against an oppressive regime and demanded their right to form an independent trade union 30 years ago, their courage gave birth to Solidarity. What started as a union of workers became an extraordinary social movement for individual liberty, dignity, and human rights that ignited a democratic revolution. Solidarity’s uncontainable messages of hope and freedom in Poland spread throughout Central Europe and helped speed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
We honor those who stood against tyranny 30 years ago and all who followed in their wake. The heroes of Solidarity knew that the Polish people desired and deserved more from their country, and they laid the foundation for the Poland we see today. Thanks to their valor and their commitment to liberty, Poland is now a key NATO ally, a thriving democracy, and a beacon of hope to many who still suffer oppression. Poland is a leading voice in the Community of Democracies and a valued partner with the United States to advance our shared goals of freedom and human dignity. Poland’s work promoting stability, security, and prosperity in Afghanistan is further evidence of this strong commitment. We thank the people of Poland for your partnership and honor your historic dedication to liberty. On behalf of the people of the United States, I send my warmest regards to the Polish people as you commemorate the 30th anniversary of the birth of the Solidarity movement.

Read Full Post »

Interview With TVP’s Tomasz Lis

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
City Hall
Krakow, Poland
July 3, 2010

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, it is one-and-a-half years since President Obama took office, and it is one-and-a-half years since you took the office of the Secretary of State. How, in this period of time, do you redefine the U.S. attitude toward the international community? And how has the attitude of the international community toward the U.S. changed, as you can experience this — experienced this firsthand (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that what we have tried to do is reestablish America’s leadership by demonstrating that we intend to live by our own values, to try to live up to our own ideals, to engage with countries, whether we agree with them or not, to see whether there are ways we can promote peace and prosperity, democracy, and freedom, and to deepen our relations with friends and allies, like Poland.

It has been a very intense year-and-a-half. But there are many examples of where we think we have begun to create new understandings and partnerships around specific issues. And I think here in Poland, where we have always had a very strong, close relationship by culture, by values, by family ties and so much else, we have recommitted ourselves to Poland’s defense and security. But we are also looking to expand that. So we are looking to see how we can help Poland become more energy independent, to develop its own resources — like shale gas, for example — and to work closely with Poland in a leadership role on behalf of democracy, which is why I’m here in Krakow, to attend the Communities of Democracy, which is a joint Polish-American initiative going back 10 years.

QUESTION: You just gave an expression, “friends and allies like Poland.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: Right before the Iraqi War and after the war, President Bush very often talked about strategic alliance, which was, I guess, too optimistic, from our perspective. In the last years, actually, many people started to think that we are not strategic ally of the U.S., actually we are sort of not so important partner. What is your assessment of the state of the relationship between our two countries?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s very strong. And speaking not only for myself but for the Obama Administration, we certainly view Poland as a strategic ally. Polish soldiers have fought alongside Americans in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan. Poland has been at the forefront of what we have attempted to do in NATO to create a missile defense security system to protect against short and medium-range missiles from countries like Iran. Poland has been a close ally in our consultation, as we try to “reset the relationship with Russia,” and Poland has shown some very committed efforts to do so itself, especially since the tragedy of April 10th.

We view Poland as a leader in Europe, as a country with regional and global significance. And, as I made clear today in my meeting with Foreign Minister Sikorski, we think that the future holds even greater promise for that relationship.

QUESTION: And how would you respond to people in Poland who say — and there are a lot of them — that for quite a long time America took us for granted. As you mentioned, we are in Afghanistan, we were in Iraq. And very often “our leaders do it for a handshake or for the opportunity in the White House.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, certainly that’s not the way that I see it in this Administration. I can’t really speak for what might have come before. But, from our perspective — take the missile defense issue. I know there were many people in Poland who were skeptical when the Obama Administration came in and said we want to change what we are doing, we want to move toward what we call a phased adaptive approach. But now that it’s been analyzed, even as Foreign Minister Sikorski, who was skeptical, said in a press conference, this is so much better for Poland.

So, in effect, what the Obama Administration did was more supportive of Poland’s defense. We are, as you know, working on increasing our security cooperation with the patriot batteries, with very significant deliveries of F-16s, C-130s, closer cooperation to protect your troops in Afghanistan. And we have just received word that Poland will be part of the global shale gas initiative. And we want Poland to be a leader in Europe on energy alternatives, and we intend to provide technical and other assistance.

So, I think that if there are those who have those questions, I hope we either have or will put them to rest.

QUESTION: You mentioned Afghanistan. What is your reaction to Mr. Komorowski’s declaration — he is our temporary head of state, as you know — that Poland will start withdrawing — actually finish withdrawing — withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan in 2012, even though there is no deadline for the end of American and NATO mission in Afghanistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we will look forward to close consultations with the victor in your election. Obviously, the United States takes no position in elections here in Poland, but we very much value our relationship with successive Polish governments.

And with respect to troop commitments in Afghanistan or any withdrawal schedule, once the government is in place, we want to talk and consult about how that would actually be implemented.

QUESTION: And American Administration is pretty much in place. The question is, if we — meaning you Americans, we NATO allies — do we really have reliable scenario to avoid disaster in Afghanistan that would hurt American credibility, NATO credibility, and all the participants in this mission?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, General David Petraeus has just taken over command in Afghanistan. The President and I, we certainly have a lot of confidence in him. He was very successful in Iraq, and he believes that we all — the international security forces: NATO, the United States, Poland — that we can be successful.

Now, no one is understating the difficulty. But the reason why we’re there is because we recognize the threat that an ungoverned, failed state that provides safe haven to terrorists presents to all of us. And, despite how difficult the conflict has been, you can point to slow but steady progress. And part of our challenge is to accelerate that progress, and to institutionalize it.

In every survey that’s been done, the people of Afghanistan do not want to see the return of the Taliban. Yet, at the same time, they are constantly under attack by a relatively small, but nevertheless lethal suicidal band of extremists. And the trick is to create the conditions where the people will feel secure enough to stand up to the Taliban. And in much of the country that exists, but in many key areas — particularly in the south — it is still a very difficult fight.

QUESTION: During your stay in Kiev you said that the door to NATO is open for Ukraine. But nearly at the same moment, Ukraine parliament said that, actually, they don’t want to join NATO. And apparently, Kiev is tipping more and more toward Moscow.

So, my question is, don’t you think that we — we, meaning Western community — we are losing Ukraine?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think that. I think that the example you give was really an effort to balance Ukraine between the West and NATO and Russia. Because they also said they wouldn’t join the collective security treaty organization, which is former Soviet Union countries.

I think Ukraine is trying very hard to chart its own course. And it has made very clear that it is eager to join the European Union. And the European Union has been positive in its response to Ukraine, and has set forth a series of steps for Ukraine. Ukraine agreed to joint U.S.-Ukraine military exercises this summer. Ukraine is participating in NATO operations and UN peace-keeping operations.

So, I think what Ukraine is intending to do is to create a balance that will enable it to realize its own future, and not be at the mercy of or unduly influenced by Russia or anyone else.

QUESTION: Talk about Russia, it’s 18 months since (inaudible) the relationship with Russia. On one hand, we have cordial meeting between President Obama and President Medvedev. On the other, we have new example of Russia spying on —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: — on America, which some people take very, very seriously.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: So, do you deal with the change in Russia a change in a better direction, or do you view Russia going the old ways?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have seen some very positive signs in the last year-and-a-half: a new treaty on reducing nuclear weapons that was negotiated by Russia and the United States, increasing assistance by Russia in Afghanistan; cooperation with the United States and the international community on sanctions, to try to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state. So, there are a number of examples where we have seen positive results of our reset.

Now, with respect to the arrest of the Russian spies in place in the United States, we are obviously going to continue to protect our interests. And that means going after those who would attempt to threaten us. But we don’t want an incident like that to color the entire relationship. What we are trying to do is create a broad enough agenda so that we can work together. And when there are problems, as is evident from the spy case, deal with those. Those people were arrested, and they are in our criminal justice system, and they will be dealt with. But we don’t want that to undermine our effort to reduce nuclear weapons, which we think is in our national interest and the security of the world. So, I think it is, again, a balanced approach that we are attempting to follow.

QUESTION: And one more question. When you (inaudible), according to this, you were hesitating for quite a long time if you should take the job of the Secretary of State. Actually, according to (inaudible), you were against the idea for quite a long time. Looking from the perspective of 18 months (inaudible), what is your assessment for (inaudible) today?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am very pleased that I am serving my country and working with President Obama on so many critical issues. We have only touched on a few of them in this short interview. We could literally talk for hours about what’s going on around the world.

And, you know, the United States has to lead. The United States cannot solve all of the world’s problems, but the world’s problems cannot be solved without United States leadership. And we want to lead in a way that brings people toward us and together, as opposed to putting them in opposition to us. And I think that both President Obama and I have made that very clear.

It’s a complicated geopolitical situation that we face. And there are emerging and rising powers, there are very serious dislocations from the economic crisis. So it’s a lot to do. And sometimes you can become a little weary, traveling around the world as much as I do. But I know it’s important, and I believe in the efforts that we are undertaking. And I believe, too, that it’s important to have, you know, face-to-face encounters, not only with other government officials, but with the press and with the public in countries, because today people are so much more connected and more interested in what’s going on in the world. And there are so many transnational problems, whether it’s climate change or epidemics like HIV/AIDS, or whatever it might be. So, I am very grateful to have this opportunity to serve my country.

QUESTION: And the last question, you just mentioned you are traveling all over the world, constantly.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: So, it’s a very, very hard job. At the same time, you have to cope with the preparations for the wedding of your daughter, Chelsea.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right.

QUESTION: So, how can you cope with two quite different tasks, but both of them extremely serious?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Serious, important, and stressful.

QUESTION: I guess.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, luckily, we have email now. And I can communicate and people can send me pictures of flower arrangements or other kinds of decisions that have to be made. It’s a very happy time for my family, with our daughter’s upcoming marriage. And it truly is the most important thing in my life right now. But my daughter and my husband are very supportive of the work that I do. And I am grateful for that, and I have been able to fit in tastings and dress selections, and all of the other things that the mother of the bride has to do.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for your time, and thank you very much for giving the Polish audience a chance to get to know American position firsthand.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you very much.

# # #

I have been making an effort to concentrate on her public job as Secretary of State as separate from her personal job as MOTB, but for this one moment in this one post I have to mention that the line I bolded and italicized grabbed my heartstrings.

She is exceptional in so many ways. When I read a line like that I feel for her because I think it is easy to lose sight of the human side of one so strong, brilliant, and diligent. I hope in the coming weeks she gets a chance to cut down a little – just for awhile – on her treadmill schedule to de-stress and do her mom thing.

Read Full Post »

One event today in Krakow was Secretary Clinton’s visit to lay flowers at the monument of Polish officers murdered by Soviet secret security services in Katyn in 1940. She also met with family members of victims who died in Smolensk plane crash on April 10,2010. Here are some lovely pictures of the proceedings.









Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: