Meeting With Embassy Chisinau Staff and Families

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Embassy Chisinau
Chisinau, Moldova
December 4, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: You look like you’re all dressed up for a party. (Laughter.) You look fabulous.

AUDIENCE: (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah? (Laughter.) You embarrassed? Go ahead. Anyway, well, how are you all? Everybody good?


SECRETARY KERRY: Full of energy? I just want to say thank you. I’m so appreciative. First of all, let me thank our great Ambassador Will Moser, who is doing a great job. We are really appreciative for everything he does – thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. And if you hadn’t applauded, you’d have all been fired. (Laughter.) No, no way.

And I’m really delighted. I’m traveling with our Assistant Secretary of State who’s responsible for all this area, Victoria Nuland over here – Toria, as we call her. (Applause.) And --

AMBASSADOR MOSER: I thought I would be fired. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Hopefully you’ll all be seeing a lot of her over time as we get out here.

But let me just say a quick thank you. I don’t want to give a speech, a long-haul, or anything like that. I’d like to just have a chance to run up and down the line, shake your hands, and say thank you. But we have a great Embassy out here. And you are right now engaged in a really important enterprise, which is helping Moldova to be able to make this shift of focus so it can choose to be affiliated with the economies and the countries and the values and the opportunities that it wants to be. And that means integration with Europe. What happened in Vilnius a few days ago with the initialing of the documents for the association agreement and also for the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement is a critical step towards this full integration.

Now, in my meetings with the prime minister who was here a moment ago – where did Prime Minister Leanca go? I think he’s out there talking to Michael Gordon. Is he still here? Or he’s in the other room?

PARTICIPANT: He’s across the hall.

SECRETARY KERRY: He’s across the hall. He went over to talk to The New York Times. He knows what he needs to do right now. (Laughter.) Much more important. But anyway, we had a terrific conversation. But he made it clear to me that the road ahead is not automatic. It’s not easy, and there will be pressures. And we’ve all seen what’s happened in Ukraine in the last few days. So this is not always easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

And so what I’ve gained out of this very short, quick visit, which I apologize to you for – I hate coming in and going out – but I thought it was far more important on my way to Israel, where I have to go for our Middle East peace process, that since we had the chance to come by here at this important time, and given what’s happening in Ukraine, I wanted to come here in order to be able to send a message about the importance of the choices that the government is making and what you’re working on.

So we’re going to work hard at this. We’ve got the Millennium Challenge Corporation grant that’s going on, Compact. We’ve got other initiatives that we’re engaged in, in helping them to deal with competitiveness, with businesses. I just came from the winery where we had a chance not only to taste a little wine – (laughter) – very little, I might add – but importantly, we were able to see a business that we think we can make a difference in with respect to how they market what their opportunities are. And particularly since Russia sort of brought the wall down and said, “We’re not going to let you sell your wine because you want to affiliate with Europe,” well, we’ve got to help open up the market so that they can see that that choice pays off.

So all of this is what matters to us going forward, the work you do every single day. I know we have a bunch of folks who make this Embassy work who are local hires, and I think we got about 160 or so, something like that. Now, can you raise your hands, those of you who are local hires? Thank you very, very much. We very much appreciate what you do for us. (Applause.)

And everybody else, whether you are a civil servant, Foreign Service national, foreign national, whatever it is, we thank you for the work that you’re doing.

Final word, because I can tell the kids are getting into – they want playtime or different time or something, I don’t know – (laughter) – I just want to say thank you personally as your Secretary of State.

As the Ambassador said, I was the – I am – was the son of a Foreign Service officer who served for a period of time. And I served right in the midst of the Cold War in the 1950s. I came over to Berlin, which was a divided city with a British sector, a French sector, an American sector, and a Russian sector, and guards, and divisions, and you came through on a special train from Frankfurt and it was right through the Russian sector, and they didn’t let you pick the blinds up, and it was pretty foreboding and imposing to a young kid. But I learned a lot at that stage about what it meant to be abroad, what it meant to be representing your country even though you’re a kid in another place. I went to school abroad and I learned what it was like to pack up and leave home and leave your friends and go to another place.

But it was a fabulous experience, and I’m sure you feel that way or you wouldn’t be doing it. It’s invaluable to our country. You are, every single one of you, ambassadors. And in many cases, you may be the only American that some people will ever meet. So the impression you leave and the service that you can provide and whatever it is you do for people leaves an indelible message about who we are, what kind of people we are, what we care about, and whether we care about people and how we take care of people. That’s very, very important.

We have a lot of other things that are going on, obviously. This is the first visit of the Secretary of State since Jim Baker in 1992 opened this mission. So I’m privileged to be here tonight. I’m glad to be in good company with our Assistant Secretary.

And I thank you all very much for this very, very important work you are doing at a critical time where we are transitioning into the 21st century with a whole set of different challenges – from cyber warfare to trade to the globalization to the movement of people in unfettered and amazing ways that we never imagined, a huge number of workers from Moldova in other countries sending remittances back, including from Russia – all of which creates this global fabric that we are still learning how to manage and how to navigate our way through. You all are at the vanguard of that and I thank you profoundly on behalf of President Obama, on behalf of the American people. We are grateful for your service. We really can’t do what we need to do for our country without you. And that includes our local hires; we thank you for what you do.

Thank you all. Great to be with you. Happy to be here. Appreciate it. (Applause.)

PRN: 2013/T19-06