Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright Remarks before International Cultural Leaders, Department of State Washington, D.C., March 15, 2000
Department of State
Your Highness the Aga Khan, Ambassador Muasher, Congressman Leach, distinguished colleagues and friends, welcome to the State Department.
There's no better place, certainly in this building, to discuss culture than a room named for Thomas Jefferson, who was only a great architect, writer and diplomat, but also spent so much time in France.
I've been looking forward to this dinner for a long while. And I am very grateful to you all for being here, especially those who have come from overseas. There is a wealth of talent around the table tonight, and I look forward to exploiting it ruthlessly tonight having spent a day being exploited on the Hill -- (inaudible) -- (laughter).
Culture and American foreign policy are not often used in the same sentence or even paragraph, and what I really want to do is to try to change that. One of the great lessons of the last decade is that despite globalization and the Internet, and CNN, the Euro and all the forces that seem to be pulling us together, the competing of forces of national and cultural identity simply will not be denied.
And our foreign policy can't be effective if it's oblivious to the fact that there are separate ways of looking at things and on the need to respect other cultures but also to be perceived as respecting other cultures. No country, I think, is more admired than America. And I say that with some sense of chauvinism, but there is a strong human tendency to couple admiration with some jealousy and some resentment and, in our case, a widespread feeling that America is not only strong and successful but also too insensitive in our attitudes about the heritage of others.
America's strength, though, is derived from its diversity. And I think there is no question in my mind that we do respect other cultures, but we've not always been very good about expressing that respect.
And this matters for some very practical reasons. Culture and cultural differences have a major impact on many of the foreign policy challenges we confront whether it's trade and biotechnology to ethnic strife and treatment of women. And I think we will ? I know we will accomplish much more if we're able to communicate better and if the words we choose, and the strategies we adopt, and the approaches we take convey that cultural sensitivity and due regard for the opinions and accomplishments of those we seek to influence.
Tonight, my purpose is really to listen and learn. And the Aga Khan, for instance, has dedicated much of his life to bridging differences between cultures and enhancing and preserving rich cultural legacies. And others have been leaders in supporting cultural exchange programs or preserving the written or physical record of great civilizations.
And I hope that as we talk tonight about how we in America can contribute more effectively to these efforts, that your points will really help us in figuring out how to integrate cultural concerns into our day-to-day conduct of US foreign policy.
And I know that we'll have a very stimulating discussion, and I'm anxious to hear your ideas and comments. And my thanks and, again, I'm very grateful to everybody for coming. And I'm hoping very much that we can have a structured informal discussion or informal structured discussion because there is a lot to learn. And I hope you can really open up and have all your ideas.
So with that, I think we can begin the dinner and then start talking. And I don't know, maybe you are willing to get us started talking. Thank you for being terrific.
[End of Document]
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will host a working dinner tonight for an
international group of cultural leaders, launching an effort to strengthen cultural
diplomacy and make it more central to foreign policy development. The Secretary will
solicit ideas from the group for initiatives that show America's respect for diverse
cultures and discuss the global impact of American culture with them. She and her
senior staff also will listen to their ideas for establishing public and private partnerships
that help the Department launch new cultural programs.
Attending the dinner will be Her Majesty Queen Noor al-Hussein of Jordan, His
Highness the Aga Khan, and leaders of American cultural institutions, heads of major
foundations and cultural scholars.
Secretary Albright will open the dinner with remarks about the increasing importance of
culture to international issues, such as trade, ethnic conflict, biotechnology, and violence
against women. She will highlight the need to respond to other countries' fears that
global economic expansion threatens their cultures and traditions.
The Secretary's remarks, scheduled to begin at approximately 7:30 p.m., will be open
for press coverage. This event will take place in the Thomas Jefferson Room, Eighth
Floor, Department of State.
6:30 p.m.--Pick-Up Time for Cameras and Still Photographers C Street Lobby.
7:00 p.m.Pick-up Time for Writers in the C Street Lobby.