Ambassador Pamela L. Spratlen
Reception in Honor of the 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations
Tuesday, December 21, 2016
Tonight, I welcome all our guests but in particular the foreign minister of Uzbekistan, Mr Kamilov. Tonight we are having a celebration with the diplomatic community and with those representatives of the various ministries that handle the U.S. diplomatic account, and I want to thank you all for coming this evening. I actually want to begin with something very sad. As you all know, yesterday, our colleague in the largest sense, the Russian ambassador in Ankara, was assassinated by a police officer that became a terrorist. His name was Andrey Karlov and he was a career diplomat in the Russian Foreign Service. It happened to be him in Ankara, but we all know that we represent our countries every day, and we all know that it might have been any one of us. In honor of the fact that we want to continue, that we will all valiantly continue to fight terrorism and to work together, I just want to have a moment of silence in his honor.
(Observed moment of silence)
Now, I would like to begin a very happy story of twenty-five years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Uzbekistan by reading from the letter that President Obama sent to his honor Shavkat Mirziyoyev on his inauguration.
Our president said, “On behalf of the United States, I wish to congratulate you on your election as president of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Our friendship and partnership began twenty-five years ago when your country gained independence. Our support for this independence as well as Uzbekistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity continues today.” The president ended his letter by saying that, “We have many common interests and I hope that we can work together for the mutual benefit of our two nations.” In that spirit, I would also like to say that this communication between presidents, these are the words that set the tone for our work together. But it’s really the people in this room who represent various elements of the government of Uzbekistan and the United States who have been responsible for the day to day management of the relationship – its ups, its downs – its triumphs and its trials- and we are very, very grateful to them because we are ending this year on a very high note.
The United States was one of the first countries to recognize Uzbekistan’s independence in December of 1991. The relationship developed very well, up to a very high point in 2002 when we signed a declaration of strategic partnership and Mr. Kamilov was part of that process. We were very, very pleased that Uzbekistan decided to host the C5+1 foreign minister’s meeting in Samarkand with Secretary Kerry establishing what we have come to call “the spirit of Samarkand”. We were also pleased that Undersecretary Shannon could come pay respects to the late president Karimov in Samarkand. Through our engagement we have always sought to finds areas of common interest on security, education, economic devolvement and many others.
So Mr Minister, representatives of the government of Uzbekistan, of the parliament of Uzbekistan, diplomatic community members, and our staff, I just want to let you know that I am very excited about the road ahead here in Uzbekistan. I met this afternoon with the chairman of the central election commission. It was a very good meeting, and it let me know that a different kind of wind is blowing in Uzbekistan right at the moment, and I think that we all have an opportunity to support Uzbekistan as it takes up new activities, new reforms, and new directions.
Mr Minister, I want to say a special word of thanks to you, both for when we worked together In Washington DC when I was the director of the Central Asia desk and here in Tashkent as the U.S. Ambassador we have been extremely grateful for your foresight, your wisdom, and your skill in helping us take the next steps in our bilateral relations.
So I want to thank you and wish you good health and a wonderful holiday season as we prepare for 2017. And I am going to attempt a wish as I conclude my remarks in Uzbek and say, “Diplomatik munosabatlarimizning chorak asri muborak, do’stligimiz abadiy bo’lsin!”