SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to see all of you today on this beautiful, beautiful morning in Istanbul. I want to start by acknowledging and thanking Ambassador Ricciardone and Dr. Marie Ricciardone and Consul General Scott Kilner and Jan Kilner. I understand that they both started together in the Foreign Service with a posting in Istanbul, so it’s only fitting that they would be back here together.
But I came to thank all of you, American and Turkish alike. I want to thank you for what you do every single day to further this incredibly important relationship between the United States and Turkey. Here at this consulate, you are engaging in innovative public diplomacy programs directly with the Turkish people, you are issuing visas and running exchange programs, you are protecting U.S. citizens and providing adoption services, and you do all of this with limited resources and often under challenging circumstances. And I am very grateful to you because of the extraordinary professionalism that each and every one of you display.
And it’s not only what you do every day, it’s what you do in extraordinary times. When the demonstrations began in Egypt, you helped evacuate U.S. citizens. And then three weeks later, you did it again when the uprisings in Libya began. And you have demonstrated time and again that it’s not just the work that you each do, but your families as well have volunteered and staffed the phones and taken shifts at airports in order to accomplish the mission. I’m very proud of all the Americans from all of the agencies and departments of the United States Government who serve, and I am especially proud of our Turkish friends and colleagues.
I know Secretaries of State and ambassadors to Turkey come and go, but our locally employed staff are here providing the memory, the continuity, and the expertise. And I know some of you have worked here for decades, and there is one person who is not here because he’s waiting for me at my next stop, who I know is beloved by all of you. Ates Oner has spent almost 40 years serving this consulate. He seems to know everyone in the Turkish media. I witnessed that firsthand at the Libya Contact Group meeting as more people were coming up to shake his hand than certainly to shake mine. So I thank him, but I thank all of you for your hard work on behalf of the United States and Turkey. I am absolutely committed to making sure that we create better bonds, not just between our governments but between the Turkish and American people, and that is what you do every day.
So thank you very much, and let me come now and thank each of you personally for your service. (Applause.)
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