Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks at a civil society reception in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, on October 12, 2010. The Secretary commended the people of Serbia's work to rebuild a democracy and noted the important role civil society has played in making this happen.
Secretary Clinton said, "Civil society is playing a critical role in consolidating the democratic gains that we have seen here the last decade. NGOs and activists are engaged across the full spectrum of issues, and I was encouraged to hear that the Serbian Government is creating a new office to facilitate dialogue between civil society and the government. The United States is committed to the work you are doing. Our Civil Society Advocacy Initiative that I announced in my speech in Krakow this summer to the Community of Democracies is a core element of our assistance efforts here and an important part of the $1 million that the American people invest each week to help strengthen democracy here in Serbia and fuel economic growth and inclusive prosperity.
"This program has provided training to more than 500 civil society representatives. It has helped support more than 70 advocacy campaigns to address issues ranging from illegal dumping to human rights. Our partnership here in Serbia represents one piece of a much broader effort to strengthen civil society in countries around the world. This work is part of our daily agenda at the State Department and USAID, and it was a major focus of President Obama's recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
"Our commitment to this issue reflects our own experience. Throughout America's history, civil society activists have worked to expand rights to more citizens, improve working conditions for workers, protect our environment, and strengthen our country in so many ways. And here in Serbia, your efforts to promote human rights, religious tolerance, media freedom, regional reconciliation, and Euro-Atlantic integration will help write a similar story of progress."
In closing, the Secretary said, "I'm looking forward to speaking with you in these small groups because I want to hear from everyone to give everyone a chance to express yourselves and to give us additional ideas about how we can be a better partner for civil society in Serbia. Because we see Serbia's future aligned with Europe and aligned with the West and part of the Euro-Atlantic community. Serbia's values, Serbia's traditions, Serbia's aspirations and goals are very much in keeping with what I know will bring a better opportunity and a better future for not only you but, most importantly, the next generation."
You can read the Secretary's full remarks here.
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