Ambassador Pamela L. Spratlen
Remarks for Independence Day
“A New Era of Cooperation”
Friday, June 29, 2018
Assalomu aleykum, dobre vecher, good evening, ladies and gentlemen, honored guests from all parts of Uzbekistan’s government and society, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished colleagues, and friends:
I thank you all for joining us on this evening to commemorate the 242nd anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.
I would like to offer my personal gratitude for the attendance tonight of our distinguished guest of honor, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, Abdulla Oripov.
On behalf of my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy, we offer thanks also to our hosts, and particularly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our close and daily partner in all of our work here.
And thanks to our corporate sponsors, who have so generously supported this event, along with many others throughout the year.
Tonight, I would like to highlight the expanding cooperation between the United States and Uzbekistan. We have truly entered into a “new era” in our bilateral relationship.
It comes at a bittersweet moment for me. As many of you know, this is likely one of my final official public events as the U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan, after an incredible three-and-a-half years.
Just yesterday, the White House announced President Trump’s intention to nominate Daniel N. Rosenblum to succeed me as the U.S. ambassador here. I will return to Washington at a date to be determined.
As time marches on, I am addressing you this evening in a very different Uzbekistan than the one I arrived in just three and a half years ago.
My arrival in Uzbekistan in January 2015 was eased by the warm welcome I received from First President Islam Karimov, but we faced big questions on bilateral policy.
Over the course of our time together, we have renewed and reinvigorated the strategic partnership between our two countries as reflected in the historic meeting between President Mirziyoyev and President Trump in Washington just last month.
This meeting reaffirmed the enduring commitment of the United States to the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Uzbekistan.
President Trump expressed his respect for Uzbekistan’s tremendous progress on important political, economic, and social reforms under President Mirziyoyev’s energetic leadership.
We applaud his assertion that progress in Uzbekistan is irreversible, and his emphasis on placing the interests of the people of Uzbekistan first.
His strategy of action promoting good governance, judicial reform and the rule of law, economic liberalization, and social development has spurred a national renewal and brought global recognition.
Uzbekistan’s “good neighbor” policy bolsters the country’s key role in promoting stability and prosperity in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan has taken the initiative to strengthen cooperation, share burdens, and address regional security issues, including stability in Afghanistan, first through the November Samarkand Conference, followed by the March Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan.
President Trump has recognized Uzbekistan’s central role in this important dialogue and has pledged the United States’ support to cooperation and development through the C5+1 regional format.
On the important topic of human rights, we welcome the recent release of many prisoners of conscience, the elimination of systematic child labor, and significant progress in reducing forced labor.
Two days ago, Secretary of State Pompeo unveiled the annual Trafficking in Persons report. There is more to do, but we recognize Uzbekistan’s tremendous progress. I am happy to report an upgrade to the Tier 2 Watch List.
Our wide-ranging work together extends to security cooperation that supports the Uzbekistan military’s professionalization and law enforcement cooperation targeting international crime and narcotics trafficking.
Uzbekistan and the United States work closely together to create a more vibrant agricultural sector, enhanced trade, economic growth, the rule of law, and the fight against communicable diseases.
I have been especially pleased with our cooperation in education, media and culture—our people-to-people ties. It’s great that organizations like the Voice of America and Human Rights Watch are here. American Councils will soon super charge our educational cooperation. We expect others to follow.
In cultural exchanges, we find joy in our shared humanity. One of the highlights of my time here was joining Uzbek friends at the first-ever performance of an American band in Fergana, as part of the Uzbekistan International Jazz Festival.
In a sign of our renewed economic cooperation, during President Mirziyoyev’s visit to Washington, the United States and Uzbekistan signed over 20 major business deals worth nearly $5 billion.
In October, the Central Asia Trade Forum will underline regional connectivity and economic growth. The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement will address trade policy and the American Uzbek Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
There are so many positive, constructive changes happening now in Uzbekistan. This is a very exciting time to be here.
A strong partnership requires joint effort, so I want to take a moment to recognize the people who have helped make my time in Uzbekistan such a rewarding experience.
I have mentioned my appreciation for Team Embassy Tashkent, you are awesome!
To our counterparts throughout the country and at all levels of government, thank you. The same for members of parliament, the press, the judiciary, the arts and civil society. It has been an honor to meet with and work with all of you.
Finally, to the people of this beautiful country, so blessed with natural beauty and cultural heritage renown throughout the world, I am honored and humbled by the generosity and kindness you have shown me for nearly four years.
My compatriots , Americans who visit Uzbekistan always tell me how unfailingly warm and hospitable the people of Uzbekistan are. I agree wholeheartedly, and cherish it.
On July 4th, we will celebrate America’s strength, which comes from its great geography, the energy of our people and our fundamental unity as a diverse nation that prizes freedom, independence and sovereignty. But over 242 years, we also have learned to cherish partners through times of joy and trial. That was always true and will continue to be so.
In closing, know that over the next few weeks, we will have time for some important farewells. But, what is key is our shared pride in creating the new era of partnership and cooperation we have forged together.
I will enjoy watching Uzbekistan’s story unfold from Washington. As you walk your path, I wish you all peace and prosperity — for yourselves, for your families, and for your communities.
E’tiboringiz uchun katta rahmat.
Please join me for a toast to a new era of cooperation and friendship between our two great nations, and to 242 years of U.S. independence. Tonight, we pay tribute to our great nation’s history as we look ahead to our shared path.
Thank you very much, katta rahmat.