Remarks at New Embassy Compound Ground Breaking Ceremony
Secretary of State
AMBASSADOR KAPLAN: (In progress) One important additional feature: She is a woman who is focused. She’s focused on whatever the problem is or whatever the relationship is that she has to deal with at that moment. She’s one of the most powerful women of the world, but she’s very much a woman of the people. And I’ll tell you one last thing: I was watching and listening to her very carefully today. We had several different meetings, several different discussions, several different press conferences, and the tone was there – the tone of friendship between this Secretary of State and the country of Morocco. She can change the words, she can change the text, but she can’t change the tone. The tone comes through clearly and effectively. You’re about to hear from one of Morocco’s great friends, Secretary Clinton. (Applause.)
I’m sorry. We’re now going to hear – (laughter) – the program got – we are going to hear next from the foreign minister. And I don’t pay attention because I skipped you before. (Laughter.) The foreign minister is a renaissance man. He’s a man who is a psychiatrist, he’s a man who’s a doctor, he’s a man who understands politics, and now he joins the rest of us in the world of diplomacy. It’s not easy, but you’re welcome to join us, and we’re welcome to have you with us. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce the foreign minister of the country of Morocco. (Applause.)
FOREIGN MINISTER OTHMANI: (In Arabic.) (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR KAPLAN: The mayor of Rabat is a distinguished gentleman who has served as the finance minister of this country. He has been a member of parliament on several occasions. And he is a mayor of a very difficult city to govern, because after all, this is the city of government, and there are representatives from all over the world. We are here today because of the mayor’s cooperation and the willingness of his staff to help us through the extraordinary bureaucratic issues that are arising every time you have to build a building this complex in the middle of the city.
To the members of our Embassy, he is our hero, and I’m delighted to welcome him today. (Applause.)
MAYOR OUALALOU: (In Arabic.)
AMBASSADOR KAPLAN: Now, as I was saying about Secretary Clinton – (laughter) – she’s a remarkable woman, you know. Twelve years as the first lady of the State of Arkansas, eight years as the first lady of America, eight years as a senator from our most powerful state, the State of New York, and now the Secretary of State. I only regret, because I know so many of you, that there isn’t time for her to speak to each one of you, because I know her engaging quality and I know how it is when she talks to people and she focuses on what they are saying. If that isn’t possible to do, but it’s wonderful to have her on this day and to tell you she’s one of the great Americans and she’s really one of the great people of the world. So once again, I introduce you to the Secretary of State. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s wonderful being introduced by a friend and an ambassador and someone who represents our country so well here in Morocco. And I want to thank not only the ambassador but his wonderful wife, Sylvia, as well, for their tireless work on behalf of the relationship between the United States and Morocco.
I want to begin by thanking the foreign minister for the great hospitality and warm welcome he extended to me and to my delegation. I am so delighted at the prospect of working closely with him and the new government as we take our relationship to a new level of cooperation and partnership. And I look forward to welcoming you, Foreign Minister, to Washington, where we can continue our dialogue. Thank you, sir, very much.
I also wish to thank the mayor for hosting us in his beautiful city. I think there is not a city in Morocco that isn’t beautiful. Morocco is blessed by beautiful cities, and here today, on an absolute perfect day, which I’m sure the mayor helped to order up for us, we are, once again, having a chance to thank you for hosting us in this beautiful city.
And I wish to recognize all of the people here on the stage with me. I thank them for their tireless work on behalf of humanity, on women, on the law, on the rule of law, on a better Morocco, the work that is done for our embassies around the world, and *Sabi Abdul Baki*, thank you for serving not only in the United States Embassy for 40 years, but serving as a bridge between the Moroccan and the American people. We are deeply grateful.
So to all of you, thank you for joining us on this auspicious occasion. You represent many voices that will help determine Morocco’s future. And I’m looking forward not only to the partnership with the government but collaboration with many parts of Moroccan society for years to come.
As has already been said, our relationship stretches back more than two centuries. Sultan Mohammad III became the first world leader to recognize America’s independence. We entered into a treaty of friendship that has stood the test of time. And in 1820, Morocco presented the United States with a gift, a legation building in Tangier, our very first diplomatic property anywhere in the world. I don’t know how far along we would have made it without Moroccan help, so you’ve been thanked before, but let me thank you again. This is our only national landmark outside our own borders, so the connection between Morocco and the United States is deep and personal.
Now, of course, the way we conduct foreign policy has changed a great deal since those days, and I think it’s fair to say the challenges we face are far more complex, but the opportunities are greater, and the world seems smaller. But that legation building in Tangier stands as a testament to the continuity of our relationship. It has lasted through wars and upheaval. It has remained steadfast in times of crisis. Today, it is a museum and a cultural center that focuses on the rich history between our countries. But what that building in Tangiers preserves and symbolizes is the past. What we’re doing here today represents the future. And we are committed to renewing, in a profound way, our commitment in this new chapter of our long relationship.
I have talked often about how Morocco once again is leading the way, not just here in Morocco, where I have not had the privilege of being for two years, but throughout the Maghreb and the Middle East and beyond. The constitutional referendum last summer and November’s elections signaled an acceleration of reforms that began under his Majesty King Mohammad VI more than a decade ago. And the Moroccan Government is now moving forward with the momentum necessary to deliver on the promise of democratic reform.
Now, we understand, as well as any country in the world, having survived to be the oldest democracy in the world, that this is a long journey that you are taking together. But I want you to know, Minister and friends all, that the United States will stand with you on that journey. We’ve had a lot of our own ups and downs over 235 years, so we are not surprised when it is difficult to reach political compromise in the give and take of a parliament. We are not surprised when there has to be a lot of hard work done to translate into reality the promises of politics. So we will be there as you make your own way forward.
We are especially focused on efforts that will create economic opportunity and greater prosperity for all Moroccans. We are promoting entrepreneurship, because new businesses mean more jobs, faster growth, and greater innovation. We are spearheading new initiatives to bring together government officials, leaders from the private sector, and young entrepreneurs who have the vision and drive to succeed in the 21st century global economy.
Last fall, we brought a group of American business leaders here and to neighboring countries to meet aspiring young innovators, to cultivate ideas, and to share promising ideas as well. And I want to acknowledge our friends on the Moroccan board of the North African Partnership for Economic Opportunity, called NAPEO. Will you raise your hand, those who are from NAPEO who are with us? I want everyone to see our businessmen and women who are part of a public-private program called Partners for a New Beginning. It represents a concerted effort by business leaders to reach the business leaders of the next generation, to create jobs, and grow prosperity.
And we remain committed to helping in every way. So I am proud to announce today that this spring the State Department will launch our Global Entrepreneurship Program here in Morocco. We will connect investors and thinkers, mentors and pioneers, so that we can tap into the ingenuity of young Moroccan women and men, who have good ideas, who may need to know how to do a business plan, who may need advice about getting credit from the bank, but who are willing to work hard to generate economic growth from the bottom up, right here in Rabat and across Morocco.
So the building that we are breaking ground for today will serve as the new home for America’s Embassy, but it will also stand for the new chapter in our relationship. It will be state-of-the-art, because we believe that we have no more important commitment than to our first partners, going back to the very beginning of America’s journey.
And we want to do all we can to help forge an even deeper relationship and to help Morocco deliver on the vision that Moroccans have set for themselves. This is coming organically from within Morocco. It is not being imported. It is not being imposed. It is coming because of the thinking and hard work, starting his Majesty, the king, going down to the men and women who stood in line to vote in the parliamentary elections. And we are very excited by what we see happening here, and we want you to know that you can count on your long-time friend and partner in the 21st century, as we counted on you in the 18th century so long ago.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)