Remarks by Secretary of State Clinton With Finnish Foreign Minister Dr. Cai-Goran Alexander Stubb After Their Meeting

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–April 11, 2011. 

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, and it is such a pleasure for me once again to have a chance to consult with a friend and a colleague. The foreign minister and I always have more to talk about than we have time to do it. Before discussing our meeting, I want to say a few comments about the situation in Cote D’Ivoire.

Former President Gbagbo is now in the custody of President Ouattara’s government. This transition sends a strong signal to dictators and tyrants throughout the region and around the world: They may not disregard the voice of their own people in free and fair elections, and there will be consequences for those who cling to power.

We commend the United States1, the government and people of France, and other members of the international community who have worked diligently to ensure the safety and security of the Ivoirian people throughout this crisis. We also call upon all Ivoirians to remain calm and contribute to building a peaceful future for their country.

Now the hard work begins. We look forward to working with President Ouattara as he implements his plan for reconciliation, economic development, and recovery.

And I am delighted to be joined here today with Foreign Minister Stubb, who has been gracious enough to come to Washington for important consultations. Our countries have an excellent relationship and a longstanding partnership forged by democratic principles, a common understanding of our international responsibilities, and friendly cooperation. We are working together for peace, progress, and prosperity around the world, whether it be in Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, or anywhere else.

I thanked the minister for his vision, drive, and tireless work to strengthen the transatlantic relationship between the United States and Europe. We agreed that the partnership between the United States and the European Union must remain at the heart of our joint foreign policy efforts. We discussed the developments in the Middle East and North Africa, and I appreciated greatly Finland’s commitment to democratic transitions and humanitarian assistance as these people throughout the region seek a better future.

I thanked the foreign minister for Finland’s vocal support for Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Finland has pledged an additional $2 million in humanitarian aid to Libyan refugees through the UN and other aid agencies, on top of the $2 million that Finland has already provided.

We also discussed Finland’s important contributions in Afghanistan, where Finnish troops serve as part of the ISAF force and dozens of Finnish police are helping make the transition from coalition to Afghan Government control. The tragic attack on the UN compound in Mazer-e Sharif reminded us all of the challenges we face.

Now, there are many other contributions that Finland has made to global peace and security, and I appreciate particularly Finland’s support of the Global Initiative to Develop Clean Cookstoves, which can prevent millions of deaths in the developing world by cutting down on illnesses caused by breathing the dirty smoke from cooking fires and also cut down on black carbon and other unfortunate elements that contribute to global warming.

So we value our relationship, and I am delighted that we had this chance to continue our consultation.

FOREIGN MINISTER STUBB: Thank you very much, Hillary, and good morning to all of you. It’s always very nice to be here. Hillary and I, we’ve known each other for a couple of years, and in our discussions and negotiations, if I have a problem getting a point across, I speak with a very heavy southern accent. (Laughter.) And that always – it always works.

We indeed had a good conversation and a discussion on the situation in the Arab world, more specifically in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia. Secondly, we talked about Afghanistan. And thirdly, we touched upon a subject which is very familiar to all of us Finns; in other words, Russia. We both discussed our commitment to UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and the upcoming EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow where Libya will be on the agenda as well.

But I think without further ado, we’d be more than glad to take a question or two.

MR. TONER: The first question, Jill Dougherty of CNN.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you. We have two peace proposals out there – one for Libya, one for Yemen. Nobody seems to know exactly what they mean, quite honestly. Details are quite murky. Could you enlighten us? What do they mean, especially the Libyan one? Does it entail a demand that Qadhafi step down? And what does the U.S. think about those proposals?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, first with respect to Libya, I assume you’re referring to the African Union mission that was in Tripoli yesterday and in Benghazi today. We are waiting to get a full readout from the participants. Obviously, we’ve heard various accounts as to what the proposals were and how they were received.

We’ve made it very clear that we want to see a ceasefire. We want to see the Libyan regime forces pull back from the areas that they have forcibly entered. We want to see a resumption of water, electricity, and other services to cities that have been brutalized by the Qadhafi forces. We want to see humanitarian assistance reach the people of Libya. These terms are non-negotiable. We believe, too, that there needs to be a transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people and the departure of Qadhafi from power and from Libya.

So we have been consistent along with many of our international partners in making those points to be as clear as possible in what we expected. So we’ll wait to get the full briefing as to what the African Union delegation determined.

With respect to Yemen, we have consistently welcomed the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative to address the situation in Yemen. There is an enormous amount of discussions going on. This is a dynamic process. We strongly encouraged all sides to engage in a dialogue to reach a solution that would be supported by the Yemeni people. Now, President Saleh has expressed his willingness to engage in a peaceful transition, but we don’t have any specifics, we don’t have any timelines so we are supporting the efforts that the GCC is currently leading to arrive at a clear statement of what the government will do and the timeline that it will occur.

MR. TONER: Next question goes to Paivi Sinisalo with MTV Group.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I would like to know your – what do you think about situation in Libya? Do you think it really going to need ground forces there before the situation is under control? How the whole Middle East – how worried you are about the situation in there? And do you think that you should be helping in some way, like the rapid response forces in the situation in Middle East?

And, Mr. Stubb, as well, if I may, what do you think about EU’s role in the situation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will certainly let the minister speak to the EU role. But let me express great appreciation for what the EU is doing in Libya and in Egypt, Tunisia, throughout the region, and also gratitude for what individual nations are doing in support of the efforts to help create conditions for peaceful transitions.

Now, in some countries that has been more possible than in others. Certainly, what we’ve seen with Qadhafi is a violent response to the aspirations of his own people, the use of his military assets against his own people. And so the combination of military action that was authorized by the Security Council, combined with political, diplomatic, and humanitarian assistance is an international commitment, and I am very grateful for the support that we have seen come forth.

FOREIGN MINISTER STUBB: (inaudible) to split the question in two – first one Finland, the second one the European Union – as far as Finland is concerned, we were one of the first countries, actually, to condemn Qadhafi and the first country to propose sanctions, which were then adopted a week later in 1970 in the UN Security Council. After that, we were quite rapid in putting forward the humanitarian aid side of things, but we decided quite early on not to participate in the implementation of the no-fly zone because we didn’t feel that we had a value added in that particular operation. Eleven out of twenty-eight NATO countries were involved in that, plus three outsiders.

Then we come to the second part, the European Union. The European Union is right now preparing and planning a EUFOR Libya operation. It has its headquarters in Rome. But there is one very clear lock or condition for this operation, and that is a request by UN’s OCHA. If that request would come, which is still, may I add, a big if, it would most probably be dealing with opening passages for taking in humanitarian aid. It could be involving evacuations or some kind of sea or airlifts. But it’s probably too early to say. I think it’s very important that the European Union is involved in any which way, and one of the ways that we can be involved in also is political dialogue because there is going to be life after Qadhafi, and the European Union should prepare for that.

QUESTION: Thank you, Alex.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you, all.

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