Prague, 13 October 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Hillary Clinton, the wife of U.S. President Bill Clinton, addressed Forum 2000 at the Prague Castle today, urging a change in attitudes to help build a better future for all the world's inhabitants.
Mrs. Clinton told the gathering of international leaders and intellectuals that, in her words: "We already recognize that we have global neighbors, but we haven't yet decided to build a global neighborhood."
Mrs. Clinton said that many people in the United States and elsewhere tend to view the coming century with pessimism and dread. But Mrs. Clinton urged optimism, not pessimism, about globalization. She said that globalization is a fact that can neither be reversed nor denied.
She called for developing a "global neighborhood" in the next century that invests in creating citizens, not just consumers and producers. She urged a vision of the future in which governments seek to give all citizens a stake in their future, in which economic development, in her words, "benefits all and not just a few." The way to this future vision, Mrs. Clinton said, is for governments to invest heavily in people --in education, in credits for small businesses, and in teaching about the workings of democracy.
Mrs. Clinton, a lawyer who was active on feminist issues before she entered the White House with her husband, said this meant "educating both boys and girls to the full extent of their potential."
Mrs. Clinton said that democracy alone cannot overcome the problems of the past. She said building a better future will require a change in thinking:
"We have seen in too many places around the world that even with people elected as leaders in a democracy, old attitudes die hard... old hatreds in the guise of democratically elected leaders are no better for the citizens of their country and their neighbors than before democracy occurred."
Clinton urged full attention to the ultimate goal of creating a world where people have a stake in their own democratic societies and where diversity is perceived as an asset by which people learn from one another rather than a force that drives people apart.
Globalization, she said, is neither good nor evil in itself, but rather a "tremendous opportunity."
Mrs. Clinton spoke of the need to restructure international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. She also said that those --in the U.S. and elsewhere-- who assault government as such have it wrong. She put it this way: "We need strong and active governments --neither oppressive nor weak."
She said that both upholders and critics of democracy and free markets often overstate their cases. Free markets need rules and regulations so that, in her words, "we can enjoy their benefits" and avoid their pitfalls. As Mrs. Clinton put it: "Economics is not an end in itself, only a means to an end. Government is not an end in itself, only a means to an end."
Clinton said that if the world's people do not learn to work together:
"... we will not have the opportunities we deserve at the end of this very difficult and troubled century. We have done a lot in the last fifty years to ... build democracy (and) to give more people a chance to fulfill their God-given potential. But when it is all said and done, globalization, however one defines it, can never be a substitute for humanization (eds: process of becoming better people). We have a lot of work to do (to) make sure that the global economy does not drive us apart from one another (but rather) is an engine that we harness to create a strong global society in which all people are given a chance to (build) a future better than their past.
This year's Forum 2000 conference has brought together such luminaries as Czech President Vaclav Havel, U.S. statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger, Polish Justice Minister Hanna Suchocka, European Union Commissioner Hans van den Broek, and more than 35 other leaders. The theme of the conference is globalization of the world's economy, politics and societies.