Interview With Rita Miliute of Lithuanian National TV
Secretary of State
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt only allowed female reporters to her press conferences, forcing – so editors to hire women. Do such methods – should be taken in our days for similar reasons, for – strengthen positions of women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a very interesting question. Eleanor Roosevelt is someone whom I admire greatly, and because she would only be interviewed by women reporters, she forced newspapers to hire more women. I think that that is probably not necessary in today’s world because you’re sitting there and I am frequently interviewed by very able women reporters. But I do think that focusing on women’s rights and equality for women remains a very big issue for the world today.
QUESTION: But anyway, you are one of the most powerful, if not most powerful, women of the world. Do you agree with the words of one prominent Lithuanian diplomat who resided in Russian Federation and in Soviet Russia after its transformation? So he said, “Small countries are like coins, like a change in the hands of super states being used to pay their debts.” These words were said more than half a century ago, but what about today?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is such an unfortunate sentiment, and it is one that we should reject completely. Just look at what Lithuania has accomplished in the last 20 years – not only your independence, but a thriving democracy, economic progress. There is so much to be proud of, and Lithuania is indeed a model. Some large countries should look to Lithuania if they want to learn about democracy and human rights and how to have a stable, prosperous society.
QUESTION: Dick Cheney, the U.S. vice president, delivering a speech here in Vilnius a few years ago, said that Russia's deepening slide into authoritarianism and is willing to use oil and gas reserves as a political weapon. Have things changed since 2006?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think what has changed is a recognition by many countries, my own certainly included, that energy security is part of national security. Ever since I’ve been Secretary of State, I have had a team of people working on the whole question of energy security in Europe. Because we don’t have any objection with Russia or anyone selling gas to customers, but we don’t want to see unfair competition, we don’t want to see monopolistic practices, and we want to encourage European countries to do more to become energy-independent. And that’s why I was very impressed with the law that your parliament has just passed to have a national energy-independent strategy.
QUESTION: Official in Vilnius also declared the idea to create – to found energetic security research center. It was in NATO (inaudible) --
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Sneezed.) Excuse me, sorry. I apologize.
QUESTION: Do you see any (inaudible) of such a center and how it could affect both energetic security of Lithuania and relations with Russia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m very interested in this Lithuanian idea, and we think more emphasis has to be paid to helping countries become energy-secure. If a center could contribute to that, it would be a worthy idea. But in the meantime, I think what Lithuania is doing to try to diversify your energy supply, looking at the ways of having solidarity in the region with the Baltic countries, to have more energy supplies that can be shared, I think that’s the most urgent priority right now.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about defense. Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed concern regarding European countries because they are not keen to assign proper budgets for defense needs. Is under-financing of defense causing danger for Lithuanian security?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think what Secretary Gates was doing was sounding the warning bell. There is not an immediate danger. We take our Article 5 collective security obligations very seriously. And in fact, it is under the Obama Administration that we’re now doing the kind of contingency planning that is necessary to reassure all of our allies.
But I think Secretary Gates has a good point, and that is the United States has historically carried most of the load – disproportionately – for the financing of NATO because our defense expenditures are so high. And what we want to see is not only steady, and in some cases, increased defense budgets, but we want to see more cooperation so that assets can be shared. There is a lot of ways that regional economies can be obtained by having countries work together within NATO, and we want to see that occur.
QUESTION: Here, we come to the quote that belongs to you, and I would like to remind – you have said, “At the end of the day, no one on his or her deathbed ever says, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” So how to draw the balance line between professional aims and obligations and personal life, and expectations of the children to see mommy not just for the bedtime story only?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s one of the biggest challenges that people face, particularly women. Trying to balance family responsibilities and outside professional responsibilities is a never-ending balancing act. And every woman has to do it for herself; there’s no formula for how to do it. But certainly, I think the most important thing in life is really your family responsibilities and how you raise children. And I have an adult daughter who I see a lot, but I don’t have to care for her like I did when she was a toddler or going to school or even keeping an eye out for her as a teenager. So these different stages of life demand different responses.
QUESTION: I have one more question about the history. With all the respect of – to United States for its long recognition of policy, America was among the states who approved Potsdam, Yalta, and Tehran agreements which divided Europe to – into the spheres of influence after the World War Second. And no regrets for this have ever been declared. Is it possible that someday, Washington will do this, sending a strong message that United States will never tolerate any double standards in all possible areas, meaning politics, sexual equality, rights equality, et cetera?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s fair to say that the United States has long believed that we should not have double standards. And sometimes in the decisions one has to make as a nation, there are bad choices and worse choices, and one tries to figure out how to save the most lives, how to provide the most support for the values that we share, and that was certainly the case after World War II, such a horrific war that took so many tens of millions of lives, and I think everyone was hoping that there could be peace. And certainly, from our perspective, we fought hard to prevent the march of communism and we never gave up on seeing the Baltic countries free again.
QUESTION: In 2003, you wrote that preserving your marriage and running for senator were the most difficult decisions of your life. Which one was harder to make?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They’re both difficult. Running for the Senate was a hard decision. Accepting President Obama’s offer to be Secretary of State was a hard decision. Everybody faces hard decisions in their life, and you do the best you can, and hopefully things work out.
QUESTION: Can you share your future plans, your professional future career plans?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don't know what they are. I know that I’ve had a great privilege and honor representing my country, and I’m looking forward to the next 18 months of hard work on behalf of the United States. And then I’ll do something else, but what it is right now, I don't know.
QUESTION: Many thanks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, nice to talk with you.