(Senior Ethiopian Official), Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Ambassadors, Diplomats, Guests! Thank you for joining us today to celebrate the 238th anniversary of American Independence. Together with U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, Ruben Brigety, and our entire Mission team, it is an honor to have you join us on this very important day.
I have been fortunate to witness a remarkable period in U.S. Ethiopian relations marked by a series of high-level visits in the short ten months since my arrival. Even before I arrived, our Embassy hosted Secretary Kerry for the AU 50th anniversary and U.S. Trade Representative Froman for the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in August 2013. Since then, we have had three more Cabinet-level visits – The Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy and a second visit by Secretary Kerry. They have come because they recognize Ethiopia’s growing economic role and positive influence in the region – and because Ethiopia graciously hosts the African Union.
We expect Ethiopia to further shine at the two Summits that President Obama will host in Washington this summer. The best of Ethiopia’s young professionals will meet with the President at the end of July together with 500 others from across Africa for the Young Africa Leaders Initiative – or YALI – Summit.
At the beginning of August, Prime Minister Hailemariam will join President Obama for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit where they will discuss collaborative approaches to key economic, security and governance issues. All of this engagement reflects the depth of our partnership with Ethiopia and our support for the Ethiopian people’s aspiration for an economically strong, stable and democratic Ethiopia.
Since the beginning of our diplomatic relations with Ethiopia over 100 years ago, the history of United States and Ethiopia relations has been marked by close and fruitful cooperation.
Tomorrow, I will go to Gondar to celebrate a milestone in that shared history – the 60th anniversary of Gondar University. In 1954, Gondar Medical College was founded with the support of Point Four funds from the U.S. Government to fight a deadly outbreak of malaria. While in Gondar, we will also celebrate the opening of a new $9 million Health Center, funded as part of America’s annual support for health, education and agricultural development in Ethiopia, totaling close to $800 million per year.
We can be proud of our achievements together but I look forward to working closely to achieve even more over the next few years. With a record of impressive development and accomplishments, Ethiopia canafford to have the confidence to expand opportunities and freedoms for all Ethiopians regardless of their views, gender, ethnicity or religion.
I would like to leave you with a quote on the value of such diversity by one of America’s – and the world’s – great poets, Maya Angelou, who passed away in May at 86 years of age. She said “we all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value.”