Ambassador Karen B. Stewart -July 4, 2018 Remarks

Thank you, MC.  Madame President, First Gentleman, Speaker Kedi, Ministers, Senators, Iroij and religious leaders, Justices, members of the Diplomatic Corps, friends of the U.S. Embassy and fellow Americans, welcome.  

A special warm welcome to our guests from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry and Coast Guard District 14.  This new Cutter based in Honolulu just arrived this morning at Uliga Dock on her first visit to the islands and joint operations with the Lomor.  You will have a chance to see her tomorrow during the public open house from 1 to 3 pm.

Thank you all for coming to celebrate with us the 242nd  anniversary of the independence of the United States.  Let me add my personal thank you to my superb staff for putting together this party, to the staff of MIR for all your help, to all our generous sponsors for their donations, and special thanks to MALGOV Mayor Ladie Jack for the surprise entertainment at the end of the evening.

In his opening remarks, Dan reminded us of just how revolutionary a step it is for a people to declare themselves an independent nation – whether done in the eighteenth century for the United States or in our own lifetimes for the Republic of the Marshall Islands.  For both our countries, it was a bold commitment to freedom, equality, and justice by and for the peoples of our nations.

Foreign Minister Silk reminds me that the unique and special relationship between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands goes back to 1857 when the first missionaries from Boston landed on his home atoll.  In my two years in the islands, I have seen how this special relationship continues to this day as we staunchly support each other here and globally. Whether voting together in the U.N., supporting our defense relationship and the base on Kwajalein, assisting law enforcement, building climate resilience, or strengthening your health and education systems, our two countries demonstrate the deepest bonds of cooperation and friendship.  

Indeed, I hope you will all visit a new section of our Embassy website, called Progress Through Partnership, in which we will highlight some of the success stories from our partnership.  Interviews with alumni of exchange and training programs, grant recipients, and others demonstrate the many benefits to both our nations of this complex and positive relationship.

As we think about the Compact of Free Association that governs our relations, I know many are concerned about the end of Compact grant assistance in 2023.  It is important to remember that the Compact itself does not expire in that year. Our bilateral political relationship continues, including the immigration and defense benefits.  But we are also fully aware of the important role of the programs of more than forty U.S. government offices active here in the RMI. Discussions are beginning in earnest about the future of these programs and assistance.  The U.S. is committed to working together with the Marshall Islands and other partners to help assure a successful and sustainable transition and future after 2023.

As I finish up my second year here ilo Aelon Kein ilo Majel, I feel at home, among friends.  We have celebrated our achievements together and we share our hopes for the future together.  May God Bless us all on this Fourth of July.

Happy Independence Day!

Kommol tata.