|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Embassy Tashkent
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, April 18, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, hello Tashkent.
It is really wonderful to see you all this morning and to have the chance to specifically come and visit with you. I fully agree with everything that Ambassador Presel said about what an incredible team you are. That comes through in the reporting that comes back to Washington and is certainly evident as I travel around the country and have the chance to talk to those people who come into contact with you.
This is a very important post. It may not look it, but it is. I have had really a very important experience, not only traveling around Uzbekistan, but in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, for all of us to be able to understand the importance of the Central Asian region to American national interests.
This is an area of the world that is tremendously important in terms of what it produces and what it doesn't produce. I think that the production of some narco-trafficking and terrorist and extremist activity is obviously something that is very important to us and we're spending a lot of time on trying to deal with that. Also, I think the fact that these are classic societies in transition that we have been looking at, and expecting so much of, with the end of the Soviet Union. The fact that they are not yet producing what we want in terms of democracy and market systems means that there's a tremendous amount for all of you to do to help them along.
I have to tell you, this is a facility we use, you might be surprised, basically as the poster child of why we need money. People who think that American diplomats have a plush life, and work in fancy quarters, and go to parties and have the kind of image that comes out of some movies of the 1950s should see this place. I know how hard it is to work under these kinds of conditions, so what you're doing is even more appreciated.
On the subject of resources and what it takes, I have been spending a tremendous amount of time with Congress pushing for our budget. We have a budget of $22.8 billion that we're asking for. It still is only one percent of the federal budget. We still are not getting everything we want, but President Clinton and I have been consistently pushing for larger budgets in order to be able to get you the resources that are necessary.
The weird part is trying to persuade Congress that you need both safe buildings and something to do in them. You have your choice: you can either have safe buildings with no people, or people in unsafe buildings. That seems to be the choices that are starkly placed. But we are trying to get both, because we so respect the work you do.
I would like to echo the words of Ambassador Presel, in saying that without our Foreign Service Nationals it wouldn't be possible to do our work. We are very, very grateful to you, and very grateful to the Foreign Service and Civil Service people who are here, working on behalf of America. I am very, very proud to be your Secretary of State, and very proud of everything that you do.
Thank you very much.
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