SOS Hillary Clinton in the Ukraine *updated*
These are from yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to post them last night:
[This is a long post- scroll down for 2nd video and photos]
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RECTOR ZGUROVSKYI: Dear guests and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, today we assemble in Kyiv Polytechnic Institute on the eve of the 234th anniversary of the American declaration of independence where wisdom written by Thomas Jefferson established a cornerstone for all democratic civilization to come. It’s our deep respect and honor to welcome today the direct follower of the Jefferson’s democracy, the United States’ 67th Secretary of State, the honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
Honoree Madam Secretary, Ukraine’s largest university, Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, established in 1898 — this university has educated many great minds of our civilization. Dmitri Mendeleev, the creator of the periodical table taught in just in this hall more than 100 years ago. Sergei Korolyov, the father of Soviet space program and our student, caused no small concern in the United States when he launched the last Soviet satellite Sputnik into orbit. Igor Sikorsky created the fast airplanes and fast helicopter in the building which is very near to this place.
Today, Kyiv Polytechnic tries to keep very high standards in natural science, in innovation, and technologies. For us, it’s a great event to have to you today and to exchange our opinions, our ideas, regarding the future of the world, our country, and important (inaudible).
Also, it’s my great pleasure to introduce President Obama, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Madam Melanne Verveer. (Applause). Ambassador Verveer is a long-time advisor to Secretary Clinton. She is also one of the top Ukrainian-Americans working in the American government today. Ambassador Verveer, may we invite you to say a few words in your ancestral homeland after which, we would like to invite you, honorable Madam Secretary, for communication.
We required that you (inaudible) several questions from our students after your address. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the Secretary of the State of the United States, honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR VERVEER: (Via interpreter.) Thank you, very much. (Applause.) Dear friends, I am very glad to be back in Ukraine, this time with the Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton. And in my new capacity of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Ukraine takes a very special place in my heart. Both of my grandparents – grandfathers and grandmothers were born in Ukraine. I grew in America and I learned from them about this
wonderful country, and every day I learned more and more about its values and traditions. We have always had – hoped and prayed God for Ukraine to become free democratic and prosperous some day.
From the very early childhood I’ve sung Shche ne vmerla Ukraina, the anthem of this country. And today, Ukraine is free and democratic, and America remains with you, stays by – stands by. I have special honor to introduce a woman who for many years has been a leader and an advocate of democracy, women’s rights, better life for all. In the status of the First Lady, then senator, and now Secretary of the State, she has always cared for Ukraine. (Applause). Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton, the floor is yours. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much and I feel most welcome here. I want to thank the rector, my long-time friend and colleague Melanne Verveer, but mostly, I want to thank all of you associated with this prestigious polytechnic institute whose history the rector briefly referenced, but whom I know was being modest, because the students here continue to earn great honors, win competitions and contests around the world, and are helping to build the future that Ukraine deserves to have. And I thank you for coming back from summer vacation to here tonight.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to visit Ukraine and made many friends, and have had a front-row seat on history as I’ve watched the latest chapter in Ukraine’s centuries-long story unfold. I’m please to be visiting Central and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus on this trip over our Fourth of July holiday. Tomorrow I will be traveling to Poland for a meeting of the Community of Democracies, and then I will visit Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia.
At every stop, I’m talking about the importance of openness, civil society, and the values that support democracy. And I cannot think of a better place to begin this trip than right here in Ukraine. (Applause.) Your country has made a remarkable journey and you are still moving forward toward the future you deserve.
When I first visited Ukraine in 1995, this was a newly independent state still emerging from decades of Soviet rule. Today, Ukraine is a proud democracy. And people not only in my country, but in countries around the world, have found inspiration in your commitment to free and fair elections.
But of course, elections are not the only marker for democracy. Elections are a necessary but insufficient action by the body politic in support of democratic self rule. And tonight, I want to talk briefly to you about our common future, because I believe that the United States and Ukraine are linked – not merely by common history, by Ukrainian-Americans and family connections, but by common values. It was 234 years ago that our country proclaimed its independence in a declaration that one of my very first predecessors, Thomas Jefferson, was the principal author of. And some might say, well, what do the lessons of 234 years ago have to do with the challenges of the 21st century? I think that there is a common thread that runs through the history of humanity. And it is up to every generation to expand the circle of freedom and opportunity.
Meeting the challenges of the century will require us to face the difficulties that lie ahead and to make tough choices. I know that the global economic downturn has taken a heavy toll on Ukraine, and even though there are signs of progress and recovery, more help is needed to ensure a sustainable economic future. I know there have been disputes over energy and the cost of energy that have literally played out in your daily lives. More needs to be done to make Ukraine energy independent. Ukraine has the resources that can be used to achieve that goal. I know that we face together global issues ranging from climate change to HIV/AIDS, food insecurity, and conflict.
So no matter where one lives in the world today, there is always a temptation to get discouraged, dispirited – give up on the promise of democracy because it is a slow and sometimes messy process. But I’m here to urge you to do the opposite – to work even harder to strengthen your democracy, to build your civil society, to empower your media, to ensure that your future here in Ukraine is as positive as you deserve it to be.
Now, this work is never easy. I remember very well, many years ago, sitting where you’re sitting and wondering about the challenges at that time facing my own country. Now that I have been both in civil society, and worked in and led NGOs, then, with my husband in the White House, served as an elected official in the United States Senate from New York, and now working with President Obama, I know how difficult this work is. But it is great work that even if you never think about politics much at all, should be a calling to you as a citizen.
Ukraine matters, not just to Ukrainians – Ukraine matters to the world. Because there are so many opportunities for Ukraine to assume a position of prominence and influence in the region, in Europe, and even beyond. An open, innovative Ukraine has much to offer. When I look at the students who graduate from this institute and know that you are among the best in the world, I see limitless possibilities. And the world is looking to you to secure your democracy, grow your economy, deepen your integration with Europe, and create the conditions that will allow you and every Ukrainian citizen to make the most of you God-given potential.
The United States wants to be your partner. The Foreign Minister and I are chairing a Strategic Partnership Commission, and we held our second meeting today, and later this year we’ll have the third meeting in Washington. We are deepening our collaboration on a range of issues, from economic reform and the promotion of trade and investment to the modernization of Ukraine’s energy sector to expanding opportunities for education, for health, for women, even to defense cooperation.
And we’re working together on an issue where Ukraine is already a leader, nuclear nonproliferation. And we’re looking for ways to harness the experience and expertise of Ukrainians to help solve global challenges like hunger and food insecurity.
Our cooperation with Ukraine is very important to the United States and to the Obama Administration. And we look for ideas that come not just from the government-to-government interaction, but the people-to-people contacts that this town hall represents. Because we know that it is not, in the end, our governments that discover the solutions to the problems we face, but it is within an open society the work of individual citizens who challenge conventional thinking, who work through the solutions that are necessary for progress. For example, we look forward to working with Ukraine to develop an investment climate that will encourage the kind of cutting-edge energy projects that will give Ukraine energy independence.
That’s why it’s particularly important that in democracies, where they be 234-years-old or 19-years-old, that we never lose sight of the values and core freedoms that protect and promote democracy and reform: Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to petition governments, to assemble, to participate in the political sphere. These are not just afterthoughts, these are not just enshrined in our Declaration of Independence or the Human Rights Declaration, these are absolutely the right and the property of each individual.
I discussed the importance of defending these rights with your president, and he has made a commitment to uphold Ukraine’s democracy, to strengthen the rule of law, to maintain a strong respect for human rights. During his visit to the Council of Europe on April 27th, President Yanukovych said very clearly that the rule of law cannot exist in Ukraine unless corruption is eradicated and comprehensive judicial reform is implemented. He also spoke out against the intimidation of journalists.
Now the United States applauds these statements and we welcome these commitments. But we recognize that rhetoric alone does not change behavior. These statements need to be followed up with concrete actions. And we have said, very clearly, to the Ukrainian government that we will help to make sure these values and freedoms are protected.
It’s important, too, that we look at how to promote broadly-based prosperity. One of the problems in societies around the world today is that too much of the productivity of the economies are going to too few. Too few people, the political and economic elite, are realizing the vast majority of benefits from economic activity. It’s true in my own country where, unfortunately, economic inequality is increasing. And it’s true in Ukraine. It’s true in Europe and Asia and Africa and South America. So part of the challenge of economic growth and prosperity is to make sure it gets down and equally spread among people. And we have to work towards spurring investment and long-term growth in Ukraine. And we have to work together to end corruption in both the public and the private sectors.
I know that having been elected to office and having run for President, that when it comes to motivating democratically elected officials, there is no force more powerful than citizens who refuse to accept the status quo, who insist that measurable progress be made. Here in Ukraine, you have a powerful asset: A strong, courageous civil society, women who have banded together to rescue victims of human trafficking, people fighting for the rights of the disabled, students and grandparents, men and women who have devoted so much of their lives to protecting human rights, to fighting diseases like HIV/AIDS, to protecting the environment, to creating a more open and accountable society.
I just met with a group of representatives of civil society groups that are working here in Ukraine. And I will say to you what I said to them. Do not get discouraged. Do not lose heart. Do not stop now. Because building a strong democracy is not a job for other people; it is really a job for each of us. And even though it is difficult, the challenges of our age are great, but they are not greater than the challenges Ukraine faced in the past. Ukraine has overcome so much.
I think often about my parents and grandparents who had to struggle so hard to give me the opportunities that I had to get a great education, to be able to make decisions that my mother could never even have dreamed of. So I feel that I owe a lot to my country. Those of you at this great institute of learning owe a lot to your country because you have been given a first-class, world-class education. And so therefore, a lot is expected of you.
I’m very optimistic as is my nature. I believe that we face a great threat from extremism around the world, from those who would turn the clock back on education, on women, on the modern advances that we take advantage of. I, for one, will do everything I can to bring together European civilization, Americans, and like-minded people around the world who will work for a better future and against the forces of disintegration.
Ukraine has a very important role to play in that because of your history, because of your geography, you are uniquely positioned to play that role. And I know that as you go forward in making whatever choices are best for you and your own families, that whatever contribution you can make to Ukraine’s future will come back to benefit you and future generations. And as you make those choices, I want you to know that the United States, the Obama Administration, and the American people are cheering you on and standing with you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Now, I think it’s time for some questions, Rector. Is that right? Do you want me to just call on people?
RECTOR ZGUROVSKYI: (Off mike.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Since I don’t know anybody, then I will just call on the hands that I see. Let me call on that hand, which I saw go up first and I think they will bring you a microphone.
QUESTION: Good evening, Mrs. Clinton. Thank you very much. It’s a really great pleasure and honor to meet with you. Thank you very much for such an opportunity. My name is (inaudible) and I’m a student of the (inaudible) University. I have a question for you. The process of perezagruzka has recently begun in the relations of the United States of America and Russian Federation. And I just wanted to ask, what is the role and place of Ukraine in this process? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. When President Obama came into office, he wanted to explore ways that the United States and Russia could create a better relationship, find areas of common agreement, and work together. We called it the reset of U.S.-Russian relations. And I am very pleased that President Medvedev has been not only supportive, but very enthusiastic about pursuing this better relationship. So the United States and Russia have worked very hard together over the last 16 months and I think the results are commendable.
First, a new treaty to limit the number of nuclear weapons in both of our arsenals. The United States and Russia, together, have more than 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. If we are to move toward nonproliferation and disarmament, Russia and the United States must act.
Secondly, Russia worked with us in our efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran, which we believe, unfortunately, represents a very serious threat to the Middle East, to the Gulf, and to Europe. Russia looked at the evidence, worked with us, and supported the sanctions that were passed at the United Nations Security Council. Russia has also worked to assist us in our efforts in Afghanistan. The Russian leaders understand that if Afghanistan becomes a failed state again and a haven for terrorism, Russia, like the United States and many other countries, will be likely targets.
We created a strategic partnership commission and we’ve been working on it now for more than a year. So we are increasing exchanges between business people, between academics, between young people. We had a group of young Russians who play basketball come to the United States and they actually played basketball with President Obama who’s a pretty good basketball player. So we’ve been looking for ways to build more confidence and trust. Now, does that mean we agree with everything that Russia says or does or that they agree with us? Of course, not. We are still very opposed to their actions in Georgia. We are very concerned about the imprisonment and even the killing of journalists and human rights activists. So we express our disagreements, but we keep looking for areas of cooperation because we want to have a broad, comprehensive relationship with Russia because we think it’s in both of our interests and it’s in the interests, particularly, of Europe and I would argue, especially of Ukraine.
I think what Ukraine is doing in trying to balance its relationships between the United States, the European Union and Russia makes a lot of sense. Because what you want is to protect your territorial integrity, your sovereignty, and your independence, but to cooperate where you can with not only your neighbors, but the European Union members as well as in a Euro-Atlantic context.
So the United States has supported Ukraine’s desire to achieve that balance and we are very pleased that Ukraine has agreed to joint U.S.-Ukraine military exercises at the end of this month and that Ukraine continues to send peacekeepers on NATO missions including into Afghanistan because we think this balance that Ukraine is constructing with its very strategic location is in Ukraine’s long-term interests and will assist in creating a better atmosphere for relations between and among Russia, Europe, and the United States. (Applause.)
Let’s see. This young man right there. Yes?
QUESTION: I’m (inaudible) Polytechnic University. Dear Hillary, your country supported Ukraine for a long time in becoming a NATO member. And so yesterday just before your visit, our Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, voted for a new law, something like main principles of internal and external policy of Ukraine. And NATO was just excluded from that law. So could you tell the direction of your country for such decision of our country because you supported us for a long time? And the next question – we have an information that today you had a meeting with journalist and you told (inaudible) about freedom of press. And in press today information appears that you propose to tell President — (in Ukrainian). Is it true or not?
PARTICIPANT: Firing the SBU chief.
SECRETARY CLINTON: First, with regard to NATO, NATO is a membership organization that people apply to join. Countries apply to join. It’s always been the United States’ position that NATO is open to countries that wish to make an application. Ukraine, at this time, has apparently decided that it is not going to pursue an application to NATO and is not going to join the Collective Security Treaty Organization either, that it is going to, as it says, remain non-bloc or independent. That’s Ukraine’s decision. The doors to NATO remain open, but our point regarding Ukraine was that it should be up to Ukrainians to decide that no other country should have the right to veto the Ukrainian decision. And so if Ukraine decides, at this time, it’s not interested in joining, we respect that. If it decides later that it wishes to, it would be welcome to submit an application. So I think the important point is that it should be Ukraine’s decision and I respect that.
With regard to your second question, I had a very long conversation with the president and the foreign minister about press freedoms, about civil society. I certainly did not make any recommendations about any personnel. That’s not something that is my responsibility. But we did make very clear that we look to this government to protect the rights of citizens, of journalists, of NGOs, of civil society and, as I said in my short speech, to translate into concrete action the commitments that have been made by this government to protecting those rights. (Applause.)
All right. Let’s see here. Let’s see. This young woman right there, if you can get a microphone in to her.
QUESTION: Mrs. Clinton, (inaudible), Center for Integral Coaching and Consulting. First of all, thank you very much for your speech. It deeply touched my heart. You, for me, have always been a visionary and evolutionary leader. You’re the one who brings change and manages change. My question to you: What change are you bringing here? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it is important to put the position of Ukraine, today, into historical context. The United States, as you know, strongly supported Ukraine’s drive for true independence and for the establishment of a democracy. Those of you who are 19 years old or younger are the same age or younger than the new Ukraine. And it is remarkable that as much progress has been made in a short period of time, but it is also clear that enough has been done.
So we do not bring a transformational change like the generation that brought about the Orange Revolution brought, supported strongly by the United States which believes in freedom and independence for all people. We bring what Max Weber might have referred to as the change that comes only from the long, slow, hard boring of hard boards. The democracy is here, but it’s like what Benjamin Franklin said when he was asked coming out of the Philadelphia Convention that created our Constitution when a lady asked him, “What have you accomplished?” And he said, “We’ve created a republic, if you can keep it.”
So our change is the change that comes from countless actions by citizens, by government officials, by activists, to keep faith with the democratic vision. No one could impose that on Ukraine from the outside; it came from within the hearts and souls and minds of the Ukrainian people – your parents and grandparents. But now it is up to you to continue perfecting it.
When you look at American history, when our Declaration of Independence was promulgated 234 years ago, most people who lived in the country could not vote. You had to be a white man who owned property. If you were a white man without property or you were a woman or you were a slave, you had no citizenship rights at all. We had to fight a civil war to free the slaves. We had to pass a constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote. We had to take actions all along our journey to make a more perfect union.
So the work of democracy never ends. It’s not like, “Oh, good, we’re done. We had an election. We’ve now got a democracy.” That is the surest way to lose it. Once people begin thinking that the hard efforts are now behind us, you are then prey to economic and political elites who are happy to have you go home and worry about your own lives and your own education and your own families instead of the body politic. So I don’t come with change so much as a reminder that the vision which motivated the enormous transformational change that Ukraine has experienced is as alive and well today as it was 10, 15, 19 years ago.
So it’s as Ben Franklin would say, “What does Ukraine have? A democracy, if you can keep it.” And then you continually have to make it better. That is the hard work of democracy. Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government ever invented except for all the others.”
Because it does get frustrating and you get annoyed, because human nature doesn’t change just because you have a democracy. People are still greedy. People still abuse power. People still favor their friends and their families and their neighbors; that is true the world around, which is why you need strong institutions and rule of law to guard against human nature because you don’t change human nature, you don’t turn it off when a democracy is born. And so I think that, if anything, I would like my visit to be both an encouragement to remember how far Ukraine has come and a challenge to keep that vision alive and do your part for realizing the hard work that goes in to securing a sustainable democracy in today’s world.
Oh, my goodness. Let’s see. There’s a young man right there with his hand up. Yes, right there, you sir. Yeah.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible) from the Institute of Religious Freedom. Dear Madam Secretary, you said – you talked about the values and their importance in building democracy. As we know, for the United States, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of faith, is very important for us – freedom of religion. A few weeks ago, in the United States there was a rotation in the Commission on International Religious Freedoms. Can you tell us how important the recommendations of this Commission is as to violation of religious rights in the world when you’re creating your politics, when the President is creating his politics? Does this influence your actions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes it does. And thank you for raising that, because freedom of conscience, freedom of religion are so personally important to people. And we are absolutely committed to promoting and protecting religious freedom. We are getting, finally, our ambassador for religious freedom. We hope we’ll be confirmed by the Senate and we will be much more publicly engaged so you’ll be able to see the results of our work as we pursue the recommendations.
But as I look around the world, conflict over religion is one of the principal sources of death and distress and despair. On the way over here, I was editing a statement that I was putting out deploring the attack on a very sacred Sufi Islam shrine in Pakistan, because Sufi Islam is not the same as the radical, more extreme version practices by the terrorists and the groups that are attacking at mosques and schools in so many places in Pakistan. They literally blew up one of the holiest places in Sufi Islam, and it just made my heart sink.
We should do everything we can to protect the rights of people to worship or not as they choose. But instead, we see more and more conflicts where religion is either at the core or playing a role. And I hope that we can work together to try to promote and protect religious freedom because it’s a fundamental right, as recognized, certainly, by our founders in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Yes, this young lady right there.
QUESTION: Good evening, Madam Secretary. I would like to pose the question on an issue of international concern, and that is of maritime piracy. You know, as well as the whole world, that piratical acts off the coast of Somalia and in the other parts of the world really are a scourge for maritime security and commerce. So what do you think, as a representative of one of the great powers of the world, the international community can do in order to fight it, in order to eradicate it and to provide a safe sea? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s an excellent question, and one we have worked on very hard because you’re absolutely right. Piracy is a terrible obstacle to free and open shipping lines around the world, particularly off the coast of Somalia, but not only off the coast of Somalia. There is so much maritime traffic that even if the pirates only attack and take over one out of a thousand ships, it still is a problem and we have to deal with this.
So, I’ll just make three quick points. We have enlisted many more countries to assist us in patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the waters off of Somalia so we have more naval coverage. But you can’t be everyone and, therefore, we have been working with the owners of ships and shipping lines to assist them to doing more to protect themselves. And there’s a real dilemma because a lot of the shippers do not want to put armed guards on the ships because they think that’s an invitation to violence and would actually escalate the problem. And so we are working to help them learn better how to defend themselves against the pirates. And we are looking for new ways to bring pirates to justice. Because one of the real frustrations is that sometimes when these pirates are captured they’re let go because there’s no country that will take them to try them.
Kenya has done a lot in order to put up courts and try these pirates. Countries like our own have brought pirates who attack our ships to our countries. But we’re looking for a more permanent solution on the prosecution judicial side. So it’s a complex problem. It’s been around forever. But the sad part is that these pirates are now making common cause with the terrorists, and they’re not only using the ransoms that are too often paid to buy big boats or big houses, they’re using it to finance terrorism, particularly in Somalia. So this is a matter that is not only about piracy and the interruption of maritime travel, but it’s increasingly a problem of the networks between pirates and terrorists and that’s why we have to go at this with much greater urgency and try to find solutions to it.
So if you have any ideas, let me know. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (In Ukrainian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: This lady right here.
QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Zola Kondur and I’m representing the International Roma Women (inaudible). So I will not have any particular question, but I just sort of like to thank you for your speech dedicated to International Roma Day. It was a really big event for international Roma organizations and European Roma (inaudible). They’re very excited about it. But also, we would like to ask you support and help in improving Roma situation in Europe and Ukraine. Because as you know, we’re still facing lots of discrimination, lots of problems in access to quality education, to medical services.
And recently, in the beginning of this year, my organization provided the report to UN (inaudible) committee about Roma women situation in Ukraine. The recommendations were submitted to Ukrainian Government, but we don’t know how they will be implemented. But still we have lots of problems over with trafficking. And I was asking about the European Roma Rights Center to provide the information about trafficking among Roma, especially children and young girls. But it was sent to me too late and it’s a pity that I cannot provide it to you, but I would like to send later if possible.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Of course. If you will take it to our Embassy and give it to our ambassador’s office for me, he will get it to me.
I just want to say that I agree with you that one of the unfinished human rights issues in Europe is the treatment of Roma. The Roma people in many countries in Europe continue to be discriminated against, continue to be marginalized, continue to be denied a lot of the opportunities that they deserve. And this has been something I’ve worked on and talked about for more than 15 years. And I do hope governments will do more on working with the Government of Hungary and other countries, because it’s not always just a question of changing laws – it’s a question of changing attitudes.
And in my own country, we’ve gone through waves where different groups of people were discriminated against and mistreated. And, frankly, it was like they were not fully human beings – to just be very blunt about this. And we’re in the 21st century. People should rise or fall on their own merits, which means everybody should get education. If they work hard and they’re smart enough, then they should be rewarded. But no group of people, whether it be Roma or the LGBT community or people with disabilities or any ethnic, racial minority, no group of people should be stereotyped and discriminated against.
So I hope that your recommendations to improve the lives of Roma people will be followed here and elsewhere in Europe. Thank you.
Yes. Oh, okay, last question. If you yell at me, I will repeat it. Oh, no, here comes the microphone. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) and I represent a Ukrainian gay and lesbian organization in (inaudible) called (inaudible). So my question is: What is the policy or position of United States Government concerning gay and lesbian rights and the quality on international level? So do you have these questions in your discussions with politicians in other countries? And what did you discuss or what could you discuss with Ukrainian authorities in this field?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have raised the rights of gays and lesbians in many different settings, because I do think there are many societies and many governments that discriminate most terribly against gays and lesbians. And I think it’s important that we stand up for the human rights of all people and, therefore, we are making this a priority in our foreign policy. We’re reaching out to our embassies. We have some very terrible examples of countries that put men and women to death for being gay or lesbian, or in prison. And then we have countries that just permit all kinds of discrimination.
And in our own country, this is another one of those long-term changes that is slowly but surely occurring. But we do raise it and we will continue to raise it because we view it as a human rights issue. So thank you for asking that.
Thank you all. (Applause.)
RECTOR ZGUROVSKY: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. Your communication with us was extremely important because we are sure that only this generation will change our country. So the messages you send how to become free, how to become independent, how to become successful is extremely important for us.
Thank you very much. And as a memory to your visit to our university, let me represent you with this little (inaudible). (Inaudible) in 1903. We get the exams from the (inaudible). (Laughter.)
Thank you very much. And we would like to wish you big success in your very important mission for freedom, for justice, for all. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. (Applause.)
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MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Clinton, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me begin by thanking the president for his hospitality. And I want to extend on behalf of President Obama and myself congratulations on your upcoming 60th birthday. I am delighted to be back in Ukraine for my fourth visit. I was privileged to come twice as First Lady, once as a senator from New York, and now as Secretary of State on behalf of the Obama Administration.
Ukraine’s journey has been remarkable, and people in many nations, including the United States, are deeply impressed by your progress. The United States is proud of our partnership with Ukraine and the many ties that connect the American and Ukrainian people.
The president and I had a very productive meeting. We discussed ways that Ukraine and the United States can deepen and expand our strategic partnership, moving forward with the work of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission that I co-chair along with the foreign minister.
My visit comes at an important moment in Ukraine’s history. The recent elections represented a major step in the consolidation of Ukraine’s democracy.
As Ukraine moves forward, the country will face questions about its place in the region and the world. Some have tried to force Ukrainians into a choice between aligning your country with Russia or with the West. We believe that is a false choice. Ukraine is an independent nation, and we hope Ukraine will have good relations with its neighbors – including Russia – and that Ukraine will pursue close, constructive relationships with the United States and countries of the European Union. We do not believe in the concept of “spheres of influence.” We believe that it is up to Ukrainians to chart your own course towards your own future. And in doing so, you can count on the support and friendship of the United States.
The president and I also discussed economic reform, which is critical to Ukraine’s ability to prosper and attract foreign investment. We discussed energy reform and its potential to transform Ukraine into an energy producer and becoming more energy efficient, which will save money not only for the government, but the people of Ukraine in the long run.
We also discussed the importance of protecting Ukraine’s democracy by supporting a strong civil society, media independence, and public sector transparency. And we appreciate the president’s recent statements in support of media freedom and we will work with the Ukrainian Government to continue safeguarding these critical liberties.
We are following up on Ukraine’s historic decision to get rid of its stocks of highly enriched uranium by 2012, and we greatly appreciate the leadership the president showed in making that announcement at the Nuclear Security Summit in April.
And the United States welcomes Ukrainian parliament’s decision to approve foreign military exercises on Ukrainian territory in 2010 and we thank Ukraine and the Ukrainian people for your important contributions to NATO and other international security operations.
Mr. President, your nation’s commitment to democracy has inspired the United States and the world, and we will draw upon that inspiration as we work to build the partnership between our nations. I thank you for your hospitality, and both President Obama and I look forward to many years of close cooperation and partnership between our governments and our people.
PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH: (Via interpreter.) Dear Secretary of State, dear ladies and gentleman, I’m very happy to welcome you in Ukraine today. I’m grateful to you, your Excellency and I’m grateful to President Obama for all the kind words that you have told me today.
Today’s meeting with the Secretary of State has reaffirmed the readiness of our both countries to further deepen bilateral relations on the basis of the U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership.
Today, we had a wonderful opportunity to discuss the most pressing issues of the U.S.-Ukrainian relations and identify the areas where our cooperation can further broaden. This is true in particular about increasing our cooperation in the areas of trade and investments as well as energy.
We paid special attention to discussing some practical aspects of the implementation of the agreements that we reached when I saw President Obama in April of this month in Washington. The State Secretary and myself were quite happy to note the fruitful results of the second meeting of the U.S.-Ukrainian Commission on Strategic Partnership that took place this morning in Kyiv with participation of our high-ranking guest.
During our meeting, we also shared our ideas about a range of important international issues and we noted that our understanding of possible solutions for them is very close. The issues related to Ukraine’s domestic situation were also on the agenda today. And I’m very happy to know that the United States assess positively political stabilization in the country, the fact that the public administration system is becoming more effective – basically that means that they positively assess the first steps of Ukraine toward reforms.
It is very important that the United States support the program to overcome the crisis that the Ukrainian government and president are implementing. We highly appreciate the readiness of the United States to provide support to Ukraine in some of the most important areas for the country, such as reestablishing cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, overcoming the consequences of the financial and economic crisis, and conducting systemic reforms in Ukraine.
We highly appreciate the position that – the consistent position of the United States that was reaffirmed today to guarantee Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and inviolability of its borders. This is especially important for Ukraine as a European non-bloc nation. I want to emphasize that the United States of America is our reliable, strategic partner, and we on the Ukrainian side are ready to do whatever is necessary to further consolidate our partnership. I am cordially grateful to you, dear Secretary of State, for our today’s fruitful work.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) The first question is to you, dear Secretary of State. Yesterday, it was very – it was made official that Ukraine is going to try to play an important role in the world as a non-bloc nation, and that it is going to support the initiatives in the area of new European security architecture. And in that respect, how would you see the role and the place of Ukraine within the European, Euro-Atlantic, and perhaps global security systems?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. First, the United States supports Ukraine’s efforts to balance the concerns and interests of not only Russia and the United States and the European Union, but its own view of the future and how it expects to develop economically and politically. We support European Union integration and I was encouraged by the president’s report that there is progress toward that goal. We support Euro-Atlantic cooperation. And as I said, we are grateful for Ukraine’s contributions to NATO security efforts and other peacekeeping operations around the world. And we look forward to the joint U.S.-Ukraine military exercises. And we also support a relationship with Russia that is in Ukraine’s interest that helps to further what President Obama has called the resetting of relations with Russia.
So just, very clearly, let me state, we want to see a strong, democratic Ukraine that is able to produce economic prosperity and opportunity for the Ukrainian people and to play a significant role regionally and globally.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Question to the president of Ukraine: How do both sides assess the implementation of the Washington agreements in the area of nuclear security, whether the commitments are being complied with by both parties?
PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH: (Via interpreter.) The Washington summit that took place in spring of this year on the initiative of President Obama was very important for Ukraine, primarily in terms of its consistent policy in the area of national and international security and, in particular, nuclear security.
And as we welcome President Obama’s initiative, we made a decision to gradually remove highly enriched uranium from Ukrainian territory. It’s a process that has already started. We are in the preparatory phase today, the result of which would be a one-time removal of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine while low enriched uranium is to be imported as well as technologies and the proper equipment for Ukrainian research centers. This is very important for Ukraine because Ukraine is a country that exports its nuclear units, so it is important that it can continue its research with the use of low enriched uranium. This meets the interests of the national science of Ukraine and it meets the interests of the world’s security. And this also reflects the wish of Ukraine to expand non-nuclear space all over the world.
Let me also add that at that summit in Washington, Ukraine made the – brought up in the initiative to have a conference in Kyiv in 2011 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy, during which – during that conference we could actually follow up on the subject matter of the Washington summit.
Of course, we have to remind the world community about the Chernobyl tragedy, as well as about the commitments of the donor nations to overcome the consequences of the tragedy. Because when we speak about the new challenges, we should not remember – we should not forget the past.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, you mentioned in previous remarks the (inaudible). How specifically is this cooperation working, and what kind of signals did you get from the Ukrainian side (inaudible)?
Mr. President (inaudible). What role is there (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we believe there is a great opportunity. And in fact, at the Nuclear Security Summit, President Yanukovych asked President Obama to encourage U.S. energy firms to look seriously at investments here in Ukraine.
We support the reforms being discussed to change the way that the energy sector operates in Ukraine to ensure transparent, credible processes for investing in the opportunities available. We support the recommendations made by the European Union, the World Bank, the European Reconstruction and Development Bank, and other experts who see tremendous potential for economic gain by Ukraine in a reformed functioning energy market that will attract investments from around the world. Specifically, we believe American companies would be interested in the civil nuclear power industry, developing the shale gas and methane gas potential that Ukraine holds, as well as deep-water drilling in the Black Sea. And our Special Envoy for Eurasian energy, Ambassador Richard Morningstar, will be staying to have in-depth discussions with the minister and other experts in the Ukrainian Government.
PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH: (Via interpreter.) Ukraine just has to be a reliable supplier of natural gas oil to the European Union. So we will do everything we need so that both gas transportation and oil transit systems of Ukraine work effectively and reliably and provide for the necessary supplies of hydrocarbons to go toward Europe.
As regards to the gas transportation system of Ukraine, we have our own concept for its development that we have shared with our colleagues from the European Union and Russia. This concept is based on the idea to establish a joint company with participation of EU nations, Russia, and Ukraine. The idea of which would be to build a new pipeline – gas pipeline – across Ukraine that would make it possible to supply increased volumes of gas to Europe. Our calculations show that this idea can be competitive and attractive.
We’re now expecting our partners to provide answers to our questions, and we think that the procedure whereby the decision will be made will be transparent and fair. And as regards the upgrade of the current gas transit system, we’re in favor of this upgrade being undertaken together with our foreign partners. This modernization could also lead to a more stable and reliable performance of the system and will increase the amounts of gas that we will transit.