Ambassador Heffern’s Remarks at U.S. Embassy Award Ceremony

Ambassador: “Thanks Michael very much, it is really an exciting day for all of us here. And Christi and the HR team, everybody who has done so much work, the awards committee, thanks to all of you for the hard work. But most of all congratulations and thanks to the award recipients. This year’s recipients, last year’s recipients, and next year’s recipients. Thanks to all of you.

Last year at this ceremony we talked a little bit about the difference between “mission” and “job”. I urged everybody to think about this and to see their role here as helping us accomplish our mission, not just doing our jobs.

Don’t misunderstand me, I want you to do your job, but that’s not enough. Let’s try to accomplish our mission.  I gave an example. An example that former Secretary Powell gave us in one of my ambassador classes. How when he visited the empire state building in New York and talked to the custodial force there. And they said that their purpose-the reason they were there – was not just to pick up trash or to sweep the floor. The reason they were there was to make the empire state building the cleanest, most attractive tourist attraction in New York City. And they would do anything that they had to do to accomplish that mission.

So this year let me talk a little bit more about exactly what our mission is. You’ve all heard the stump speech. I’m not going to repeat it for you so don’t worry, I’m not going to repeat the stump speech. It’s enough to say that we are here to help Armenia succeed as a prosperous, democratic, secure country.

Instead of repeating the whole thing, I just want to deepen a little bit at this point. What would really transform Armenia; the real game-changers here are Turkey, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh. Getting the borders open, restoring diplomatic relations, resolving the conflict peacefully, peace with Azerbaijan; that’s what will change this country and this region.

But nobody in this room can frankly do too much about any of those particular problems. What we can do, collectively and in our individual offices in every section, what we can do is help Armenia succeed. It will be good for the Armenian people of course, good for the region, good for the United States, and good for Europe. But you know what?  Helping Armenia be more successful, helping Armenia be more successful will also help resolve those bigger questions over which we have no direct control.

So that’s what we do here, that’s what all of us do here. No matter what our job is, no matter what section we work in, I hope that you will continue to perform the way you have performed, to help us accomplish that mission.

So once again thanks to everyone and congratulations to this year’s award recipients. Thank you all very much for coming.”