Thursday, August 20, 2009

Juy 2009 Testimony of Ambassador-Designate to France & Monaco, Charles H. Rivkin Before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Testimony of Charles H. Rivkin
Ambassador-Designate to France and Monaco
July 7, 2009
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of the Committee. I‟d also like to thank my Congressman, Henry Waxman, for his kind words.

I‟m very pleased to have with me today my lifelong friend and brother, Robert Rivkin, whom I‟d like to introduce to the Committee. I also want to acknowledge my wife Susan Tolson and my children Elias and Lily Rivkin. Although they are unable to attend this hearing, I wouldn‟t be here without their endless support.

Madam Chairwoman, it is a tremendous honor for me to appear before you today as President Obama‟s nominee to serve as the United States Ambassador to France and Monaco. I am deeply grateful to both President Obama and Secretary Clinton for the trust they have placed in me to serve as Chief of Mission to our oldest friend and ally.

France has always shared our nation‟s core values and has been a tireless champion of democracy, freedom and human rights. Today, our partnership is stronger than ever, and as President Sarkozy recently observed “...never in the history of our two countries have the United States and France been so close to one another on major issues, major questions.” Both our countries understand that when America is united with a strong Europe, no issue is too great for us to solve together. To underscore this resolve, President Obama made a point of visiting France twice during his first five months in office. If confirmed by the United States Senate, I intend to build on the existing, positive momentum between the United States and France and use this unique moment in time to further strengthen and deepen our already strong relationship.

If confirmed, I hope to bring an energy and fresh perspective to one of America‟s most important partnerships. We are at the beginning of a new and historic era in French-American relations that was recently highlighted by France‟s decision to rejoin NATO‟s integrated military command structure after a 43 year absence. Today, France stands by our side and is an indispensable ally on almost every major issue. France is fighting against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda with our troops in Afghanistan and has provided critical financial support for counter-insurgency efforts in Pakistan. As a leader in the EU, France has worked closely with us to advance a two-state solution in the Middle East and continues to play a central role in maintaining coordinated, international pressure on Iran. France is a leading voice on climate change and a strong ally in energy and security matters. Monaco is also a good partner for our country in environmental protection, international development and other important global issues.

As a former CEO with international experience, I‟m pleased to note that over $1.3 billion in commercial transactions take place every day between the United States and France. French subsidiaries in the U.S. provide nearly 500,000 American jobs and the U.S. is the largest foreign investor in France employing over 600,000 French citizens. If confirmed, I will work with the French government to ensure continued free and open trade between our two countries.

I also hope to build on the successful efforts of my predecessors in making public diplomacy one of the top priorities for our mission to France and Monaco. I believe my history and media background have prepared me well to engage Europe‟s young generation of first time voters by helping to create a sense of common values and purpose with the United States. Following Secretary Clinton‟s vision of 21st century statecraft, I hope to engage Europe‟s future leaders through digital technology and „smart power‟ initiatives which will open doors and create new opportunities for dialogue.Finally, if confirmed I would hope to use the skills I‟ve acquired as an MBA and CEO to lead the large and complex embassy operation in Paris. I have spent my career building and managing organizations and look forward to helping maximize the effectiveness of our Mission to France and Monaco.

Members of the Committee, I also want you to know that having the chance to represent our country‟s interests in France would be deeply personal for me. My father, William Rivkin, marched in Patton‟s army and was awarded the French Chevalier-Publique for his role in the liberation of France. He then went on to serve as Chief of Mission in French speaking countries where I lived as a young boy; Luxembourg under President Kennedy and then Senegal and The Gambia under President Johnson. Although my father died while serving his country in 1967, he instilled in me the belief that public service is not only an obligation, but the highest possible honor. I always dreamed of following in his footsteps, but never imagined that I might have the opportunity to serve in a country that I admire as much as France.

When I was a young man, I had the wonderful experience of living with a French family in Rennes while studying at the Institut Franco-Américain and had the chance to explore the countryside in Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy and Franche-Comté during my stay. I worked as a “stagiaire” for Renault in Paris and have taken countless business trips to France over the last twenty years. These experiences have given me a deep appreciation for France as well as the French people and culture.I have always been active in public service, but I am particularly fortunate to have been connected to the U.S. State Department for most of my life through the American Foreign Service Association. My family and I have proudly presented the William R. Rivkin award at the State Department for the last 42 years, honoring mid-level Foreign Service Officers who exhibit “intellectual courage and constructive dissent” in the line of duty. I have had the chance to witness how the brilliant, hard working and often under-appreciated men and women of the U.S. Foreign Service change the world through their tireless efforts on behalf of our country. President Obama once served as a judge for this award, which was founded on the belief that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

Madame Chairwoman and members of the Committee, if confirmed by the United States Senate, I will do everything in my power to strengthen and deepen the ties that have bound France and America together since the birth of our great country. I look forward to this extraordinary challenge and hope to have the chance to serve the United States of America at this important moment in history. Thank you, and I look forward to any questions you might have.

Prince Albert II at September 2007 Inauguration of Monaco Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Address of Prince Albert II at September 2007 Inauguration of Embassy of Monaco in Washington, D.C.

Address by H.S.H. Prince Albert II at The Inauguration of the Residencein Washington on September 26, 2007

Mr. Ambassador, Madame, Your Excellencies, Madame Consul General, , distinguished Consuls of Monaco in the United States, Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear friends and dear family members, thank you all for being here. It’s wonderful to see, by your presence, the links between Monaco and the United States.

I’m particularly thrilled to be inaugurating Monaco’s Ambassador’s Residence here in Washington today with you. I’m delighted that Monegasque Diplomacy and Diplomatic Representation are now at an Ambassadorial Level. And I think this is only to highlight my personal commitment and that of the Principality to provide the necessary resources for deeper cooperation between Monaco and the United States.
I’m also moved today because my thoughts are obviously with my parents.
Especially with my Mother, since she was both of our countries’ most outstanding Ambassador and bound both of our countries in a very unique way.

As you know, I’m very fond of this country and harbor many happy memories of my early childhood and years after that. Summers with family members, summers at camp. There are a couple of people whom I went to camp with who are in this Embassy today. And of course, studying in Amherst College, then trying to learn some sort of insight and to make some sort of sense of what it means to be in Corporate America. And every time I spend time in this country, it brings back a whole lot of these fond memories. I think America instilled in me an appreciation for entrepreneurship and a deep respect for work as the only way to win. Also, it revealed to me the value of competition, not in order to dominate the other person but to surpass one’s self and find fulfillment. Returning to this land as I do fairly often, I embrace the immensity of its wide open spaces and the richness of a society founded on so many different ethnic origins. The inauguration of this Embassy marks a fresh impetus that I wish to bring to the relations - a long lasting and friendly relation between the Principality of Monaco and the United States of America.

These relations, as you know, were consolidated on December 8 of last year when His Excellency, Ambassador Gilles Noghès, presented his Letters of credence to President Bush. And, five days later, His Excellency Craig Stapleton, the United States Non-Resident Ambassador, handed his Letters of Accreditation to me in the Principality. I had the pleasure of welcoming Ambassador Stapleton back to the Palace just a few days ago and used that opportunity to take another look at issues of common interests to both our Countries. Our mutual Ambassadors constitute a very visible expression of the close links that bind us.

I would also like to take this opportunity to salute the valuable work carried out by Mrs. Maguy Maccario-Doyle, who is our Consul General in New York City, and the equally indispensable efforts of the Principality’s six Honorary Consuls. Most of them are here today. It’s a real pleasure for me to see them again and to be able to keep up with their great work and I salute them and urge them to keep on going on that track.

Monaco shares the ideals and concerns of the United States, this I think you are all well aware of. Joining with the international community and the American government we will do everything possible to bring our efforts to the fight against terrorism in all its forms. A joint agreement pertaining to the proceeds of crime and the confiscation of goods signed by the Government of Monaco and the US government on the twenty fourth of March of this year bears witness to this.
Our American friends know that they will always receive a particularly warm welcome in the Principality and the image I would like you all and like our American friends to take away from Monaco is that of a Country that may be small in size but is driven by an unsuspected capacity to rise to challenge. It is inspired by the same values of freedom.

And we also remain open as our American friends do, to the great issues of our time. At the forefront of these issues, I think you know my commitment to the environment. And, as you know, not only has Monaco over the past ten years done tremendous efforts in terms of cooperation with other countries on environmental projects, but I felt it was time for me to do more. And so that’s why I set up in June of last year my own Foundation solely devoted to the environment.

We have three main areas that we have concentrated on, that is: the protection of biodiversity, the studies on climate change and on new energies, and also on the excruciatingly serious concerns about water and about water management. And so, with this new Foundation, we are working currently on 30 different projects that have been approved by our Scientific Board and by the Board of Trustees. We have decided to expand and to have satellite committees in different countries.

I am delighted to say that there will be a Prince of Albert II Monaco Foundation arm in the United States. I am very grateful and pleased that my cousin, John Kelly, has accepted to chair this group. And so, this arm of the Foundation will be happy to work with different entities in this country.

Thanks to Monaco’s Embassy in Washington, our two countries will now become still greater friends, building on the close links that we have already nurtured together. I think Isaac Newton said many years ago that, “man builds more walls than he does bridges.” I believe that both of our countries have been fortunate to build many bridges of friendship over the years. Let’s hope by working together that we will not only keep these bridges strong, that we’ll keep them open for ever.
Thank you very much.