|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Chiefs of Diplomatic Missions Ball
January 13, 2001, Washington, D.C.
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Excellencies and colleagues, I am so very pleased to be able to welcome you here this evening for an evening of fun and discussion and friendship. It's really a pleasure to welcome you to the last diplomatic ball that I will host as Secretary of State. I say "last" even though I'm beginning to dislike that word a lot.
As you may know, I just returned from a trip to Paris, my last trip to Europe, and for weeks, I have had to read articles describing the last time I will do this, or the last time I will do that, or the last document that I will sign. In France this week, I was actually asked to describe my last dinner, or as one reporter put it, "My last tango in Paris." (Laughter.) Since I will always care about United States relations with the world, and because I do like to dance, I very much hope that this is not the last diplomatic ball to which I will be invited. Because I just wanted to let you all know, I am not disappearing; I am here in Washington. My phone number is -- (laughter and applause).
I actually do expect to hear from all of you, and the truth is that the State Department Operations Center is supposed to keep track of former Secretaries of State, so you can in fact find me. (Laughter.) I will take a vacation for as long as I can stand it, and then I plan to take on some new challenges and remain very engaged with the diplomatic community. I also will write a book and put you all in it. (Laughter.) So be sure to look in the index.
Our purpose here this evening is truly just to relax and enjoy the company of this wonderfully diverse group that has worked together so very, very well. Because gathered here are representatives of the entire family of humankind. We are all of different colors and races and creeds and backgrounds, and in our lives we have all traveled very different roads. But we share a certain basic understanding.
We all know that in the 21st century there are few foreign policy goals that any country can achieve by itself. In most situations, for most purposes, we must have, all of us, the help of allies and partners, and diplomacy is about explaining our goals and how we get there, and understanding what each other's needs are and finding ways to work together.
Diplomacy is about building and nourishing partnerships for cooperative action towards common goals, and it is about listening and persuading and analyzing and acting at the right time. And as the world spins, it shrinks; the pace of change accelerates; and there is always timely diplomatic work to be done.
Tonight, with less than a week to go for this Administration, believe it or not, we are still engaged in diplomacy to encourage peace in the Middle East. We are consulting with many of our allies and partners represented here to consolidate the astonishing gains we have made in the Balkans. We are working to prevent the spread of advanced weapons so that this century is less bloody than the last one, and we are pursuing a process to try to maintain stability in the Korean Peninsula and reduce the threat of ballistic missiles.
We are cooperating with neighbors in our own hemisphere to promote economic growth and foster free institutions and prevent the spread of drugs and transnational crime. We are helping leaders in Africa to consolidate the recent peace signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and halt the spread of HIV-AIDS. And we are working with democratic friends in every continent to ensure that the democratic tide continues to rise around the equator and from pole to pole.
While these efforts are diverse and may seem disconnected, we have in fact, I think, witnessed in the past eight years the intimate connection between democracy and prosperity and security. And our strategy has always been to encourage nations to come together around basic principles of political freedom, open markets and the rule of law.
As we take this work forward, some of us in new capacities, we must remember that progress is often uneven and setbacks inevitable, and even the greatest accomplishments quickly are matched by new challenges. To succeed, we have to constantly reassess our methods and assumptions and strategies, and we have to devise new strategies and build new institutions, forge new partnerships, and combat new threats without allowing old ones to reemerge. We must develop approaches that are fluid and flexible as the times in which we live, and we obviously must reach out to one another.
I have said this many, many times in the last few weeks, but I will say it again, because it is so true. I envy all of you that get to stay in the diplomatic service because you have been able to engage your whole lives in the best subject in the world, which is foreign policy, which is the way that people work to achieve peace. Foreign policy has always been my love, and I wish I could do it every day, all day, all my life.
I think those of you that do know me well know that I have loved every minute of being Secretary of State. People have asked me, how is it possible that I have now traveled over a million miles, and probably visited most of the countries that are represented in this room. I do have energy, but makeup is a wonderful thing -- (laughter) -- and it has helped me get through a lot of times when I looked terrible.
There is no greater honor -- I know that you feel this, as you have represented your countries -- than having the ability to represent your country with others. And I loved my time at the United Nations, where I began to understand the various issues that we have worked on, and I have loved being able to represent the United States, a country which many of you know is not the country of my birth, but is my adopted country, which I have served with great pleasure and have believed that the greatest honor for anyone is to be able to serve one's country, and I am so very honored to have served for President Clinton.
Of course, when tonight's buzz has worn off, tomorrow's cables will still await, and there will still be lots of work to do, and over time new challenges will arise. But of this we can be certain: it will be a long time before diplomacy is outdated, even if its forms and patterns cannot continue. And people of generous spirit will always need venues to enjoy each other's company and to strengthen the relationships that make our work possible.
So tonight, let's not talk about the last dance and final farewells; let us simply visit with old friends and make new ones, and enjoy these remarkable surroundings, and let us all really enjoy this festive occasion and to appreciate this fine food and step lively on the dance floor while we still can.
Thank you all very much.
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