News / Europe

Clinton Criticizes Russia on Europe Policy, Human Rights

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference opening session in Dublin, December 6, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference opening session in Dublin, December 6, 2012.
Al Pessin
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sharply criticized Russia Thursday, saying it is trying to “re-Sovietize” Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Clinton spoke in Dublin at an event with civil society activists from the area, and at a meeting of the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Meeting with the human rights activists, Secretary Clinton criticized Russian efforts to create a Eurasian Union, saying it is really an effort to re-assert Soviet-era controls on the region. She said the United States is working “to slow down or prevent it.”

She also took aim at new limits on human rights in several former-Soviet states. She singled out Russia for criminalizing foreign involvement in domestic human rights organizations, and said the United States is looking for new ways to support such groups.

Later, in her formal remarks at the OSCE meeting, she criticized Russian-backed efforts to limit the organization’s deliberations, slow its response to crises, and suspend existing agreements. She also cited efforts to block resolutions on digital age freedom, media freedom, freedom of assembly and association, and a measure on military transparency.

“These are not the way to progress in the 21st century," she said. "The United States remains committed to the goal of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace, and to the OSCE, whose principles are sound. We welcome any and all efforts to strengthen this organization, but that means empowering the organizations we already have to function free from interference - not curtailing them; and it means implementing the commitments we have made to one another and to our citizens, not undermining them.”

Speaking to the assembled delegates, including the Russian foreign minister and senior officials from other former Soviet states, Secretary Clinton also accused the Belarus government of systematically repressing human rights, and called October’s election in Ukraine “a step backwards for democracy.”

The secretary accused Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan of restricting freedom of expression and religion. And in the Caucasus, she cited attacks on journalists, limits to judicial independence, and unfair elections.

She said anti-Semitism and discrimination against immigrants, Roma and homosexuals persist in Eastern Europe, and cited what she called “democratic backsliding” in Hungary and “challenges to constitutional processes” in Romania.

In the meeting with the activists, Secretary Clinton called it “distressing” that 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, “so many of the hoped-for indicators of progress are retreating.” She said the opportunities for human rights groups to operate are shrinking, and “governments are becoming much more aggressive in trying to stifle dissent, [and] prevent the free expression and exchange of views.”

Among the 11 activists at the meeting were representatives of groups from Russia, Turkmenistan, Belarus and Ukraine, which she called “one of our biggest disappointments.”

Although its official focus is European security, the OSCE has played a key role in promoting human rights since its founding during the Cold War in the 1970s, including the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975.  Secretary Clinton said she sees “a growing concern for the future” of the organization, and what she called “the values it has always championed."

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid