Remembering Secretary Madeleine K. Albright

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we received the news of the passing of the Aspen Ministers Forum (AMF) beloved founder and chair, Madeleine Albright.  The AMF has lost a dear leader, colleague, and friend. We are devastated by this loss. She was the soul of the Forum and used every meeting as a chance to champion the value of democracy, multilateralism, and cooperation to make progress on the most intractable challenges around the world. We were blessed to have the opportunity to collaborate with her and grow from her wisdom and the example she set.  Below are tributes from the minsters of AMF to Madeleine Albright.
–The AMF Family

I was very saddened to hear that Secretary Albright passed away. She was a great friend. Her contribution to democracy, freedoms and multilateralism will always be remembered.

With heartfelt sympathy,

Ali Babacan, Turkey

Words cannot express the depth and sorrow felt I am sure not only by myself but by all those who have known the late Secretary.

I have known Madeleine since my mission in Washington, D.C. as Ambassador of Morocco to the United States, in the mid-nineties. We worked together on many occasions and helped each other resolve many issues. Her overwhelming background and experience certainly marked decision makers in many parts of the world, particularly regarding issues of human rights, democracy, international cooperation and understanding.

We will always remember Madeleine Albright as an outstanding diplomat, author, and stateswoman. In addition to her official duties and achievements as a U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN and later as Foreign Secretary, Madeleine’s non-governmental activities in many domains are countless and I am particularly proud of being associated with AMF, which was founded and chaired by her.

In this context, I am also proud to have been a co-signer, with her, of the Statement on Migration in Africa published and endorsed by members of the AMF who have attended the Marrakech session in 2018.

Her legacy will continue to live on as a remarkable American woman figure of the 21st century.

I can only imagine the pain you are feeling having been a close companion of Madeleine’s, and may God give you the strength and patience to overcome. Please accept my deepest condolences to you and the whole AMF team. Madeleine Albright will be missed by all.

May God Bless her soul.

Mohamed Benaissa, Morocco

In how many ways do I remember Madeleine?

As a diplomat, the first woman Secretary of State of the United States (as I was for El Salvador), a diplomat who engaged in private and public dialogue with equal ease, pursuing her countries objectives and high values through her unique persuasion and influence skills, as I saw her do speaking with a salesman in Marrakesh as she did with the Defense Minister in Paris.

As a leader, our leader in the Aspen Minister Forum, crisscrossing countries, cultures, and themes, as we strove to contribute to a diverse global dialogue for a more peaceful international community, from analyzing President Truman’s legacy to understanding Information Disorder in the modern world. She took real leadership not as an opportunity but as a responsibility.

As a mentor, when we were just nine women Foreign Ministers in the world and she took me under her wing to guide me and help my people, as she did initiating the Temporary Protective Status for hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans who remained in the US after our back-to-back earthquakes in 2001.

As an author, how she enjoyed recounting her personal stories in those books she cherished and widely shared to disseminate her experience and knowledge.

As a woman, who always used her position and power to advance women and girls long before it became prevalent. With her quotes, like: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” that still push me to continue to give forward to women and girls everywhere, because as she said: “advancing and empowering women is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do”.

As a friend, in our numerous encounters, the last one being this January in her beloved Wellesley College as we engaged for a week with Wellesley’s Albright Institute Fellows cultivating students from all fields in the art of understanding global affairs, as only she knew how.

I will miss you dear Madeleine, my prayers are with your family, you will always be a part of me.

Maria Eugenia Brizuela de Avila, El Salvador

The sad news of the passing of Secretary Albright hit me particularly hard. For me it has been a great honour to be a member of the Aspen Ministers Group and to share her wisdom. We can only pay tribute to her work in order to create a better world.  She has been “une grande dame” in every sense of the expression. We will all miss her as our guiding star!

Erik Derycke, Belgium

I was shocked, deeply saddened, and felt devastated by the news that Madeleine had passed away.
Madeleine and I had served as foreign ministers during the same spell of years. We came to know each other in dealing with difficult diplomatic situations, including the Kosovo conflict and its resolution. We were colleagues that in the course of time became respected friends.

I have always admired Madeleine’s fortitude, her vision, her wisdom, combined with her preference for action over inaction. These were qualities that made her a great leader.

Enough to think of her multiple extraordinary initiatives in the field of foreign relations, including university teaching and, not least, the establishing of the AMF, composed of former foreign ministers, that Madeleine proudly has led for twenty years, in which we would discuss and make recommendations on major international issues. Needless to say that Madeleine will be sorely missed by all who had come to know her. On my part, with her death I feel that entire generation is passing away. On a personal note: my wife and I remember with distinct pleasure the day that years ago Madeleine spent with us at our house on the hills of Florence during which business and relaxed moments were blended together. Please convey my shared sorrow and heartfelt condolences to Madeleine’s family.

Lamberto Dini, Italy

I was shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of our beloved Madeleine. I was very close to her since the early 90’s and considered her one of my very best friends, both personally and professionally. We worked together in a number of issues both at the UN and as Foreign Ministers of our countries.

As leader of the AMF, she was inspiring, wise, loyal and warm. She made us feel like a family in times of growing mistrust between nations. Dialogue and diplomacy took on a special meaning thanks to Madeleine’s personality and leadership. I will miss her immensely.

Jan Eliasson, Sweden

I absolutely share in the great loss of my dear friend Madeleine. My tribute and deepest appreciation for such a personality that strongly contributed for peace and democracy in our troubled world.

Jaime Gama, Portugal

Madeleine Albright passed away. We express our deep condolences to her close ones, her colleagues, her friends.

Much has been said and written about Madeleine Albright. She has become a legend in the United States, having gone through an arduous journey from an emigrant to the Secretary of State, and the first woman in the history of the nation to assume such a high-ranking office in the U.S. administration. Her views and perspectives have shaped U.S. foreign policy in the wake of the Cold War.

Madeleine Albright was a person of conviction. She was vehemently opposed to the ideology of Communism, while she treated Russia, its history and its culture, with great respect. She was well aware that Moscow and Washington should never close the door for dialogue and cooperation, no matter the principal differences.

During negotiations, much as in personal conversations with her colleagues, Madeleine was resolute and unyielding when it came to ensuring her country’s interest, which is something any high-ranking official would be expected to do. Still, she never allowed disrespect for her opponents, and she could listen—at times, taking heed of other perspectives.

On numerous occasions, I had the pleasure to communicate with Madeleine. We talked during her years in the Department of State, and we continued when, having concluded her diplomatic career, she went on with a number of social and academic projects. We would often disagree. We would often beg to differ when it came to our assessment of the developments across the globe, our takes on the prospects of the world order. Nevertheless, our communication was also meaningful—much as it was that of friendship. Madeleine Albright knew what it took to be a friend, without making any compromises on her own convictions and on the principal issues. Perhaps, this is the reason why she always attracted people—including those who chose to be her staunch opponent.

It takes time to see what footprint a person of such magnitude as Madeleine Albright would make in her country’s history. Today, we are left with nothing else than our deep condolences.

Igor Ivanov, Russia

A very sad message to receive, the wonderful Madeleine whom we got to know so well over 30 years has now left us.
Her development of the AMF, bringing her ex’s on board, made our time as foreign ministers feel more like an apprenticeship period.

How lucky we were, there was no better club of former Presidents, Prime Ministers or Foreign Ministers to which to belong.
We all benefited by her pull in Washington and the respect in which she was held, her intellect, her values and her sense of humour.

May she rest in peace.

Don McKinnon, New Zealand

She has been a constant source of inspiration, courage, and wisdom, for me and for so many others. A mentor, a true friend. An American European, a European American. The one that broke the glass ceiling first. I will miss you #Madeleine (but you will always be with us)

Federica Mogherini, Italy

It is a sad moment indeed. Madeleine was a great woman, admirable lady, smart politician & diplomat, and a truly engaging person. She was an accomplished representative of the United States and unforgettable Secretary of State. Above all she was a good friend. We worked together at the UN and as foreign ministers and thereafter for more than 30 years. We differed and agreed, but maintained a solid friendship. I always appreciated her intellect and smartness as I admired both her forcefulness and kindness . Her initiative to establish the Aspen Ministers Forum was another of her smart ideas. I appreciated her invitation to me to be among the first group to join the AMF. In fact the Aspen Forum under her stewardship played a memorable role in promoting principles of peace and coexistence, non-discrimination and spirit of tolerance. I will miss Madeleine as a dear friend and a great human being.

Condolences to her family, her staff, and all of her friends and colleagues. May God rest her soul in peace.

Amre Moussa, Egypt

Madeline was truly one of a kind. Many of us worked with her during our foreign service careers, but I certainly got to know her most after I joined the Aspen Ministers Forum. Of all the various activities Madeline was involved in, the AMF was one of the closest to her heart. We met not as officials, but as human beings, and shared our experiences and knowledge not in a formal, often rigid manner, but in the most human of settings. Our time together was always an opportunity to reflect, to think, and to offer ideas in a very relaxed and conducive atmosphere.

Madeline made all this possible. She let each person feel he or she were special, and she listened attentively to all opinions, even those she disagreed with. She created an international intellectual family in every sense of the word, and brought out the best in people. She cared not only about her colleagues opinions, but also about their personal well being, always there to listen, and to help.

One of the great things I admired about Madeline is her constant pursuit to empower women. She was an empowered woman, and she never ceased to be a role model for other women, to believe as she did that there are no ceilings any woman is obliged not to cross. And she will continue to serve for a long time as an inspiration to so many women around the world. Madeline showed a genuine interest in trying to understand what was going on in our region. I always appreciated that, and did my best to explain the historical transformation the region was going through in ways she might not have thought about. We will all miss Madeline. I will miss her humanity, her empathy, her wisdom, and her friendship. I also feel a deep sense of gratitude for the bond she created among us, AMF members, and for the safe place she created for world problems to be debated and looked at in great depth. Rest In Peace, Madeleine. You were a force for good.

Marwan Muasher,  Jordan

Indispensable Madeleine

Ana Palacio, Spain

I am heartbroken by the passing of Madeleine. She was for me an example of engagement competence and dynamism as a politician, but most of all a dear comprehensive and generous friend! I miss her already now and in fact since I last saw her.

Lydie Polfer, Luxembourg

I have always treasured my friendship with Madeleine since we first met when she was Ambassador to the UN and I was Foreign Secretary. I was delighted when she then became Secretary of State and we worked well together.

She was one of those rare people who can combine being a senior world statesman and providing tough and bold leadership, with being a deeply human person, informal in manner and a delightful friend and companion.

I recall when the AMF was in Oslo and, at the end of the dinner, our Norwegian hosts had provided some singers who sang some operatic arias. Madeleine , in her vote of thanks, admitted to an unfulfilled dream that she had had when young of performing in opera. On the way back to the hotel , I was sitting beside her at the front of the bus. I could not resist informing her that while she had never performed with the Prague Opera Company I had! She stared at me, not unreasonably, as if I had taken leave of my senses. I then confessed that I had performed , with the Prague Opera Company at a performance of Dalibor by Smetana at the Edinburgh Festival in the 1960s. However, I had only been a non-singing spear carrier recruited when the Opera Company arrived in Edinburgh in order to save themselves extra expense!

When I revealed this Madeleine and I collapsed into hysterical laughter which continued for at least 5 minutes to the consternation of the rest of the bus who had no ideas as to the reason! I cherish the memory of that evening as well as all the grand occasions we shared.

She was a Woman for All Seasons.

Malcolm Rifkind, United Kingdom

Like you, I am saddened by Madeleine’s death, it is a shock even if we could fear for her health lately. We all know the extraordinary work she did as Secretary of State, and we all loved her energy, her charisma, her leadership, her driving, and sometimes imperious character.

It was exceptional to work with her, even when we disagreed, which I did a few times. But what is less known, and which deserves to be, in a form to be defined between us, is the way in which she succeeded in maintaining our Group of which she was the soul, the tireless animator, by enlarging it to new participants and by bringing us to consider constantly new subjects, as if we were still in function.

I don’t think there is an equivalent group, neither at the level of former heads of state (although there are the Elders) nor other groups of former foreign ministers or defense ministers or finance ministers. Certainly, there are bilateral friendships that continue over time, but it seems to me that this was a unique group.

At a time when we see that the globalization that many dreamed of in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s is no longer working, it is essential to look again to the work and ideas of Madeleine Albright and to ensure that her example remains alive.

I already miss her; her absence is a painful unacceptable and I am sure we all share this feeling.

With my loyal friendship.

Hubert Védrine, France

I would be grateful if you could pass on my condolences to the Secretary’s family. It was with shock and sorrow I received the news that Madeleine Albright was no more.

She has been a part of my life since I met her in 1997 when I was a newly appointed Foreign Minister of Norway. Her picture is on a table in my living room.

It is said that in foreign policy there are no friends, only interests. I do not believe that was the case for Madeleine Albright. She was an ardent defender of US interests, but she understood that friendship is the best defense. Without compromising on her principles of democracy, good governance and human rights she reached out to colleagues across the bord and created important lines of communication, some of which unfortunately are destroyed today to the detriment of world order and stability.

She saw her position as a woman Secretary of State as a possibility not only to open the way for women in the US, but also for women around the world. She became a role model for so many.

For the last 15 years I had the privilege to be a part of Aspen Ministers Forum. I was one of Madeleine’s ex-es. The mere fact that she initiated this group of former Foreign Ministers from across the globe was another sign of the value she placed on friendship, and how she thought that this friendship could lead to more understanding among nations.

I will miss her deeply. It is almost difficult to imagine a world without her voice guiding us in situations of conflicts and difficulties.

May she rest in peace and may those of us who are left behind carry her legacy forward.

Knut Vollebaek, Norway

Madeleine was such an important person in my life. Inspiring, always fun to be with and laugh with, smart and a great strategic thinker – she taught me so much! Let´s not forget all her ways to reach out to and talk to the opponents. The ”can do-spirit” and belief in democracy that she showed must live on. I miss the politician, leader and friend Madeleine Albright.

Margot Wallström, Sweden