Interview on Haydi Gel Bizimle Ol

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ankara, Turkey
March 7, 2009

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Welcome to Turkey. Welcome to our program. Ten years later, you are once more in Turkey. You first came to Turkey as First Lady, now as Secretary of State. According to you, during the last seven years, with the AKP government, in what way Turkey has changed? What is your impressions, according to some U.S. politicians? Do you think Turkey is going in the way of a moderate Islamic country or in another way?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, thank you. Thank you for having me here with you today. And I am so happy to be back in Turkey. I have had wonderful times here before, and I especially remember my husband’s visit when we came in 1999, right after the earthquake, and had a chance to really see firsthand the courage and the strength and resilience of the Turkish people.

I believe that Turkey is demonstrating, as I discussed with the prime minister and the foreign minister today, that democracy and modernity and secularism and Islam can all coexist. That is an extraordinary model for the world. So I’m enthusiastic and optimistic about not only Turkey’s future, but the future of our relationship and our partnership. I really consider Turkey’s commitment not only to growth and development and reform within Turkey to be important, but the role that Turkey is playing as a global leader increasingly is very significant.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Ms. Secretary, when you look at the foreign politics of USA, do you think USA is trying to soften its foreign policy with a feminine face? Because when you look at a woman Secretary of State, they were as tough as men in foreign politics. Are you going to be different than the former women Secretary of State? Are you going to be more feminine, more peaceful? How are you going to – what kind of a Secretary of State you will be?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I hope I’ll be a good one. (Laughter.) I hope that I will represent my country and our values and our interests effectively, and I hope that I will demonstrate to the rest of the world that with our new Administration, President Obama is sending a message that we want the United States once again to be working together with friends like Turkey and others.

I got into politics many years ago because I really was committed to children. I wanted to do anything I could to help children live up to their God-given potential. That’s how I see my role as Secretary of State. What can I do to further peace and prosperity and understanding so that every child, whether that child is in Ankara or that child is in Alaska, that child will have an opportunity to, you know, fully explore and develop whatever talents that boy or girl has. And I think that’s a better way of looking at foreign policy than a lot of the serious talk that sometimes goes on.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Ms. Secretary. Of course, we have guests in our studio and they want to ask questions to you, too. Mary Ungul from Istanbul will ask a question to you.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I was a First Lady and I know how important that role is, and I think that Michelle Obama is doing a wonderful job. And she is also balancing her responsibilities very well. She has two young children and she has put their well-being first, because it’s hard when your father is elected president and you’re still a child. And so it’s really important to make sure that their two little girls have a really positive home life, and she is 100 percent committed to that. So I think she’s going to be a very effective ambassador for our country.

And I am excited because I was able to announce earlier with the foreign minister that President and Mrs. Obama will come to Turkey in about a month. We’re still finalizing the date, but I was thrilled when the White House called on the plane as we were coming and was able to finalize this decision, which I’m excited about as a demonstration of the very high value that the President and I place on our relationship with Turkey.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) From day one, you have been a huge supporter of your husband’s political career at every phase. Why did you decide to wait for the end of his political career to start your own political career? You waited for him to end his own political career. Do you believe that women always have to wait for their turn to come after the men? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think every person has to make the decision that is right for her. And when my husband was in politics as a governor of Arkansas in the United States, I practiced law and I was involved in many NGOs that were working on women’s rights and caring for children. I never thought I would run for politics. It’s not anything that I personally thought I would do.

When he became President – there is so much to be done as First Lady that I found rewarding and important. And toward the end of his term when people approached me about running for the Senate from New York, I initially said absolutely not, I wasn’t going to do it. I wanted to stay involved in helping people and working on policy, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to run for office myself. But eventually, I decided to try it, and I loved being a senator. And then, as you know, I ran for president and we had a very vigorous election contest between Barack Obama and myself.

And then I thought I would go back to being a senator. And totally unexpectedly, President Obama called and asked me if I would be Secretary of State. And I never would have predicted that.

So my life has been unpredictable. I did not wake up and say, well, I think I’ll do this. I kind of woke up and said, well, what’s happening today? But I’ve been very blessed. I’ve had an extraordinarily just exciting and rewarding, challenging set of experiences, and I’m very grateful for that.

A PARTICIPANT: Very warm – sorry. Okay, go ahead.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) One more question. One more question. From (inaudible). This question is coming from (inaudible).

QUESTION: Hello, Ms. Secretary. When was the last time you fell in love and felt like a simple person with a simple life?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I heard the first part of the question: When was the last time I fell in love? And it was so long ago with my husband, I’m trying to remember. (Laughter.)

But what was the second question?

QUESTION: Well, the second part, you felt like a simple person with a simple life?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, my husband and I have been married since 1975. We met when we were in law school and we met in the spring of 1971, and we’ve been talking to each other and enjoying our life together ever since. So I guess a long time ago is what I would say. (Laughter.)

But because of the life that I have led over the last 17 years, ever since Bill was elected President, it’s very hard to go out shopping and just enjoy yourself with your friends. It’s hard to go to a restaurant and have just a meal with some people that you want to talk to without being recognized, without people talking to you. But I think that my favorite times are when my husband and my daughter and I are together and we do simple things. I mean, we go to the movies, we talk and play games together, card games and board games. We go for long walks. I try to do that every chance I can with my husband. And my daughter is busy with her own life now, but when she can join us.

So it’s not easy, but I work really hard to find those quiet times when the spotlights aren’t on and when you can just be yourself and be with people that you enjoy and love. And those are the best times in life.

A PARTICIPANT: A very warm welcome to you, Ms. Secretary, again.


A PARTICIPANT: We are glad to see you here among us. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. I’m delighted to be here.

A PARTICIPANT: I’ll continue my question in Turkish. I hope you don’t mind.


A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) In our global world, there is an Orientalist look, and because of that no distinction is made among different culture of East Orient. They make no distinctions. Some people still believe that we are traveling with flying carpets. So what do you think about this Orientalist perception, depending on your experiences? What do you think about this Orientalist perception?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the world is getting smaller, and we are more connected. I learned a fascinating fact when I was reading up on coming on this show, and I knew you’d have so many young people in the audience. And so I asked, well, what are some of the similarities and common experiences of young Americans and young Turkish citizens. And American and Turkish young people are number one and number two in the world in using Facebook.

A PARTICIPANT: Oh, yeah, yeah.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Who knew, right? I mean, I found that fascinating that our two cultures are networking cultures, whether it’s going to a coffee shop or visiting with a friend, or going on Facebook. And I think that there’s a lot that we have in common, but what makes it even more interesting are our differences, that we have different experiences, different histories, different backgrounds. And so there’s a richness there, and I’m very excited about increasing the numbers of young Americans who come to Turkey to study and young Turkish students who go to the United States to study.

We announced a program with the foreign minister today where we’re going to increase the exchanges. Because I think our two countries have a lot in common. We have our differences. But our values and our alliance are really important, not only to ourselves but to the rest of the world. Turkey is looked at as a real leader. I talked with the prime minister and the foreign minister about many of the ways in which Turkey is helping the rest of the world.

I have to say that Turkey has gotten through this financial crisis because of good leadership – better than my country and better than most other countries. So there is much to learn from Turkey and there is much to be admired about Turkey. So I think it’s good to have the differences mixed in with all of the common experiences.


A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Ms. Clinton, (inaudible) the coffee age (inaudible) would you like to have a Turkish coffee with us when we are continuing our (inaudible) with sugar, no sugar, a little sugar, a lot of sugar?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m a medium amount of sugar person. (Laughter.) Somebody said that I’m always trying to find the middle, which is probably true because I think that it’s exciting to be on both ends, but life is mostly lived in the middle and trying to get along with people and find a way that makes sense in your own life. So when it comes to coffee, I’m a middle sugar person. (Laughter.)

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Okay. With middle sugar, coffee is coming. Now let’s speak about sweet things. We are expecting you to be sensitive about the children killed in Gaza, women killed in Iraq, the problems in the southeast region of Turkey, as you are about the problems of your own people. So when are you going to take some concrete steps about these problems? What are you planning to do to win the hearts and minds of anti-Americans?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I was in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on Monday, and I talked about the humanitarian crisis and the suffering in Gaza, because it is a matter that concerns me personally and concerns President Obama and our government. So we pledged more than $900 million that we hope will alleviate the suffering and begin the rebuilding of Gaza.

There is so much in the world today that we know about that maybe 10, 20, certainly 50 years ago we wouldn't have known about. And I think it’s important that we keep our eyes open, that we do see the suffering. Now, we can’t perhaps wave a magic wand or get on that flying carpet and eliminate the suffering. But we can all, each of us, do something.

Some of it’s close to home. I’ve spent a lot of time working to get healthcare for children in America that don’t have it. And some of it is in places where, because of war and conflict, particularly women and children have been abused and victimized. And we have to join together as an international community to further a common humanity.

That’s one of the big challenges in the 21st century. We can enjoy our differences, but we can’t see each other as aliens anymore. We can’t say, well, he’s a different religion or she’s a different color, so they’re less human somehow. And I think the United States bears a special responsibility for standing up for universal human rights and human values, but not just talking about it, actually working together to do something. And I’m particularly concerned about the way that war and conflict affects people, and children and women are my particular, you know, passion.

So as Secretary of State, I’m going to do what I can. I’ve been Secretary of State, I think, about six weeks and three or four days. But I think you’ve noticed that we are changing so much because of President Obama. We are not pursuing many of the policies. President Obama announced we will withdraw from Iraq. Now, that doesn't mean we’re going to walk away from Iraq, but we’re going to move our military forces out of Iraq and instead work with the Iraqis, as I know the Turkish Government and people are, to help them have a strong, flourishing democracy like Turkey does. So there’s a lot to do, and I look forward to working with NGOs as well as governments.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) When you are drinking your coffee now, we will have a question from (inaudible).

QUESTION: Hello (inaudible). How did your family life change after you became an active politician?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I didn’t get that translated.

A PARTICIPANT: How did your family life change after you became an active politician?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I sacrificed a lot of my privacy, which I regret. I wish I didn’t have to. I like sitting in sidewalk cafés or in coffee shops and watching people, and that’s impossible for me now. I like going shopping and actually being able to shop, but that’s pretty hard as well. So it’s a little – the little daily activities and pleasures that you may not be able to enjoy quite as much.

But there are a lot of benefits, because I do feel like I can help people. When I was First Lady, I worked very hard to travel and listen to people who had problems and demonstrate not only our willingness to help, but then come with help and be there to provide whatever the United States could offer. When I was a senator I worked very hard to help the people of New York, who might lose a job or not be able to find healthcare. And now I’m in this new position, and I think it’s going to be possible for me to look for ways for the United States to deliver assistance to people and try to help those who are oppressed or suffering.

So I lose something, but I gain something. Now, that’s kind of life. You can’t have everything; you have to make choices. And I’m very excited that I get a chance to serve my country and work with President Obama.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) After swearing-in as Secretary of State, you made a speech in which you thanked your husband for a lifetime of all kinds of experiences, of course, both sweet and bitter. How did you manage to handle or overcome bitter experiences, with the power of politics or with the power of love?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, love. (Laughter). And forgiveness. And friendship and family. Family, faith, friends are the core of my life. And I don’t know anybody whose life is smooth sailing. If you meet such a person, I want to know them because I’ve lived a long time and have yet to meet that person.

And I’m so blessed because I have an extraordinary family that has supported me and has also gone along on this adventure together. And I had a friend, a woman who died a few years ago, who was a pioneering woman physician. She became a professor of medicine when that was not very common in the United States, probably 40 years ago. And she was asked one time, well, what has enabled you to overcome prejudice and discrimination as a woman and be a professor but also have a family. And she said something I’ve always remembered. She said, “I’ve had a wonderful life. I’ve been very privileged to have all of these positions and honors that I’ve been given. But my philosophy is that I have loved and been loved, and all the rest is background music.”


A PARTICIPANT: So love is the most important thing? (Via interpreter) I was raised in USA. Fifty years ago, the American women had to choose jobs, limited job selections, like nurses, being a nurse, being a secretary, being a model, an air stewardess. But during the last 50 years, there has been a great improvement, and now women are on the forefront in USA in the most important positions. You were about to become a president.

But the vice versa is true for Turkey, so during the last few years Turkish women are more in the background, more in the shadows in Turkey. And we say we don’t want our voice to be stopped. So according to your experiences, what are your recommendations to the Turkish women?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I admire the Turkish women that I have known and worked with over the years. And I know how important it is for Turkish women to support each other, as it is in any society. What is great about being a woman today in the 21st century in democracies like ours is that we do have opportunities that my mother never had. And we have to support each other in making the choices that are right for us.

It is so critical that democracies protect the right to choose a way of life, a set of decisions. So that for example, in the United States, I know women who are full-time wives and mothers and very rewarded. I know women who are full-time professionals and did not marry and did not have children. Most women are like me, balancing family and work and trying to do the best we can in each area. But it’s important that we get to make those choices, because that’s who we are. We’re not all alike. We don’t come out and be told, well, this is what you are because you’re a woman. No, I’m an individual. I’m a human being. I love being a woman and I want to have the choices that are available in society.

So I don’t think it’s any different. It’s just that in the United States or in Turkey it’s a constant discussion and, to some extent, struggle to be able to break down old ideas and barriers so that individuals have a chance, as I said earlier, to live up to your own God-given potential. It would be a tragedy if a young girl who was great at science was prohibited from becoming a scientist. And some societies in the world today don’t let half of their population contribute to their societies; they aren’t able to work or participate fully. And other societies, like yours and mine, we’re evolving, and we have to keep evolving.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Mrs. Clinton, now, you have met with prime minister and there has been a human rights report by U.S. State Department. Have you talked about this report? Because the prime minister was a little bit disturbed about this human rights report about Turkey. Did he ask you what kind of a report is this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: He did, actually. (Laughter.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. We discussed it. I understand completely the difficulty in balancing free speech and a very open, dynamic media, and being in politics, because I’ve been in politics and there were some days when the media never said a single sentence that was very positive about me. And it’s hard to balance the need to protect the freedom of speech, but to believe that the media doesn't understand you, isn’t reporting accurately, is not telling the full story. But I think Turkey has made remarkable progress over the last few decades in all kinds of areas of human rights, and so I really believe that Turkey will continue to do that.

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) The last question will come from (inaudible) because we are at – towards the end of our program. You have a very nice clothing line, so I want to ask you about your personal style in fashion. Are you choosing your own clothes or getting assistance? Are you choosing your husband’s clothes? And what do you think about Michelle Obama’s fashion, because she is criticized for wearing too much sleeveless clothes. What do you think? And I think it’s a very primitive discussion for USA; don’t you think so? I want to ask your personal style in fashion.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think Michelle Obama looks fabulous, and she has really become in a short period of time someone who many women look to and admire for not just the way she dresses, although that’s very attractive, but how she lives her life. And it’s kind of the whole package of who she is.


SECRETARY CLINTON: I have never had that talent, to be very honest with you. I look at you and some of the other very fashionable young women here and I tell my daughter that the fashion gene skipped a generation and she inherited it, but it’s passed me by. So I admire and like, you know, very good style, but it’s not something that I have a particular talent for. (Laughter.)

A PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much for being our guest today. We know that you have a very busy schedule. Now we would like to invite our guests to our stage and we would like to say goodbye altogether to our viewers, because this has been a very nice night and it will be a very nice picture, photograph.

PRN: 2009/T2-25