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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid