Good morning. It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you here today to honor a truly impressive group of individuals.
Every year, a few select diplomats from NATO and EU member states participate in the Transatlantic Diplomatic Exchange Fellowship Program here at the State Department.
The program, established in 1995, was once called the Fellowship of Hope. It was a response to a call by then President Clinton to create a new community and thriving partnership between the United States and a Europe emerging from the divisions of the Cold War.
The work of building a Europe whole, free, and at peace continues. But many of the hopes that launched the Fellowship of Hope are now realities – part of a robust transatlantic partnership that no longer stops at the Brandenburg Gate, but instead extends east to Latvia and Lithuania and south to Croatia, as does our class of fellows.
Today, over 140 European former Transatlantic Diplomatic Fellows are serving in senior positions in their ministries. Many American alums serve in senior positions in our European missions. With your help, the ocean separating our countries has never felt smaller, and the bonds that unite us have never felt stronger.
In fact, despite all the talk of “pivots” here and “pivots” there, I would argue that the United States and Europe are now more strategically aligned than ever, united by a shared worldview and common interest in meeting the demands of a fast changing world – from supporting a peaceful transition in Afghanistan to countering Iranian nuclear proliferation to the protection of the Syrian people. Our combined strength is the result of a deliberate and conscious investment in a partnership with nations who share our values and ideals – and part of that is an investment in the talented future leaders who will sustain our diplomacy and translate our common purpose into common action. (That’s you.)
The ten men and women we honor today hail from all corners of Europe and represent their countries’ best and brightest. You have navigated your way through the Byzantine culture of the State Department. You have learned to speak a dialect of acronyms incomprehensible to the outside world. You have soldiered on with determination, through endless clearance chains. You have won the friendship and admiration of your American officemates. And in the process, you have learned the American foreign policymaking process from the inside out. You leave with valuable expertise. And, like good anthropologists and diplomats, we hope you can help translate our actions and our rather unique culture to the foreign ministries you go home to.
Over the course of the year, fellows have worked side-by-side with American colleagues on some of our most important foreign policy priorities. You have supported initiatives ranging from the Bonn and Tokyo Conferences on Afghanistan to the U.S. Nuclear Security Summit. You have defended LGBT rights in the Asia-Pacific and created opportunities for businesses in the Middle East. One of you was instrumental in helping to organize the first NATO Summit in the United States in over a decade.
Just like the countries you come from, each of you has been a reliable, steadfast partner to the Department. Your efforts have won the admiration of not only your colleagues and the rest of us here at the State Department, but the White House as well.
To our European diplomatic colleagues here today: thank you for entrusting us with your most valuable diplomatic asset: your talent.
To the offices who hosted these fellows: you’re welcome. In all seriousness, thank you for supporting this important program, taking the time, and making the effort to ensure that the ten fellows here today were used to the best of their abilities.
To the fellows graduating today: on behalf of the Secretary of State, my colleagues here at the Department, and the American people, thank you for your service. Remember us. Stay in touch.
And above all, as you rise in your careers, please keep sight of the founding mission that brought you here. Keep working to build a transatlantic community of action worthy of the hopes and dreams of our people. Help us ensure that, decades from now, ours remains a partnership of first resort and the cornerstone of the better world we hope to build together.
I will now present each of this year’s Fellows with a certificate of appreciation for your dedication and hard work. Congratulations on a job well done.