Condoleezza Rice Town Hall Meeting in Ukraine

Published: Thu 8 Dec 2005 03:21 PM
Town Hall Meeting in Ukraine
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Shevchenko University
Kiev, Ukraine
December 7, 2005
MODERATOR: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Professor Svenko (ph) for that very kind introduction and challenge to the students and to me. I'm honored to be here in Kiev and I have been here before several times, but this is my first as Secretary of State. And as a professor myself I'm just delighted to have a chance to come to a university and talk to university students. And so after I make a few remarks, I hope you've been thinking about what questions you'd like to ask because that's really what I came to do is to take your questions so that we can have a dialogue.
I'm pleased to speak with you here at Ukraine's oldest and most distinguished university. It's the one that bears the name of this nation's great national writer, Taras Shevchenko. The Ukraine in which Shevchenko was born a serf and has endured itself centuries of domination at the hands of neighbors, but over time there has developed in this nation a distinct and impassioned voice that has cried out for liberty and justice and independence. This was the great voice of Ukraine and Shevchenko helped to liberate it in poetry.
For decades after the poet's death, however, the voice of Ukraine was not still fully sovereign. And even when your long-awaited day of independence came, the promise of democracy was not fulfilled. For many years, there were some who thought that the Ukrainian people, because of their culture or their history, were not ready for democracy. But last November, Ukrainians showed that they were indeed ready for democracy and they dispelled these cynical doubts.
When the voice of Ukraine spoke, it burst forth in an unprecedented call for freedom and democracy and rule of law. Hundreds of thousands of citizens, perhaps some of you here today, braved frigid temperatures and the fear of violence and pitched tents and reclaimed a stolen election. You showed the world that liberty is the desire of all freedoms, of all people and the destiny of all nations.
Today, the voice of Ukraine is speaking and it is setting high expectations for all who govern this country, expectations that should be viewed as challenges to be met, not a threat to be mitigated. Of course, it is never easy for a democratic movement to transition from the streets of protest to the halls of government. Setbacks and frustrations and disappointments are inevitable, nonetheless, the virtue of democracy is the power it gives its citizens to correct their government and strengthen their nation.
A student of Shevchenko University asks Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a question during her town hall meeting with students in Kiev, Ukraine on Dec. 7. The Ukrainian people desire a clean and fair democracy and their government must respond to that just demand. Corruption is a political cancer and attacks on the poor and it must be confronted directly through government action and greater democratic reform, through more transparent and accountable institutions, a freer and more watchful media and a rule of law that no individual can violate with impunity. In every challenge before this nation, Ukraine's democratic reformers must cooperate in good faith to fulfill the promise of your democratic revolution.
Today, the voice of Ukraine is speaking and it is expressing a vision of Ukraine as distinct as the nation that it is and it's distinct as a distinct nation as it advances in this region. Just as we grasped the rich potential of the Orange Revolution last year, a revolution that inspired people around the world, the United States now imagines a Ukraine that serves as an anchor of democratic stability in Europe and Eurasia. The United States will help Ukraine to implement the necessary political and economic reforms to achieve the goal of membership in the European Union and the World Trade Organization. We will continue to support your desire to maintain good relations with your neighbors, especially with Russia. And if you decide that your future lies within NATO, then America will help you to meet those challenges as well.
Today, the voice of Ukraine is speaking and it is growing ever louder in support for the democratic aspirations of all people. The Orange Revolution was not just a triumph for your nation alone. You spoke for voiceless individuals everywhere who suffered silently in the shadows of fear. Through the web blogs and photographs you posted online and the hopeful sights and sounds carried worldwide by satellite television, the voice of Ukraine resounded loudly across nations as far away as Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq and as close as Kyrgyzstan. And they inspired citizens to launch unprecedented democratic transformations of their own.
Ukraine is now helping to pioneer the cause of reform along the modern frontiers of freedom, whilst stretching into the Caucasus and running deep through the broader Middle East. Your contribution of troops to Iraq made a vital difference and we respect your decision to bring them home. We appreciate Ukraine's continued help for the training of Iraqis who will defend their country. And we applaud your leadership of a community of democratic choice and we encourage you to continue supporting the aspirations of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and Belarus, the last tyranny in Europe.
Ukraine is now successfully defining itself as a global problem solver, from your work in combating the proliferation of dangerous weapons, to your support for the war on terrorism, to your compassionate efforts to help the victims of Pakistan's recent earthquake. And we in America will never forget that you responded, too, when Americans were in need after Hurricane Katrina.
For decades, many viewed Ukraine as an object in some larger struggle, be it the Cold War or the collapse of communism or the status quo of the previous decade. But today, because the free voice of Ukraine is finally speaking, because you, the people of this great nation, are realizing your destiny through democratic reform, the United States is dealing with its Ukrainian partner on its own terms. And together we are forging a true partnership, defined not as two nations focused on one and other, but as two nations working in concert to advance common purposes.
A student dressed in traditional Ukrainian Cossack costume presents Secretary Rice with flowers following her town hall meeting with students at Shevchenko University in Kiev, Ukraine on Dec. 7. The historic purpose of our new partnership is engraved on the monument to Taras Shevchenko that stands proudly in my nation's capital, Washington, D.C., the very monument at which President Yushchenko gave a speech and laid a wreath during his recent trip to Washington. The statue's inscription reads, "Dedicated to the liberation, freedom and independence of all captive nations." For now and for the future, our two countries must remain so dedicated. And we must support all people who long to find and express true voices of their free nations.
Thank you. And now I look forward to taking your questions or comments.
SECRETARY RICE: Who will start?
QUESTION: I have two questions. The first, what are the NATO's accession requirements to Ukraine? And the second, what features should the Ukrainian army have for the accession?
Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, NATO, of course, is an organization that remains open to all European democracies. That has been NATO's promise since it was possible to think about the expansion of NATO. And we sometimes think that NATO only started to enlarge and expand after the collapse of communism. But of course, the original NATO did not include Spain and Portugal, so we have always remained open to European democracies. So I find myself saying to you that when Ukraine is ready, NATO will be open to Ukrainian accession.
Now what does NATO expect of its members? It expects, first and foremost, a commitment to democracy. All of the countries of NATO are democracies. And the democratic collective security that NATO provides has meant not only that NATO has been able to stand against external enemies, but it has meant that NATO has been able to cooperate in terms of its own security on the basis of common values. So NATO expects its members to be democracies.
Secondly, NATO expects its members to have strong civil-military relations, in other words, civilian control of the military. So one of the answers to your second question about what Ukraine's army would need to do -- and Ukraine's army, by the way, has made a lot of reforms over the last several years -- but is to make sure that there is strong civilian control of the military.
We believe, in democracies, that the military should not be able to act on its own. It can only act when civilian elected leaders tell is to act. It's also important that Ukraine improve its defense capabilities because NATO is, after all, a military alliance and we face new threats, new kinds of threats. It's no longer an institution and alliance that sits ready for great, great armies to come across Europe. It has to be able to move quickly to places of concern. It has to be able to support peacekeeping operations as it is doing in the Balkans and as it is doing with airlift and support for the African Union Mission in Darfur in Sudan.
So those are some of the things that we will be looking at, but the most important is that democracy is strong, corruption is being fought. Those are the kinds of concerns that NATO has for its members.
Right down here.
QUESTION: How much does Ukraine lag behind economically from U.S.A. and what needs to be done to catch up?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, the United States has had a big head start in terms of its economic development. And I think that what Ukraine will want to do is to, rather than measuring itself by some fixed standard, is to put in place the kinds of policies that lead to economic growth. And when you put in place policies that lead to economic growth, it may be surprising where Ukraine ends up in terms of economic -- the economic ladder, if you will.
You know, the United States is very big. It has a lot of natural resources and so it has -- it commands a little over 20 percent of the world's gross domestic product. But there are small countries that are much smaller than Ukraine that are having a huge impact on economic development. South Korea is the world's, I think, tenth largest economy and this is not a country that is as large as Ukraine. And so I think you can expect that if you put the right policies into place you will be able to grow and to find your place in the international economy.
Let me talk about what policies work. First of all, the economy has to be open. That means that the state should control as little of the economy as possible. That means that private investors have to be able to drive the economy and grow it. Now, in order to gain private investment, either from Ukrainians who may want to invest in the economy or from foreigners who want to invest in the economy, people have to be clear that rule of law is in place and that corruption is being fought. They have to recognize that it is key for people to be able to make contracts and to be able to rely on those contracts. So rule of law is probably the most important element of an open economy that can attract investments.
It's also the case that economies have to make use of trade relationships. Closing your economy off to foreign trade is a very bad idea and the fact that Ukraine is now trying to join the WTO is a good sign for Ukraine wanting to be an open economy. But in the long run, what makes economies in this era -- the modern state, modern times -- operate best is when they invest in their people and when they have a strong educational system, when people can be entrepreneurs, when they can come up with ideas and put those into the economy. That's why I love to speak at universities because unless people are well educated, they find it very hard in the modern economy to find good jobs. They find it very hard in the modern economy to make various entrepreneurial development possible.
I come from a University -- Stanford University, which sits in California. It's in Northern California and it's in an area that is called the Silicon Valley. Now, why is it called the Silicon Valley? It's because of the chip, the silicon chip, that basically started the whole computer revolution. And much of the progress in the computer revolution has taken place right near where I lived and right near Stanford University. And it's no accident that a great university and economic development and innovation and new ideas all come together right in a very small area of California. I think a great university, which has great science and great engineering and great ideas in people like you, can be one of the most important forces for economic development in Ukraine and I think Ukraine will have a very bright economic future.
Any questions up here? Okay. We haven't had a guy yet, so we're going to --
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Anton Spigonoff (ph) and I'm from the Institute of Foreign Languages here at Shevchenko University and I would like to ask you the following. Do you know that the members of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, they have an immunity to certain kinds of responsibility? Do you know that?
SECRETARY RICE: I didn't. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Oh. I'm sorry.
SECRETARY RICE: That's all right. I believe you. Go ahead.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. I was very excited. I mean, don't you think that this is a controversy to the rule of law?
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. Do you mean that they have immunity against certain kinds of prosecution? Is that --
QUESTION: Yes. Yes, that's what I mean.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. Uh-huh, yeah. Well, I don't know the specifics of the law. I will say that, in general, in democracies you do not want special arrangements for people who are governing because nobody should be above the law. Everybody should be subject to the law. Now, sometimes governments will say if you or, for that matter, companies or others will say if you are in -- if you're trying to carry out your duties and something happens, then you can be -- we call it indemnified or (inaudible) that someone will defend you against that because you were trying to carry out your duties. So I don't know whether this is a general exemption from law or something more specific. But it's a good question and it's a question that you should really -- I mean, do you have a representative? Do you know who your representative is in the Duma, somebody you would vote for?
QUESTION: Well, not yet.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay. So you're getting ready to choose your -- who you'll vote for.
QUESTION: (Off-Mike.) Sorry. I'm sorry. I'm only going to vote in the next elections. I only turned 18 last year.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay. So you'll vote for the first time in these upcoming elections.
SECRETARY RICE: I would ask that question of every candidate so that you know what they think about the question you've just asked. It's a very important question and I think you should ask it of the candidates.
QUESTION: Sure. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Good. Okay. Yeah, right here.
QUESTION: Yazod Digord (ph). Okay. (In Russian.)
SECRETARY RICE: Did somebody tell him to ask -- no. (Laughter.) I like what I'm doing. I like being Secretary of State. And it takes a special person to run for office or to run for any kind of office in the United States or any place else and I've just never seen myself as somebody who wanted to run for office. It's not something that I want to do.
I never -- anybody in here, a member of the student government or anything like that? Do you have student government? Yeah, you are. Yes. Well, I never even ran for student government when I was in school. So I don't think I have the desire to run for office. And I most certainly don't have the desire to run for President because that's a really hard job. I think that it is extremely important that good people do run for office though. And in a country like yours where a lot is changing and where people are voting for the first time for people who really will represent their views, I hope that you will consider public service and you will consider running for election. I just don't happen to want to do it.
SECRETARY RICE: You can go next.
QUESTION: My name is Macorik Merensky (ph). Have you had any funny experience in terms of American-Ukrainian relationships? Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) Yes. Funny experiences in terms of Ukrainian-American relationships. Well, probably many, but I'm not sure I can tell you. No, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. I don't know about funny experiences. I've had a lot of sort of surprising experiences.
But I'll tell you one well before Ukrainian democracy came into being. I was here in 1994. And Ukraine was about to have elections, but nobody was quite sure whether those elections would be real elections. I mean, it was not that long after independence. And I remember that the atmosphere was just kind of wild, I guess, chaotic a little bit. And I remember one sign for a candidate who was from a very reactionary party, maybe even -- I don't think he called himself from the Fascist Party, but from a very reactionary party. And the poster said: "Vote for me and you will never have to vote again." (Laughter.) And I thought, okay, that's quite a campaign slogan. (Laughter.)
Fortunately, I don't think there are any of those campaign posters around anymore in Ukraine. And it shows what can happen in 11 years. The memories now of Ukraine for me are being here in 2001, meeting people from civil society, being very impressed with the growth of nongovernmental organizations, with civil society, and then seeing civil society play the really important role that it did in the Orange Revolution. So when I think about Ukraine, I now think about that, rather than 1994.
Yes. I'll come back to you. You still have a question. Okay, so right there.
QUESTION: For the question about your student years, would you please tell us what has sparked your interest in studying Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during your years at the university?
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Of course. Well, the truth of the matter is that I went to college to be a piano major. And I started to study piano when I was a very little girl. I was three and half years old and so I could read music before I could read words. So all through my life, I thought I would be a great concert pianist. And I still play and I still practice from time to time. But I kept meeting, as I would go to more and more competitions, and I kept meeting really good pianists. Mostly, I was already 17 or so and they were 11-years old and I thought, I'm never going to be that good. And so I went back home to my parents and I told them that I wanted to change my major.
Now, I had already finished two years of college. And so as you might imagine, Professor, my parents were a little nervous because they wondered how many more years of college are we looking at here as she changes her mind about what she's going to do. And I remember that my father was particularly concerned and I said something to my parents like, "What, you see, it's my life. I have to be happy in my life." And my parents said, "But we're paying for college and so we have to be happy, too." (Laughter.)
And so I went back in my junior year determined to find a new major. And in my -- the spring quarter of my junior year, I took a course on the Soviet Union and it was taught by an East European man. His name was Joseph Corbell. He had fled Czechoslovakia after the war. You know who Madeleine Albright is. She was the first woman Secretary of State. Mr. Corbell was her father and he opened up a whole world to me about Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and I decided I should learn Russian. I loved the language and so that's how I got interested. But it's -- there's a lesson in it, which is that there was no reason, no rational reason for me to be interested in the Soviet Union. I don't have any Russian blood that I know of. I had never been to the Soviet Union at that time and yet I became very, very interested in it. And so what I would say to you is, you never know what you might become interested in.
People have asked me, well, why are you interested in Russia or why did you become interested in Eastern Europe? And I would say to them, it's a little bit like love, you can't explain why it happens to you. And so I would say to you, find what it is you love. Find what it is you're just interested in because you're interested in it and you'll be better at doing it, so that's how I became interested in the Soviet Union.
QUESTION: Secretary Rice, you are well known through the world as a very successful woman and I -- but I suppose that you must have met a lot of obstacles on your way to the reaching aim. And so how did you overcome and how do you overcome all the difficulties in your life? And so what is your recipe for success?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I grew up in a time in the United States when the South of the United States, where I grew up in Alabama, was a place that had laws that literally made -- segregated black people and white people and discriminated against black people very much. You could not go into a restaurant. You could not stay in a hotel. You couldn't go to certain universities if you were a black American. So I grew up in Alabama at a time when there appeared to be great obstacles to success.
But I credit my parents with the way that they thought about those obstacles and the way that they taught me about them because they didn't say, "Oh, that's an obstacle that you cannot overcome." Their view was always, if you worked hard enough and you were well prepared enough and you didn't let anybody get in your way, then you could overcome any obstacle. And that's the way they taught me and that's the way that they brought me up.
Now, the laws in the United States had to change in order to make that a reality. And indeed, one reason that I know, as an American, that democracy is hard and that it takes a long time to really have a full democracy, is that I was born at a time when America's democracy didn't even work for me and for people like me. And I'm not that old, I'm old, but not that old. (Laughter.) So because I grew up with parents who told me don't let that obstacle get in your way, I think whenever I've met obstacles along the way, I've had that little voice in the back of my head that says, you just have to keep pushing through. You just have to overcome it.
I'm also, by nature, kind of an optimistic person and I believe that things that seemed impossible one day, several days later, you think, oh, that had to happen that way. So I think a combination of how I was brought up and a kind of natural optimism has made me determined not to see obstacles but rather to see challenges -- things can be challenging, they can be hard. But an obstacle suggests that there's something blocking your way. And I think if you think of it not as something blocking your way, but something that can be moved, then you have a better outlook on life.
SECRETARY RICE: Let's see. How about right here on the end?
QUESTION: Good morning. My name Yamon Kunfaounder (ph). Dr. Rice, could you tell us your opinion about withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops from Iraq? And would it have an influence on relationship between Ukraine and the United States of America?
Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, first of all, Ukraine deployed troops to Iraq when the Iraqi people needed it most. They deployed troops to Ukraine when the Iraqi people were not yet -- didn't yet have a government in place. We weren't yet in the process of training their forces. And when Ukraine made the decision, the sovereign decision, that it needed to withdraw its forces, it did so in consultation with the other allies. And it did so in a way so as to not endanger the lives of others in the coalition. And so we appreciated that very much. So Ukraine did its duty and that is appreciated.
Ukraine has expressed an interest in and continues to work on training of Iraqi forces. And really now, our key goal has to be to train Iraqi forces so that Iraqis can do this work on their own. So the way that this came about we understood. It has not had an effect on U.S.-Ukrainian relations. We appreciate what Ukraine did. And we appreciate now that Ukraine is prepared to contribute in some other ways to stability and democracy in Iraq.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.) Thanks. (Inaudible) and what can you say about the world ecological problems? Why didn't America take part to accepting of the Kyoto Protocol?
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. This is about the Kyoto Protocol and environmental issues. Let me start with just the fact that the United States has today cleaner water and cleaner air than it's ever had. When I was a little girl growing up in places like Alabama the air wasn't very clean and I remember that the rivers weren't very clean. And everybody, including Americans, want to live in a clean environment.
We also are very concerned about the challenges of global climate change. Do you know that the United States spends $5.8 billion on climate change issues, either on trying to make incentives for people to move to new technologies or the research on climate change so that we know more about why there is a warming of the earth. And we are, therefore, very actively involved in climate change.
Now, as to the Kyoto Protocol, it was the American view that the Protocol, as it was structured, did not address a couple of problems. One is that it did not permit growth in economies like ours. There were estimates that it would have seriously retarded or diminished growth in the United States. And given the American role as an economic engine in the world, you don't want American growth to diminish. You want American growth to keep going.
Secondly, that because the Kyoto Protocol did not cover developing countries like China and India, it was not going to have the desired effect in terms of greenhouse gas intensity. And so the United States has been following a path, first of all, to diminish greenhouse gas intensity as we improve the technologies that are driving energy in our economy. The President has gone to Congress to get a wide variety of new technologies that are clean: clean coal, to try to restart the nuclear industry in the United States, nuclear energy industry. And we have signed on with a number of countries around the world to try and make growth, the environment and energy all a part of the same package.
So we have, for instance, something called the Asia-Pacific Partnership, which has China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States, Australia, as a part of it. I'm sorry, not Japan -- South Korea, the United States, Australia, China and India. Japan and others have expressed an interest in what we're going to do in that partnership. And so that partnership is an example of how countries can come together to pursue, simultaneously, growth, environmental responsibility and clean energy. And so that has been our way of dealing with the issue.
We also, at the G-8 meetings at Gleneagles in Great Britain, had a series of G-8 led initiatives on the environment and global climate changes, so I think we're doing a lot in this area.
Maybe a couple more questions. Yes.
QUESTION: My name is Illian (ph) and I'm from Foreign Language Department and I've got sort of a private question to you. Ms. Rice, you are the most influential woman in the President Bush surrounding. Is it challenging to be a woman politician?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's interesting because, you know, Illian (ph), since I've never been anything else, it's a little hard to say. I don't know what it would be like to be a man in this position and so it's a little hard to say.
I suppose there are some things that are challenging. Clearly, there are still, out there in the world, stereotypes about women and about what women can and cannot do. I remember a general from a country that I will not name, several years ago, when I was a young professor, because I was interested in military issues in my academic career. And he asked me, well, why is a nice girl like you interested in these military things? I mean, why aren't you doing something else? I guess like cleaning or cooking or whatever. But he was determined to find out why a woman would be interested in military things. And I said to him, because I am. I don't have to give you an explanation for why I'm interested in these things.
And so sometimes I do think, particularly when you're younger, it affects me much less now because now people, I think, respond to me more as the Secretary of State than as a woman Secretary of State. But when you're younger -- and some of you young women will face it, particularly if you go into a non-traditional field, people will have questions that just drive you crazy about why you're interested in that, do you intend to stick with that after you're married, what will happen and so forth and so on. And you have every right to tell them that you are in this because you're interested in it. You intend to be good at it. And essentially, they should get used to the idea. So I think I have less of that problem now. But early on in my career, sure, I ran into it quite a bit.
I can say one thing about President Bush: I don't run into it with President Bush. You might notice that there have been a lot of, first of all, powerful women in President Bush's life: his mother, his wife, he's got two daughters in whom he invests a lot of interest that they do well. But he's also had a lot of women in his Cabinet and always a part of his policymaking apparatus. Our Secretary of Education is a woman, Margaret Spellings, who was with the President in Texas. Our Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, is a woman. Our Secretary of the Interior is a woman, Gale Norton. The President has always had a lot of strong woman around him. And I can tell you, that being in a meeting with him, there's no difference in how he listens to you because you're female or not.
Let's see, we'll take your question.
QUESTION: (Inaudible), Institute of Journalism. I've got that you got the nickname the "Warrior" -- "The Warrior Princess" -- and do you think this is objective nickname? And if yes, why or why not? What were the reasons? What things you did or maybe said that caused you?
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. (Laughter). Well, I should have our press, who dreamed up that name, talk to you. "Warrior Princess" -- it's not how I think of myself.
First of all, I think it probably has to do with the fact that we in this Administration have had the challenge of actually fighting two wars. And so maybe people see it through that light. I think also sometimes that, again back to the question I was asked before with women, it's kind of a sense of are you somebody who takes on challenges and answers in a kind of challenging way and does that make you a "Warrior Princess"? I think that's probably why.
I will tell you this: the pictures that have gone with it are terrible. I've been in everything from -- has anybody here seen the movie "The Matrix"? Did anybody see that movie? Yeah, I was in a Matrix outfit one time. I looked one time like Wonder Woman, you know, in one of those bathing suit things and the hat. So the pictures have been pretty awful but whatever people want to say is fine. I tend not to think of myself that way, though.
Hey, can we have maybe two more questions. You've got one here.
QUESTION: My name is Lech (ph) and I'd like to ask you just -- Ukraine is looking forward to entering the World Trade Organization. And I would like to ask if the U.S. Government is going to help and support Ukraine to enter the WTO?
And also I would like to tell (inaudible) that Ukraine faced a really great challenge last year, but still we will face another election in several months. So will the U.S. Government and some maybe representatives help Ukraine to keep the democracy we really got?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, on the WTO, I spent a lot of time talking to President Yushchenko and to the Prime Minister and I'll see Mr. Tarasyuk later on today, my counterpart. And yes, we do want Ukraine to succeed in getting into the WTO. And we are engaged in pretty technical talks about how Ukraine can make its laws consistent with the WTO, what kinds of tariffs the Ukraine has to get rid of before it can come into the WTO. And so we're working very hard with Ukraine.
Now, the WTO has certain rules that you have to be able to meet, certain steps that you have to be able to take. And we can't accelerate Ukraine beyond what it is capable of doing, but we want very much Ukraine to be a part of the WTO, so we're working very hard.
We are also helping non-governmental organizations and helping people who want to form those organizations. But we won't be involved in the political process here because it's not the job of the United States to choose the leaders of Ukraine; that's the job of the Ukrainian people. And while we can do whatever we can to encourage democracy here, to encourage non-governmental organizations to work to support democratic processes here, to provide election observers if that's necessary and so forth, it really is more now up to you.
Ukraine has won its democracy the hard way. You won in the streets in the Orange Revolution, when hundreds of thousands of people went out into the street and refused to accept the election results that they knew were fraudulent and that it was unfair. And I know -- I was talking with the Ambassador. It was cold outside. It was uncomfortable outside. And yet people stood their ground and they insisted on a democratic resolution of the issue. And you got one. But now, you have to defend it. And that means you have to vote when you have the chance. It means you have to work for candidates when you have the chance. It means you have to ask tough questions of the candidates so that you know who you're voting for. It's important to be an educated voter.
It also means that you have to be really willing to accept that some people will be defeated and some people will win, that's the nature of democracy. And if the people that you voted for don't win, you can't withdraw from the process. You have to keep staying a part of the process. You have to demand that the press is free. These are things now that Ukrainian citizens have to demand. And so, we can help, but only Ukrainians now can secure their own democracy.
All right, one last question. You have it, right in the middle.
QUESTION: Foreign Languages Department, Irina Levic (ph). I'd like to ask a question, which deals actually with student life. Well, are there any common projects between American students organizations of self-government and Ukrainian organizations of self-government. Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. Good. Well, first of all, I believe very strongly in exchanges of students and young people between our two countries and I know that there are exchanges. I know there are some short-term exchanges where people come for maybe a couple of weeks. There are some longer terms where you could study at an American university and Americans can study here. And so we very much want to have that happen.
But as to organizations that put together, for instance, student government organizations or student journalists organizations, you know, I bet if you wanted to start one, if there aren't ones, you could. Because there would be many, many American students who would like nothing better than to have a Ukrainian partner organization of student government. I can just imagine the kids at a place like Stanford, where I taught, or at George Washington in Washington or any American university because Ukraine is well known to the American people. That's why we have a lot of people of Ukrainian descent in the United States.
We also all watched what happened here in the Orange Revolution. And so I'm quite certain that if you're interested in finding Americans who might be interested there are a couple of ways to do it. One is the internet. I'm sure you can go on to the internet and find people who might want to be doing it. Or talk to our Embassy. There's our Ambassador, he's sitting right down the front. (Laughter.) Talk to our Embassy about getting some of these exchanges started because I think it would be a great idea.
Well, thank you very much. It was really fun to spend some time with you and you're the -- not just the future of Ukraine, you're the present of Ukraine, too. So all the best to you in your studies and all the best to you in defending and protecting your democracy.
(Applause.) 2005/T20-07
Released on December 7, 2005

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