Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s Opening Remarks at the 2019 Independence Day Celebration
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Good evening everyone. I am absolutely delighted that so many of you could join us today to celebrate the 243rd birthday of the United States. A little early but what’s a month among friends?
I will soon celebrate the one-year anniversary of my arrival in Brussels, and it is really an honor to see so many of the good friends I have made during my time here in the audience tonight. Thank you so much for being here.
Vice President of the European Commission and EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini, Commissioners, fellow Ambassadors and a special shout out to my friend the Georgian Prime Minister Mamouka Bakhtadze —thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules and making this party truly European. And a special thanks to our sponsors this evening. We truly couldn’t do this without your generous support.
And, of course, a huge thank you to my old friend Jay Leno. You are all in for a real treat tonight.
I had hoped Secretary Pompeo would be able to join us tonight, but President Trump asked him to remain in London to support his visit. There was some really productive conversation in London today and the Secretary was unable to break away. But as a special treat the President sent his White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner who is here with us tonight and I would like to welcome Jared and all of our other special guests.
Jared’s presence here tonight, along with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Secretary Pompeo’s Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl, and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Phil Reeker should leave no doubt about the importance this Administration places on the transatlantic relationship.
I would like first to recognize HRVP Mogherini as I am not sure that I will get another chance to thank her, especially in front of a crowd like this. Federica has a tough job—and not just because of me—but she is the consummate diplomat and it has been great to work with her over the past year. I consider her a very special friend and I am honored by her presence. Thank you Federica.
I also want to offer a huge congratulations to the EU on the recent Parliamentary elections. It’s really an amazing achievement—the second largest democratic vote in the world—and I am looking forward to engaging the new Parliamentarians. I am really glad to see a few have made it here tonight.
This is a party, although there are way too many people wearing ties, so I don’t want to talk too much about business. But I do want to highlight the importance of our partnership. In no small part thanks to Federica and her colleagues, we are more effective than ever in providing security and prosperity to all our citizens. In spite of our relatively minor, though headline-grabbing differences, this is a relationship that delivers results for ourselves and others. Everyone in this room is part of that story.
Shared economic prosperity has led to a transatlantic economy that is arguably the most integrated on Earth. This prosperity has allowed us to collectively become the world’s largest donors of humanitarian assistance around the world. Just think about that the next time you hear about trade disputes.
Secretary Perry’s presence is a reminder that energy security is another cornerstone of our transatlantic relationship. In May, Secretary Perry and Commissioner Canete held a high-level business–to-business LNG forum right here in Brussels. We hatched a plan that week, and before you know it Vice President Sefcovic and I were on Air Force One with President Trump en route to attend a LNG terminal opening in Louisiana that will help end Russia’s dominance over the European energy market. That’s how deals get done.
Although today we are celebrating the United States, we are also celebrating our incredible accomplishments as partners with the EU, and the potential for all that we will accomplish together in the years to come. Thank you very much for your partnership, your friendship and your belief in the strength of our relationship. It is my honor and privilege to invite my good friend Federica Mogherini to the podium to say a few words.