INDEPENDENCE DAY COMMENTS AMBASSADOR RICHARD E. HOAGLAND
July 2, 2009
U.S. EMBASSY IN ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN
Deputy Foreign Minister Yermekbayev, excellencies, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen: welcome to the 233rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. I’d like to begin with a greeting from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. [Play video.]
This has been an historic year in which we the people of the United States elected Barack Obama as our 44th president. Immediately after the election, many of you asked me, “What does this mean for U.S. foreign policy?” The simplest and the best answer came from Hillary Clinton during her Senate Confirmation hearing in January. She said, “President Obama and I believe that foreign policy must be based on a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology, on facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice.”
That welcome statement means we will always promote our ideals of freedom and justice, even as we build reality-based partnerships with all peoples and all governments that are willing to engage openly and honestly with us.
The Obama Administration started in January with monumental economic and diplomatic challenges. We are all grateful that the list of challenges did not include Kazakhstan. The Obama Administration has started well with this important bilateral relationship with telephone calls to President Nazarbayev by President-elect Obama in November and by Vice President Biden in April, followed by Foreign Minister Tazhin’s productive visit to Washington in May.
Important U.S. corporations are investors in Kazakhstan and are providing education and training for the next generation of Kazakhstani business people and also providing important social-support projects in the communities where they work. In the past six months, an increasing number of major U.S. corporate delegations have come to Kazakhstan with the goal of making major new investments here that will help to further diversify Kazakhstan’s economy. Every year, about 1,500 Kazakhstani young people study in the United States, which helps bring our peoples closer together.
As we celebrate the independence of the United States, we honor independent Kazakhstan and are grateful for the strong and productive relationship between our two nations. I firmly believe it will continue to grow stronger.