Goeden avond, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ministers and Permanent Secretaries of the Republic of Suriname; District Commissioners and Members of the National Assembly; Fellow Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic and Honorary Consular Corps; Colleagues from the community of Inter-Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations in Suriname; Members of the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement community of Suriname; Members of the Suriname-America Alumni Association; Distinguished guests, members of the media, friends, and colleagues: Welkom!
My wife, Tricia, and I are delighted to welcome you to our home this evening. Most of you are new faces to us, but for the many Surinamers we have met since we arrived a month ago, Tricia and I want to thank you for the incredibly warm reception. We have been impressed by the friendship extended by those in government, the private sector, and the diplomatic corps and look forward to getting to know all of you in the coming months.
On Monday, I presented my credentials to the President of the Republic of Suriname. I let him and Foreign Minister Badrising know that we stand ready to explore the full range of assistance we can provide to Suriname and to explore bilateral and regional opportunities for collaboration. I arrive in Suriname at a time in which the country is facing difficult economic challenges and changes, but I am nonetheless optimistic for the future of our bilateral relations.
I was impressed by one of the questions President Obama asked this week in his last State of the Union Address: “Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, in what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?”
His answer for the United States was, of course, yes to the latter. And I believe after what I have seen in the short time that I’ve been here, that the answer for Suriname is the same.
I look forward to cooperating with the Government of Suriname on areas of mutual interest and benefit, from trade to climate change to combatting trafficking in persons. I also hope to see the constructive relationship between our two militaries continue to broaden during my tenure. There is much we can do together to enhance regional security and maximize disaster preparedness.
This year will also be a milestone year for our mission as we move into our new embassy complex in the north, at the corner of Kristalstraat and Kleinestraat, where we hope to welcome many of you this summer to our grand opening. Since we began construction nearly two years ago, more than 1,500 Surinamese workers have been hired to work on the embassy construction project, applying their talents and learning the latest U.S. construction methods. With its many “green” features, the new U.S. Embassy is a model of sustainable development. This US$165 million project is also a symbol of our commitment to building on a 225-year history of friendly diplomatic relations with the government and people of Suriname.
On behalf of the President of the United States and the entire Embassy staff, Ik offer mijn warme vriendschap aan de Surinaamse bevolking en wens u een gelukkig en succesvol nieuw jaar toe.