Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Sofia
Sofia, Bulgaria
February 5, 2012

(In progress.) And so of course I’m not going to cancel, and I’m delighted that I had a chance to be here. And I want to thank not only our American team, but all the locally employed staff who really provided the continuity from ambassador to ambassador and a huge team to help us work together.

Now, I was here in 1998 and I am thrilled to be back. I’m delighted to have Peace Corps volunteers here somewhere. (Applause.) I know they’re not a quiet group. (Laughter.) I expect to get some reaction whenever I run into them. And so 20 years ago, Peace Corps volunteers started arriving to teach English, working here in development. A Fulbright Program commission was established for university exchanges. We’ve given over $600 million in aid to help build schools, fight corruption, (inaudible) civil society. And we see democratic institutions taking root and growing stronger. In fact, starting next year, Peace Corps members will start leaving. And that’s – it’s kind of a bad (inaudible) to this story, because I know that you love serving here. When I asked Jim, “How do you like serving in Bulgaria,” he lit up and talked about how wonderful the country and people were.

But Bulgaria doesn’t need Peace Corps volunteers the way it once did, and it no longer qualifies for U.S. assistance in democracy and government promotion. Because that’s the story we want to sell, that our aid, our people coming, and help in the democratic transition. And Mission Sofia has been a model for innovative, low-cost solutions. I am thrilled about the commitment to green initiatives. Jim told me there’s even a chance that we could get to our goal of a net zero building, which would be an amazing accomplishment.

Your post support unit is a great success and a notable (inaudible), handling financial track factions for aiding posts, and this is our last year (inaudible), had a process over 80,000 value. So you’re putting into action what I call Smart Power 21st Century Statecraft. It is very important, as the State Department and USAID take their rightful place in our national security team (inaudible) events, that we do our jobs in the most effective way possible, using taxpayer dollars in an efficient manner to get results, and you here in Sofia are really helping to lead the way.

(Inaudible.) But I am thrilled that I had a chance to see you, and to thank you, and to really thank you for the work you’re doing on behalf of strengthening and deepening this really important relationship.

Thank you all very much, and I want to shake your hands. (Applause.)

# # #

PRN: 2012/T59-08