On September 29, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in an interview with Sharif Amer of Al-Hayat TV, which was broadcast today in Cairo, Egypt. During the interview, Secretary Clinton and Sharif Amer discussed Egypt's democratic transition and recent events in the region.
Secretary Clinton said, "...We are very impressed and encouraged by what we see happening in Egypt. We know this is a difficult transition period and, in the great span of Egyptian history, one of the most important moments of your history. And I think it's essential that all of us look at how much has been accomplished in the last eight months and the fact that elections are scheduled, that there is a path forward for this very vibrant, new democratic change is very encouraging and we think it's on the right track."
Secretary Clinton continued, "...I think it's important that peoples' voices be given an outlet to participate in the political system. But I also think that there must be a commitment to respecting human rights, to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, to the rights of women, and there has to be an agreed-upon understanding of what it will take for Egypt to go from where you are today to where I would like to see Egypt. I really believe that Egypt's always been a leader of the Arab world -- Egypt can become a world leader. There is a difference. Egypt could, with the right political and economic reforms, become one of the top 20 economies in the world, maybe even eventually one of the top 10. There is so much that is in the potential, it can be so easily derailed. As you said, somehow not permitting the elections to go forward, military rule continuing, having one election one time that empowers people who have no interest in continuing to modernize the society, rejecting the rights of all Egyptians in favor of one particular point of view -- that's what the Egyptian people have to be careful about. You want an Egypt where people are free to be liberal, fundamentalists, conservative, progressive, whatever their particular views are, but showing respect for the state, for the institutions of the state, and the rights of the people. And that's what I see you searching for and moving toward."
When asked whether the United States would be "ready or prepared to sit in with a government with members of the Muslim Brotherhood as members," Secretary Clinton responded:
"...We will be willing to and open to working with a government that has representatives who are committed to non-violence, who are committed to human rights, who are committed to the democracy that I think was hoped for in Tahrir Square, which means that Christians will be respected, women will be respected, people of different views within Islam will be respected. We have said we will work with those who have a real commitment to what an Egyptian democracy should look like.
"Now, we don't expect your democracy to mirror ours -- every country is unique historically and culturally -- but we do think, from long experience around the world, there are certain pillars to a democracy: free press, free speech, independent judiciary, protection of minority rights, protection of human rights. All that was in the air in Tahrir Square. So we hope that anyone who runs for election, and certainly anyone who's elected and joins the parliament, joins the government, will be committed to making Egypt work and be open to all Egyptians no matter who you might be."
Mr. Amer concluded the interview by asking, "How are you going to deal with the Palestinian application to the United Nations, especially that everybody's maybe really think it will go through the General Assembly?"
Secretary Clinton said, "Well, let me reiterate that President Obama and I very much want to see a Palestinian state, and I have been publicly on record in favor of that since the 1990s. I was the first person associated with the United States Government to do that. And President Obama is also very committed. But we, I think, are realists that no matter what happens or doesn't happen in the United Nations, unless we can get the Palestinians and the Israelis to negotiate over the boundaries of the state, the security provisions, what happens in Jerusalem, what happens with refugees, water, all of the issues we know so well have to be resolved, we're going to raise expectations without being able to deliver.
"I mean, if the United Nations passes a resolution which says we want to see Palestinians become a state and maybe we upgrade their status or maybe we recognize them, the next day nothing changes in Ramallah, and I want things to change. I want the Palestinians to have their own state; I want them to govern themselves; I want them to continue developing economically to be a real example, to work with Egypt for the betterment of people in the region, and we know that won't happen.
"So what we have said is very straightforward. We want to see both sides back at the table, and we criticize and make absolutely clear we don't want to see provocative actions. We've said that about the recent announcements from the Israeli Government, but we also know that the Palestinians have to be willing to negotiate. And it's hard for them because they feel like they've been at this for a while and nothing has happened. Both sides have their case to be made. Make it at the negotiating table. And that's what we're pushing for."
You can read a full transcript of the interview here on state.gov.