Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Valletta

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Malta International Airport
Valletta, Malta
October 18, 2011

Date: 10/18/2011 Description: Secretary Clinton meeting with staff and families of Embassy Valletta. - State Dept Image

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. Well, I am absolutely delighted to be here and to have this opportunity to thank you in person for such an extraordinarily well-done job, because for me, watching from afar the way you supported all of our Embassy family across this region was absolutely remarkable. And Rick, thank you for those kind words, but it was long overdue that the Secretary of State come back to Malta, and I’m happy that it could be me. I’m only sorry that it’s for such a short visit. So as I told the prime minister earlier today, that just means I have to come back for a longer one.

I know that oftentimes, many, many of the posts across the world just do their jobs every single day. They get up and they do the work that is required to deepen and strengthen and manage the full panoply of work that is required. And I know this is, by a lot of standards, a small team, and yet you have performed far above your size and far beyond any expectations. It took a crisis, perhaps, for the entire world’s eyes to be focused on Malta, and for Washington’s eyes to be focused on you. But you have performed brilliantly.

There are so many stories that came out of the last year – the six members of this Embassy team led by Tracy Brown, who joined other TDYs and colleagues in Tripoli on that ferry to get the Americans evacuating and others we were taking along with us home. I’m sure you won’t forget the 18-foot swells and some of the other challenges, but it was an extraordinary act of professionalism and kindness. And then when everyone got to Malta, the rest of you were there to process visas, replace lost passports, and to book flights that took people home.

But throughout the crisis, there was a constant stream of American expatriates from Libya. You were there for them again; you provided medical assistance; you advanced loans, I heard; you reissued passports; and you persuaded the Maltese Government to waive immigration formalities so that you could get everyone moving home as quickly as possible.

And now, as Embassy Tripoli rebuilds itself literally from the ground up, your support has been absolutely crucial. Again, you’ve arranged flights, you’ve shipped vehicles, oxygen, MREs, water, medical supplies, and sensitive material, acting in the very best traditions of this post and of the Foreign Service. I was just there. What once was the Ambassador’s residence is now the new chancery and people are working three and four in a room that once was a guest room or some other purpose. They could not do it without you. And I understand that from our friends in Tripoli, popcorn and bananas are the only two food that there’s an abundance of, so once again, you’re helping them by literally shopping to put something different on the tables.

Now, you’ve been busy the last few weeks. You had a CODEL for Senator McCain, a high-profile visit by Assistant Secretary Feltman who is here somewhere with us, and then my own visit, which you have just handled magnificently under very, very short notice. And a special thank you to Laura Danylin and her team for that. And I want to thank Rick Mills as chargé for his superb management of this extraordinary level of support, Carlos Dhabhar for the general services work that’s been done, and somebody told me that perhaps Carlos and Lauralee will be welcoming a new member of the Embassy team not too long from now.

And I met the Marines from your contingent this morning and I thanked them, and there’s just so much that has been done. Now, I’m particularly regretful that I did not get to go to the new Embassy, the new chancery which I’ve seen pictures of and everyone reports is truly a tribute to all of the work that went into a making it an environmentally exemplary building. And I also want to thank all of the locally employed staff. I took a picture with, I think, six of the longest serving. I think Joyce Dixon has been with the Embassy for 27 years and she must have started at, I don't know, kindergarten or something. (Laughter.) And I understand you just had a new granddaughter, so congratulations to you.

Now we have a lot of work to do ahead of us, and I also thanked the Government of Malta today for everything they’ve done. They’ve been wonderful partners in helping us deal with all of the consequences of the historical movements that are sweeping the region. And we will continue to work closely with them on a range of important issues. The White House has announced the nomination of a career diplomat, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, as your new ambassador. We’re hopeful the confirmation process, which you never can tell for sure in Washington these days, moves quickly so that Mission Malta can be up to full strength.

But please know that we really appreciate what you have done and the above-and-beyond commitment that so many of you have generated. And I just want now to shake your hands and personally thank you on behalf of our government and the American people. Thank you all very much.

PRN: 2011/T54-06