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Remarks With Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul, Turkey
June 7, 2012

MODERATOR: (In Turkish.) We will now begin the award ceremony. United States Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone will officiate.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Thank you very much. Our country owes a great debt of gratitude to Turkey and especially to Ambassador Sahinkaya for his tenacious advocacy and support for Americans in distress during the assisted departure of American citizens from Libya last year. Ambassador Sahinkaya and his skillful and persistent efforts on behalf our four New York Times journalists in March of 2011 testify to the durability and the importance of the Turkish-American friendship. At a time of considerable peril and uncertainty, we were very fortunate to have a diplomatic Ambassador Sahinkaya’s fortitude and integrity and skill tending to our shared interest during the Libyan crisis. And so Madame Secretary, if you would be so kind to hand the plaque over to Ambassador Sahinkaya.

(Applause.)

Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (In Turkish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much, Ahmet. And thank you and your team for the excellent preparations for this first ministerial meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. You just heard from the minister an overview of all that we have been working on. The United States views this forum as an excellent opportunity to pursue our common goal of making the world safe from terrorism, but doing it in a way that is in keeping with human rights and the rule of law. And the announcements that Ahmet just related about continuing work that we will do evidences the approach that we are taking, and I’m very pleased that in just the few short months of its existence, the Global Counterterrorism Forum has already helped generate smart and achievable strategies for combating terrorism, and the United States looks forward to continuing our work.

On a few other issues, I want to thank the minister for the meeting that he hosted last night, the ad hoc meeting on Syria intended to intensify our efforts to support the Syrian people, given the urgency of the situation. The regime-sponsored violence that we witnessed again in Hama yesterday is simply unconscionable. Assad has doubled down on his brutality and duplicity, and Syria will not, cannot be peaceful, stable, or certainly democratic until Assad goes. So even as we intensify the sanctions pressure, because as we were meeting in Istanbul, the sanctions working committee of the Friends of the Syrian People was meeting in Washington, the time has come for the international community to unite around a plan for post-Assad Syria. And last night we discussed a number of the steps that we intend to take together.

I will just mention a few of the key elements and principles that are focusing our work. First, the Syrian Government must implement all six points of the Annan initiative, including a real ceasefire agreed to and observed by all parties. Second, Assad must transfer power and depart Syria. Third, an interim representative government must be established through negotiation. And we are firm in our core principles, and we believe we have to keep faith and do justice to the aspirations of the Syrian people. The transition phase must lead to a democratic, representative, and inclusive government. There must be civilian control of the military and security forces and respect for the rule of law and equality before the law for all Syrians regardless of background.

We know that many still cling to the Assad regime because they fear change more. And we have consistently made clear that we support a positive, inclusive democratic transition roadmap. And we have to bring people to that vision and, in effect, move them away from the Assad regime so that they can’t imagine a better future for themselves and Syria.

And secondly, we have to unite the international community behind a plan that is achievable and keeps faith with those inside Syria who are protesting and demonstrating, suffering, and dying for their universal human rights.

We said last night we are prepared to work with any country, including all members of the UN Security Council, and we will do so so long as any such gathering starts from the basic premise that Assad and his regime must give way to a new democratic Syria, and we have to continue to put more pressure and we urge all nations to impose and implement sanctions and close loopholes in existing measures. And we also pledge to improve coordination among the countries that are working with the Syrian opposition. We look forward to a meeting of experts on this subject with representatives of the civilian opposition, hosted by Turkey again in Istanbul at the end of next week. I will be meeting with Kofi Annan tomorrow in Washington. I’ve asked my special advisor on Syrian affairs to go to Moscow tomorrow to discuss the need for a political transition with the Russian Government, and I think we are resolute. None of us is satisfied that the killing continues, but we are determined to move forward together and we reaffirmed that commitment yesterday.

Finally, the foreign minister and I and also the Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and I had an opportunity to review the range of issues our countries are confronting together, including strengthening the economic partnership and cooperation on the transitions in the Middle East and North Africa. And I want to underscore – it probably goes without saying, I said it this morning, I think I’ve said it on every trip to Turkey – the United States stands strongly with Turkey in your fight against the PKK whose long campaign of violence has claimed tens of thousands of lives. And again, let me thank the Ambassador on behalf of the American people for your excellent work in a very difficult time and place.

The United States and Turkey have such a strong and far-ranging relationship that every time Ahmet and I get together, we run out of time before we run out of things to discuss. So I’m grateful for the strong partnership we have, and I look forward always to continuing to deepen and strengthen it in the months and years ahead. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, my friend. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: We will take four questions and we’ll start with the American press. Anyone from the American press?

QUESTION: Yes, Elise Labott.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Elise?

MODERATOR: Yes, ma’am. Elise.

QUESTION: Thank you. This question is for both of you. A lot of the points that you have laid out in this vision for a roadmap are not necessarily new. You’ve been talking about them since you called on President Assad to step down. So what about this vision do you think is even going to help the Russians – convince the Russians to squeeze President Assad to step down? And if they don’t, at what point do you say this violence, as you said, is unconscionable, we need to move ahead without the Russians?

And specifically for the foreign minister, do you believe that, as Kofi Annan is suggesting and as Russia is suggesting, that Iran should be part of international mediation efforts? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me start. And I think it’s clear to everyone that the violence continues; in fact, if anything it seems to worsen. And we have not been successful yet in bringing about the kind of international action that will make a difference to the Assad regime, but I believe that we are continuing to move in that direction. And clearly, we have to reiterate our unity, we have to send a clear message to other nations that are not yet working with us or even actively supporting the Assad regime, that there’s no future in that. And indeed, planning for an orderly transition, we think, will be an important step, because as I said, there are still many inside Syria – and this is human nature – this is totally understandable – who are not yet convinced that there can be a transition that would not make the situation worse for them, their families, their group, their location.

And so we recognized in our meeting last night we have to do more. We also have to do more with the opposition. The opposition has work to do, and that’s why I mentioned that Turkey will convene a meeting of the opposition. Many of us have been working – both Turkey and the United States have – with elements of the opposition. Now it’s difficult for those inside Syria to leave Syria to come to a meeting, but we have to do more to help organize and focus the opposition.

And finally, we think it is important for us to give Kofi Annan and his plan the last amount of support that we can muster, because in order to bring others into a frame of mind to take action in the Security Council, there has to be a final recognition that it’s not working. And he will be addressing the Security Council today and, as I said, I will see him tomorrow.

And on your last point, regarding Iran, it is hard, for the United States certainly, to imagine that a country putting so much effort into keeping Assad in power, and in effect – as I said yesterday in Baku – helping to stage-manage the repression on the people of Syria, would be a constructive actor. And we think that would not be an appropriate participant at this point to include.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (In Turkish.)

QUESTION: (In Turkish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, as to the transition in Syria, there are a number of examples that I would point to, but perhaps the most recent is the transition in Yemen. It took, frankly, more than a year. It took a lot of international effort. And finally, then-President Saleh gave up power because the pressure, the sanctions, the isolation was just too much. And so he – actually, after clashes and deaths and threats of civil war, he left power. There is now a new president, and there seems to be some consolidation of social stability and security going on in Yemen. It’s too soon to make predictions, but the transition occurred.

So this is a recent example in the region that we can point to. It’s not at all out of the question that something like that could be presented. But in any event, we know that keeping the pressure up, the economic pressure, the isolation, building the case, making the argument to those who are worried about the alternative or supporting Assad, is the hard work of diplomacy. Ahmet and I would like to be able to stand up here and make a pronouncement and save the lives of innocent Syrians. We’re disgusted by what we see happening. But we know that the hard work ahead requires getting more and more people to agree with us that there must be a transition and to help facilitate it.

With respect to our fight against terrorism, we work very closely together, and in fact, we are learning every week how we can be more closely knit together to cooperate and to support Turkey’s fight against the PKK. I will not discuss potential arms transfers that have not been formally notified to Congress, but I will say that the extensive assistance that we currently provide is going to intensify through closer cooperation and planning, and both the foreign minister and I are committed to making sure both of our governments are as focused and coordinated as we can be going against those that threaten Turkey and Turkish lives.

MODERATOR: I think he has a question over there.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yes. Madam Secretary, thank you. You met with many of the most concerned allies here not only about Syria, but about Iran. With just a little over 10 days to go until your meeting in Moscow, I was wondering if you could say what you expect from Iran and what will happen if you do not reach – if you do not see the concrete actions that you have hoped for. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me start by restating our objective. It’s one that Turkey and the United States and the international community share, and that is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And that is why we’ve always pursued a two-track policy of pressure and diplomacy. And the United States is committed to finding a peaceful resolution, but as I have said, looking toward the meeting in Moscow, we want Iran to come to that meeting to begin the serious work necessary to take place in order to reach a diplomatic solution.

So we want them to come prepared to take concrete steps, particularly in the area of 20 percent enrichment, and we have said – and this is a unified position of the international community and those of us in this negotiation, which include Russia and China – that in response to their actions, we are prepared to take actions of our own. I am convinced that one of the reasons that Iran came back to the negotiating table was because of the success of our pressure strategy, and I want to express publicly our appreciation to Turkey. This is not easy to work to reduce global reliance on Iranian oil, to unwind business dealings with the Central Bank of Iran.

But from what we hear from many, many sources, the fact that the international community was so united made it difficult for Iran to escape the realization that they were either going to have to come to the table to negotiate or remain very isolated with economic consequences that would be detrimental to their country. So we look for Moscow to show concrete steps that can be taken, and I’m not going to prejudge the outcome. Everyone’s working very hard to try to make it a positive meeting.

QUESTION: (In Turkish.)

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (Laughter.) The question is hard. (In Turkish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That was a very thorough answer. (Laughter.) I will not add anything to that other than, once again, to say thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you. Thank you very much.

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Opening Remarks at the Global Counterterrorism Forum

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Conrad Hotel
Istanbul, Turkey
June 7, 2012

Thank you very much, Ahmet, and once again, thank you for hosting us in this beautiful city and for being a steadfast champion of this forum. I want to recognize all of our colleagues around the table. It is often easier to focus on the concerns and crises of the moment, but the long-term partnership we are building through this forum, we believe, will pay off for years to come.

In recent years, the international community has made important strides in the fight against violent extremism in all its forms. We’ve worked together to disrupt terrorist financing; pass new and more effective counterterrorism laws; tighten border, aviation and maritime security; and improve international coordination. Over the past decade, more than 120,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested around the world, and more than 35,000 have been convicted. Usama bin Ladin is dead, al-Qaida’s core leadership ranks have been devastated, and many of its affiliates have lost key operatives. Our citizens are safer because of the work we have done together.

But despite this progress, the danger from terrorism remains urgent and undeniable. The core of al-Qaida that carried out the 9/11 attacks and other attacks in countries represented here today may be on the path to defeat, but the threat has spread, becoming more geographically diverse as groups associated with al-Qaida expand their operations. Terrorists now hold territory in Mali, Somalia, and Yemen. They are carrying out frequent and destabilizing attacks in Nigeria and the Maghreb. Here in Turkey, the PKK continues its long campaign of terror and violence, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The United States stands strongly with Turkey in its fight against the PKK. And groups are now actively encouraging lone wolf terrorists like those responsible for recent killing sprees in Europe.

That’s why this forum and the international cooperation it represents are so vital. Just as the threat we face crosses borders and oceans, so must our response. We need a strategic, comprehensive approach to counterterrorism that integrates both military and civilian power that uses intelligence, law enforcement, diplomacy, development, humanitarian assistance, and every possible partner and asset.

Because we have learned that to defeat a terrorist network, we need to do more than remove terrorists from the battlefield. We need to attack finances, recruitment, and safe havens. We need to take on ideology and diminish its appeal, particularly to young people. We need to improve conditions for women, because their security is a bellwether for societies’ security, and we need to help build the capacities of nations that have the political will to take on this fight.

The Global Counterterrorism Forum emphasizes strengthening civilian institutions as a critical part of our strategy. And we’re already taking important steps to put this into practice, building new partnerships with the United Nations and other multilateral bodies, and knitting together far-flung counterterrorism efforts that need better focus and organization.

Let me just highlight two areas where it is essential we continue to make progress.

First, we have to continue working together to defeat extremist ideology, blunt the spread of radicalization, and slow the flow of recruits to terrorist networks. Last summer, the UAE took an important step when it announced it would host the first-ever international center developed to combat extremism and develop those best practices that will do so. I am pleased to announce that the United States will support this effort with both funding and expertise, and that the center, I’m told, will open its doors in Abu Dhabi later this fall, although it already has its own brochure, which is a good step to demonstrate the concreteness of the work that will be done at the center.

Think of what the center can do: Bring together experts on communications who understand how to undermine terrorist propaganda; the smartest minds on law enforcement, who can help governments and communities learn to ward off extremism and expose intruders; scholars of education, who can devise curricula free of hatred and give teachers the tools to protect at-risk children from recruitment by extremists.

The second area I want to mention is the rule of law. Experience tells us that democracies are better equipped than autocracies to stand up against terrorism. They offer constructive outlets for political grievances, they create opportunities for mobility and prosperity that provide alternatives to violent extremism, and they tend to have more effective governing institutions.

The protests of the Arab Awakening struck a devastating blow to the extremists’ ideology. Citizens in the Middle East and North Africa claiming their universal rights, demanding more accountable governments, seeking broader economic opportunities, all without the rhetoric of hate and destruction that al-Qaida claimed was the only way to achieve change. Now the transitions underway have the potential to transform and improve counterterrorism efforts across the region. This forum is helping make that happen.

Last year as a group, we pledged more than $90 million to provide rule of law training for police, prosecutors, judges, and prison officials in countries seeking to turn their backs on more repressive approaches to counterterrorism. I am pleased that today this forum will adopt two sets of sound practices – one for the criminal justice sector, the other on rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders in prison. These will advance our work, and I am proud to announce the United States is contributing $15 million to support training initiatives in these areas, and to launch new partnerships with the UN and others to make sure our assistance gets to those officials on the front lines who need it most.

And I am here today also to underscore that the United States will work with all of you to combat terrorists within the framework of the rule of law. Now some believe that when it comes to counterterrorism, the end always justifies the means; that torture, abuse, the suspension of civil liberties – no measure is too extreme in the name of keeping our citizens safe.

But unfortunately, this view is short-sighted and wrong. When nations violate human rights and undermine the rule of law, even in the pursuit of terrorists, it feeds radicalization, gives propaganda tools to the extremists, and ultimately undermines our efforts. The international community cannot turn our eyes away from the effects of these tactics because they are part of the problem.

I know that the United States has not always had a perfect record, and we can and must do a better job of addressing the mistaken belief that these tactics are ever permissible. That is why President Obama has made our standards very clear. We will always maintain our right to use force against groups such as al-Qaida that have attacked us and still threaten us with imminent attack. And in doing so, we will comply with the applicable law, including the laws of war, and go to extraordinary lengths to ensure precision and avoid the loss of innocent life.

We view this forum as a key vehicle for galvanizing action on these fronts and for driving a comprehensive, strategic approach to counterterrorism. And I’m very pleased that in this short period of time, as Ahmet said, the forum is already living up to its promise to emphasize results, not rhetoric, and to spark the innovation that is essential for keeping up with an ever-changing, dynamic threat.

And so I thank the members of the forum for taking on the changing methods that terrorists use to fund their efforts. For example, because of our coordinated pressure, terrorists are increasingly abandoning the formal financial system and funding their operations through criminal activities. Kidnapping for ransom has emerged as a favored tactic; it’s most acute in the Sahel, has long been a concern in Latin America, and is now spreading worldwide. We need to intensify our international cooperation to deal with this issue by finalizing this fall the guidelines discussed at the meeting in Algiers earlier this spring so countries have the best tools available for dealing with hostage-taking and extortion.

The work we need to do, whether on stopping kidnapping for ransom, countering violent extremism, or strengthening rule of law, require focus and tenacity. Now those of us around the table are here for a few hours, but the experts who are working with us work day in and day out. And it is a true honor to have this venue for policymakers and practitioners, because after all, we’re here because we face implacable foes who are determined to kill civilians, disrupt societies, and spread their ideology of hate. And we cannot afford to work at cross-purposes or to pursue policies that obstruct cooperation or fuel radicalization. All of us share a commitment to take on this challenge, and the United States is very proud to continue working with you to further our common efforts.

Thank you very much.

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Mme. Secretary was in three countries in one day today.  After departing Georgia, she spent a busy day in Azerbaijan, met with Embassy Baku families and staff, and then was wheels up for Istanbul where we see her deplaning.  She is in Turkey for talks on Syria.

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Meeting with Staff and Families of Embassy Baku

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Baku
Baku, Azerbaijan
June 6, 2012

Well, it’s wonderful to see you again. How many of you were here when I was here two years ago? Oh, good. (Laughter.)

Well, it’s great to be back and to have this opportunity to thank you in person once again for the outstanding work you do every day on behalf of this very important relationship between our two countries, and I want to thank Adam Sterling for taking the reins in Baku once more. I know it’s been difficult not to have an ambassador for much of the last few years, but we are very lucky to have Adam’s leadership. And I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that we’ll put the ambassador-designee who has his hearing next week on a fast track, because I certainly heard firsthand from the government here how much they are hoping to get an ambassador and be able to go from there.

I’m glad to be back in this beautiful chancery garden, though I know it is a somewhat bittersweet reminder that Embassy Baku just lost a member of the Embassy family. I know how difficult it was for you when Myaka passed. He had been – was one of the very first employees when our Embassy opened in 1992, and he was one who saw our relationship grow over the last 20 years. He was, by all accounts, an exemplary colleague, and the tree that you planted in his memory will be a lasting memorial to his service.

During the past few years, you’ve done so much. You worked hard to gain openings for freedom of political expression and to support the people of Azerbaijan, to stand up for our values and our interests, to work on behalf of American businesses. I just came from the Gas & Oil Exhibition and saw a number of the American businesses represented there. I thanked the locally employed staff for your critical monitoring services during the past election. Our Foreign Service and local staff are empowering women and girls to become innovative business leaders. And I’m especially pleased to hear about your work helping girls at risk of early marriage develop practical skills, find jobs, and gain financial independence.

And when you launch programs that show farmers how to produce enough crops to feed their families and have enough left over to earn a decent living, you are truly expanding economic opportunity. Just as when you connect American businesses with Azerbaijan markets, you’re helping create American jobs. And when you talk to Azerbaijani students about opportunities to study in the United States, you are helping to build bridges between our people. So on these and so many other areas, I’m very grateful.

I spoke specifically to President Aliyev today about building a new, state-of-the-art chancery for you to work out of, and I reminded him that this discussion began when my husband was president. So – (laughter) – we need to speed it up, and we’re trying to do just that. I hope one day soon you can work together in one modern and secure location. In the meantime, I especially want to thank Gunnery Sergeant Lance Grubin and the Marine security guards for all the extra hours they put in to help keep you safe over the last year.

Now I know that you’re going to keep working long after I’m gone, and I know that secretaries, charges, ambassadors come and go, and our locally employed staff provide the memory bank for all that went before and are absolutely instrumental. And I know that many of you representing the United States Government in all our various incarnations here in this mission are going to be absolutely devoted to doing everything you can during your time here in Baku to broaden and deepen this significant relationship. I think we’re making real progress. There’s a long way to go, but it is one of the most strategically located countries if you look at any map, and the opportunities for us to work closely on everything from security to the economy to human rights to opportunity for women and others is just unlimited.

So please take a moment to think about how much you’ve already done, and I look forward to hearing from Adam and then from the new ambassador all that you are continuing to do. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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Secretary Clinton To Travel to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey from May 31-June 7. In Copenhagen, Denmark, Secretary Clinton will hold bilateral meetings with senior Danish officials. She will also participate in the kick-off event for Green Partnerships for Growth, a bilateral initiative to promote green technology through public and private sector partnerships.

On June 1, Secretary Clinton will travel to Oslo, Norway, where she will meet with senior Norwegian officials and give keynote remarks at a global health conference hosted by the Norwegian government titled, “A World in Transition – Charting a New Path in Global Health.” On June 2, the Secretary will be in Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle and home of the Arctic Council Permanent Secretariat, for discussions of U.S.-Norwegian cooperation in the Arctic, including on climate change and the sustainable development of untapped resources.

On June 3, Secretary Clinton will travel to Stockholm, Sweden, for meetings with senior Swedish officials to discuss a range of issues, including green energy, Internet freedom, Afghanistan and the Middle East. In Stockholm she will also participate in a Climate and Clean Air Coalition event on short-lived climate pollutants.

The Secretary will travel to the Caucasus from June 4 to 7. In all these countries, she will discuss important issues of regional security, democracy, economic development and counterterrorism.

In Armenia on June 4, the Secretary will meet with President Sargsian and other senior Armenian officials. She will also meet with Armenian civil society leaders.

On June 5, the Secretary will open the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission plenary session in Batumi, Georgia. She will meet also with President Saakashvili and hold discussions with a broad range of political actors and civil society representatives.

The Secretary will travel on June 6 to Azerbaijan to meet with President Aliyev as well as Azerbaijani civil society leaders.

On June 7, the Secretary will co-chair the Global Counterterrorism Forum Ministerial in Istanbul, Turkey and consult with senior Turkish officials on a range of foreign policy challenges, including Syria and Iran.

On Wednesday of the past week, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Clinton emphasized the urgency and importance of U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention. The nature of her first stop in this itinerary underscores remarks she made at the time.  Yes, we do meet and negotiate with members on various oceanic councils, such as the Arctic Council, but our heft in these meetings is negatively affected by our absence at the convention table.  We would come from a position of additional strength were we to ratify the treaty and take our place among member states.

In anticipation to her visits to Georgia and Azerbaijan, the secretary released the following greetings to the people of those countries in celebration of their imminent national days.

Georgia Independence Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Georgia as you celebrate your independence this May 26.

In a few days I will have the chance to visit Batumi to experience the warmth of the Georgian people and reaffirm our commitment to Georgia’s future. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of U.S.-Georgian bilateral relations. Since regaining its independence, Georgia has made impressive progress fighting corruption, developing modern state institutions, and enhancing global security.

The United States is committed to helping Georgia deepen Euro-Atlantic ties and strengthen the institutions of your democracy, and we remain steadfast in support of Georgia’s territorial integrity. We stood with the Georgian people 20 years ago at the dawn of your renewed independence, and we stand with you today.

As you celebrate this special day, we look forward to working with the Georgian government and people to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Republic of Azerbaijan’s National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Azerbaijan as you celebrate Republic Day this May 28th.

I am looking forward to my trip to Baku in a few days where I will have the chance to talk to civil society and government leaders about Azerbaijan’s challenges and opportunities, and how the United States can support a brighter future for both our people. We will discuss new ways to partner together to promote regional security and stability, enhance energy security, and strengthen economic and political reforms.

As you celebrate your national day, know that the United States stands with you. Congratulations and best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous year to come.

So as to exclude no one, I include the secretary’s greetings to the people of Ethiopia on their upcoming national day as well.  We have no information regarding upcoming plans for a visit there, however.

Ethiopia’s National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 25, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Ethiopia as you celebrate your national day this May 28th.

The United States and the people of Ethiopia share a strong history as friends and partners. Together, we are working to enhance food security, improve health services, strengthen education, promote trade, and expand development. The United States applauds Ethiopia’s dedication to maintaining security in the region, including through important and effective peacekeeping missions in Sudan and South Sudan. I hope the coming year will yield a more vibrant civil society and private sector to help shape a brighter future for Ethiopia.

The United States is committed to helping Ethiopia achieve a more peaceful and prosperous future for all its people, and we look forward to continuing to work together toward common goals in Africa and around the world. As you gather with family and friends to celebrate your national day, know that the United States stands with you.

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U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Turkey's FM Davutoglu shake hands before a meeting in Istanbul

Intervention to the Friends of the Syrian People

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
As Prepared
Istanbul, Turkey
April 1, 2012


I want to thank Prime Minister Erdogan, Foreign Minister Davutoglu and the people of Turkey for hosting us today. Turkey has shown steadfast leadership throughout this crisis. I also want to recognize the continuing contributions of the Arab League and in particular the work of Secretary General Elaraby and the chair of the Syria committee, Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim. To all my colleagues, and to all our friends and partners around the world, thank you for standing by the Syrian people.

We meet at an urgent moment for Syria and the region. Faced with a united international community and persistent popular opposition, Bashar al-Assad pledged to implement Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s initial six point plan. He promised to pull his regime’s forces back and silence its heavy weapons, allow peaceful demonstrations and access for humanitarian aid and journalists, and begin a political transition.

Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises.

Rather than pull back, Assad’s troops have launched new assaults on Syrian cities and towns, including in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces. Rather than allowing access for humanitarian aid, security forces have tightened their siege of residential neighborhoods in Homs and elsewhere. And rather than beginning a political transition, the regime has crushed dozens of peaceful protests.

The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says. And we cannot sit back and wait any longer. Yesterday in Riyadh, I joined with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to call for an immediate end to the killing in Syria and to urge Joint Special Envoy Annan to set a timeline for next steps. We look forward to hearing his views on the way forward when he addresses the United Nations Security Council tomorrow.

Here in Istanbul, we must take steps of our own to ratchet up pressure on the regime, provide humanitarian relief to people in need, and support the opposition as it works toward an inclusive, democratic and orderly transition that preserves the integrity and institutions of the Syrian state.

First, pressure. On Friday, the United States announced new sanctions against three more senior regime officials: Minister of Defense Rajiha, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army Adanov and Head of Presidential Security Shalish. A growing list of Syria’s worst human rights offenders are learning that they cannot escape the consequences of their actions. I am pleased that the Friends of the Syrian People have agreed to form a sanctions working group, to coordinate and expand our national sanctions and strengthen enforcement. Together we must further isolate this regime, cut off its funds, and squeeze its ability to wage war on its own people.

The United States will also work with international partners to establish an accountability clearinghouse to support and train Syrian citizens working to document atrocities, identify perpetrators, and safeguard evidence for future investigations and prosecutions.

Our message must be clear to those who give the orders and those who carry them out: Stop killing your fellow citizens or you will face serious consequences. Your countrymen will not forget, and neither will the international community.

Turning to the humanitarian effort, the United States is expanding our commitment to help the people of Syria. This week in Washington, I met with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross and we discussed the urgent needs, especially in the communities suffering under relentless shelling.

In Tunis, I pledged $10 million to fund makeshift field hospitals, train emergency medical staff, and get clean water, food, blankets, heaters, and hygiene kits to civilians who desperately need them, including displaced people. Despite the regime’s efforts to deny access, that aid is starting to get through. So in March we added $2 million to our commitment, and today I am announcing more than $12 million for the Syrian people – for a total of nearly $25 million.

But we know that no amount of aid will be enough if the regime continues its military campaign, targets relief workers, blocks supplies, restricts freedom of movement, and disrupts medical services. So the United States fully supports the UN’s diplomatic effort to secure safe and unfettered access for humanitarian workers and supplies, including a daily, two-hour ceasefire — beginning immediately — to allow aid to get in and wounded civilians to get out. And I want to thank the governments of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq for keeping their borders open and serving as generous hosts to Syrians in great need.

The third track is supporting the opposition as it plans for an inclusive, democratic transition.

Here in Istanbul, the Syrian National Council and a wide range of opposition groups are uniting around a common vision for a free, democratic and pluralist Syria that protects the rights of all citizens and all communities. It is a roadmap for saving the state and its institutions from Assad’s death spiral. And it is worthy of support from the international community and Syrians from every background.

Turning this vision into reality will not be easy, but it is essential. Assad must go and Syrians must choose their own path. Citizens across the country are already laying the groundwork. Peaceful protests continue to swell, with citizens marching in the streets of Syrian cities and towns, demanding dignity and freedom. The regime has done everything it can to prevent peaceful political organizing, and activists and opposition members have been jailed, tortured, and killed. And yet, local councils have emerged all across the country. They are organizing civil resistance and providing basic governance, services and humanitarian relief, even as the shells rain down around them.

To support civil opposition groups as they walk this difficult path, the United States is going beyond humanitarian aid and providing additional assistance, including communications equipment that will help activists organize, evade attacks by the regime, and connect to the outside world – and we are discussing with our international partners how best to expand this support.

In the unlikely event that the Assad regime reverses course and begins to implement the six-point plan, then Kofi Annan will work with the opposition to take steps of its own. But in the meantime, Syrians will continue to defend themselves. And they must continue building momentum toward a new Syria: free, unified, and at peace.

Now that they have a unified vision for transition, it will be crucial for the opposition to translate it into a political action plan to win support among all of Syria’s communities. We’ve seen here in Istanbul that disparate opposition factions can come together. Despite the dangers they face, the next step is to take their case across Syria, to lead a national conversation about how to achieve the future Syrians want and deserve. That’s how the opposition will demonstrate beyond any doubt that they hold the moral high ground, strip away Assad’s remaining support, and expose the regime’s hypocrisy.

So this is where we find ourselves today: Kofi Annan has given us a plan to begin resolving this crisis. Bashar al-Assad has so far refused to honor his pledge to implement it. The time for excuses is over.

President Medvedev calls this the “last chance” for Syria. I call it a moment of truth.

Together we must hasten the day that peace and freedom come to Syria. That solution cannot come fast enough, and we grieve for every lost day and every lost life.

We are committed to this effort and we are confident that the people of Syria will take control of their own destiny. Let us be worthy of this challenge and move ahead with clear eyes and firm determination.

Thank you.

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Remarks at Press Availability

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul, Turkey
April 1, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. Today, the international community sent a clear and unified message that we will increase pressure on the Assad regime in Syria and assistance to the opposition. Nearly a week has gone by since the regime pledged to implement Kofi Annan’s plan. But rather than pulling back, Assad’s troops have launched new assaults. Rather than allowing access for humanitarian aid, they have tightened their siege. And rather than beginning a political transition, the regime has crushed dozens of peaceful protests. We can only conclude that Assad has decided to add to his long list of broken promises.

So today, we called for an immediate end to the killing in Syria, and we urged the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan to set a timetable for next steps. The world will not waiver. Assad must go. And the Syrian people must be free to choose their own path forward.

Today, I also detailed measures that the United States is taking, along with international partners, to ratchet up the pressure on the regime. We will be providing greater humanitarian relief to people in need, and we will support the opposition as it works toward an inclusive democratic transition that preserves the integrity and institutions of the Syrian state. What does that include? It includes additional sanctions on senior regime officials, a new accountability clearinghouse to train Syrian citizens to document atrocities and abuses and to identify perpetrators, and more than $12 million in new humanitarian aid, bringing our total to nearly 25 million.

But the United States is also going beyond humanitarian aid and providing support to the civilian opposition, including (inaudible) and connect to the outside world. And we are discussing with other nations how best to expand this support.

We heard today from the Syrian National Congress about their efforts to unite a wide range of opposition groups around a common vision for a free, democratic, and pluralist Syria that protects the rights and dignity of all citizens. This is a homegrown Syrian vision, and it reflects the values and priorities of the Syrian people. It is a roadmap for saving the state and its institutions from Assad’s death spiral. And it is worthy of support from the international community and from Syrians of every background.

Now, turning this vision into reality will not be easy. We know that. But despite the dangers, the next step has to be to translate it into a political action plan that will win support among all of Syria’s communities, that will help lead a national conversation about how to achieve the future that Syrians want and deserve. That’s how the opposition will build momentum, strip away Assad’s remaining support, and expose the regime’s hypocrisy. Today, the international community reaffirmed our commitment to hasten the day that peace and freedom can come to Syria. It cannot come fast enough, and we grieve for every lost life.

Kofi Annan has given us a plan to begin resolving this crisis. Bashar al-Assad has, so far, refused to honor his pledge. There is no more time for excuses or delays. This is a moment of truth. And the United States is committed to this effort. We think the communique coming out of the meeting today is a very important document, and we commend it to all of you. It represents a considerable advance forward by the international community as represented by the more than 80 nations that attended here today.

The United States is confident that the people of Syria will take control of their own destiny. That’s where we stand. There will be more to say from Kofi Annan in New York tomorrow, but I want to thank Prime Minister Erdogan and the foreign minister, my friend, and the people of Turkey, not only for hosting us, but for being such strong stalwarts in the fight on behalf of the Syrian people.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet both with the prime minister and the foreign minister. We not only discussed Syria; we discussed the full range of our other shared interests. And I commended Turkey’s leadership throughout this crisis and its generosity to the Syrians who have fled across the border seeking refuge from the violence. We also discussed Iran and the threat it poses to regional and global security, and I was encouraged to hear Turkey’s announcement that it will significantly reduce crude oil imports from Iran.

Before I take your questions, I’d like to say a few words about Burma. I’ve been following today’s parliamentary bi-elections with great interest. While the results have not yet been announced, the United States congratulates the people who participated, many for the first time, in the campaign and election process. We are committed to supporting these reform efforts. Going forward, it will be critical for authorities to continue working toward an electoral system that meets international standards, that includes transparency, and expeditiously addresses concerns about intimidation and irregularities.

It is too early to know what the progress of recent months means and whether it will be sustained. There are no guarantees about what lies ahead for the people of Burma. But after a day spent responding to a brutal dictator in Syria who would rather destroy his own country than let it move toward freedom, it is heartening to be reminded that even the most repressive regimes can reform and even the most closed societies can open. Our hope for the people of Burma is the same as our hope for the people of Syria and for all people – peace, freedom, justice, and the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.

And with that, let me thank you and open the floor for questions.

MS. NULAND: (Inaudible) Andrea Mitchell of NBC.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you said that there is no more time, that this is a moment of truth. How much time are you prepared to give Kofi Annan, given the fact that there seems to be a widespread belief here in Istanbul, among you and the other leaders, that Assad is playing this for time, ignoring this diplomacy, and making a mockery of it by continuing the brutality?

And what more does the Syrian National Council have to do to persuade you that they should actually be a recognized opposition group rather than just a group that is trying to reach out to others and be more inclusive?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, first, it’s been nearly a week since Assad made his promise to Kofi Annan. We will hear firsthand from former Secretary General Annan tomorrow. I don’t want to prejudge it. I want to hear for myself. He’s not only been to Damascus but also to Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, other places, and has reached out and heard from a number of voices. But it is important – and he understands this, he’s an experienced negotiator – that there cannot be process for the sake of process. There has to be a timeline. And if Assad continues, as he has, to fail to end the violence, to institute a ceasefire, to withdraw his troops from the areas that he has been battering, to begin a political transition, to allow humanitarian aid in at least for two hours a day, then it’s unlikely he is going to ever agree, because it is a clear signal that he wants to wait to see whether he has totally suppressed the opposition.

I think he would be mistaken to believe that. My reading is that the opposition is gaining intensity, not losing it. So the timeline is not only for Kofi Annan’s negotiations, but it’s also for Assad, that eventually he has to recognize that he has lost legitimacy and he will not be able to avoid the kind of continuing efforts by the opposition to strike a blow for freedom. And he can either permit his country to descend into civil war, which would be dreadful for everyone, not only inside Syria but in the region, or he can make a different set of decisions. So we want to watch this. But with the announcements of the various actions taken today, I don’t see how those around Assad believe that they are moving away from pressure, because the pressure is actually intensifying.

MS. NULAND: Next –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, quickly on the SNC, I’ve been meeting with them for several months, starting in Geneva, in Tunis, again today in Istanbul. My high-level officials have been in daily contact, meeting with the SNC. I think that they are – as we heard today in their presentation – not only becoming better focused and better organized, but more broadly based, more inclusive.

I met with a young woman who had just escaped from Homs who was bearing witness to the horrible experience that she and others had endured in the siege of Homs, and you could not listen to her without being upset by the story that she had to tell. But the fact that she is part of the Syrian National Congress speaks volumes, because clearly those who could organize it at first were those free to do so, who were on the outside. Now as more people are leaving Syria, escaping to freedom, they are joining the SNC. So the variety and the base of the SNC is broadening, which gives it added legitimacy.

And of course, as you heard today, we are going to be supporting the SNC with direct assistance in areas such as communications. Others are going to be supporting fighters associated with the SNC. So countries are making their own decisions, but the net result is that the SNC is being treated as the umbrella organization representing the opposition, and we think that demonstrates a lot of hard work, not only by the Syrians themselves but by many of us who have been working with them over the last several months.

MS. NULAND: Next question, Hurriyet, (Inaudible).

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we know that you had bilateral meetings with your Turkish counterpart Davutoglu and Prime Minister Erdogan today here in Istanbul. And we understand you also exchanged information on their recent visit to Tehran. Davutoglu – Foreign Minister Davutoglu in a public statement said that they take Khamenei’s statements as not developing nuclear weapons as a guarantee, this should be taken as a guarantee in Shia tradition. How do you perceive these kind of statements, and are you by any means close to taking them seriously and find them – finding them satisfactory? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I was very interested in what both the foreign minister and the prime minister told me about their visit. They had lengthy discussions with the supreme leader, the president, and other Iranian officials. They were told, as you just repeated, that the supreme leader viewed weapons of mass destruction as religiously prohibited, against Islam, and that he asked the Turkish leaders to really take that into account, take it seriously.

We, of course, would welcome that. Yet, I think it’s important that it be operationalized. That’s what the P-5+1 talks are about. We will be meeting with the Iranians to discuss how you translate what is a stated belief into a plan of action. And if the Iranians are truly committed to that statement of belief as conveyed to the prime minister and the foreign minister, then they should be open to reassuring the international community that it’s not an abstract belief but it is a government policy. And that government policy can be demonstrated in a number of ways, by ending the enrichment of highly enriched uranium to 20 percent, by shipping out such highly enriched uranium out of the country, by opening up to constant inspections and verifications.

So we are certainly open to believing that this is the position, but of course the international community now wants to see actions associated with that statement of belief. And we would welcome that.

But I think the Iranians also have to know that this is not an open-ended discussion. This has to be a very serious action-oriented negotiation, where both sides are highly engaged on a sustainable basis to reach a decision that can be translated into policy that is verified as soon as possible. So if the statement by the supreme leader to the prime minister and the foreign minister provides the context in which the discussions occur, that would be a good starting point.

MS. NULAND: Last question, Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, just on Iran again, did Prime Minister Erdogan provide any sort of concrete or did the Iranians through him pass on any concrete kind of agenda as for what the talks would be? And is there any thought of the talks broadening a bit to discuss – I know your concerns that the Iranians are helping the Assad regime crack down on the protestors inside Syria.

And just additionally, in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood now says it is going to seek the presidency in the upcoming elections. Is this something you welcome? Is it a concern? Because it’s something that initially they said they were not going to seek. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jay, I was having a little bit of trouble hearing you, but I think your first question concerned Turkey’s actions regarding crude oil products from Iran. And we welcomed the announcement that one of the very large private refiners would be cutting their imports 20 percent. We will be consulting between Turkish and American experts as to how that can be operationalized, because it’s a complicated matter. The oil markets are complicated. Having a refinery make that change requires other supplies, and different refineries have different kinds of equipment that has to be taken into account. But we will be consulting with the – with Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, and then we will send a team of experts to follow up. But we certainly welcome that announcement.

With respect to the role that Iran is playing inside Syria, it’s deeply troubling. And I think it’s important to underscore that when I travel in the region – I was in Riyadh yesterday meeting with the Gulf countries, but it goes beyond that into a much broader regional, even global, context – there are three concerns that countries have about Iran.

The first, we’ve discussed, the pursuit of nuclear weapons, which would be incredibly destabilizing and it would intimidate and cause reactions of many kinds by countries that would feel threatened. Secondly, the interference by Iran in the internal affairs of its neighbors, and certainly the role that Iran seems to be playing inside Syria is an example of that. Sometimes it is done directly by Iran, sometimes by proxies for Iran. And thirdly, the export of terrorism. I mean, just think, in the last six, eight months we’ve had Iranian plots disrupted from Thailand to India to Georgia to Mexico and many places in between. This is a country, not a terrorist group. It’s a country, a great civilization. It’s an ancient culture. The people deserve better than to be living under a regime that exports terrorism.

So we are very conscious of the role they’re playing inside Iran; we’re conscious of the role they’re playing in other countries. And this will certainly be a matter for discussion, but our first priority is the nuclear program, because people ask me all the time what keeps me up at night. It’s nuclear weapons, it’s weapons of mass destruction that fall into the hands of irresponsible state actors or terrorist groups. So we have to deal with that, but it’s not only that which concerns the neighbors and others.

And finally, we’re going to watch what the political actors in Egypt do. We’re going to watch their commitment to the rights and the dignity of every Egyptian. We want to see Egypt move forward in a democratic transition. And what that means is that you do not and cannot discriminate against religious minorities, women, political opponents. There has to be a process, starting in an election, that lies down certain principles that will be followed by whoever wins the election. And that is what we hope for the Egyptian people. They’ve sacrificed a lot for their freedom and their democracy, so we will watch what all of the political actors do and hold them accountable for their actions. And we really hope the Egyptian people get what they demonstrated for in Tahrir Square, which is the kind of open, inclusive, pluralistic democracy that really respects the rights and dignity of every single Egyptian.

Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

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

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) arrives at Ataturk International Airport on March 31, 2012 in Istanbul. Secretary Clinton is in Turkey to attend the second meeting of the "Group of Friends of the Syrian People", a collection of 60 nations attempting to end the violence by the Assad regime towards its citizens in Syria. AFP PHOTO/ BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tours the Patriarchy in Istanbul, on July 16, 2011, following meetings with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Clinton said Saturday that the United States was troubled by Turkey's arrests of dozens of journalists, calling the moves inconsistent with the economic and political progress the moderate Muslim nation has made. (AP Photo / Saul Loeb)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to Saudi Arabia and Turkey

Press Statement

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 26, 2012

 


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from March 30-31, 2012. While in Riyadh, she will meet King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. She will also attend the First Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum. In her conversations, she will discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including ongoing security cooperation in the region, as well as the international community’s continuing efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

Secretary Clinton will then travel to Istanbul, Turkey from March 31-April 1 to attend the second meeting of the “Friends of the Syrian People.” This meeting will build upon steps that our friends, allies, and the Syrian opposition continue to take in an attempt to halt the slaughter of the Syrian people and pursue a transition to democracy in Syria. While in Istanbul, Secretary Clinton will also conduct bilateral meetings with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu and other foreign leaders.

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Remarks Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon, everyone. And let me say what a great delight it is for me to welcome my friend and colleague for intensive negotiations and discussions over a range of issues that are of importance to both of us. I am always pleased to have time to meet with Minister Davutoglu because of what the United States and Turkey are working on together, the values that we share, and the commitment to a peaceful, prosperous future, not only for the Turkish and American people but for people everywhere.

I want to say a word about the bombing of an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in India, the attempted attack on Israeli Embassy personnel in Georgia. Terrorism anywhere is an affront to the international community. There are many kinds of attacks that take place around the world. We condemn all forms of terrorism and we stand ready to assist in investigations of these acts and others because of the importance we place on having a strong international front against terrorism.

I think it’s important also to look at the Turkish-American relationship, not only bilaterally but what it means regionally and globally. We stand shoulder to shoulder in so many different ways: as NATO allies in transatlantic defense and stability; as partners united against terrorism from the PKK to al-Qaida; as economic partners working for mutual prosperity through trade and investment and so much more. In the past year, we have spent a lot of time consulting because of the challenges of a fast-changing Middle East and North Africa, from Libya’s transition, to the efforts to strengthen inclusive governance in Iraq, to certainly the situation in Syria.

Syria was at the top of our list of important matters to discuss today. It is deplorable that the regime has escalated violence in cities across the country, including using artillery and tank fire against innocent civilians. We stand with the Syrian people and we are looking for a peaceful resolution. The United States and Turkey have again called on the regime to heed the Arab League’s latest efforts, as well at the international community, to end the killing immediately, withdraw military forces from residential areas, allow in monitors and journalists, release political prisoners, and begin a genuine, sincere, democratic transition that starts with a respectful serious dialogue with the opposition.

The United States strongly supports the efforts of the Arab League as set forth at the conclusion of their meeting in Cairo. And we look forward to joining the Arab League initiative for the Friends of Syria group, which will have its first meeting in Tunisia next week. Certainly, Minister Davutoglu and myself will play a very active role in trying to search for solutions. We will intensify our diplomatic pressure on the regime to end its campaign of violence. We will strengthen our targeted sanctions, bring the international community together in condemnation of the actions of the Assad regime. We will increase our outreach to opposition both inside and outside of Syria.

And particularly we will work closely with Turkey and other partners to address the growing humanitarian concerns of those who are suffering. We have heard the call of the Syrian people for help and we are committed to working to allow the entry of medical supplies, of emergency help to reach those who are wounded and dying. We are increasing our funding to organizations like the Red Crescent, the International Committee for the Red Cross, and we’re working directly with Syrian organizations at the grassroots to help families who have no electricity, food, or clean water.

And because of the process leading toward Tunisia, we will work closely with Turkey and others to promote a political process. This is essential, and the Syrian people deserve no less than a democratic future free of government oppression, terrorism, and violent extremism. Turkey, of course, is one of the leaders and has much at stake being a neighbor and a nation of conscience that understands the suffering of the Syrian people and serves as an example of an alternative to the brutal Assad regime.

We talked about so much else. We talked about Iran, where we continue to pursue a dual track that both applies sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but also makes it clear that we are ready to sit down and discuss in a purposeful way, through diplomatic engagement, the nuclear program. I have said many times from this podium and elsewhere we recognize Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy, but Iran also has international responsibilities that we expect it to live up to.

We also have discussed the very strong support that Turkey is providing for the new democracies. We discussed the full range of issues on a bilateral basis that we are continuing to make a priority between us. Turkey’s successful democracy is a real example. We are continually interested in the very important work being done by the Government of Turkey on religious freedom, the return of religious property, and of course, I expressed our interest in the Halki Seminary.

I think it’s important for us to be focused on what we can do to help the emerging democracies such as Tunisia, such as Egypt, such as Libya and others, and also to stay focused on the great needs of Syria. We’ve been able to speak for hours on these issues, as we always do when we meet, because we meet not only as colleagues but as friends. And I look forward to many more constructive conversations.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you very much, Madam. It was great honor for me to be in Washington again. After Secretary Clinton’s recent visit to Istanbul in July, we agreed to meet at least twice a year in both capitals, but meanwhile we had several opportunities to meet at the margin of several international conferences. Sometimes every week we are meeting because there is a huge agenda, common agenda, in front of us, common challenges, opportunities, in our surrounding regions as well as in global scene.

Today Turkish-American relation is really a relationship of model partnership, as it has been described by President Obama. And we want to have this relation not only a security relation but also an economic relation and an economic model partnership, having huge common projects in investment and trade.

On – in NATO we are – we have several issues to be shared with the new Strategic Concept in NATO, and the approaching Chicago summit will be very important, and we’ve shared our common approach in NATO.

But of course, the main agenda was regional issues, as Secretary Clinton mentioned, and we have been talking very closely. Last week we were in Munich, in fact, together, and we went through all these files, because there is a historic turning point and transformation in the Middle East. And Turkey is in such a geography, now in the western part of Turkey there is an economic crisis, in the southern part of Turkey there is a huge political crisis. Turkey is an island of stability, economic growth, and prosperity, and we have special relations with United States and we want to have a positive contribution in resolving all these crises around us.

Now the hot issue is Syria. We discussed in details, because after the peaceful and sometimes challenging but at the end of the day successful transformations in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Morocco, Libya in North Africa, elections were held. I think it is the right of other people, like Syrian people, to have the same, the same rights, the same values, to be implemented in their countries. We support the transformations – political transformations in North Africa. We discussed in detail how to help Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan cases, where we work together shoulder to shoulder with the regional partners as well as global partners to make this a success, because the values of these people demanded were our values: rule of law, freedom, democracy, transparency, accountability. These are the values we are defending everywhere, in Turkey and outside.

Now Syrian people demand the same thing, not more. And it is the right of the Syrian people to have a new democratic political culture and atmosphere to get benefit out of this historic transformation. That was their demand. Last year there was no violence and Syrian people demanded these. But unfortunately, Syrian regime acted violently against these demonstrations, against these peaceful demonstrations, and today we have a real humanitarian tragedy in front of us.

As Turkey, we had a three-stage strategy in this crisis. First, bilateral engagement. From January until August last year, we did everything bilateral-wise to convince Syrian regime to accept the demands of the people. When it didn’t produce results, we worked at the second stage with Arab League as a regional initiative. And Arab League we appreciate. We admire all the efforts of Arab League. And here again I want to underline we support all the decisions of Arab League. Yesterday, I spoke with secretary general of Arab League, with presidents of Arab League, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim and Tunisian minister of foreign affairs, and we declared our support.

But despite of all these good intention and support of the Arab League, the UN Security Council, as you know, was not able to endorse the Arab League plan because of the vetoes. When there was such a deadlock in UN, of course, as international community, as regional partners, we could not wait and see, and every day artillery shelling is continuing and there’s a huge oppression in Homs, in many cities of Syria.

Therefore my visit to – although it was not planned for this purpose, it was a much more wide-range consultation, but it was very timely. We went through the situation in Syria. First, we agreed that there should be new humanitarian initiative to reach out to people who are suffering because of the shortage of food, medicine, everywhere in Syria. And therefore, I spoke with Secretary General of United Nations yesterday, and we started, as Turkey, an initiative in Human Rights Council in Geneva in United Nations, how to make this humanitarian access possible.

Secondly, of course the political dimension. We will be together in Tunisia, and the meeting in Tunisia will be an important international platform to show solidarity with the Syrian people, and to send a strong and clear message to the Syrian regime, that they cannot continue these violent policies. Of course, we will follow closely with the United States and other partners what – how things will evolve, but we will continue to defend Syrian people in this – in their struggle.

We discussed in details on Iran, Iranian issue, especially nuclear negotiations. I was in Tehran last month. The Iranians declared their willingness to restart the negotiations. We had a close contact with Cathy Ashton, and today we shared the best way is – to start these negotiations with a strong political will and good intention and with a result-oriented process, not just meeting and another meeting after one year, the same difficulties, the same procedures. They should meet and stay there until they resolve the issue. This – if there is such a concentrated negotiation, we hope that there might be – there will be a solution. There are other issues which we share – the developments in Balkans, Caucasia, Cyprus, many other issues. It shows how our – we have common agenda and interest together with the United States. And thank you very much for your great hospitality, Hillary. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

MS. NULAND: We have time for four today. Two on the left side, two on the other side. We’ll start with (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, the Russians seems to imply that no international peace-keeping forces, or even Arab League forces, can go back to Syria without the consent of the Syrian Government. So in this regard, are you putting pressure on the Syrians – on the Russians to mediate, to change their position? And how else can you have a mechanism to allow you to realize this?

And Mr. Foreign Minister, you just talked about Iran. Regarding Iran, Turkey has mediated before. Are you willing now to mediate to bring the Iranian back to the negotiation table, since the Secretary talked about willingness to have the – both sides talking?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, we support the Arab League’s decisions coming out of the meeting in Cairo to try to end the violence and move toward a transition. And we look forward to working closely with them in the lead-up to the meeting in Tunisia. There are a lot of challenges to be discussed as to how to put into effect all of their recommendations. And certainly, the peacekeeping request is one that will take agreement and consensus. So we don’t know that it is going to be possible to persuade Syria. They’ve already, as of today, rejected that.

But I think this is what we’re trying to explore with the upcoming meeting in Tunisia, where we bring people together who are committed, as Turkey and the United States are, to seeing an end to the violence and a transition, and explore all of the ideas. Ultimately, it’s going to be important to convince the Assad regime that they are leading Syria into the outcome that we all deplore. We do not want to see a civil war in Syria. No one wants to see a civil war in Syria. So we have to encourage the Assad regime, and those who support it, to understand that there’s either a path toward peacemaking and democratic transition – which is what we are promoting – or there’s a path that leads toward chaos and violence, which we deplore.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you about the nuclear issue. I think Turkey is one of the countries who are losing because of this tension of the main countries, and Turkey will be one of the winning side, if there is any resolution of this issues because we have two principles here. We are against any nuclear military capacity around us in the region, or we want to have nuclear disarmament throughout all – in the globe. And – but at the same time, we don’t want any limitation to the peaceful nuclear capacity or technology.

Based on these two values, there should be a negotiation. Iran must ensure that there will be no military dimension of their nuclear technology, but at the same time, the right of having peaceful nuclear technology should be given to all nations including Iran.

Based on these values, Turkey will be contributing to all process, not as a mediator or nor as a facilitator. The name – the position is not important. We will be doing everything possible to resolve this issue. Last year, we hosted the last meeting. If there is another – I mean – request from us, we will be willing to host. We will be willing to facilitate if neither is – we willing – we are willing to mediate or do anything which will contribute to the process.

MODERATOR: Next one, Ali Aslan from daily Zaman.

QUESTION: Thank you. Turkey is a leading Muslim majority nation which has historically been part of Europe. But unfortunately, Turkey’s full membership process with the European Union is not moving much forward nowadays. Madam Secretary, are you concerned about possible implications of EU’s unwelcoming attitude towards Turkey in larger Islamic world, especially given the U.S. emphasis on constructive engagement with Muslims all over the world?

And Mr. Minister, are you optimistic Turkey will eventually be a member of EU? And what can U.S. do to further facilitate this process? For example, would you like to see more efforts on the part of U.S. towards resolution of the Cyprus conflict?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, as you know, we have long supported Turkey’s full membership in the EU. We don’t have a vote, but we have certainly made our views known year after year because we think it’s in both Turkey’s interest and Europe’s interest for Turkey to be a full member of the European Union. And I am one who thinks eventually that will occur, that it is something that is very much in the interests of both economic and political integration. So I don’t want anyone to get discouraged, and I don’t want anyone to walk away from it – but like with any difficult negotiations, sometimes it needs to be put on the backburner for a while, and we have enough to keep us busy right now in the region.

And there is certainly a role for the United States to play because of our long association with, and alliance with Turkey that we value greatly. We’ve been partners and allies in NATO, where Turkey’s played a very constructive role from the beginning till the recent day. So we continue to believe that it’s in everyone’s interest for Turkey to become an EU member.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: This has been the question for many years. We have been repeating the same answer. Yes, we want to be member of EU, and in spite of all the discouragements coming from EU side, we are still optimistic that one day we will be member of EU, because our membership to EU will been an asset to EU and everybody will win. EU will be geopolitically more influential, economically more dynamic, culturally more inclusive. Turkey will be much more stronger, and Turkey and EU cooperation will be a great asset for U.S., for NATO, and for – will be great asset for the global community.

And of course, we are grateful to the United States because of the support given to this membership process, but of course, United States will not decide. If they have this chance to decide, I am sure until now, we would have been member of EU. But we still expect the same support. Every year, we are having transatlantic dinner hosted by Secretary Clinton, and she is facing problem always – first, EU meeting, then another meeting. Once – one day, we will be having just one meeting. We will be uniting.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I always host a dinner with everybody at the table. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Yes, that’s —

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s my eating diplomacy. I figure you eat together enough times, you work through all the problems.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: But this is her success, not insufficient success, because of her personal commitment. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Next one, Josh Rogan, Foreign Policy.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Foreign Minister, it’s been reported that you brought a list of contingency options for Syria with you in hand to discuss with Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta. I’m wondering, did that list include providing buffer zones or safe havens inside Syria? And would Turkey be willing to contribute troops to such a mission?

And for Secretary Clinton, you just mentioned that a peacekeeping force in Syria would require the consensus of the Syrian regime. In the event that the Syrian regime does not concede to having foreign troops on their soil, what types of other assistance are – can be provided without their consent? Medical assistance, humanitarian assistance, communications, intelligence, et cetera? Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Of course, as decision makers, politicians, we have to think all the options and scenarios. Some scenarios could be not opted for, but unfortunately in Syria today, there is such a situation we are alarming and we are all worried about. But today, the agenda in our consultations and also in Tunisian meeting will be a political solution, diplomatic solution, and humanitarian access as early as possible. Even at this moment, should be possible.

About other contingency plan, we hope that we will not need – there will be no scenarios for these plans. But if one day something happens, of course our basic reference is, as a neighbor, is the humanitarian – to include humanitarian situation and to protect civilians because they are not, I mean, far away. There are millions of people living in Turkey being relative of Syrian people. We cannot be silent when these humanitarian tragedies continuing. At this moment, we are talking on diplomatic and humanitarian steps to be taken, but for other scenarios we hope that those things will not be needed. But we need to think about contingencies as well.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that the minister has summed it up well.

MS. NULAND: Last one. (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Thank you. Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has harshly criticized and warned Turkey, claiming the Turkish Government interferes with internal affairs with – of his country. Ankara also responded to Baghdad.

Madam Secretary, are you concerned about the state of Iraqi-Turkey relations and do you think Iraq would be better off if it distances itself from Turkey? And what would be the possible implications for the United States?

Mr. Minister, what is Turkey’s vision about the future of Iraq? Are you concerned about an intensified sectarian conflict which might lead to a possible partition? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are concerned about the political situation inside Iraq, because it’s important that the Iraqi Government be an inclusive one in which all Iraqis believe that they have a stake in the future of a united Iraq. And the foreign minister and I had a good discussion about Iraq and how we can work together to strengthen their democracy, help to settle political differences between various factions. We both have a very strong interest in a unified Iraq that is developing its democracy, providing services for its people, regardless of who they are or where they live.

So we were encouraged by the return of the Iraqiya bloc to the Council of Representatives. We are supporting President Talabani’s efforts to mediate among the different factions, to move toward a national conference that would focus on achieving a political solution that would represent the interests of all Iraqis in accordance with Iraqi law and the Iraqi constitution, because the Iraqi constitution calls for power sharing. It recognizes that there are different constituencies within Iraq, and we strongly support the efforts to try to reaffirm that commitment and then to build a stronger base for Iraqi governance and democracy going forward.

We encourage Turkey to continue to play an important role in trying to reach out to Baghdad, to many different personalities within the political system, and we’ve encouraged other nations in the region to do the same. We think Turkey’s played a very constructive role. But we share the concern about the need to demonstrate unequivocally a commitment to an inclusive Iraqi Government that represents all Iraqis.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: I think Iraq is the backbone of the stability in our region. If there is no stability in Iraq, there cannot be stability in our region. We have been always saying Iraq is like a small Middle East. We have all sectarian, ethnic communities, religious communities in the Middle East we have in Iraq.

And as Turkey, for us the stability of Iraq is so important. The welfare of all Iraqis, regardless of their ethnic or sectarian background, that is the only demand of Turkey. And when we see an Iraqi, we don’t look the identity. We see all Iraqis as our eternal neighbors, brothers and sisters. Their welfare is our welfare. If they have any problem, any pain, it is us, we feel the pain. Whenever there was any terrorist attack, Iraqi Government knows first we call them and we ask them with all the facilities we are at your disposal. That will – that has been our attitude. That will be the continuation of our policy.

But as Secretary Clinton referred, Iraqi constitution necessitates power sharing. In fact, Iraq is the place where the first Arab Spring, in the sense, in that sense, started when we look at the free and fair election first occurred in Iraq, and this parliament has been formed after a free and fair election. Therefore the success of Iraqi democracy now, the efficient work of Iraqi Government, is so important for all of us. Whenever we say something to Iraq, it is not for any intention of intervention, but it is an intention to help, that Turkey will be siding with Iraq for the success of the Iraqi democracy. And it is a test now for all Iraqis, for all neighbors. If there is a successful Iraqi democracy, that will be a good model for other countries as well.

How can we make such a success? It is – the only success is a common commitment of all groups, all parties, for the nation of unity, nation of sovereignty, integrity of Iraq, and working together, sharing power, and preparing Iraqi people for the future. Iraqi people suffered a lot in last three decades because of Iran-Iraqi war, because of Gulf War, et cetera. Now it is time for happiness, for prosperity in Iraq, and Turkey will be always contributing to the prosperity and happiness of Iraqi people.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

 

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