Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Jamie L. Harpootlian
Independence Day Celebration 2023
Grand Plaza Hotel, June 28, 2023
Your Excellencies, Members of Government, friends, and distinguished guests – welcome and thank you for joining in the celebration of the 247th year of our Declaration of Independence.
I’d like to begin my remarks by thanking our Marine Security Guard Detachment.
The United States Marines have been serving us since before the Declaration of Independence was created and we are so proud of you!
Thanks to our exceptional Embassy team for working tirelessly to create this event.
Special thanks goes to Andrew Kirst who chaired the production of this event.
And how about a huge round of applause for the amazing Children’s Choir Glasbena Matica for singing our two countries’ national anthems.
Let me introduce you to Sarah Gandour our Fulbright student from the United States. Sarah, please join me on stage.
Sarah is a talented cellist and creative artist.
She performed the music that you enjoyed as you entered our venue tonight.
For her Fulbright project, she is researching the traditional folk music of Slovenia under the guidance of Professor Savnibor Petan, Chair of Ethnomusicology at the University of Ljubljana.
She has plans to climb Mt. Skuta and play her cello on the mountain top this summer! Thank you, Sarah.
And of course, thank you to our generous sponsors for donating to support our event and the good will between our countries.
I would like to focus my remarks today on freedom.
Last week, Slovenia celebrated its Declaration of Independence from Yugoslavia.
While we have our own stories and traditions, struggles, and cultures, we have in common the courage and vision of our founders’ desire for freedom.
We share a mutual reverence for democratic principles and the protection of human rights.
We share a desire to live in freedom – the freedom to make our own choices and think our own thoughts.
Liberty, opportunity, justice for all, the rule of law, these concepts have relevance for all democracies.
But while universally desired, democracy is not guaranteed.
Today we live in a time when freedom and democracy are tested.
But we stand united with many friends around the world to face these challenges.
Today, on this continent there are people who seek to redraw the borders of Europe by force.
We must reject aggression and work together to find a just peace.
Ukrainians are valiantly fighting for their freedoms, and the freedom of their children.
So, to our armed forces here tonight, I salute you.
To Ambassador Taran and the people of Ukraine, I salute you.
And to all who cherish and protect freedom, let us remain united and vigilant in our support of democracy.
I’d like to close by quoting these words from President Biden:
“The defense of freedom is not the work of a day or a year. It’s always difficult. It’s always important.”
“Freedom. There is no sweeter word than freedom. There is no nobler goal than freedom. There is no higher aspiration than freedom…”
Thank you and enjoy the celebration.