Remarks at the Embassy Berlin Meet and Greet

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Berlin, Germany
December 5, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Wow. That sounds like a campaign introduction, folks. (Laughter.) I accept the nomination. (Laughter.) I’m ready to go. How are you all? Hey guys, I’m really happy to see you guys here. Thank you very much. How are you doing? You good? You having fun? How are you having fun? What are you doing to have fun? Come on up here and talk to me. Come here, come here, come here. Come here. I have a very talkative young lady here. What’s your name?


SECRETARY KERRY: Evie? And how old are you?


SECRETARY KERRY: And what are you doing to have fun?

PARTICIPANT: Well, I’m staying in my home and just relaxing.

SECRETARY KERRY: There you go. (Laughter.) It doesn’t get better than that. Well, good for you. Congratulations. Pretty soon – I guess in about seven weeks, I’ll be staying in my home and relaxing. (Laughter.) I don’t know if that’s good or bad, guys. Anyway. Great to see all of you here. Thank you. I’m told that the saying in the northern part of Germany is Moin Moin. Moin Moin. Moin, Moin, Moin – everybody says that all day long, I’m told.

Anyway, happy to be here with all of you and great to see you and the United States Navy, and behind you, thank you. Go Navy. Sorry about Army and Air Force and Coast Guard and Marines – anyway. But all of you who serve – how many of you served in the service of one kind or another? Well, God bless you. Thank you very, very much. We are deeply grateful, all of us. Yes, deserves a hand. (Applause.) Thank you.

This is my sixth trip to Berlin, I think. And I never get tired of it; this is an absolutely extraordinary city. Germany is a spectacular ally and friend, great country, and we could not have a stronger, more fruitful and productive relationship than we have with our friends in Germany. I think Angela Merkel called it sort of the mainstay of the foreign policy of Germany, and the relationship between the United States and Germany is very, very special. It’s at its highest point now, and President Obama’s recent visit here just underscores all of that, and I want to begin by saying thank you to our terrific ambassador, John Emerson, who – I think he was born to be the ambassador to Germany. He started figuring out German at the breakfast table. (Applause.)

I’m extremely grateful for the way he has just leapt in and demonstrated such extraordinary energy and enthusiasm and zest and belief in this relationship. And that’s what you want in an ambassador. He has great credibility because he’s a businessperson, he’s managed any number of different business enterprises in his life, and the Germans respect that. But they also respect the enthusiasm and the – and just the raw sort of joy that he exhibits in promoting the relationship between the United States and Germany. And all of you are part of that.

And I want to join also in thanking Kent Logsdon -- where’s Kent? Somewhere here. Where’s Kenny? Hiding in back – there he is. Kent likewise – he was a student in Germany – (applause) – I think his first job was here in Germany, then he became Foreign Service officer. He started out in Stuttgart, and here he is now, most appropriately as our number two guy here in Berlin, and we’re very, very grateful. And because of the way the election went and because of what happens on January 20th, John leaves and you’re going to be carrying the banner, man. So good luck to you. And we’ll look to you. (Laughter.)

Let me just say a couple quick words. I don’t want to talk too long; I want to have a chance to say hi to everybody. But I’ve had a chance – I have traveled hugely as Secretary of State. And interestingly enough, most of the travel has been driven by a very specific agenda. I mean, we didn’t go to a country or pick the country for the sake of just landing in a country. Many of my trips were repetitive. I mean, the numbers of times I have had to go to Paris because we had meetings – it’s a global meeting place; it’s in the middle of everything.

So we met with people all over the world in Paris on Syria, on Libya, on Middle East peace process, on Yemen – you name it. Likewise London, likewise Geneva, Vienna. Vienna, obviously, was multiple visits. I actually spent 21 consecutive days in Vienna as we were closing out the nuclear negotiation. I had hoped to be home and expected to be home and actually was hosting a July 4th party, and I spent July 4th in the backyard of the hotel with the maitre d’ of the hotel in his blue stars and stripes pants, cooking hamburgers for us for a cookout in Vienna. That’s how it works sometimes. And we finally got home, I think, on the 15th of July, to just give you an idea of how things play out sometimes.

But you all know that, because you’re here, engaged in diplomacy on a daily basis. And I just want to say a quick word about that. I learned a long time ago in a place called Vietnam that it’s easy to go to war, and it’s easy to get lost in a war and to prolong the loss of life and the damage that is done – look at Syria today. It’s hard to make peace. It’s really hard, particularly when there are competing global strategies, proxy interests, all kinds of sectarian and tribal and deeply rooted ethnic conflicts that are going on that aren’t just of the 20th or 21st century, but they go back to 682 in Karbala or different conflicts through the period of time.

And so what you’re doing day to day to build a relationship, to help us together with Germany work to resolve what’s happening in Ukraine, where Germany and France have been the leaders in the negotiation of the Minsk process which we support; or where together with Germany, joining with France and Britain and other countries, we negotiated the Iran deal; or together with Germany and France and Britain and 190 other countries in Paris we came together to pass the first major agreement on climate change – this is what we do. This is what you do day to day. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re here on TDY; it doesn’t matter whether you’re an agency temporary employee or whether you’re civil service, Foreign Service, local employees particularly. We’re all part of a team that’s trying to make the world a safer place and a better place for these kids and a lot of kids like them so they can grow up in a world that’s at peace. It’s a great enterprise.

And there are so many people – you see it in our elections nowadays; you see it in the anxieties of Italy voiced yesterday or the anxieties of Austria, where the election came out a different way but the anxieties were there. You see it in Brexit. You see it in everybody’s feelings today that something’s not connecting, that we have to find a way to be able to help everybody do better, and government has to do better. Governance is at risk and challenged. And so all of our work is the work of building credibility between nations and trying to take a set of values and principles and help other people to be able to embrace them and ultimately to live them. That’s what this is about.

And in the anxiety that I just talked about, you see a lot of folks who get up in the morning and they’re not very happy going to work. They don’t feel rewarded. They don’t feel like they’re making their lives better. They don’t feel like their kids are going to have a better life. They don’t feel like they’re able to grab the brass ring and live the full promise. And as a result, those anxieties are building up in a lot of places and they’re manifesting themselves in the politics day to day all over the world, which makes our job even more important. You don’t hunker down and put your head in the sand and walk away and say okay, it’s hard going. Geez, maybe I’ll just throw up my hands. No. We get going. We – you know the old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And we’ve always proven in America that we know how to make a difference.

I’ll tell you this: When I go to a meeting somewhere – and I don’t say this arrogantly at all; there’s no arrogance at all in this comment – there are a lot of countries around the world that people wish would do something to help deal with an earthquake or make peace or resolve a crisis. There’s only one country that is absolutely expected to, and that’s us. Madeleine Albright once said we’re the indispensable nation, and I have to tell you, one of the things that’s been reinforced in me as Secretary of State as I’ve gone around the world is people do look to us. They do want leadership. They want to see the way ahead in order to build this better world.

So whether you’re in uniform, as some of those folks are here today who served in the military, or whether you’re in civvies or whether you’re – you’ve never served in that way, you’re wearing the same uniform. You’re all part of an effort to help us build a better world. And I think – deeply I believe this – there is no better job to have or undertaking to have than – whether it’s going to the consulate window, or helping people to get from here to there, or resolving a problem, or answering phone calls – to be part of a team that is trying to take the values around which we have organized our lives and help other people to be able to do the same.

So I just want to say I’m – I know President Obama thanked you all when he was here. I want to say, on behalf of the State Department and all of us who are every day engaged in this brilliant work, we are deeply grateful for each and every person here who is part of the team. I’d like all those of you who are locally employed – everybody who is of German nationality who works here or another – anybody – this is all – everybody here. Well, we thank you. (Speaks in German.) (Applause.) There are more. All right, yeah. We really can’t do anything without you and we appreciate your work enormously.

So God bless you all. Kids, you going to come up here and do a photo with me? Will you do that? Thank you all very, very, very much. Really appreciate it. (Applause.) Come on up here, guys. Come on. Let’s get everybody up here.