Our Ocean Town Hall Event in Valparaiso, Chile
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: (In Spanish.) Thank you very much.
PARTICIPANT: (Via interpreter) Thank you. (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Buenos dias, everybody. How are you? Good. All right. I’m testing your English – better than my Spanish.
What a pleasure for me to be here. Can you all see? Here, you want me to stand up? Is that better? There. I’ll stand up. It’s a real pleasure for me to be here. Mr. President, Senator Walker, thank you very much; Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for opening the congress. And my friend Heraldo Munoz is doing a spectacular job as your minister of foreign affairs, and he is also in the open an environmental activist, and I love it. Thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah, you should applaud for him, because he’s doing a great job. (Applause.) Thank you.
Heraldo very accurately described the challenge that we face – not that we face up here or that you face down there, but that we face together. And it’s not just you students here in Chile; it’s everybody on the planet who needs to understand how significant the challenge for all of us is today, because we’re behind. We’re late to this challenge. And there are three most significant parts of this challenge. One, all of the world’s fisheries are either overfished or about to be overfished. There’s so much money in so many countries, so many people – every restaurant you think of in every city in the world wants to serve fish. And there’s so many people looking for fish as their main diet. For many, many people in the world – about 3 billion – fish is the main food, the main source of protein. And there are about 600 million fishermen all – and women – all around the world going out and hunting fish.
The problem is there are also people fishing illegally – unregulated – vast areas of the ocean where people go out and they use fishing methods that have been prohibited. Let me give you an example. In the 1990s, when I was in the United States Senate, I learned about driftnet fishing, which is where they would drop thousands of miles of this monofilament fishing netting, and it would trap everything in the ocean. We used to say that it would strip-mine the ocean, if you’re familiar with strip-mining – the mining that just totally erases everything in front of it. Well, this would erase every fish in front of it. But guess what? Two-thirds or 50 percent of the fish catch they wouldn’t even use. They throw it overboard – kill it and throw it overboard. And they’d take what they wanted, and sometimes these nets would break off and they’d be lost at sea. But guess what? They would continue to fish. And they’d float up to the surface, they’d trap fish, they’d get heavy, they’d float down deep, crabs and other predators would eat the fish trapped in them, they’d lighten the load, and they’d rise again and fish again.
So another senator and I went to the United Nations, and we were able to work with the United Nations and stop that. But guess what? There are illegal people who still do it today, and we don’t have policemen in boats out in those unregulated areas. So they bring in their fish, load it into airplanes, and it flies to major cities in the world and people eat. And they don’t even know they’re eating illegally. So one of the things we’re talking about at this conference is how do we put enforcement in place in difficult places, and with modern technology this should be possible – to be able to track fishers, fishermen.
One of your groups here – are there any of you who are participating in the Fishackathon? Some of you here? Well, the Fishackathon is a group of young people here in Chile who put together a new application for smartphones and iPads and so forth where young people can learn about the sustainability of the fish that they’re eating, and they can track the fish and learn whether or not the fish they’re eating were caught the way they should be. So one huge problem: The fisheries of the world are in trouble.
Second big problem: Pollution that Heraldo talked about. But it’s not just plastic. There’s plastic pollution because people actually leave stuff on the beach or in the streets and a rainstorm comes along and it washes it into the water, or they throw it overboard on a ship. And plastic kills marine mammals, kills birds, fish, porpoises. But you also have other kinds of pollution. We – in the United States, we have fertilizer; you have the same thing. But our fertilizing can take place in states way up in the United States – Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota – different states. And it goes into the rivers and flows into the Mississippi, comes down out of the Mississippi, opens up into the Gulf, and we have 500 miles or more of dead zone where nothing grows, nothing lives. These dead zones are now showing up all around the world, because if you drip gasoline at a gas station and it rains, the gasoline will – runs off the road and goes down into the harbor or into the bay or into the river.
So everything we do is connected. How we develop, what kind of buildings you build, what they’re built with, where they’re built, all of this is critical and people need to think about it. But the pollution is having a huge impact on our oceans, and Heraldo – you heard about – from Senator Walker the huge amount of refuse out in the ocean. There’s a place in the Pacific Ocean, your immediate ocean, where it all collects and it goes around and around in a big current, in a big circle. Unbelievable amounts of plastic and wood and refuse that collects in the ocean.
And the final danger is climate change and acidification and the warming of the ocean. Because of the CO2 that goes up into the atmosphere, it comes down as rain, drops in the ocean, and it acidifies the ocean. And the acidification creates an acidic effect on lobsters and crabs and crustaceans, clams. And ultimately it could have a profound impact not only that but on coral reefs, on living reefs and so forth.
So all I want – all we want you to do is join us in an effort to be able to think more about the connection between the things we choose to do and how we choose to live and what it will do in the long term. There are students and activists here in Valparaiso who, I gather, have come together working with our embassy, and together they helped to paint a mural, the Caleta Membrillo, and I think it was specifically to stop people or to make – create awareness about recycling and plastic and waste.
So my hope is this: that this conference which we are very, very grateful to Chile and its government for leading for the second year – that is really important. That’s global leadership; it’s important leadership. And today, Chile’s announcements about setting aside over a million kilometers of ocean that will be protected forever is an enormous contribution to this global effort, and I congratulate Chile for doing that. But we have to do more, all of us. We have to keep the momentum going so that we can come together and protect our oceans. Why? Because our oceans are absolutely essential for life itself – not just the food, but the oxygen and weather cycles of the planet all depend on the relationship to the ocean. And if we destroy the appropriate, God-given cycle of the ocean, then we may injure or destroy life itself here on the planet.
There are scientists now who are telling us that the warming of the ocean and the changes of the ice melting in the Antarctic and the Arctic can have a profound impact on the major ocean currents. And those major ocean currents have been critical to the kind of climate that we all have been able to live with. If that changes, I can’t stand here and tell you what the impact will be, but I know that when you disrupt such a critical component of the life cycle, you are taking enormous risks. And all of us, if we’re aware of those risks, we have a major moral responsibility as a matter of simple precaution not to put future generations at risk.
So thank you for coming here to be part of this, and I look forward to answering questions with you. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much to Secretary Kerry for his words. And now the questions are all yours (inaudible). And we will start sending the microphone around – passing it around.
And first, how many people here would like to ask question? Please raise your hand. I think the Secretary of State will have to come to Chile more often. Okay, let’s use the microphone. Pass it around. And if you raise your hand – we have this gentleman in the back.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good morning. My name is Jorge (ph) and I have very specific – and it is related to economic policy. How can we relate the economic policy over the environmental policies? How is there a relationship that can be established? As the final boundary is always the ocean and it will always see the last drop of water that we will have on earth – so how will we solve this? How do you see that relationship?
SECRETARY KERRY: This is very important, very – Jorge (ph), thank you very much. It’s a very important question.
People in business have tried to scare people – like the coal industry, or other industries. And they try to scare people, saying you have to choose between the environment or jobs, or the economy. And that’s just not true. You do not have to choose between the environment and jobs. Good environmental policy, good energy policy will create jobs. And by the way, it will do it in a way that gives you much more good.
Let me give you an example. I’ve been working on the issue of climate change for years and we’ve always heard this argument, “Oh, we can’t – the United States can’t put restrictions on our automobiles so we have less CO2 because then we won’t be competitive with other countries.” But that’s not true because other countries also want their people to be able to breathe clean air and not get cancer from particulates in the atmosphere. And China now, even – we partnered this – two years ago I went to China. We made an agreement with China, and China is now helping to pull together countries to go to Paris this December so we can come up with a global agreement on climate change. And what they’ve come to understand is there’s a balance – there’s a balance.
I’ve been 30 years in public life, in elected life. I was in the Senate for 28 years. And very few issues, when you decide them in public life – Heraldo will tell you this, and so will the senator and the speaker – very few issues you get more than one good plus if you make the decision to do what you have to do. But in climate, it – climate change is solved by energy policy. Energy policy is the answer to climate. If we’re not powering our power plants with coal-fired power plant that has no scrubbers, no pollution elimination, then it just goes up into the atmosphere. But we have learned that we are able to provide power in many different ways now. The problem is some of it is a little bit more expensive. But that’s only more expensive when you think of the accounting system that people have today. It’s not really more expensive. Why? Because the effects of that bad pollution will create problems for people’s health. It creates problems for the environment that you have to remediate and fix. It creates problems for the ability of systems to be sustainable and therefore be good economically in the long run. And it can in the end cost you jobs, too, when your environmental regulators or somebody shuts it down because it’s bad.
So if you move now to new technologies, whether it’s wind or solar or biothermal or biomass or – there are all kinds of hybrids, even – gas mixed with solar and with wind. I mean, you can have all kinds of benefits. If you do that, ultimately you’re not paying the costs of the disruption of the climate where we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars now on a global basis in order to be able to fix the damage. Look at what’s happening with the floods. Literally, I woke up this morning and I was amazed by the typhoon in China and the flooding, by the intensity of the flooding in Europe. In America we have a community the President just declared national disaster. We had more rain in three hours than we’ve had in three months normally, and we have storms that are now 500-year storms or floods which used to be 100 years or 25 years in between.
So there’s something, obviously, going on. And in the end, if you move on energy policy, if you put in modern energy policy, you will improve your job market, you will improve the health of people in your country, you will live up to your environmental responsibility, you will reduce the amount of children who are affected by asthma during summertime because of the quality of the air, you will reduce the amount of cancer and billions of dollars that people get because of what happens with disruptors that enter the body in the course of breathing. I mean, how many good outcomes do you normally get in a decision? There are more good outcomes from deciding to change our energy policy and move to sustainable development policies than anybody could ever see in any other public policy choice I’ve ever seen.
So it is not a choice between the environment or jobs or the economy. A good economy in the 21st century should be an economy that is built on sustainability and on changes in our energy mix. And that’s what we have to do. (Applause.)
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: (Via interpretation) Our planet is talking to us. The planet is talking to us. It has headlined what the Secretary of State is mentioning in terms of the typhoons and the hurricanes and rains. I will give the microphone here so that we have another question.
QUESTION: (Via interpretation) I am a student working on my dissertation, and it is a modular platform. It floats and it has the ability to pull out plastic from the ocean and produce energy at the same time. I’m convinced that this is a tremendous need and it can really mean a tremendous change in what we are doing. The question would be: How can we work jointly? How can I obtain aid, help, and resources, because they’re needed, and to be able to clean what we have all made, which is to make our dirty – our planet really dirty? Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s a really – again, a good question, and it sounds very exciting. What kind of student are – you’re studying what? Engineering?
SECRETARY KERRY: Architecture. That’s great. I think both the United States and Chile are deeply involved in joint scientific and ocean research and so forth. We are very linked by our commitment to science and technology and research. And there’s a lot we do – and I think Heraldo may want to say something about this – but one of the things we are doing, and we’re already engaged in this, is creating grants – not big money but small grants and small involvement through our Energy Department for promising ideas like the one that you’ve described. Now, I would assume that Chile also has a sort of similar kind of incubator process, and later this morning I’ll be going with your president and with Heraldo to a small business center which is starting up, and these small business centers are extremely helpful. They’re specifically set up to help take an entrepreneur, somebody with a new idea, show them how they can help get the financial backing and begin to put their business together and create jobs. So it’s a great concept. I don’t know the technology of it, but it sounds – if you can pick up the plastic and create energy while you’re doing it, it sounds pretty smart to me. So I’ll leave it in Heraldo’s hands to make sure you get funded. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
FOREIGN MINISTER MUNOZ: (Via interpreter) Thank you. Thank you, John, for that. And we have to talk to the finance minister, but okay, the main aspect is – the first thing is to have your information so that my colleague, the ministry of the environment, could contact you. We want new ideas, the ones that can solve our environmental problems, and if possible, to be able to recover this plastic which is really waste debris and to create energy, which is one of the most important elements that our planet needs. We have a very expensive energy and we are making a tremendous effort in trying to obtain up to 2025 at least 25 percent of the energy that is being consumed coming from renewable sources. This is why the tremendous investment we’re doing in the north of Chile in solar energy and wind energy and other sources, and why not, maybe in the future the energy coming from the ocean, which is one of the most recent techniques in generating this energy. So all the ideas – all these ideas – please give us your email so that our offices can work with you, and those new ideas mean solutions later on.
But also I would like to develop on the first question when I – which I think is very important. There’s no contradiction between economic growth and caring for the environment and the care for our oceans. Why? Because you and the people around the world are requesting that the production of products should be done through sustainable efforts, and it is a tremendous good business to produce in a clean fashion. It’s very good business to export sustainably. And there are international markets that are not accepting products that have been produced in a non-sustainable fashion. That is the reality. Thus to be able to have good businesses, we have to be thinking that economic growth should be sustainable. That is what people are requesting. We want to use products that are healthy. We want to breathe clean air. We want to have a possibility of our ocean to be rich for our food and absorb 90 percent of heat, absorbing GHGs, and both things are fully compatible.
I think John mentioned it very well – we should not be afraid of those campaigns that are saying that we have to consider one thing or the other. Both things are possible, and as a matter of fact, the industry – the different environmental industries are creating employment. We are investing in wind energy, we’re investing in solar energy, and that generates employment, meaning that both things are compatible. And when confronted to the challenges, we have an obligation that economic development should respect the environment, should respect labor, should respect people. So it is all up to you too; you have to really push into this important sustainable growth that should consider the environment, that should respect the people. So thank you very much for these questions, because I believe that you are really receiving properly the nature of the problem. (Applause.)
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: Let’s go to other questions and let’s prepare the ones that we have by Twitter and video. So we’ll go straight to the – through Twitter we have the following question. It comes from Laura Perez (ph). She asked the questions because she’s emphasizing that that term does not exist in international law, so this question is through Twitter, Laura Perez, and it is for Mr. John Kerry.
SECRETARY KERRY: (Inaudible) it’s right on point. It’s something new. We have climate refugees today. There are people who have to leave where they were living because the drought is so significant they can’t grow food, or they’ve lost their water, or there are fights over wells in certain places and so they have to move in order to find a place. There are climate refugees in the world today – people who’ve had to move because of the rise of sea level or the changes in the thawing of the permafrost and so forth.
Now, it hasn’t reached a crescendo. It’s not at a level where the international community has yet codified, put it into law, in the context of it. But the day could come, if we don’t respond rapidly, you could have millions of climate refugees. You could have people moving from whole areas where today you can grow things and tomorrow you can’t. So I’d just say to you very quickly I think there is an increasing awareness – I hear this in all our international meetings now – people are talking about climate refugees. So I think it’s just a matter of time before it fits in under a category and countries have – and the refugee process has legitimately incorporated it into our policy. (Applause.)
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good morning. I am Daniela (ph), and I have two questions for you. The first is for John Kerry. And we know that United States is a key importer of seafood and fishing products, and there is significant regulation for other countries – applied to other countries that capture those products and then – and bring them into the United States. So I would like to know if the same regulation that is applied to non-national fleets is also applied to ships bearing the U.S. flag.
So the second question is for the other authorities, and this is a question related to – well, how can we secure a more sustainable country? By way of creating more awareness, correct? I think there’s two ways to do that. One, create awareness among our society through policy and politics and start at the school level. And what is being done for that? What is being done to strengthen institutions that work in the realm of marine or fishing – fisheries enforcement, for example?
SECRETARY KERRY: I’ll be very quick. The answer is yes, we apply the law to all of our own flags. We import – 90 percent of the fish that are eaten by Americans are imported. So we have a very strict – and we have a new measure called the ports measure, which is going to trace the sustainability of those fish no matter where they’re caught or no matter who catches them. We are going to begin to create greater accountability for how and where they were caught, and people will have greater knowledge of that. And that’s why this Fishackathon app that people can use at a young stage is being replicated in many different ways. You can sit on your phone and go to a restaurant, and you can find out whether or not the fish you’re eating – if they don’t tell you in the restaurant, you can find out in various ways where the fish may have come from. That’s our goal, and our goal is also to have greater policing on a global basis, either through satellites and technology or through actively having people on the seas who are checking.
I don’t know, many of you may have followed the incident of a Greenpeace – a couple of Greenpeace small boats that were following an illegal fishing trawler. And they literally chased it all over several oceans until it was finally beached, and they prevented that. Now, that’s Greenpeace doing that – not a country, not an international police force, but an individual entity that decided somebody has to stand up and be accountable. What we’re trying to do is translate that accountability into governments. And that’s our goal.
FOREIGN MINISTER MUNOZ: (Via interpreter) With regard to the question for us, for local authorities, I would like to first begin by addressing education. There are some fascinating initiatives out there. Yesterday, in fact, we saw the launching of a book on national geography, which for the first time ever takes a peek at this geography from underwater. Usually we address it from a land perspective, but that’s the smaller portion, because Chile has much more water, in fact, than land. And in this book, we have pictures and drawings of the resources underwater, the types of coral ranging from northern Chile all the way down to southern Chile, Patagonia, Antarctica, et cetera, and the mountain ranges underwater.
So I think that’s the first step. We need to create greater awareness as to the presence of our ocean and the importance. And as I mentioned during the inaugural ceremony of the conference, our national anthem talks about our future splendor. We say that this is important, the ocean is important, but we don’t honor this. And I think that’s a task that is for all of us. We need to focus on education to foster awareness.
Now, with regard to enforcement, that’s a key comment. Now, the president of the republic just signed a decree that institutes the new illegal fishing policy. Now, this involves a variety of aspects, including prohibiting the entrance to our ports of ships that in our opinion are conducting illegal fishing activities. But it’s not just that. We are also signing another agreement addressing the highly migratory species that go above and beyond this area of 200 kilometers. And when – in signing the UN convention, we will be able to enforce activities going on in the high seas beyond this border, if you will. Because the swordfish, for example, and other highly migratory species do not pay attention to these boundaries, the 200-mile boundary, and so now with these illegal fishing activities sometimes come into this boundary and beyond the boundary as well. So now we will be able to enforce regulation and oversight activities on these boats.
But we need more resources. Why? Because we have an extremely long coastline, and given our fishing industry, we have these new protected areas – and this is a significant step – we have more than 1 million square kilometers of protected area as a result of the announcement by the president. So it’s not just about declaring this protected area; we have to have appropriate control and enforcement to ensure that no one actually fishes in those protected areas.
What does this mean? Well, we have yet another challenge; that is, we need to have satellite information, data; we need to have fleets of boats to do so. In fact, three weeks ago roughly, on Friday evening I was having dinner with my wife and I received a phone call from the minister of defense who said we have observed there are some non-national ships – none of your country’s that were there – but in our fishing and our national areas.
So I requested – I was – he said, “Well, can we do something about this?” And I said, “Well, would you like me to ask the president?” And I said, “Well, actually, I would rather give you authorization to board those ships and then inform the president after that.” And now these vessels were fishing – and how often are we going to actually be there with our navy ships present when this is happening?
So that’s why we need satellite information. We need to have access to other mechanisms that will allow us to exercise control and preserve what – the areas that we have declared marine sanctuaries. Thank you.
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: (Via interpreter) For example, satellite snapshots on the Catapult system, which is one of the systems we’re looking into, was able to identify 20 illegal fishing vessels in the area of Easter Island. That’s just to provide you with an idea of the scope of this.
Here we have a video of a scientist from National Geographic.
QUESTION: Recent articles – The New York Times has highlighted the issues of illegal fishing mostly in the high seas. We’re talking about illegal and destructive fishing for tuna and other large species, but also serious violations of human rights, including slavery, human trafficking, and murder. We’re talking about the global high seas fishing mafia. What are the United States and Chile going to do to solve this global problem? (In Spanish.)
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: (Via interpreter) So that’s the question. Enric Sala referring to the global high seas illegal fishing mafia, 23 rough – billion dollars roughly in illicit business.
SECRETARY KERRY: If you get a chance, go Google this New York Times article a couple of weeks ago about illegal fishing. It was a front-page story, a very dramatic story. It told the story of a young Cambodian boy – a young Cambodian boy who was lured as a refugee, essentially. He was looking for construction work and they told him that he would be connected to people who were going to put him in the construction business so he could earn a living and have a better life.
The minute he got across the border, they basically imprisoned him and they took him to the captain of a boat – I assume he was sold to the captain on the boat – and he became a prisoner on the boat to go fishing. And for two years he was at sea, and when other boats were around, so that he couldn’t escape, the captain would shackle him around his neck and chain him to the boat. This was his life for several years till he finally did escape.
This happens to hundreds of thousands of people – by the way, not just in fishing, obviously, but in all kinds of labor. People become slaves – sex labor, working for factories that grind out cheap products and sell them in the world, knockoffs. So we are very focused – I actually head up our all-of-government effort on human trafficking. Because in the 21st century, in 2015, we have people – some people estimate it may be as many as 27 million people – who are in slavery. And we are working every day – we have a whole section of the State Department that is focused on human trafficking, and we work with other countries in order to get their prosecutors to go after these criminal enterprises.
Now, I could go on about the other side of it, but just quickly on the fishing side of it, we therefore need what I was talking about earlier – the technology, the armed forces of countries, the navies, coast guard; we need police and major commitment by countries to come together in order to focus on enforcement. This will be a focus of our discussions today, and this afternoon – I’m not going to announce it now, but I will announce a program that we are involved in that is going to grow this ability to be able to enforce. And leading into next year’s conference, I want to work with Heraldo and others to bring many more nations to the table and create a global system where we are able to enforce and prevent the kind of slavery that is laid out in this New York Times article.
We have to do this. It’s not just a matter of law enforcement; it’s a matter of moral obligation to end slavery of any kind on this planet, and we have to work at it.
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: Now let us hear from the press – international and national press. We have a question from El Mercurio, I understand.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. Franco (ph) from the Mercurio Santiago for the Secretary of State. I have a question: Why did you travel so far and wide to Chile to the summit on the ocean if, for example, this is some – an activity that’s been promoted internationally? Why in Chile? Chile is doing things right; why in Chile? Why is Chile hosting this summit today?
Now, I’m asking you this in contrast to something that happened this weekend – there was a carnival in Valparaiso this weekend, and this is with regard to the level of awareness. There were two beaches, Las Torpederas and Mateo, where a lot of plastic debris and refuse was left behind as a result of the carnival. So what’s the recipe, what’s the key way to go about addressing all of this?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the reason I’m in Chile and I traveled so far is because this issue is so important – critical – and because Chile is offering tremendous leadership. Chile is doing things right, you’re absolutely correct, and one of the things it’s doing right is offering to lead the second global ocean – Our Ocean Conference, and we are determined to keep this conference growing and becoming bigger and more productive in terms of the things that we were able to announce.
Last year in Washington, the conference that we held produced $1.8 billion for ocean mitigation, for enforcement, for fishing regulations, and it produced more than 4 million square miles total of refuge in the ocean. Now already today, Chile has stepped up at this conference and announced additional ocean preservations. President Obama came on in a video, and he announced two new preservation efforts by the United States. And I know there are more in the works which we didn’t have time to complete before today, but those will come out of this kind of conference, as well as greater coordination by all of our countries in how we are going to save – literally save – our oceans. And I congratulate Chile for the leadership that it is offering today. (Applause.)
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: We have another question from the press – U.S. press. Dave Clark, AFP.
QUESTION: Mr. Kerry, one question about the Middle East, please. The Israeli Government has barred access to the old city of Jerusalem to Palestinians. Was that an appropriate response to the security situation there?
And Turkey has complained that Russian airplanes have violated NATO airspace. At what point does collective defense apply?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me answer both questions. Regarding Jerusalem and the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, it is absolutely unacceptable on either side to have violence resorted to as a solution. And I would caution everybody to be calm, not to escalate this situation; to deal with this in a way that can find a quick way back to the full restoration of the status quo where the chief administration is in the hands of the Government of Jordan, and King Abdullah is the custodian. And it is very important to maintain a sense of calm that will minimize the instinct for escalation.
At the same time, any violence is unacceptable. Palestinians cannot resort to violence. There was an Israeli shot yesterday in Jerusalem in the inner city, in the old city, and that kind of violence is not going to serve anybody’s purpose. And it draws out the kind of response that we are seeing now. I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu about this in New York on Friday. I talked again with members of his traveling party as he was leaving in order to try to minimize the capacity for conflict, and we have communicated directly with President Abbas and his authorities in order to try to make sure that the Palestinians – that the Palestinian Authority does everything in its power to prevent any incitement whatsoever and to restrain the instincts of particularly some young people to take things into their own hands.
My hope is that with the holiday passing and with the proper leadership, that any increase in violence will be avoided and that the administration of the temple/mosque can be restored in the status quo agreement as rapidly as possible, and I think that’s critical.
With respect to the incursion by a Russian plane into Turkey, the foreign minister of Turkey called me on Saturday morning, and I obviously immediately discussed this with Secretary Carter and with National Security Advisor Rice, and we were in touch immediately with various authorities. And we’re greatly concerned about it, because it is precisely the kind of thing that, had Turkey responded under its rights, could have resulted in a shoot-down. And it is precisely the kind of thing that we warned against, and it is why we have engaged in initial conversations with Russia about making certain that there is no possibility of accidental conflict, accidental confrontation. My – those conversations are even more intense now and we will see very quickly if this can be defused. We have – we support completely the meeting in Brussels that is taking place with the North Atlantic Council and we believe that Russia has a fundamental responsibility to act in accordance with international standards here.
Now, one other thing about this: Russia said it is going in in order to fight ISIL, Daesh. But it is clear from the bombing that has taken place right now that their motives are broader than that, and yesterday, President Assad is quoted on television as – he’s on television saying that first you have to go after the terrorists and you can’t have any political discussion until after that. That is directly contrary to the agreement that President Putin made with President Obama that Foreign Minister Lavrov communicated to me several times that there would be a parallel track and that there would be an immediate engagement on the political track. And I would say to Russia that their client who is in great trouble needs to know more directly what Russia has communicated to us and what is required of him in order to live up to international expectations here. If he doesn’t do that, then they will be continuing to move in a direction that will almost certainly guarantee much more terrorism, much more conflict, and possibly the complete destruction of the state of Syria.
MR GOMEZ-PABLOS: (Via interpreter) I know there are many more pending questions because this is an issue that will continue, but first let’s highlight that we have the Secretary of State addressing issues pertaining to international affairs as well as the importance of these. So we have an agenda that is dual in nature, and I would also like to celebrate the spirit leading to this open-door policy and the interaction that we have today with regard to issues that address – that affect us all commonly.
Now, the foreign minister has a blue tie and the Secretary has a green tie. I recall the words of – earlier when one individual talked about no blue – no green, no blue. And I would like to piggyback on that concept and provide the Secretary with a token of our appreciation. This is the example of the entrepreneurial spirit of Chileans and Californians, two companies that got together to manufacture eyeglasses made from the plastic debris of old fishing nets. This comes from the refuse, in fact, that has been recycled. And these were fabricated in Italy. This is a Chilean company, Karun, working with other Californians. And these are glasses that will help us change our outlook, our perspective, so please accept this on our behalf. (Applause.)
Thank you very much. The authorities must depart, but please stay behind, the rest of you. A warm round of applause for our authorities. Thank you very much. (Applause.)