Remarks by Ambassador Robert Yamate – Independence Day Reception

Hotel Retaj, Moroni, Comoros
July 21, 2015

Honorable guests,
Firstly, please let me wish you all Eid Mubarak!

What a pleasure it is for me to be here with you today, celebrating our American Independence Day.  I would like to begin by expressing my enormous appreciation to everyone who has worked so hard to make this event possible, in particular a special thank you to our sponsors Bahari Resources and Discover Exploration Limited, as well as the Carlyle Group.

Today is a day to celebrate not only 239 years of U.S. independence, but it is also an excellent occasion to mark the progress we have made in strengthening our ties over the past year.

For the first time in two decades, we are joined for our Independence Day celebration here in Comoros by Peace Corps volunteers.  A set of initial volunteers arrived earlier this year to begin work on environmental and English programs, and the first full cohort of regular volunteers are in training now.  The Peace Corps is a wonderful program, and to have these young, bright, and enthusiastic individuals here in Comoros engaging with the citizens of your country, is one of the most meaningful contributions the U.S. government can make.

While the Peace Corps is the biggest news, we have a host of other achievements to celebrate. Working with our Comorian partners, through Embassy programs such as the Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund, we have increased our support for the talented, promising youth population of Comoros, the dynamism of which is represented here today by the Comorian participants in President Obama’s flagship program for young African leaders, the Mandela Fellowship.   And just this morning I participated in the graduation ceremony for 33 students at the military English language lab, supported by the U.S. Department of Defense.  We have a vibrant American Corner that continues to offer a variety of programs to Comoros’ citizens, and our English-language programs have a large and growing following.  On all fronts, we are expanding, deepening, and strengthening our relationship with your beautiful islands.

This year has been a significant one for Comoros.  Over the past several months, you have held successful elections for the National Assembly, and you are now moving towards presidential elections.  The United States is excited to see the progress that Comoros has taken towards establishing a stable democracy, supported by rule of law, and stands ready to help you work towards these crucial national goals.

Democracy can be a challenging method of government, as we have seen from the events of the past few years.  But make no mistake about it: a stable and democratic Comoros has the brightest of futures ahead of it.

Just as in the United States, though, the conduct of elections is not the only sign of a strong democracy.  Critical to the integrity of the process is respecting the spirit as well as the letter of the constitutional process.  For the Comoros, the guarantee of a true sharing of power across the islands is essential, as the country continues on the path of creating a stable, secure democracy grounded in institutions, with the Constitution as its foundation.

The Union of the Comoros has enormous opportunities ahead of it.  Your youth is dynamic, as we have seen first-hand from the Mandela Program.  There is a thirst to learn, as we have noted in our English-language engagement.  Your unique environment is precious and warrants protection.  I very much look forward to continuing to grow and expand our bilateral partnership in the coming years.

Please allow me once again to thank you for helping celebrate American Independence Day this evening.  Thank you.