Remarks with Kyiv Embassy Staff
Secretary of State
AMBASSADOR PYATT: Well, let me just say, Mr. Secretary – I said in the car how proud I am of what the United States Government has accomplished here over the past three years, but even prouder than that is the pride I feel in this team of men and women and your team out here – extraordinary group of people who have accomplished historic things, so glad you’re able to spend a little bit of time here. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you very much, Geoff. Talk about pride, ladies and gentlemen, I – we are so proud of this ambassador, Geoff Pyatt. What he has done here – and I think you all feel it – it has been absolutely extraordinary in an extraordinary period of time. And thank you for helping to make history here, Geoff. Thank you.
And Mary, thanks for being there every step of the way – all 26, ’7 years of A-100 shotgun marriage routine. (Laughter.) Some of you don’t know what that means – (laughter) – but the other use of the word “shotgun.” (Laughter.) Anyway, you don’t know what it means. (Laughter.) It’s an A-100 thing. It has nothing to do – okay. (Laughter.)
Is Chip Laitinen in here? Where’s Chip? Chip, over here. Thank you, bud. Thanks for hanging in there and taking care of business while we waited for George to get here and – George Kent?
PARTICIPANT: Here’s George.
SECRETARY KERRY: Where’s George? There he is. He was an intern for me in 1986, folks. (Laughter.) So --
PARTICIPANT: He survived.
SECRETARY KERRY: -- you see what happens? (Laughter.) Good things, I hope.
PARTICIPANT: From the mailroom to the ballroom. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Anyway, well, welcome aboard. I gather you’ve been back and forth kind of, right? And now you’re really here.
PARTICIPANT: I am.
SECRETARY KERRY: Full on?
PARTICIPANT: Full on.
SECRETARY KERRY: All right. Let me – I’m not going to take a lot of time, you all, and I apologize if you’ve been standing around and waiting very long. But I really just want to say thank you profoundly on behalf of President Obama and myself and the American people for all you have done and are doing to carry the interests of our country and the values of our country to another nation, to another people, and particularly one as blessed as this one to be on the cusp of having earned a hard-fought-for freedom and independence and a full measure of sovereignty.
What they’ve done is quite remarkable; what you’ve done is quite remarkable, really. I was privileged to be here in the early days – not the earliest of days, like Toria out there handing out cookies in the Maidan – but early enough to have seen the immediate aftermath and to have felt the passion and the energy and the extraordinary historic importance of what happened here. And I think it is safe to say – I mean, obviously, the Ukrainian people deserve all the credit in the world, and this wouldn’t have happened without leaders who were holed up down there, standing up and fighting for the independence and freedom of the country. But I also kind of believe without our help, every step of the way, particularly in those early days and without the sanctions against Russia, without the unity between Europe and the United States, and without our having held Putin to account, well, who knows who would be marching around the streets of Kyiv today and who knows what bloodshed might have occurred in that fight.
So we’re doing what I think we do best, which is helping people to be who they want to be, and to particularly live our values in the sense that we celebrate the equality of human beings and the right of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a constitution and rule of law, and rules where supposedly everybody is supposed to be treated the same way. I know there’s a big fight in America right now in our presidential election that’s about how much that’s happening even today, but we’ll resolve it – I promise you – and we’ll work through it and we will be the good old United States of America that helps other people and sets a standard for the world.
And you can be very proud that not only are we breaking new ground here in Ukraine, but we’re really the envy of the world in terms of the quality of our economy and our technology, our medical care, our ability to do things, the entrepreneurial activity of our nation, and you list it. Yes, we have challenges. We need to build better infrastructure. We need to do a lot of things at home. But we will. I’m confident of that.
In the meantime, we have a world that needs its worst impulses tamed a little bit and we need to fight through this period of a clash of culture and religion and exploitation of religion and modernity and globalization and all these forces that are unleashed. So from the point of view of being in the Foreign Service, this is about as interesting and challenging a time as anybody could imagine. It is so different from the world I grew up in, even in the United States Senate beginning in the 1980s, and going up until I became Secretary of State. So much has changed. We’re just living in a very different place and it requires people ready to think, push the limits, try to find new solutions, think out of the box, and figure out how we take the same mission – because the mission doesn’t change – but apply it to this fast-moving, very complex world that we’re all living in.
So I thank you on behalf of the President. If he were here personally, I know he would literally just say thank you to all of you for signing up and staying with it and hanging in there. I know that sometimes there’s a nervousness in the air for families here now, and some people are wondering where things are going, and so forth. Hang in there, because I’m confident that this is all going to work out and you’re going to look back on this as a very exciting chapter not just of your lives, but history itself.
So God bless. Thank you. Keep on doing the great work that you’re doing. Appreciate it. Thank you. (Applause.)