Remarks With Prime Minister Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Sal, Cape Verde
August 14, 2009



SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mr. Prime Minister, I am absolutely delighted to be here today with you in this beautiful heart of your country. I bring greetings from President Obama, who joins me in commending you, Prime Minister, your government, and the people of Cape Verde, for making your nation a model of democracy and economic progress in Africa.

We are proud to be your partner. We have a relationship, as you said, that dates back to 1818. That's when the first U.S. consulate was established here. But we also have had a very rich relationship since your independence. And today the Prime Minister and I discussed ways in which we can strengthen that partnership, to further enhance economic growth, security, counter-narcotics operations, the promotion of democracy, human rights, and good governance in Africa.

I commended the Prime Minister on Cape Verde's economic advances, and of course, its successful implementation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact. Cape Verde was the first of three countries to receive an MCC compact. It has been very successful. The 5-year, $110 million compact, which began in 2005, is improving access to credit, markets, and social services, increasing agricultural productivity, expanding roads and the country's infrastructure, and helping to carry out key policy reforms for sustainable development.

I appreciated the Prime Minister describing to me how the Millennium Challenge process has helped to transform the government of Cape Verde: more accountability, more transparency, more results. And that, as I told the Prime Minister, was music to my ears.

I am also pleased that, as a result of the African Growth and Opportunity Act conference in Nairobi last week, we will work more closely with Cape Verde to fully capitalize on the possibilities of duty free exports to the United States under AGOA. We are confident that continued economic reforms will stimulate growth in tourism, commerce, transport industries, and more.

I thank the Prime Minister for the important role that Cape Verde has played on behalf of regional security in West Africa. This country hosted an ECOWAS meeting on counter-narcotics strategy last October. And we will explore more specifically how we can work together to combat narcotics and human trafficking in the Atlantic corridor.

We also support the government's efforts to transition more to a sustainable, clean energy economy. Cape Verde's current energy generation will be insufficient to meet the current needs and projected needs of the growth in the tourism industry. The government recently announced its goal to produce 25 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2011, raising that to 50 percent by 2020. This will not only be good for the environment and the economy of Cape Verde, but will be a contribution to our global efforts against climate change.

Cape Verde is also the only country in all of Africa where women make up more than half of the government's cabinet ministers. And I congratulated, as you might expect, the Prime Minister on achieving that milestone of gender equity and opportunity. I think the United States could actually learn a lot from your example, Mr. Prime Minister.

And we are pleased that our embassy is working in partnership with the government to address the challenge of domestic violence. I told the Prime Minister that, in preparation for my visit to Africa, I have a sheet of paper for each country. And for each country there were many more problems than positives. And Cape Verde, there are so many more positives, and just very few problems.

Throughout this trip I have conveyed the message that President Obama and I feel so strongly about. As he said in his historic speech in Ghana, and as I have amplified on this trip across the African continent, "America believes in Africa's promise." But we know that America does not control the future for any country. We know that, just as the President said, the future of Africa is up to Africans. So the future of this country is up to your countrymen and women.

Few places, however, demonstrate the promise of Africa better than Cape Verde. Some places have certain aspects that can be comparable. But no place has put it all together, with good governance, transparency, accountability, the rule of law, a democracy that is delivering for its people, lifting them out of poverty, putting them now in a category of middle-income countries in the world.

We are proud, Mr. Prime Minister, to be your friend and your partner. And we look forward to an even stronger and closer relationship in the years to come. Thank you for welcoming us so warmly to Cape Verde.


SPEAKER: (Speaks in Portuguese.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And I have already told your foreign minister and your prime minister that I intend to come back to Cape Verde, to see more of the country. I understand that the landscape is different on different islands, and I can't wait to tell my husband about a place that I don't think he has ever been, which is kind of a first, and to try to have the opportunity to come back in a more leisurely way. So, thank you for that kind invitation.

You know, the United States is already cooperating with the government of Cape Verde on police training, offering assistance from the FBI on specific aspects of crime-fighting technology. We are ready to expand and extend our assistance on maritime security, because we share the concern that you have stated. Cape Verde is strategically located: 300 miles from the west African coast, and the Atlantic corridor from the Americas to Africa to Europe. And the good governance and the accomplishments of this country are so remarkable and commendable, that we want to work with you to make sure that you have the security and the safety of your country that you deserve to have.

And that, of course, means a strategy against trafficking of all kinds, of drugs, of people, of guns, illegal immigration, the problems that we are worried about in the world today. So we are going to be discussing further and in more detail with your government what the needs are of your country. And we and others, obviously, stand ready to help you meet those needs.

MODERATOR: Scott Stearns, from Voice of America, please.

MR. STEARNS: Thank you. Question Niger and Bissau, please. Mamadou Tandja has won the referendum to extend his time in office. Madame Secretary, will the Obama administration consider sanctions against the Tandja government?

And, Mr. Prime Minister, as a member of ECOWAS, do you support ECOWAS following through on its threats to sanction, if the Tandja government (inaudible)?

On Bissau, Malam Bachai Sahna has now been elected president. To both of you, what can the international community and Cape Verde, ECOWAS, do to make sure that there is security sector reform in Bissau, before the military moves against President Sahna?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will let the Prime Minister respond first, because he is intimately involved in working on those difficult problems.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Obviously, the United States is deeply concerned about developments in both Niger and Guinea-Bissau. The internal conflicts that have been going on pose a great threat to stability within those countries, and beyond their borders. The very real challenge that drug traffickers now pose, particularly in Guinea-Bissau, is one that endangers a much broader region of West Africa and beyond.

So, we are looking closely and engaging in dialogue within our own government, and with our partners, both on the African continent and beyond, as to the best steps that can be taken to try to change the behavior within the regimes and within the countries, with respect to their internal conflict, but also to provide greater support and protection against the scourge of the criminal cartels of drug traffickers.

We haven't yet decided on the exact and precise steps we're going to take, because our goals are to make changes in both countries. And that is always a challenge, as to whether you try to sanction and isolate them, and lose influence with them -- it's an issue for the countries in ECOWAS, it's obviously an issue for us -- or whether you take a very hard line against them to try to force changes, coming in from below within the government. So, we are looking at that closely. We haven't yet made a determination as to the best way forward.

MODERATOR: (Speaks in Portuguese.)

QUESTION: (Speaks in Portuguese.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it is important to underscore the commitment that both President Obama and I have to elevate our relationship with Africa. As you know, very early in his term he came to Africa. He considers himself a son of Africa. He spoke out about what he hoped to see happening in African countries.

Shortly after the President's historic speech, I have made this 7-nation, 11-day trip through Africa to amplify and emphasize our commitment to a partnership with Africa, working to help individual African countries and governments and democracy on the rule of law, on development, on security. And I intend to work very hard, along with our team in the State Department and USAID, to follow through on the dialogues that we have had across the continent.

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PRN: 2009/T11-51