|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks to Government and Business Leaders
Hull, Quebec, Canada, March 10, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Good morning. It is a great pleasure to be here this morning. Foreign Minister Axworthy, thank you very much for that kind introduction.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for inviting me to join you here this morning. And I thank you as well for braving the weather to have breakfast with me so early, although "braving" is probably not the way Canadians think of it.
When I speak to a big group of people in another country, I normally begin by trying to reach out to my audience and point to something we have in common. Not surprisingly, Ambassador Giffin suggested I talk to you about hockey.
So I thought I would chat with you for a while about how I am a huge fan of the U.S. women's hockey team and the fun I had speaking with them right after the Olympics. But then for some reason, I had second thoughts about that. Then I considered reminding you that I was born in Czechoslovakia. But that might get me into trouble, too.
So please forgive me for even mentioning what I know is a painful subject. But you see, ever since my own experience at the town meeting in Ohio State, which some of you may have heard about, I have felt the need to take a few slap shots myself.
Let me try out a better idea for finding common ground.
[Translation from French] A good way to begin would be to talk about the ties between the United States and Canada, and the reasons why they are so vital to us. For you see, I hold the old fashioned view that our most important diplomatic, economic and strategic relationships are those we share with our closest neighbors.
One of the things Americans cherish most about this relationship is Canada's distinctiveness. Sometimes we may give you reasons to disbelieve that, but I think I speak for most Americans when I say that we feel blessed to share this beautiful continent with a country such as yours that is a parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth; a country with two official languages and many distinct cultures; a society with an incredible commitment to social justice and solidarity and to the rule of law.
As Secretary of State, what I appreciate the most is our cooperation with Canada and with Canadians, cooperation on the issues that matter most to the American people.
We have a billion dollar a day trading relationship. Our 1988 bilateral free trade agreement and NAFTA more than doubled the value of trade between our countries. That is an achievement so unambiguously great that virtually no one remembers it. All it has done is provide a better standard of living to millions of families on both sides of our long, undefended border.
The United States and Canada also have a wonderful tradition of standing together in moments when one or the other of us is in need. During the recent ice storms, I was proud, but not at all surprised, to hear that line crews from as far away as New Jersey came to Canada to put up new electric transmission poles, some of which came from Alabama.
There was simply no question that we would be here for you, just as there has never been any question that you would be there for us when similar tragedies have struck the United States. [End of French Translation]
Of course, we also have an important tradition of standing by one another when our interests and values are threatened across the Atlantic or around the world.
As the Foreign Minister has said, I have just returned from a trip to Ukraine, Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and Spain. At the top of my agenda at every stop was our effort to see that Iraq complies with its obligations to the international community.
This will be a subject of my discussions in Ottawa today, as well. We deeply appreciate Canada's strong support for the UN Security Council resolutions concerning Iraq, as well as Canada's willingness to deploy military forces to the Gulf.
Iraq's recent agreement to permit UN inspectors full and unfettered access to all sites in the country is a step forward. But it's not a solution to the problem Iraq poses; it is rather an opportunity to pursue a solution by peaceful means. It is only now being tested. This is not finished.
If Iraq lives up to its agreement, we will have achieved our initial goal of maintaining an effective inspection and monitoring regime. If it does not, I trust there will be even greater international support for a forceful response, and that our two nations will continue to stand together.
That is what we did three years ago in Haiti. It is what we have been doing for the last two years in the Balkans -- and what we will continue to do until festering problems such as the violence in Kosovo are resolved. For I think together we have learned the lessons of the last seven years: that we cannot equivocate in the face of ethnic cleansing; that we have a moral duty to do today what we failed to do in 1991 when the war in the former Yugoslavia began.
Yesterday in London, the Contact Group for The Former Yugoslavia agreed to raise the pressure against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, which is responsible for the violence in Kosovo. Today, I will ask Canada to join us in adopting new sanctions that can stop the killing, keep it from spreading, and encourage a real political solution to the crisis.
[Translation from French] It is often said that Canada wields influence around the world that is disproportionate to its size. This is because in its foreign policy, Canada has always stood for something larger than its own immediate self-interest. And it is with this point of view that we see the debate on Canadian unity in Canada. This is an internal Canadian issue which Canadians will freely resolve. The United States, as Canada's neighbor, friend and ally, will not interfere in the debate.
At the same time, we greatly admire what Canada has achieved. We salute Canada, as President Clinton has put it, for showing how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, in prosperity and in respect. We deeply value our relationship with a strong and united Canada.
From time to time, our nations have disagreed. I will not minimize our disputes, or the passions they arouse, or the impact that they can sometimes have on the lives of our people. But I think that we can agree that if every pair of neighbors in the world had the relationship we have, there would be little need for armies, and Secretaries of State could take a vacation every once in a while.
Of course, in this real world of real dangers, there is all the more reason for us to stick together, and to make our partnership as close and as productive as it can be. To that end, I pledge to you my best efforts, and I respectfully solicit yours.
Thank you very much.
[End French Translation]
[End of Document]
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