Remarks With Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril
U.S. State DepartmentOct 19, 2011 07:01 EDT
SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) on the soil of a free Libya. And on behalf of the American people I congratulate all Libyans. It is a great privilege to see a new future for Libya being born. And indeed, the work ahead is quite challenging, but the Libyan people have demonstrated the resolve and resilience necessary to achieve their goals.
Think about what has been achieved already. In crowded squares and mountain passes, Libyans stood up against a dictator’s aggression, and claimed the rights and dignity of a free people. Libyans were called rats by their own leaders and they were confronted by every possible tactic to break your spirit. But no threats dimmed the courage of the Libyan people. The United States was proud to stand with you, and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey, respecting your sovereignty and honoring our friendship. This is Libya’s moment. This is Libya’s victory and the future belongs to you.
The United States knows something about revolution and liberty. That is how our nation was born more than 230 years ago. And we know that democracy takes time; it will not be easy or quick. But we are filled with admiration for what you have already accomplished and confident in your ability to move forward.
Now, we recognize that the fighting, the bloody fighting, continues. We know that Qadhafi and those close to him are still at large. But the NATO and international coalition that came together on your behalf will continue to protect Libyan civilians until the threat from Qadhafi and those who hang to the past is ended.
In our meetings today, the chairman, prime minister, and their colleagues shared with us their plans for establishing an inclusive democracy in Libya. We agreed that the Libyan people deserve a nation governed by the rule of law, not the whims of men. We believe you deserve a government that represents all Libyans from all parts of the country and all backgrounds, including women and young people. We believe you deserve a transparent and fair judicial system. We also are convinced that revenge and vigilantism have no place in the new Libya.
And we believe you deserve an economy that delivers jobs, dignity, and opportunities to all Libyans – not just to the powerful and connected. We also share your concern about caring for the wounded and the families of the fallen, about securing weapons that may have gone missing, about integrating all the various revolutionary forces into a new and unified Libyan military.
Libya is blessed with wealth and resources, most particularly the human resources of the Libyan people. And there is a pressing need, as I was told today, for international expertise and technical assistance. That is why we welcome the idea of a joint committee between Libya and the United States to look at the priorities that the Libyans themselves have.
I am pleased that we are working together to return billions of dollars of frozen assets and that we have reopened our Embassy. We will stay focused on security: I am pleased to announce that we are going to put even more money into helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons. And the Administration, working with Congress, is going to provide $40 million to support this effort. We will also work with Libya to destroy chemical weapons stocks.
We want to expand our economic cooperation with Libya, to create new educational and cultural exchanges and deepen our engagement with civil society. First, we will launch this new partnership to provide care to your wounded. It deeply moves us that so many people dropped whatever they were doing to fight for their freedom – engineers and teachers, doctors and business leaders, students, and so many others. We plan to evacuate some of the most seriously injured to specialized medical facilities in the United States. We want to help you care for your patients here in Libya, so we will work together to establish a modern medical management system and to provide needed supplies and equipment.
We are also very focused on the young people of Libya who have the most to gain from this new freedom. And today I am pleased to announce we are resuming the Fulbright program and doubling its size to permit even more Libyan students to study and train in my country. We will also open new English language classes across Libya for young people and provide special training for Libyan veterans with disabilities because of their combat experience.
We are increasing grants and training to new civil society organizations and working with Libyan women to make sure they have the skills and opportunities to participate fully in the political and economic life of their countries.
And as with the transitions in Tunisia and Egypt, we will partner with Libya to create new economic opportunities and broader prosperity by boosting trade and investment, increasing tourism, building ties between Libyan and American businesses, and helping to integrate Libya more closely into regional and global markets.
This list is just a beginning, because we want to hear from the Libyan people, from the new government that will be established after Libya is fully liberated. But we think we share a lot of the same aspirations for our families and our countries and that we have a lot to learn from each other and give to each other.
Later, I will be meeting with students and civil and society leaders at Tripoli University, talking and listening to the young people of Libya, because it is to all of them that we dedicate our efforts on your behalf.
So again, prime minister, let me thank you for your warm welcome, and thanks to the people of Libya. And we give you our very best wishes and promise our best efforts as you undertake this journey to a new democracy. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: Thank you, your Excellency.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that I personally and the Government of the United States supports human rights everywhere for everyone. And we advocate that not only to governments but also through civil society and work to try to support the opportunities and aspirations of every individual to live up to his or her God-given potential. So we have spoken out. We will continue to speak out.
But different circumstances demand different kinds of responses, and the opportunity now in Libya is to not only chart a new future for Libyans but to stand as a model for democracy and freedom that was won with the blood of your martyrs is an extraordinary chance that comes perhaps only once in human history. So we think that what Libya has before it, the opportunity to make good on the promise of the revolution, is of the utmost importance, and that is why we are standing ready to work closely with the new Government of Libya and with the people of Libya.
We have and will continue to speak out to our friends, who we believe should do more on behalf of women and women’s rights – and I have said that many times – and with those with whom we have very serious differences, who are preventing the full aspirations and freedom of their people to flourish. But today, I am here to talk about Libya and Libya’s future and the hope that not only the United States but the world has invested in the future that Libyans will make for themselves.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mister Prime Minister, how concerned are you about the possibility of civil war here, or any lengthy ongoing conflict with pro-Qadhafi forces? And also, could you both comment on what you believe should happen to the convicted Lockerbie bomber? Should he go back to prison?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, first of all, we are encouraged by the commitment of the Transitional National Council to taking the steps necessary to bring the country together. National unity is one of the highest priorities that Libya faces right now. And we discussed the process of forging a new democratic interim government that is transparent, inclusive, and consultative. And how that is done will, of course, depend upon the decisions that the Libyan people themselves make.
But from long experience, one factor we know must be confronted is unifying the various militias into a single military that represents the Libyan people and government. And the Transitional National Council is very focused on doing just that. They want to get all the militias under national command. They want to prevent reprisals and secure the stocks of weaponry that have come off the battlefield or have been discovered from the previous regime. And we think that the programs that the Transitional National Council have outlined to pay to the families of the fallen martyrs, to prepare programs and treatment and training for those who have served, are exactly what will be needed. Getting a national army and a police force under civilian command is essential. And the United Nations, the United States, and other partners stand ready to do that. But we are still at the point where liberation has not yet been claimed because of the ongoing conflicts that persist, and of course, the continuing freedom of action of Qadhafi and those around him. So the Transitional National Council has to put security first. There has to be a resolution of the conflict before many of these programs can actually be put into action. And I really believe that all members of all militias must see the benefit of joining the new government, of pledging allegiance, as we say in my country, to the new government.
You know, I come from a very diverse country. We fought a civil war, and it was horrible. It was the war in which more Americans died at each other’s hands than any other, and we lived with the consequences for decades afterwards. In today’s world, in the 21st century, that will just throw a people further behind history. So I know that the leadership understands that. They are focused on doing everything they can to end the fighting, to declare the liberation of the country, to form a new government, and to begin to pull the entire country together. So we will do everything we can to respond to that.
And we have made, of course, our strong views known about Megrahi, and I have said, many times, that we believe that he should never have been released. I raised this issue again with the leadership here. We – and we recognize the magnitude of all the issues that Libya is facing, but we also know the importance of the rule of law, and they have assured us they understand how strongly the United States feels about this and all the sensitivities around this case. We will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. This is an open case in the United States Department of Justice, and we will continue to discuss it with our Libyan counterparts.
QUESTION: Does the United States --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Will you talk in the microphone so the press can hear you, sir? Thank you.
QUESTION: You hear me now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Libya Al Hurra TV. Will the United States consider cooperating with the Libyan Islamists on delivering political process for Libya? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The democracy that takes root in Libya must be reflective of the aspirations of the people of Libya, not the desires or dictates of any outside group. So with respect to Libyans themselves, we will support a process of democratizing that respects the rule of law; that respects the rights of minorities and women and young people; that creates independent institutions, like a free press and an independent judiciary. Groups and individuals who really believe in democracy should be welcome into that process. But groups that want to undermine democracy or subvert it are going to have to be dealt with by the Libyans themselves.
There are people – and I’ve been working in this area for many years, even as a private citizen and as a United States senator. There are many people who say they support elections, but only if they get elected. They want one election, one time, and then if they are elected no more elections. So these are all the kinds of challenges that Libyans will face in putting together their democracy. But people must renounce violence, they must give up arms, they must be committed to a democracy that respects the rights of all. And then, of course, you have an inclusive democracy that includes people, but they must be committed to the goals of a true democracy.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’d like to take you a bit east of here. Today, Gilad Shalit has returned home after more than five years in captivity, and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have been released as well. I was wondering whether you could give us your reaction to the deal struck between Israel and Hamas and how that fits in, if at all, with your wider efforts to resume peace talks, for example, in the Middle East. And also slightly connected to this, we are hearing reports that the American Israeli citizen, Ilan Grapel, who’s been detained in Egypt on charges of spying, may be released. I was wondering whether you could confirm that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, we are pleased that a long ordeal, being held five years as a hostage, has ended for Gilad Shalit and he’s been released and finally reunited with his family. He was held for far too long in captivity. And we are also hopeful that Ilan Grapel will similarly be released. We see no basis for any legal action against him.
And of course, we are hopeful that there will be a return to negotiations by the Israelis and the Palestinians by the end of this month, as outlined by the Quartet statement.
So we continue to be very focused on working toward a two-state outcome that would give the Palestinian people the same rights that the Libyan people are now obtaining to chart their own destiny and make their own way in life with their own goals and aspirations being fulfilled, and that Israel would have secure borders and could contribute to the prosperity of the larger region. So we remain focused on that and we’ll continue to work toward those outcomes.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Prime Minister Jibril is smiling because I have raised it every time I have seen him and every time that I have seen Chairman Jalil and all of the Libyan officials with whom I have met over the last many months.
I would make three points. First, no country can become a democracy, no economy can develop as fully as it could, if half the population is not included. And the women of Libya have the same rights as their brothers and their husbands and their fathers and their sons to help build a new Libya. So we are very committed and very outspoken about what we hope will be the full inclusion of women in a democratic future.
Secondly, women also sacrificed in this revolution. Women were in the streets. Women were supporting the fighters. Women were sending their sons and their husbands off to an uncertain future, and many will never see them again. So women have sacrificed. They may not have been on the front lines holding a weapon, but they were holding together the society and supporting those who were fighting for Libya’s independence. So they have earned the right to be part of Libya’s future.
And finally, there is an opportunity here that I hope Libya will seize. I believe because you have won your freedom – no one handed it to you, you fought for it and you won it – that you will find it in your hearts to demonstrate to the entire world that Libya is not only free, but Libya is equal, Libya believes in the rule of law, Libya will educate all of their boys and girls to take their rightful places in the world. I would hope that I could come back to a free, democratic Libya in a few years, and it would be a shining example of what is possible when free people make their own choices.
So I cannot imagine how that could come to pass if women are not given the right to serve their country, to run their businesses, to be educated to the best of their abilities. So I will certainly look to ways that the United States can support the women in Libya to be able to take their rightful places in this new democratic future.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, my friend.
- Foreign Politics