Welcome to the celebration of the 239th Independence Day of the United States of America – the first of many, many more that will be held in our new Embassy building – in sha’allah.
Opening this new facility in November 2014 was a major milestone in the American experience in Morocco. This building is symbolic of the longstanding positive relationships between the United States and Morocco, and it reflects our optimism that the relationship will continue to grow and flourish for years to come. With this building and the historic American Legation in Tangier, Morocco has the distinction of hosting both the oldest and one of the newest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world.
We celebrate tonight not only the anniversary of America’s independence, but also the longstanding and warm ties of friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco.
Ours is a unique and historic relationship initiated by George Washington and Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, and Morocco’s recognition of newborn state in 1777. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two nations, signed by founding fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, was ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1787, making this the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history
We value and cherish this relationship deeply.
This relationship has grown over the decades into a true partnership between two proud nations. Never before have our interests and concerns aligned as they do today, and never have our relations been so close. We share the same values, we face the same challenges, and we seek the same goals for our nations and peoples.
The partnership between our two countries exists not just between our governments, but also between our people and our institutions; between our militaries; and between our businesses and corporations.
Morocco is an island of stability and security in a difficult region, and U.S.-Moroccan military and security cooperation are at an all-time high. Just last month, Morocco hosted the largest, most complex joint U.S. military exercise ever undertaken on the African continent – African Lion. This landmark event involved over nine countries and several thousand participants.
Speaking of landmark events, Morocco’s hosting of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in November 2014, attended by Vice President Joe Biden and thousands of participants from around the world, was a major achievement. The Summit offered Morocco a global stage to show its support for entrepreneurship as an engine for economic growth, echoing a call made by President Obama in Cairo in 2009.
Building on that experience, I have made strengthening the ties between our private sectors one of my most important goals. There are over 150 U.S. companies operating in Morocco that employ over 50,000 Moroccans and growing. Recognizing Morocco’s efforts in fulfilling its vision of becoming an economic gateway to Africa, I expect these numbers will continue to grow.
We support Morocco’s vision to invest in education, training and economic empowerment for its young people to guarantee future economic growth and prosperity. I have traveled far and wide in Morocco and have met some truly inspiring examples of creative and innovative young Moroccans determined to succeed. I would like to introduce a few of them tonight as my special guests:
Ms. Camélia Drissi is the founder of “Spatula” a social enterprise that is helping young and creative Moroccan talents to launch food businesses.
Mr. Zakaria El Fassi is the founder of “Zaigood,” which develops innovative tools to match recruiters and job-seekers.
Ms. Lamiaâ Bounahmidi (boo-nah-MEE-dee) started the company “Looly’s” to export Moroccan pearl couscous and help rural women seize the economic opportunities they deserve.
Ms. Zineb Raji founded the company “Beanz & Peaz” to deliver healthy and organic prepared meals to Moroccan consumers.
These young people represent the future of Morocco, and I am convinced that the U.S.-Morocco partnership will be an important factor in their success.
The United States is committed to helping Morocco in its political, social and economic development. Our US Agency for International Development programs in Morocco target youth employment, early education, and civil society. In the coming year, we plan to sign a second Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact that will address education and improvements to the business environment.
In other fields such as law enforcement, security cooperation, political dialogue – all across the board – we have a deep and abiding partnership with Morocco. This year, we conducted our third U.S. –Morocco Strategic Dialogue, an annual comprehensive review and roadmap for our vibrant partnership.
Nowhere is our partnership deeper than in cultural and educational exchange between our two countries. This past year has witnessed U.S. and Moroccan women and girl soccer coaches working together, Moroccan and American chefs trading recipes and techniques, and recently transformational jazz performances by two of jazz’s greatest performers, Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
In the over two and a quarter centuries of engagement between our nations, we have witnessed significant progress in advancing our mutual political, economic and security interests and in bringing our peoples together in a spirit of mutual understanding and respect.
Of course we still have much more to do to fulfill the great potential in our partnership. Through consistent and persistent mutual engagement and good will, our relations will continue to grow and become wider and deeper.
Dear friends and colleagues, in conclusion, we celebrate today not just the freedom and independence of America but the hope of freedom and independence of all peoples.
I would like to extend a special thank you to all of the American companies who helped sponsor this evening’s festivities. We could not have done this without you and are eternally grateful.
Thank you again, Ministers, Royal Counselors, Ambassadors for honoring us with your presence.
Thank you all for coming.