|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Ambassador William Montgomery
Remarks during the presentation of the State Department's Superior Honor Award to Embassy Zagreb
Zagreb, Croatia, February 18, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
AMBASSADOR MONTGOMERY: Ladies and Gentlemen, Madam Secretary, the last time you were here to address the Embassy staff was in August 1998, and during the course of that day I had one of the very longest one-hour meetings of my diplomatic career when we met with President Tudjman and what a difference a year and a half makes. And as I told you two weeks ago welcome to democratic Croatia. I am proud to say that the people in front of you did their very best to help that happen so we are very pleased to have you here today. Thanks
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It really is wonderful to be here under these different circumstances and to have a chance finally to thank all of you and offer my congratulations for everything that you have done. This has been a very hard working Embassy and what has been happening in Croatia is in very large part due to the tremendous work that comes from all of you.
Today's inauguration is truly a historic moment not just for Croatia but also for the region, and indeed for the entire Euro-Atlantic community. Because for more than a decade the United States has been working to help build a Europe that is whole and free and to have elections, such as the ones that have been held here to change the government, is really a giant step forward. I know that you all have been a very important part of the progress that has been made and your performance is really a superb example of how an activist and committed and well-focussed Embassy can work in key American interests.
One example of your work was brought to my attention by Under Secretary Lieberman during the senior staff meeting earlier this week. She told me that part of Mr. Racan's new government contains not fewer than nine alumni of our International Visitor Program and that includes the Prime Minister himself as well as the Foreign and Defense Ministers and several other key figures. So those of you who are involved in choosing the participants for the IV programs are clearly making the right selections.
More generally, the Embassy ensured that the United States continued to spread its ties to the Croatian people even when we had very a difficult relationship with the government and I think that has really shown in the tremendous admiration that I see that the Croatian people have for Americans, especially for all of you here. And Embassy Zagreb has done an outstanding job in fostering cooperation among the Croatian democratic political parties. No need to (inaudible) the fact that they were able to work together, I think, is much due to the work that you have done and I hope will give inspiration to neighbors next door because they really do also need to learn how to work together.
So, I would very much like to present the Embassy with the State Department's Superior Honor Award, which you richly deserve and let me read to you what it says:
"For sustained outstanding performance in helping to foster democratization in Croatia. The American Embassy in Zagreb is recognized for developing a proactive strategy to promote a democratic transition; for its effectiveness in fostering political cooperation among Croatia's diverse democratic political parties; and for encouraging the development of civil society by active engagement with non-governmental organizations in Croatia."
This is the Department Superior Honor Award and I give it to you, Mr. Ambassador.
Now, as we all know, and we say democracy's work is never finished and the new government has a very ambitious reform program laid out for it and it is going to need the help of every friend that they can muster in the international community and, of course, we will be in the lead and I have just been saying that we are going to be able to increase some of our assistance, TDA and OPIC are going to be coming in, there is going to be a lot of work and with any luck, there will be a lot more foreign investment, American, which will provide even more work for you. So, as no good deed goes unpunished, I wish you a lot more work.
And I thank you so much for all your hard work and support. Let me just, not just incidentally, say that in Washington we are now working very hard on the FY2001 budget in which we are asking for substantial increases both in programs and State Department operations and within the State Department operations part of it, substantial funds for security for our embassies and restructuring and technology and various other things. So, when I'm not traveling abroad, I'm spending my working hours testifying, I suppose that's the most polite word and cajoling and pushing and working because it's for you because you are working for America and I am so very grateful to you for everything that you do.
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