Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Departs for Europe

Posted by Ian Kelly
October 10, 2009
Secretary Clinton Waves While Boarding Airplane

Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary AnswersAbout the Author: Ian Kelly serves as U.S. Department of State Spokesman.

The U.S. Air Force Boeing 757 that carries Secretaries of State on their travels has just taxied down the runway, and we are officially on our way to Zurich, London, Dublin, Belfast, Moscow and Kazan.

The Secretary’s first stop will be Zurich, where she will attend the signing of two protocols between the governments of Turkey and Armenia. These signings are a historic step for both Turkey and Armenia towards normalization of their relations. The Secretary has been closely engaged with the parties to move this along, and we will remain prepared to work closely with both governments in support of this process.

Secretary Clinton will then travel to London, where she will discuss a range of bilateral and transatlantic issues, including Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with senior U.K. officials. From London, she will travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland for the first time as Secretary of State.

During her visit to Dublin, she will meet with senior Irish leaders and reaffirm our strong commitment to and ties with Ireland. In Belfast, the Secretary will highlight our continuing commitment to political progress and economic development in Northern Ireland. The Secretary recently named a new Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, and this reinforces U.S. commitment, along with our international partners, to ensure Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.

The Secretary will then travel to Moscow, where she’ll hold a series of meetings with Russian officials, including President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov. They’ll review progress and provide further guidance to our negotiators on a successor agreement to START. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov are the coordinators of a Bilateral Presidential Commission, established last July in Moscow. Together, they will review the progress of the commission’s various working groups.

These consultations are an integral part of our renewed partnership with Russia, one that we believe is already yielding results, from progress on a successor agreement to START to Russia’s agreement to allow the United States to transport military personnel and equipment across Russia in support of NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.

In my previous job, I served as Director of Russian Affairs here at the State Department, so I’m very much looking forward to returning to Russia with the Secretary. I’ve been to Moscow many times, but to really understand a country, one has to travel outside its capital city. I think this is particularly true of such a large country as Russia, if one wants to understand its rich vibrancy and diversity.

So, finally, the Secretary will travel to Kazan, a historic city and the capital of Tatarstan. I’ve never been to Kazan, but I know that it will show that the Russian Federation is a country comprised of many constituent parts. Many different ethnic and faith groups are represented in Kazan. The Secretary will hold discussion with local officials to learn more about Kazan’s experience in fostering tolerance and interfaith dialogue. She will solicit advice from religious leaders, young Muslims, participants in U.S. exchange programs, and civil society representatives on how to apply the lessons from their experience in other societies.

We’ll keep you posted on the Secretary’s travels here on DipNote, as well as on state.gov and Twitter. You can also follow her trip on our interactive travel map, featuring the Secretary’s latest video, photos and remarks. As you follow along, text the Secretary your questions about her travel. We look forward to hearing from you.

Read the next Travel Diary entry.

Comments

Comments

Jennifer
|
Michigan, USA
October 10, 2009

Jennifer in Michigan writes:

Have a safe and successful trip! I'm looking forward to seeing the photos and reading the updates.

Take care and God bless,
--Jen

Rosemary
|
New Jersey, USA
October 10, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

Well, as always I pray that the Secretary of State and her entourage have a safe and successful journey.

I am looking for the Tweets and posts! Where are the Tweets?

skin c.
October 10, 2009

S.C. writes:

I am glad that our relations with Russia are improving. It was kind of depressing to think we were slipping back toward a "cold" relationship. I just hope Russia acts in good faith and is not simply taking advantage of our extended hand to slap us in the face.

Jack
|
Virginia, USA
October 10, 2009

Jack in Virginia writes:

Nice work today, Madame Secretary. Congrats on your first "down-to-the-wire, limousine shuttle diplomacy." This is the leadership we all voted for and hoped for.

Keep up the good work.

Best regards,

Jack

Normita
|
California, USA
October 10, 2009

Normita in California writes:

I read about Secretary Clinton's role in clearing the last minute snag in the negotiations. I can picture your power of persuasion and reasoning. Congratulations to you and the other int'l diplomats in opening this tough door of cooperation between Turkey and Armenia.

God bless you in your journey.

Renat
|
United States
October 11, 2009

Renat in U.S.A. writes:

As an intellectual and native of one of the ethnic entities within Russia who teaches and conducts research in the United States, it was a true pleasure for me to hear that during your visit to Russia you are also planning to come to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan.

I would like to congratulate you on this very important and courageous decision. I also would like to use this opportunity to provide you with some information about the Tatar question which is representative of the situation with many other minorities in Russia.

More specifically, the cultural survival of a distinct Tatar identity is under threat as the current Russian administration pursues a consistent policy of elimination of the Tatar language education from areas compactly populated by the Tatar minority. Specific policies related to class sizes are designed that lead to the closure of Tatar-language classes and the entire schools in the Tatar-populated areas. There are reports that some Tatar-speakers have been detained in Kazan during the celebration of Kazan's millennium anniversary in 2005. As an ironic point, the Russian State Duma has passed a law in 2002 prohibiting public institutions in ethnic homelands, such as Tatarstan, (and elsewhere in Russia, in fact) from using the Roman/Latin letters forcing non-Russian speakers to use the script based only on the Russian/Cyrillic alphabet. Another law on education envisions elimination of ethnonational and territorial element in Russia's system of education altogether. As a practical blow to a quality Tatar education was a decision by the Russian authorities to deport and annul the lawful visas to Turkish teachers that provided world-standard education in English along with Russian, Tatar, and Turkish. (It was especially ironic as reports indicated that illegal Turkish construction and market workers were left intact).

These developments are dangerous and not unlike those observed in Bosnia in Kosovo in 1990s before civil wars. There are reports indicating that pressures put on a distinct Euro-Islamic Tatar identity have immediate negative consequences not only to the Tatar nation, but very real repercussions for the rest of the world as well as to Russia's own cultural vibrancy and national security. Such policies may not only lead to a complete assimilation of some Tatars within a dominant Russian culture but also prevent cultural enrichment of country and dampen cultural diversity of the world. More importantly, there are implications for global and Russian security and the war on terror. While some Tatars may comply with the policies drafted in Moscow and choose the path to cultural self-annihilation, there are reports that others may find themselves radicalized and in light of disappearance of the tolerant Tatar Euro-Islam be pushed to more radical foreign ideologies of Wahabbism and Shi'a revolutionary radicalism.

I would like to thank you once again for your decision to visit Tatarstan during your trip to Europe and hope that some of the problems identified above will be raised at your meetings in Russia.

.

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