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Rice With Salvadoran FM En Route El Salvador

Remarks With Salvadoran Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez En Route San
Salvador, El Salvador

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
San Salvador, El Salvador
April 29, 2005

SECRETARY RICE: The Minister and I have been having a very nice discussion about the events that we've just left and I think we'll just make a couple of points about what we've just done and then about what we'd like to do when we get to El Salvador. And I want to thank you for the patience that we both had to exhibit in order to be a part of the consensus at the OAS and I'm looking forward to going to El Salvador.

First of all, let me just say a word about the Community of Democracies. This is a very important forum and I think it's only going to grow in importance over time. It was really quite inspiring to have a hundred democracies in the room together sharing experiences. A number of countries that are, shall we say, on the edge of trying to be democratic were represented there and were very much enjoying the opportunity to talk to others about the democratic process and about the democratic -- the effort to become more democratic. So I think this will be an important forum for us and I'm very glad that we had the opportunity to be there.

It was obviously also an opportunity to reach the consensus that we had hoped to find. I think I mentioned to some of you that we would try and find a way out of what had become a kind of impasse about the secretary generalship. The key here was the organization. Everybody focused on what was good for this organization. There were very fine candidates for this -- for secretary general and that speaks to the importance of the people attached to the Organization of American States.

In the final analysis, we wanted to try to come to a consensus because everybody recognizes that this organization has a lot of important work to do and all of our discussions were really about that. It was about what the organization is going to do, about the importance of the Democratic Charter and pressing forward.

And then finally, let me say that I'm really looking forward to going to El Salvador, which is a wonderful example of the power of democracy because quite obviously this is a country that came out of a brutal civil war, a lot of civil conflict, that has overcome that to be a stable democracy where the benefits of that democracy are beginning to reach its citizens. But we hope we'll do -- that the United States can be even more of a part of that and the Minister and I were just talking about CAFTA and the importance of passing CAFTA-DR so that we can have economic growth and development and political development in the very important region of Central America, which can only benefit the United States. A stable and prosperous Central America can only benefit the United States.

Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAINEZ: Well, thank you very much for this opportunity. We are very proud of what was reached in Santiago this morning and I believe it's a fine example of democracy working. There were different positions, there were different and very good candidates, but only one could win. And in the end, it was important to reach a consensus and to understand that the importance of democracy is way above and beyond this election and that we needed to elect a secretary general as soon as possible in order to work with the challenges that we are finding in some countries at this time.

I think it was an exercise in democracy and I think the whole process came to show that by having an honest and very deep dialogue about what are the importance of the countries that make up this hemisphere and what we need to get from the OAS was the turning and the key point that helped us reach this consensus.

And here again is democracy at work. And not only that. It was well understood that the OAS should always look and make sure that democratically elected governments remain a democracy. And that was agreed by all the countries that make up the OAS.

We are also very happy that Secretary Rice will be visiting El Salvador. We are very enthusiastic with what this visit means and we believe that with her work and with all her support our countries and our democracies will have a chance to sustain and to become very stable countries like many other democracies in the world.

SECRETARY RICE: Okay, we'll take a few questions. George.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you talked at length over the past few days about how the United States wants to be a partner with the Latin Americans. You talked at length over the past couple days about the U.S. desire to be a partner of the Latin Americans in the quest for good governance. Could you talk -- could you be more specific about the kind of resources the U.S. will put at the disposal of this goal beyond the Millennium Challenge Account?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Millennium Challenge Account is a fair amount of resources so I think I don't want to just say beyond the Millennium Challenge Account because the Millennium Challenge Account not only brings a 50 percent increase in American development assistance over a period of four years, but it brings with it a structure for development assistance that we think speaks to the real way that development assistance is going to make a difference, and that is insistence on good governance, insistence on transparency in governance, on investment in the lives of people and in fighting corruption.

In addition, of course, we have a number of bilateral development assistance programs. We do with El Salvador and with many other countries in the region. And we have a trade agenda that is very active because there is probably no more important ingredient for growth than free trade in this region. And again, I just want to underscore that CAFTA would make a tremendous difference to the economic prospects of Central America and a very big difference then in the political prospects of Central America.

And for the United States, that is good not only for the United States economically but also for the United States in political terms and in terms of security because we call this the third border. It is extremely important to remember how close Central America is to the United States. So, we are putting resources into the region and I hope doing it in a way that sustains the democratic process.

QUESTION: Thank you. Minister Insulza stressed accountability in the OAS, echoing what the Minister now has said and what you have said in the past, that democratically elected governments need to act and govern democratically. What does the United States want in terms of accountability? Do you have to expand now the parameters of the Democratic Charter? Because at the moment, the only way to intervene is if there's something like a coup, a rupture of the constitutional process, but that doesn't really do for those other criticisms you make of Venezuela.

SECRETARY RICE: I want to emphasize something that the Minister said, which is that we had very intensive discussions about what we want the Organization of American States to be and to do. That was really -- we didn't have a discussion of personalities. There was really no discussion of personalities here. Everybody knows that we had two fine candidates, that these are people who can -- could serve wisely and very well. But we did have intensive discussions about the organization.

And I just want to say a word about Minister Insulza. This is someone who has been personally dedicated to democracy throughout his career. And Chile, of course, has been a country that has governed democratically and governed wisely. Now, we talked about the organization and the Democratic Charter and I think you saw that the Minister was talking about some potential innovations. I want to emphasize that we have a foreign ministers meeting in Fort Lauderdale in June that will give us an opportunity between now and June to develop some of these ideas, which I think are very good ideas.

For instance, the Permanent Council having mechanisms within the member-states to assess how we're doing in terms of providing the benefits of democracy, how we're doing in terms of good governance, how they're doing in terms of accountability. And I believe it's also possible to see civil society as having a voice now to talk directly to the Organization of American States about what is going on in their countries. But these are ideas that have to be developed but I think there are some very good ideas there and we'll work hard between now and June to develop them.

QUESTION: The felicitous outcome of the OAS election notwithstanding, we've heard a lot of talk in Santiago about a schism in the OAS between Central American and Caribbean states, who are more aligned with the United States, and South American countries, left of center, looking to Europe, not necessarily in association with the U.S. What do you think about that?

FOREIGN MINISTER LAINEZ: I think our discussions were being centered not on ideology and not on countries themselves, but on the values and principles of democracy that we all shared. And that's really what it all mattered in the end.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, let me just underscore something that I've said throughout this trip. Governments that are democratically elected and govern democratically are going to be respected by the United States and are going to be partners of the United States. This is not a matter of ideology. We can work across the spectrum. Look at Chile. This is a left-of-center government. Brazil we have increasingly very good relations with. And so I think this is not a matter of ideology.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, coming into this trip, what was your overarching goal as you came down here? And now that you're three-quarters of the way through it, what do you think you've accomplished, the OAS agreement aside?

SECRETARY RICE: I really wanted to come early in my tenure as Secretary of State to underscore the commitment of the President and the commitment of the United States to a strong Latin America, a strong Western Hemisphere in which we would unite around democratic values, democratic governance, economic development and trade that is open and free, and to also go one step further to say that we understand that the Monterrey consensus was really right that democracies also have to start to really deliver for their people, that the benefits of economic growth have not reached as widely as they should and that there needs to be an emphasis on what we can do in education -- and you know that I have a particular interest in education, which I think is the key -- but also in health care and in access. And since we believe that governments that are accountable to their people are going to be the governments that deliver on those needs of their people, this is really a package: democracy, economic growth and delivery for the people go together. That was the message. I think it was a message that we all share. It's a goal that we all share.

And then to reach out to partners in the countries that I visited, but also in the OAS, to begin charting a kind of practical course to how we get there. And it's in that context that I think talking about mechanisms within the OAS to advance that agenda is very important.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, did you also have discussions about the democracy caucus in the UN and can you comment on them?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have had some discussions about the democracy caucus. We did not in this context. We were pretty busy trying to figure out the consensus. But the democracy caucus within the UN, which I mentioned last night, I think could be a very important means by which to look at UN reform and how democracy plays a central role, both the aspiration for democracy and the insistence that those who are democratic drive these processes. And I would just note that, for instance, the human rights council that the UN has been talking about, I think it would be fair to ask whether members of the human rights council can be from states that are not democratic, because, after all, it is in democratic states that you have accountability for issues like human rights, it is in democratic states that because you have a free press you can hold governments accountable for issues of human rights. And when you have Sudan or Zimbabwe as members of a Human Rights Commission, one has to ask in an age when I think everybody is reaffirming the Charter of the UN, which talked about these universal rights, the UN has got to look like an organization that really believes in the principles that are there in its Charter.

Thanks.

2005/T6-19

ENDS

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