Presentation of Credentials (Azerbaijan, Norway, European Commission, United States)
Rideau Hall, Friday, October 2, 2009
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Welcome to Canada, your home away from home for the next few years. It is a distinct pleasure to welcome you, your spouses, your children and members of your embassy personnel to Rideau Hall.
During your respective missions, you will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the Canadian way of life, in this vast and magnificent country of ours.
You will come to see that Canada does indeed contain the world. We are a people committed to promoting values that are rooted in the diversity that defines so much of who we are: the rule of law, respect for human dignity, equality between women and men, freedom of speech, to name just a few.
You will find in Canadians a people determined to strengthen the bonds of solidarity that unite us, encouraging dialogue, practising openness, and knowing how to listen.
You can henceforth count on the friendship and support of Canadians to forge and facilitate what we hope will be lasting ties.
The hardships that we are facing these days, not least of which is the global economic crisis, call on us to learn lessons, to rethink how we do things and to turn more than ever to those inclusive values, that spirit of reciprocity, compassion and community.
The challenges before us require that we stand together as never before and that we share our perspectives on possible solutions. They require that we work together and seek further opportunities for partnership.
This is why your role is more important than ever, at a time when we must hold fast to the values we share, rather than to the borders that separate us.
I truly believe that diplomacy is a powerful instrument for peace, human development and reconciliation between peoples. An instrument to pursue our hope that all human beings will one day at last find their place at the centre of the systems they have created, for the good of all humanity.
Ambassador Shafiyev, Canada is pleased to see a strengthening of its relationship with Azerbaijan, and we are committed to furthering our partnership in the areas of trade, investment, and political relations.
We sincerely hope that current diplomatic efforts between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with other countries helping to mediate, will lead to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a strengthening of peace and stability in the Caucasus.
It is for that reason that Canada supports the efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group to achieve a peaceful and lasting resolution to the conflict.
Excellency, you have a distinct advantage over your colleagues here today. You have already been in Canada since 2005, most recently as Azeri chargé d’affaires. You can tell them all about the Stanley Cup, Hockey Night in Canada, and beaver tails.
Ambassador Eikeland, it was an honour for me to conduct a State Visit to Norway earlier this year with my husband and our Canadian delegation. That visit allowed us to better understand our countries’ similar perspectives and values and to learn about how we work together constructively on many global issues.
We were fascinated and enchanted by the Norwegian people and their institutions, where innovation and excellence are celebrated in many forms.
I want to take this opportunity to reiterate our most sincere thanks and our deepest appreciation for the memorable welcome and generous hospitality that Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja extended to us, as well as for Prime Minister Stoltenberg’s warm reception.
As NATO allies and multilateral partners, Canada and Norway enjoy a long tradition of close bilateral relations on global security issues, reinforced by like-minded co‑operation at the UN and other multilateral forums.
As northern neighbours, Canada and Norway promote circumpolar co‑operation at the Arctic Council; we co-operate closely on international marine and ocean management issues; and we and are allies in defending our respective commercial seal hunts.
Our two countries have co‑funded several global initiatives, notably in the area of arms control and disarmament, such as the eradication of landmines and cluster munitions, war-affected children, gender equality, human rights, and nuclear waste management through the G8 Global Partnership Program. We consult frequently on the global security agenda, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Haiti, Darfur and Sri Lanka.
Norway is our most important Nordic trading partner and our eighth largest worldwide, and we enjoy a vibrant cultural co‑operation, particularly in music, the performing arts, and audiovisual production. I am also very proud of the Youth Memorandum of Understanding between our two countries.
Excellency, you have visited Canada twice during your tenure at the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions. As you live across the street from Rideau Hall, I know that you have already made numerous friends in our neighbourhood as you walk your dog Pelle in the morning. Don’t be surprised if you see me walking my dog Chouka one day.
Ambassador Brinkmann, the European Union is a strategic partner for Canada and the two share many common values.
Our relationship is the EU’s oldest formal relationship with any industrialized country, officially dating back to 1959, when we signed the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.
Today, the EU represents Canada’s second largest trade and investment partner and a natural ally on many foreign and security issues.
Canada believes profoundly in the need to forge strong transatlantic ties, to diversify its exchanges and to find new opportunities for partnership and co‑operation with the European Union.
At the Canada-EU Summit in Prague on May 6, 2009, Canada and the EU launched negotiations toward a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
The launching of those negotiations sent a clear signal that in current economic conditions, Canada and the EU are committed to keeping markets open, and that protectionism is not the right path to follow.
Excellency, I send my best wishes on his re-election to His Excellency José Manuel Barroso, whom I had the privilege to meet at the 2008 Canada-EU Summit in the City of Québec.
Excellency, you are an avid sailor and an ardent skier, I’m told. You will find plenty of lakes here and countless ski stations of which to avail yourself. And you will soon discover that our winters can be much longer than our summers.
Ambassador Jacobson, the extent of ties between our countries cannot be overstated. We share a biosphere. We share values and history. Our economies are highly integrated. We “build things” together.
Our prosperity and competitiveness are directly connected to one another. We need to work co-operatively to ensure that North America comes out of the current global economic crisis stronger and more competitive.
On behalf of all Canadians, I was extremely proud and honoured to welcome President Obama to Canada on his first foreign visit and was very pleased with our discussion.
On his inauguration day, I hosted a Youth Dialogue here at Rideau Hall, giving 125 youth a forum in which to reflect on President Obama’s powerful message and young people’s essential contribution to making the impossible come true. After viewing his inauguration ceremony, participants had the opportunity to explore the historical significance of the election of the first African American president of the United States, and to express themselves on the theme of “Youth and the Power of Hope.”
I listened attentively as these young people passionately debated over the President’s message of unity, shared responsibilities, inclusion and justice. They felt very much empowered. I sensed that they all clearly grasped the enormity of the task ahead.
Excellency, at your confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you recalled your first brush with Canada. As you were leaving your country for the first time on a trip from Chicago to Niagara Falls with your parents and two sisters, your route took you to Detroit.
As you drove over the Ambassador Bridge, your father stopped the car in the middle of the bridge at the border, on the line separating both countries.
So those sitting in the front were in Canada while those in the back were in the United States.
Well, here you are, and through your parents’ foresight, we look forward to a continued high level of engagement between the Government of Canada and the US Administration in the months and years to come.
Excellencies, continuing our dialogue, strengthening our ties, and working together toward a common goal: this is what we should focus on throughout your mandate, strong in the friendship that binds us.