July 12, 2022
(As prepared for delivery)
Mr. President, Ministers, Honored Guests – Good evening and welcome. Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate the 246th birthday of the United States of America. And a hearty Thank You to our many sponsors whose generosity helped make this evening possible. You saw their names displayed on our sponsorship board as you walked in tonight. Their partnership is essential as we build and strengthen U.S. – Cypriot ties.
Last month, Cyprus lost a dedicated civil servant and a dear friend to many of us gathered here today—the late Minister of Labor Zeta Emilianidou. While we continue to mourn her untimely passing, we are comforted by the fact that her indelible legacy of progress and tireless service to others lives on.
As Cyprus emerges from one of the worst wildfires on record, we applaud the bravery of Cypriot first responders and volunteers, whose selfless actions ensured no lives were lost in the tragedy. We are also deeply heartened by the quick and substantial support offered from across the island and the region. This united response illustrates the limitless potential of communities rising in solidarity to achieve a common good.
For Americans, Independence Day is a time to reconnect, remember our history, and renew our commitment to our democratic experiment—imperfect, but ever striving for a more perfect union. Incomplete, but endlessly working towards a more equitable, more inclusive future for all.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. Tonight, I’d like to reflect on all that President Abraham Lincoln represents.
A selfless hero who guided America through her darkest hour. A legendary orator who united a people divided against itself. An immovable champion of peace, justice, and human rights for all.
Now, more than ever, we take inspiration from his resolve. Across the globe, democracies are confronted with creeping authoritarianism, rising inequality, and malign influences. Today we witness innocent men, women, and children driven from their homes by an autocrat bent on Ukraine’s annihilation.
In his address to Congress in 1861, President Lincoln declared, “important principles can and must be inflexible.” The world has changed greatly in the last 160 years, but the truth of Lincoln’s words endures.
In defense of democracy and the fundamental freedoms owed to every individual, there can be no concessions. The resolve of the United States and our Allies and partners across the globe will not waiver.
When the history of this era is written, it will reveal the Kremlin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated war against Ukraine for the craven act it is.
And it will remember a Cypriot people who joined the unprecedented global sanctions campaign against the aggressors, and who did not hesitate to open their homes and their hearts to victims of this senseless war.
We applaud Cyprus not only for its resounding solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but for its partnership on economic and security issues, for reaffirming its commitment to our shared interests and for safeguarding civil liberties for people the world over.
I am proud to see representatives of the island’s outstanding Non-governmental Organizations with us here today. As citizen activists, you work tirelessly to bring about societies in which people—all people—can thrive irrespective of race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. You continue to embody what President Lincoln once wisely observed: “Nothing in this world is impossible to a willing heart.”
It is our earnest hope your efforts will soon benefit a united Cyprus. The United States continues to support efforts by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, facilitated by the United Nations, to forge a just and lasting settlement that will reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. We commend recent efforts to forge confidence building measures to improve the lives of Cypriots across the island. We hope these will bear fruit and bring all Cypriots closer together. We firmly believe a reunified island offers a better and stronger future for all Cypriots.
As I look out at our friends and partners celebrating with us today, I proudly reflect on all we have accomplished together.
Just three months ago, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland helped inaugurate the Cyprus Center for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security. CYCLOPS is both the product and symbol of our growing security partnership. This state-of-the-art facility provides technical assistance and training to regional partners in areas including customs and exports control, maritime security and sanctions implementation.
Our growing partnership also includes economic security – a critical, but sometimes overlooked, element of national security. Here too, the United States has worked to foster closer ties with Cyprus to grow and diversify its economy.
I was honored the Republic of Cyprus selected the United States as its partner of choice for its first Economic Diplomacy Action Plan. In the past year, several U.S. companies won contracts in Cyprus or committed to new investment here. My team and I continue to support trade delegations and other outreach to the U.S. market to strengthen our bilateral economic ties. We are proud American energy companies are leading the exploration and development of Cyprus’s offshore hydrocarbon resources and I am confident American companies will lead the charge to deploy renewable energy resources on the island as well.
We welcomed the Republic of Cyprus’s commitment to support marine conservation and sustainable development at the 2022 Our Oceans conference. Together, we are working to leverage Cypriot climate science expertise to spur ambitious, tailored regional action to enhance resilience and mitigate climate change in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In my three years here in Cyprus, I have also witnessed a period of unparalleled growth in the personal connections of our people.
This year, for the first time, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot students are participating right now in our Tech Girls program, travelling to America for hands-on training in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Our American Corners at Cyprus University of Technology and Near East University continue to foster engagement and symbolize our commitment to that core tenet of democracy—free access to information. In these spaces, over 247,000 community members have gathered to exchange or cordially debate ideas, access state-of-the-art technology, and engage in a diverse array of programming.
At the close of the American Civil War, as activists and ordinary citizens worked to rebuild, Abraham Lincoln declared, “Commitment transforms promise into reality.” These are not words we simply remember, but words we strive to live by. By expanding our collaboration in regional security, business, environmental conservation, cultural and educational exchange, the United States wholeheartedly commits to advancing the prosperity of all Cypriots.
By continually strengthening the principles of democracy, rights-respecting societies commit to creating a fairer, freer world for all. Though the challenges of rising authoritarianism, global climate change, and regional security may be great, so too is the potential of democracies acting together towards the promise of peace, equality, and fundamental freedom.
As I reflect on the future of our strong partnership, I know: the best is yet to come.
Mr. President, we are very honored to have you with us tonight, and I invite you to give a few remarks.