Mr. President… Ministers, Your Excellencies, Eminences, friends – Good evening! Welcome to the U.S. Embassy on this beautiful night as we celebrate the two hundred and fortieth anniversary of America’s independence!
However, before we start our celebration, I would like to take a moment to express our sadness for all the lives lost in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday. No act of hate or terror will change the values that make us Americans. It is more important than ever that we celebrate our founding values … Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We’re celebrating early in deference to Nicosia weather, but June 14th is also part of our history. On this day in 1777 we adopted our flag, which has come to represent the United States of America, its people and its values.
I am very happy to share with you my first Independence Day celebration in Cyprus and the uniquely American mix of ceremony and fun, food, and music.
I want to say a special thank you to all of our partners who supported this event, and to the U.S. Navy band that came here from Italy. I understand that this band was so good last year that people danced. As my staff knows, I love to dance – though I am terrible at it – so I hope to see many of you on the dance floor with me later this evening. I also would like to thank the U.S. Marine Security Detachment for their part in the ceremony tonight and their work every day protecting the U.S. Mission.
We are proud to share this holiday with our Cypriot friends from across the island.
While today we celebrate the two hundred and fortieth anniversary of our Independence, let me go back to the year 1776 for a moment.
A year earlier, warfare with England had erupted and for the thirteen states, the future was filled with great uncertainty. In this tense climate, the Continental Congress met with the intention to vote for independence from England. Thomas Jefferson, over the course of 17 days, would write the document that would determine our future … the Declaration of Independence.
In early July, the founding fathers approved the document and voted for independence. On July 4th the Declaration of Independence was made public, and history was made. Our founding fathers wanted to try something that had never existed before – a government and country based on the idea that people should govern themselves. But our early years of independence were difficult, and our political system left our new country weak. So, in 1787, some of the founding fathers met again to write a new constitution. It began: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union …”
The Declaration of Independence defines our unalienable rights as a people, and the Constitution defines us as a nation: the balance of power between state and federal governments, the system of checks and balances.
In the centuries that have followed the Declaration’s bold assertion, tens of millions of Americans – women and men from all religious, social, ethnic, and racial backgrounds – have worked diligently to secure and protect for future generations the rights that are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Mr. President I welcome you to our Independence Day Celebration. We are greatly honored with your presence.
The United States-Cyprus relationship is strong, and it only stands to get stronger. Together, we are addressing the threats from terrorism, building deeper economic ties, and increasing the connections between Americans and Cypriots.
The United States applauds your decisive and visionary leadership at a crucial time in Cyprus’ history. We praise the bold steps you and Mr. Akinci are taking together in the search for a just and lasting settlement: one that will create a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We greatly hope that these efforts will be successful in the coming months.
The United States is steadfast in our support for Cyprus. We stand ready to help you bring to a reality the promise of a better future for all Cypriots. To all friends here, let me close by saying: That in these troubling and uncertain times, Cyprus’ reunification will inspire the world.
Mr. President, with respect and appreciation, I invite you to say a few words …