Ambassador Bush’s Remarks (as delivered)
June 4, 2014
Assalamu aleikum. Bonsoir, Good evening. My wife Toni and I are so pleased to welcome all of you tonight. This is our first Independence Day celebration here in Morocco. Toni and I join with President Obama and Secretary Kerry in welcoming you tonight.
When President Obama asked me to consider serving my country as an Ambassador, my only requirement was that he send me here, to Morocco. This country has held a special place in my heart and in my imagination ever since I first came here, more than twenty years ago with my wife, Toni, to celebrate our honey moon and to bring her back to Morocco, after having been a student here when she was in high school. We have returned to share this incredible country with our friends and family, and with all of you.
This is the last time that I will have the occasion of greeting you at this site on our National Day. The Embassy compound where we stand tonight has been the home of the U.S. Mission to Morocco since 1956, our first and only American Embassy to an independent Morocco. This fall we will inaugurate a new Embassy compound here in Rabat, in Souissi. From its innovative environmental features to the cooperation of Moroccan and American engineers and technicians who did their wizardry here, the new Embassy is a powerful symbol of the diplomatic priorities that we have here in Morocco. My engineers tell me that it’s built to last for 100 years. Now that may not seem like a long time in Moroccan history, and in fact, it’s about the blink of an eye in terms of this great country has existed, but that new building represents the United States’ commitment to continued strong relationships with Morocco. I invite you all to come and visit us when we move to our new quarters in the fall.
I need you to please bear with me for a moment, because I must acknowledge and thank those who have made tonight possible. First, thanks to the sponsors and donors who have given generously to make tonight’s celebration a success. Thanks also to Touch N Go, the Air Force Band, for the great music we’ve enjoyed tonight. To my Embassy colleagues who have worked so hard the last several months to organize tonight’s event, I thank you. And I would also like to thank all the men and women of the U.S. Mission in Morocco who work together to strengthen our strong relationship with Morocco every day. Together, American and Moroccan, we have an incredible team that works very hard to promote this relationship. I am so pleased to work beside my colleagues every day. I thank you so much for all that you do.
I also need to thank all of our colleagues from the diplomatic corps. To my fellow ambassadors, thank you so much for the warm welcome you have shown to me and to my family since I arrived in Rabat. I sincerely appreciate it. Thank you.
To our friends and colleagues from the Moroccan government, thank you for your partnership and your tireless efforts every day to build a stronger relationship between our two countries. The collaboration between Morocco and the United States is incredibly strong and, insha’allah, will only continue to expand, thanks to the energy and commitment that you bring to the table. We truly define the term “bilateral” in this relationship: both parties working closely in our own mutual interest.
And to our many friends and partners from civil society, business, culture, education, and so many other sectors in Morocco, I thank you. From strengthening security cooperation to building entrepreneurship in Morocco, from expanding the role of civil society to partnering on cultural and educational programs, you are the reason that we are here in Morocco. Without you, none of what we do would be possible, and it certainly wouldn’t be relevant. I thank all of you for your support.
As you know, Independence Day is America’s birthday, and we are delighted to be able to celebrate that birthday with so many close friends. The United States has no older friend than Morocco, the first country to recognize us when we gained independence in 1777, a favor we were proud to return in 1956. Together, the United States and Morocco have continued to expand our cooperation and partnership through a strong bilateral relationship that covers economics, politics, military, educational, judicial, cultural, and developmental cooperation. It is one of our strongest relationships in the region, and it is my charge as Ambassador to continue to strengthen and to expand that relationship.
One of the things that I find so compelling about Morocco is how similar it is to the United States. The two countries could not look or sound more different, and yet we face and we address similar challenges every day. And the most important tool we have in overcoming these challenges is the rich diversity that is at the heart of both of our countries. Morocco prides itself on its cultural, religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, the things that make it a special country, a crossroads of cultures that has been a beacon of tolerance for centuries. We Americans also define ourselves by our diversity, and although we believe we still have more work to do, it is incredible to think about the progress that has been made just in my lifetime. We are close to confirming in America Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that it is self-evident that all men are created equal.
I have two special acknowledgements that I need to make this evening. First, I would acknowledge Princess Lalla Zaineb. Princess Lalla Zaineb has been a committed member of the Rabat American School community, and she has worked tirelessly to support the school in its transition and to secure its future. Princess Lalla Zaineb, thank you for coming. We sincerely appreciate all that you do for the RAS community. Thank you so much.
Finally, before we end, there’s one very special person here tonight whom I’d like to acknowledge. A few weeks ago, I attended the closing ceremony for one of USAID’s major reform projects, ITQANE, which has worked with the Ministry of National Education to strengthen education at the middle school level. At that event, I had the privilege of hearing from Hamza, a remarkable young man who shared his life story with me, and with Minister Belmokhtar, and with a full hall of people who were just astounded by this young man’s courage and abilities. As I have traveled around Morocco over the past two decades, and especially now as Ambassador, I remain deeply impressed by the beauty of your country, the richness of your culture, and the incredible span of your history. But nothing helps me to understand the potential of Morocco more than students and young people striving to improve themselves and striving to improve the outlook for Morocco. Young people like Hamza are doing their best every day to bring the changes to Morocco that they believe will ensure a brighter future for themselves and for their country. With people like Hamza emerging, I know that future is indeed bright. I can sleep easier knowing that young men like Hamza are coming through the school system. Hamza, to you and your family, I thank you for joining us this evening!
Again, on behalf of all of us from the U.S. Mission to Morocco, I thank you for joining us for our Independence Day celebration. Please stay and enjoy the special treat: fireworks that will be displayed at the end of tonight’s program. Until then, thank you all so much. Shukran.