247th Independence Day Celebration

Remarks as Delivered by Charge D’Affaires Ambassador John Desrocher

July 17, 2023

Good evening,

We really appreciate that you came here on this warm night.  Before I give my remarks, I do really need to thank, not only my colleagues at the Embassy who put in so much hard work for so many months to make this event possible, but I do also really want to thank our sponsors who have been very generous, and we would not be able to do an event like this without them.  Thanks to Abbott, Apache, Apex, Cargill, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Cold Stone, Citi, ExxonMobil, GM, J.P. Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, and Visa. Thank you very much for your support, we really couldn’t do it without the support you give us.

Again, thank you very much for coming. I particularly want to thank His Excellency, Minister of the Public Business Sector Dr.  Mahmoud Kamal Esmat for joining us today, and also the Minister of Supply Dr. Ali El Moselhy is here with us this evening and also his Excellency, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Counselor Alaa Eldin Fouad is also here.  We also have many senior colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from the Ministry of Defense.  We are very grateful that you came.  Many members of the Egyptian parliament are also here, we’re grateful you took the time to join us tonight and I would also like to thank all our members of the diplomatic corps who have joined us tonight. Thank you very much for coming.

Many of you met her in the receiving line, some of you did not.  I am delighted to introduce our new Deputy Chief of Mission Evyenia Sidereas who joined us here at Embassy Cairo a few weeks ago.  We’ve worked together a lot, so this is nothing new.  But it is really terrific to have her here.  We’re both Cairo veterans, we’re both happy to be back, and I’m very happy that she’s here.

I said I would be brief and already I haven’t been brief, so I’ll try to be brief.  Thanks also to our Marines for the presentation of colors and thanks to Salma Behery and Rachael Haber for the national anthems.  Extremely well done.  Really terrific.

Many of you are familiar with the customs and traditions of an American July 4 celebration.  Traditionally, in America, we have fireworks, we have barbeques, we swat mosquitos and generally try to have an enjoyable day.  We also try to do a little reflecting on our journey as a nation. What we have learned from the past and what we look forward to.  And in looking forward of course our embassies play an important role.

Here at the Embassy, we celebrate our national day, but also recognize the personal and professional friendships and partnerships we have forged to strengthen the bond between the United States and Egypt.  Our two nations have stood side by side in times of peace and in times of challenge.  We have worked hand in hand to promote stability, prosperity, and progress in this region and beyond.  The strength of this partnership is most apparent, I think in the most high-profile way by the high-level visits we’ve received here from Washington.

Since our last Independence Day, we have welcomed President Biden, Secretary Blinken, Defense Secretary Austin, and very recently after my arrival, First Lady Jill Biden have all come on their own visits to Egypt, underscoring just how important this relationship is for us.

Also very important for us, perhaps not as high profile, but still very important are the daily activities of all that we do here at the Embassy with our Egyptian colleagues to sustain and improve this important relationship.  From strengthening our military partnership to fostering economic opportunities and cultural exchanges and safeguarding Egypt’s precious cultural heritage, my colleagues here at the embassy work tirelessly to promote this relationship.

Just a few examples, my colleagues here create programs to facilitate opportunities for Egyptian professionals to engage in various academic exchanges in the United States. These programs are invaluable to promote shared experiences and expertise in areas like environmental protection, renewable energy, agricultural modeling, and promoting justice and inclusion. Our militaries work very closely together to strengthen our security, conducting over 60 training and other exchanges over the past year.

Education has been a focus of our relationship with Egypt for decades.  It is something we have supported for years with the construction of schools and training teachers.  Beyond education it is equally important to share our culture through education with Egyptian students.  Earlier this year, we organized the first-ever English Spelling Bee in Egypt.  For those of you who know the United States, Spelling Bees in the United States are a big deal.  I did a lot of Spelling Bees when I was a kid, I didn’t win very many of them, but I did them. We had nearly 1 million Egyptian students from all ages participate in this English language Spelling Bee which was a lot of fun.  It was really terrific.

On the Economic side, our bilateral trade reached its highest level ever last year.  Egypt remains the largest destination for U.S. direct investment in Africa and we’re continuing to build on those relationships.  And I do want to make a special mention that of course we do this at the Embassy but even more important are the ties created by the hundreds of U.S. companies as employers, as investors, as partners, and as customers that bring innovation and solutions to help Egypt seize opportunities and solve challenges. A lot of these companies are represented here tonight, and we’re delighted to have you here.

There are a couple of elements of what we do that I get to highlight because I am the chargé [d’affaires] and its particularly important to me and I take that prerogative.  I am a scuba diver and one of the things I am most proud of is our Red Sea Initiative which we launched last year at COP 27 and helps to preserve the coastal ecosystem and promotes sustainable tourism so that Egyptians and all the people that visit this wonderful country can continue to enjoy the Red Sea like I have.

And then there is another element that I truly want to highlight and that is particularly interesting and very I’m proud of and that is the protection of Egyptian’s cultural heritage.  During the past year our Homeland Security Investigations team here at the Embassy put on their Indiana Jones hats and went to work with the District Attorney’s office in Manhattan.  Working together and with Egyptian colleagues we were able to return the famous green coffin to Egypt in the past year.  That kind of work is really important to us.  I had a very interesting conversation with our colleagues last week and this is a continuing project and is a problem we deal with every day.  Every day we are finding and returning artifacts like this and we’re very proud to do that.  Not only do we work very hard to return Egypt’s cultural legacy but we also do a lot to preserve the history here in Egypt.  The First Lady’s Visit gave us an opportunity to highlight the U.S. Government’s investment in protecting and preserving the Sphinx from groundwater encroachment.  Climate change is only going to make those kinds of projects ever more important as we deal with the effect of rising seas.  We’re very proud to do that.  We, and the thousands of Americans that travel to Egypt every year, are awed by this country’s extraordinary cultural heritage.  We’re proud to play a small part in helping to preserve it, not just for Egyptians, but for the entire world.

I speak to you tonight, very delighted to be back in Cairo for the first time in 20 years, very happy to be working with all of you to build on this very important friendship.  I’m very happy that you all came here tonight.  We have a terrific band, the Air Forces Central Band is going to entertain us tonight with terrific music.  They’ve been practicing all afternoon, they sound great. Even through the thick walls of the residence, they sound great.

Thank you again very much for coming.  It’s great to have you here.  Please keep yourself cool, keep yourselves hydrated.  Please enjoy the music and enjoy all the refreshments.

Thank you all for coming.