Paris, February 2, 2013 - Thank you very, very much. It's a pleasure to be with you again. I flew in last night from Washington where John Kerry was in his first day as the new United States Secretary of State taking over for my former boss, Hillary Clinton, someone who like Madame Rajavi also provides an extraordinary example for women in the world. Now, on Secretary Kerry's to-do list there are some significant challenges. There is the emerging crisis in Mali, and I wish to pay tribute to the French government for its intervention in Mali and the success that it has achieved thus far. There are several countries in transition—Tunisia, Egypt and Libya—and it is difficult to determine at any one moment whether they're moving forward, sideways or backwards. We know that their democratic development will not proceed in a straight line and will be the work of a generation. And I completely agree with the comments made a moment ago that there is a real danger that these revolutions are being hijacked away from the women who in Tahrir Square and other places have called for a change in their respective countries. There is the tragedy that continues to unfold in Syria, with the accompanying challenge of developing an effective Syrian opposition building up its credibility and legitimacy both outside and particularly inside the country. Iran has been a significant factor in protecting the existing government despite a death roll that now has risen above 70,000 people killed with hundreds of thousands displaced either inside Syria or in neighboring states such as Turkey or Jordan. And let me join in saluting the courage and determination of the Syrian opposition in confronting this extraordinary violence perpetrated by the Assad government with the help of the Iranian government. [applause] Their courage is extraordinary, as we know, shared by the people at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty.
But the most significant challenge in 2013 is what to do about Iran. Nothing is going to influence the Middle East in the coming decade more than the direction taken by Iran. President Obama has said that all options are on the table regarding Iran. Military action may be necessary, but if undertaken will most likely only delay Iran's nuclear program. Such an action would be unpredictable, costly, and will not necessarily solve the problem. Only one option solves the problem: different leadership in Tehran. [applause] A leadership committed to free and fair elections, committed to giving its citizens full access to information, committed to the ending of discrimination against women, respect and dignity for all, committed to an independent judiciary, respect for human rights, a market economy, peaceful coexistence and nuclear free. A leadership that wishes to bring Iran out of its isolation, to make Iran a constructive actor on the world stage. An Iran that is part of the solution to many of the regional and global challenges we face rather than the essence of the problem.
How do we get there? Through an effective and organized opposition, something like this. [applause] Like Governor Richardson said a few moments ago, we have to connect the real energy that exists in this room with those in Iran like the three women who were standing here a minute ago who try to find a way to help Iran write a new history and see her emerge from the existing isolation. This is difficult and painstaking work as you know and as the people at Camp Liberty know. There are forces that are protecting the status quo. They are stubborn. They will do whatever they can to preserve their current position of advantage. The Syrian opposition knows this and this will take time.
A successful democracy involves universal human rights but also learned political behaviors, giving everyone a stake in a country's future, including women as Madame Rajavi and others have said in their remarks today. Developing effective institutions of governance that serve rather than intimidate their people; developing a responsible political opposition; respecting a free press that will hold government to account; and the peaceful transfer of power based on genuinely free and fair elections. These are universal principles and universal aspirations, but unfortunately they are not present everywhere, at least not yet. And that is why we are all here, to demonstrate that there is a different path for Iran, a more enlightened path for Iran, a more responsible path for Iran, a democratic path for Iran. I sadly don't think that that day is imminent, but like my colleagues here at the stage I am certain that that day will come. Thank you very much. [applause]
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