tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN March 2, 2016 5:00pm-7:01pm EST
purchase some of the places that we need in our government. pretty soon the government will be leasing and leasing and leasing and no purchases at all. has that changed at all? >> yes, sir. i will say that the committee support of consolidation funds has been a tremendous effort for our portfolio overall. we have been able to see savings year over year since the support of that effort as well as a reduction of our footprint in particular. we have very much a value on the owned property. we believe the owned property is the best use of the american taxpayer dollars and want to maximize our presence in the properties that are owned by the federal government. so, the funding that the committee has given us i think over the past three years in particular we had 1. -- i had it written down, 1.4 square feet savings in reduction in square
footage over $100 million of savings on lease avoidance and that's having a definite impact on the bottom line. >> okay. let's move on to another area that's also of great interest to me. and this is our territories. it seems that the territories always get left behind, and i take personal interest because i was born in one of them. and i represent the bronx which has a lot of folks that were born in the territories. does gsa make a special effort through staffing patterns and programmatic patterns to make sure that the territories are being treated as fairly as the constitution allows which is totally fair? because in many cases you'll hear, well, they're waiting for a building three or four times the amount of time that one of the states has to wait. you wonder, you know, they're
federal buildings. they're being used to service -- to render services to american citizens, so why not the same time or something close to it? >> yes, congressman, and i know that you've had discussions and we've had discussions over the recent past regarding projects in particular in puerto rico. and we have -- we've needed to ensure and we have and we are at a much better place now that we have boots on the ground so as well as hands-on efforts with any of the projects in the territories and i think that what we've seen in the turnaround of the projects in particular that we've discussed that we can do that. and so it's a matter of ensuring that we are staying connected to any projects that we have in the territories and that we're keeping the same discipline across our portfolio in terms of expectation of turnaround as well as project management and schedule. >> well, i would appreciate
that. and you be not surprised but you'd be happy to know that this committee does not disagree, that we want people treated equally and sometimes because they're not a state, they don't get treated equally. let me ask you a question here. the omnibus bill -- in the omnibus bill gsa is requesting 17,000 -- 17% less for construction and acquisition that was provided in the fiscal year -- i'm sorry, i've got it wrong. you're asking for 17% less than was provided in the omnibus of 2016. that may be understandable given that you received over a billion increase in construction in fy-2016. there have been concerns from some about your ability to handle such large increases in one year. how are you managing that many projects?
the fy-2016 bill. and did they impact what you requested in 2017? i believe we must invest in infrastructure across the country and the territories, but i also don't want to set up -- to set you up for failure by not giving you the staff to manage all of your projects. >> sure. i think you heard that observation. first, let me start by saying we very much appreciate the committee's support in the fy-'16 budget. it has been a tremendous opportunity especially in the area of courts that was mentioned earlier for us to meet some of our partner needs. and we are gearing up, we're working very closely with the courts in terms of evaluating their projects, the timing of those projects and ensuring that we're able to move forward and execute on time and under budget. across the board we have a volume of needs that really exceed our resources and so what we try to ensure is that we are
able to articulate to the committee where the needs are and what's driving our programming going forward and to ensure that we have the staffing lined up to manage what we can see coming forward. so, your support has been a tremendously important and we are doing everything from our perspective to line up, ensure we have staffing and support in places where that funding is focused. >> thank you. i know we've touched on it, but how is your i.t. modernization program going? >> the i.t. modernization for gsa overall has been a tremendous opportunity for us as an agency in terms of really rationalizing how we're managing i.t. now in terms of having had a consolidation that we did internally as well as establishing what we refer to as investment review board to look at large-level i.t. investments
really is allowing us to support other agencies who are moving in the same direction especially as an outgrowth of vitara which was an important effort this committee was involved with. so, we are -- we are seeing the dividends from that consolidation activity as well as being able to support other agencies as well. >> thank you. and i apologize, mr. chairman, i was looking at my clock, i thought it was going down, it was actually going up. i know, it sounds like the federal budget, but i don't want to hear that comment. >> no comment. mr. yoder is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i will not take the lay-up that my colleague, mr. serrano, gave me. go back to the administrator. i note in your biography that you have a history of being sort of tech savvy and i think you are top 50 women in tech at one point and i actually noticed the interview you did at one time where you said you had an early
commodore 64 and you actually used to do video games. >> yes. >> you obviously have a love of to eck a tech and i want to talk to you about the real property profile and i want to associate myself with the comments of my colleague, mr. quigley, he and i have long been bipartisan in our efforts to try to resolve the concerns we have. and that continues to be that there is no -- we have had struggled to find ways to quantify the property that the federal government owns both in the gsa and all of the property which is the secondary issue that not all the properties with the gsa so you have two separate problems there and that we really don't have the ability to tell the public what we own, what's vacant, what isn't vacant, what's idle, what's owned in their community in a way that is usable. and so i was just sort of looking at the real property profile.gov, is that the site? i was pulling that up on my phone here and immediately i
note it's password protected, user name and password and really no instructions on how someone would go about getting a password and user name. when i go through something like this, you know, and, first of all, as mr. quigley brought up, there's billions of dollars of property, tens of thousands of pieces of property that the gao has said before are idle. we would really have no way to verify that. my check box would be does it have public access. is there a mobile app that would allow people to, you know, constituents to drive around once they have it and look at things. i don't know because it's not accessible. is it user friendly. is it comprehensive. is it fully implemented in a way that people are using it today to make decisions that are informed, that will allow taxpayers to save money and so i guess, first of all, are there other standards [ inaudible ] but in terms of those standards have we met those standards and when will we, if not? >> we have been working diligently to ensure we are
meeting those standards with the data that we're putting forward for gsa in particular. because of the dynamic nature that you refer to, in terms of making it easily accessible, being able to pull it up on your mobile device. if that's not working i will definitely -- >> you can pull it up, but it's user name and password protected. there's no description on here, it doesn't tell you. i guess you would e-mail and ask them how to do it but it doesn't say. it says have you forgot your password or are you a gsa employee, but it doesn't say to members of the public on this at least and i might be missing something that i could pull up on a desktop. >> that's not as productive as we want to be, right? we want people to be able to access our data in the way that they're used in all the data of the private sector. >> why is it login password protected? the whole point is to make it accessible to the public, right? >> absolutely. the idea that it's password protected is surprising me as i sit here and i could be thinking
about two differents where the data resides which would be a challenge as well so i will ensure -- >> this is realpropertyprofile.gov. >> we have in particular and what i'm used to seeing is a place where you can see both -- especially for gsa's data, the data itself as well as like i said a map that is interactive. the database that is utilized -- or that is a representation of all of government, i don't know if that's password protected but we want to make it as accessible as possible. >> i brought it up three years ago and i brought it up last year, your predecessors, every year we're bringing this up ot record and we're still not getting there. one thing i think that would help is if we engaged the private sector, you know, if this was a google project, you know, i think this would be -- or any company out there that was trying to do a mapping product, i bet it would move more swiftly and so i guess what has gsa done to bring out the best mapping and geospatial
knowledge base and expertise from the private sector to help with this? >> we actually have been able to achieve geospatial mapping with our data in particular. it's really the data that is the rest of the federal government which is included in the real property database that we -- that is currently not available in the same format. >> just in general, has the gsa sought advice and worked with the private sector to build the best mapping system or is it doing this internally and not using private folks? >> we have consulted with private sector, i'm not sure to which extent the break happens and we did meet with even some members at your recommendation from our last hearing, there was a sit-down with a team there as well. so, we have engaged the private sector from an expertise perspective where needed and are also managing internally as well. >> well, it seems that we have a long way to go and i know from your tech background if you were on the outside looking in, not
acceptable, private sector would have created an app for this years ago and we'd be able to look at every single property and we'd be able to compare it and the policymakers could utilize it and the public. and maybe try to repurpose them, saving us money and i think whether you're a liberal or a conservative, none of us hopefully like to see idle property that could either be put to use or sold. it's one of those rare bipartisan things that everyone sort of wants and i guess i'm just asking you, again, to consult the private sector or do what you need to do but to build a really solid system and an app here that people can use that would be efficient and effective and i know it's something you know what i'm talking about will look like, we're not here with this particularly the fact that it's not even accessible to public and so i just hope if we meet in this committee again that we'll have great news and that this will be something, you know, that the gsa can accomplish that we can tout, hey, government can get things done effective and efficiently, we've got a tech savvy leader and she'll make it happen. so let's get it done. >> yes, congressman.
>> thank you so much. >> thank you. let me ask you about the federal courthouses. we appropriated i think $940 million to build 9 new courthouses around the country. they're in different stages of development. some are probably ready to go, some are in planning and design. so, when we ask questions about the hoover building and the cost of new construction, it raises concerns about what kind of handle does the agency have about, like, building nine new courthouses. how do we help you make sure that those moneys, at nine different courthouses, nine different sites, different stages of development, how can we be assured there won't be any cost overruns or that those numbers are -- that you requested, that those are pretty real numbers in terms of getting those projects done on time within the budget.
>> what's been very important and will continue to be important there is working very closely with the courts and especially courthouse by courthouse requirements related to each of those projects. there have been -- and as you point out, chairman, some projects that have plans that are on -- that were currently pending, ensuring that we're bringing those forward to see how current they are, ensuring that we are focused on the requirements and ensuring that the requirements are really what's needed to meet the mission. but i think working closely with the courts to ensure those dollars go as far as they can is really a priority for us and so your support both around funding that but as well as keeping -- keeping each of the projects in alignment, making sure that we get the most out of each project is very beneficial. >> is there, like, a prospectus on each one of the courthouses? i mean, they have each nine separate projects that you can track? >> there will be a spend plan
coming forward in the next few weeks, i think mid-april is the timing and that will be the outline of each of the projects, what they will entail, all of those pieces. >> where did you get the $948 million to start with? >> it was based on the original estimates for the projects. >> okay. so, we'll see the new prospectus on each one of them and hopefully they'll match up with what the original estimates were. >> yes, sir. >> and you'll work with the judiciary and the u.s. marshals to make sure they have the right space and is secure and so forth. >> that's right. >> let me ask one last question about the $35 million that we had some design money, i guess it was called a federal cybersecurity campus. i know that's been talked about and finally we put $35 million. this year there's not a request for the campus. i don't see it anywhere in the five-year plan. what happened to that $35 million? where did it get spent or will it be spent? and where does all that fit in long range?
>> the cyberproject is one that we continue to work with the partner agencies to understand requirements. again, i feel like i said requirements a few times today, i apologize, but they're a key part of us defining the scope of our projects and what will be programmed as part of the projects and that really has a strong impact on what's needed and necessarily as well as the timing of it and we continue to work with the partner agencies and once we get a better sense of what the requirements are and the programming for that activity then we will be able to come back with a request. but those funds that you've rewarded at this point would be held for that project. >> so, are they being used now? where's that -- what are you doing with that $35 million? >> currently what we're doing with the project overall is working with the agencies to scope out the -- >> it's not in the five-year plan. there's going to be a campus, so you have $35 million last year. you didn't ask for any more money this year.
and i thought that was the planning and design money, but then if you don't need more money this year and you don't have it in your five-year plan and we're spedding a lot of money on the department of homeland security and the fbi building, where does this new cybersecurity campus fit in? >> well, and we'll have a better sense going forward where it will fit in. >> what are you going to do with the $35 million? >> we would use it for planning of this project, but first once we receive the requirements. >> where do you get the requirements? >> from the agencies, from the partner agencies that would be present on the cyber campus. >> okay. so, you're working. who is that? >> it's a number of agencies. i would hesitate to name -- i know that i can't name them all as i'm sitting here but we can definitely follow-up with the staff. but it was a number of agencies that would have a presence and part of it is really the question of what would need to be there and in light -- in some ways -- in some respects of the
projects that you did reference, sir, those would obviously have an offsetting effect potentially for requirements and programming of the cyber campus, but those are the pieces we're trying to figure out. >> so, in the planning and design you're really not there yet, that $35 million for planning and design you're not spending that yet because you haven't figured out exactly where -- >> we're not able to spend those dollars yet until we nail down the requirements. >> okay. probably be better to have a project and then say here's the project and here's how much we need to plan it and design it as opposed to say, here's -- we need some money for planning and design a project that we hadn't, like, finalized yet. >> i believe it's been some shifting efforts that has given us -- i believe the project was in a different place last year which is what brought us forward with the request. but as we get a better sense of the requirements, then we would be in a position to go forward. >> mr. serrano? any more questions?
>> one, mr. chairman. after last year's massive breach at the office of personnel management and the department of interior, there is rightfully more scrutiny regarding government's ability to keep information safe. efforts are still under way to strengthen those systems including in gsa's own budget request to start a new i.t. fund. i have some concern in gsa's budgets you want $5 million for 20 fte to establish a unified shared service management office that will promote consolidation of government systems and information. shouldn't we ensure these systems have the highest level of security before we further consolidate government? government efficiency is a goal, but so is security and information. >> yes, sir. the -- and i appreciate the observation.
security with our systems is very key. and the shared services office was stood up to support both existing shared services offices that are providing shared services as well as those who may be seeking to go to shared services. so, this team in particular is really supporting as we look to go to shared services all the requirements of any system as being met including security requirements and obviously as we've learned over the past year and we continue to enhance from our learning the security parameters will and are changing on systems as well and that would be integrated in terms of the information that this office would share with anyone seeking to go into shared services system. >> that refers to your office, to gsa, to be able to be involved with other agencies and sharing. >> yes. >> do you think as it stands now you might have to hold back and wait for a while before we go further or you think you're ready to go with consolidating?
>> the -- and just to be clear, we are -- gsa would actually not be the ones consolidating any of the systems or the services. our team would help with the analysis and evaluations and recommendations of which shared service provider to meet the need of any particular agency. so, we're looking -- and gsa has provided shared services in the past such as you know our financial management services which we've divested from as well as our hr services. but this office in particular is looking at shared services across federal government in making either recommendations or agencies who are looking to go to a shared service or if there are shared service providers who are looking to upgrade or divest from their efforts supporting those efforts. what we have found is that our shared services has been a place for savings for agencies. but having the support come from central place would be beneficial for everyone. >> well, i have no further
questions, mr. chairman. i just want to thank you for your service to our country and for the issues you deal with on a daily basis. >> thank you, congressman, for your support. >> i'm not thanking for having problems every day, i'm thanking you for dealing with them. >> yes. >> do you have any closing comments? >> i rest my case. >> he rests his case. well, let me close by thanking you as well, and in particular thank you, administrator, and your staff for personally getting involved in a project down in jacksonville, florida, which was a coast guard customs and border patrol project. it has been going on since 2007. there were lots and lots of problems. but i'm told that within the next couple weeks the building's going to open. the coast guard will move in. the border patrol folks will move in. i got involved in 2013, so i'm just as excited as you are to see this project come to
fruition. so, you're certainly welcome to come down to sunny florida and view the new project. i plan on looking at it myself, first chance i get, but, again, thank you for your commitment for making that happen. and, again, thank you for being here today, and this hearing is adjourned. >> thank you. this weekend the c-span cities tour hosted by our time warner cable partners takes you to anaheim, california, to explore the city's history and literary culture. from "book tv." >> i wasn't offended by the idea of ask a mexican but i didn't want to do it at first because i didn't think anyone would care. in journalism you want to do stories that people will care about one way or another. you don't care if people like you or hate you as long as they're reading you. i thought the idea of who would want to read an advice column about mexicans.
but he kept insisting and we needed to fill in a space in the paper that week. okay, fine, i'll go back. he said it's only going to be one time. it will be a satirical column, totally jokey, people went absolutely nuts for it. some people loved it, some people hated it but more important people were caring and even crazier at the very bottom of the column, i said, hey, you got a spicy questions about mexicans, ask me, i'm the mexican. i put my personal e-mail. and people started sending in questions immediately. >> and on american history tv -- >> john frawling and his partner go up to san francisco, which is where a lot of the german immigrants are located, and actually are able to -- i find it very shocking, but are able to actually convince 50 people of whom nobody was a farmer and only one person had any background in winemaking to give up their businesses and come to anaheim.
so, their first action after they formed what's known as the los angeles vineyard society was to hire george hanson to be their superintendent. and his job was to bring the irrigation here. lay out the town site. and plant actually hundreds of thousands of grapevines before the families would actually come down here. >> watch the c-span cities tour on "book tv" and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on "american history tv" on c-span2. the c-span cities tour working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. yesterday, pakistan's chief foreign affairs adviser discussed his country's efforts to combat terrorism and improve national security. he was hosted by the council on foreign relations in washington. this is an hour.
>> good afternoon. it's my great pleasure to welcome the minister to the council for this morning's conversation and his remarks on pakistan, pakistan's neighborhood and pakistan and the united states. so, i want to let you all know that this is a meeting on the record. so, but nonetheless, please silence cell phones and happy noise making gadgets. other than that, i just wanted to take a minute to introduce our illustrious speaker who really needs very little introduction. most of us in this room seem to have some connection with
pakistan. most of us in this room have some knowledge or acquaintance with our speaker today. he has been a member of the pakistan foreign policy elite as he is currently, but he's also done something quite unique. he's been an economist with very important positions and impact in the world of food and agriculture. and he's in addition to that been a vice chancellor at a university that started up and really took off under his leadership, the beaconhouse national university at lahore of which he was the vice chancellor. prior to that, he was pakistan's foreign minister up to august '98 to october '99 and was elected to the pakistan senate
in march, 1985, and remained there until 1999. the minister's here for conversations with the u.s. leadership on the strategic dialogue with pakistan, and we are very pleased that you could take time off from your important assignments here and come and speak to the council about u.s./pakistan and the region. thank you. >> well, thank you very much. it's always a pleasure and great experience to come to washington and also to come to the council of foreign relations and meet such a distinguished group of friends and colleagues and observers of india, pakistan, u.s. relations. i think since most of you are familiar with historical agreements i'll just gloss over them very briefly. i think pakistan and the u.s. have been virtually on the same page throughout the first 50, 60
years of pakistan, starting with the first foreign assistance act of 1954 and then [ inaudible ] and whether it was initially the cold war years and then the invasion of afghanistan and against terrorism. in all these phases i think pakistan has clearly been on the u.s. side and we've had a very good partnership and very good relationship. then, of course, the afghanistan issue, when that came that got us much deeper involvement. and because the soviet invasion created dangers just also for pakistan and so jointly we trained people to try and prevent russia from moving forward from afghanistan into pakistan. and i think for ten years, throughout the '80s, it was quite a remarkable experience, a super power was defeated with people with small arms. and in a way accelerated the collapse of the soviet union in
that phase. but unfortunately when the russians left, everybody else left afghanistan and that i think was a big historical mistake because if the people who had been fighting when there was no opportunity for reconstruction and alternative jobs, they started fighting each other. and in my view if we had spent even 5% of what we spent after 9/11 in afghanistan, today's afghanistan would be very different. but with no jobs and no opportunities for reconstruction, then those very people started fighting each other and created a vacuum in people like al qaeda and osama bin laden were sucked in and that created the problem we're all very familiar with. after that, of course, came 9/11 and those very people that we had trained and funded and armed jointly were pushed into our side of the border in the tribal area and that created another existential threat to us and
which i'll come to a little later. but throughout this period, our interaction between the pentagon and our defense establishment, between our foreign policy establishment, our economic counterparts has been quite cordial and on the whole very, very positive. because u.s. has been pakistan long-standing partner in defense cooperation as well as on the economy. and so these opportunities in which we worked together further intensified that particular relationship. so, in this context one of the key elements in the recent past has been what we call our strategic dialogue. and the effort to carry the process beyond afghanistan and security issues into a deeper partnership which includes better economic cooperation as well as more trade and
investment cooperation. so, the strategic dialogue was started actually in 2010 and three quick sessions were held in march, july and october of that year and then, of course, those were interrupted in 2011 and '12 by a series of unfortunate incidents, raymond davis, salala and osama bin laden and the dialogue could not take place at that time. so, our government came in in june 2013, secretary kerry came to pakistan within two months in august and he suggested that we should now put the relationship back on the rail and revive the dialogue, so that was done and we had the fourth round in july -- in january, 2014, and then the fifth meeting in islamabad in 2015 and now we had the sixth session yesterday in which we have initially there were ten working groups but now there are six. and each of these groups has a
very important agenda, but there's a group on energy. and that has done very well, and they have recently evolved a partnership on new and renewable energy which is a very important dimension of the coming years because we all need clean and renewable energy. then there is a group on finance and economics and trade. and that has made good progress and some of the things although our trade has not improved for various reasons but generally pak -- u.s. is still our largest trading partner. and then there's a group on counterterrorism and violent extremism where we have the task of building infrastructure in counterterrorism techniques and equipment. and we also have a group on nuclear nonproliferation and related subjects where we have very good interaction between our teams and their team.
in each of these groups there is a pakistani co-chairperson and an american co-chairperson, and they throughout the year once a year they meet, and at the strategic dialogue level at the foreign minister's level each present their report and we evaluate and say this progress has been made, implementation is okay, and how do we move forward. so, yesterday the six reports represented and we also, of course, discussed regional issues, so on the whole i'll say it was a very successful session. we've identified very important areas. a new group which is a part of the sixth group is education, science and technology. and i think the best export from america to pakistan is education. because i think basically with education and the interaction between universities and -- so we are evolving a concept of what you call knowledge corridor. in the last centuries people concentrate on physical
corridors, road connectivity and energy connectivity but knowledge corridor in our view is a very significant concept in which through the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and technology you spearhead progress which is not possible without that. in fact, gradually more and more economies are knowledge-based economies rather than only sort of raw material production-based technologies. so, this is a very promising group and the proposals to increase the number of funded scholarship and our own finance scholarships, we have more teachers. in different fields we hope to do that. so, these are the -- some of the things which have happened. now, at the regional agenda, there are three issues which dominated our discussion and also occupy the floor today. as you look into the future. of our u.s./pakistan relation. now, in looking at the future of
u.s./pakistan relation, the important thing is the change in pakistan's policies and ground realities which provide the basis for carrying this process further. and these are areas in which our priorities coincide with u.s. priorities and the progress we make provide the opportunity for better interaction. and the most important of these is counterterrorism. because as i mentioned earlier, we inherited this crisis on our borders after 9/11 and they became a threat to us to a very large extent because our tribal area's ungoverned and very long porous border, so when the terrorists from afghanistan and those groups which are fight in, and many other nationals, they came to our part. they initially were looking for safety, but gradually they started expanding to other parts. so, by 2007-'8 they had become a
major threat to those areas and there was the pakistani taliban joined hands with the people of taliban and other groups also supporting them. so, the frequency of suicide attacks and bomb blasting started increasing from 2004 onward. and i think by last count our total casualties in these 12 years have been about 60,000 including 10,000 security personnel. and economic losses more than $100 billion. so, i think when we came in, this -- and without, of course, with this kind of security environment it affected investment climate. it affected trade relations and people could not come to pakistan. so, this was priority number one when our government came in, how to deal with this issue. so, i think in the last 2 1/2 years we have achieved notable success in this and we started with karachi in september, 2013,
when we started the karachi operation, because karachi's surroundings had become a hub of all the people who had escaped from the tribal areas and they were trying to build their networks around karachi. so, the problem was beyond the capacity of the police, so we have a semimilitary establishment called rangers, which is a sort of kind of local force which is officered by the army and it's a specialized force. so, they would go to investigate through a special loft, and they in about 12 months' time managed to apprehend 12,000 of these extremist and terrorist groups which was very prove providential as you'll see. we started a major operation in the agencies, the largest of our seven tribal agencies and after
the action in the first six agencies, everybody had converging to this and created their networks of factories and suicide training centers and communication networks, command and control system. so, it had become a very major hub of and state related virtually gone. so 15th june 2014 this operation started in the last 18, 19 months they managed to clear out about almost 90%, 95% of the agency. and the infrastructure of all the terrorists networks have been totally destroyed. and that i think has been a very important factor in this whole process. then came, of course, the december, 2014, attack on the peshawar school when 140 children were killed and that was a very in a way game changer because the -- it unified the nation against terrorism. before that we did not have total political consensus
against terrorism because there were groups which were sympathetic to them for one reason or another. but after that incident all the political parties came together, and they joined hands and said enough is enough. there is no distinction between good and bad terrorists. they're all bad for us and we must move against them. so, that laid the basis for what is called a national exigent program of 20 points which was adopted within about three weeks of all the political parties inside the parliament and outside including many religious parties and this now is the platform which is under implementation. and the first part, of course, is the -- after the operations is done, anintelligence-based operation system. it's a very interesting concept because as i mentioned in the context of karachi, police know where people rented and where they are living. when that is combined with the force of the semimilitary the
rangers and then the army, then the operation becomes more effective. so, this intelligence-based operation has been going on around all the cities of the country for the last 13 months. and they have apprehended almost 25,000 of these terrorists or extremist groups, some killed, some arrested, some expelled. and so has -- as a result of these two things the operations and the intelligence-based operation, the terrorist attacks in the last year, 2015, were less than half of what they were in 2014. so, the drastic reduction has been a very welcome development and security environment in karachi and many of the cities has improved and investors are coming back so generally it has been a very -- and it's a work in progress. it's not yet completed, but i think the last 12 to 18 months we think the incidents will come down drastically. the next phases of the national action plan is madrassa reforms
and tightening of the system of their funding sources. we have -- we have about 7,000, 8,000 madrassas, where people are trained and brainwashed and not all madrassas terrorist related but many of them are, so now those madrassas have been notified either close down or register yourself. and we have now parallel funding controlled mechanism. the federal investigation agency has a monitoring network which will monitor where money is coming from outside and how it is used. so, this will block off, choke off, many of the places where these people either get training or get motivation. and then, of course, we have along with this effort a new organization called nacta, national anti-terrorism authority which is the nerve center of intelligence coordination as well as different operations which
become our main arm against terrorism as you go along because the combination of intelligence, political work, and military action has to be combined if you want to achieve results. and the third phase which is medium term is deradicalization, which means how do you win the minds and hearts of these people, which means critical reform. the whole counternarrative for the extremist narrative and particularly the isil narrative is very powerful and very catchy for the young people. you can't counter by sermons from religious leaders. it requires a very different approach to identifying these messages and identifying the correct response to these. so, this is medium-term work. and we are cooperating with some other countries also through the organization of islamic countries to find the counternarratives because this is a problem for many countries not only pakistan. so, i think this is one area in which our -- it's an area of strategic convergence between
pakistan and the united states and there's considerable appreciation that pakistan has taken the decisive step in the world particularly our own region, the incidence of terrorism is increasing. in pakistan we are almost on the point where we can say we are turning the corner and we hopefully in the next year or two we'll be one of the outstanding example of a country that was able to control terrorism within its borders. the second area where we have this convergence and where we have made good progress is the strengthening of the democratic process. as you know pakistan has suffered from military rule for half its ex -- independent existence and that has been the major cause of many of our problems. so, in 2006 the two main political partyies they signed charter of democracy in london, saying in future we'll never encourage -- allow the armed forces to take advantage of our
differences, because they always step in, you know, try to do something, and the opposition would always invite the army to play its role in the country and when they come, they don't leave. they don't arbitrate, they become the camel's neck, so therefore it is something that was a very welcome development. and thank god that that particular agreement that was reached has been fulfilled after the 2008 election, a democratic government had come. it was not performing in terms of going very well, but our prime minister, our leader at that time said that bad democracy is better than no democracy, so let the process go on. the people will decide whether they deserve to be elected or not. so, we had the first smooth transition in 2013, one democratic government transferred power to another. and -- but unfortunately a year later there was a threat to democracy again when one of our political parties with the help of another party started a
four-month agitation in our capital to bring down the government. and that's the time when the test of this charter of democracy came. and all the opposition parties, all the parties except these two parties, came to the parliament and for two weeks they defended the democratic process. said do not allow this to be usurped. so, i think the threat of instability that was looming at that time disappeared. so, that in a way showed that the people's commitment at large to democratic institutions and tradition is very strong. but democracy is not just periodical election. we have the other important prerequisites for democracy in place. if some of you will recall there was a very big movement in 2009 to restore the independence of the judiciary, musharraf had dislodged. and then there was liberalization of the media, so
we were very free and vibrant media at the moment which is strongly monitoring violation of human rights, violation of property rights, corruption, et cetera, et cetera. and thirdly, of course, we have a strong and vibrant civil society. so, different pillars of democracy that we need in the country are getting into place. it's not dramatic, but the way the institutions are developing we can say that democracy's taking roots in pakistan and which is very important because all our problems in the past came in a military rule, it was excellent for the economy, but east pakistan has never felt they are ruling their own affairs and similarly in west pakistan after that when hut came, it looked very sort of elegant on the surface, but the liberation movement, the other movements, they all started under dictatorship, because in democracy every constituent unit is managing its own affairs and
subunits also, so that's why they feel involved and the movements don't come. so, in that sense i think democracy is the guarantee of the federation. and so that i think has now taken roots and so we are quite happy. the third area where i think we have this convergence and our ground reality has improved is our policy of peaceful neighborhood. since our prime minister's main flank is economic revival, you can't achieve economic progress if you have trouble with all your neighbors. so, the policy to start with was we must improve our relationship with afghanistan, with india, with iran, with china, and all our neighborhood because that's the only way we can have true connectivity and through various kind of linkages have better economic progress. so, with afghanistan it was a particularly challenging task because there was the perception in afghanistan that whatever they had achieved after 9/11 was
threatened by the taliban, and they will succeed because pakistan is supporting them. as early as august, 2013, within three months of our coming into government, we reviewed the situation. i think we reach a unanimous conclusion that taliban coming back to power in afghanistan is not in our own security interests because then all the people that i mentioned earlier were becoming a threat to us, they'll become even stronger so ideology they're the nexus, so this was conveyed at that time to karzai and then later on to aft afghani and that started the process of improving our relationship. there's still people who suspect it's not across the board and we still have people who are sympathetic to taliban, but i think this perception needs to be corrected, because the way we have carried on our process in last two years, the starting point of that is very clear, that unless peace come to
afghanistan, pakistan will not become peaceful, and therefore, our interest in restoring peace and stability in afghanistan is as important for us as it is for afghanistan. and that requires that there should be a political consensus >> now, it has gone through different phases and when i came on 29th september, very, very strong feeling of achieving the right relationship two months after it took over, they had how to start the reconciliation process. then insurgency would not pick up. unfortunately the start of the talks and therefore the insurgency became much stronger
than they expected and that created the perception and the concentration they have left that they want to try whatever opportunity they had. i must say that the security forces and the performance are better than our expectations and they are not lasting. and the losses. in the short run. but everybody is convinced that the taliban can take it back despite the difficulties they have they have to continue them
in five or ten years. without some kind of consideration, they can't stop. we persuaded them that some effort should be made and we did succeed in convening the first taliban meeting last year. that was quite a meeting and the first time they discussed amnesty and business exchange and things of that kind and they're great to meet again. two days before the meeting, the death two years ago was announced and that derailed the
process and they don't know why it was necessary. if they are done a week later, they would have taken place and the process would continue. that created a lot of misgivings and the talks could not resume. finally on the ninth of december last year at the conference, there were discussions with china and the united states. they agreed to resume the process and under the framework, the later coordination group. that group had met four times in the last 2 1/2 months. the first time on the 11th of january and the 19th of january and 23rd of february and they prepared and now we hope in the
coming days they could take place between the iran taliban and the government. if two factors operate successfully, one, the ground situation remains stable and at the same time they see things on the table which is more substantial. this is an area in which pakistan and the u.s. will try for more dialogue and try to achieve that.
and of course we reached out to india and promised to attend the ceremony and we are waiting for the dialogue to be resumed. they disrupted the process of the meeting and now that they have taken action on this incident, the police report has been registered. they have been empty-handed and the custody and the facilities see that. if they get more evidence, the process will start and once we begin the dialogue, i'm sure we will deal with some issues. normal happies will start so
that tension rose on the ground dealing with more difficult sense of adventure. china deepened the relationship and that includes the projects and finally i think in the process the economy improves the climate improves and growth ready has gone up and this will create more opportunities for trade with the u.s. and other countries. these are the positive elements in the situation and they have a
dealing of the afghanistan situation and there certain groups that are supposed to be the remnants that are scheduled around and so in our case that's as well as the fear, but in this particular case, they are starting and they may still be around, but the bulk of the capacity of these groups is within afghanistan. whenever the opportunity as, the
road map that we developed requires to invite all groups. they will come and then in the next few weeks, we know what is happening and this can be there. to the extent possible. the other concern with the u.s. in terms of the nuclear weapons and security and safety of nuclear weapons and command and control, we have outstanding progress and developing that system and all the international agencies and u.s. acknowledged that pakistan has developed a good system for the safety the concern remains that as most of you are aware, they have a challenge against the
complaint that welcomes the best way we can. we don't need all of these things. these are the negatives we are discussing, but the positive side of the agenda and emergence exceeds and i hope these relationships will continue. this is my brief assessment of the relation. i'm sorry i spoke longer than i was expecting to. >> thank you very much. that was indeed a very
comprehensive look and examination. before opening it up, i wanted to start off on one aspect of the relationship in the neighborhood thaw mentioned that was the end. given the larger neighborhood, how do you manage then the ability of spoilers to take you off the track with the india relationship and the grow iing difficulties? >> it is a good question. the directions give the implementation.
if you continue with what i presented and the great deal of problems came with fighting for other people. somebody that they had to examine. they didn't come there. what would have happened? something would have happened. with drugs and guns and tracks. we destroyed our intention in the last 20 or 25 years. that's what we took. ironically at that time they needed this kind of support for their own survival. they did that and so we have now decided enough is enough and we
must look after our own borders. that's the economy and not become a part of anything that does not. that's in simple words and what i explained. we don't want to interfere by supporting one group or another and engaged and otherwise we never become peaceful. the general international position, we support that and we are not taking the sites.
it's better for us to try to create that. they come into pressure and i hope the dictator is easy to present. >> in terms of india and what happened, how do you try to create some kind of a safety net that that doesn't happen every time. >> the question is every time and non-state actors of course you can't get a country that totally controls them.
all kinds of people floating in boats. this kind of incident. we want to deal with them and therefore they have suffered much more. and they have been interfering. therefore less absolutely relationship and they did not happen as far as the state is concerned. >> let me open this up to members and if you are asking a question, keep it to a brief question and wait for the microphone. if you don't mind standing up and identifying yourself and ask
the question. >> in light of the oscar win, what are your thoughts on the honor crime legislation is set to be presented in front of parliament later this month. the importance of this particular is that they received the first oscar. the prime minister invited her to come in to the cabinet and other elite from the city.
michael? >> thank you for giving us this time. they have been following up on the question and quoted in the press as saying that the fellows who carried out the attack had called handlers back in pakistan. so is this an accurate report of what you said and if it is, would it be permissible? >> in the newspaper, what i said
was so far the information is television calls. out of the three or four numbers, they held office. that persuaded us to take action against the detention of the leaders. the next step is to provide enough. and we decide to get the proper photograph because those are people lying on the ground and you can't get them in the database like that. proper fingerprints which enables us to see. that is step number one. the link of those with the telephone number or the organization is the next thing.
>> bill and melinda gates foundation. we are committed to support a number of issues and one of the areas i am curious about is the area of financial services for the poor. in your remarks you talked about the way that they map and follow. in our evaluation you noticed that there is debanking happening at the institution level and what they have done in terms of tension of trying to track illegal uses and flows. and others that try to use the flows for good. >> i don't think it will have an
effect on the financial resources for the poor. they come from outside. they have the jurisdiction and the problem will be for those people who are just trying to send the associates. that will obviously come and that is why they are increased. they are looking at the amount last year. i think in terms of flows, we have the income support program that started two years ago. we have increased from 40 million groupies to that gives to very poor families about five million people. an income of 1500 a month to
keep the food bill down. we have a short-term loan. that program is also starting. and that will help the boor to mainstream them and also power and i hope in the meanwhile the growth rate picks up and the generation is the most important. if jobs increase. >> i work for the washington institute for policy. many years ago i was the bbc
corresponde correspondent. there was a new book out by michael hayden, the head of the cia. and the line according to the review last sunday's "new york times" which i would like to quote you is that pakistan is the ally from hell. are you still the ally from hell and if you are not, when did you stop being the ally from hell? >> they presented that, but i don't know that he has my answers. there was this very big divide in our thinking after 9/11 because usa responsible changed from those people they became
the terrorists. people who had partially gone from here and became infected. they were not there. this perception that pakistan is under one hand by participating in the war against terror and supporting someone who looks. those people say to us, we can't fight that. and that is fully cooperating. some of the groups there had the question mark. there is the time when these perceptions got even more.
there has been a significant change in the policy. i hope to be able as a result qualifi qualified. >> bob hathaway at the woodrow wilson center. i want to ask about pakistan's role in the peace process for the pal ban. there is considerable skepticism here in washington as well as elsewhere about pakistan's willingness to enter. i'm saying its. it's a plural.
it's there. anyway, the willingness to negotiate in good faith. can you give us a sense to the extend to which your governs is able to encourage or pressure the various groups to negotiate in good faith and abide by the promises? if you can talk about the tools or the sources of your various taliban groups. >> good question. i think first of all people
recognize they did not listen to pakistan and they had christian actions. many of the teams. they would listen to us and they did not and they had the weekend hardware with osama bin laden. now we have some leadership. and that comes to the table. we can't noeshd because we can't offer them. and then the road map. it is for the iran taliban and
the government to negotiate the out come. pakistan has the reward and we are ready before the meeting last year. we had that and restricted the movements and the facilities and threatened them that if you do not come forward and talk, then we will at least ex-bell and you give you a chance to go wherever you want to. we hosted you enough and can't do any more. and the world is blaming us with your presence here.
and with the road map, the u.s., pakistan and china so we can decide. i don't think we are at the stage where the negotiation started here. the idea is to bring them to the table and we start talking. it is foreign secretary would say they have been the counterpart & by all the other countries are being in fact for us it took time this is the
advice they give and all three of us are indicators. that's what holds the cards and not us. >> we have time for two quick questions. back there, sir. one of the thing sus can't make progress without good governance. effective government services and high quality services and people's access to these services. we spent a lot of time talking
about this and you alerted to the military tension and so what is the plan of the current government to strengthen control and governance in the country and improve the lives and gain control over the security profile over the next few years. the most important element of the good governance is the system. i think we have demonstrated that in the last 2 1/2 years. all departments are based on due process. they are merit-based and not politically motivated.
they had a decent violation. if you allow the tradition to go to the grass roots level, i think in the last few years, they have taken important steps it is the strength of the institution and electoral reforms and so on and so forth. we have a very serious challenge because in the last few years, most of the institutions have been dominated that not based on
merit and it's very difficult to clean it up. we don't have them replaced and they go and ask and the effort of the operation has taken longer than you might have expected because of the problems. to that extent we are strengthening the institutions, particularly those that protect the bank depositors and the shareholders. we have time to i hope by the end, you see many more examples of the governance. i hope that the media will improve and we will be able to show the education and some
other things. we made quite substantial progress. >> thank you for this time with us. on behalf of the council, i appreciate it and look forward to seeing you at another venue. thank you for being at this one. >> c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tomorrow morning, new york republican congressman chris gibb and minnesota democratic congressman discuss opposition to the obama administration's drawdown to the lowest levels since world war ii. the chair of the commission thomas hicks will talk about voting integrity. be sure to watch the washington journal live beginning at 7:00 a.m. eastern tomorrow morning. join the discussion.
the ends of the earth goes covering a minimum of six countries. here i look at one country in depth and i use it to explore great themes. i think great themes. the holocaust, the cold war, the challenge of vladimir putin. romanians have a longer border with ukraine than poland has. to study romania is to study the legacy of empires. he talks about the history of the balcan states and the democracy since the fall of
criticism. what happened is the romanian population has grown up and become far most sophisticate and demanding clean government. it is the number one demand. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> they talked about europe's relationship with the united states and german foreign policy including the in providing refugees from the mideast and the negotiations over iran's nuclear program. from george washington university, this is just over an hour. >> good morning. my name is nelson and i serve as the chairman at the board of
trustees. it is my pleasure today to welcome the german minster of foreign affairs to george washington university. i would like to welcome the german ambassador as well. what i understand is his only university appearance in his trip to the united states. i should note that he is the highest ranking german official ever to speak at gw. we are grateful for this time today. he was born and raised as part of the former west germany and studied law and political science at the university. the minster had a long and illustrious career. he has long been a member of germa
germany's social democratic party and from 2009 to 2013, he served as the chair of the party's parliament' group. he served twice as foreign minster. first in angela merkel's first term cabinet from 2005 to 2008. most recently since 2013. the minster played a central role in negotiations within the eu with rush what and ukraine and with the they are strong in addressing many of the greatest challenges. we look forward to illuminating the assessment from the strong
partnership. please join me in welcoming the minster of foreign affairs. i am well aware on this day, few people in d.c. are looking across the atlantic most are looking to alabama and arkansas and tennessee or texas. first of all, thanks for coming even though i am going to talk about foreign policy and not about super tuesday. in germany we do not have super tuesday. we imported many things from the u.s. that start with super. super markets, super man, and especially for hot summer days,
the super soaker. but our tuesday, they are just average tuesdays. what i would the risk of failing on fragile states and because of terrorism and the so-called islamic state. can any one of you recall a time in which we were facing as many, as dangerous, as complex crisis as today? i am afraid i have a few more years to recall than most of you. what's more, none of these is
far away. however much we may prefer, none of these crisis is just some terrifying news item that you read about online. for us in germany, these crisis are present in our very midst. in our towns, in our schools, in our emergency shelters. they had the conflict regions over half from there. over one million from a country of about 80 million. the united nations tell us that right now there more people in the world who have lost their homes due to the conflict and violence than at any time since the second world war. the great catastrophe of the
20th century. how do we react to this? what does it do to us. you need to look at the politics first. that relies on public support. on broad consensus and large degree of continuity. and to be honest, i am worried about that. in germany and europe, something is gaining momentum in our domestic politics and to be honest, i am seeing it here in the united states during the primary campaigns with the
politics of fear. don't get me wrong. fear is an important human reflection. these crisis are dangerous. fear is an important indicator, but fear is a terrible adviser. in politics just as in all parts of life. i am going to quote the that came right after. who of you knows that one? any fdr nerds here? in the following sentence, roosevelt said that i quote fear paralyzes needed efforts to
convert, retreat into advance. that is the key. we need to advance instead of retreat. we need to go out there and we need to engage and address the roots of the conflicts and we need to do it together as allies and partners, especially across the atlantic. the politicians of fear they pretend that we can't deal with our own problems. that's wrong. the world you live in is much too interconnected. it's better that way. my country, germany benefitted like no other from openness. from open borders and open
markets and free movement in europe. so the one of the thing we can do is to seal ourselves off. i think it's not much different from the united states, the leader in trade and communication and innovation worldwide. if you ask me, building walls is t a bad idea no matter who pays for them. they are dangerous for europe and the u.s. they are bad for the world and they will be bad for the relations. what's the alternative? one might say the politics of hope. i know that sounds familiar from earlier presidential affects. but i'm not going to use it
because in foreign policy, hope doesn't get you very far. foreign policy, what you need above all is perseverance. perseverance in hopeless situations, perseverance because there is no simple solution to any of these. let me give you an example. last summer, we reached an agreement with iran. it was really a breakthrough agreement not only because it makes sure that iran will not get ahold of a nuclear weapon, but also because it allows iran to follow a new path. a path fors openness and towards a more responsible role in the security of the mideast. some in the u.s. have criticized the agreement. i agree that it's not perfect.
it's not the best solution to the threat, but it's the best possible solution. do you know how long it took 12 years. imagine this at your own university. you signed yourself up for a really tough seminar. ranging to nuclear physics. when you show up to the first class, it turns out you got all the most complicated classmates of your school in this seminar. as complicated and incompatible as russia and europe and the u.s. and china and iran. all in the same classroom. now imagine that seminar is going on for 12 years.
it gives me hope they can bridge the deepest. or take another case. all through the cold war when the iron curtain the united states stood guard. and imagine in the year 1955. it has been years already. let's pick up and go. nobody back then, not even in the 60s or 70s knew that it would all be over in 1990. your grandfathers and fathers
stayed for 55 years. and if they had not stayed, i wouldn't be living in a unified, free, and strong germany today. those are the fruits of perseverance. after 1990, after the end of the cold war, many have hoped that things would be easier. there was a famous bestseller called the end of history. after all, the western liberal democracies have proven the superiority once and for all so we hope that history wouldn't be as hard. what a naive hope. history is still hard on us. now it is throwing new types of conflict at us. not just of states against
states, but more often states against non-state extras. conflicts wrapped up in layers and layers of interests and ambitions. conflicts that drive state or international order to the brink of collapse. all this is happening right now in the terrible suffering. we can't just hope they go away. i'm afraid they are here to stay. do you know what john kerry said
a few weeks ago? he said this moment is not as overwhelming as people think it is. we know what needs to be done and most of all we have the power to do it. i agree with him and i believe we have every reason to be confident. not phi dent not out of krin air, but confident because we mastered even greater challenges in the past because we learned from them. that's why i said now that history is throwing new challenges, let us not go through the pains of the old ones again. the world moved on for better and for worse. and we have moved on too.
we have learned from the past that we have developed precious institutions and instruments in response. let me give you a very few simples. europe has created the european union to live together in peace and corporation today as all the crisis from to put europe under pressure. do we want to give up this lesson? do we really want to risk falling back into the pain of the past? i hope not. the work has given itself rules and institutions. rules to protect the peace and safety of all people and the
united nations for instance and the decoration of human rights. some weeks ago, the world showed it still knows now to use these institutions. 190 states signed an agreement in paris to fight the most far reaching long-term crisis we all face. the challenge of climate change. third example. after centuries of politics, the west created an alliance that transcends the old logic of might makes right. nato protects the territory and targetry of all its members, big or small or as the three musketeers would say, one for all and all for one. today as some countries are
falling back into 19th century power politics, we must stand up to nato's vision. we will reaffirm the unity and the resolve to defend each other against aggression while offering dialogue and engagement to overcome conflict and hopefully renew trust. as a fourth example, take your own historical experience. it took a painful civil war that almost tore this country apart for the states to learn the experience of national unity. you learned under great sacrifices that a house divided cannot stand and now 150 years after the civil war it is important to apply this lesson
nation states are under pressure. fragile and failing states are a bigger threat in our age than interstate conflicts. that's true across the mideast and northern africa. i don't think any conflict including syria would be easier to solve if we redrew the maps and changing state lines. instead they invest great resources and energy in the stabilization of fragile states from mal ito iraq. when i was your age i was at university. that was a few dozen miles away from the iron curtain.
the lines dwighting my country and the world. i said in nguyenic that we shouldn't talk ourselves into it. we have an institution called the organization for security and corporation in europe that not only helped us to overcome the gold war, but that can still help us to solve the conflicts of today. without the monitoring mission, we wouldn't have been able to conclude the agreements. even though this is not a perfect solution and there is still much to do on both sides to implement them, we would be
in a worse place without it. we believe germany has the oec chairmanship for this year. part of that leadership, ladies and gentlemen, students, part of that leadership will be our continued dialogue with russia. and do you know why? because for good or for ill, russia is a reality. we cannot ignore it. it has influence in the middle east, in syria and europe and beyond. so, if we want to achieve solutions, we need to engage with russia even if it's hard and it's very hard these days. okay, i realize that my speech almost turned into the history lecture and though i do have white hair and glasses, that's
not why i like to talk about history today. i just believe we need to remind ourselves of the lessons that our fathers and grandfathers learned, of the tools and institutions they created. you can put these tools to work now on your generations challenges. that's why i'm confident. so, what do i say again the politics of fear. my answer is perseverance, confidence and thirdly cooperation. the united states cannot solve the world's problems alone. and neither can the world solve them without the u.s. we need to cooperate and we have cooperated for seven decades. in doing so we built strongest alliance that earth of us have
ever had. the transatlantic alliance. it's strong in terms of security. it's strong in terms of economy. and it's even strong in term of culture. hollywood loves berlin so much that according to season five that berlin is now part of the homeland and speaking of another long awaited series maybe in season four claire underwood would want to become ambassador to berlin. but no spoilers today. coming back, the students to the real world, the transatlantic alliance is also strong in the every day cooperation between our governments. our governments today are closer both in our basic ideas and our daily work on foreign policy than i can ever remember.
and you can't overestimate how important that is in these time of global turmoil. the closeness of our cooperation sometimes shows itself in unexpected ways. two weeks ago, after a long day of panels, speeches, bilateral and multibilateral meetings at the munich security conference your secretary of state kerry and i spontaneously spent three hours in the beer hall. [ laughter ] after a while, our entire staff joined in and they stayed even longer. so the next morning they weren't looking very good but they said to us, president kennedy once said united there is little we cannot do, and last night we found new meaning in that. [ laughter ] so i see some of you are just as
excited for the diplomatic service. [ laughter ] when i talk about cooperation to students to solve the current crisis then we need others too. the united states and europe cannot shoulder responsibility for peace and security alone. every strong nation bears part of that responsibility. take the case of syria. when people talk about that conflict they talk about syria, for sure. but also about iran and saudi arabia. and turkey and russia. they talk about their national interests and ambitions, about rivalries and fears. and that is real. and it is relevant. but i suggest that we measure a country's true strengths not by these things but by its willingness and ability to
assume responsibility not only for its own security, but also beyond its own borders. with the international syria support group we're all nations who have a stake in sir area sit together at the same table. two weeks ago every member of that group renewed their commitments to shared responsibility in syria. the munich commitments are clear. they are clear about humanitarian access. they are clear about the reduction of violence and the cease-fire and they are clear about political humanitarian and military coordination. so what counts now is that we all live up to the implementation of these commitments. every hour, every hour that the current cease-fire holds is an important part of that. most of all, for the people suffering in syria since five
years. perseverance, confidence, cooperation, responsibility, it's a long list, but while we try to do all that, let's not get overhand by the magnitude of crises. let's take one step before the other, let's be pragmatic. in my mind pragmaticism means not inflating everything that we do politically. take the example of germany's refugee policy, for instance. our refugee policy is neither germany's moral perfection, for germany's downfall. giving shelter to victims of war, violence and persecution is simply a musee ly humanitarian . the humanitarian duty is
enshrined not only in germany's basic law but in the johnseurop treaty's and geneva convention which other countries have signed. i know this is a controversial issue over here, but the united states is known around the world as the melting pot, as the nation that welcomes immigration and gives refuge to those who need it. so, i hope we will work together pragmatically to manage displacement and migration today. the number of refugees has to be reduced. but regarding the middle east, and the main sources for the migration dynamics, for instance, in the last year, we will only be successful if we are tackling the root causes of
migration. and de-escalating the syrian conflict. therefore that's the reason why we're so much focused on this de-escalation process. if you think this is so typically german of im, that's not entirely true. the founding fathers of this great nation were not only powerful leaders and visionary statesmen, but they were also pretty pragmatic and practical people. george washington not only won the revolutionary war and was the first president of this nation, but he was also a farmer who invented the seven year crop rotation. thomas jefferson not only wrote the declaration of independence and ensured separation of church and state, but he also got up every morning to check on his
250 vegetables and noted down every detail of their progress in his notebooks. i by contrast, can just about make a pancake -- >> lau [ laughter ] -- but that's my point. my point is we don't have to retreat into politics of fear. we have every reason to be confident in our ability to change the world for the better. we know that in times of crisis every practical step counts. even if for every two steps forward there is also a step back. we know that in times of uncertainty, we can build on institutions that our ancestors gave us after a violent history. we know that in times of changing global order we can shape the new order just as
those founding fathers did. and we know that in times of shifting global weights, we should deepen our confident alliance across the atlantic. many thanks. [ applause ] thank you so much, minister steinmeier for that wonderful, beautiful, inspiring speech. my snam hope harris i'm the associate dean of research and associate professor of history and international affairs. i am a long time scholar of germany, a lover of berlin, so