US Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON Speech to L'ECOLE MILITAIRE, PARIS, January 29, 2010
Keynote Address on 'The Future of European Security' by Secretary Hillary Clinton, January 29, 2010.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Charillon. And it is a great pleasure to be here at this historic setting, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss a matter of great consequence to the United States, France, and every country on this continent and far beyond the borders: the future of European security.
Now, this is not only here at L’Ecole Militaire an architectural and historical treasure, one that when I was much younger I would walk by and looked at as I wandered the neighborhoods. But this is also a place that speaks to the long and proud partnership between the French and American militaries on behalf of our mutual defense and freedom. Two hundred and fifty years ago, young men from across France began arriving here to be trained as soldiers and officers of the French military. And only a few years later, you stood with us during our war of independence. Soldiers from both nations fought together to liberate Paris 65 years ago. Today, they fight together in Afghanistan to defeat al-Qaida and the syndicate of terrorists and offer the Afghan people the hope of a stable future.
As founding members of the NATO Alliance, our countries have worked side by side for decades to build a strong and secure Europe and to defend and promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. And I am delighted that we are working even more closely now that France is fully participating in NATO’s integrated command structure. I thank President Sarkozy for his leadership and look forward to benefiting from the counsel of our French colleagues as together we chart NATO’s future.
Today, thanks to the partnership between our nation and others, Europe is stronger than ever. The bitter divides of the Cold War have been replaced by unity, partnership, and peace. Russia is no longer our adversary but often a partner on key global issues. Nations that once were members of the Warsaw Pact and eyed NATO with suspicion are now active members of our Alliance. And the European Union has grown to include 27 nations, from the British Isles to the Baltic states, and is poised to become even more dynamic with the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon. As I recently expressed to the new EU High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton, the challenges we face in our Euro-Atlantic relationship demand collective responses, and the European Union is an invaluable and increasingly effective force for global progress.
So the accomplishments of the past half century have showcased how vital European security is, not only to the individual nations, but to the world. It is, after all, more than a collection of countries linked by history and geography. It is a model for the transformative power of reconciliation, cooperation, and community.
But at the same time, much important work remains unfinished. The transition to democracy is incomplete in parts of Europe and Eurasia. Arms control regimes that once served us well are now fraying. And in too many places, economic opportunity is still too narrow and shallow.
The transatlantic partnership has been both a cornerstone of global security and a powerful force for global progress. Now we are called to address some of the great challenges in human history. And to meet them, we are required to modernize and strengthen our partnership.
New thinking is underway on both sides of the Atlantic. NATO is revising its Strategic Concept to prepare for the alliance’s summit at the end of this year here at (inaudible). I know there’s a lot of thinking going on about strategic threats and how to meet them. Next week, at the Munich Security Conference, leaders from across the continent will address urgent security and foreign policy challenges. France has urged all of us for a high-level discussion to address European security. Other nations have proposed new approaches and agreements. Russia has recently suggested both a new European security treaty and a new NATO-Russia treaty.
The United States, too, has also been studying ways to strengthen European security and, therefore our own security, and to extend it to foster security on a global scale. Today, I’d like to discuss the core principles that guide the United States today as we consider the future of European security and our role in shaping, strengthening, and sustaining it.
But first, let me address some questions raised in recent months about the depth of the United States commitment to European security. Some wonder whether we understand the urgent need to improve security in Europe. Others have voiced concern that the Obama Administration is so focused on foreign policy challenges elsewhere in the world that Europe has receded in our list of priorities.
Well, in fact, European security remains an anchor of U.S. foreign and security policy. A strong Europe is critical to our security and our prosperity. Much of what we hope to accomplish globally depends on working together with Europe. And so we are working with European allies and partners to help bring stability to Afghanistan and try to take on the dangers posed by Iran’s nuclear ambition. We are working with Europe to help meet the crisis of climate change and revitalize the global economy. And we’re working in the fight against extreme poverty, gender-based violence, and pandemic disease. Human rights and universal values, shared as part of our common history between Europe and the United States, must always be a cornerstone of our security efforts, because if Europe is not secure, Europe cannot lead. And we need European leadership in the 21st century.
But European security is far more than a strategic interest of my country. It is also an expression of our values. We stand with Europe today, as we have stood with Europe for decades, because enduring bonds connect our nations and our peoples. We are united by an understanding of the importance of liberty and freedom. We have fought and died for each other’s liberty and freedom. These are ties that cannot and never should be broken. And we seek both to venerate and reinforce them by helping to maintain peace and security in Europe, today and all the tomorrows to come.
But as we move forward, a set of core principles will guide us in our approach and in our joint effort. First, the cornerstone of security is the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. Much of the suffering that occurred in Europe during the 20th century emanated from a failure to respect borders or to honor the right of all nations to pursue their own foreign policies, choose their own allies, and provide for their own self-defense. These are fundamental rights of free nations and must and will remain vigilant in our efforts to oppose any attempt to undermine them.
The United States has demonstrated our adherence to this principle in recent years with our support for new European democracies seeking to chart their own political futures, free from external intimidation or aggression. We have repeatedly called on Russia to honor the terms of its ceasefire agreement with Georgia, and we refuse to recognize Russia’s claims of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. More broadly, we object to any spheres of influence claimed in Europe in which one country seeks to control another’s future. Our security depends upon nations being able to choose their own destiny.
For years, Russia has expressed a sense of insecurity as NATO and the EU have expanded. But we strongly believe that the enlargement of both has increased security, stability, and prosperity across the continent, and that this, in turn, has actually increased Russia’s security and prosperity.
Furthermore, the right of all countries to enter into alliances of their own choosing has been endorsed by Russia and all members of the OSCE at the 1999 Istanbul summit. NATO must and will remain open to any country that aspires to become a member and can meet the requirements of membership. But we do not seek to create divisions between neighbors and partners. Russia’s confidence in its security enhances our own.
So that brings us to our second principle: Security in Europe must be indivisible. For too long, the public discourse around Europe’s security has been fixed on geographical and political divides. Some have looked at the continent even now and seen Western and Eastern Europe, old and new Europe, NATO and non-NATO Europe, EU and non-EU Europe. The reality is that there are not many Europes; there is only one Europe. And it is a Europe that includes the United States as its partner. And it is a Europe that includes Russia.
For in this century, security cannot be a zero-sum game. The security of all nations is intertwined. And we have a responsibility to work to enhance each other’s security, in part by engaging with others on these new ideas and approaches.
Now, the Russian Government under President Medvedev has put forth proposals for new security treaties in Europe. Indivisibility of security is a key feature of those proposals. And that is a goal we share, along with other ideas in the Russian proposals which reaffirm principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the NATO-Russia Founding Act. However, we believe that these common goals are best pursued in the context of existing institutions, such as the OSCE and the NATO-Russia Council, rather than by negotiating new treaties, as Russia has suggested – a very long and cumbersome process.
We will build upon this foundation as we seek to revitalize the NATO-Russia Council, so it can make concrete contributions to areas where we are working together and need to be doing even more, such as in missile defense, counternarcotics, and Afghanistan. And we are committed to exploring ways that NATO and Russia can improve their partnership by better reassuring each other about respective actions and intentions, through greater military transparency, the sharing of information, and other means of building trust and confidence. Now, I don’t need to state, but I will, that the United States and Russia will not always agree. We have different histories, different experiences and perspectives. Our interests will not always overlap. But when we disagree, we will seek constructive ways to manage our differences.
Third, we will maintain an unwavering commitment to the pledge enshrined in Article 5 of the NATO treaty that an attack on one is an attack on all. When France and our other NATO allies invoked Article 5 in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, it was a proclamation to the world that our promise to each other was not rhetorical, but real. And the people of Europe brought great comfort to the people of the United States by reminding us that even in such a difficult hour, we were not alone. I was a senator representing the state of New York at that time, and I well remember the extraordinary outpouring of support that the people of New York specifically received. And for that, I thank you. And I assure you and all members of NATO that our commitment to Europe’s defense is equally strong.
As proof of that commitment, we will continue to station American troops in Europe, both to deter attacks and respond quickly if any occur. We are working with our allies to ensure that NATO has the plans it needs for responding to new and evolving contingencies. We are engaged in productive discussions with our European allies about building a new missile defense architecture that will defend all of NATO territory against ballistic missile attack. And we are serious about exploring ways to cooperate with Russia to develop missile defenses that enhance the security of all of Europe, including Russia.
Missile defense, we believe, will make this continent a safer place. That safety could extend to Russia, if Russia decides to cooperate with us. It is an extraordinary opportunity for us to work together to build our mutual security.
In the 21st century, the spirit of collective defense must also include non-traditional threats. We believe NATO’s new Strategic Concept must address these new threats. Energy security is a particularly pressing priority. Countries vulnerable to energy cut-offs face not only economic consequences but strategic risks as well. And I welcome the recent establishment of the U.S.-EU Energy Council, and we are determined to support Europe in its efforts to diversify its energy supplies.
Fourth, we are committed to practicing transparency in our dealings in Europe, and we call on other nations to do the same.
In this interconnected age, and particularly on this integrated continent, a threat that originates in one country can quickly become a regional or even global crisis. To keep Europe safe, we must keep the channels of communication open by being forthright about our policies and approaches.
That begins with transparency. The United States supports a more open exchange of military data, including visits to military sites and observation of military activities and exercises because when nations are uncertain about the military capabilities of their neighbors, that uncertainty can foster suspicion and even lead to conflict. As we work together to advance security across the continent, we must be able to trust each other enough to share information that could in real time make a difference in protecting the lives of our citizens.
To this end, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty needs our attention. For more than 20 years, the CFE Treaty has been a cornerstone of conventional arms control, transparency, and confidence-building. But this valuable regime is in danger of crumbling. Two years ago, Russia suspended the implementation of the CFE Treaty, while the United States and our allies continue to do so. The Russia-Georgia war in 2008 was not only a tragedy but has created a further obstacle to moving forward.
It is only through such an approach that we can provide the reassurance that no country is secretly preparing its forces to attack another. I meet with foreign ministers and defense ministers and heads of state on a regular, ongoing basis. And there is still a great deal of concern on the part of Central and Eastern Europeans that something may be happening they’re not aware of, that some action may be taken that is directed at them. So to achieve our goal of greater transparency, we will consult closely with our allies on how we can best put this fundamental principle into practice.
Fifth, people everywhere have the right to live free from the fear of nuclear destruction.
In his speech in Prague last year, President Obama declared the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and we will guarantee that defense to our allies. But we will begin the work of reducing our arsenal. And as we do so, we will spare no effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to secure existing stockpiles and materials.
In April in Washington, President Obama will host a Nuclear Security Summit to draw high-level attention to the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and to galvanize support for tough measures to secure vulnerable nuclear material across the globe. And in May, we will reaffirm and reinforce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at its review conference. And we continue to work with other nations and the United Nations to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials to terrorists and non-nuclear states.
We will seek to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to negotiate a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. And we are conducting a comprehensive Nuclear Posture Review to chart a new course that strengthens deterrence and reassurance for the United States and our allies while reducing the role and number of the nuclear weapons we have.
We will continue our intensive efforts to prevent Iran to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. And I applaud President Sarkozy’s leadership on this issue, which will continue when France assumes the presidency of the United Nations Security Council next month.
Sixth and finally, true security entails not only peaceful relations between states but opportunities and rights for individuals who live within them.
A secure nation defends human rights and allows its citizens to select their leaders. It allows citizens to express their views freely and participate fully in public debates, both in person and online. It offers its citizens the opportunity to live in healthy communities, receive an education, hold a job, raise a family if they choose, travel freely, and make the most of their God-given potential.
Development, democracy, and human rights comprise a mutually reinforcing cycle that is critical to security everywhere. When that cycle is broken, a nation is not secure. The essential building blocks for long-term progress and prosperity are missing. And we have seen with countries such as Yemen that one nation’s struggle to maintain order and provide for its people has consequences beyond its borders. A country that stifles its people’s voices, suppresses dissent, and asserts authoritarian control over citizens, is not a strong country but a weak country, no matter the size of its army or the scale of its ambitions.
Now, Europe understands this, that security is about more than military might, that it is also about human potential. In Europe, security is provided by an array of institutions – including NATO, the European Union, the OSCE – that provide the full range of tools to meet common challenges.
Consider the former Communist countries of Central Europe, now democracies that offer their citizens a better quality of life. They were drawn to the EU because of the political, economic, and social opportunities it represents. They received legal, social, and technical assistance in building democratic institutions and the rule of law. They inherited the riches of a single market and the unifying experience of a common European identity. These are such powerful forces for progress and stability. Europe has harnessed them through the creation of effective institutions. So now the United States works with NATO, the EU, and the OSCE to extend this kind of comprehensive human security to other places.
We are continuing the enterprise that we began at the end of the Cold War to expand the zone of democracy and stability. We have worked together this year to complete the effort we started in the 1990s to help bring peace and stability to the Balkans. And we are working closely with the EU to support the six countries that the EU engages through its Eastern Partnership initiative.
We stand with the people of Ukraine as they choose their next elected president in the coming week, an important step in Ukraine’s journey toward democracy, stability, and integration into Europe. And we are devoting ourselves to efforts to resolve enduring conflicts, including in the Caucasus and on Cyprus.
Our work extends beyond Europe as well. With the EU, we are fighting poverty and strengthening institutions in Yemen, Haiti, and Pakistan, among others. With NATO and other European partners, we’re working side by side to encourage accountable, effective governments in Afghanistan. European and American voices speak as one to denounce the gross violations of human rights in Iran. European and American governments and non-governmental actors operate together and in parallel to promote economic and democratic development in Africa.
And we look forward to doing even more together as the EU develops its capacities for global engagement, including by sending its own highly qualified diplomats to serve alongside their counterparts from individual European nations.
Our combined efforts can help put an end to the scourge of human trafficking, a threat to public safety and a crime that degrades and dehumanizes its victims.
We believe that our commitment to expanding opportunity compels us to reach out to those who too often go unseen and unsupported, particularly in countries marked by poverty, political oppression, and violent extremism. Women and girls, who are one of the world’s greatest untapped resources, deserve our investment in their potential. There’ve been so many studies about how raising the status of women produces greater development and greater stability.
We also strengthened – we wish to strengthen the stability of the OSCE to defend and promote human rights in the world. The commitment to human rights enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act is one of the best things that the Euro-Atlantic community has accomplished together. Now we are called to renew that commitment by empowering the OSCE to increase its work in the world.
So we are coming forward with proposals for strengthening its efforts in three areas – military, economic and environmental, and human rights. We support the creation of an OSCE crisis prevention mechanism that, in situations of tension between OSCE states, would empower the OSCE to offer rapid humanitarian relief, help negotiate ceasefires, and provide impartial monitoring. We also propose that the OSCE chair-in-office have the capacity to facilitate consultations in the case of serious energy or environmental disruption, dispatch special representatives to investigate reports of egregious human rights violations, and provide a forum for emergency consultations.
Looking back on all we have achieved together over the past 65 years, it is remarkable how much has been accomplished – Europe emerging from the ruins of war to become a showcase for peace and opportunity and prosperity. The condition of modern Europe, however, is not a miracle handed to the people of Europe. It is the result of years of careful, courageous work by leaders and citizens, in this country and others, to create institutions and erect policies that brought together former adversaries and united them in common cause. Now it is our turn. It is our responsibility to continue that tradition of leadership and renew those institutions for a new era. As we proceed, let us remember why we began this project in the first place, and why it is still vitally important today.
This partnership is about so much more than strengthening our security. At its core, it is about defending and advancing our values in the world. I think it is particularly critical today that we not only defend those values in the world. I think it is particularly critical today that we not only defend those values, but promote them; that we are not only on defense, but on offense. There is so much that the West has to be proud of and to lay a claim to.
We believe and we have the evidence to prove it that democracy works and can deliver for citizens if leaders are committed to the enterprise, and if democracies are about more than just elections; if we build institutions of independent judiciaries and free media and protection of minority rights and so much else, that we have worked and labored to create.
We are closer than ever to achieving the goal that has inspired European and American leaders and citizens – not only a Europe transformed, secure, democratic, unified and prosperous, but a Euro-Atlantic alliance that is greater than the sum of its parts, that stands for these values that have stood the test of time, and worked strategically to move toward a vision that may need to be updated and modernized, but is timely. The United States is honored to stand by your side as we take the next steps towards fulfilling that vision. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.) Thank you very much (inaudible) key speech and (inaudible). (In French.)
QUESTION: (In French.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Here comes a microphone.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Madam Secretary, we hear very often that America and the EU should be complementary with (inaudible) that have not yet reached this complementarity. What should be, then, from your views to achieve better complementarity between these two organizations?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I would start by saying that these, of course, are decisions for the Europeans to make with respect to the EU. When it comes to NATO, I think that greater integration on the European continent provides even more opportunity for the level of cooperation to increase. We value our bilateral relationship and we will always maintain them, stay focused on them, because even in a time of greater European integration, there are obviously differences when it comes to certain national matters that have to be respected.
But I think, given the complexity of the world today, closer cooperation and more complementarity between the EU and NATO is in all of our interests to try to forge common policies – economic and development and political and legal on the one hand in the EU, and principally security on the other hand in NATO. But as I said in my remarks, they are no longer separated. It’s hard to say that security is only about what it was when NATO was formed, and the EU has no role to play in security issues.
Take, for example, energy security. I mean, it would be the EU’s responsibility to create policies that would provide more independence and protections from intimidation when it comes to energy markets from member nations. But I can also see how in certain cases respecting energy, there may be a role for NATO as well. So as we refashion, rethink the way forward in this century, I think we should respect and honor the foundation institutions, but we should be unafraid to ask a lot of the questions about how can they function better.
And certainly, when one thinks of NATO as a response in the Cold War to the Warsaw Pact nations which no longer exist in the form that it was, and with the new threats that we have to confront, the strategic review that is now ongoing by NATO which will be presented at the NATO summit in Lisbon at the end of this year should be a hard rethinking. I mean, if it just repeats that we have to do better what we’ve always done, it will be a lost opportunity. And under the Lisbon treaty, with more focus and specific leadership attached to foreign policy and development assistance, there will be a way to better coordinate.
So I think that your question is a very timely one and one that calls us to be creative and to work closely together and hopefully make the changes that are called for.
QUESTION: (In French.)
QUESTION: I’m an American so I’ll put my question in English. Thank you for coming, Madam Secretary. Amy Green, Ph.D. student in political science here in France. Given the interconnectivity of global challenges, it seems evident that the United States and Europe, in the context of NATO, can’t solve all the problems alone. Is there support in the Administration for extending the boundaries of NATO to non-Western countries, emerging powers like Brazil, India, other democracies that might fulfill their criteria?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think there is an awareness of the global nature of a lot of these problems, but a great reluctance to go beyond the geographic reach of NATO. Now, we still have work to do in the Balkans. There are issues regarding Georgia and Ukraine’s aspirations. So there are still a lot of areas that require attention from NATO. But your question really raises an important issue: How do we cooperate across geographic distance with countries in other hemispheres, different geopolitical challenges? And there is a modern living example of that with the NATO ISAF commitment in Afghanistan.
There are many reasons on the substance, I would argue, why this is an important mission for NATO. But clearly, there were more countries than just NATO members who have a stake in a stable Afghanistan. So as Australia sends troops, we are working through how to coordinate with non-NATO members. And I think that in addition to the substantive commitments, there will be a number of lessons learned from how that worked and what didn’t work going forward.
In many ways, it’s quite remarkable, the success of this alliance. Yesterday at the London conference on Afghanistan, as you know, the United States, under President Obama, has agreed to put 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan. And member nations, NATO and ISAF – the international partners – have come up with a total of 9,000 more troops. How you integrate commands, how you utilize the different contributions that countries are making is a leadership and management challenge.
But I think it’s an important test for the world. NATO is leading the way, but NATO has to determine in what ways it can cooperate with others. I think that the world that we face of failing states, non-state actors, networks of terrorists, rogue regimes – North Korea being a prime example – really test the international community. And it’s a test we have to pass.
Now, there are some who say this is too complicated, it is out of area, it is not our responsibility. But given the nature of the threats we face, I don’t think that’s an adequate response.
Take cyber security, for example. We have to figure out how to cooperate not just in physical space, but in virtual space. The threats from cyber security breaches, concerted attacks on networks and countries, are likely to cross borders. We have to know how to defend against them and we have to enlist nations who are likeminded to work with.
Similarly, with energy problems, attacks on pipelines, attacks on container ships, attacks on electric grids will have consequences far beyond boundaries. And it won’t just be NATO nations. NATO nations border non-NATO nations.
So how do we begin to re-imagine the world that we’re in, not just try to keep adding to the structure of the world we inherited? When you mention countries like Brazil and India, how do we find common cause? Now, the U.S. peacekeeping missions are a very important way to combine military under UN military leadership for countries that might not be able to take on a mission themselves, but with combined capacity, can. Brazil, under a Brazilian general, has done an excellent job in leading the UN peacekeeping operations in Haiti for a number of years, providing the only source of solid, sustainable security as they work to train a police force. There’s no army in Haiti. So honing one’s skills so that they could be put to work, I think, will be one of the responsibilities we have to address.
And finally, there’s a tremendous opportunity for us to improve our disaster mitigation and response abilities. We have a lot of common desire to respond to disasters, as we’ve seen in the wake of Haiti. Countries immediately sprang into action. I commend France for the excellent response and the aid that was sent. The disaster relief could not have been done solely by civilians. It’s impossible. The disaster consequences were so profound that without military assets, there is no way food, water, or rescue missions could have been delivered.
So how do we better coordinate? No matter whose military it is, no matter whose flag it’s under, how do we better coordinate? How do we think this through? And that is something that countries across the world should be interested in addressing. So there are so many implications of what we must do, and I think it’s going to require leadership from both military and civilian experts to help us find our way forward.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, my name is Michel (inaudible). I’m president here at (inaudible) studies here, military school and the institute of higher national defense studies.
I have a question about China: China is becoming a major global problem; I think one of your first trips was to China, and not only in economic terms. So which is the new – where is the best framework, institutional framework to not only accommodate China, but to engage it? Is it United Nations? Is it G-20, is it G-2, or EU-China bilateral relations, or maybe a mix of all that? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think your last point is the right point. It needs to be a mix of all that. I think that there are many different institutional arrangements that would be beneficial to include China in. There are Asia-Pacific institutions that – like ASEAN, APEC, East Asia summits – that are important for China to play a role in and to be better connected with their neighbors. The G-20 is an attempt to better manage the range of problems that no existing institution on its own can do. The G-8 left too many people out.
The UN is often not able to function on an ongoing basis the way that we would like. But the UN also has a tremendous capacity to bring China in around the table.
So I think that the short answer is we should try many different approaches. It will be increasingly important for China to become more transparent about its military ambitions and budgets. It is difficult to create and sustain military-to-military engagement with China, but I think every institution you just named, plus bilateral relationships, should try to include that. It will take time, but I think it’s very important.
I think that China has certainly made clear that it’s willing to participate more on a range of issues than it had before. During our negotiations about sanctions for North Korea, obviously the United States, South Korea, and Japan were committed to moving forward to try to alter North Korea’s behavior. But after study and consultations, so was China – a remarkably positive step for them to take. And they have been equally responsive with respect to the enforcement of Security Council Resolution 1874 which embodies those sanctions.
With respect to Iran, thus far, the P-5+1, which as you know is France, Germany, United Kingdom, EU, United States, Russia, and China, has been united. Now, as we move away from the engagement track, which has not produced the results that some had hoped for, and move toward the pressure and sanctions track, China will be under a lot of pressure to recognize the destabilizing impact that a nuclear-armed Iran would have in the Gulf, from which they receive a significant percentage of their oil supply, that it will produce an arms race; other countries will feel the necessity to seek their own nuclear weapons programs; Israel will feel an existential threat to its very existence. All of that is incredibly dangerous.
We have in the last year worked very hard to establish what we call a positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship with China. We will always have disagreements, as we will with probably any country, even a close friend like France. But with China, we want the relationship to continue despite the disagreements. So that’s – for example, if we arrange a meeting between our President and the Dalai Lama, that is a difference in perspective, a respect for his religious leadership, and we do not think it should derail the relationship.
But this is kind of a learning experience for all of us, including China. China has emerged as a global leader on the world stage at a time when the world is so much more complicated. I mean, if we were in a bipolar world, everybody would know what they were supposed to do. But we’re not. So China is, like the rest of us, trying to figure out how do you protect your national interests and yet recognize the consequences for your national interests from actions outside your borders, and cooperate with others to achieve goals that actually are in your interests? It’s a complicated equation for all of us today.
We had an incident I’m sure you’ve read about concerning Google and concerns about actions constraining information, which we very forthrightly presented to the Chinese in public and in private, but I made the additional point that as China grows, they will have companies that will operate globally, that will need the same kind of protection that we expect for our companies operating globally.
So we’re asking for kind of an over-the-horizon view, which is always the hardest thing to do in politics, because politics is about the moment, unfortunately, too often. But I think that it’s this kind of engagement and respectful sharing of views that is at the heart of any kind of coordination or cooperation with China.
QUESTION: Bonjour. So I’m (inaudible), first-year medical student. So I would like to know your opinion about the European army that France and Germany have been trying to build for the last 50 years and to know the opinion of the U.S. about this.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, this is a European matter. It certainly is a French and German matter. And I respect the decision making of allies like France and Germany, so it is really within those two countries’ sphere of authority.
I think the U.S. view is that we would not want to see anything supplant NATO. If it were able to supplement NATO, that would be different. But given the strains that already exist on NATO’s budget and military expenditures in our countries, we think it’s smarter to figure out how to use the resources we have more effectively, use the alliance that we’re members of in a more strategic way. But again, that is ultimately a decision of the French and the German people.
QUESTION: Madam, hi, (inaudible). So you mentioned among the common challenges extreme poverty and importance to strengthen the potential of women and girls around the world. And I agree that a common value that United States and Europe share is a shared vision of women, of women rights. And I know that you were a supporter of Muhammad Yunus activities in microcredit and that President Obama’s mother was a pioneer in this. So what can be the role of a cooperation between Europe and the United States on this particular aspect?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a wonderful question because one of the areas that we would like to see greater cooperation between Europe and the United States is in development. We think that if we were more thoughtful about how we utilized our own national resources in coordination with other nations’ resources, we would get greater results. If you take any country that is a poor developing country, there’s a great spirit of generosity among Europeans and Americans. We actually help people who have no other capacity to help themselves, who are also not in countries that we consider strategically important to us, but who are suffering. And I would hope that on a bilateral basis, and now particularly through the EU with the post-Lisbon structure, we could be thoughtful about how to do that.
I’ve talked a lot about this with Foreign Minister Kouchner, who of course has a great history in healthcare, and France has done wonderful work on healthcare in Afghanistan, wonderful work. The French hospital that the people of France built is now training Afghan doctors and nurses and taking care of so many people.
Well, would it make sense for the United States to rush in and build our own hospital? No, it would make sense for us to support the French initiative. Yet, at the same time, we’re doing a lot of investment now in agriculture, because in Afghanistan, 60 to 70 percent of the people make their living from agriculture. And we not only want to enhance their incomes; we want to turn them away from poppy production. So we’re sending agriculture experts, we’re helping to build irrigation systems, we’re providing new, stronger seeds. We’re doing a lot. So would it make sense for France to have a parallel program? No. But to help us and bring the expertise is absolutely welcomed.
So when it comes to women and girls in some of the countries that are most at risk, there is so much to be done, it’s almost overwhelming. I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the epicenter of gender and sexual-based violence against girls and women in the world right now, and there is a lot that we have to do because there is so little to start with. So we should plan together and try to figure out how we can influence the government, the military, provide protection for people on the ground and provide treatment for those who have been assaulted. Bernard Kouchner and I worked together in the wake of the terrible instance in Guinea, where government-sponsored murders and rapes took place at a peaceful demonstration. And we worked very closely together with African countries to try to work out a way to resolve the conflict without bloodshed, because we knew that among the first victims would be girls and women again.
So our hope is that through our bilateral aid, we cooperate more, through multilateral institutions like the World Bank or UNDP or UNIFEM or other – UNICEF, et cetera, we really begin to put in systems of accountability to absolutely evaluate outcomes. That’s harder to do than it sounds, but we must take that on because we owe it to our citizens and our taxpayers to say look, we want to help the women of the Congo or we want to help build schools in Afghanistan, and we can show you what we’re accomplishing. We owe it to those people, especially in these economic times of difficulty when so many of our own citizens are worried and suffering.
But there’s a great opportunity here, so I think that we should work together. And obviously, from my perspective, focusing on girls and women makes a great deal of sense because it’s the fastest way to get money into the hands of children, family members, communities, and I think it’s an obligation and responsibility as well.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) already 4 o’clock and we would like you to talk for hours and days, and you have so many obligations that (inaudible). So now, I would like to thank you very deeply in the name of this institute, in the name of all authority and all teams. I’d like to thank, of course, the two teams, French and American, that (inaudible) work together. Thank you so much. You know how important (inaudible). (Applause.)
Source: US Department of State, www.state.gov.