Lisbon – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered an address at the 67th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly where the Speaker accepted the inaugural Women For Peace And Security Award. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. President. And congratulations to you on your reelection as President of a very, very, very important, crucial organization at this time. Thank you to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, to all of you for this wonderful award, which I will display with great pride in the Speaker’s Office in the Capitol, as a constant reminder and inspiration of the work that you do and the importance of parliaments in the work of security, the economy, governance – the issues that brought us here today.
I’m honored to receive it from you, Mr. Chairman – Mr. President. Mr. President has a nice ring to it. Because of your great leadership on foreign policy and security for so many years in the Congress, of course, recognized by your colleagues here, but also in the House of Representatives. I want you to know how respected his voice is in the Congress. And again, we take great pride in his presidency of this organization.
Thank you, Gerry Connolly.
So, here we are in Lisbon, and here we are just honored not only by the beautiful hospitality and the cultural experience and all the rest of the Portuguese government and the parliament, Mr. Speaker, but also by the seriousness of purpose of the comments that you both made here today. Mr. Speaker, it was an honor to hear the array of concerns that you – challenges that you placed there. Mr. Prime Minister, the values framework in which you put it. And then, to hear Gerry talk about a new way to look at all of this. Clearly, listening to the Prime Minister and the Speaker, it is clear that the Atlantic Ocean does not divide us, but is unifying to us. The transatlantic relationship is one that we value. Clearly you do. Lisbon, Portugal, has been, shall we say, the ‘master of the seas’ from the Age of Discovery. And now, as you’ve tried with the COP26 and also that – your initiatives on the oceans, to protect that tremendous ecological resource. I last saw the Prime Minister in Spain, in Madrid for COP25, where, again, your leadership was so evident – Portugal’s leadership, so evident.
So, it’s an honor to be with you to hear you talk about being one of the founding members of NATO is indeed a source of pride to Portugal. But it’s also a source of great pride to NATO that Portugal was one of the founding members, even at a time not as democratic as it is now, as Mr. Speaker referenced.
It is exciting to be here to talk about the bipartisanship of multilateralism in the Congress of the United States. I think it’s important to always make that point. Parliaments are important. Bipartisanship is important. And I just want to acknowledge that still with us are some of our other colleagues from all over the country. Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington, Linda Sanchez of California, Brett Guthrie of Kentucky, John Garamendi of California, Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, Neal Dunn of Florida and Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico. And that is an applause line, all of them. Could you please?
America’s commitment to our transatlantic partnership is proudly, as I say, bipartisan – but it is also ironclad, recognizing that NATO is a pillar of peace and security around the world. As a former NATO PA member, a key priority for my Speakership has always been reaffirming and strengthening America’s commitment to NATO, that I was honored to host Secretary General Stoltenberg for an historic address to a Joint Session of Congress to mark 70 years of NATO in 2019, as President Connolly mentioned. It was an historic day for us in the Congress. And we were greatly inspired and given much hope by the Secretary General’s presentation. Thank you, Secretary General, for honoring us then with your presence and – just last week in Washington, D.C. meeting in a bipartisan way. So, the ongoing recognition from both sides of the Atlantic of the importance. And Members of Congress, led by Gerry Connolly, as I said, met with the Secretary General just last week.
I take special pride in the Secretary General because his parents were in school and working in San Francisco when he was born, so we have that connection. We also have a connection with this bridge. I mean, here we have this – looks like the Golden Gate Bridge, or ours looks like your bridge. But I think it’s enough of a sign for us to say, since we’re here now with this bridge, maybe, again, once again, I’ll say maybe the NATO PA should be meeting in San Francisco sometime soon.
In any way, when we come to meetings of this kind, or just on CODELs to different strategic areas of the world, our three pillars of our presentation or our pursuit of information has always been security, security, security, first and foremost; economics, because economics are central to the strength of a democracy; and governance, as you spoke of Mr. Prime Minister, governance as you mentioned. We’re not just NATO. It’s not just a security alliance. It’s a values of – cohesion built around values. And governance, again, is about our values. It’s an expression of integrity. And it is a way to stave off corruption, which is so destructive to democracies and those countries who aspire to more freedom.
So, I was glad to learn about the discussion for the Center for Democratic Resilience – the Center for Democratic Resilience that President Connolly was talking about, increasingly made more necessary because of autocracy raising its head and challenging democracy in many places, as well as the corruption that frequently goes with autocratic rule. So, a peaceful world, the world at peace that you talked about, is one that is furthered not just by security and fairness in our economies. But it’s also about values and governance. And that is so important. And that is really this Center. What are we calling it? The Center for Democratic Resilience is in furtherance of NATO’s purpose. It really is.
The furtherance of its purpose is also a realization of the role of women, for equal participation of women in security matters. NATO – thank you, Secretary General – has recognized that with the Women, Peace and Security agenda, with its work to mainstream a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations and prioritizing greater representation of women at all decision-making levels.
It is with great humility and pride that I accept this inaugural Women for Peace and Security Award. I do so with deep appreciation of the contribution of NATO to advancing gender equality in the arena of peace and security. So, thank you so much. I’m very honored to receive this.
This honor is particularly meaningful to me because, for over 25 years as a member of Intelligence and an ex officio, as Speaker of the House, intelligence has – well, it really made me the first Speaker – first leader, actually – in the Congress for generations to ever have a security credential going into that office. The first time – imagine, all those years all those men, none of them had been in the committees of security. And I really respect my colleagues for respecting the importance of that.
One of the goals was to bring more diversity, as Mr. Connolly mentioned, more diversity, more women, more people of color into the Intelligence Community – because when we talk about our security, we talk about our military, very important, our diplomacy, very important, but also our intelligence aspects of that. So, I wanted the face of American security to be more about women, people of color, in all of those aspects.
So, this award that means a lot to me, and I will share it with my colleagues, many of the women in Congress who serve in leadership roles on our Armed Services Committee, Intelligence Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, Homeland Security Committee and the rest.
But this is not about mere representation. It’s about leadership in those regards. I also think – but you know, I just say that when we’re fighting corruption, women are great champions in fighting corruption, wherever it may exist. And fighting corruption is strengthening democracy.
The voices of women are needed – well, always, always are needed – but right now, when we talk about Afghanistan, it’s so much in our hearts and our minds. I wear this ring that was given to me by the women of Afghan, made by the women of Afghanistan. I’ve been there many, many times over the last 20 years. And we visited the women of course: in Kabul, the very accomplished women – lawyers, doctors, university heads, leaders in every way and so impressive – but also to visit in the hinterlands the poorest of the poor women, beggars, really, people working in agriculture and the rest who are very poor, but were very thrilled that their daughters could go to school.
But one time, I was on a trip – fixed wing, helicopter, armored car, practically, I thought we were going to ride a donkey to get to where these people were, so remote were the regions we were going to – the women said, ‘We just want to meet with you alone, no men.’ We had a women’s delegation. We would take a woman delegation of women to visit the women there many times. And those women, as poor as they were, they said, ‘You want us to send our daughters to school, and we want to do that. You want them to take advantage of health centers. We want them to go there, but we cannot let them leave the house until we have security. And we – and we can’t have security until we end corruption in our country.’ Imagine as unsophisticated and – well, they were educated in many ways, but not formally. They understood the connection between freedom and ending corruption. So, we cannot ever forget them.
And I want to salute NATO, because the NATO alliance was so instrumental for having a whole generation – 20 years of girls, women and girls, to receive education, that what they would have never received without the NATO presence, the allies, the alliances in, in Afghanistan. Now we cannot, we cannot let that go, slip away. We must keep our focus there, keep these women close to our hearts as we go forward. Because it’s not just about the women. It’s about what it means for Afghanistan. It’s not just about Afghanistan. It’s what it means about security in the world, the women of Afghanistan. And once again, I salute NATO for the success and cooperation, U.S., NATO and other countries’ success in Afghanistan – and commend you as well, Mr. Prime Minister, and your country for your involvement there.
Again, in fact, when people ask me, ‘If you ruled the world, what one thing would you do?’ – I think about that a lot.
Or if any of us rule the world, what one thing would we do? And that would be easy. It would be to prioritize the education of women and girls. It would make the biggest difference not only in their lives, their families, their communities, but to the world.
Because we truly do believe that when women succeed, America succeeds – or any country succeeds. But globally, we all succeed.
And so that’s why I’m really especially honored to receive this award. I was so challenged, as well as impressed by the array of concerns that the Prime Minister put forth. It’s hard to prioritize so many things, except they fall into the categories of security, economy and the rest. And as the distinguished Prime Minister wished you well in the deliberations and that have taken place so far and what will come next, it is my honor to join him in wishing you well in all of that. So many things that we talked about in the time of COVID, in the time of climate crisis, in the time of cyber security, in the time of challenges as our distinguished President mentioned of, of China coming forth. So, it is an interesting time.
And I’m always about time. The Age of Discovery, getting back to Portugal and the Age of Discovery, who would succeed were those who could count time. They could do latitude by the stars, but they couldn’t do [longitude]. It was hard to do [longitude]. So, if you went someplace, and you found something, discovered something, you could see what star it was under, but you couldn’t – longitude, it was hard. So, who could ever discover how to – o’clock or could really put down markers, latitude and longitude. So, I’ve been very interested in time.
And so when our Founders in our country – Mr. Connelly and my colleagues have heard me say this again and again, at the beginning of America’s revolution, in the dark days of the Revolution – forgive our friends from UK, they’ve heard me say this – to the time of Revolution, Thomas Paine said, ‘The times have found us.’ The times have found us, found them to declare independence, for to war – win a war, established a country. The times found them. Found Lincoln, when he kept our country together. Found our allies in World War II to protect freedom and democracy and to have peace, a peaceful world.
Well, not to place ourselves in the category of greatness of all of those people, but understanding the urgency of the challenges spelled out by the Speaker, by the President, by the Prime Minister and by all of you coming here for that purpose, the times have found us. The times have found us to save our democracies. The times they found us to save our planet. The times have found us to ensure that the blessings of liberty and democracy are there, our planet that is intact, as we pass it on to future generations.
So, thank you all for the time you take, the commitment you make, the ideas you present, the focus you place on security, on economy and on governance. And good luck to you on your final deliberations. We all look forward to the statements that that you will make.
And as a Member of the House of Representatives, I thank you again for recognizing the extraordinary leadership of Gerry Connolly.
Mr. President, thank you all so much.
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