Embassy Holiday Reception

Happy Hanukkah!  Merry Christmas!

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Kollegen.

Guten Abend und herzlich willkommen!  Zoe und ich freuen uns sehr dass sie heute hier sind. Wenn Sie erlauben, werde ich nun auf English fortfahren.

On behalf of my wife Zoe and the entire U.S. Embassy to Austria, I want to welcome you tonight and extend our warmest greetings for a wonderful holiday season.

This is a time to share the joy of Christmas and Hanukkah with our partners, friends and colleagues – old and new.

When Ambassador Wesner was leading our Mission, she put signs on the stairs leading up to her office.  They remain there today and on them are written the words peace, prosperity, and security – reminding us each day of our enduring priorities.

And they are followed on the next set of stairs by the words, “today, I am, grateful for . . .” and one would fill in the blank.  Usually, Vienna/Austria/America . . .

So today, I am grateful for all that we – Austrians and Americans – achieve together whether between our two governments and our two peoples.

It is hard to forget the scene at the opening of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Schladming in March.  It was raining but I hardly noticed.  The level of enthusiasm on the part of the participants was overwhelming.

I am also heartened by the increasing levels of trade and investment between Austria and the United States based on innovation, creativity, and mutual business success.

Our diplomats as well as our military, security, and law enforcement officials are working together daily to ensure the security of Americans and Austrians at home and around the world.

We have also been celebrating the ongoing success of the Marshall Plan, launched 70 years ago, and the Fulbright program and the ongoing relevance and importance of both.

More young Austrians have been travelling to the United States on our Austria to Austin entrepreneurship program and over the summer we sent a diverse group of young Austrians to the United States to see what we do well in terms of integration of recent immigrants – and what we could do better.

And just last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz had a very successful meeting at the OSCE Ministerial, reinforcing our strong partnership and looking forward to even more success with the next Austrian government.

But the best part of what makes us strong and what I’m most grateful for is what happens far away from government.  I and my colleagues have spent the year traveling around Vienna and the whole of Austria from Burgenland to Bregenz and many, many places in between.

What we find inevitably are Austrian American connections – old and new – that are vibrant and strong – between individuals, NGOs, business people, religious communities, academics, scientists, medical professionals, musicians, and performers, and on and on.

For me, that’s what helps light up the holidays – the experiences, values, and goals that America and Austria share for each other and the world we live in.

Frohe Weihnachten, fröhliches Hanukkah und alles Gute für 2018!