Thank you and good morning. I am very pleased and honored to be back here on the campus of this great university. I thank the director, the faculty, and the students not only for the work they do every day, but for representing the very best of the excellence in education here in Russia.
I’m also pleased to be here with the mayor, whom I last saw at the dedication of the World War II memorial from years ago, and to be here with my colleague, Minister Lavrov. I want to thank all of the Russian officials, the sculptor and architect and others, and I want to thank former congressman Jim Symington, who has spearheaded this effort on the American side.
I think that both the mayor and Minister Lavrov and Jim Symington have very well said the significance of the placement of this statue here today of Walt Whitman. It is reciprocal for the statue 10 years ago of Alexander Pushkin that was placed on the campus of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., very close to the White House and the State Department.
I agree with Minister Lavrov that just as Pushkin and Whitman reset poetry, we are resetting our relationship for the 21st
century. And that relationship is not just between our two governments, but most importantly, it is between the Russians and American people. Whitman recognized that we have so much in common, and if I could, I just want to draw your attention to the quote that was chosen that is on the base of the sculpture. And here is what it says: “You Russians and we Americans, so far apart from each other, so seemingly different, and yet in ways that are most important, our countries are so alike.”
What Whitman understood all those years ago is something that President Obama and I believe strongly. And we need to continue to work to make sure we find common ground on behalf of the Russian and American people, and that our two great nations help to lead the world in the 21st
century for greater peace, prosperity, and progress. Thank you very much. (Applause.)