Independence Day remarks by Ambassador Tracey Jacobson, as delivered

Friday, May 13, 2022, U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa

 Endet Ameshachihu (Good evening)

Honored former presidents, distinguished ministers and ambassadors, guests, friends. We are thrilled to have you here tonight. We haven’t been able to gather like this at the American Embassy for two years, so I would like to start by acknowledging the public health professionals from the Embassy, from Ethiopia, from the international community, whose work on vaccines, testing, tracing, treating has made it possible for us all to gather together in-person once again.  Let’s give them a round of applause. I also have to say Ameseginalehu (thank you) to our wonderful singers, Sharon from the Centers for Disease Control. She is one of those public health professionals. Winner, from our Public Affairs Section, and Bethel. 

 We’re gathered tonight to celebrate the birth of our nation 246 years ago. As some of you noted on the receiving line, normally we do this in July, but here in Ethiopia we like to be a little bit ahead of the game. No matter when we celebrate, we are always celebrating partnerships. When we talk about celebration, we need to keep in mind that we live in a challenging, complicated, and even dangerous time. The whole world is feeling the impact from Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine which at its core is an attack on the fundamental value of national sovereignty.  While the devastation is most acute in Ukraine, we will all feel the economic impact, especially the dramatic increase in food insecurity here in Ethiopia and on the whole African continent. We are proud to stand with Ukraine together with so many members of the international community and to play a leadership role in combatting food insecurity.    

 Here in Ethiopia, closer to home, the combination of conflict, COVID, and climate has also had a devastating impact. But we are committed to working with all of you to overcome those impacts and it is that cooperation that we celebrate. We are also celebrating our partnership and our relationship with Ethiopia which is broad and deep and more than a century old. It’s reflected in our unwavering commitment to the Ethiopian people.  As one example of that, I will note that we are the largest donor to Ethiopia with over $1.3 billion this year so far, and 186 million directed to drought relief. 

  As a good friend of long standing with Ethiopia, we are very pleased to note the progress over recent weeks and months: the humanitarian truce; the opening of access for humanitarian assistance to the north; the government of Ethiopia’s public commitment to transparency and accountability for human right abuses; and we are committed to working with the Government of Ethiopia and with all of you to build on those accomplishments to work towards a sustainable peace, unfettered continuous access of humanitarian assistance to whomever needs it wherever they may be, and human rights accountability that is honored and reflected both nationally and internationally.  That is what we are also celebrating. 

 Our deep relationship is not just one between two countries. Our people-to-people relationships are strong, aided by tens of thousands of American citizens who live in Ethiopia, an energetic and engaged diaspora in the United States, and a strong business community.  And I’m very pleased to see so many representatives of that business community here, especially our lovely sponsors– without them this party wouldn’t be possible.  Just one second… I usually speak from the heart, but I’d forget somebody if I didn’t read this list. Our sponsors include: Abbott, Boeing, Cerberus Frontier, Coca Cola, Corteva, Dtar Group, Ethiopia Lease  Ethiopian Capital Goods Finance, Grant Thorton, the Hilton hotel, Hyatt Regency, Kifiya  Finance Technology, Moha soft drinks…that’s Pepsi, Radisson Blu, Ramada Addis, Renew, Veritas Consulting and One-Zero-One Enterprise plc. I also want to thank the incredibly hard-working team from both of our missions who have spent weeks getting ready for this event. And here I am going to take my podium privilege and make a special shout-out to my husband David Baugh, who has played an outsized role in the catering, the concept, and the coordination. I think there is something beautifully ironic about having a proud Brit help us organize the American Independence Day.  Thank you David!    

Most of all I want to thank you, our guests, for your cooperation, for your friendship, for the incredible hospitality that David and I have felt since we’ve been here for the last couple of months. I hope that tonight is an opportunity to return some of that hospitality to you.  Ameseginalehu (thank you) and have a nice time. Thank you!