Remarks by Deputy Secretary John D. Negroponte
September 23, 2008
I am delighted to join you tonight in celebrating this foundation's good work and the individuals who exemplify its mission. Rabbi Arthur Schneier founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation 43 years ago to bring together leaders from all walks of life to promote religious freedom and human rights. Arthur, I am so grateful for your friendship and your life's work.

Tonight, I appreciate the opportunity to recognize the achievements of our guests of honor: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chairman and CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt and the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. Let me say a few brief words about each of our honorees.

Mayor Bloomberg, I remember well what New York was like when you were inaugurated in 2001. I was serving as our ambassador to the United Nations at the time, and it was just two months after the dark day of September 11. This great city was still reeling and grieving. Many feared how long it would take New York to recover - economically, civically and psychologically.

In large part because of your leadership, Mr. Mayor, New York rebounded faster than anyone expected. And today, thanks to the policies you have put in place over the past seven years, crime has dropped significantly, housing is more affordable for more New Yorkers, small businesses are empowered, government is more efficient, public education is making tremendous strides, and New York is on a path to a cleaner, greener future. All of this, and more, is a testament to the wisdom of creative, independent, pragmatic policy-making. And I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, especially as a fellow New Yorker, for all that you are accomplishing.

Jeff Immelt, there are a few people in this country, and increasingly in the world, who are not touched on a daily basis by the work that you do as the leader of one of the truly great American businesses. What fewer people realize, though, is how active you are in making GE not just a great company, but a good, global citizen as well. I have seen GE's forward looking involvement in the world over many decades, and your leadership, Mr. Immelt, is taking it to new heights today.

GE is a partner to American diplomacy in advancing the goals we share -- a world of growing security, opportunity and freedom for all. Under Mr. Immelt's leadership, GE is working with our government on such critical and wide-ranging tasks as combating nuclear terrorism, delivering clean energy to developing countries, and deepening the U.S.-China relationship, among many other things. I want to thank you, Mr. Immelt, for all that GE is doing for America's workers in these challenging times -- and for all that you do globally on behalf of our nation.

Finally, President Sarkozy, the alliance between France and the United States has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy literally since our birth as an independent nation. Now, I have not been an American diplomat for all of those years -- but I have been for a lot of them. And it gives me great pleasure to say, Mr. President, that it is hard for me to remember a time when the French-U.S. alliance was as strong, constructive and active as it is today. This was the vision that you laid out a year ago, in what was one of the best addresses in recent memory by a foreign leader to our Congress. And together, we are realizing that vision, Mr. President, in large part thanks to your wise and prudent leadership.

You are helping to rally our transatlantic alliance to stand united in our support for Georgia and in our call for more responsible Russian behavior. You are supporting dedicated developing nations in building healthier, stronger and more prosperous societies. You are working tirelessly to support Palestinians and Israelis in building an enduring peace. You are showing that a strong European Union can and should be a great global partner to the United States. And in the tough fight that we, NATO, and our Afghan friends are now facing in Afghanistan, you, sir -- along with your noble French citizens in uniform -- are with us, shoulder to shoulder. Thanks to you, Mr. President, France is now more engaged than ever in the fight in Afghanistan. And together we will see this effort through to success.

President Sarkozy, both in France and worldwide, you have been a a valiant champion for the principles of this foundation -- tolerance, respect for differences, human dignity, and individual liberty. And I know I speak for everyone here, and for Americans across this country, when I say thank you very, very much.

Along with a dedication to their respective communities, the three men we honor tonight have also reached out to work with communities around the world in supporting peace, prosperity and freedom. They show what is possible when national governments, local governments and the private sector work together to build a better future for all. I thank each of you for the work you have done.

Thank you once again, Rabbi Arthur Schneier. I am honored to join you in advancing the Appeal of Conscience Foundation's work. And I am grateful to everyone here today for your commitment to freedom and human rights.

Thank you.
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