Next Generation Takes the Floor - A Town Hall With Future European Leaders

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 6, 2009
Secretary Clinton Speaks at European Town Hall Meeting

About the Authors: Rachel Miller and Clarissa Unger serve as U.S. State Department Interns posted at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.

When someone thinks about Brussels, waffles, chocolates, NATO and the European Union usually come to mind. Secretary Clinton is likely to hit each of these while she is here (with only the waffles and chocolates being questionable!). Though her main purpose for coming to Brussels was the Foreign Ministers’ meeting at the NATO Headquarters, Secretary Clinton also made a point to speak not only with the current leaders of the European Union, but with the future leaders of Europe as well.

At a town hall meeting in one of the buildings of the European Parliament, the home to the world’s only democratically elected international institution representing 27 member-states, Secretary Clinton addressed nearly 400 young people, who are making an impact in Europe today and will be the movers and shakers on this side of the Trans-Atlantic relationship tomorrow. Participating in the conversation with the Secretary were young professionals, EU, NATO and other interns; think tank staff; students and others.

Before the Secretary spoke, there was great excitement in the crowded room that had completely filled 45 minutes before she was scheduled to speak. Close to 800 others began gathering in various overflow rooms throughout the EU Parliament. One guest from Ireland even told us that after working as “stagiaire” (the French term for interns) for five months, getting to see Secretary Clinton speak would definitely be the highlight of his time in Brussels.

The excitement only grew once Secretary Clinton and the President of the EU Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering entered the room. President Pöttering opened the town hall thanking the Secretary for her life-long contribution to public service, calling her a role model for generations old and new.

Secretary Clinton then gave brief remarks to the young professionals stating, “The future we are attempting to shape is one that certainly poses many challenges…It will be up to you, the next generation, to take it to the next level.” Before taking questions from the participants, the Secretary encouraged the next leaders of Europe to continue to work with the U.S. to strengthen the Trans-Atlantic alliance and to tackle global issues.
As soon as the Secretary opened the town hall for questions, hands went up around the room. Questions ranged from the U.S./NATO relationship with Russia to combating climate change in the midst of the global economic crisis. To a question posed by a Moldovan wearing an “I love Hillary” t-shirt, the Secretary’s response that “human rights is one of the pillars of our foreign policy” drew warm applause.

The town hall ended with a standing ovation for the Secretary. For these two interns from the U.S., it was exciting to see one of our highest officials so well received by our peers on this side of the Atlantic. We agreed with a participant from Bulgaria who called the town hall with Secretary Clinton and the next leaders of Europe “inspirational.”



Tommye J.
Texas, USA
March 6, 2009

Tommye in Texas writes:

I wish I could travel with Madame Secretary. Great job.

Kansas, USA
March 7, 2009

Marilyn in Kansas writes:

Great job with the blog, girls. You make a good team.

Connecticut, USA
March 7, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

Thanks for all the videos on covering Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's travels. the media is covering her a bit better than before but i still get most of news on this website.

California, USA
March 7, 2009

Wendy in California writes:

Dear Ms. Miller & Ms. Unger,

How cool that there are so many stagiaires in Brussels. How cool that our SecState Hillary gave them & you a quantum jolt to stay engaged in the diplomacy arts and crafts.

What a frisson to see all you smart young people changing the world with each other. I sing. I dance. I find glee contemplating all of you. Hurray!

How extensive is the U.S. diplomacy intern program? We'd all love more details about how it works.

I hope SecState Hillary got at least one waffle and some choco.

New Mexico, USA
March 7, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

To Rachel Miller and Clarissa Unger,

It would be nice for the two of you to co-write an entry on internship in general.

With specificity on what it takes to become one for State, and the hoops you had to jump through to get to where you're at now.

Best, EJ

Scott M.
Wisconsin, USA
March 9, 2009

Scott in Wisconsin writes:

Excellent work covering the Clinton town hall meeting... I'll be excited to read your next edition!

p.s. Hey Rachel!


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