Thank you all for coming to the Embassy. As someone who has worked on civil society issues for decades and as a former member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, I am well aware of the hardship that many of you experience because of the work that you do. I applaud your dedication to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and to building a better society.
The United States supports your efforts – and we support you. We are encouraging governments throughout this region to partner with civil society, because human rights, economic development and state security are intrinsically linked. You know better than anyone that the countries with vibrant civil societies are best poised to make progress in the 21st century.
Your nation and your people are important in your own right. You face the challenge of building a sovereign, democratic and prosperous Uzbekistan. And other countries, including my own, have a stake in your success, because your security, prosperity and freedom enhance our own.
No country has a monopoly on wisdom in this area, including the United States. So, when we speak to your Government about issues such as religious and media freedom, torture, or child labor, we do so in a spirit of mutual respect. We raise these issues in all our interactions with the Government and will continue to make improvement of human rights in Uzbekistan an integral part of expanding our bilateral relationship. We will also continue to make cooperation with you, and all the others who are working tirelessly for the betterment of their homeland, an integral part of our agenda here.
President Karimov, in a recent speech to Parliament, expressed a commitment to building an open, democratic state in which individual rights and freedoms are valued “not in words but in practice.” We now look to the Government of Uzbekistan to do just that -- to translate words into practice -- and we are prepared to support and assist in that effort. I met with President Karimov. I urged him to demonstrate his commitment through a series of steps, to insure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are truly protected in this country
Despite the difficulties and challenges that persist, I that you will continue to work on the issues that matter most to your people. And we will continue to work with you. Together, we can build the bright future that everyone in Uzbekistan deserves.