|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks before the Colorado Women's Foundation
Denver, Colorado, May 13, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Text as Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon. Governor Romer, Lieutenant Governor Schoetler, Mr. Mayor, members of the summit host committee and the women's foundation, Ambassador Hunt, Under Secretary Tim Wirth, Harold Ickes and other distinguished guests, I believe it was Dorothy--or perhaps it was Senator Dole--who said it first about Kansas, but let me say it now about Denver--there's no place like home.
I know President Clinton is looking forward to coming to Denver, and let me offer greetings as well from your former Mayor and my current cabinet colleague -- Federico Pena.
It really is a pleasure to be back, and to see so many friends, old and new.
Earlier, I had the opportunity to visit my old school, where many years ago I started an international affairs club and named myself President.
I knew early on that foreign policy was my game. But I never expected four decades, three daughters and two grandchildren later that I would become Secretary of State. Or that I would be traveling around the world, as I was just this past week, with the President of the United States.
As you may have read, the President was in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean to reinforce and protect America's interests along our southern border. As a former professor, I found the trip a fascinating example of what I would call bread and butter diplomacy. There was no single grand agreement, but instead a host of decisions that will improve the quality of life of people on both sides of our southern border.
Examples include improved cooperation in the war against drugs; agreements on aviation and stolen cars; and a variety of understandings on health, labor, the environment and energy.
These measures, with these countries, are part of a larger process of integration that I would like to discuss with you today.
But before I do, I would also like to raise the question of resources.
Thanks to the past efforts of administrations from both parties, and to the courage, energy and genius of our people, America has reached the threshold of a new century strong, prosperous, respected and at peace.
This is no accident, and its continuation is not inevitable. Democratic progress, rising standards of living and increased security must be sustained as they were created--through American leadership.
But we cannot lead without tools.
Accordingly, I urge you, as I have urged Americans across this country, to support the President's request to fully fund our international affairs programs. That request covers everything from helping refugees to checking visa applications to negotiating arms reductions, and it is equal to only about one percent of our federal budget. But that one percent may determine fifty percent of the history that is written about our era; and it will affect the lives of 100 percent of the American people.
With your support, and that of Congress, we have an unprecedented opportunity to shape a future in which nations increasingly come together around basic principles of democracy, open markets and the rule of law.
We are pursuing that goal by adapting key institutions and alliances, building strong relationships with the world's major powers, and drawing a clear line between behavior that should be accepted by the international community and behavior that should not.
That is why we are working with our allies to build a NATO strengthened by new members and trained for new missions.
It is why we have worked with friends in Asia to freeze North Korea's nuclear program and prepare the way for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
It is why we stand with the peacemakers against the bombthrowers in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and other troubled regions of the world.
And it is why we are placing a high priority on the Summit of the Eight to be held here in Denver next month.
Your city can be proud that you will, during that summit, be playing host to history. For the first time, Russia will be virtually a full participant in the discussions of what--until now--has been known as the Group of 7. This reflects the process of inclusion highlighted by President Clinton at the Helsinki Summit in March. And it demonstrates that we are truly building a new future for Europe; a future in which every democracy--including Russia--is our partner and every partner is a builder of peace.
There are many international organizations and arrangements in the world, but the Group of Seven, plus Russia, stands out because of the economic and political clout of its members. When these countries agree to act together, for peace, for economic security, for human rights or on other initiatives, it can make a real difference, elevating standards and influencing policies around the globe.
For example, here in Denver next month, President Clinton and the other heads of state will be looking for ways to enhance cooperation in responding to the threat of international terror.
They will be discussing strategies for fighting and defeating organized crime, which has extended its tentacles around the world, corrupting democracies, fostering violence and poisoning our children through the deadly flow of drugs.
They will be sharing ideas on how to stop the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and how to end the scourge caused by the indiscriminate use of landmines, which have been killing and maiming too many children, in too many countries for far too long.
And they will be exploring ways to further expand the global economy, which is one of the central goals of the foreign policy of the United States.
During the past four years, under President Clinton, we have had great success in using our diplomacy to build prosperity. During this time, more than 200 trade agreements have been negotiated, causing exports to soar and creating an estimated 1.6 million new American jobs.
This matters especially to states, such as Colorado, that rely a great deal on exports. For example, your high-tech sector will benefit from access to new markets opened by the Information Technology Agreement we negotiated earlier this year. And on our trip to Central America last week, we signed "Open Skies" agreements of the type that have allowed Denver International Airport to add non-stop flights to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Toronto and elsewhere during the past two years.
As our businesspeople know, competition for the world's markets is fierce. Often, our firms go head to head with foreign competitors who receive active help from their own governments.
Our goal is to see that American companies, workers and farmers have a level playing field on which to compete, whether they are selling machinery to harvest wheat or technologies designed to detect wind shear, such as the system a Boulder company, supported by our Trade and Development Agency, is building in the Far East.
As long as I am Secretary of State, our diplomacy will strive for a global economic system that is increasingly open and fair. Our embassies will provide all appropriate help to American firms. Our negotiators will seek trade agreements that help create new American jobs. And I will personally stress the point--as I have in visits to many of our principal trading partners around the world--that if countries want to sell in our backyard, they had better allow America to do business in theirs.
The argument that we make, and that underlies the very concept of the Summit of the Eight, is that economic progress is not a zero-sum game. When we help other nations to grow, we expand the system of market democracies in which our own nation has the largest stake. We also create opportunities here at home.
In 1995, our Agency for International Development bought almost $17 million of Colorado wheat, beans and lentils to feed the hungry overseas. And Colorado organizations as diverse as Global Steel and Colorado Springs Junior Achievement have participated in our aid programs.
We will devote much attention at the Summit of the Eight to the challenge of building strong economies, opening new markets and creating jobs. But we will also be careful to draw the connection between those goals and another--and that is the future of our global environment.
The people of Colorado understand as well as any in our country how important it is that when we grow economically, we do so in ways that are healthy and sustainable.
Over the past several years, I have traveled to almost every region of the world.
I have flown over whole mountain ranges virtually stripped of trees.
I have seen farmers in Africa and Haiti struggling to grow crops on hillsides so steep it is impossible to stand because all the other soil has been exhausted.
I have seen areas renowned for their economic vigor where the quality of life has been ruined by unbreathable air, undrinkable water, and immovable traffic.
I have talked to people, whose families have been fishermen for generations, in despair because fisheries resources have been destroyed.
And just this past week, I went with the President to a rain forest in Costa Rica, where we underlined America's commitment to protecting the world's natural resources, and proceeded to demonstrate that commitment--by getting drenched.
Preserving a healthy and abundant global environment is not simply a foreign policy interest of the United States. It is an obligation to the future which each and every one of us share.
At the Denver Summit, we will be discussing how nations can meet that obligation as a follow-up to the Rio Earth Summit held five years ago. There could hardly be a more appropriate place for such a discussion than Colorado, where the beauty of the environment is a major economic asset, and where much of the world's most advanced climate change research is being done.
Colorado is also the home of the State Department's leading expert on the environment, our immensely energetic and accomplished Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, Tim Wirth. And of Dottie Lamm, who was a leading member of the U.S. delegation to the Women's Conference in Beijing a year and a half ago.
Of course Dottie, with Ambassador Swanee Hunt, also co-founded the Women's Foundation of Colorado.
The Foundation's efforts to promote women's self-sufficiency here are mirrored by those of other grassroots organizations around the world. They provide ample evidence that, whether women are bumping against a glass ceiling or standing on a dirt floor, they are eager to be full partners in the development of their societies. And whether or not they have that opportunity will do much to determine our success or failure in promoting sustainable development around the world.
We know from experience, after all, that when women have the knowledge and power to make their own choices, the cycle of poverty, in which too many countries remain ensnared, can be broken. Birth rates stabilize. Environmental awareness increases. The spread of sexually-transmitted disease slows. And socially constructive values are more likely to be passed on to the young.
One of the most encouraging developments of our era is the coming together throughout the world of organizations and individuals dedicated to the challenge of advancing the status of women.
This past week in Central America, for example, I participated in a meeting with our First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and women from each of the countries in that region.
It was heartening to learn during this meeting that, thanks to the efforts of concerned NGO's, one country has approved a law requiring new members of Congress to pay any child support they may owe before they are allowed to serve. In another, the courts have--for the first time--voided laws that explicitly discriminate against women in the punishment of crimes.
The efforts of nongovernmental organizations should be applauded, but governments must do their part, as well.
As Secretary of State, I am working with other Administration officials to see that issues related to the status of women receive the attention they deserve.
For example, our overseas aid programs support projects that expand the ability of women to participate fully in the economic and political life of their societies.
We are emphasizing access for women and girls to education and health care, and designing refugee relief to meet women's needs.
We are supporting efforts to provide credit for women engaged in micro-enterprise.
We are working to ratify--at long last--the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women.
We are leading a global effort to crack down on illegal trafficking in women and girls, because we believe that if those who traffic in drugs should be punished severely--and they should--so should those who traffic in human beings.
And we are working hard to end violence against women. Today, around the world, appalling abuses are being committed against women, from domestic violence to dowry murders to forcing young girls into prostitution. Some say all this is cultural, and there's nothing we can do about it. I say it's criminal and we each have a responsibility to stop it.
When we stand up for basic values of law and respect for the dignity of every human being, we are serving our common future. The American values we share, and the world admires, are founded in a commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law not just for some, but for all people.
Only in liberty can human potential find fulfillment in equal men and women, secure in their rights and able to meet their responsibilities. And only if our nation is outward-looking, if we are responsible, and if we are true to our values can we fulfill our potential--as leaders and as builders of the next American century.
Almost fifty years ago, my family came here to escape Communism and find freedom. The Denver Post had a motto then that read "'Tis a privilege to live in Colorado."
My father used to repeat that motto on a regular basis, but he would often add a reminder: "Kids," he would say, "never forget that it is also a privilege to live in the United States."
The Americans of that post World War II era faced the challenge of building a lasting peace.
Their goals then were similar to our goals today. They understood that nations working together as trading partners and partners in peace would be less likely to fall into the abyss of war.
They believed that gaining the commitment of nations to high standards of law and human rights would make the world less brutal and unjust.
And they believed in human progress--for they had just defeated the greatest enemies of progress ever to walk the earth.
Together with our allies, they forged a set of institutions that would defend freedom, rebuild economies, uphold law and preserve peace.
Today, we face the challenge of strengthening and adapting those institutions to meet the demands of our era. There is now no region on earth that need be excluded from the benefits of the international system, or that should be excluded from its responsibilities. And there is no American who does not stand to benefit from the creation of a world that is increasingly prosperous, secure and free.
As I have said, the task of shaping the future is not that of governments alone. It requires the steady efforts and firm commitment of cities like Denver and citizens like you to play a strong partnership role.
Denver's decision to host the Summit of the Eight, and the record of accomplishment of the Women's Foundation of Colorado give evidence, that the future is in good hands.
For all you are doing and have done, I admire you.
For all you will do, I salute you.
And for your attention and hospitality here today, I thank you very, very much.
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