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Hillary Clinton: "RFE/RL Is Smart Power"

RFE/RL President Gedmin, BBG Governor Hirschberg, and staff applaud during Clinton's remarks at RFE/RL
RFE/RL President Gedmin, BBG Governor Hirschberg, and staff applaud during Clinton's remarks at RFE/RL
Transcript of U.S. Secretary of State Clinton's remarks at RFE/RL's Prague headquarters as delivered on Sunday, April 4, 2009:

RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin: Well, good morning everybody. Madam Secretary if I may say at the outset, you and the President frequently talk about soft power and smart power, so I think the first thing to say is: welcome to smart radio, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

I’d simply mention two things: first of all thanks to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, of which you are a member, and to Jeff Hirschberg, who is here and who is not only an energetic supporter of international broadcasting but a dear friend of the Secretary’s, of mine, and of this company. Jeff Hirschberg, thank you very much. Madam Secretary, you know this institution. We are honored that you are here. You’ve had a taxing trip and a successful trip, congratulations.

Hillary Clinton: Thank you very much.

Gedmin: And we also know that in a schedule where there was no time, you made time. So thank you for that. It is our honor. And you have the floor.

Clinton: Thank you very much. I am absolutely delighted to be here in these new headquarters. I understand that my visit today sped up the moving process, and you are getting settled in to what is a magnificent new headquarters building. I want to thank President Gedmin and my wonderful friend, Mr. Hirschberg, for all of the work that they’ve done to really make this possible. I am very excited to have a chance to help inaugurate this new building.
RFE/RL is smart power. You represent everything that we are trying to achieve.

I wanted to make a few points: it’s been over twelve years since I last visited Radio Free Europe - who was with Radio Free Europe when I was here twelve years ago? (Laughing). (Show of hands). It is absolutely true what Jeff said that this is smart power, but smart power takes smart people, people who are dedicated, who understand the mission of communication and free expression and reaching out to the rest of the world.

And since I was last with you twelve years ago, you’ve moved into this fabulous state-of-the-art building. You’ve added radio stations in Iraq, Iran, the North Caucasus and Afghanistan, you’ve dramatically increased your audiences, and you’ve remained competitive in a rapidly changing media environment. That’s a very good record of accomplishment. I just did an interview on Radio Free Afghanistan, and I learned that it is Afghanistan`s most popular radio broadcaster. About half of the country’s adult population tunes in to the bilingual Dari and Pashto broadcast on a weekly basis. It is considered a reliable outlet for information by the people of Afghanistan as all of your services are that are going into the various countries and telling the story of, you know, what the United States stands for as well. And I think that the questions that I just answered from listeners were reflective of what the concerns of the people are.

I also know that RFE/RL employees, journalists, and staff members have faced harassment, intimidation, kidnapping, arrests, and violence. But your steadfast commitment to your mission is a great message about the importance of this work. I am a big believer in smart power and in communications. We have a big job to do to reach out to get accurate information into the countries and societies that we are currently addressing, and we couldn’t do it without you.
I know that RFE/RL journalists have faced harassment, intimidation, kidnapping, arrests, and violence.

I want to thank you on behalf of President Obama who you saw was delivering an important non-proliferation speech in front of the Prague castle. He and I believe strongly that we have to do a better job in explaining American values. First we have to live by them and then second, we have to explain them.

When I was here twelve years ago I gave a speech talking about an alliance of values. I recently dusted off that old speech and looked at it, and I think that what we were trying to do twelve years ago is even more pressing today. We do want to create a broad international agreement with values that respect human dignity, individual rights and responsibilities which give every child, no matter where that child is born, whether that child is a boy or a girl, the same chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. Now, we know that we are a long way from that. But we also know we won’t make progress if we do not continue to push forward.
What you do here is an instrumental, essential part of everything America stands for.

What you do here is an instrumental, essential part of everything America stands for. So I wanted to come today even though it was a little challenging to get the schedule worked out to say ‘thank you.’ Thank you for being part of one of the most important aspects of American outreach.

You know, when I was confirmed as the Secretary of State, I said we had three pillars of American foreign policy to advance our security and to further our values and interests. Defense, of course, and we just finished a bilateral meeting with the government of the Czech Republic - the current government of the Czech Republic (laughter) - and talked about the importance of defense, and our commitment to the defense of free counties like the Czech Republic.

Diplomacy, which is part of our outreach, but not just talking at people. Rather, listening, consulting, learning from one another, arriving at common strategies to achieve common objectives. And, of course, development, which is an area that we believe strongly in to try to provide tools and skills that enable people to make the most of their own lives.

So, you are important to all three of those, and that is not true of most aspects of American foreign policy. You really do represent everything that we are trying to achieve. So thank you so much for coming out on a Sunday morning into this new building to give me a chance to express my appreciation and to tell you that I am going to look forward to regular broadcasting question and answer sessions on the various networks that you run reaching as many people as we possibly can.

Thank you so much for being part of the values that we hold dear and that we hope other people will have a chance to exercise and live under some day. Thank you. Bye, Bye. (applause).

Gedmin: Thank you very much. This was perfect, thank you so much truly.

Clinton: Oh, thank you. Thank you all.