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Presentation of Letters of Credence (Republic of Albania, Republic of San Marino, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of The Gambia)

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Rideau Hall, Wednesday May 18, 2011

 

Welcome to Rideau Hall.

The history of diplomacy is fascinating. Since earliest times, kings have sent envoys to gain another ruler’s favour, seek another’s wisdom, receive another’s protection, or to establish peace.

Envoys would bear gifts to showcase their sovereign’s bounty, wealth and power. Just imagine the sights and sounds of vast caravans as they moved from one kingdom to another. Caravans loaded with gold and jewels, silks and spices, resources and livestock, literature and art. Caravans loaded with invaluable treasures to cultivate relationships between the great empires of the ancient world.

Over the course of history, diplomacy has evolved to be sure. But at its heart, it has largely remained the same. It has always been, and will continue to be, about building relationships. About using those relationships to replace contention with mutual understanding. Disputes with open discussion. Conflict with stability. War with peace.

Indeed, the Arthashastra, an ancient Indian treatise on diplomacy that was written about 300 BC, reflects the proverb that a wise king must build alliances to ensure that his kingdom would prosper.

The Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s 14th Prime Minister, was renowned for his contributions to the international community during the 1950s and 1960s. He once said that, “there can be no more important purpose for any man’s activity or interests than to promote fraternity between nations.”

Your work on behalf of your countries reflects his assertion so well. Your work promotes friendship and goodwill. It ensures that our world’s institutions continue to work towards the noble purposes for which they were created. It amasses small, incremental steps into ambitious courses of action on the international stage. It forges and sustains peace, security and prosperity for people in every corner of the world.

And it carries on the rich diplomatic traditions that date back hundreds and thousands of years. And so, it is my sincere honour to receive your letters of credence today—a practice that started as ambassadors began presenting their credentials to heads of state in the cities of Northern Italy over 700 years ago.

Ambassador Petoshati, I am certain that your work in public service and academia will position you well to assume your new responsibilities in Canada. I am particularly interested in your work at the University of Tirana, and would like to learn more about your work in literature, linguistics, culture and history.

Canada is proud to count the Republic of Albania as a valued ally and partner in NATO and the International Security Force in Afghanistan. We look forward to strengthening our political and commercial relationship, through increased political contacts and further investment opportunities for our companies.

Ambassador Beleffi, you and I both share an academic background in political science. I am interested in how your academic experience at the University of Genoa has influenced your work as a public servant. I understand you have a very young daughter. As a proud father of five girls, I assure you that there is no greater joy than watching your little one grow and mature into a young lady.

Even though our countries differ markedly in terms of our history and geography, Canada and the Republic of San Marino share a strong commitment to democratic rights and freedoms. We know our shared values have enabled our warm and friendly relationship to flourish. Even though you will be living in New York, I trust that you will visit Canada often to enjoy the diversity and beauty of our vast land.

Ambassador Seng, I congratulate you on your 30 years of public service. I hope to learn more about your experiences, and the lessons you have no doubt learned over your notable career.

Canada and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic enjoy a good partnership within multilateral organizations such as La Francophonie. We know that our partnership has been strengthened by our people-to-people ties, and the various development assistance initiatives Canada has undertaken in Laos over the years. We hope to engage more with Laos on issues related to governance and human rights. It is our view that progress on these issues will be critical as you seek to encourage greater levels of economic development and foreign investment in your country.

High Commissioner Anastasiades, you must be commended for your many years of public service as well. I understand that you also have an academic background, and would like to learn more about the research you undertook at the University of Oxford. I hope that you will come to Canada often, especially now that Ottawa’s tulips are blooming in a way that rivals Washington’s renowned cherry blossoms.

Canada and the Republic of Cyprus have been loyal allies and good friends for many years. We are grateful for the invaluable assistance you provided as Canadian citizens were evacuated from Lebanon in 2006, and North Africa just a few months ago. We are eager to expand our commercial relations, and know that the new Cyprus-Canada Business Association will be critical in this regard.

Ambassador Djumaliev, I know that your political and bureaucratic experience will serve you well during your time as Ambassador to Canada. You and I share an academic background in law, and more importantly, we both have five children. I trust you will agree that there is no more rewarding or challenging calling than that of fatherhood. Parenting five children certainly makes a person learn how to resolve disputes diplomatically, quickly and effectively!

Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic enjoy a good relationship. We welcome the on-going efforts your government has been making to strengthen your democratic institutions and to promote human rights and political pluralism. In particular, we were encouraged by last October’s peaceful parliamentary elections, and look forward to your upcoming presidential elections, both of which are critical in your country’s pursuit of democratic reform.

High Commissioner Ngum, your work across the Gambian government will be invaluable as you begin your new role. I am particularly interested in the fiscal management reforms you initiated to the Gambian government’s accounting system. As you will also be living in Washington, I invite you and your family to visit Canada often, enjoying the many wonderful opportunities our country offers.

Canada and the Republic of The Gambia share a rich heritage as members of the Commonwealth. We recognize the steps your country has taken to increase its economic development, and we encourage you as you continue with this important work. We are pleased that a Canadian company is exploring the potential for offshore petroleum, and look forward to hearing about the results. As you know, the protection of human rights and freedom of the press is very important to Canada, both at home and abroad. We hope to engage with you on these issues, and would certainly welcome your perspectives.

So once again, it is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to Canada on behalf of all Canadians. My wife, Sharon, and I look forward to getting to know each one of your better.