Thank you to all of our friends and partners for attending our celebration of the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The theme for this year’s event was American Road Trip.
At the beginning of the celebration ceremony, Ambassador Judy Rising Reinke welcomed the guests.
Predsjedniče Đukanoviću, dame i gospodo,
Dobro veče i dobro došli. Zadovoljstvo mi je što ste došli da zajedno proslavimo 243. (dvjesta četrdeset treći) rođendan Sjedinjenih Američkih Država.
Moj suprug i ja smo došli u Crnu Goru prije nekoliko mjeseci i zahvalni smo svima vama na toploj dobrodošlici u ovoj veoma posebnoj zemlji.
Prirodne ljepote Crne Gore mogu parirati bilo kojem mjestu na svijetu. Možda je jedina stvar koja je jednaka ljepoti Crne Gore gostoljubivost Crnogoraca. Večeras ćemo, nadamo se, uzvratiti dio vaše velikodušnosti otvaranjem naših vrata i dobrodošlicom u našu zajednicu.
The theme of tonight’s party is the “American Road Trip.” As Americans, we love to hit the road in the summer and explore our country. I remember my family driving across the United States when I was young, traveling from the East Coast over the mighty Mississippi River and through the corn fields of the Great Plains to the majestic mountains of Utah.
These images conjure up the geographical diversity of the United States, although, of course, American diversity takes on many forms. Tonight you’ll taste the many flavors of America in the cuisine. Besides hamburgers and hot dogs, we have Buffalo chicken wings invented in New York, and New Orleans jambalaya from the Southern state of Louisiana. Asian egg rolls reflect the cultural diversity of our Pacific Coast, and spicy taquitos are a taste of our southwest border states. And, for dessert, cranberry mousse and our famous American apple pie are all-American treats.
Now that I’ve whet your appetite, I probably should wrap this up quickly…
All of these foods trace their roots to other countries, and I am proud to say that America draws its strength from diversity. America is a tapestry of cultures, and Montenegro’s story is woven into that design.
If I were to ask how many people in this garden have a relative in the United States, I’m sure I would see a few hands in the air. But that’s only part of a story that stretches deep into our shared history.
Montenegrins helped tame the wilds of Alaska. After World War I, the American Red Cross was here, working side-by-side with Montenegrins to build schools, hospitals, and services for those in need. We fought on the same side for the liberation of Europe in World War II. In fact, this month we were reminded of the Great Generation’s sacrifice when President Trump visited France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
NATO, an alliance of like-minded countries that cherish democratic values, was born from the ashes of the Second World War. And this month we celebrated Montenegro’s second anniversary as a NATO member. I am proud to call Montenegro a friend, partner, and ally. Our soldiers now serve shoulder-to-shoulder in NATO missions in Europe and Afghanistan. And, here in Montenegro, the United States continues to support your integration with the Trans-Atlantic family. We are committed to your success. A concrete example of that commitment to Montenegro and to an ever expanding, robust bilateral relationship, will take shape in this very garden over the next few years, as we build a new Embassy on these grounds.
I have great hope for Montenegro. You know the challenges ahead: to strengthen the rule of law; to stamp out corruption; and to foster an independent media free of political pressure and control. The United States fully supports these reforms. In fact, they are the values rooted in our own Constitution. They are the reason Americans fought for our freedom 243 years ago. And they are why we celebrate the independence of the United States tonight.
Thank you, again, for joining us this evening. We deeply appreciate your partnership.
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, congratulated the United States for celebrating its independence.
Dear Ambassador Reinke,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It was with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation extended by Ambassador Reinke to greet the eminent guests together with her in this reception organized on the occasion of 4th July – USA Independence Day. It will soon be two and a half centuries since American citizens won the unalienable rights “to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Montenegrin people welcomed that together with their American friends because, as the first Ambassador of Montenegro in the United States Anto Gvozdenović said in 1918: “neither in your country nor in ours are the ideas of justice and freedom imposed or artificially planted… they stem naturally from the people”.
History of the official relations between Montenegro and America is long and rich. It is the history of development of genuine friendship between our nations. It started in 1905 with the first American diplomatic representative John Jackson, that the street we are in was named after, and it continues today with the Ambassador Judy Reinke. We are proud of the centuries long struggles for freedom and the values we share today. Thousands of Montenegrin young men have gone to America since the mid 19th century searching for better and happier life from Sacramento to Alaska. In early 20th century more than 10% of our total population lived in America and worked in the most difficult jobs there.
These young men gave their youth to America and they used to send and bring the desperately needed money to Montenegro, but not only the money. They used to bring new ideas and information about technological progress and about a better and different world. American President Woodrow Wilson, who will always have an important place in Montenegrin history, said on one occasion that precisely these men “were to be given the credit for contributing significantly to the friendly relations and mutual goodwill” between our countries.
Much earlier, our greatest philosopher, ruler and bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš wanted to travel to America, disappointed by European powers that, focused on their own imperialistic interest, remained deaf to the centuries long struggle of Montenegrin nation to preserve its independence. Nearing the end of his life he sent the message “Do not be surprised if you hear I am up to crossing the Atlantic Ocean to reach New York!” We will forever remember his words that “if free Montenegro cannot survive without aid, then it is appropriate to receive it from a free country as America”. He did not make it to America, but just a couple of months before his death he had the pleasure of being a guest of the commander on the United States Ship “Independence” anchored in the port of Naples. He was greeted with highest honors designated only for the heads of independent states.
It is not widely known that Montenegrin King Nikola as a true visionary predicted the importance of trans-Atlantic and energy connections. He generously offered to the US President Taft to use Montenegrin coast near Ulcinj for the establishment of a US naval base and station for supplying American ships in European waters. The successor of John Jackson, diplomatic representative Pearson who, submitting his credentials, said that he had a wish to meet the people who had won their independence even before America was discovered, commented this initiative in his report using the words: “Montenegro decided to exceed America in generosity”.
More intensive political cooperation between our two countries took place on the eve of the Great War. Montenegro and USA fought on the same side against the Central Powers. President Woodrow Wilson’s program for establishment of world peace that he submitted to the Senate under the name “Fourteen Points” was a glimmer of hope for the restoration of free Montenegro. But it produced no effect. After the occupation of Montenegro, American public was determined in opposition to the injustice that was done. It was only in 1921 that America interrupted its diplomatic relations with Montenegro, when it was absolutely obvious that Montenegro had disappeared. One of the most prominent defenders and advocates of Montenegrin rights in USA, Whitney Warren, described the attitude of the allies to Montenegro as a crime. In 1922 in New York he published the book “Montenegro – the Crime of the Peace Conference” where he disclosed the injustice and behind-the-scene political games Montenegro fell a victim of. But he also predicted that its independence would be restored, even if it had to take a hundred years. And his prediction came true. In the same vein, the young and well-educated Montenegrin Nikola Petanović, who came to America when he was 20, could not accept that Montenegro had ceased to exist. At that time he raised his voice among Montenegrin emigrants and American intellectuals claiming that America could save us. He also had visionary predictions that America would become the greatest military and economic power in the world.
Today our countries cherish the memories of the great events from our history. Montenegrin emigrants did not only work in the USA. When it was needed they fought for freedom together with Americans in the First and Second World War. American Congress awarded only 121 American soldiers with the highest military decoration – the Medal of Honor – for their courage in the First World War. One of them was the Montenegrin Joko Meštrović. It will be forever remembered how America acknowledged his courage and his sacrifice for freedom when in 1925 they sent American fleet to Boka where with flags flown at half-staff and with army music Joko Meštrović’s mother was presented with the Medal of Honor that was posthumously awarded to her son.
The occasion for the latest visit of President Trump to Europe was the celebration of 75 years since the D-Day landings of allies to Normandy and the great victory over fascism and Nazism in Europe. We always proudly mention that Montenegrin people were the first to organize a mass uprising against fascism in Europe on 13 July 1941 and that it was described by Jean Paul Sartre as the event that showed to the mankind what path it should take.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On such solid historic foundations we have been building strong partnership with America in the last couple of decades. To a large extent Washington co-sponsored our strategic decisions that paved the route of our democratic development and our European and Euro-Atlantic path. USA were among the first countries that recognized the result of our independence referendum in 2006 and established diplomatic relations with us soon after. The support and help provided by USA were decisive for us also in meeting the high standards in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration that ensured that we managed to qualify for membership in NATO two years ago. This proved again how important it was that we restored our statehood and generated new prospects for development of Montenegrin society. USA have the same supporting attitude to us within the Alliance, and in international missions from Afghanistan to Kosovo. We can seek responses to contemporary challenges and threats together, sharing the burden equally, regardless of our respective sizes or capacities. And we will be doing this primarily through NATO, which in the last seven decades has proven to be the most significant global political-military alliance. America has the leading role among equal members of NATO and therefore also has a particular responsibility for preserving the heritage of Euro-Atlantism that the entire world has benefited from.
This is an opportunity for me to thank our American partners for the overall support to the reform processes in Montenegro, aimed at improving democracy, rule of law, freedom of the media and other democratic principles… We remain committed to promoting Western values, focused on our efforts to achieve standards of modern democratic societies, preserving multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nature of our community and to the improvement of the quality of life of our citizens that will qualify Montenegro to be the first country that will join EU when the conditions are met.
I would like to extend special gratitude to the US Embassy and the Ambassador Reinke in person for the support in our efforts to create the environment for larger inflow of American investment and increase in the number of tourists from USA. We welcome the fact that an increasing number of Montenegrin students attend American universities with the support of US Embassy. We believe it is important that Montenegro became 142nd country that will be visited by PEACE CORPS volunteers who will come to meet people, to participate in the progress of our country and to strengthen the reputation of USA among Montenegrin citizens. The same goals are also worked on through the diverse support provided by the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen
It would take us much more time than we have tonight to list only the most prominent milestones in our relations. Moving examples from our history and the values we share oblige us to keep working on reinforcing Montenegrin-American partnership and friendship. I would like to extend congratulations for the Independence Day and the best wishes for further prosperity of the great American nation. Please be assured that in Montenegro you will always have a friend and reliable partner.
Thank you for your attention.
The reception event ended with a terrific fireworks display!
Many thanks to everyone who joined our reception in person at the Embassy and online via social media.