Ambassador Kristina Kvien’s speech on U.S. Independence Day 2023

Kristina Kvien, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia

Good Evening!  Thanks to Hasmik of Naghash Ensemble for the beautiful rendition of our national anthems, and thank you to the Kansas Army National Guard Infantry Quintet and Hard Rock Cafés “Ness Band” for the wonderful music tonight.  Also a big thanks to our Marine Detachment for the beautiful presentation of the colors.

Deputy Prime Minister Grigoryan, Ministers, members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Armenian government, partners, and friends.  Welcome!  I would also like to welcome the State Department’s Sanctions Coordinator – Ambassador James O’Brien.  Jim has deep experience working with Armenia, and we are very happy to have him back in Yerevan this week.

Tonight, we are celebrating the independence of the United States of America.  On July 4, 1776, the men and women of the American colonies decided to take charge of their destiny and work toward building a country that allowed them and future generations of Americans to live in peace and freedom.  

Like the American colonists 247 years ago, the people of Armenia seek to shape their own future, based on the values and aspirations of all Armenian citizens.  But being confident in the future requires a sense of security in the present.  This is why the United States strongly supports the Armenian government’s steps to achieve a durable and dignified peace with Azerbaijan and ensure the rights and security of ethnic Armenians everywhere.  

The U.S.-Armenian partnership is strong and getting stronger, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made to strengthen our bilateral ties in my first months here in Yerevan.  Since my arrival, we have hosted senior American officials who have worked with their Armenian counterparts to explore new commercial and economic partnerships, expand our security ties, cement Armenia’s democratic gains, and increase study and travel exchanges.  I look forward to continuing to deepen this cooperation over the next three years. 

The theme for tonight’s celebration is “Memphis Blues.”  Memphis is in the State of Tennessee in America’s south, known for its rich musical history and amazing food, including Memphis BBQ.  It is the birthplace of blues and rock ‘n’ roll music and has been home to many famous musicians, including B.B. King and Elvis Presley – who, as I understand, has joined us tonight.   Elvis, please wave to your fans.

But Memphis is also a city that has represented America’s resilience and growth over the decades.  In the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights Movement, Memphis was a center of activism.  It is a city that has long stood for freedom and equality, however challenging achievement of those ideals may have been at times. It is a city that has always been willing to fight for what is right. 

As we celebrate American independence tonight, let’s remember that America was born from a group of individuals willing to fight to defend their freedom and the right to choose their own path.  And since our independence on July 4, 1776, let’s be grateful for all brave Americans, including those in Memphis, who have worked to make the United States a more perfect Union.  

So on this, my first Independence Day Celebration in Armenia, I want to thank all of you for making me feel welcome and sharing your culture, your food, and your views with me as I travel the country.  

And now, allow me to turn the floor over to Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan, a true friend of the United States and a champion of advancing our bilateral relationship.   – Mr. Deputy Prime Minister!