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安倍晋三 国連総会9/22 北朝鮮非難・南スーダン美談・国連改革を

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVnHIWGn94c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrZXrvIYA8E

 

議長、北朝鮮は今や、平和に対する公然たる脅威としてわれわれの正面に現れました。これに対して何ができるか。今まさに、国連の存在意義が問われています。
 北朝鮮は、SLBMを発射しました。その直後には、弾道ミサイル3発を同時に放ち、いずれも1000キロメートルを飛翔させ、我が国排他的経済水域に着弾させました。このとき民間航空機や船舶に被害がなかったのは、単にまったくの偶然に過ぎません。
 北朝鮮は本年だけで、計21発の弾道ミサイルを飛ばしました。加えてこのたび9月9日には、核弾頭の爆発実験に成功したと宣言しています。
 核爆発実験は、今年の1月に次ぐものでした。しかし一連のミサイル発射と核弾頭の爆発は、景色を一変させるものです。
 北朝鮮による核開発は、累次に及ぶ弾道ミサイル発射と表裏一体のものです。北朝鮮は、疑問をはさむ余地のない計画を、我々の前で実行しているのです。今やその脅威は、これまでとおよそ異なる次元に達したと言うほかありません。
 よって我々は、既往に一線を画す対応をもって、これに応じなくてはならない。力を結集し、北朝鮮の計画を挫かなくてはなりません。
 核実験の一報を聞いたわたくしは、直ちにバラック・オバマ米国大統領に電話をしました。次いで韓国の朴槿恵大統領とも電話で話し、三国で足並みを揃え、北朝鮮に対し断固たる態度を示すことで一致しました。
 次は、国連の出番です。安全保障理事会が、新次元の脅威に対し、明確な態度を示す時です。
 たった、4か月前のことでした。初めて炸裂した核爆弾により、無辜・無数の市民が犠牲となった広島に、オバマ大統領が訪れました。
 誓いを新たにした日でした。たとえどれだけ時間がかかろうと、核廃絶に向けた努力を片時たりとも怠ってはならない。誓いはあの日、太平洋両岸を結んで新たな力を得たのです。
 にもかかわらず、北朝鮮は今、挑発をエスカレートしている。人類の良心に対する挑戦です。もしこれを看過するなら、私たちは、私たち自身の良心に対して、どう申し開きができるのでしょうか。
 平和とは、ガラスのようなものです。磨かれ、透き通った状態では、その存在が意識にのぼりません。小さなヒビは、しばらく無視しても変化を生じないでしょう。
 しかしいつしかヒビは広がって、ガラスはやがて、音を立てて割れてしまう。だからヒビなど入らぬよう、ガラスを注意して扱う心の習慣を、日々営々と育てねばなりません。
 私は、両大戦を踏まえて発足した国連における初志とは、そのような、切実な自覚だったと思います。
 ならばこそ、軍事的挑発を許し続けてよいはずはない。それはガラスに、白昼公然ヒビをつけるに等しい行為だからです。
 しかも今我々の前に現れた平和の脅威、北朝鮮が続ける軍事的挑発の性質は、以前よりもっとはるかに深刻なものです。
 潜水艦から発射する弾道ミサイル。弾道ミサイルに搭載する核弾頭。これらを北朝鮮は、確実に、自らの手中にしつつある。
 かつこれを実行しているのは、当時13歳だった少女を含む多数の日本人を拉致した国です。彼らに速やかな全員の返還を強く要求しています。しかし、残念ながら、北朝鮮は、未だに祖国への帰国を認めず、彼らの人生を奪った国、人権を蹂躙し、権力に対する抑制と均衡がなにひとつ働かない国、国民の困窮を一顧だにせず、核・ミサイル等の軍備増強に邁進する国です。
 国際社会に与える脅威は深刻の度を増し、一層現実的になりました。もはや昨日までとは異なる、新たな対処を必要としています。
 議長、本年12月、日本は国連に加盟し60年の節目を迎えます。国連の前庭で、例年「国際平和デー」に、日本の一市民が送った鐘が静かな音色を響かせるようになってから数えると、62年の月日が流れました。
 あの鐘は鋳型の中で、ローマ法王が送った硬貨を溶かしてつくられた。世界60を超える国の人々、子供たちが送った硬貨やメダルを溶かして鋳造されました。そこに日本人の込めた願いとは、何だったか。
 60年前、名誉あるこの会堂に席を得た日本人が心の奥底から求め、以後一貫して、一切の揺るぎなく望み、かつ主張してきたものとは、いつにかかって世界の平和であり、核兵器の廃絶です。世代を継いで、その実現に向け歩みをやめまいという誓いです。
 議長、私は本来ならば、本日この場で、60年の歩みを振り返り、世界の平和と繁栄を目指した我が国の来し方に、静かな省察を述べるつもりでありました。
 しかし北朝鮮の脅威が新たなレベルに達した今、私は我が国60年の誓いにかけて、決意を語らなくてはならないと感じています。
 国連が、北朝鮮の野心を挫けるか、安保理が、一致して立ち向かえるかに世界の耳目が集中する今、日本は、理事国として、安保理の議論を先導します。
 私はこのことを決意として、本会議場に参集する諸国代表の皆様を前に、断じて述べようとするものであります。
 議長、当面するありとあらゆる課題にもかかわらず、いえ、それゆえに、加盟60年を迎えた日本は、国連を強くするための努力を惜しみません。
 これまで日本が払った国連分担金、PKO分担金の累計は、その時、その時の金額の積み上げで、200億ドルをゆうに上回ります。過去約30年、日本に勝る財政的貢献をした国は、唯一米国を数えるにすぎません。また開発援助の実績は、これもその時々の額を足し上げた数字で、3345億ドルに上ります。
 思いますに、国連には、その歴史を貫く3つの大義がありました。
 平和への貢献、成長の追求、そして、不義と不正のない世界への願望です。日本とは、いずれの大義に対しても、60年力を惜しまなかった国であることを、お認めいただけるのではないでしょうか。
 わけても成長は、全ての基礎となるものです。成長があってこそ平和は根づき、長い時間をかけて不義を正していくことができます。
 御覧ください、民主主義の下に暮らす人口は、今や広域アジアが、他のどの地域をもしのいでいます。これこそは、1980年代半ば以降に、それはあたかも、日本企業がアジア各国に旺盛な直接投資を始めた時期以来ということになりますが、アジアが獲得した成長の果実なのです。
 自由で開かれた通商・投資環境があってこそ、日本は成長できました。アジア諸国に今日の豊かさを与えたものも、また同様であります。
 海洋における平和、安定、安全、並びに航行と上空飛行の自由は、国際社会の平和と繁栄の土台です。
 争いごとがあれば法に基づく主張をし、力や威圧に頼らず、平和的に解決していくとする原則を、国際社会はあくまで堅持しなければなりません。
 日本は、開かれ、自由で、法とルールの支配において揺るぎのない世界の秩序を守る側に、どこまでも立ち続けます。
 また私は、日本政府の中枢に、持続可能な開発目標(SDGs)の実施に向けた特別のチームを作り、自ら率いています。我が政府は気候変動に関わるパリ協定の締結を急ぎ、途上国に向け、2020年における1.3兆円の支援という約束を確実に実施します。
 日本は、既往の60年と同様、この先60年においても、国連強化のため努力を惜しみません。私は、日本国民への信頼にかけて、お約束したいと思います。
 その人は、ジュバの一角に、ふらりと現れました。場所は、我が陸上自衛隊施設部隊が、国連のブルーヘルメットをかぶって活動していたところです。
 「日本が道路を作ってくれることに、自分は感謝している。信頼を寄せている。自分にできることはないか。見返りはなにもいらないから手伝わせてほしい。」
 翌日も、また次の日にも、国連の最も若い加盟国、南スーダンの首都で幹線道路を敷く現場に、その男性は現れました。3日目からは必要な作業を先回りして始めるようになったこの人と、陸自隊員との共同作業は結局8日続きます。
 別れの日、肩を叩きあって離別を惜しむ中、この男性が、やはり感謝の言葉ばかり口にするのを聞いた我が施設部隊隊員たちが、深い感動に襲われたのは言うまでもありません。ジュマ・アゴ・アイザック。隊員たちは、さもなくば無名の、一人の南スーダン人の名前をおのおの手帳に書きつけて、記憶に留めることにしました。
 議長、場所はどこであれ、仕事がなんであれ、国際協力の現場に携わる日本人たちは、常にこうした出会いを無上の喜びとします。
 彼らの行くところ、名もない市井の人々が、自らの力に目覚め、国造りとは自分の立っているそこから始まるのだと自覚する。それを目撃する日本人たちは、自身生涯の思い出となる感動を得る。
 私は、日本と国連との関わりが、過去60年、このように、心と心の交歓をアジアで、アフリカで、随所で築くものだったことに、静かな誇りを覚えるものです。これが日本の、国連精神。忘れず、育て、次世代に継いでいくことをお約束します。
 最後に私は、国連のガバナンス構造に根本的変化が必要であることを指摘し、討論を終えようと思います。
 アフリカや、ラテン・アメリカの国々は、世界の政治でも、経済でも、かつてない影響力を築きました。しかし安保理では、満足な代表をもてていません。この一事をとっても、安保理の現状は、今を生きる世代に説明しようのないものです。
 71年前に戦火が終息した時の国際関係は、今や歴史書の1頁を飾るものでこそあれ、その後に独立を果たした国々にとって縁も、ゆかりもないものです。
 先ごろ日本がアフリカ諸国と開いた会議「TICAD VI」で、私は、安保理にア

North Korea as a threat to peace
Mme. Vice President, North Korea has now manifested itself directly before us as an open threat to peace.  What can we do in response?  The raison d'etre of the United Nations is now truly being tested.
North Korea launched SLBMs.  Immediately after that it fired three ballistic missiles simultaneously, each traversing 1,000 kilometers to reach Japan’s exclusive economic zone.  It is purely a matter of good fortune that no commercial aircraft or ships suffered any damage during this incident.
This year alone, North Korea has launched a total of 21 ballistic missiles.  In addition, it claims to have successfully detonated a nuclear warhead in a test on September 9.
That nuclear test followed another test conducted this past January.  This series of launches of missiles and a detonation of a war head does change the landscape completely.
North Korea’s nuclear development and the repeated launches of ballistic missiles are two sides of the same coin.
Right before our eyes, North Korea is carrying out a plan about which there can be no doubt.  There is no alternative but to say that the threat has now reached a dimension altogether different from what has transpired until now.
We must therefore respond to this in a manner entirely distinct from our responses thus far.  We must concentrate our strengths and thwart North Korea’s plans.
Immediately upon hearing the report of the nuclear test, I telephoned President Barack Obama of the United States.  After that I also held telephone talks with President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea. We all agreed that our three countries will demonstrate a resolute attitude towards North Korea, acting in close coordination.
Next is the United Nations’ turn on the stage.  Now is the time for the Security Council to indicate an unmistakable attitude towards this threat of a new dimension.

Leading Security Council discussions
It was only four months ago that President Obama visited Hiroshima, where countless innocent citizens fell victim to the first atomic bomb ever detonated.
It was a day on which we renewed pledges.  However much time it may take, we must never, even for the briefest moment, let up in our efforts towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Our pledges on that day linked both sides of the Pacific and gained new strength.
Despite this, North Korea is now escalating its provocations.  This is a challenge posed to the conscience of humankind.  Were we to overlook it, how would we justify it to our own consciences?
Peace is something very much like glass.  When well-polished and transparent, we are not conscious of its presence.  And a small crack can be overlooked for a while without giving rise to any changes.
But before you know it, the crack expands and the glass in time shatters with a crash.  That is why day in and day out we must continuously foster the habit of mind of handling glass with great care so that no cracks form.
I believe the original intention of the United Nations, created in the wake of two world wars, was that kind of keen awareness.
For that very reason, it would simply be unacceptable to continue to tolerate military provocation.  It is because that would be an act equivalent to openly and in broad daylight setting a crack into glass.
Moreover, the threat to peace now manifest before us, and the nature of the military provocation North Korea has persisted with, are substantially more serious than before.
Ballistic missiles to be launched from submarines.  Nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles.  North Korea is without a doubt poised to have these in its possession.
 And the country carrying this out is a country that abducted a large number of Japanese, including a girl aged 13 at the time. We are demanding that North Korea return them immediately, but they have not agreed upon doing that and deprived them of their peaceful lives and not allowing them to return to their homeland even now.
It is a country that tramples human rights, where no heed whatsoever is paid to restraints on or balances of power.  It is a country pushing ahead with a buildup of arms including nuclear weapons and missiles while paying no attention to the plight of its citizens.
The threat to the international community has become increasingly grave and all the more realistic.  It demands a new means of addressing it, altogether different from what we applied until yesterday.
Mme. Vice President, this December, Japan will mark the 60th anniversary of its accession to the United Nations.
And 62 years have passed if we count from when the peaceful toll of the bronze bell sent by a Japanese citizen began sounding in the front gardens of the UN grounds on the International Day of Peace each year.
That bell was cast by melting down within the mold coins sent by the Pope.  Coins and medals sent by children and adults from more than 60 countries around the world were melted to cast it.  What was the wish of the Japanese people contained therein?
Sixty years ago, what the Japanese who had attained a seat in this distinguished Chamber sought from the depths of their hearts, and thereafter consistently and absolutely unfailingly wished for and advocated for was, single-mindedly, world peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons.
It was a pledge to be passed down for generations not to stop walking along the path which would make that a reality.
Mme. Vice President, on this occasion today, I had originally intended to look back on the path we have walked these 60 years and convey a quiet reflection on how Japan has travelled that road, aiming at world peace and prosperity.
However, now, with the North Korea threat reaching a new level, I feel I must state my determination in light of Japan having upheld its pledge these 60 years.
Now, as the world concentrates on whether the United Nations will thwart North Korea’s ambitions or the Security Council will be able to confront North Korea in a united way, Japan, as a Security Council member, will lead the Security Council’s discussions.
This, I wish to declare absolutely as my resolution before the distinguished national representatives gathered here in the General Assembly chamber.

Bringing the rule of law to the seas
Mme. Vice President, no matter the issue facing us, or exactly since we are faced with many challenges, Japan, which marks its 60th year since accession, will spare no effort to strengthen the United Nations.
The cumulative total of the assessed contributions to the UN and assessed contributions to peacekeeping operations that Japan has paid in, as a simple tally of the book value of those contributions, easily exceeds 20 billion U.S. dollars.
The one and only country whose total amount of financial contributions surpass those of Japan over the past 30 years is the United States.
In addition, our track record of development assistance amounts to 334.5 billion U.S. dollars, again as a simple tally of the then book value.
In my view, the United Nations has had three great causes pervading its history.
These are the devotion to peace, the pursuit of growth, and the desire for a world free of injustice and unfairness.
I believe you will recognize that Japan is a country that has made all-out efforts regarding each of those causes over these 60 years.
Above all, growth serves as the foundation for all.  Only when there is growth does peace take root and can injustices be rectified over time.
Take a look and see how greater Asia has now surpassed any other region on earth for the size of its population living under democracy.  This is precisely the fruit of the growth that Asia came to enjoy since the mid-1980’s, which happens also to be the period since Japanese companies began their vigorous direct investments in Asian nations.
It is only through a free and open trade and investment environment that Japan was able to grow.  This is the very same thing that has conferred the prosperity of the present day on the countries of Asia.
Peace, stability, and security of the seas as well as freedom of navigation and overflight are the basis for the peace and prosperity of the international community.
Should there be disputes, the international community must adhere strictly to the principles that states shall make their claims based on international law, they shall not use force or coercion in trying to drive their claims, and they shall seek to settle disputes by peaceful means.
Japan will continue to stand without fail on the side that upholds a world order that is open, free, and unwavering in adhering to the rule of law and international rules.
Let me also say that at the core of the Japanese government I have formed a special team which I lead directly that is working to further the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Government of Japan will accelerate the work towards early conclusion of the Paris Agreement on climate change and will carry out without fail its pledge to provide 1.3 trillion yen of assistance for developing countries in 2020.I will make sure that it will be done.
Japan will spare no effort in strengthening the United Nations in the 60 years to come just as it did over the past 60 years.  I wish to pledge this grounded in trust in the Japanese people.

This is Japan’s UN Spirit
The person was seen unexpectedly on a corner in Juba.  The location was a place where members of a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force engineering unit were in the midst of activities wearing the blue helmets of the United Nations.
“I am really thankful that Japan is building roads.  I place my full confidence in you.  Isn’t there anything I can do?  Let me help you.  I don’t need anything in return.”
Again the next day, and the day after that, the man appeared at the worksite where an arterial road was being laid in the capital of South Sudan, the UN's youngest member state.  From the third day, the man began doing the work that he knew would be necessary, and ultimately he continued working together with the members of the Self-Defense Force for eight days.
On the day they went separate ways, as they were patting each other on the back while regretting they had to part, it goes without saying that our engineering unit members, who had heard nothing but words of thanks from this man, were deeply moved.
Juma Ago Isaac.  The SDF members each wrote the name of this otherwise nameless man from South Sudan in their notebooks to remember him.
Mme. Vice President, no matter what the job or where, the Japanese engaged in international cooperation there at the local worksites always consider this kind of encounter to be the greatest pleasure.
Wherever they go, the nameless people there wake up to their own abilities and realize that nation-building begins from the very place where they themselves are standing.  The Japanese witnessing this are moved in ways that become memories lasting their entire lives.
It is a source of quiet pride for me that the relationship between Japan and the United Nations has for the past 60 years brought hearts together in this way in Asia, in Africa, and indeed all around the world.  This is Japan’s UN spirit.  I pledge not to forget this and to foster it and hand it down to the next generation.

Reform of the Security Council as a matter of urgency
I will end my address by pointing out the need for fundamental changes in the UN governance structure.  Countries in Africa and Latin America have built up a degree of influence they have never had before in global politics and the global economy, and yet they do not have satisfactory representation on the Security Council.  Just this single example makes the current state of affairs on the Security Council indefensible to the generation alive now.
Although international relations at the time the war drew to an end 71 years ago do appear on a page in the history books even now, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the countries that achieved their independence since then.
At the TICAD VI summit Japan convened recently with the countries of Africa, I heard the leaders call the circumstances by which Africa has no permanent representation on the Security Council a “historical injustice,” to which I nodded deeply in agreement.  Africa’s long-term vision has set forth the goal of Africa having permanent members on the Security Council by 2023, and Japan supports this thoroughly.
If we do not carry out the reform of the Security Council now, it will easily be put off for a decade or two.  Will we stand in the position of harming the values of the UN?  Or will we wish for a strengthening of the UN?  If it is the latter, then it goes without saying that reform of the Security Council is a matter of urgency.
I will end my address here, placing emphasis on this point.  Thank you very much.

フリカの代表がない状況を「歴史的不正義」と彼らが呼ぶのを聞き、深く頷きました。アフリカはその長期ビジョンにおいて、2023年までに、アフリカから常任理事国を出すことを目標に掲げています。大いに支持したいと思っています。
 安保理の改革は、今実行するのでなければ、容易に10年、20年と先送りされてしまいます。国連の価値を損ねる立場に立つのか。それとも我々は、国連の強化を念じるのか。後者に立つ限り、安保理改革が急務であることは多言を要しません。
 この点を強調し、討論を終えます。ありがとうございました。http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/97_abe/statement/2016/0921enzetsu.html

 

 

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President Obama Speaks at the General Assembly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJzLC-AAWHw

 

Address by President Obama to the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The United Nations
New York, New York 

10:29 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. President; Mr. Secretary General; fellow delegates; ladies and gentlemen:  As I address this hall as President for the final time, let me recount the progress that we’ve made these last eight years.

From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth.  We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens, strengthened the nonproliferation regime, resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy.  We opened relations with Cuba, helped Colombia end Latin America’s longest war, and we welcome a democratically elected leader of Myanmar to this Assembly.  Our assistance is helping people feed themselves, care for the sick, power communities across Africa, and promote models of development rather than dependence.  And we have made international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund more representative, while establishing a framework to protect our planet from the ravages of climate change.

This is important work.  It has made a real difference in the lives of our people.  And it could not have happened had we not worked together.  And yet, around the globe we are seeing the same forces of global integration that have made us interdependent also expose deep fault lines in the existing international order. 

We see it in the headlines every day.  Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict.  Financial disruptions continue to weigh upon our workers and entire communities.  Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down.  We see too many governments muzzling journalists, and quashing dissent, and censoring the flow of information.  Terrorist networks use social media to prey upon the minds of our youth, endangering open societies and spurring anger against innocent immigrants and Muslims.  Powerful nations contest the constraints placed on them by international law.

This is the paradox that defines our world today.  A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, the world is by many measures less violent and more prosperous than ever before, and yet our societies are filled with uncertainty, and unease, and strife.  Despite enormous progress, as people lose trust in institutions, governing becomes more difficult and tensions between nations become more quick to surface.

And so I believe that at this moment we all face a choice. We can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration.  Or we can retreat into a world sharply divided, and ultimately in conflict, along age-old lines of nation and tribe and race and religion.

I want to suggest to you today that we must go forward, and not backward.  I believe that as imperfect as they are, the principles of open markets and accountable governance, of democracy and human rights and international law that we have forged remain the firmest foundation for human progress in this century.  I make this argument not based on theory or ideology, but on facts -- facts that all too often, we forget in the immediacy of current events. 

Here’s the most important fact:  The integration of our global economy has made life better for billions of men, women and children.  Over the last 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut from nearly 40 percent of humanity to under 10 percent.  That's unprecedented.  And it's not an abstraction.  It means children have enough to eat; mothers don’t die in childbirth. 

Meanwhile, cracking the genetic code promises to cure diseases that have plagued us for centuries.  The Internet can deliver the entirety of human knowledge to a young girl in a remote village on a single hand-held device.  In medicine and in manufacturing, in education and communications, we’re experiencing a transformation of how human beings live on a scale that recalls the revolutions in agriculture and industry.  And as a result, a person born today is more likely to be healthy, to live longer, and to have access to opportunity than at any time in human history. 

Moreover, the collapse of colonialism and communism has allowed more people than ever before to live with the freedom to choose their leaders.  Despite the real and troubling areas where freedom appears in retreat, the fact remains that the number of democracies around the world has nearly doubled in the last 25 years. 

In remote corners of the world, citizens are demanding respect for the dignity of all people no matter their gender, or race, or religion, or disability, or sexual orientation, and those who deny others dignity are subject to public reproach.  An explosion of social media has given ordinary people more ways to express themselves, and has raised people’s expectations for those of us in power.  Indeed, our international order has been so successful that we take it as a given that great powers no longer fight world wars; that the end of the Cold War lifted the shadow of nuclear Armageddon; that the battlefields of Europe have been replaced by peaceful union; that China and India remain on a path of remarkable growth.

I say all this not to whitewash the challenges we face, or to suggest complacency.  Rather, I believe that we need to acknowledge these achievements in order to summon the confidence to carry this progress forward and to make sure that we do not abandon those very things that have delivered this progress.

In order to move forward, though, we do have to acknowledge that the existing path to global integration requires a course correction.  As too often, those trumpeting the benefits of globalization have ignored inequality within and among nations; have ignored the enduring appeal of ethnic and sectarian identities; have left international institutions ill-equipped, underfunded, under-resourced, in order to handle transnational challenges.

And as these real problems have been neglected, alternative visions of the world have pressed forward both in the wealthiest countries and in the poorest:  Religious fundamentalism; the politics of ethnicity, or tribe, or sect; aggressive nationalism; a crude populism -- sometimes from the far left, but more often from the far right -- which seeks to restore what they believe was a better, simpler age free of outside contamination.

We cannot dismiss these visions.  They are powerful.  They reflect dissatisfaction among too many of our citizens.  I do not believe those visions can deliver security or prosperity over the long term, but I do believe that these visions fail to recognize, at a very basic level, our common humanity.  Moreover, I believe that the acceleration of travel and technology and telecommunications -- together with a global economy that depends on a global supply chain -- makes it self-defeating ultimately for those who seek to reverse this progress.  Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself.

So the answer cannot be a simple rejection of global integration.  Instead, we must work together to make sure the benefits of such integration are broadly shared, and that the disruptions -- economic, political, and cultural -- that are caused by integration are squarely addressed.  This is not the place for a detailed policy blueprint, but let me offer in broad strokes those areas where I believe we must do better together.

It starts with making the global economy work better for all people and not just for those at the top.  While open markets, capitalism have raised standards of living around the globe, globalization combined with rapid progress and technology has also weakened the position of workers and their ability to secure a decent wage.  In advanced economies like my own, unions have been undermined, and many manufacturing jobs have disappeared.  Often, those who benefit most from globalization have used their political power to further undermine the position of workers. 

In developing countries, labor organizations have often been suppressed, and the growth of the middle class has been held back by corruption and underinvestment.  Mercantilist policies pursued by governments with export-driven models threaten to undermine the consensus that underpins global trade.  And meanwhile, global capital is too often unaccountable -- nearly $8 trillion stashed away in tax havens, a shadow banking system that grows beyond the reach of effective oversight.

A world in which one percent of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99 percent will never be stable.  I understand that the gaps between rich and poor are not new, but just as the child in a slum today can see the skyscraper nearby, technology now allows any person with a smartphone to see how the most privileged among us live and the contrast between their own lives and others.  Expectations rise, then, faster than governments can deliver, and a pervasive sense of injustice undermine people’s faith in the system.

So how do we fix this imbalance?  We cannot unwind integration any more than we can stuff technology back into a box.  Nor can we look to failed models of the past.  If we start resorting to trade wars, market distorting subsidies, beggar thy neighbor policies, an overreliance on natural resources instead of innovation -- these approaches will make us poorer, collectively, and they are more like to lead to conflict.  And the stark contrast between, say, the success of the Republic of Korea and the wasteland of North Korea shows that central, planned control of the economy is a dead end.

But I do believe there’s another path -- one that fuels growth and innovation, and offers the clearest route to individual opportunity and national success.  It does not require succumbing to a soulless capitalism that benefits only the few, but rather recognizes that economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor, and growth is broadly based. And that means respecting the rights of workers so they can organize into independent unions and earn a living wage.  It means investing in our people -- their skills, their education, their capacity to take an idea and turn it into a business.  It means strengthening the safety net that protects our people from hardship and allows them to take more risks -- to look for a new job, or start a new venture.

These are the policies that I’ve pursued here in the United States, and with clear results.  American businesses have created now 15 million new jobs.  After the recession, the top one percent of Americans were capturing more than 90 percent of income growth.  But today, that's down to about half.  Last year, poverty in this country fell at the fastest rate in nearly 50 years.  And with further investment in infrastructure and early childhood education and basic research, I’m confident that such progress will continue. 

So just as I’ve pursued these measures here at home, so has the United States worked with many nations to curb the excesses of capitalism -- not to punish wealth, but to prevent repeated crises that can destroy it.  That’s why we’ve worked with other nations to create higher and clearer standards for banking and taxation -- because a society that asks less of oligarchs than ordinary citizens will rot from within.  That’s why we’ve pushed for transparency and cooperation in rooting out corruption, and tracking illicit dollars, because markets create more jobs when they're fueled by hard work, and not the capacity to extort a bribe.  That’s why we’ve worked to reach trade agreements that raise labor standards and raise environmental standards, as we've done with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so that the benefits are more broadly shared.

And just as we benefit by combatting inequality within our countries, I believe advanced economies still need to do more to close the gap between rich and poor nations around the globe.  This is difficult politically.  It's difficult to spend on foreign assistance.  But I do not believe this is charity.  For the small fraction of what we spent at war in Iraq we could support institutions so that fragile states don’t collapse in the first place, and invest in emerging economies that become markets for our goods.  It's not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.

And that’s why we need to follow through on our efforts to combat climate change.  If we don't act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair.  The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition.  And there must be a sense of urgency about bringing the agreement into force, and helping poorer countries leapfrog destructive forms of energy. 

So, for the wealthiest countries, a Green Climate Fund should only be the beginning.  We need to invest in research and provide market incentives to develop new technologies, and then make these technologies accessible and affordable for poorer countries.  And only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.

So we need new models for the global marketplace, models that are inclusive and sustainable.  And in the same way, we need models of governance that are inclusive and accountable to ordinary people.

I recognize not every country in this hall is going to follow the same model of governance.  I do not think that America can -- or should -- impose our system of government on other countries.  But there appears to be growing contest between authoritarianism and liberalism right now.  And I want everybody to understand, I am not neutral in that contest.  I believe in a liberal political order -- an order built not just through elections and representative government, but also through respect for human rights and civil society, and independent judiciaries and the rule of law.

I know that some countries, which now recognize the power of free markets, still reject the model of free societies.  And perhaps those of us who have been promoting democracy feel somewhat discouraged since the end of the Cold War, because we've learned that liberal democracy will not just wash across the globe in a single wave.  It turns out building accountable institutions is hard work -- the work of generations.  The gains are often fragile.  Sometimes we take one step forward and then two steps back.  In countries held together by borders drawn by colonial powers, with ethnic enclaves and tribal divisions, politics and elections can sometimes appear to be a zero-sum game.  And so, given the difficulty in forging true democracy in the face of these pressures, it’s no surprise that some argue the future favors the strongman, a top-down model, rather than strong, democratic institutions.

But I believe this thinking is wrong.  I believe the road of true democracy remains the better path.  I believe that in the 21st century, economies can only grow to a certain point until they need to open up -- because entrepreneurs need to access information in order to invent; young people need a global education in order to thrive; independent media needs to check the abuses of power.  Without this evolution, ultimately expectations of people will not be met; suppression and stagnation will set in.  And history shows that strongmen are then left with two paths -- permanent crackdown, which sparks strife at home, or scapegoating enemies abroad, which can lead to war. 

Now, I will admit, my belief that governments serve the individual, and not the other way around, is shaped by America’s story.  Our nation began with a promise of freedom that applied only to the few.  But because of our democratic Constitution, because of our Bill of Rights, because of our ideals, ordinary people were able to organize, and march, and protest, and ultimately, those ideals won out -- opened doors for women and minorities and workers in ways that made our economy more productive and turned our diversity into a strength; that gave innovators the chance to transform every area of human endeavor; that made it possible for someone like me to be elected President of the United States.

So, yes, my views are shaped by the specific experiences of America, but I do not think this story is unique to America.  Look at the transformation that's taken place in countries as different as Japan and Chile, Indonesia, Botswana.  The countries that have succeeded are ones in which people feel they have a stake. 

In Europe, the progress of those countries in the former Soviet bloc that embraced democracy stand in clear contrast to those that did not.  After all, the people of Ukraine did not take to the streets because of some plot imposed from abroad.  They took to the streets because their leadership was for sale and they had no recourse.  They demanded change because they saw life get better for people in the Baltics and in Poland, societies that were more liberal, and democratic, and open than their own.

So those of us who believe in democracy, we need to speak out forcefully, because both the facts and history, I believe, are on our side.  That doesn’t mean democracies are without flaws.  It does mean that the cure for what ails our democracies is greater engagement by our citizens -- not less. 

Yes, in America, there is too much money in politics; too much entrenched partisanship; too little participation by citizens, in part because of a patchwork of laws that makes it harder to vote.  In Europe, a well-intentioned Brussels often became too isolated from the normal push and pull of national politics.  Too often, in capitals, decision-makers have forgotten that democracy needs to be driven by civic engagement from the bottom up, not governance by experts from the top down.  And so these are real problems, and as leaders of democratic governments make the case for democracy abroad, we better strive harder to set a better example at home.

Moreover, every country will organize its government informed by centuries of history, and the circumstances of geography, and the deeply held beliefs of its people.  So I recognize a traditional society may value unity and cohesion more than a diverse country like my own, which was founded upon what, at the time, was a radical idea -- the idea of the liberty of individual human beings endowed with certain God-given rights.  But that does not mean that ordinary people in Asia, or Africa, or the Middle East somehow prefer arbitrary rule that denies them a voice in the decisions that can shape their lives.  I believe that spirit is universal.  And if any of you doubt the universality of that desire, listen to the voices of young people everywhere who call out for freedom, and dignity, and the opportunity to control their own lives.  

This leads me to the third thing we need to do:  We must reject any forms of fundamentalism, or racism, or a belief in ethnic superiority that makes our traditional identities irreconcilable with modernity.  Instead we need to embrace the tolerance that results from respect of all human beings.

It’s a truism that global integration has led to a collision of cultures; trade, migration, the Internet, all these things can challenge and unsettle our most cherished identities.  We see liberal societies express opposition when women choose to cover themselves.  We see protests responding to Western newspaper cartoons that caricature the Prophet Muhammad.  In a world that left the age of empire behind, we see Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force.  Asian powers debate competing claims of history.  And in Europe and the United States, you see people wrestle with concerns about immigration and changing demographics, and suggesting that somehow people who look different are corrupting the character of our countries.

Now, there’s no easy answer for resolving all these social forces, and we must respect the meaning that people draw from their own traditions -- from their religion, from their ethnicity, from their sense of nationhood.  But I do not believe progress is possible if our desire to preserve our identities gives way to an impulse to dehumanize or dominate another group. If our religion leads us to persecute those of another faith, if we jail or beat people who are gay, if our traditions lead us to prevent girls from going to school, if we discriminate on the basis of race or tribe or ethnicity, then the fragile bonds of civilization will fray.  The world is too small, we are too packed together, for us to be able to resort to those old ways of thinking.

We see this mindset in too many parts of the Middle East.  There, so much of the collapse in order has been fueled because leaders sought legitimacy not because of policies or programs but by resorting to persecuting political opposition, or demonizing other religious sects, by narrowing the public space to the mosque, where in too many places perversions of a great faith were tolerated.  These forces built up for years, and are now at work helping to fuel both Syria’s tragic civil war and the mindless, medieval menace of ISIL.

The mindset of sectarianism, and extremism, and bloodletting, and retribution that has been taking place will not be quickly reversed.  And if we are honest, we understand that no external power is going to be able to force different religious communities or ethnic communities to co-exist for long.  But I do believe we have to be honest about the nature of these conflicts, and our international community must continue to work with those who seek to build rather than to destroy. 

And there is a military component to that.  It means being united and relentless in destroying networks like ISIL, which show no respect for human life.  But it also means that in a place like Syria, where there’s no ultimate military victory to be won, we’re going to have to pursue the hard work of diplomacy that aims to stop the violence, and deliver aid to those in need, and support those who pursue a political settlement and can see those who are not like themselves as worthy of dignity and respect. 

Across the region’s conflicts, we have to insist that all parties recognize a common humanity and that nations end proxy wars that fuel disorder.  Because until basic questions are answered about how communities co-exist, the embers of extremism will continue to burn, countless human beings will suffer -- most of all in that region -- but extremism will continue to be exported overseas.  And the world is too small for us to simply be able to build a wall and prevent it from affecting our own societies.

And what is true in the Middle East is true for all of us.  Surely, religious traditions can be honored and upheld while teaching young people science and math, rather than intolerance. Surely, we can sustain our unique traditions while giving women their full and rightful role in the politics and economics of a nation.  Surely, we can rally our nations to solidarity while recognizing equal treatment for all communities -- whether it’s a religious minority in Myanmar, or an ethnic minority in Burundi, or a racial minority right here in the United States.  And surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.  We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging, a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others.

And this leads me to the fourth and final thing we need to do, and that is sustain our commitment to international cooperation rooted in the rights and responsibilities of nations. 

As President of the United States, I know that for most of human history, power has not been unipolar.  The end of the Cold War may have led too many to forget this truth.  I’ve noticed as President that at times, both America’s adversaries and some of our allies believe that all problems were either caused by Washington or could be solved by Washington -- and perhaps too many in Washington believed that as well.  (Laughter.)  But I believe America has been a rare superpower in human history insofar as it has been willing to think beyond narrow self-interest; that while we’ve made our share of mistakes over these last 25 years -- and I’ve acknowledged some -- we have strived, sometimes at great sacrifice, to align better our actions with our ideals.  And as a consequence, I believe we have been a force for good. 

We have secured allies.  We’ve acted to protect the vulnerable.  We supported human rights and welcomed scrutiny of our own actions.  We’ve bound our power to international laws and institutions.  When we've made mistakes, we've tried to acknowledge them.  We have worked to roll back poverty and hunger and disease beyond our borders, not just within our borders. 

I'm proud of that.  But I also know that we can't do this alone.  And I believe that if we're to meet the challenges of this century, we are all going to have to do more to build up international capacity.  We cannot escape the prospect of nuclear war unless we all commit to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and pursuing a world without them. 

When Iran agrees to accept constraints on its nuclear program that enhances global security and enhances Iran's ability to work with other nations.  On the other hand, when North Korea tests a bomb that endangers all of us.  And any country that breaks this basic bargain must face consequences.  And those nations with these weapons, like the United States, have a unique responsibility to pursue the path of reducing our stockpiles, and reaffirming basic norms like the commitment to never test them again.

We can't combat a disease like Zika that recognizes no borders -- mosquitos don't respect walls -- unless we make permanent the same urgency that we brought to bear against Ebola -- by strengthening our own systems of public health, by investing in cures and rolling back the root causes of disease, and helping poorer countries develop a public health infrastructure.  

We can only eliminate extreme poverty if the sustainable development goals that we have set are more than words on paper. Human ingenuity now gives us the capacity to feed the hungry and give all of our children -- including our girls -- the education that is the foundation for opportunity in our world.  But we have to put our money where our mouths are.  

And we can only realize the promise of this institution’s founding -- to replace the ravages of war with cooperation -- if powerful nations like my own accept constraints.  Sometimes I'm criticized in my own country for professing a belief in international norms and multilateral institutions.  But I am convinced that in the long run, giving up some freedom of action -- not giving up our ability to protect ourselves or pursue our core interests, but binding ourselves to international rules over the long term -- enhances our security.  And I think that's not just true for us. 

If Russia continues to interfere in the affairs of its neighbors, it may be popular at home, it may fuel nationalist fervor for a time, but over time it is also going to diminish its stature and make its borders less secure.  In the South China Sea, a peaceful resolution of disputes offered by law will mean far greater stability than the militarization of a few rocks and reefs.

We are all stakeholders in this international system, and it calls upon all of us to invest in the success of institutions to which we belong.  And the good news is, is that many nations have shown what kind of progress is possible when we make those commitments.  Consider what we’ve accomplished here over the past few years. 

Together, we mobilized some 50,000 additional troops for U.N. peacekeeping, making them nimble, better equipped, better prepared to deal with emergencies.  Together, we established an Open Government Partnership so that, increasingly, transparency empowers more and more people around the globe.  And together, now, we have to open our hearts and do more to help refugees who are desperate for a home.

We should all welcome the pledges of increased assistance that have been made at this General Assembly gathering.  I'll be discussing that more this afternoon.  But we have to follow through, even when the politics are hard.  Because in the eyes of innocent men and women and children who, through no fault of their own, have had to flee everything that they know, everything that they love, we have to have the empathy to see ourselves.  We have to imagine what it would be like for our family, for our children, if the unspeakable happened to us.  And we should all understand that, ultimately, our world will be more secure if we are prepared to help those in need and the nations who are carrying the largest burden with respect to accommodating these refugees.

There are a lot of nations right now that are doing the right thing.  But many nations -- particularly those blessed with wealth and the benefits of geography -- that can do more to offer a hand, even if they also insist that refugees who come to our countries have to do more to adapt to the customs and conventions of the communities that are now providing them a home.

Let me conclude by saying that I recognize history tells a different story than the one that I've talked about here today.  There's a much darker and more cynical view of history that we can adopt.  Human beings are too often motivated by greed and by power.  Big countries for most of history have pushed smaller ones around.  Tribes and ethnic groups and nation states have very often found it most convenient to define themselves by what they hate and not just those ideas that bind them together. 

Time and again, human beings have believed that they finally arrived at a period of enlightenment only to repeat, then, cycles of conflict and suffering.  Perhaps that's our fate.  We have to remember that the choices of individual human beings led to repeated world war.  But we also have to remember that the choices of individual human beings created a United Nations, so that a war like that would never happen again.  Each of us as leaders, each nation can choose to reject those who appeal to our worst impulses and embrace those who appeal to our best.  For we have shown that we can choose a better history.

Sitting in a prison cell, a young Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that, “Human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God.”  And during the course of these eight years, as I've traveled to many of your nations, I have seen that spirit in our young people, who are more educated and more tolerant, and more inclusive and more diverse, and more creative than our generation; who are more empathetic and compassionate towards their fellow human beings than previous generations.  And, yes, some of that comes with the idealism of youth.  But it also comes with young people’s access to information about other peoples and places -- an understanding unique in human history that their future is bound with the fates of other human beings on the other side of the world.

I think of the thousands of health care workers from around the world who volunteered to fight Ebola.  I remember the young entrepreneurs I met who are now starting new businesses in Cuba, the parliamentarians who used to be just a few years ago political prisoners in Myanmar.  I think of the girls who have braved taunts or violence just to go to school in Afghanistan, and the university students who started programs online to reject the extremism of organizations like ISIL.  I draw strength from the young Americans -- entrepreneurs, activists, soldiers, new citizens -- who are remaking our nation once again, who are unconstrained by old habits and old conventions, and unencumbered by what is, but are instead ready to seize what ought to be.

My own family is a made up of the flesh and blood and traditions and cultures and faiths from a lot of different parts of the world -- just as America has been built by immigrants from every shore.  And in my own life, in this country, and as President, I have learned that our identities do not have to be defined by putting someone else down, but can be enhanced by lifting somebody else up.  They don’t have to be defined in opposition to others, but rather by a belief in liberty and equality and justice and fairness. 

And the embrace of these principles as universal doesn't weaken my particular pride, my particular love for America -- it strengthens it.  My belief that these ideals apply everywhere doesn’t lessen my commitment to help those who look like me, or pray as I do, or pledge allegiance to my flag.  But my faith in those principles does force me to expand my moral imagination and to recognize that I can best serve my own people, I can best look after my own daughters, by making sure that my actions seek what is right for all people and all children, and your daughters and your sons. 

This is what I believe:  that all of us can be co-workers with God.  And our leadership, and our governments, and this United Nations should reflect this irreducible truth.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

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Remarks by President Obama at Leaders Summit on Refugees

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXfaqGUdT30

United Nations 
New York, New York   

3:43 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Yusra, we could not be prouder of you -- not just for the great introduction, but more importantly, for your courage and your resilience and the great example that you're setting for children everywhere, including your eight-year-old sister, who I know must look up to you.  (Applause.)  

Good afternoon.  Mr. Secretary General; Your Excellencies, we are here because, right now, in crowded camps and cities around the world, there are families -- from Darfur in Chad, Palestinians in Lebanon, Afghans in Pakistan, Colombians in Ecuador -- who’ve endured years -- in some cases, decades -- as refugees, surviving on rations and aid, and who dream of someday, somehow, having a home of their own.

We’re here because, right now, there are young girls -- like Yusra, like my daughters -- who are just as precious and just as gifted -- like the 16-year-old refugee from Myanmar that I met in Malaysia -- who’ve suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of traffickers, modern day slavery, girls who pray at night that someone might rescue them from their torment.  There are boys, fleeing the fighting in South Sudan, violence in Central America, wars in North Africa and the Middle East -- who are at the mercy of criminals who pack them into trucks or makeshift rafts, and who die on treacherous seas -- like little Alan Kurdi from Syria, lifeless, face down on a Turkish beach, in his red shirt and blue pants.   

We are here because, right now, there are mothers separated from their children -- like the woman in a camp in Greece, who held on to her family photographs, heard her children cry on the phone, and who said “my breath is my children…every day I am dying 10, 20, 30 times.”  We’re here because there are fathers who simply want to build a new life and provide for their families -- like Refaai Hamo, from Syria, who lost his wife and daughter in the war, who we welcomed to America, and who says, “I still think I have a chance to make a difference in the world.”

Mr. Secretary General; heads of state and heads of government; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen:  As you saw in the video, we are facing a crisis of epic proportions.  More than 65 million people have been driven from their homes -- which is more than any time since the Second World War.  Among them are more than 21 million refugees who have fled their countries -- everything and everyone they’ve ever known, fleeing with a suitcase or the clothes on their back.

And I’m here today -- I called this summit -- because this crisis is one of the most urgent tests of our time -- our capacity for collective action.  To test, first and foremost, our ability to end conflicts, because so many of the world’s refugees come from just three countries ravaged by war -- Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

And I said today to the General Assembly, the mentality that allows for violence with impunity is something we cannot excuse.  And collectively, we continue to make excuses.  It's not the subject of this summit, but we all know that what is happening in Syria, for example, is unacceptable.  And we are not as unified as we should be in pushing to make it stop.

It’s a test of our international system where all nations ought to share in our collective responsibilities, because the vast majority of refugees are hosted by just 10 countries who are bearing a very heavy burden -- among them Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia.  Countries that often have fewer resources than many of those who are doing little or nothing.  

It is a crisis of our shared security.  Not because refugees are a threat.  Refugees, most of whom are women and children, are often fleeing war and terrorism.  They are victims.  They’re families who want to be safe and to work, be good citizens and contribute to their country -- I was talking to Yusra -- she’s now in Germany.  She already speaks some English.  Now she’s trying to learn German -- who are interested in assimilating and contributing to the society in which they find themselves.   

In recent years, in the United States, we’ve worked to put in intensive screening and security checks, so we can welcome refugees and ensure our security -- in fact, refugees are subject to more rigorous screening than the average tourist.  We’ve seen in America, hardworking, patriotic refugees serve in our military, and start new businesses and help revitalize communities.  I believe refugees can make us stronger.

So the challenge to our security is because when desperate refugees pay cold-hearted traffickers for passage, it funds the same criminals who are smuggling arms and drugs and children.  When nations with their own internal difficulties find themselves hosting massive refugee populations for years on end, it can risk more instability.  It oftentimes surfaces tensions in our society when we have disorderly and disproportionate migration into some countries that skews our politics and is subject to demagoguery. 

And if we were to turn refugees away simply because of their background or religion, or, for example, because they are Muslim, then we would be reinforcing terrorist propaganda that nations like my own are somehow opposed to Islam, which is an ugly lie that must be rejected in all of our countries by upholding the values of pluralism and diversity.

And finally, this crisis is a test of our common humanity -- whether we give in to suspicion and fear and build walls, or whether we see ourselves in another.  Those girls being trafficked and tortured, they could be our daughters.  That little boy on the beach could be our son or our grandson.  We cannot avert our eyes or turn our backs.  To slam the door in the face of these families would betray our deepest values.  It would deny our own heritage as nations, including the United States of America, that have been built by immigrants and refugees.  And it would be to ignore a teaching at the heart of so many faiths that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us; that we welcome the stranger in our midst.  And just as failure to act in the past -- for example, by turning away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany -- is a stain on our collective conscience, I believe history will judge us harshly if we do not rise to this moment.

First and foremost, we must recognize that refugees are a symptom of larger failures -- be it war, ethnic tensions, or persecution.  If we truly want to address the crisis, wars like the savagery in Syria must be brought to an end -- and it will be brought to an end through political settlement and diplomacy, and not simply by bombing.  

We have to insist on greater investments in development and education and democratic institutions -- the lack of which fuels so much of the instability we see in the world.  And we need to continue to speak up for justice and equality, and insist that the universal human rights of every person are upheld, everywhere.

In the face of this crisis, with what often seems grim news, we are grateful for the heroic work of so many around the world. Leaders who, often in the face of difficult politics at home, welcome refugees as new neighbors.  Businesses, such as those I met with right before I came here, which had made commitments worth more than $650 million to empower refugees.  International institutions and faith groups and NGOs, including InterAction -- the alliance of American NGOs -- whose members will invest more than $1.2 billion over the next three years to assist the world’s displaced people and refugees.  

As Americans, we're determined to do our part.  The United Nations [United States] is the largest single donor of humanitarian aid around the world, including to refugees and to the people of Syria.  We resettle more refugees than any other nation.  As President, I’ve increased the number of refugees we are resettling to 85,000 this year, which includes 10,000 Syrian refugees -- a goal we’ve exceeded even as we’ve upheld our rigorous screening.  And I called for this summit because we all have to do more.  

I want to thank our co-hosts, Secretary General Ban, and Jordan.  Obviously, Jordan is carrying an enormous burden as a consequence of the conflict, and we are grateful for His Majesty and the work that they've done.  Mexico, which is absorbing a great number of refugees from Central America.  Sweden, which has made enormous humanitarian contributions in addition to taking on refugees.  Germany and Canada -- two countries that have gone above and beyond in providing support for refugees.  And I want to personally thank Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Trudeau, and the people of both those countries -- because the politics sometimes can be hard, but it's the right thing to do.  And Ethiopia, which as was noted in the video, bears an enormous burden.

I also want to thank the more than 50 nations and organizations participating in this summit for making tangible, concrete commitments.  Collectively, our nations have increased our contributions to humanitarian organizations and U.N. appeals this year by some $4.5 billion, and that includes a $1 billion increase this year from the United States.  This will translate concretely into lifesaving food, and medicine, and clothing, and shelter.  

But since we can’t just keep on doing the same thing the same way -- allowing refugees to languish in camps, disconnected from society -- we’ve also been working with the World Bank to create new financing facilities to assist countries hosting refugees build schools and economic opportunities.  As part of these efforts, the United States will contribute at least $50 million to help middle-income countries, and we’ll do more to help low-income countries so that refugees and their host communities can flourish and grow stronger together.  The refugees in places like Ecuador or Kenya don’t always get as much attention as some of the recent migrations, but they need help too.  And that's part of our goal here.

Collectively, our nations are roughly doubling the number of refugees that we admit to our countries to more than 360,000 this year.  Again, I want to especially commend Germany, Canada, Austria, the Netherlands and Australia for their continued leadership, as well countries like Argentina and Portugal for their new commitments.  And today, I'm proud to announce that the United States will continue our leadership role.  In the coming fiscal year, starting next week, the United States will welcome and resettle 110,000 refugees from around the world -- which is a nearly 60 percent increase over 2015.  We intend to do it right, and we will do it safely.  

Collectively, the major commitments by Turkey, Thailand, Chad and Jordan will help more than one million children who are refugees get an education; will help one million refugees get training, new skills or find a job.  And in all of this work, we cannot forget those who are often the most vulnerable to abuse -- young girls and women.  So a key part of our efforts must be a renewed commitment to stopping sexual violence and forced marriage.  And we need to do more to truly empower women and girls -- because every girl deserves the chance to grow and be safe, and every woman should have her human rights and dignity upheld. 

So I'm heartened by the commitments that have been made here today.  They will help save lives.  But we're going to have to be honest -- it’s still not enough; not sufficient for a crisis of this magnitude.  And that’s why I believe this summit must be the beginning of a new global movement where everybody does more:    More nations donating more assistance and accepting more refugees.  More institutions and NGOs finding new ways to deliver aid.  More businesses contributing their expertise.  More faith groups making this work their own.  More young people demanding action.  More states and cities and towns coming forward and saying, yes, we will open our communities to our fellow human beings in need.  And more pressure on those countries that are willing to perpetrate violence on their own citizens in pursuit of power that carries such a heavy human toll. 

We can learn from a young boy named Alex, who lives not far from here in Scarsdale, New York.  Last month, like all of us, Alex saw that heartbreaking image -- five-year-old Omran Daqneesh in Aleppo, Syria, sitting in that ambulance, silent and in shock, trying to wipe the blood from his hands.  

And here in New York, Alex, who is just six years old, sat down and wrote me a letter.  And he said, he wanted Omran to come live with him and his family.  "Since he won’t bring toys," Alex wrote, "I will share my bike and I will teach him how to ride it.  I will teach him addition and subtraction.  My little sister will be collecting butterflies and fireflies for him…We can all play together.  We will give him a family and he will be our brother."  

Those are the words of a six-year-old boy.  He teaches us a lot.  (Applause.)  

The humanity that a young child can display, who hasn’t learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they’re from, or how they look, or how they pray, and who just understands the notion of treating somebody that is like him with compassion, with kindness -- we can all learn from Alex.  Imagine the suffering we could ease, and the lives we could save, and what our world would look like if, seeing a child who’s hurting anywhere in the world, we say, "We will give him a family and he will be our brother."

We spend, so many of us in politics and in leadership, so much time devoted to ascending the ladders of power.  We spend time maintaining it; we spend time trying to win over public opinion.  And maybe sometimes we forget that the only rationale for doing it is to help that little boy.  I hope and pray that we remember.  

I appreciate all of your support.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Remarks by President Obama at Call to Action CEO Roundtable

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jkswzg6L1dc

United Nations
New York, New York

2:36 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: As I discussed in my speech earlier today before the General Assembly, our international system is facing a number of challenges, none of which can be solved by a single country. And for that matter, none of which can be solved solely by governments. Obviously we expect for governments to take the lead on many of these transnational challenges, but for us to be able to mobilize the private sector, NGOs and others is absolutely vital to maximize our impact.

And that's why we're convening today a summit of 50 nations to make new commitments to address a growing refugee crisis, not just in Europe, which has received the most attention, but around the world. And what we have represented here is the results of what we launched what we call A Call to Action, to encourage companies to contribute not just money but their unique expertise. And as you can see, some extraordinary companies and individuals have answered the call.

I want to thank Secretary Penny Pritzker, Ambassador Power, and my national -- my Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett, for bringing these leaders together here today. I'm pleased to announce that 50 companies, large and small, have stepped up and committed more than $650 million, including in-kind contributions that are all designed to help empower more than 6.3 million refugees across more than 20 countries.

Microsoft, TripAdvisor, HP, Google, something called the Clooney Foundation for Justice -- I don't know what that is -- (laughter) -- among others. They’re going to help children get an education, including in refugee camps -- altogether, educational opportunities for more than 80,000 refugees. You have companies like Accenture, Western Union, and LinkedIn that are going to help with internships, skills training and job placement. Newton Supply Company, a small business in Texas that makes handbags, is going to make 90 percent of their bags with local refugees.

So today’s commitment means that we're going to be creating employment opportunities for more than 220,000 refugees.

Meanwhile, companies like MasterCard, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, and Airbnb are going to help refugees become more self-sufficient by getting online, accessing aid, finding housing, health care, and financial services. And the private sector is also driving change through investment. For example, George Soros and the Soros Fund Management is making an extraordinary investment of up to $500 million in companies that come up with sustainable long-term solutions to help refugees.

So for these companies to put themselves out there on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens in the world is not just an extraordinary gesture of compassion, but I think it’s also a recognition that, for those of us who benefit from this increasingly integrated global society, we can only sustain what we do to the extent that we’re making sure that the least of these, the most vulnerable among us, also have hope, also have opportunity.

And as a consequence, I want to thank them for doing good, but I want to emphasize that, from their perspective, this isn’t charity, this is part of their overall mission and makes good business sense.

I suspect, as well, that there’s some around this table who, themselves, were displaced, were immigrants -- recall what it’s like, maybe, leaving a place they called home in search of a better life. And as I said today, if there’s one thing that I hope comes out of today, it is a shared understanding that the children we see in these refugee camps are as precious as our children. Somebody loves them just as much. And hopefully we can begin to see through their eyes and imagine what it might be like to not be able to control the safety, the education, and the opportunity that we provide our kids and take for granted.

So thank you all for the extraordinary work, and thanks for helping to tell the story. (Applause.)

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[115] Polls Are False, Bernie’s “Our Revolution” Sells Out, DAPL Protests Get INSANE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB_ZlLfKWig

 

Jimmy Kimmel's Emmys 2016 Monologue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2ZxwsB_2_M

 

Rami Malek Emmys 2016 Full Backstage Speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzzB9d1SPFA

 

John Oliver Emmys 2016 Full Backstage Interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxHPA76r_zw

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Obama Speaks at COPE Visitor Center

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PLWCpEheo8

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everybody.  As you saw, we just had the opportunity to learn more about the very important work that’s being done here at the COPE Center, and about the magnitude of the challenge posed by unexploded ordnance. 

For many people, war is something that you read about in books -- you learn the names of battles, the dates of conflicts, and you look at maps and images that depict events from long ago.  For the United States, one of the wars from our history is the conflict called the Vietnam War.  It’s a long and complicated conflict that took the lives of many brave young Americans.  But we also know that despite its American name, what we call it, this war was not contained to Vietnam.  It included many years of fighting and bombing in Cambodia and here in Laos.  But for all those years in the 1960s and ‘70s, America’s intervention here in Laos was a secret to the American people, who were separated by vast distances and a Pacific Ocean, and there was no Internet, and information didn’t flow as easily.

For the people of Laos, obviously, this war was no secret. Over the course of roughly a decade, the United States dropped more bombs on Laos than Germany and Japan during World War II. Some 270 million cluster bomblets were dropped on this country. You can see some of these displays showing everything that landed on relatively simple homes like this, and farms and rural areas.  By some estimates, more bombs per capita were dropped on Laos than any other country in the world.

For the people of Laos, war was also something that was not contained to a battlefield.  In addition to soldiers and supply lines, bombs that fell from the sky killed and injured many civilians, leaving painful absences for so many families.

For the people of Laos, the war did not end when the bombs stopped falling.  Eighty million cluster munitions did not explode.  They were spread across farmlands, jungles, villages, rivers.  So for the last four decades, Laotians have continued to live under the shadow of war.  Some 20,000 people have been killed or wounded by this unexploded ordnance, or UXO.

For the people of Laos, then, these are not just statistics. These bomblets have taken the lives of farmers working in the fields, traders gathering scrap metal, children playing outside who thought these small, metal balls could be turned into a toy. 

And for the people of Laos, this is also about the ability to make a good living.  In communities that rely so much on agriculture, you can’t reach your potential on land that is littered with UXOs.  As one farmer said, “We need our land to be cleared of bombs.  If it weren’t for the bombs, I would multiply my production.”

We also know that the people of Laos are resilient.  We see that determination in members of the clearance teams that we met, men and women who have worked for years -- this very young lady says she’s been at it for 20 years -- all across this country to find UXO and eliminate them one by one.  And I’m glad that we could be joined by them today.

We see the determination in the survivors of UXOs.  Some of you heard me talking to Thoummy Silamphan, who joins us here today.  When he was just a young child, he was badly wounded by a UXO explosion and lost his left hand.  But rather than losing hope, he’s dedicated his life to providing hope for others.  Through his organization, the Quality of Life Association, Thoummy has helped survivors get medical care, find work, rebuild their lives with a sense of dignity.

And we see that determination in the many organizations like this one.  Here at COPE, you provide assistance to those who have suffered because of UXO while shining a spotlight on the work that still has to be done.  And in that effort, I’m very glad that America is your partner.

When I took office, we were spending $3 million each year to address the enormous challenge of UXO.  We have steadily increased that amount, up to $15 million last year.  This funding -- together with the work of the Lao government, UXO Lao, other international donors and several non-governmental organizations -- has allowed us to fund clearance efforts while also developing plans for a nationwide survey that can help locate UXO and focus clearance efforts on areas that have the most potential for economic development.

So yesterday, I was proud to announce a significant increase in America’s commitment to this work.  We will invest $90 million over the next three years to this effort.  Our hope is that this funding can mark a decisive step forward in the work of rolling back the danger of UXO –- clearing bombs, supporting survivors, and advancing a better future for the people of Laos. 

As President of the United States, I believe that we have a profound moral and humanitarian obligation to support this work. We’re a nation that was founded on the belief in the dignity of every human being.  Sometimes we’ve struggled to stay true to that belief, but that is precisely why we always have to work to address those difficult moments in history and to forge friendships with people who we once called enemies.

That belief in the value of every human being is what motivates the teams of Americans who travel to remote parts of this land to find the remains of hundreds of Americans who have been missing so that their families can receive some measure of comfort.  That belief has to lead us to value the life of every young Lao boy and girl, who deserve to be freed from the fear of the shadow of a war that happened long ago.

Doing this work also builds trust.  History does not have to drive us apart; it can sometimes pull us together.  And addressing the most painful chapters in our history honestly and openly can create openings, as it has done in Vietnam, to work together on other issues, so that violence is replaced by peaceful commerce, cooperation, and people-to-people ties.

And above all, acknowledging the history of war and how it’s experienced concretely by ordinary people is a way that we make future wars less likely.  We have to force ourselves to remember that war is not just about words written in books, or the names of famous men and battles.  War is about the countless millions who suffer in the shadows of war -- the innocents who die, and the bombs that remain unexploded in fields decades after.

Here in Laos, here at COPE, we see the victims of bombs that were dropped because of decisions made half a century ago and we are reminded that wars always carry tremendous costs, many of them unintended.  People have suffered, and we’ve also seen, though, how people can be resourceful and resilient.  It helps us recognize our common humanity.  And we can remember that most people want to live lives of peace and security.  We embrace the hope that out of this history, we can make decisions that lead to a better future for the people of Laos, for the United States, for the world. 

Thank you very much, everybody. 

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Global Leaders Forum with Bill Shorten, Australian Opposition Leader

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JpZOVnco3s

 

Discussion with Four Former USTRs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bClKdSt2jvA

 

Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIlCZCj_Gk

 

ISIS: On the Verge of Defeat or Transforming Itself for the Long Haul?  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMG3geCEdAg

 

 

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Speech by the NATO Secretary General to students "Defending Values, Together"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psvB0ZWSp1A

 

Thank you for that very kind introduction.

I appreciate this opportunity to share a few thoughts with you.

About NATO’s mission and evolution.

And the close friendship between Georgia and NATO.

***

I first visited your beautiful country in 1985.

It was a very different time. 
When Europe was divided by armies, by walls and by values. 

Since then so much has changed.

In 1985, you were a Soviet Republic. Now you are an independent state. A close partner of NATO, aspiring to membership.

I join the people of Georgia in celebrating your many achievements over the past quarter of a century.

Perhaps the most important change has been how Georgia has embraced the fundamental values which unite so many countries across Europe.  Democracy. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the media. Independence of the judiciary. Protection of minorities. 

These are the values that unite us. 

They are the values NATO has defended since its foundation in 1949. We have had to defend those enduring values in very different ways. 

For our first 40 years, NATO was focused on collective defence. 

Defending ourselves back then meant lining up tanks along the West German border. 

Then suddenly, in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. The Cold War ended. And the Soviet Union was dissolved.

With the Cold War receding into the past, NATO entered a new phase.

Our mission evolved from pure collective defence to include what we call “crisis management.”

As violence disrupted the Balkans. And the threat of genocide erupted in Kosovo.

For the first time, NATO sought to manage conflicts beyond our territory.

To defend the lives of the people there. To prevent war from spreading in Europe.  And to take a stand against massive abuses of human rights.

This was a new role for NATO. But it was firmly in line with our commitment to universal values.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, NATO was called upon once again.

NATO and our partners went into Afghanistan. To prevent that country from becoming a safe haven for terrorism.

Since then, NATO – with the help of Georgia – has been supporting the Afghan armed forces.

Which we have helped build from almost nothing to an effective force of more than 350,000.

And here – on behalf of all NATO members and partners – I want to express my deep gratitude to Georgia.

You have stood side-by-side with NATO in Afghanistan for many years.

And we recognise and deeply appreciate the sacrifices made by Georgia’s soldiers and their families.

Your troops have made a real contribution to helping the Afghan people find a safer future. And they have helped keep us safe as well. We are grateful for that.

Now, we are in a third important phase of NATO’s evolution. Which in some ways began to take shape when Russia used military force here in Georgia in 2008.

Since then, Russia has kept unwanted troops in the Republic of Moldova. Illegally annexed Crimea. And is worrying the rest of Europe, for example, with the kind of massive, unannounced exercise we are seeing right now.

At the same time, we also face big challenges to the South.

With the emergence of the so-called Islamic State, we have seen a tragic escalation of the civil war in Syria. A series of brutal terrorist attacks in several NATO countries. And the biggest migrant and refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

NATO is adapting to these challenges from the east and south.

We have bolstered NATO’s ability and readiness to defend our territory and our citizens.

We are strengthening our collective defence and deterrence.

We are enhancing our forward presence in the east of the Alliance. In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, we will deploy, by rotation, four robust, multinational battalions. One in each country.

We will also strengthen our posture in the south-eastern part of the Alliance.
Based around a Romanian framework brigade.

This will be supplemented by steps to strengthen the readiness and interoperability of air and maritime forces here in the Black Sea region.

NATO does not seek confrontation.

All of our measures are defensive, transparent, and in line with our international obligations.

We do not want a new Cold War.

We will continue to seek constructive and meaningful dialogue with Russia.

We will never compromise on our duty to protect our territories and citizens.

We are also taking significant steps to increase stability in our eastern and southern neighbourhood.   

Because if our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure.
In the east, we have reaffirmed our commitment to Ukraine, to the Republic of Moldova and to Georgia.

To help these countries resist outside pressure and advance crucial defence and security reforms. 

In the case of your country, we agreed on the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package in 2014.

This package was strengthened at our Summit in Warsaw this past July.

Allies are determined to increase and intensify our level of support.

NATO experts work with their counterparts here in Georgia on a day-to-day basis.

To help strengthen your defence capabilities. And to provide advice on planning, education and cyber security.

We have also increased training and exercises for troops from NATO, Georgia and other partners.

Including through our new Joint Training Centre based right here in Tbilisi.

These are significant, concrete measures that enhance Georgia’s security and defence capabilities.

***

NATO was founded by twelve nations in the shadow of the horrors and devastation of World War II.

Gradually, our membership has more than doubled. Today we have 28 members.

Soon to be 29 with the expected addition of Montenegro.

NATO’s expansion over the years is the result of our Open Door policy.

Georgia too has applied for NATO membership.

And NATO agreed at our Summit in Bucharest in 2008 that Georgia will become a member of NATO.

We always advise aspiring members that the process of joining NATO takes time and patience. NATO has been working very closely with Georgia to assist your country on the path to eventual membership.

Over the years, Georgia has been one of the biggest contributors to NATO operations.

And NATO has more initiatives and programmes here in Georgia than in any other partner country.

So, today, there is more Georgia in NATO. And more NATO in Georgia.

NATO Allies have been extremely impressed with the strides Georgia has made.

We encourage Georgia to continue on the path toward economic, defence and democratic reforms.

We look forward to your elections next month.
And we trust they will meet the highest democratic standards.

The current visit to Georgia of the North Atlantic Council sends an important message.

The friendship between NATO and Georgia is stronger than ever.

***

For nearly seven decades, NATO has helped to keep the peace in Europe.

Allies have been united by a common set of values – democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

And we have forged an unbreakable bond.
Between Allies on both sides of the Atlantic.

As the world has changed, NATO has changed.

But we remain committed to our values.

To our determination to defend one another.

And to help promote peace and security for future generations.

 

MODERATOR:   Thank you Secretary General for your very detailed review of the challenges the whole international community is facing today and you also briefly provided the concrete steps which was taken by the alliance with the aim to overcome these challenges. Let me raise my first question and then I promise to limit myself to give more opportunities to Georgian students. Secretary General as you mentioned since the collapse of the Soviet Union and since the end of the Cold War many steps were taken and many agreements were achieved on international arena but concrete facts of drawing dividing lines in Europe and concrete efforts aimed at reasserting spheres of privilege … [inaudible] in the region unfortunately still seriously challenge the strategic agenda of the west to achieve Europe whole, free and at peace. My question is how do you think, where do we stand in this regard? And how do you also see the role of international institutions and of course more specifically how do you see the role of NATO?

JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General):  I think that what we have seen is that we have made a lot of progress. We have seen that there is more democracy in Europe now than it has been for ever before. There are more independent democratic states than we have seen ever before and we have seen the crucial role of both NATO and the European Union. So the end of the, after the end of the Cold War, after the end of the Soviet Union, after the end of the Warsaw Pact we have seen more democracy, more independence in Europe than we have seen ever before. And this has been great progress and NATO has been of course been key in that process with the enlargement, taking in many more members and by that also contributing to stability, to democracy and to freedom in Europe. So in one way we are really on the right track to a Europe whole, free and at peace but at the same time we see challenges like we for instance have seen in Georgia with the occupation of territories in Georgia, with the Russian aggression against Georgia and of course what you have seen in Ukraine. So the picture is mixed and we also see that Russia is trying to kind of re-establish spheres of influence along its borders and for me this just underlines the importance of strong NATO, of strong partnership with other countries in Europe that are not members of NATO and also the importance of underlining that every nation has the freedom to choose its own path including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of. So we are moving, we are moving in the right direction but we have seen some very disappointing development especially in Ukraine in the last couple of years.

MODERATOR:    Thank you Secretary General. Now we have time for questions, around 30 minutes and I would ask everybody to identify yourself and of course to keep your questions short in order to have more time for conversation. Please lady there, yeah.

Q:  Anna [inaudible], Caucasus University. My question is what would be your message to the part of our society pessimistic about Georgia’s NATO accession? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  Sorry I didn’t … the message to?

MODERATOR:   To the Georgian society, to the part of society pessimistic ...

JENS STOLTENBERG:  Well my message is that Georgia should continue to do exactly what Georgia is doing and that is to implement reforms. Constitutional reforms, electoral reforms, economic reforms, judicial reforms, modernize Georgia. And there are many reasons why I believe that this is so important for Georgia. Of course it enables Georgia to move towards membership because these reforms are crucial, critical for Georgia being able, joining NATO. But in addition these reforms are important regardless of NATO because to have an independent judiciary, to have strong democratic institutions, to have freedom of press, to have the rule of law, to fight corruption, that is something which is important regardless of NATO. So even if NATO hadn’t asked you to do it you should have done it anyway because it creates freedom, it creates the best possible framework for investments, for economic prosperity. So there are double reasons for you to pursue the path of reform modernizing the Georgian society because it provides freedom, it provides economic growth and it is the way towards NATO membership. Then it will take time and you need patience but you achieve a lot while you are moving, it’s not either nothing or full membership. You have already achieved a lot when it comes to modernizing the Georgian society and you have achieved a lot when it comes to building partnership with NATO. There are NATO advisors in Georgia, we are training your troops, we are increasing the ability of Georgian troops to work together with NATO troops, interoperability we call it in the NATO language, we have the NATO training centre, we are opening this school, defence institution building school, we have the NATO liaison office, we have advisors and so on. So I think yes I understand that you would like to see membership as soon as possible, I understand that you would like to see that I can give you an exact date that you will join next year, I’m not able to do that but I can tell you that you are achieving a lot just by working towards membership because on that road you are modernizing Georgia and that’s good for Georgia regardless of when you are able to join NATO.

MODERATOR:   Thank you. Thank you Secretary General and we have next question over there.

Q: Hello I’m Sophia from Sokhumi State University. First of all let me extend my appreciation for NATO for its support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and for pursuing the non-recognition policy. So my question is that in the environment where the modern Euro Atlantic security architecture including the principles, the principles of inviolability of state borders is being constantly undermined, what’s the vision of NATO on how to deal this challenge? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  It is a fundamental principle which the security order in Europe has been based on since the end of the Second World War that borders should be respected, the territorial integrity, the sovereignty of all nations should be respected and that has been the basis for peace in Europe. And the reason why we are so concerned by what we have seen in Georgia with the occupation of some regions in Georgia and also by what we have seen in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine is that that’s violating exactly those fundamental principles and that is serious for Georgia, it’s serious for Ukraine but it’s also serious for the whole of rest of Europe because it undermines the principles, the framework which peace and stability in Europe has to be based on. And that is also the reason why NATO has reacted so strongly and not only NATO but the whole Europe and NATO together. The European Union has implemented strong economic sanctions against Russia because they have violated the territorial integrity of Ukraine and NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement to our collective defence and we have as I stated in my speech decided to also deploy forces in the eastern part of the alliance. So credible deterrence, strong defence to underline that NATO will never never accept that any NATO ally is attacked or that the territorial integrity of any NATO ally is violated is part of response to what we have seen in Georgia and Ukraine. On top of that of course we are also then stepping up our support, our cooperation with both Ukraine and Georgia also as a response to what we have seen of a more assertive Russian behaviour in Europe during the last years.

MODERATOR:   I cannot agree with you more Secretary General because we can speak about new realities in international relations, the most clear reality [inaudible] the indivisibility of security. It’s really hard to achieve security on NATO territory without projecting stability and security in the region and it is really very important that concrete steps are being taken with the aim to strengthen the security of the partner and aspirant countries as well. Thank you for this answer and one more question over there.

Q: Thank you. Taya Gregorava (sp?) from Tbilisi State University. While the opinion polls show that majority of Georgia’s population supports our country’s Euro Atlantic aspirations, however the anti-western propaganda efforts by Russian Federation are increasing not only in Georgia but also in other partner countries. NATO has taken certain steps to mitigate this challenge, Georgia also on its own has taken certain action by strengthening its strategic communication with NATO. What do you think would be the most efficient format of cooperation between Georgia and NATO to further mitigate this challenge? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  I understand the concern you have about Russian propaganda and we have seen that in several countries including in Georgia. At the same time I think it’s very important for me to underline that for NATO it is not an option to meet propaganda with propaganda because we actually don’t believe in propaganda. We believe that the people are as I say able to distinguish propaganda from facts and information. So for us the best possible response to propaganda is the truth, it’s facts and figures and documentation. So what NATO can do is to help you provide the facts and the truth because we believe that in the long run the truth will prevail over propaganda. Let me also add that of course NATO and all the people and all of us at the NATO headquarters in Brussels we can do a lot but in the long run it has to be the people in each and every member state or partner state like Georgia that has to stand up and to counter propaganda in each and every country. Because I trust myself a lot but I really believe that there are Georgians who are the best ones to counter propaganda in Georgia, not me and it has to be done by you in this country. What we can do is to help you with the facts, with the figures, with the analysis, but you have to stand there in the open free debate and that’s also the reason why it is so important to have a free press, is that in the long run if you have a free press with different views, a variety of opinions, that’s also the best way to counter propaganda and not to be vulnerable to propaganda. So we will help you but you have to do the job.

MODERATOR:   Exactly, I completely share your vision on our domestic homework in this respect and it’s really important that domestically we should achieve the consolidation of our efforts to the fullest possible extent in order to counter very well organized propaganda against Georgia. We have one question, the military guy there. He’s a student from Defence Academy I guess.

Q: [Inaudible], Batumi State Maritime Academy, basic [inaudible]. My question, according to the issue of Black Sea region security enhancement on NATO Warsaw Summit, what kind of contribution can Georgia make as a country having strategic functions in this region? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  I have problems with hearing the questions …

MODERATOR:   This time me too as well, so you mean the strategic function of Georgia? Yeah, what is the strategic function of Georgia in preserving peace in the Black Sea area.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  I think that the strategic function of Georgia is to create a strong, modern, vibrant, democratic Georgian society. Because then you reduce your vulnerability from outside pressure and you are doing exactly that. So societies that are strong, that are democratic, that have some core values uniting them are much stronger than countries which are, you know, characterized by corruption, by weak institutions, by deep divisions and so on. So again the more you are able to modernize Georgia, the more you are able to create a really true open democratic society the stronger and more resilient you will be also from outside or against outside pressure and the more you will contribute to stability in this region. Of course strong defence, strong security institution will be part of that and that’s also the reason why I welcome so much the way you are reforming and modernizing your armed forces and your security institutions. You have made impressive progress and thereby also contributed to stability in this region but to be a modern society is not something you achieve and then relax, you have to always continue to reform and modernize in a changing world.

MODERATOR:   Thank you. Next, next question over there.

Q: Hello. I’m Diana Homaricki (sp?) from International Black Sea University. My question is about terrorism. After G20 Summit President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that official Washington and Ankara will cooperate to clean Raqqa, the capital of so called Islamic State, from terrorists. So what is the position of NATO concerning this issue? And in general what is the current vision of NATO regarding combating terrorism? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  To combat terrorism is a huge task where we need the contribution from many different countries and from many different international institutions and organizations. It’s about police work, it’s about intelligence, it’s about a lot of civilian measures for instance countering the threats coming from returning foreign fighters. But NATO also has a key role to play in the fight against terrorism and I think that we have to remember that our biggest military operation ever, our operation in Afghanistan where Georgia has really contributed, that is an operation which is about fighting terrorism. The reason why we went into Afghanistan was a direct response to the terrorist attack 9/11 2001. And the reason why we stay in Afghanistan is to prevent Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. So NATO plays a key role in fighting terrorism by conducting our military operation, the train, assist and advise presence in Afghanistan. Then NATO also provides support to the international coalition, the US led international coalition against ISIL. We provide support in different ways, we will start to train Iraqi, we train Iraqi officers in Jordan, we will start to train more Iraqi officers in Iraq soon and we also provide AWACS surveillance planes, assistance from them to help the coalition fight ISIL in Syria. All NATO allies are part of the coalition and NATO supports the efforts of the coalition. I also welcome, and of course Turkey a NATO ally is perhaps or is the ally most affected by the turmoil, the violence and the presence of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, Turkey bordering both countries. So Turkey is a NATO ally and NATO has increased its military presence in Turkey to augment and to increase their capability to protect themselves against different kinds of attacks. I welcome closer cooperation between the different countries in the coalition fighting ISIL and especially because United States and Turkey because they are key in the fight against ISIL, two NATO allies, and I think it is of great importance that they work even closer together in the fight against ISIL also of course in Syria.

MODERATOR:   Thank you. I think the, one more question comes from the defence academy.

Q: National Defence Academy of Georgia, [inaudible]. First of all thanks for your visit and thanks for your support. My question is that sir how would you assess the importance of NATO Georgia substantial package in terms of the development of the defensibility of our country and groups of interoperability with NATO countries? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  The substantial package is a key tool in strengthening and modernizing the defence capabilities of Georgia and we decided in Warsaw in July to further strengthen this too. And of course everything we do when it comes to provide education, training, advice to your armed forces, to your defence and security institutions, help you to get stronger, help you to be more modern and help you to also become more interoperable which is this word describing the ability to work together with other forces, both NATO forces but also other forces from other NATO partner countries. This is good for Georgia that we are exercising together, that our soldiers, your soldiers, our soldiers can work together, learn from each other, train together. And so that’s good for Georgia, it makes you a stronger, safer country that we have modern well equipped, well trained forces and good defence structures. But it’s also good for NATO because Georgia contributes to many NATO operations. So this is not only something we do because we would like to be kind to Georgia but it’s also because we understand that a strong Georgia, a well-trained armed forces of Georgia is also good for us. When you are together with us in Afghanistan of course that we are able to work together, that the Georgian soldiers are world, top class, is good for our operation in Afghanistan. You participate in the fight against terrorism in the Mediterranean, in our operation there, and you also participate in the NATO Response Force. So this shows how the partnership is of mutual benefit both for Georgia and NATO and therefore we have decided to strengthen the comprehensive package which is the main tool which we use to assist you in modernizing your forces.

MODERATOR:   Thank you Secretary General. I would add only one to this point that as a result of our joint effort, as a result of very effective military to military cooperation at the Wales Summit Georgia was already officially acknowledged as one of the most interoperable partner and we have already quite significantly benefitted from this cooperation. We hope that NATO Georgia substantial package will be additional benefit in this regard which will prepare Georgia for membership as well. So we have one more question over there, yeah.

Q: [Speaking with Interpreter]. Greetings and warm welcome, my name is Luca Lauria (sp?). My question is bearing in mind that Georgia is placed in a non- stable region neighbouring Iran, Syria, Ukraine, North Caucasus, to what extent Georgia is important for the alliance? And how do you eye the Georgian role in terms of securing peace in the region?

JENS STOLTENBERG:  In one way it goes without saying that Georgia is important for NATO because Georgia is one of our most closest partners and you are a partner which we really support. And again we do that because we believe that the strong, stable, democratic Georgia is good for Georgia but it’s also good for the stability in the whole region and therefore also good for NATO. So everything we do with our presence here is a sign of that but just the fact that the North Atlantic Council which very seldom travels together, the 28 nations travelling together visiting another country, I think that happens once or twice a year, we are here again for the second time.

MODERATOR:   Exactly.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  So that, our presence here today with all the 28 and Montenegro is a strong expression of the importance we attach to Georgia and also the strong political support we provide to Georgia.

MODERATOR:   Thank you. We have just five, five minutes left for questions. I think that we can get two questions but I would suggest two collective questions in order to be in time. So one over there, yes, this lady, you, yeah, and one question over there.

Q: Hello thank you for interesting speech. I am Tatria [inaudible], I am studying international relation and politics in Georgian University and my question is what do you think about Georgian political, about political situation in Georgia? And does Georgia has to join in NATO and what will, and what impact will they make on the relationship with Russia? Thank you.

MODERATOR:   And other question?

Q: [Inaudible] State University. First of all thank you for your visiting and thank you for this meeting. How would you evaluate contribution of Georgia in strengthening international security and stability? Is the Resolute Support Mission successful in Afghanistan? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  Okay. Thank you so much. First about the political situation in Georgia. Well I think that I should not have an opinion about the political situation in Georgia because that’s for the people in Georgia to decide and you have different parties.  I met many of them in the parliament this morning and I am in favour of democracy in Georgia. I’m in favour of strong democratic institutions in Georgia, I’m in favour of fair and free elections in Georgia but I’m not going to have any opinion about what kind of parties are the best parties in Georgia because that’s up to the people of Georgia to decide and to vote for different parties. And actually I welcome the fact that there are different opinions, in all democratic societies there are different opinions and that’s part of being a democratic society is that people disagree. If people don’t disagree, if there are not different opinions then you should be really concerned because then there is no real democracy. So yes I have an opinion about or as I say the democratic system in Georgia, it has to be a democratic, strong, transparent, robust democracy but how you in a way decide to use that democratic system it’s up to the people of Georgia to decide. And I look forward to the elections and I expect them to meet the highest standards of democratic elections.

Then you asked me about Georgia and NATO, well I think I answered. We have reaffirmed the Bucharest Decision, I was actually in Bucharest back in 2008 when NATO decided that Georgia will become member. But to become member you have to meet the standards, you have to continue on the path of modernizing, reforming and let me also add that it may take time, it may require patience but as I’ve stated and underlined many times what you do while you are moving towards NATO benefits Georgia. So the reforms are also in your benefit regardless of membership.

Then Russia. So we see a more assertive Russia, we see a Russia which has implemented a substantial military buildup, which has been willing to use military force against neighbours, Georgia and Ukraine. But at the same time we underline strongly and that was also a clear message from Warsaw that we don’t want a new cold war, we don’t want to isolate Russia. Russia is our biggest neighbour and we have to manage our relationship with Russia and we have to also avoid that when we have more military activities, more military presence along our borders, we have to avoid accidents, incidents which can trigger really dangerous situations. And we just got reports from the Black Sea yesterday that we had a new incident with unsafe behaviour of Russian planes flying very close to an American plane in international air space. And these kind of incidents are dangerous because they can lead to really dangerous accidents, incidents and we have to avoid that they spiral out of the control and that’s one of the reasons why we are looking into how we can develop mechanisms for risk reductions, for transparency, for predictability in our relationship with Russia to avoid these kind of incidents and accidents from happening and if they happen prevent them from spiralling out of control.

Then what Georgia can do. I think I have already answered that question. You can do a lot and you’re doing a lot and the best thing you can do is to continue to become a modern, democratic, strong, resilient society. That’s good for you and its good for the stability in the whole region.

MODERATOR:   Thank you Secretary General. Unfortunately I have to apologize whose questions we could not get, we don’t have any more time. But I would say that today’s meeting really reminded me Secretary General Lord Robertson’s informal meeting 16 years ago in Tbilisi. I was one among the students who were raising questions on possible prospects of improving cooperation with NATO and partnership with NATO but the spirit of today’s discussions and the topics raised by students really proved that since then NATO Georgia relations have improved significantly and really achieved very high standards. Because today Georgia provides significant contribution to international peace and stability, today Georgia is already formally acknowledged as one of the most interoperable partner of the alliance. Georgia today for NATO is not only a valuable partner but also an aspirant country irreversibly standing on NATO membership track and of course it is worth to mention how important is the Bucharest Summit decision which says that Georgia will become a member of NATO. So with your permission I would end this meeting on this very positive note. I would extend our gratitude once again for your very strong support and for your very interesting speech, remarks and for completeness of your answers and of course I would ask everybody to join me in applauding Secretary General. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

MODERATOR:   And last but not least I have the great pleasure to invite to the podium Director General of National Library of Georgia who will be presenting the real masterpiece of Georgian literature, medieval epic poem Knight in the Panthers Skin.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  Thank you so much.

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Press Conference by President Obama after G20 Summit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nHR931BX_s

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everybody.  Let me begin by thanking President Xi and the people of Hangzhou and China for the hospitality in hosting this G20 summit on the shores of beautiful West Lake.  Thank you so much.  Xie xie.

This visit offered the eighth opportunity for President Xi and me to meet.  We agreed to advance our cooperation across a range of issues, including climate change, global health and development, peacekeeping, counter-narcotics, and nuclear security.  We also addressed our differences on issues like religious freedom, maritime security, and a level economic playing field, but we did so in a clear, candid, direct, and I think constructive way.  That has helped us to manage problems, and it’s consistently helped us to improve relations between the United States and China.

This has also been my tenth and final G20 meeting.  It goes by fast.  And so before I take your questions, let me put into context what we’ve done over the course of our G20 meetings.

And I think back to April 2009, when hundreds of thousands of Americans were losing their jobs and their homes and their savings each month, and unemployment was on its way to 10 percent.  Around the world, for the first time in a generation, the global economy was contracting, trade was shrinking, and the international financial system was nearly frozen.  By several key measures, the global economy was on a worse trajectory than it was at the outset of the Great Depression.

But the size and the scope of the crisis was not what made that London G20 historic.  What made it historic was the speed and magnitude of our collective response.  One nation couldn’t solve the problem alone, so together, developed and developing nations alike, took a comprehensive and unprecedented set of actions to prevent another depression and set the stage for recovery.

Most important was to create jobs and growth by stimulating demand across our economies.  And America led the way.  By then, in just my first 10 or so weeks as President, we had already passed the Recovery Act, set in motion plans to rescue our auto industry, stabilize our banks, jumpstart loans to small businesses, and launch programs to help homeowners refinance and stay in their homes.  And our G20 partners would follow with similar actions.

To stabilize the global economy, we rejected the protectionism that could deepen the crisis.  We cooperated to keep markets open and trade finance flowing, and bolstered the international finance system’s lending capacity to respond to countries that were hurting the most.  And to prevent future crises, we took steps to reform our financial regulatory system

-- including the historic Wall Street Reform that we passed more than six years ago.

These were the actions we took in 2009.  They were actions that prevented another depression, and created conditions for the global economy to grow by more than 25 percent over the past seven years. 

What we also did, though, was to elevate the G20 to become the world’s premier forum for international economic cooperation. And that decision allowed us, as the global recovery progressed, to take further actions to strengthen the global economy.  And that’s what we came to Hangzhou to do.

We’ve had long debates over the years about the best ways to promote sustained growth.  But America’s voice in the G20 has always been one of bold action, and that stance has been backed up by our economic performance.  Since job growth turned positive in early 2010, America’s businesses have created more than 15 million new jobs.  We’ve cut the unemployment rate in half.  And so far this year, wages have risen by almost 3 percent, which is much faster than the pace of inflation.

But one of the things that we learned through the G20 process is that more than ever our economies are interconnected and we’ve got more work to do together to keep the global economy growing.  We have to do more to grow wages faster; to shrink inequality faster; to give everybody a shot at opportunity and security in a changing economy.  And that should be the way forward for the G20 -- to make sure that the benefits of trends like globalization and technological progress are shared broadly by more workers and families who still feel like the global economy is not working for them.

And that’s what we did here at this G20 Summit.  We committed to using all of our policy tools to promote robust, inclusive growth that creates opportunity for young people and the middle class that they’re working to join.  We focused on making sure that businesses can compete fairly and all working families can take advantage of the new prospects the digital economy creates.  And we reaffirmed our commitment to support emerging economies through an array of development initiatives.

We also discussed ways to unlock the mutual benefits that trade provides while keeping it fair for our workers and the playing field level for our businesses.  And that includes high-standard trade agreements that actually benefit the middle class, like the TPP.  That includes working together to abstain from unfair currency practices, and address corruption and global tax evasion.  And it includes our agreement to establish a new forum to address some of the market-distorting policies in the global steel sector that have hurt workers and businesses.

We also added momentum to the fight to protect our planet for future generations.  On Saturday, the U.S. and China formally entered the Paris Agreement.  And today, the G20 welcomed efforts to enter the Paris Agreement into force by the end of this year.

So if there’s anything that the past eight years have taught us, it’s that the complicated challenges of the 21st century cannot be met without coordinated and collective action.  Agreement is not always easy and results do not always come quickly.  Respecting different points of view; forging consensus instead of dictating terms -- that can sometimes be frustrating. But it is how progress has been won and how it will be won in the future.  It’s how we’ve come as far as we have in the eight years since the crisis affected us all.  And it’s how the G20 can make progress for all people in the years to come.

So, with that, let me take some questions.  And I will start with Roberta Rampton of Reuters.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I want to ask you about tomorrow, the next leg of your trip, a little bit.  And tomorrow you're going to be meeting for the first time with President Duterte, and he’s a leader whose war on drugs has led to the death of about 2,400 people in just the last two months since he took office.  And today he said in a very colorful way that you better not bring this up.  And I'm wondering, are you are committed to raising this with President Duterte?  And are you concerned that meeting him legitimizes his approach on this issue?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I just came out of a long day of meetings, so I just heard about some of this.  But I have seen some of those colorful statements in the past, and so, clearly, he’s a colorful guy.  And what I’ve instructed my team to do is to talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out is this, in fact, a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations.  Obviously, the Filipino people are some of our closest friends and allies, and the Philippines is a treaty ally of ours.  But I always want to make sure that if I'm having a meeting that it's actually productive and we're getting something done. 

We recognize the significant burden that the drug trade plays just not just in the Philippines, but around the world.  And fighting narco-trafficking is tough.  But we will always assert the need to have due process and to engage in that fight against drugs in a way that's consistent with basic international norms.  And so, undoubtedly, if and when we have a meeting, that this is something that's going to be brought up, and my expectation, my hope is, is that it could be dealt with constructively. 

But I'll have my team discuss this.  I've got a whole bunch of folks that I'm going to be meeting with over the course of the next several days.  And, as I said, historically, our relationship with the Philippines is one of our most important, and my relationship with the Philippine people has been extraordinarily warm and productive.  So I expect that will continue.  But I want to make sure that the setting is right and the timing is right for us to have the best conversation possible. 

Q    So you're not going to meet with him? 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well I'm -- no, as I said, I'm going to just make an assessment.  I just got out of these meetings.  What is certainly true is, is that the issues of how we approach fighting crime and drug trafficking is a serious one for all of us, and we've got to do it the right way.

Michelle Kosinski. 

Q    Thank you.  Same subject, I guess, of colorful guys.  What can you tell us about this hour-and-a-half-long meeting you had with President Putin -- the tone of it, any progress that was made?  And do you agree with him that the relationship between our two countries is now frozen?

On the cyber front, Senator Reid recently cited intelligence briefings when he was expressing his suspicions that Russia is trying to meddle in the election and may even have direct ties to one of the campaigns.  What can you tell us?  Do you think Russia is trying to influence the U.S. election through hacking?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, President Putin is less colorful, but typically the tone of our meetings are candid, blunt, businesslike --- and this one was no different.  We had a range of issues that we had to discuss, but the two most important were, as has been reported, discussions that have been taking place between Secretary Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, about ways in which we can institute a meaningful, serious, verifiable Cessation of Hostilities in Syria, and our capacity to provide some humanitarian relief to families, children, women who are suffering enormously under the burdens of that war. 

As you'll recall, we had initiated a Cessation of Hostilities a while back.  Initially, it did lessen some of the violence, and then slowly it unwound.  And we're back into a situation in which Assad's regime is bombing with impunity.  That, in turn, we think is actually strengthening the capacity of Nusra to recruit people who might not have initially been sympathetic to terrorism but now view anyone who’s fighting against Assad as legitimized.  And that is a very dangerous dynamic.

And so we have had some productive conversations about what a real Cessation of Hostilities would look like that would allow us both, the United States and Russia, to focus our attention on common enemies, like ISIL and Nusra.  But given the gaps of trust that exist, that's a tough negotiation, and we haven’t yet closed the gaps in a way where we think it would actually work.  But my instructions to Secretary Kerry, and Mr. Putin's instructions to Mr. Lavrov was to keep working at it over the next several days

-- because the faster we can provide some relief to folks on the ground, the better off we're going to be. 

And that, then, is a predicate for us to be able to transition into a serious conversation about a political solution to this problem that would involve all the parties that have either directly or indirectly involved themselves in the Syrian conflict.

We also spent time talking about Ukraine.  There is a Minsk agreement that arose out of the Normandy negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, but it hasn’t been implemented.  And I made very clear that until it is implemented, the United States is not going to pull down sanctions; that it is important for both sides to try to seize this opportunity in the coming weeks to finalize an agreement and to figure out a sequence in which that document is put into effect.  And there was agreement not just between myself and Mr. Putin, but also with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, that that effort should increase in urgency over the next several weeks. 

And so that what was constructive but not conclusive.  And we'll have to see whether we can actually get this done, or whether, in fact, President Putin -- despite talking about wanting a negotiation and a solution -- in fact, is comfortable with this constant low-grade conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border. 

And finally, we did talk about cybersecurity, generally.  I'm not going to comment on specific investigations that are still live and active.  But I will tell you that we've had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past, from other countries in the past.  And, look, we're moving into a new era here where a number of countries have significant capacities. And, frankly, we got more capacity than anybody both offensively and defensively.  But our goal is not to suddenly, in the cyber arena, duplicate a cycle of escalation that we saw when it comes to other arms races in the past, but rather to start instituting some norms so that everybody is acting responsibly. 

We're going to have enough problems in the cyberspace with non-state actors who are engaging in theft and using the Internet for all kinds of illicit practices, and protecting our critical infrastructure, and making sure that our financial systems are sound.  And what we cannot do is have a situation in which suddenly this becomes the Wild, Wild West, where countries that have significant cyber capacity start engaging in competition -- unhealthy competition or conflict through these means when, I think, wisely we've put in place some norms when it comes to using other weapons.

So that's been a topic of conversation with President Putin as it has been with other countries.  We've started to get some willingness on the part of a lot of countries around the world, including through our G20 process, to adopt these norms, but we've got to make sure that we're observing them.

William Wan.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Heading into Laos, what are the main things you can offer its leaders?  And what do you plan to push for in return?  On the offering side, for example, I'm wondering how you view U.S. responsibility for unexploded ordnance.  On the asking side, what are you pushing for most?  Is it human rights?  Closer U.S. ties in the face of China? Improving their problems with governance and corruption?  What's the priority?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, look, symbolically, it is important. I'll be the first U.S. President to visit Laos.  And when you think about the history of the United States and Laos, I think it’s useful to see what’s happened in the evolution of our relationship with Vietnam, a country that I just visited recently. 

At the outset, as we’re trying to build trust, a lot of work can be done around war legacy issues.  For the Lao, that involves dealing with unexploded ordnance, which is still plaguing big chunks of the countryside.  And since Laos is still a relatively poor country that is developing, their capacity alone to clean that up is hampered by a lack of resources.  We should help.  And my expectation is, is that, in our meetings over the course of several days, that we’ll be able to provide some really concrete assistance that ensures that innocent kids who are running through a field, or a farmer that’s trying to clear a field, or a business that’s trying to get set up -- that they’re not endangered by the possibility of an explosion.

Likewise, we have deep commitments to accounting for those who were lost during that war.  And as was true with Vietnam, to the extent that we’re able to find out more about our missing-in-action and our POWs, that not only provides enormous comfort and meaning for families and is consistent with our traditions, but it also ends up being a show of good faith on the part of the country, and a way for us to move into a next phase of a relationship.

And so a lot of the conversation I think will start there, but it doesn’t end there.  We’ve had an initiative, for example, helping all the countries along the Mekong Delta to find ways to harness development and deal with environmental issues.  And that’s something that we’ve been doing through ASEAN over the course of several years now.  For us to be able to expand some of that work I think would be important.  Establishing people-to-people exchanges is another area that historically has been important.

I do think Laos -- seeing the enormous economic progress that Vietnam and China and others have made, are going to be very interested in finding ways in which they can advance into the global economy and help themselves grow, and I think that we can be a useful partner there.

So I think there will be a broad-based agenda.  But if you think about the visit I made to Ho Chi Minh City, and driving through those streets, and the enormous wellspring of goodwill that you saw -- that started with some of the same kinds of steps that we’re going to be taking with Laos.  But I think we can hopefully do it faster, make more progress faster than we did over the course of 10, 15 years, because we’ve learned some things.  And I think Laos is very eager to engage with us, and we’re eager to engage with them.

So I look forward to visiting what I hear is a beautiful country.

Christi Parsons.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  On the Transpacific Partnership, how do you plan to sell this to these Asian leaders who still have work to do in their own countries, and with some political -- you know, it’s not -- the politics aren’t easy, and maybe they don’t want to do that.  So much of it seems like the future is rocky in the U.S.  Can you -- the U.S. usually ratifies its trade deals.  Do you plan to convey a sense of inevitability? Do you feel that for the lame duck session, even if it doesn’t happen then, do you feel like it’s inevitable anyway? 

And, if I may, I wonder what you think about the silent protest of Colin Kaepernick?  And I also wonder what you think about the public response to it, which is really divided.  I mean, some police don’t want to secure ‘49ers games, and many fans feel that he’s giving voice to something they feel strongly. So I just wonder how you look at that.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, with respect to TPP, I don’t have to sell it to Asian leaders here who were part of the negotiations because they see this as the right thing to do for their own countries.  And when you look at the architecture, the structure of TPP, what it does is open up new markets for us that are generally closed.  Our markets are more open than theirs for the most part, so we benefit from a reduction in tariffs and taxes that are already in place.

But for many of them, what they benefit from is this trade deal is the spur, the incentive for them to engage in a whole bunch of structural reforms that they know, over the long term, will reinvigorate their economy. 

So, for example, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, yes, he’s having to make some difficult decisions about opening up markets that previously have been closed, but he’s also looking at a couple of decades of stagnation and anemic growth.  And what he said to the Japanese people is, if we want to break out of this, then we’re going to have to change how we do business, and this provides us a road map of how we can become more competitive on the world stage.

Vietnam, that, for the first time, is debating in a very serious way how they can provide protections to their workers and allow them to participate and have voice and bargain for wages, and, yeah, that’s tough politically for Vietnam.  On the other hand, they recognize that if they want to move up the value chain in the global market that they’ve got to start abiding by basic norms.

So the good news is they’re ready to go.  And what I’ll be telling them is that the United States has never had a smooth, uncontroversial path to ratifying trade deals, but they eventually get done.  And it’s my intention to get this one done, because, on the merits, it is smart for America to do it.  And I have yet to hear a persuasive argument from the left or the right as to why we wouldn’t want to create a trade framework that raises labor standards, raising environmental standards, protects intellectual property, levels the playing field for U.S. businesses, brings down tariffs. 

It is indisputable that it would create a better deal for us than the status quo.  Nobody has been able to describe to me -- with all the general criticism of trade that you hear coming out of some quarters, nobody is able to describe to me how this would not be a significant improvement for U.S. workers and U.S. businesses going forward compared to the status quo. 

And so I intend to be making that argument.  I will have to be less persuasive here because most people already understand that.  Back home, we'll have to cut through the noise once election season is over.  It's always a little noisy there.

And in terms of Mr. Kaepernick, I got to confess that I haven’t been thinking about football while I've been over here,  and I haven’t been following this closely.  But my understanding, at least, is, is that he's exercising his constitutional right to make a statement.  I think there's a long history of sports figures doing so.  I think there are a lot of ways you can do it. As a general matter, when it comes to the flag and the National Anthem, and the meaning that that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us, that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his deeper concerns are.  But I don’t doubt his sincerity, based on what I've heard.  I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about.  And if nothing else, what he's done is he's generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about. 

So, again, I haven’t been paying close attention to it, but you've heard me talk about in the past the need for us to have an active citizenry.  Sometimes that's messy and controversial, and it gets people angry and frustrated.  But I'd rather have young people who are engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people who are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all. 

And my suspicion is, is that over time he's going to refine how he's thinking about it, and maybe some of his critics will start seeing that he has a point around certain concerns about justice and equality.  And that's how we move forward.  Sometimes it's messy, but it's the way democracy works.

All right, last one.  Angela Greiling Keane of Bloomberg.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The G20 group today discussed the importance of tax fairness and consistency among countries.  For you, how much of that discussion was centered on the Apple case and the EU's decision?  And how do you balance your efforts here to ensure global tax fairness with your need and desire to protect U.S. companies and their shareholders?  And if I may, on one other business topic, how would you assess the likelihood of the actions taken on steel today of making a difference in overcapacity?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Those are both great questions.  This issue of tax avoidance and tax evasion is something that we have actively promoted as an issue for the G20 to tackle.  We've worked with not only the G20 countries, but also some of the multilateral organizations, like the OECD, to refine how we can approach these problems.  It's a complicated piece of business.  

We did not bring up the specific case of Apple, because as a general rule, I don’t want to bring up a single case in a forum like this where we're trying to shape broader policy.  But at home, we have been focused -- whether it's on the inversion rules that we put forward, the proposals that we put forward to define who the beneficiaries are behind the veil so that we can catch people who are avoiding their taxes -- we're doing a bunch of stuff at home, and we want to coordinate better norms internationally. 

The one thing that we have to make sure we do is to move in concert with other countries, because there's always a danger that if one of us acts unilaterally, that it's not just amatter of a U.S. company being impacted, but it may also have an effect in terms of our ability to collect taxes from that same company. And so you might end up with a situation where they pay into Europe, and the U.S. Treasury is shortchanged.  So if there is not some coordination between various tax authorities, you get a problem there.

In the same way, we think there has to be some coordination about even some of our closest allies racing to the bottom in terms of how they enforce their tax policies in ways that lead to revenue-shifting and tax avoidance in our country.

So this is not something that I think is going to be sorted out overnight.  I do think that if we are to regain the trust of ordinary people but the system is not rigged, and deal with these trends of inequality that have risen out of globalization and technological change, that we've got to make sure we tackle this issue in an effective way. 

And we've made some progress, but not as much as we need to. And my hope is, is that it's recognized that it's in the interest of all countries -- whether they're developed countries or developing countries -- to work together to put a stop to this.  Because developed countries are losing revenue, and that erodes their tax base and their ability to educate kids and build universities and build infrastructure, but it also wallops developing countries because oftentimes tax avoidance can go hand in hand with corrupt practices that impede development. 

In terms of excess capacity, this is an issue that we wanted to get on the agenda.  We got it on the agenda.  In my bilateral conversations with President Xi, there was an agreement that we would make progress on dealing with steel overcapacity -- which, by the way, is consistent with the plans that President Xi himself has had to reorient the economy so that it's not so heavily dependent on state-owned enterprises and an export model. 

So, we’ve made some progress -- not as much as we'd like to see -- but some progress on that front bilaterally.  Multilaterally, the way this was resolved was the G20 agreed to put together an intensive process of gathering all the data, determining what the best steps are, which will then be reported in the G20 in Hamburg next year.  And I think there was a validation of the basic principle that, to the extent that overcapacity is the result not just of market forces but specific policy decisions that are distorting a well-functioning market, that that needs to be fixed.

And so it was one of a number of examples that aren’t always sexy and don’t attract a lot of headlines of where issues that we've raised in the G20 get adopted and then a bunch of work gets done, and the following year you start seeing action, and slowly we strengthen and build up international norms. 

If you look at the issue of IT and the digital economy, we were able to get the G20 to adopt a range of principles about an open Internet, net neutrality, making sure that businesses and vendors and providers aren’t discriminated across borders, reflecting a lot of the foundational principles that have led to this digital revolution over the last several years. 

And that will, in turn, generate a bunch of new work.  And there will still be conflicts about how people deal with censorship or how they deal with cybersecurity issues, but we chip away at it, and over time what you get it sturdier international norms that everybody abides to and will help all countries grow and help people prosper.

So my parting words at the G20 were, having watched this process over the last eight years, I think we all have to recognize these are turbulent times.  A lot of countries are seeing volatile politics.  Sometimes you read the headlines and you can get discouraged about whether the international community and leadership are able to shape solutions fast enough for the scale of the problems -- whether it's migrants and refugees, or climate change, or terrorism, or making sure the international economy is working for everybody.  But then when you look back over the course of eight years, actually you find out things have gotten better -- not always as fast as we'd like, but in significant ways. 

You look at the progress we've made on the financial system. The American banking system now has $700 billion more in capital; it is much safer and much sturdier.  But it's not just us.  Because of the G20, you also have a Basel III agreement in which all countries are having to strengthen their capital requirements and put in place some basic safeguards to prevent what happened at Lehmans.  And that's true across the board.

So, as always, I’d always like to see even more get done, but I’m cautiously optimistic about the progress that we made.  I tell my staff when they feel worn out sometimes that better is always good.  It may not be everything that needs to get done, but if it's better than before we started, we'll take it.

All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.

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