Coffee Break with Hillary Clinton *updated*
MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) Madam, Secretary, thank you very much for joining us. It’s a great pleasure to have you here with us this morning.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, truly thank you, and thanks to everyone who is here with us on such a beautiful day. I am very grateful to have this chance just to talk with you and to talk with the audience members.
MS. PAYZIN: By the way, what a beautiful color you have. Such a –
SECRETARY CLINTON: I just saw your ring. (Laughter.) It’s one of my favorite colors. Absolutely.
MS. PAYZIN: Exactly. It bring a great luck.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s what I’m told. And I need all the luck I can get. So — (laughter).
MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) We’re going to get some questions also from Peter and emails.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good.
MS. PAYZIN: So shall we begin?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we shall.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay. We have many questions, of course about women issues and social issues and also maybe sports, but let’s begin with the politics.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
MS. PAYZIN: You came yesterday for serious talks about Libya and have to end the conflict in this country, and you conveyed very important messages, too. But the situation in Turkey is, at the same time, pretty tense because 13 Turkish soldiers have been killed near Diyarbakir, and there is a huge, very strong angry reaction from the public against PKK. On the other hand, elected Turkish parliamenters are still boycotting Turkish parliament, and they called for autonomy in this region.
So from your perspective, what is your reaction? How do you see the situation? How do you view the situation in Turkey?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say how pleased I am to be back in Turkey. I have enjoyed coming here since the 1990s as a First Lady along with my husband and then as a senator and now as the Secretary of State. And I think the relationship between Turkey and the United States is so important because we have a lot of common concerns and also common shared values.
One of our shared concerns is about terrorism, and the United States has strongly supported Turkey in the efforts to try to eliminate terrorism, like the terrible attack on the soldiers the other day. I condemned it yesterday and I condemned it the day before when it happened. I think the key for both of our countries is to maintain our strong, vibrant, democratic institutions, our pluralist societies, our respect for the wonderful differences among us that make life interesting, but to give no quarter to terrorists. I mean, if people want to participate in the political system and they wish to put forth ideas that I may not agree with or you may not agree with, but they do it peacefully within a democratic process, that’s the way democracy should work. But they must give up violence and they must denounce it, and they cannot be associated with it if they expect to be part of the political system.
So certainly these are all decisions for the Turkish people to make, but I have been involved in many conflicts around the world in working for peace, in working to bring differences together over the divides that too often separate us. And I think we have to draw a very, very sharp line between peaceful protest, political participation, and use of violence and terrorism. And that is just absolutely something that has to be condemned and outlawed and punished very strongly.
MS. PAYZIN: Is there any official stand regarding this declaration of autonomy in this region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No.
MS. PAYZIN: United States has any reaction to that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, that’s something that is certainly – that’s totally a Turkish domestic matter.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay. So I’ve got many questions about, actually, U.S.-PKK relations. Somehow, even though you’ve made several declarations and remarks about the issue, Turkish public has still doubts about U.S. stands towards PKK. They believe that you are supporting or you are not doing enough — you are not putting enough efforts to stop PKK. What would you say that? How would you answer to those questions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s absolutely untrue. And perhaps we need to do a better job of describing the very close cooperation that exists between the United States military and intelligence services with the Turkish military and the Turkish intelligence services. We have cooperated very closely in Iraq. We continue to provide intelligence whenever we get it. We were very grateful that Turkish authorities broke up an al-Qaida plot that was aimed at American targets in Ankara just a few days ago. We are in constant communication, and the United States put the PKK on our terrorist list, which is the most public way we can condemn the PKK.
So I really hope to disabuse anyone of thinking that. It’s just absolutely not true. But Åžirin, you raise a question that I really want to address because I get the feeling sometimes that we don’t do a good enough job communicating between our two countries and that there are some beliefs or opinions that Turkish people have that are just not true. And so part of the reason I wanted to come here today and especially to address young people who are the future of Turkey and the future of our relationship is to get those questions so that I can do the best possible job in trying to respond to them. So I thank you for asking it because I want to make it absolutely clear we condemn PKK, we do not support PKK, and we’re working with Turkish authorities to prevent any violence that they might wish to inflict upon the Turkish people.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay. Now questions. Who wants to start? Yes, the gentleman who is behind. Microphone. Your name and favorite question, please.
QUESTION: (Inaudible). Madam, do you have — does America have the solution to the matters like — solution proposal like Cyprus any plans, like a solution made by (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: For the Kurdish matter?
QUESTION: Like, do you have a solution for Kurdish matter, like put forth by (inaudible) for Cyprus?
MS. PAYZIN: (Inaudible) plan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: So do we have a solution for the Kurdish matter, like a proposal that was made for the Cyprus matter?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. First of all, I think it’s important for me to say that we respect and support the Turkish Government in how it deals with the internal matters related to the Kurdish people within Turkey, and we support the democratically elected Iraqi Government in dealing with Kurdish matters within Iraq. But I will make a general point about how to deal with these historical and seemingly intractable problems, because I know that there are people from all parts of Turkey here today. And I am a very strong believer in opening up the political process as widely as possible, in respecting the cultural differences that exist between us, but doing so in a way that promotes a strong, unified, democratic society.
Now, that’s perhaps because I come from a country where everybody comes from somewhere else, and I am privileged to work with people and have always been involved with people who come from all over the world who maintain their religion, maintain their cultural ties, maintain their often family ties with their homelands. So I think that moving toward the broadest possible democratic participation so that Kurdish Turks can feel fully a part of Turkey while still believing that they can maintain those aspects of their Kurdish identity that are important to them, and again, I would stress, drawing the line at any violence or terrorism, because that is not the way you make change in democratic societies.
I spent many years along with my husband working on the problems in Northern Ireland and how to get more participation and involvement in both the political process and the labor market for Catholics who lived in Northern Ireland. Now, it was not easy and it is still not done, but we’ve made progress. Similarly, as I look around the world, I see other countries that are struggling. So I don’t have any plan, because it’s really up to the Turkish people, but I think there are certain principles that can be the guiding lights that are rooted in democratic values and that draw the line at violence. And I would certainly urge that people here in Turkey look at that.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay, a very brief follow-up. Are you disappointed by this action government because they slow down towards democratization?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I mean, I’m not here to judge the Turkish Government. That’s up to the Turkish people. You just had a very vigorous election and the election was, from everything that I read about it and watched of it, a hard-fought election. And I think it was another strong validation of the vibrant democracy that Turkey has.
But I believe that any government has to be held accountable, has to be transparent. You need a strong opposition in any government. You need checks and balances. Those are the things that I believe in because that’s the way our American system has been successful. And yet I know people looking from the outside at our system sometimes don’t understand it and think, “What are they doing? Why are they so difficult in making decisions?” So every system is unique, but there are, again, certain values that we have learned over time are essential for a democracy. And I know you’re thinking about doing a constitutional reform process, and I strongly believe in protecting people’s rights in constitutions, because there is so much diversity in Turkey. It’s one of the things that is so attractive about Turkey, and you don’t want to do anything that undermines or denies that diversity.
So I think what Turkey has accomplished in the last several decades is remarkable, and I just want to see Turkey get stronger and more prosperous and have your democratic institutions be even more durable and be an example for so many of the countries that themselves are trying to figure out how to make political and economic reforms.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for being here with us. My name is (inaudible), expert from (inaudible) agency. I’ve got two short questions. First is Turkey have recorded an 11 percent of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2011 and have been enjoying an outstanding performance in economic and financial issues lately. Then what’s your estimation of Turkish economy in following 20 or 30 years? And the second is regarding foreign trade. Turkey’s main trading partner is the EU constituting almost 50 percent of our foreign trade. So on the other hand, the trade volume between Turkey and the U.S. is still very low. Why is it so? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think it’s absolutely exciting the way Turkey has grown, and its 11 percent growth rate is phenomenal. It’s one of the highest in the world. It’s higher than what China has posted, as you know, for this similar period. And I imagine that Turkey will continue to grow, but I think the political environment in which Turkey’s growth has occurred has been absolutely critical. I mean, an open economy, a labor market that welcomes everybody into it, an effort to try to develop many parts of the country that historically have been poorer, so there’s a lot of inward investment as well as exporting that has gone into that 11 percent growth. And that is, to me, the right balance. I think Turkey’s combination of internal and external growth is a much stronger foundation than some other countries that are growing very fast but are largely export driven. You have a growing consumer base. You have a growing middle class. That’s what will enable Turkey to continue that growth over the next 20, 30, 50 years.
And what I hope is that Turkey will be an engine for economic growth in the region, particularly to the east and to the south. I am working hard to increase trade and investment between the United States and Turkey. I think there has been a natural relationship between Turkey and the European Union, and of course, the United States strongly supports Turkey’s accession and membership in the EU. But historically, there’s been all of those ties. What I would like is to see more business men and women from the United States seeking investment, seeking partnerships, seeking joint ventures here with Turkish businesses. I just came from a group that has started here in Turkey called Partnerships for a New Beginning, which the United States is working with in order to really create more linkages between American business and Turkish business, and we are very encouraging of Turkish investment in the Middle East, in North Africa, because we think Turkish businesses have a lot to teach as well as to contribute to the economic growth in other countries as well as your own.
MS. PAYZIN: Especially in the region.
SECRETARY CLINTON: In the region, absolutely.
MS. PAYZIN: Have you seen those changes? I mean, you said that you came before here with your –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I have.
MS. PAYZIN: Are you (inaudible) those changes around?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I find Turkey one of the most exciting places in the world.
MS. PAYZIN: (Inaudible) I don’t know. I mean –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I first came in the ‘90s, it was really at the beginning of the economic takeoff. And there were some businesses that had historically always done well. There were a group of wealthy Turks, like there are wealthy people anywhere in the world, but the base of economic growth has exploded in Turkey in the last 20 years. And I’ve seen that with my own eyes, and I’ve not only seen it in the statistics, which the young man just quoted, but I’ve seen it in the day-to-day life. And certainly, as I interact with Turkish business leaders, Turkish academics, Turkish media people, as well as Turkish Government officials, there is just a confidence about your future that I think is important, because that confidence should be a base for maybe some of the tough decisions about how you integrate Kurds, for example, how you develop other parts of the country. There is such a strong economic impetus to continue the political development that they really go hand in hand. So I’m excited by what I have seen.
MS. PAYZIN: We have one guest, actually, from Gaziantep, so –
QUESTION: From Karaman.
MS. PAYZIN: From Karaman. Sorry. (Laughter.) It’s about women issue, maybe — women matter.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I am (inaudible) from Karaman (inaudible). I am president of the woman commission in (inaudible) and the part of Turkish (inaudible). I have –
MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.)
QUESTION: I have two short questions. (Inaudible) yesterday you made a statement about developing business between United States and Turkey. Does it have to increase women in entrepreneur in Turkey? As you know (inaudible) labor force is very low comparing with woman population, and (inaudible) on development of economic (inaudible) woman rights. Would you like to say something about this? And other one is we have heard from the President global entrepreneurship of the State Department has started in Turkey. Could you please tell us a bit more about this initiative? Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, and thank you for both of those questions. Well, first of all, I have spent most of my adult life working for women to have the equal opportunity to participate in societies based on their choice. And I am strongly in favor of women and men making responsible choices. And so for women who need or wish to participate in the labor market because they need to help support their families and their children, or because they want to pursue a career, I think the more open a society can be to that, the more successful the economic growth of that society will be. There is just so much evidence, from the World Bank and the IMF and the United Nations that where women are able to participate fully, to have access to credit, to start their own businesses, to be given the opportunity to not only get a full education all the way through university or even graduate programs, but then to be welcomed into the workforce, there’s just a higher rate of productivity for the entire society. And it is also very beneficial to the woman and her family. So I am a strong believer in that.
Now, how do we do that? Well, obviously, the first step is to make sure there are no laws that prohibit women from having access. And I think Turkey has made enormous amounts of changes in laws over the last 20 years, so I don’t know enough to have an opinion whether there are still some barriers that are legal barriers or not, but clearly it’s imperative that there be no barriers, that women who can compete in the economic arena be permitted to do so.
Secondly, there are also still attitude problems in my society and in any society, whether women are encouraged to participate in the economy or not. And that is something that needs to be approached in the informal society. It’s not something you can pass a law about, but you have to be encouraging of girls to get the best education that they can get and for them to be able to participate and to try to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination or stereotyping that still exist in, as I say, every society.
Part of what we’re trying to do with the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that is coming to Turkey this fall is to build on an initiative that President Obama started to encourage entrepreneurship for men and women, because we know that 60 percent of the population is under 30 in Turkey. Isn’t that right?
MS. PAYZIN: Yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And 60 percent of the population in the world is under 30, and some societies have an even higher percentage. So we have this enormous mass of young people, and we have to look at how we can create more economic ladders. There will not be enough gainful employment in government jobs. There will not be enough gainful employment in traditional corporations and businesses. There has to be an emphasis on creativity and innovation, and that means entrepreneurial energy. And we want to share ideas that we’ve learned over time in the United States by bringing entrepreneurs from the United States to meet with Turkish entrepreneurs, and to bring in young people, so that good ideas have somewhere to go, and they don’t just die or get shelved. So this Entrepreneurship Summit will be – I’m not – we don’t have the exact date yet, but it will be in fall. I will be sure – we’ll get the names of everybody here. We’ll be sure that you all are given notice of it through our Embassy.
But I think it’s important as I look out at all of you and I see a group of very energetic and affluent and educated young people here in Turkey to be thinking about what do we do with all these millions of young people who are not educated, young women who don’t feel confident enough or encouraged enough to get into the job market. That’s a ticking time bomb, as we say. If we don’t have jobs – you saw what happened in Egypt – that was as much an economic revolution as a political revolution. You saw what happened in Tunisia. Turkey is a great example, so the more Turkey can demonstrate entrepreneurial activity, the more others can learn from you. And I think that’s something that we want to work with you on behalf of that partnership.
MS. PAYZIN: Yes, yes. And there are many questions also from internet. Here’s the one. (Inaudible) and is asking you if you really believe that Turkey is the new leader of Middle East, and what do you think – do you really think that Turkey – there is a shift for Turkey from West to East?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think there’s any reason for Turkey to shift from West to East. Turkey is so strategically located between East and West; there isn’t a country in the world that literally straddles both continents the way Turkey does. So as an outsider, I’ve always thought that the debate, do you look East, do you look West, is kind of a – it’s a debate without real meaning to it, because why would you give up one for the other when you can do both? I mean, Turkey is so well positioned. Part of the reason you’ve got this 11 percent growth rate and more to come is because of your strategic geographic position, but more than that because of a mental mindset. You can look both ways, and to me, that is an incredible advantage in the world in which we find ourselves.
So I think Turkey is a regional and global leader. Turkey is a member of the G-20. Turkey has made a very strong commitment to working with not only regional problems but even global problems. And that’s, to me, the direction Turkey should go. I think that there is no sense in saying it’s either/or; it should be both/and.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay. We have two new guests. (Laughter and applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, hi. (Laughter.) So we have the kitty questions coming up.
MS. PAYZIN: Do you like cats?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. I do.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay. So — they’re lovable. (Laughter.) Okay. Since we are talking about Middle East, maybe we can – I know that there are many questions about Arab things especially, so the gentleman behind in the white shirt.
QUESTION: I am okay?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Yes.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My name (inaudible) University, department of sociology (inaudible). My question will be about Arab Spring. First of all, I want to learn that — give the U.S. credit or (inaudible) this Arab Spring. If (inaudible) indicate this. And in this context, what do you think about alternative scenario if you think hypothetically? What will be the situation of Syria after Bashar Asad, and what – how do you think the Turkish role will be in this situation? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know anyone who predicted the exact events that happened during the Arab Spring, but many of us had predicted at some time the situation in a lot of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East were not sustainable. In fact, I gave a speech in Doha at a conference in early January this year in which I said that leaders had to be more accountable, they had to fight against corruption which we eroding the base of trust that people have to have with their government officials, and that there was going to be some kind of event, but I had no idea that it would be happening so quickly as it is now. So I don’t think that certainly the United States or any country that I’m aware of officially predicted this. It’s caught people by surprise in terms of the timing, but not in terms of the inevitability that there would have to be changes, either forced upon a society or made from within.
And what we are now all working on, and I’ll be meeting – I met, as I said, with the president last night, I’ll be seeing the foreign minister and prime minister today. What we are all working on is how we can be supportive as these countries make their democratic transitions. They have to do it themselves. People from the outside, whether American or Turkish, we can’t come in and tell people what to do. There has to be an internal process. But we have a lot of lessons to share. I mean, the Turkish economic success is something that would benefit all of these countries if they would come to you and say, “How did you do it?” The political and democratic progress that you’ve made would be another way to help.
So we are working with not only Turkey but other countries to try to be available to offer financial help, to offer technical expert help in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Jordan. And we’re working to try to get a peaceful transition in Yemen, which is difficult – the efforts being led by the Gulf Cooperation Council. We’re trying to encourage dialogue in Bahrain. So there’s a lot going on.
But certainly, what’s happening in Syria is very uncertain and troubling, because many of us had hoped that President Asad would make the reforms that were necessary without seeing what we’re now seeing in the streets of Syria, which are government tanks and soldiers shooting peaceful demonstrators. And I said — I know that the Turkish Government has also said — that the brutality has to stop. There must be a legitimate, sincere effort with the opposition to try to make changes. I don’t know whether that will happen or not.
And none of us really have influence other than to try to say what we believe and to encourage the changes that we hope for. I know that the Turkish Government is sheltering about 8,500 refugees from the violence across your border, and I know that the Turkish Government has tried to influence some of the decisions that were being made and encourage the government to stop the violence. But I think we don’t know how this is going to end yet, and it’s a very important outcome for Turkey because you share a 900-kilometer border with Syria. And stability inside Syria is important for Turkey, but the right kind of stability – a transition to democracy – is what would be best for Turkey and even more importantly what would be best for the Syrian people.
QUESTION: Very briefly, we know that Turkish Government and U.S., they were pretty much different when it comes to Middle East policies, especially about Syria and Iran. Now can you say that you are much more closer about Syrian issue and also Iran because Turkey basically didn’t give you enough support at the UN about nuclear issue? So what is the situation right now? How would you describe it? Closer, very close, or still distant?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, I think it’s very close and I think that I really believe that Turkey and the United States share a very similar strategic assessment about what we hope to see happening regionally and globally. We do not always agree on tactics. I don’t know two countries that always agree on tactics. I don’t know two people who always agree on tactics. And of course, we did have our differences over the vote in the United Nations, but our shared view that we want to do everything we can together to convince and prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon, which would be very destabilizing in the region, there is no daylight at all between us. And we talk about it and we work on it every single week together.
I was saying, actually, to President Gul last night that we – I think in the last two and a half years we have proven, number one, that we weather our differences. We are friends, we are partners, we are NATO allies, and we recognize that we will not always decide to do things exactly the same, but we share this strategic vision about where we would like to see the world go. And we have built a lot of trust. I’ve spent a lot of my own time visiting with the high-level Turkish officials. President Obama has developed a very good relationship with Prime Minister Erdogan. They talk on the phone. They meet frequently. And they have the kind of talks that is not formalistic and is not just polite and diplomatic. They say, “Well, why do you think that,” or, “Why do you believe that,” or, “Why are you doing this?” They have a very open exchange. That is how people who are honest with each other, who value each other, who respect each other treat each other.
So I think we are very close, but that doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree and it doesn’t mean that the media won’t take one disagreement out of a hundred agreements and say, “Oh my gosh, they’ve disagreed.” But I think both of us understand over the long run we are on the same page moving toward the kind of world we want, which is more peaceful, more prosperous, more respectful, more enabling and empowering of people to make their own decisions within a democratic context.
MS. PAYZIN: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: Secretary, my name is (inaudible) and I work for (inaudible) foundation in Turkey. I am also the vice chair of an organization I think you know well, ICNL that work on nonprofit law reform.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: And we commend your leadership on legal reform for civil society in the region and in the world, and I would like to ask you – you talked about Turkey being a good example. Turkey did undergo such reforms two years ago – I was honored to work on some of them – in which we now have much more democratic laws for civil society. And I wanted to know what’s the case that you could make to governments in the region and elsewhere in the world in which we could make the case for a more legally enabling environment for civil society. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for your work. And I view society as being like a three-legged stool, where you need an honest, effective, accountable, transparent government that delivers results for people within a democratic structure; where you need a free market economy that unleashes people’s entrepreneurial energies and provides enough of a protective framework so that people are not exploited when they deliver their labor for an honest day’s paycheck; but the third leg of that stool is civil society. It’s where we live most of our lives. It’s how we associate with each other. It’s volunteer activities. It’s religious and expressive activities. And so I believe strongly that as democracy develops, strengthening civil society is essential to protecting the other two legs of the stool. And what you’ve done with the changes you’ve made in Turkey is a very strong case for that.
I think we always have to be monitoring to assure that civil society is given the room, the space it needs, to operate. But I really respect the changes that you have made. Now I would like other countries, other societies, to look to see the importance of civil society, and for governments not to be afraid of civil society. I think that’s such an important lesson that we all have to learn. I’ve been in both sides. I’ve been in civil society for many years of my life as an advocate for women and children, and I’ve been in government. And when I’m in government, I sometimes get annoyed at my friends in civil society because they’re criticizing what I do or they’re publishing reports that say that we’re not doing enough. But then I remember I used to be there. And if I hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t have made the changes that actually help the people that we care about.
So it has to be a partnership. And oftentimes, there’s tension in it because if you are in civil society, you’re going to be pushing the government to do more, and you’re going to be pushing the economy to do more. That’s the way it should be. That’s a good balance.
MS. PAYZIN: Madam Secretary, I have a bad news. Well, actually it’s a bad news for us because you have another seven minutes to go.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, dear.
MS. PAYZIN: So very brief questions.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll try to give briefer answers, I promise.
MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) Okay. (In Turkish.)
QUESTION: Hi, (inaudible) law firm. My first question is notations on criminals of speech and freedom of press. I have debated in (inaudible) several columnists and writers are under arrest. In addition, as of August the law requires ultimate offense for internet users. What would you advise citizen living in such a country? Should we be quiet in silence or should we — I mean, even through big names are in prison, or should we raise our voice? Or what is your comment?
My second question is a personal question to you. Instead of being a member of U.S. Government, let’s assume that you are a member of Turkish Government. What would you change first in Turkey? (Laughter) And what would you highlight to attract U.S. investors into Turkey? Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, first of all, if there is an area that I am concerned about with recent actions in Turkey, it is this area that you have raised. It’s the area of freedom of expression and freedom of the media. I do not think it’s necessary or in Turkey’s interest to be cracking down on journalists and bloggers and the internet, because I think Turkey is strong enough and dynamic enough with enough voices that if there are differences of opinion, those will be drowned out by others who can debate it in the marketplace of ideas. So I do think this is an area that deserves attention from citizens, from lawyers – which you said you were – because it seems to me inconsistent with all the other advances that Turkey has made. And so therefore, as someone looking at it from the outside, I don’t understand it, because, of course, I come from a country that has very, very broad protections for the media. And I know that a lot of times people on the outside do not understand that, because people say or do things in my country that personally I find just offensive and unpatriotic and anti-American, and it makes my blood boil. But we know that over time that basically gets overwhelmed by other opinions, and so you then get to a point where you’ve got a much clearer idea of what the basis of opinion and change might be.
So I would, if I were in the Turkish Government, which I am not – and I say this very respectfully – I would be standing up for freedom of expression and freedom of journalism – (applause) – and freedom of bloggers and freedom of the internet, because I think in today’s world information is so broadly available that it’s going to get out there anyway. And –
MS. PAYZIN: Will you mention this to the prime minister this afternoon when you’re going to meet him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: He and I have talked about it before, and –
MS. PAYZIN: But any new — because more and more journalists right now and Kurdish Turkish vote.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
MS. PAYZIN: So will you again mention –
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will, because I do think – I mean, as I say, this is an area where I don’t understand because I don’t think it’s necessary. I think Turkey is strong enough, I think the Turkish character, the Turkish people are strong enough that they can take whatever opinion is out there. But that’s my view of it.
MS. PAYZIN: I know there are many questions, but I have one picture to show you. This is important. This was a huge debate in Turkey, actually. I wish you could explain us — (laughter) — what you’re feeling –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I know.
MS. PAYZIN: — when you’re watching the operation against bin Ladin.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well –
MS. PAYZIN: Could you share with us your feelings on how was –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you might guess, this was a very, very small group of us at the highest levels of our government who were aware of and planning this operation against bin Ladin. And it was a very tense time. It was also the height of the Washington allergy season. So I cannot tell you exactly what I was thinking at that moment, because there’s no way I can reconstruct it.
MS. PAYZIN: But it’s lovely because everybody says that this woman. She is expressing her feelings. That’s how women are in politics. Is that –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would hope you would have feelings, because I can’t imagine not having feelings about really everything we do. Because what we are trying to do has real impact on people’s lives. And this for me was a very intense experience, because I was a senator from New York on 9/11 so I knew many of the families who lost their loved ones in the attack on 9/11, and as you remember, nearly 3,000 people, but they were from all over the world. They weren’t just Americans. And so it was a – as I am sitting there and we’re watching what we could see of the operation, this was a very emotional experience. And it was also, as I’ve said, I had also been sucking on lozenges and taking all kinds of allergy medicine. So it was a combination of all kinds of feelings and activities going on at the same time.
MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.)
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, (inaudible) lawyer, me too. (Laughter.) And I want to follow up on his point. Unfortunately, you mentioned that you don’t understand the situation with respect to press freedom in Turkey, because I think you think it’s an aberration of the system; it’s the exception. But unfortunately, it is not, Madam, right now, just over five years in Turkey, the number of those who are detained without conviction has doubled in this country. We’ve got many people from a position who are detained on shaky evidence. We would like very much you to see — we would like to see you very much to raise these issues with our government. Maybe they will listen to you more than they listen to us, and we would very much like to see you mention –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
QUESTION: — especially, two names I would say, Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik. These are two prominent journalists of this country, and they are in prison on very shaky evidence. This is unfortunately the situation of the Turkish democracy right now. We can give many more examples along these lines. And why when we’ve got such a record in human rights –
MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.)
QUESTION: — how can you project Turkey an example of democracy in the region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. As I’ve said, I have raised this before. I will certainly be raising it again. But let me just say that I think it’s very important for citizens like yourself to raise it. I’m here for two days and then I’m gone, and I think it’s important that any imperfections in your democracy – and every democracy has imperfections – I mean, on balance, Turkish democracy is a model because of where you came from and where you are. That doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do. I mean, we still have work to do. We have problems that we have to continue to try to overcome.
So I would urge that people who have such a stake in the future of Turkey, as all of you do, raise this in a way that can get the attention of authorities without being immediately dismissed because, actually, this will strengthen Turkish democracy, in my opinion.
MS. PAYZIN: One question, one last question from the internet again (inaudible) is asking you if there will be a ground operation against PKK in coming days towards northern Iraq, what would be the reaction of Washington?
SECRETARY CLINTON: So we have supported the Turkish military and we will continue to support the Turkish military in going after PKK terrorists. And we are well aware of how dangerous terrorism is, and one of the issues we are discussing with the Turkish Government is, as you know, the United States has had military forces in Iraq – we are withdrawing those forces – whether or not there is some decision made for us to leave some forces. The fact is we are drawing down the vast majority of them, and those forces were in partnership with the Turkish Government to make sure we could do whatever possible to support the Turkish effort against the PKK. So we are working to see what else we can do once we withdraw from Iraq to provide that support.
MS. PAYZIN: Well, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, this is — oh, my goodness.
MS. PAYZIN: We have many, many questions, but unfortunately, I’m sure that you have a very –
SECRETARY CLINTON: I wish I could stay.
MS. PAYZIN: (In Turkish.) Last words? I mean, anything you (inaudible) this visit and –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to continue this. I’m sorry that time doesn’t permit. But I would offer the invitation to those of you who had your hands up who didn’t get to ask questions to send me the questions to the American Embassy.
MS. PAYZIN: Yeah. Many questions about visas, especially, also possible investment possibilities, and social media, also women issues because –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will answer every question that you send to me. And I really have enjoyed this and I would love another chance to continue it, so maybe we’ll have chapter two sometime in the future.
MS PAYZIN: You are most welcome. Any time you like.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And finally, how many of you participated in the Turkish-American exchange program? Because – (laughter) — oh, because I announced that when I came in 2009, and now it’s really working and I can put real faces with the program. And we’re going to continue that. I would like to expand it even, if I can. But I really invite you to please give me your thoughts, your questions, your constructive criticism, because I want not only to represent my government but to represent my country, and to have not just government-to-government relations but people-to-people relations, which I will do everything I can to support.
MS. PAYZIN: Okay, very brief. (Laughter.) (Inaudible) is asking will you be the next and first female president of the United States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, no. I won’t. I won’t.
MS. PAYZIN: Any hope for women? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well, look, I mean, I know that Turkey had a woman prime minister some years ago, so you’re ahead of us.
MS. PAYZIN: Not that (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t think so. I think, though, that I will support – hopefully in my lifetime, I will see a woman president, because I believe in equal rights and equal opportunities and equal responsibilities. So I think that would be something to look forward to.
MS. PAYZIN: Well, Madam Secretary, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you all.
MS. PAYZIN: Thank you. (In Turkish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
Some other photos: