SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, everybody. (Applause.)
PARTICIPANT: Madam Secretary, I give you your Vlad consulate team.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, excellent. Wow. Great to see all of you. I thank you for coming by this afternoon on Sunday to – come around this way. (Laughter.) I can see more of you without having my eyes go that way. (Laughter.) I want to thank the consul general. Thank you, Sylvia, for your leadership and your work here. (Applause.) I want to thank our ambassador, Ambassador McFaul. Thank you for all your hard work.
Somebody told me that I am the first Secretary of State to ever come here while I was Secretary of State. Is that true? You think so? (Laughter.) Excellent. (Applause.) Well, that gives me a chance to say thank you. Thank you to Americans and Russians alike. Because although this may be a small consulate, your responsibilities are large, and I think they’re going to get larger, because I think there are tremendous opportunities here in Vladivostok and in the Russian Far East. There’s a lot of good work to be done on the economic front working with businesses, American and Russian alike. The Exxon Mobil project is one example of that, but I think there are many others, and I believe that we have already demonstrated the benefits of having all of you here.
You serve people in some of the most far-flung places on the earth. I know it’s not always easy, but just in the past few months, you’ve done everything from helping a tiger conservation expert retain his Russian residency to facilitating tens of billions of dollars in investment for multinational companies. And then, of course, you did so much work and preparation for the APEC Summit. And thank you, thank you, thank you for all you did. You have literally – some of you have been working for years. You’ve overcome all the obstacles. When you needed computers, you flew them in from Moscow. When you needed coffee, you enlisted the coffeemaker from the consul general’s residence. You really were innovative and creative, all good hallmarks of getting the job done.
And I know, too, that sometimes you can see – you can feel like you’re very far away, particularly the Americans who are here. But I think you’ve demonstrated – and Sylvia certainly has told me – that this is a very interesting place to live, lots of good culture and art and this new university that I hope is going to be a great success. It certainly has wonderful facilities, and I’m excited because I think you’re going to be in the center of a lot of action between now and the years to come.
I want to thank particularly the local staff, all of our Russian staff. Some of you have been with this consulate since it opened 20 years ago. You’ve been through the ups and the downs and all of the changes. And I am so grateful to you, because really, we could not do this work without you . Consul generals and ambassadors and even secretaries come and go, but you guys, you’re the nerve center, you’re the memory bank, you’re the ones who are the ones who keep the continuity of this work going.
I am sure sometimes it may not be the most popular thing to be working at the American consulate, but I am very grateful to you because this relationship is worth it. It is so important. I am one of those who believe that despite our differences, which are real – different cultures, different experiences, different histories; I know all of that – that as we move forward in the future, our young people are going to have so much in common. And that’s what I want us to foster, that kind of future for bright, creative, hard-working, young Russians and Americans.
So I really wanted to come to say thank you. I mean, I could have just left the island and gone to the airport, but I knew who did the work, and I wanted you to know that we’re very appreciative and how much we value the relationship between the United States and Russia. I think it’s one of the most exciting times to serve in Russia, and I really just wish the very best for the Russian people who have been so resilient, so courageous, gone through so much, and deserve such a bright future with all that God has to offer. So bless you all. Let me shake your hands and thank you personally. Thank you so much. (Applause.)