About the Author: Dana Francis serves as the Political and Refugee Affairs Officer at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.Related Entry:Watch video of young Europeans' reactions to the Secretary's visit.
Secretary Clinton engaged hundreds of young Europeans in a Town Hall meeting March 6 in Brussels, calling modern Europe a “miracle” of peace and prosperity and citing the European Union as a key U.S. partner in facing global challenges. The European Parliament hosted the event for the next generation of potential European leaders, several hundred of whom packed the main room while some 800 others watched a video link in nearby auditoriums. Clinton walked about the stage responding to questions ranging from how to engage Russia to how to fight terrorism. The young EU officials eagerly asked about key challenges, including climate change, a state for Palestinians, and genocide in Darfur. A Moldovan man sitting in the front row wearing an “I Love Hillary” T-shirt seemed delighted when the Secretary called on him to ask a question, which concerned gay and lesbian rights and increased funding for HIV/AIDS. Secretary Clinton drew laughter from the crowd when she ducked a Welch questioner’s inquiry regarding independence for Wales, Scotland and Catalonia, saying she would not interfere in the internal affairs of any state. When asked by an Irish questioner whether the complexity of the EU was a barrier to good transatlantic relations, Clinton said democracy is by definition complex and contains inherent tensions between the need for efficient decision-making and the need for consensus-building. Running behind schedule, Clinton seemed reluctant to end the discussion and wanted to answer “just one more question” before she had to leave for a working lunch with EU leaders.