Remarks at the Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Algiers
Secretary of State
AMBASSADOR ENSHER: Good afternoon. Thanks very much, and we are just so honored again to have the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with us again, the second time in a year. It’s only a very small number of countries who have the privilege of hosting the Secretary twice in a year, and it’s a reflection on all of you that she chose to come back here again, and because you’ve done such a splendid job and we’ve made a lot of progress.
I’m going to take one more second to say something that I hope will not embarrass you unduly, ma’am, but I’ve been in this business for 30 years. It’s more than half my life. And I can tell you that this is the best Secretary of State I’ve ever worked for or hope to work for – thought about that a lot – stands as a peer with the great predecessors of the past, including at least one who has gone on to higher office; I can say that. But it’s a privilege and a historical moment to have the Secretary of State with us here today. Thank you, ma’am. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I have to say it is wonderful to be back here, and it is because of this relationship and how critically important it is, and because of you, starting with the Ambassador who has worked so hard, and all of you, every single one of you, because it’s clear to me that we are building a stronger and deeper relationship.
I seem to have a habit of visiting at busy times, and the last time I was here you had just weathered a blizzard. I had to rush out of Washington before the hurricane came, so we were both struggling with weather. And later this week, you will have the privilege to help celebrate the 58th anniversary of Algeria’s independence movement, an anniversary that reminds us of how important freedom is and how significant the progress that Algeria has made as a nation, and the extraordinary aspirations and hard work of the Algerian people to achieve that.
I understand from the Ambassador that, next week, you’ll be hosting an election-watching party for people as we have our presidential elections. And I know, too, that it’s not just what you do here in Algiers; it’s what you do across the country. In fact, I think that you’ve been personally to all 48 provinces.
AMBASSADOR ENSHER: Working on it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Working on it, good. And I think that none of us goes alone. We all go because of the support that we receive from such a great team.
I’d like to also thank you for the work that went into the first-ever U.S.-Algeria Strategic Dialogue in Washington last week. The Algerians were extremely happy, all of the officials that we met with, and we were extremely happy. We thought it was an important exchange of views on a range of issues, and it’s impressive how much you’ve done to help advance our bilateral relationship in such a short period of time.
I think that there is no limit to what this relationship can become, and it’s one that we particularly value. Just over lunch now with the President and others, we were talking about how our relationship actually goes back to 1795. There have been some differences along the road, but that is a long time back, at the very beginning of our nation, when the then-leadership and people of Algeria recognized us and we reciprocated.
I also want to recognize our Algerian staff. Will all of our Algerian staff please raise your hands so we can give you a round of applause that is very, very (inaudible) deserved? (Applause.) Because I have to confess, that despite the very nice comments by the Ambassador, secretaries of State come and go, and ambassadors come and go, and DCMs and political officers and economic officers and consular affairs – really, it’s our locally employed staff, our Foreign Service Nationals, who form the heart of any mission anywhere, and that is particularly true here. You are the memory banks, the nerve center, of what we do year after year.
You also know that diplomacy is inherently risky in today’s world. There are so many – unfortunately, so many people and organizations and forces that don’t want people to learn to understand each other better, who don’t want people to live peacefully together, who just don’t understand that we’re all here doing the best we can, and we need to help each other. And I think that what you do in diplomacy and outreach sends that message every single day.
So I thank you all. And to the Americans who are here, I thank you and I thank your families. Being posted far from home, whether you are civilian or military, whether you are Foreign Service or Civil Service, whatever agency or department you represent, I am extremely proud of you and very grateful. And what I’d like to do now is, starting down there, shake as many of your hands as I possibly can to express my appreciation personally.
And you also have an RSO who I know very well. (Laughter.) Nicole was one of my (inaudible) Diplomatic Security people. (Applause.) I was very sorry to lose her to Algeria. She was very happy to go. (Laughter.) She had been looking forward to it, and I’m delighted to see her here. Thank you.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)