Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 3, 2010

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On July 2, 2010, Secretary Clinton held a town hall meeting at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Ukraine's largest university established in 1898. Secretary Clinton said:

"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."

Secretary Clinton continued:

"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."

Read the Secretary's full remarks here.

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