Remarks at a Meet and Greet With Staff and Families

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Madrid, Spain
July 2, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very, very much for this warm welcome. I am delighted to be back in Spain. I want to thank the ambassador and Susan and Stephanie for their warm welcome. I want to welcome the new DCM, Luis Moreno, who arrived just a few days ago, straight from serving in Baghdad. And I understand that Stella Blue is the embassy mascot. (Laughter.) She's around here, somewhere.

But I wanted this chance to personally thank you for the work you do every single day on behalf of this very important relationship. Spain is our ally and Spain is our friend. And we collaborate closely on every aspect of our foreign policy, from countering terrorism to supporting new democracies, to driving economic growth through bilateral trade and investment. And on most difficult and complex issues of our time, Spain and the United States are working side by side, such as in Afghanistan, where Spanish troops have made great sacrifice, most recently with the loss of life and injury. And we are just incredibly grateful.

And I know, too, that there is a lot of American visitors who come to Spain. And I don't know how many of them call you for help, but as I was walking around, just taking a little walk yesterday evening, I saw so many Americans. (Laughter.) So I assume that if I saw them on the streets, you see them at the embassy.

And I want to thank all of our U.S. Government team from the State Department and USAID, but from all the government agencies, from Defense and Commerce, and every other part of the U.S. Government. And I particularly want to thank our wonderful Spanish employees, because without you there would be no historical memory, and you do so much of what makes this embassy successful.

Now, I have to say that this mission is setting a high standard for embassies worldwide, because I heard about the Fourth of July celebration we had on Thursday, which was June 30th, but that's all right. (Laughter.) And you have a salute to American business, co-hosted by the mayor of Madrid. And I know that there was a little Bruce Springsteen thrown in, and some other wonderful surprises. So thank you for the great outreach that you are doing, and for making economic, commercial, and cultural ties even stronger.

I also want to thank you for the volunteer work that you do, from pitching in at English language classes to stocking food banks to supplying entertainment and fun for the children of inmates at a women's prison. It's a quite broad spectrum of volunteerism. And by doing so, you really tell a big part of America's story. It's about our values, about who we are, as a people.

And thank you for protecting American citizens here in Spain, because you have so many students and so many tourists. And, of course, I learned from the ambassador today that we actually have more Spanish-speaking Americans than there are Spanish-speaking Spaniards. So you are going to keep drawing tens of thousands of Americans to this beautiful country.

And I want to say a special word of thanks to someone who has been here for decades: Angelina Sebastian, who has worked here for more than 40 years. It is quite a remarkable history of service. And she is just one of the many of you who have worked in this embassy for the American Government for a very long time.

Now, I know we ask a lot of you, because the work you do every day is important. But then along come CODELs, cabinet members, vice presidents, and I know that's a lot of extra work. So I want you to know I am aware of that, and especially appreciative. I know you've already had the big Fourth of July party, but the ambassador owes you a wheels up party at some point. (Laughter.)

So let me, on behalf of everyone in Washington, and on behalf of President Obama and the Obama Administration, thank you for what you do week in and week out. Sometimes, because we have such a great relationship that is so connected by history and culture, family, and so much else, I worry that we might be maybe taking it for granted from time to time, because we don't have problems. I didn't need to come to Spain; we don't have problems. I wanted to come to Spain. (Laughter.) I have been trying to get to Spain, because I want to make sure that we never take this important relationship for granted, that our Spanish friends know how deeply we admire and respect their own work over so many years, and now, with the tough decisions that had to be made, politically, in the economy. We have had to make hard decisions back home, so we fully understand that.

And I look forward to this relationship, thanks to all of you, just getting better and stronger in the years ahead. Thank you all very much.

PRN: 2011/T50-12