Excerpts of Remarks on the Middle East Made at the Munich Security Conference Plenary Session
Secretary of State
Excerpts from remarks at the Munich Security Conference Plenary Session.
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[Joined in progress] ...because the region is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends. A growing majority of its people are under the age of thirty. Many of these young people, even the most educated among them, cannot find work. At the same time, however, they are more connected with each other and with events occurring around them because of technology. And this generation is rightly demanding that their governments become more effective, more responsive, and more open. Now, some leaders may honestly believe that their country is an exception, that their people will not demand greater political or economic opportunities or that they can be placated with half measures. Again, in the short term that may be true, but in the long term it is untenable. And in today's world where people are communicating every second of every day, it is unbelievable. Other leader raise fears that allowing too much freedom will jeopardize security, that giving a voice to the people, especially certain elements within in their countries will lead to chaos and calamity. So the transition to democracy will only work if it is deliberate, inclusive, and transparent. Those who want to participate in the political system must commit to basic principles such as renouncing violence as a tool of political coercion, respecting the rights of minorities -- ethnic and religious minorities -- participating in a spirit of tolerance and compromise. Those who refuse to make those commitments do not deserve a seat at the table.
...That has been the story of the last weeks. It is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the area. The status quo is simply not sustainable. So, for all our friends, for all the friends in the region, including governments and people, the challenge is to help our partners take systematic steps to usher in a better future, where people's voices are heard, their rights respected, and their aspirations met....