Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘William Hague’

Hillary harks back to her Girl Scout days and a song many of us can remember having sung in rounds: “Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold.”

Reminding us that in the days following 9/11 NATO invoked Article V of the Washington Treaty, an attack on one is an attack on all, she launches a review of U.S.-European relations since the end of World War II, through the Cold War, and including deteriorating relations during the George W. Bush administration.

Upon assuming the post of secretary of state, she recalls, she made phone calls to European leaders letting them know we remain tight friends.  Her first opportunity to reinforce that message face-to-face came with her attendance at the April 2009 G-20 summit in London.

Playing Catch-up With Mme. Secretary 2: London

 

She formed an especially good working relationship with then UK Foreign Minister David Miliband, but allows that she also had a good rapport with then Shadow Foreign Minister, William Hague who now holds the post.  She dubs Hague “the David Beckham of toasting.”

BRITAIN-FINANCE-ECONOMY-G20

Prime Minister Cameron Meets With U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Playing Catch-up With Mme. Secretary 3: Germany, France, Czech Republic

She also singles out former French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, as one with whom she had an especially good rapport.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R

If your eyes welled up at times when reading the previous chapter about Pakistan, Hillary evokes smiles and laughter with her description of Former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy.  Revealing that often his interpreters had trouble keeping pace with him and that he asked her why all the other diplomats were unforgivably old, gray, and male,  she revisits that simply charming “Cinderella” moment when she lost her shoe on the steps of the Élyseé Palace.  (Posts here are not necessarily deep and analytical – as you may know.)

Hillary Clinton Loses Her Shoe And Looks Adorable Doing It!

 

She speaks of her strong admiration for German Chancellor Angela Merkel with whom she apparently shares a “color memo” phenomenon so uncanny that on a state visit in June 2011 Angela brought her a framed German front page where readers were challenged to guess which was which sans benefit of visible heads.

Slideshow: Hillary Clinton at Chancellor Angela Merkel’s State Visit Today

Video: Secretary Clinton at the State Luncheon in honor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel Meets With Barack Obama

Hillary provides a pretty extensive retrospective on NATO, its post Cold War expansion in eastern Europe, and its contributions to operations in Afghanistan and in Libya.  She is very passionate on the subject of NATO calling it one the most successful military alliances in history (and the European Union one of the most successful political ones).  She contrasts 75% of the sorties over Libya striking 90% of the targets with the situation a decade before when the U.S. was responsible for hitting 90% of targets in Kosovo.   Her attestations on pages 231 and 232 are presidential (to the surprise of no one here).   A thing to behold.

Madeleine Albright was known for her brooch-diplomacy. Some of her foreign counterparts came to see her brooches as a mood-coding system.  Hillary, who is, after all, a self-described hair icon,  relates an amusing exchange when she was in Bulgaria (NATO member since 2004) in February 2012.  Prime Minister Boyko Borissov seemed edgy.  He finally confessed that he had heard that when her hair was pulled back it indicated a bad mood.  She reassured him that she was not engaging in hair diplomacy but that it “takes her a little longer” to get her look together.

Secretary Clinton with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov

Turkey has been in NATO since 1952, is strategically very important, but following the G.W. Bush administration the Turkish people took a dim view of the U.S.  Hillary’s first visit there as secretary of state was in March 2009.  She made it a point on that trip to take advantage of mass media.

Hillary Clinton’s Interviews in Turkey

On pages 234-235 she explains the term Islamist Party.  It is an important read.  She discusses [now outgoing] Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at length and states her concerns regarding his “Zero Problems with Neighbors” policy, which, on first take, can appear very positive.  Hillary cites the real and potential pitfalls of such a policy, especially when Iran is one of your neighbors. [Reports are that Erdogan will continue calling the shots, so it is unlikely that this policy will be abandoned.]

Ahmet Davutoglu came into the picture early as a close advisor to Erdogan but soon became the Turkish foreign minister with whom she collaborated over nearly her entire term.  (Ali Babacan was the foreign minister she encountered on her first trip there.)  Only three months after that trip, Davutoglu arrived at the State Department as foreign minister and a long working relationship commenced.

(As I returned to the first draft of this post to edit it, Davutoglu was named the new prime minister of Turkey.  Congratulations, Mr. Prime Minister and the best of luck to you in your new post!)

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu shakes hands with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before taking part in meetings in Istanbul on June 7, 2012.  AFP PHOTO / POOL / Saul LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu shakes hands with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before taking part in meetings in Istanbul on June 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sh Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ahmet Davutoglu

 

Hillary Clinton’s Bilaterals Today

Concerns remain.  Dissent is not easily tolerated.  Religious freedom is an issue.  Hillary  hosted Patriarch Bartholomew at a dinner in his honor early in her tenure at State.

Hillary Hosts The Patriarch

He, in turn, received her at the Patriarchy in 2011.  She has known him for a long time and has enormous respect for his opinion.   There is a beautiful slideshow at the link below.  Hillary mentions seized church property that has not been returned.  The photos provide an idea of the nature of what the government is holding.

Hillary Clinton Visits the Patriarchy in Istanbul

In chapter 9, we saw Hillary negotiate the re-opening of the supply lines from Pakistan into Afghanistan.  She never makes a big deal of that, but it was a testament to her diplomatic skills.  Without those lines open, important supplies could not get to the troops,  and they were closed for many months.

Another of her major accomplishments was one which she was never intended to handle and which she describes blow-by-blow.   She had traveled to Zurich simply to witness the signing of the Turkey-Armenia Accord.  It was to be a quick stop on the way to London.  A formality.  At the last minute  Armenian Foreign Minister Nalbandian balked about a speech Davutoglu was planning to make.   Hillary took it upon herself to fetch him and, using two cell phones,  negotiate an agreement for the parties to go ahead with the signing.  She operated mostly  in her SUV.  It was a very dramatic day.  She saved it, and at the event stepped aside for her Swiss counterpart,  Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who was the host, to orchestrate the formalities.  I remember her giving Micheline a little wink of encouragement.  In typical Hillary fashion, she did not care to boast or take credit for this.  She only cared that the work got done.

OK! Now it is a done deal! Hillary helped negotiate the agreement

Turkey-Armenia Accord Salvaged and Signed – Hillary Helps Make History!

Video: Signing of the Armenia Turkey Protocols

How Hillary Saved The Day

 

She departed for the trip to the Balkans that she speaks of on the day of her wedding anniversary 2010.

The Balkans: A Family Affair

There were several notable stops and events on this trip, but she refers specifically to this town hall.

Hillary Clinton’s Town Hall at National Theater Sarajevo

And then there was Kosovo where there was a huge reception in Pristina.  She stood beneath the enormous statue of Bill Clinton, and then discovered a store named for her (so Bill wouldn’t be lonely).

Hillary in Clinton Country (Kosovo, That Is!)

No matter where she traveled as secretary of state, Hillary always made sure to hold a meet-and-greet at the embassy or consulate that had hosted her to thank them for all of the work they had done to make her visit go smoothly.  As it happened, her final stop as secretary of state was especially significant because it was at the Consulate General of Belfast.  Peace in Northern Ireland had been a high priority of the Clinton administration and hard work on both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the Irish Sea had brought that troubled land closer to that goal than it ever had been before.

Video: Hillary Clinton with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness

Hillary Clinton at The Ireland Funds Luncheon

Hillary Clinton with Staff and Families of Consulate General Belfast

Her remarks in the bilaterals at the link below contain references to the March 2009 attacks in Antrim and Armagh that she speaks about in this chapter.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hillary Clinton’s Statement of Northern Ireland Decommissioning

She mentions, as well, her address to the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 2009.

Address of Secretary Clinton to Full Session of the Northern Ireland Assembly

The passages I bolded in the background briefing [in the link below] reflect,  I think,  what is so typical of the Hillary Clinton so many of us know and love,  the Hillary who works tirelessly in the background and declines credit for the good she does.   I am very certain that her intervention was integral in attaining this latest ascension up the tall ladder of unity in Northern Ireland.  But Hillary Clinton will always deflect the praise and aim the limelight on others with whom she has labored to reach an accord.  That is simply who she is and how she operates.  It is also very much a quality of character so many of us accept and admire about her.  I,  for one, am very mindful of the role she has long been playing in this peace process.   I know the devolution will succeed,  and there will be a final and lasting peace.  When it does, I and many, will forever remember the key role she played in the process, even as she disclaims it.

Secretary Clinton on Northern Ireland

This European chapter has been somewhat active re: updates prior to publication.  In the latest news, may this peacemaker rest in peace.

Former Ireland prime minister Reynolds dies aged 81

 

Statement by President Clinton on the Passing of Albert Reynolds

Statement August 21, 2014

I am saddened by the passing of former Prime Minister of Ireland Albert Reynolds, who worked hard and risked much as Taoiseach to advance the Northern Ireland peace process.  His leadership alongside British Prime Minister John Major was instrumental in laying the foundation for the Good Friday Agreement, and our world owes him a profound debt of gratitude.  I will always be grateful for his encouragement, advice, and support in the peace process.  I join with his wife, Kathleen, his children, his many friends, and the people of Ireland in mourning his loss.

 

____________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

 

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

_____________________________________________________

Read Full Post »

Hillary was on familiar ground today as she returned to Georgetown University, where she spoke several times as Secretary of State and as recently as last December.  This time the occasion was the presentation of the annual Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security.  The honorees were British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We also see her with Georgetown President John J. DeGioia and former ambassador and close friend Melanne Verveer.

Clinton Presents Advancing Women in Peace and Security Awards

February 25, 2014 – Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented the university’s annual Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security Tuesday night in historic Gaston Hall.

The awards, created by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS), were given to British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Read more >>>>

02-25-14-Y-01 02-25-14-Y-02 02-25-14-Y-03 02-25-14-Y-04 02-25-14-Y-05 02-25-14-Y-06 02-25-14-Y-07 02-25-14-Z-01 02-25-14-Z-02 02-25-14-Z-03 02-25-14-Z-04 02-25-14-Z-05 02-25-14-Z-06 02-25-14-Z-07 02-25-14-Z-08 02-25-14-Z-09 02-25-14-Z-11

Read Full Post »

Hillary continued collecting awards and honors during her birthday month of October.  Several were extremely prestigious.  The Chatham House Prize involved two events.  There was a town hall during the day and a banquet in the evening where the Duke of York presented her with  a scroll signed by Queen Elizabeth II.   She had the opportunity at this event to catch up with old friends William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, and Kevin Rudd who was Foreign Minister of Australia during part of her tenure at the State Department, Prime Minister twice, and is my Twitter follower.

In October, Hillary reentered politics like a wrecking ball helping to secure victories for Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial effort in Virginia and Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign in New York City.

It was a very busy month.  Details from some of these events were not public.

10/01/13

New York NY

Cipriani

Save the Children Gala: National Legacy Awards

10/04/13

Clinton, NY

Hamilton College

Great Names speaker

10/05/13

New Haven CT

Yale University

Yale Law Award of Merit

10/11/13

London England

Chatham House & Banqueting House

Chatham House 2013 Prize

10/12/13

London England

Concerts

10//15/13

Atlanta GA

Georgia World Congress Center

Closing Session NACS Show

10/15/13

New York NY

Cipriani on Wall Street in New York

Elton John Foundation Honor

10/15/13

New York NY

TBA

McAuliffe Fundraiser

10/16/13

New York NY

Guastavino’s

Voices of September 11 Gala

10/16/14

New York NY

Spring Studios

Michael Kors Award for Outstanding Community Service @ Golden Heart Awards

10/19/13

Springfield VA

Team Terry Field Office

Woman for Terry Endorsement Event

10/21/13

New York NY

Roosevelt Hotel

Fundraiser Bill DeBlasio

10/23/13

Buffalo NY

University of Buffalo

Distinguished Speakers Series

10/24/13

Washington DC

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium

Center for American Progress Anniversary

10/25/13

Hamilton NY

Colgate University

Global Leaders Lecture

10/27/13

St. Louis Park MN

Beth El Synagogue

Speaker Series

10/28/13

Chicago IL

Sheraton Chicago

Vanguard fundraising luncheon for the Jewish United Fund

10/29/13

New York NY

Goldman Sachs

Q & A Session

10/30/13

Beverly Hills CA

Beverly Hills home of Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl

Fundraiser Luncheon for Terry McAuliffe

10/30/13

Los Angeles CA

Oceana’s Partners Award Gala

###

Archives for October 2013 can be accessed here.

Read Full Post »

Yet again, our Hillary has been recognized, this time internationally,  and for some achievements that may have flown beneath the radar of some, but of which we here were well aware. Chatham House, London, honored her with their very prestigious 2013 Prize, today,  presented by HRH The Duke of York.

Brava, Hillary!  Best congratulations, Mme. Secretary! 

Transcript >>>>

Transcript Q & A >>>>

Award Ceremony

HRH The Duke of York presented Secretary Clinton with a crystal award and scroll signed by HM The Queen at a ceremony at Banqueting House on the evening of Friday 11 October. The ceremony included speeches from Secretary Clinton and the Rt Hon William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

See more >>>>

Winner 2013 – Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton has been awarded this year’s Chatham House Prize in recognition of her significant and impressive contribution to international diplomacy as US Secretary of State and her work on behalf of gender equality and opportunities for women and girls.

Hillary Clinton

During her tenure at the State Department, Hillary Clinton decisively drove a new era in US diplomatic engagement. She was instrumental in re-orientating the strategic focus of the United States towards the Asia-Pacific region. She was successful both in multilateral diplomacy − helping to develop new international frameworks, such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition – and in bilateral negotiations, brokering an agreement between Turkey and Armenia to reopen their border and negotiating a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Her creation and implementation of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) made a bold comment on the importance of comprehensive diplomacy and ‘civilian power’. Her understanding and use of public diplomacy demonstrated that values and ideas must be promoted through two-way dialogue, especially in the age of social media.

Secretary Clinton was equally able to tackle acute challenges in international affairs and to call on the necessary skills and tools when needed. Working in partnership with key allies in both the UN and NATO to protect civilians in Libya in 2011 was a prime example.

Secretary Clinton used her personal standing and visibility as a campaigner on the global stage to support educational and economic opportunities for women and girls. She incorporated more women into peace-building initiatives at the UN, and at the State Department she created the position of ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues.

She led a global campaign for efficient, modern cooking stoves, helping to reduce the 1.9 million premature deaths per year from smoke inhalation on open cooking fires, predominantly among women in developing countries. Her work to integrate women’s rights with broader development goals backed up her long-held belief that ‘it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights’.

10-11-13-CH-08

10-11-13-CH-01 10-11-13-CH-02 10-11-13-CH-03 10-11-13-CH-04 10-11-13-CH-05 10-11-13-CH-06 10-11-13-CH-07

10-11-13-Z-01 10-11-13-Z-02 10-11-13-Z-03 10-11-13-Z-04

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodha...

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah host a town hall meeting to discuss the release of the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, “Leading Through Civilian Power,” with USAID and Department of State employees, in the Atrium Hall of the Ronald Reagan Building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10-11-13-Z-0510-11-13-Y-04 10-11-13-Y-05 10-11-13-Y-06

Here she is at the banquet this evening receiving the scroll from Prince Andrew.

10-11-13-Y-01 10-11-13-Y-02 10-11-13-Y-0310-11-13-Y-001

This is a twitpic from UK Foreign Minister William Jefferson Hague.

10-11-13-WJHTW-01

P.S.  Nice shout-out in the award ceremony to my Twitter buddy, Kevin Rudd!

Read Full Post »

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before an Official Arrival Ceremony for British Prime Minister David Cameron on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington

 

Joint Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague

 

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

January 3, 2013

 


Following is the text of a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Begin Text:

We welcome the news that the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan are to meet in Addis Ababa on 4 January in a further effort to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries. We applaud the progress made at their Presidential Summit held in Addis Ababa at the end of September 2012, which demonstrated that a durable and equitable settlement is within reach.

We commend the continuing valuable role of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel led by former President Thabo Mbeki and the efforts of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

We regret that progress in implementing the Agreements signed on 27 September has stalled and in particular that the agreed security arrangements at the border are not yet in place. We call on the two leaders now to address concretely all outstanding issues and ensure that the armed forces of the two countries immediately withdraw from the demilitarized zone and deploy the Joint Border and Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), in line with what has been agreed.

We stress the importance of making progress in parallel on other parts of the relationship between the two countries. Full implementation of all agreements on their own terms and without preconditions or linkages between them, will help build confidence and benefit the people of the two countries. The restart of oil production and export will be particularly valuable for both economies and should not be held up by negotiation on other issues.

We underline our support for the approach taken by the African Union to the question of Abyei. The proposal made by former President Mbeki is based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including the Abyei Protocol. The proposal, adopted by AUPSC on October 24, sets out a clear path towards determining Abyei’s final status in accordance with agreements already signed by both parties, while protecting the rights of all communities and ensuring Abyei can become a model for cross-border cooperation and coexistence. We note in particular that the proposal provides for Abyei’s continuing special status as a bridge between the two countries with guaranteed political and economic rights for both the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya, whatever the outcome of the referendum. We urge the two countries to meet to elaborate on these rights and to move toward agreement on Abyei’s final status.

We remind the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan that the international community is fully committed to a vision of two viable countries at peace with one another, and that we stand ready to support them in realizing that vision. We strongly urge them to seize the opportunity of the Summit meeting on 4 January to demonstrate their commitment to implement what they have agreed and make peaceful coexistence a reality.

Read Full Post »

With NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, U.K. Foreign Minister William Hague, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and others.

12-04-Y-10 12-04-Y-09 12-04-Y-08 12-04-Y-07 12-04-Y-06 12-04-Y-05 12-04-Y-04 12-04-Y-03 12-04-Y-11 12-04-Y-01 12-04-Y-02
12-04-Y-12
12-04-Y-13

Read Full Post »

Yes, there were more bilaterals last night after which she hosted the Transatlantic dinner. The snip below is from a briefing last night by a senior official providing  background.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Readout of the Secretary’s Meetings With Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders, Greek Foreign Minister Avramopoulos, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Hague, and the Transatlantic Dinner

Special Briefing

Senior Administration Official
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 25, 2012
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, and again, sorry that this evening has gone on so long, but we thought it would be worthwhile to provide you a readout on background from our Senior Administration Official. For your records, that is actually [Senior Administration Official]. We will do a brief readout of the dinner that just took place, the Transatlantic Dinner with our NATO and European partners, and then have time to take some of your questions.

So with that, let me just turn it over to our Senior Administration Official.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, and thanks to everyone for waiting up so late. Apologies it’s so late, but the dinner went on for some time. I’ll get to the Transatlantic Dinner. Maybe I can just start with the other Transatlantic engagements, European engagements the Secretary’s had since she arrived on Sunday.

This actually began with her bilat with European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy Cathy Ashton on Sunday evening. And just briefly on that, she – the Secretary spent a good hour with High Representative Ashton covering a wide range of issues starting with Iran. The High Representative is leading the negotiations, recently had some talks in Istanbul with the Iranians, was able to report on those talks, and I think both of them concluded that there’s still time and space for diplomacy, and that effort needs to go on as we pursue both tracks – the pressure track – and I think we’ve heard from a number of Europeans in the course of the week that they’re looking for ways to increase the pressure track even as High Representative Ashton leads the way on negotiations on the diplomatic track. And we’re very serious about both tracks at the same time.

They talked about Burma, obviously, with Aung San Suu Kyi recently being in Washington and the EU having its own engagements with her, and talked about how the U.S. and the EU can coordinate on supporting democratic reforms in Burma. And then they actually spent a considerable time – amount of time on democratic reforms closer to home, which is to say across Eastern Europe. As the Secretary and High Representative were meeting, we were getting election results from Belarus – not that there was much question about how those elections would come out – and unfortunately they came out as expected, which is to say reflecting an unlevel playing field. And Secretary Clinton and High Representative Ashton talked about how we together in the U.S. and Europe can keep the pressure on Belarus and make clear that so long as there are political prisoners and so long as elections are repeatedly falling well short of international standards, then Belarus is not going to be able to have the relationship with Europe and the United States that it needs.

They also talked about upcoming elections in Ukraine, and I think it’s fair to say that we – the United States and Europe are working extraordinarily closely together when it comes to pressing for and supporting free and fair elections that are going to take place on October 28th. Ukraine is hugely important to European security and stability. We have been very clear how much we regret what we see as selective prosecutions, including the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko. And Secretary Clinton, High Rep Ashton agreed the U.S. and the European Union really have the same policy, which is to say that our relations with Ukraine can only really move forward when we see an end of those selective prosecutions and free and fair elections. And they talked about how we can use the time between now and October 28th to support those goals.

There are also upcoming elections in Georgia on October 1st, and once again, I think the two of them agreed how important it was for us collectively to make clear to Georgia how important it is to have a fair and transparent and competitive campaign environment. The most important thing Georgia can do for its future is to consolidate its democracy. We have respectively raised concerns about different issues on the road to those elections, and we’ve been appreciative that the Georgian Government has heard those concerns, and in most cases, taken measures to make sure that the elections that we are going to be very active in monitoring will indeed be free and fair.

And then finally, Secretary Clinton and High Rep Ashton talked about the Balkans. Catherine Ashton is leading an effort to promote the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. Together, we support the path to the European Union of both of those countries. We think Serbia needs to come to term with an independent Kosovo in order to move forward along that path. And it’s something the United States and European Union are working very much hand in hand on to consolidate the Balkans as part of a unified Europe.

And then this evening, the Secretary, prior to the Transatlantic Dinner, had the opportunity to meet with a number of foreign ministers, including, in particular, several whom she hadn’t had formal bilats with who are new since certainly the last General Assembly, which includes the Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. Avramopoulos; the Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders; and the very new Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide. And the Secretary also met with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Just very briefly with Greek Foreign Minister Avramopoulos, of course, they focused considerably on the Greek economy, and the Secretary expressed our understanding and appreciation for the great sacrifices that the Greek people are making in the reforms that have been deemed necessary to keep Greece in the Eurozone and to turn around its economy. We know how difficult those reforms are, but it’s a core American interest to see the Eurozone not just survive but thrive, and that entails also supporting Greece. And she was able to hear from the Foreign Minister the difficult budgetary cuts and tax increases and structural changes they’re making, but we were impressed with the seriousness of the effort, and I think it was useful for the Secretary to hear about the important reforms that Greece has undertaken, and for Foreign Minister Avramopoulos to hear how strongly the United States supports what Greece is doing.

With Foreign Minister Reynders of Belgium, she – Secretary Clinton thanked him for Belgium’s strong cooperation with the United States on a number of areas, including Afghanistan, where they’ve been very much involved and are – have agreed to help support Afghan National Security Forces after 2014; our cooperation on Syria and Iran, where again Belgium is a core member of the Transatlantic community, is cooperating closely with us. And they also talked about a couple of areas of particular interest not just to us, but to Belgium, which is to say Central Africa, the Congo, and the Sahel where the Belgium Foreign Minister explained what Belgium is doing to try to promote stability in those regions.

Seeing the new Norwegian Foreign Minister Barth Eide was a good opportunity for the Secretary, who had worked very closely with his predecessor, Jonas Store. She congratulated the new Foreign Minister and noted that the United States and Norway are extraordinarily close partners who work very well together. The Secretary, of course, traveled to Norway last summer, and it was a good chance for her to touch base with the brand new Foreign Minister and talk about a number of areas of common interest.

Finally, she did a bilat with Foreign Secretary Hague, mostly focused on Syria, where it was a good chance for the two of them, who have both recently seen Special Representative Brahimi, to coordinate policy on Syria. They also touched on Afghanistan and the challenge of dealing with some of these so-called green-on-blue attacks.

A lot of these themes that I’ve already mentioned, these bilats were also the subject of the Transatlantic Dinner, and I’ll end with a readout of that, which I guess went on for almost two hours. The Transatlantic Dinner, as you all know, is something we do every year at the General Assembly, meeting of European Union foreign ministers, NATO foreign ministers, as well as Macedonia and Switzerland, plus the NATO Secretary General and the High Representative of the EU. And it’s an opportunity to talk about a number of issues on the agenda of European and North Atlantic countries. They can obviously not cover everything; they cover a number of things, but I think particularly worth highlighting would be three topics – Syria, Afghanistan, and Europe and this question of democracy in Europe that I already flagged as being one of the subjects of the bilats.

And I think what is really worth stressing when I mention these topics of Syria, Afghanistan, and democracy in Europe is how much on the same page these members of the transatlantic community are. Members of the EU and NATO are really working in an unprecedented way on each of the topics I mentioned.

Again, just briefly on Syria, there was really a consensus around the table behind the approach that I know you’ve heard about that we’ve been taking in terms of supporting the opposition and trying to coordinate the opposition so that when the Assad regime does fall, as we believe it will, there will be something in place that can provide stability, efforts to respond to the huge humanitarian crisis; of course, Turkey is present at this meeting, was able to speak about the challenges they’re facing with refugees and preparing for a post-Assad Syria and keeping the pressure on the regime.

On Afghanistan, as in previous years, the Secretary was able to thank our European allies and partners for all the contributions they have made to our efforts in Afghanistan. This was the first meeting of this group since the Chicago Summit where important decisions were made on the milestone towards Afghan lead in 2013, and then the full transition by the end of 2014. And to follow up on some of the pledges made, our belief, as you know, is that the key to transition and successful transition in Afghanistan is training, and that requires trainers and it requires funding. And we were very pleased at all of the contributions made by European and other allies in Chicago towards ANSF funding after 2014. And the Secretary reiterated the importance of continuing to finance that project and to contribute the security force assistance teams that are needed to make this a success.

I think it’s worth stressing the Secretary made clear, and I think others around the table also made very clear, that notwithstanding some adjustments to the approach in Afghanistan to deal with these so-called insider attacks, the goal and the strategy and the timeline in Afghanistan remain absolutely unchanged. And Secretary General Rasmussen made that perfectly clear as well. What leaders agreed first in Lisbon and then complemented in Chicago is very clear and has not changed, and again, I can – I think I can say that every single minister on the table who spoke about it reiterated their commitment to the same goal, strategy, and timeline, and their commitment to doing what they can to support those goals.

Finally, and I think it’s really worth stressing, the discussion on democracy in Europe was important. This group gets together, and the world in which we live so often finds itself talking about Libya or Syria or Iran or Afghanistan, but there’s still some concerns in Europe to this group. And the Secretary herself highlighted her personal concerns about some of the upcoming elections that I already mentioned – Ukraine and Georgia, the highly imperfect election that took place in Belarus, and also the climate for democracy and human rights in Russia. And the Secretary noted a number of steps taken recently in Russia that aren’t pointing in the right direction where transparency and democracy are concerned.

And we’ve already raised in other fora our concerns about the new NGO law that requires registration of foreign agents, the increased fines for protests, some selective cases of prosecution, and now most recently, a new draft law on treason which would widen the definition of treason, and then of course the Russian decision to ask our USAID Office to cease its activities in Russia. And the Secretary reiterated our regret of that decision and our belief that USAID has accomplished a lot in Russia, and our commitment to carry on as we can in supporting those in Russia who want to see a free and fair and democratic Russia.

So that’s really the highlights, I think, of the Transatlantic Dinner and the bilat….

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: