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Posted on on October 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger at a Joint Press Availability at the United Nations.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary – can we ask you a question or two?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let – I think both Michael and I have a short statement to make.

And first, let me thank the foreign minister for his crucial help in getting this event organized.  I believe very strongly that Austria’s leadership on behalf of this issue is essential because we need to form a strong global partnership to make clear that we are committed to bringing about peace, but in doing so, we want to empower women to not be victims, but agents of peace and ending conflict.

And I also want to wish Austria a very happy National Day.  I’m sorry that this Security Council meeting coincided with National Day and that the foreign minister had to be here, but from our perspective, we’re very glad he is, and his leadership and the excellent commitment that were – commitments that were made by the Austrian Government in the intervention by the foreign minister.  So I thank you very much for your leadership.

And I also want to say how pleased we are to have a strong, growing, even deeper relationship between the United States and Austria.  The foreign minister and I have worked closely together on several key issues, from the Balkans to Iran and so much else.  And we have a shared commitment to human rights and the rule of law and to nonproliferation.  And I am very grateful that I will be having a bilateral, thorough discussion with the foreign minister in Washington, D.C. on November 17th.

FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, ladies and gentlemen.  For us, it’s a great pleasure to see how engaged Hillary Clinton is in this field – framework of 1325.  And this gives us hope and this inspires us to be more active in this way.  And of course, I think if you have a look, after all the events, we have to notice there is a lot of space for more engagement.  We have to double our efforts to make, for the future, a better world for women and, of course, if you have a more close look to all these areas of conflict, we should now have these indicators, these 26 indicators, that gives us more tools and more information about that – what we have to do in all these areas.

And I think it’s wonderful to cooperate.  Thank you very much for that.  And of course, as I said, we are now celebrating the 10th anniversary, but we also are celebrating the birthday of Hillary Clinton here today.


FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: Twenty-fifth birthday.  (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Coincides with National Austria Day.  I’m very excited about that. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: So it’s really a wonderful story and I would like to thank you also for this cooperation between the United States and Austria.  We are very much happy with that and we would like to continue it in the future.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.


QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you’ve talked very passionately about the women of Afghanistan and not leaving them behind.  I wonder if you had any comment on the comments by the president of Afghanistan, President Karzai, about the United States and it’s giving cash to him to run his office?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I do not.  I have a very strong opinion about the work that we’re doing, which I think is critical for our national security, the national security of Europe.  I work closely with our representatives in Afghanistan and with the Government of Afghanistan.  It’s a very challenging and quite complicated situation, but I think we’re making progress, and I am very, very pleased to have the opportunity to try to support the women of Afghanistan while we do so.


QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary of State, the situation of women and also girls in many countries of the world, especially in Africa, but I would like to mention also Afghanistan, Iran, et cetera is very serious.  Do you really think that resolution discussed today can make a difference, can change something?  Or does this – it could be only done on the level of the government and the – on the politics?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s both.  I think in my own lifetime – since it is my birthday, I can look back on it and see so much progress that has occurred.  It has occurred both on the international level in beginning to look at women’s rights as human rights and to create coalitions around change on behalf of women, and of course, it’s happened in my own country.

So the progress that women have made in the last 50 years is remarkable when you consider it against the backdrop of the prior history of humanity.  But as Michael and I have said, there is still much more to be done.  And certainly, those of us who are fortunate enough to live in countries like the United States and Austria where there have been great advances on behalf of women’s rights and opportunities, I believe have an obligation to try to do more to help women and girls in countries where those rights and opportunities are not respected.

So yes, we’ve made progress and shining a bright light of international concern on these issues gives heart to women and men working on behalf of this cause all over the world and helps to move the progress, the trajectory, a little bit further along.  So it’s all worth doing.


QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you have mentioned the special and growing relationship with Austria, and could you be more specific what has brought about this renewed friendship with Austria?  And could you specify the areas of cooperation where the friendship with a small country like Austria could really make a difference?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can give you two examples based on my own experience with the foreign minister.  He and I spoke several times in depth on the necessity for sanctions on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  He was very helpful in conveying the concerns not only of the United States but of the international community directly to representatives of the Iranian Government.  And certainly, with the IAEA headquartered in Vienna, I’ve spoken with the foreign minister on nonproliferation, which is a key goal of President Obama.  So those are two areas where Austria’s commitment and values, combined with its very strategic location, has been of benefit to our common cause.

Do you want to add anything to that, Michael?

FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: Yes, I think, of course, it was an area where we had to be in a close contact.  It was a very sensitive moment, I think.  And I only can give you back this was very good to have this close contact to inform each other what’s the next step forward, and I think we have reached a lot.  If you have looked today, maybe Iran is ready to come to the table back, this is one of the results of our (inaudible).


QUESTION: You both mentioned Iran, though, and today the Iranians announced that they were going to restart refueling the reactor.  Is this something that —

SECRETARY CLINTON: But that – let’s not confuse – Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civilian nuclear power.  They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons program.  What they are doing is starting a reactor that is, based on everything we know about it and everything that the Russians have informed us about it since they have worked with the Iranians over many years to build this reactor, strictly for peaceful purposes.  Our problem is not with their reactor at Bushehr.  Our problem is with their facilities at places like Natanz and their secret facility at Qom and other places where we believe they are conducting their weapons program.

So I know – I heard some of the news coverage that oh my goodness, the Iranians are starting the reactor.  That is not the issue.  They are entitled to peaceful civilian nuclear power.  They are not entitled to nuclear weapons.  There’s two different processes.  And so I’m glad you asked the question because I think it’s important to distinguish that.  And as Michael said, we’re hoping that the Iranians will come back to the table soon with the – what we call the P-5+1 or the E-3+3, headed by Cathy Ashton, to begin an in-depth negotiation over their nuclear arms program.


Our own exclusive interview with Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affair Mr. Michael Spindelegger, at the Austrian Consulate General in New York, during the reception on the occasion of the Austrian National Day 2010.

Q: Dear Minister, as the two years of Austria’s membership on the UN Security Council will end in two months, what could you tell me in a couple of sentences, for attribution, that were the main achievements of this membership from your point of view?
A: Specifically – our close relationship with the United States – I was just invited to Washington for November 17th for further policy discussions. Austria contributes to negotiations in South Europe – now with Serbia and Croatia- and on the Iran question.

Q: What will be the specifics?
A: In the Balkan it is the bringing in of Serbia and Croatia into the EU.

Q. On Iran is it about the sanctions, or a negotiated solution?
A. The Sanctions we have already, it is about the fact that Iran cannot go nuclear.

The reception was hosted by Consul General Mr. Ernst-Peter Brezovsky, and the Minister was accompanied by Austria’s Permanent REpresentative to the UN, Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting. Many Ambassadors from EU countries to the UN participated. The US flag was also displayed.


The Security Council meeting was opened by the November UNSC President from Uganda with the initial presentations by:

– The UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, by video from Southeast Asia where he went to attend the ASEAN Summit. The Deputy SG Ms. Dr. Asha-Rose Mgiro represented him at the UNSC. He remarked that 20 countries have adopted National Action Plans on Women’s participation in programs according to resolution 1325 (2000). The recent mass-rapes in Congo are just a reminder of what can go wromg.

– UN Under-Secretary-General for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women Ms. Michelle Bachelet of Chile.

– The President of the UN Economic and Social Council Mr. Hamidon Ali of Malaysia.

– The Special Representative of the SG on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Margot Wallstrom of Sweden.

– Civil Society Advisory to the UN on Women, Peace and Security Ms. Thelma Awori. a a Liberian/Ugandan.

Followed by the Ministers of UNSC Member States in the following order: Austria, the US, Japan, and Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Turkey, Nigeria, UK, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon, Russia, China, and the Chair – The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs of Uganda.

These were followed by another 65 speakers from interested Nations that included Ministers Foreign Affairs (Sweden, Slovenia), Defense (Norway), of International Cooperation (Canada), of Equal Opportunity (Italy), of Equity, Human Rights and Integration (Ireland), of Gender and Development (Liberia), the Interior (Finland), Social Development (South Africa), to Tourism and Culture (The Gambia) – and so on – including the EU, the AU, the Red Cross.


Mr. Spinelegger, in his opening presentation, pointed out that in adopting the 1325 (2000) resolution 10 years ago, the UNSC recognized the equal participation of women in all aspects of peace-building and security and the protection of women from all sexual and all other violence in post-conflict situations.He pointed out that the resolution is not yet fully implemented to make a difference in conflict and post-conflict situations. The Council has the tools needed to hold accountable the transgressors he said.

He further said that the Arria meeting of October 19, 2010, cochaired by Austria, Mexico and the UK provided further tools – quantitative and qualitative – to judge deteriorating situations.

Austria offered the Austrian Diplomatic Academy in 2011 for training purpose and the services of his predecessor in the Foreign Ministry – Ms. Ambassador Dr. Ursula Plassnik as a Special envoy for International women issues, and an International network to promote Female Leadership in Intercultural and interreligious Dialogue” that first met in June 201o.


Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, used her speech at the UN to declare unequivocally that he United States will not support a peace in Afghanistan or any conflict zone that sacrifices women’s rights. Her speech was a no-nonsense presentation and stood out when compared to any of the other 80 speeches – most of them frankly useless me-toos! It was her speech that gave some justification to this UNSC exercise – something that we cannot overstate.

The Security Council presidential statement vowed life-less “enhanced” efforts to bring to justice those who attack women and girls and appealed for greater numbers of women peacekeepers in international forces and called, in UN fashion, a new review meeting in five years time, which brought a new rebuke from Clinton: “Well we had better have more to report and we had better have accomplished more between now and then, otherwise there will be those who lose faith in our international capacity to respond to such an overwhelming need,” she said.

Clinton  said the mass rape of hundreds of women in Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year was a “tragic rebuke” of international efforts to help women caught in conflict zones.

Women’s involvement in peacemaking efforts is now a “necessary global security imperative,” the US Secretary of State told the UN Security Council.

Clinton — to many observers the world’s most powerful woman — highlighted US efforts to reinforce women’s representation in Afghanistan, where US-led international forces are battling the Taliban militia which repressed women when in power. “We believe the potential for sustainable peace will be subverted if women are silenced or marginalized,” Clinton said.

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