Remarks at the Mediterranean Dialogues Conference

SECRETARY KERRY: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Paolo, and good evening. I would like to thank Foreign Minister Gentiloni, the president of the Italian Republic, the Instituto di Studi Internazionale for hosting this successful conference on the Mediterranean.

(Inaudible) a special friendship. I am very grateful to you for the many courtesies that you have afforded me as Secretary of State, and it’s a great pleasure for me to be able to be here in order to share with all of you some thoughts about the future. I know there are lots of things on your mind, some of which I will not talk about – (laughter) – unless you catch me privately afterwards for a few moments.

But I really want to thank Foreign Minister Gentiloni. He’s been a special friend and a special partner as we have labored through some very complicated issues that all of you have as good a sense of as anybody about just exactly how complicated they are. We’re living in a very different time, very different from the world that I was brought up in – the Cold War, the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and so forth, 28 years in the – plus in the United States Senate, and a candidacy for president of the United States and now four years as Secretary of State. And it has given me an extraordinary insight to transformation, and I will talk a little bit about some of that today.

But I am honored to be here together with the sponsorship of the Italian Government and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, and I thank all of you for being part of a very successful Mediterranean dialogue.

This year’s theme is “Beyond Turmoil,” and there is a great deal that unites us beyond the sound and the fury of current events. As all of you know better than anybody – this is your home – the area that we’re talking about is encompassed by the Mediterranean and the Near East, and it’s one of the great cradles of human civilization, home to magnificent libraries in Alexandria and Baghdad; of the most renowned lawgivers of all of human history in Hammurabi, Moses; linguistic traditions that have spread through half the world; and of course, sacred scriptures that were not just read, but lived. And we are here in a place where Greeks and Romans established the basis for representative government and human rights and the concept of individual citizenship, virtually invented philosophy, literature, drama.

So we gather in a place of an extraordinary foundation at a time where, I regret to say, if you look at the quality of the dialogue in our civic lesson of the past too long a two years, it’s hard sometimes to imagine that any of us have learned anything or that we’ve actually tapped into that sense of history and to its meaning.

So it’s good that we come together to talk at an event like this. In ancient times, the Mediterranean was considered to be the very center of the world. It remains today a body of water still that brings us together, that connects us, and that presents us, as your program suggests, with a land of instability and a sea of opportunities.

So I would just say to all of you as we gather towards the end of the conference – it goes into tomorrow still, but – we need to understand those connections and we need to seize the chance that we have to work together to advance the many interests that we share in common. And I would say to everybody here – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or nonsectarian, no denomination – think of that history that I just talked about. Because we all draw from the same place – our scriptures, the Abrahamic faiths, all of them. There are divisions and places where they divide, but there’s a fundamental oneness, sameness, body of basis. And I would respectfully submit to all of you that every single major philosophy, every single major religion, all have a basis in some pretty fundamental things like the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love other people. You can run the list of the verses or – I think we all refer to them as verses, actually – that are of a common foundation.

So we live in a world today, though, whereas most of what is in the scripture was passed down orally and it took a long time for some of it to pass from one place to another. Today, a lie – a bold, insidious, evil lie – can spread around the world in a nanosecond. And it does so from so many different platforms that the ability to be able to correct it or to communicate to people a common truth has become far harder than any time in human history. And that has changed how we operate. It has changed how we build consensus, which is sorely lacking in governance all around the world.

This is one of our chief challenges today, is to manage information and to do it in a way that average folks at home can know what’s real and what isn’t, what’s true, what’s false, and try to build consensus around a common set of understandings. Technology has brought the world closer, yes; but it’s also enabled bigots and demagogues to spread messages of divisiveness and hate with the click of a button, with the push of a finger.

Non-state actors most of the last century – I mean, I started out as a school kid who had to get under my desk and cover myself up and practice for the possibility of a nuclear war. Well, we’ve long since passed those days, but I remember them. And that was a world in which most of the history of the last century was defined by nation-states fighting each other. I’m pleased to say that so far in the 21st century that is not the case. Today it is non-state actors who are causing the great disruption and great dislocation and fear in the world. But in fact, far fewer people are dying on a global basis than at any recent time in human history. Hard for people to fathom when you see the images of a head being cut off on international television, but it’s true.

Non-state actors of many descriptions, many of whom are distorting and hijacking those great religions, or distorting and lying and spreading venom of a divisiveness that is not represented, that I know of, in any major writing or scripture – but many of these violent extremists have declared war on civilization itself. I can’t tell you what they’re for except for blowing someone up, except for telling people “You have to be exactly as we tell you to be on any given day,” and often without great predictability as to what that might be. It’s a totalitarianism, an extreme fascism, and a horrendous perversion of the aspirations of the last century and of human beings where we find ourselves today.

So the world is more prosperous than it has ever been. We’re curing diseases that we never thought we could cure. Technology has opened up opportunity we never dreamed of. Hundreds of millions of people have come out from poverty and into the middle class in China, in India, in countless other countries. If you’re a young child today, you’re more likely to be able to go to school, even as we have 400 million people who will never go to school – kids. So there are these stark contrasts which the smartphones that we all carry around and the computers that are accessible to everybody magnify so significantly. And regrettably – and this is regrettable, and it’s at the heart of some of the unease and fear that we see; it’s at the heart of some of the movement that we see across Europe today; it’s the heart of Brexit, it’s the heart of our election – is a fear people have as a consequence of the sense and in most cases the reality that no matter how hard they work, they are not able to get as far ahead as some of the other people that they see.

And the divide between the rich and the poor is today a challenge in almost every single country. It is a churning that has made the job of shaping world events far more complicated, and it has raised complex questions about how governments can successfully perform their most basic functions, from enforcing laws to providing public services to enabling our citizens to pursue their dreams with the hope and the optimism. To quote Cicero, “It is a difficult art to rule a republic.” (Applause.)

Now, none of us should have any illusion about the challenges that we face. They are real, and frankly, they require our collective courage. They require our collective commitment, and they require, above all, action. And, I might add, they require all of those things based on truth. There are some truths, folks. Hard sometimes for people to discern, but it is true that the Earth is warming even as we have climate deniers in the world today. It is true that human beings are contributing to it at a rate that is absolutely awesome, and I’ll talk about that in a few minutes. I just want to assure you this afternoon that I emphatically believe that the road ahead is not going to be defined solely by turmoil and strife, and I know it doesn’t have to be. Despite what some pundits write in the daily headlines that cause people a lot of fear, the world today is not falling apart. On the contrary, I think it is in many respects coming together. But it’s coming together with this clash of modernity and culture and religion and the fear of the dislocation that comes with it.

An example of that is what we see in trade. I see politicians running today damning the concept of trade and saying we have to blame trade agreements for everything that’s happening today, but ladies and gentlemen, 85 percent of the job loss in the United States of America comes from technology, not trade. And I want to know how my country or any other country is going to grow if it isn’t able to and willing to sell goods to people in the 95 percent of the world that lives in most other countries. It can’t happen. But if you think we’ve seen dislocation to date, just wait till artificial intelligence comes down the road. We have challenges that we need to get ahead of, and we have an extraordinary breach, if you will, between those who want to sort of take the simplistic road of pretending they have answers for these things but shooting at the wrong target versus those who are willing to think about facts and deal with science and build on experience and talk reality to the people of whatever country it is that they’re talking in.

Why do I say we’re not falling apart? Well, remember, it wasn’t very long ago that we saw a rapidly growing nuclear program in Iran only months away from having the capability to construct a bomb. There was enough enriched material in Iran for 10 to 12 bombs – some 12,000 kilograms, if I recall correctly. Today, Iran, by its own willingness to act in a different way by assuming global responsibilities under the IAEA and under an agreement, is down to 300 kilograms, limited to 3.67 percent enrichment. You cannot make a bomb – not physically – with 3.67 percent limitation and 300 kilograms. So because of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, even in the midst of all this disruption we’ve talked about, all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon have been closed off. And new economic opportunities have been created for the Iranian people and they are now witnessing some 4 percent growth, and a potential source of confrontation in the Middle East has been eliminated.

Some people say, well, why did we do that? Why have that deal? Iran isn’t behaving in Yemen or Iran isn’t behaving with Hezbollah, et cetera. And they’re truths; there are still problems. Nobody ever promised we were going to erase all of them. But guess what? That agreement is being kept. And the fact is, imagine confronting any of those other issues with an Iran with a nuclear weapon. In which are you better off?

I believe that a major source of confrontation in the Middle East has been removed. And if we can move forward in Libya and move forward in Yemen, move forward in Middle East peace – and there is a way to do so in each one of those places – then we could see a burgeoning of economic growth and development and stability that pushes back against extremism and provides the opportunities that people are so desperate to be able to live.

Another example: In Paris last December, more than 190 nations came together even in this complicated atmosphere and they approved a comprehensive agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit the most harmful consequences of climate change. Now, since then – since then, just to document what I mean about real progress, there are a number of additional steps that we’ve taken to bring the Paris Agreement into force, to finalize an accord on civil aviation. Civil aviation, if it was a country unto itself, is about the twelfth largest emitter in the world. It wasn’t covered by Paris, but we covered it separately in an agreement that we reached this year.

In addition, we created the world’s largest marine protected area in the Antarctic Ross Sea. And I’m grateful to Russia – I just met with Sergey Lavrov who just spoke with you – we managed to come to compromise with Russia on that even as we have differences elsewhere and set aside the largest marine area anywhere in the world today. We also adopted an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to be able to phase down the use and the production of hydrofluorocarbons which are 100 times more damaging and powerful than CO2.

So there’s much more work to be done, yes, but even in the midst of this questioning that’s going on, we’ve been able to show that nations can come together and we can make progress when we put our minds to it. 2016 has individually been the most productive year in environmental diplomacy in the modern era, and it provides a strong platform for even more ambitious actions in the time to come.

And let me just say to you, folks, I just came back from Antarctica, and I was in the Arctic earlier this year. And some people say, well, what’s the Secretary of State doing going there and so forth? Well, let me tell you, Antarctica is the real canary in the coal mine, and if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, and it is unstable today and melting at a certain rate, you’d have 4 to 5 meters of sea level rise. And if the entire ice sheet were to melt, over the next centuries you’d have 180 to 200 feet of sea level rise. And what we are seeing is an instability in that ice sheet that is disturbing to all scientists who study it, not to mention that in the Arctic a few days ago, on one given day the Arctic was 36 degrees higher than the average of those days over all of history – 36 degrees higher.

So this is a challenge, because we’re already seeing the impacts. Last year – this year was the warmest year in human history. It made up one year of 10 in the warmest decade in human history, which came before the second warmest decade in human history, which came before the third warming – warmest decade in human history. Does it tell you something after 30 years of a steady rate of increase?

We have huge challenges ahead of us with respect to how we power, and I’m going to talk about it just in a moment or two. But I will just tell you another area where we should take some confidence is our fight against global terrorism, violent extremism. In Africa, regional leaders are coordinating closely with the AU and each other in order to drive back al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and similar groups that have targeted their economies, murdered their officials, and kidnapped or enslaved their children. In the Middle East, the 68-member Counter-Daesh Coalition is helping local partners on the ground to liberate key cities including Kobani, Tikrit, Fallujah, Ramadi, and launching now a decisive campaign on Mosul and then Raqqa. By my estimate, every government represented at this conference is contributing in one way or another to our effort to prevent terrorists in Syria and Iraq from fleeing and setting up their murderous operations somewhere else. And I am absolutely convinced, without any question whatsoever, that we are going to be successful in this effort to terminate Daesh and its influence and make people safe again in Iraq and Syria and in the world.

But we are also addressing humanitarian aspects of the current crisis – Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, other countries in the region. They’ve all borne the greatest impact of this. The continued flight of migrants and refugees has enormous strains on Europe as well. You know it right here in Italy. You’ve been a leader in seeking to save literally hundreds of thousands of people without encouraging even more to risk their lives on an unsafe journey to an uncertain future.

And in September in New York, more than 80 countries made new financial commitments to help alleviate the suffering, and I’m proud that the United States remains by far the largest donor in that effort to deal with refugees. We also realize that the way to terminate or deal with the refugee crisis is to end the war, and so we continue even today to talk with Russia and talk with others to see how we can make progress.

That is also why so many of our partners and many of you here are working diligently on behalf of reconciliation in South Sudan, peace in Yemen, stability in Libya. And we continue to explore every avenue to halt the inexcusable carnage in Syria. And I assure you that until the very last day on January 20th of next year, I intend to continue to pursue that effort, and even after leaving office, will continue to do so.

So ladies and gentlemen, let’s be clear: Today we live in a globe where many are uncertain and many are fearful about their economic future, where the insecure are tempted to lash out at others and where some are seduced by the siren song of extremism and hate. We cannot simply just dismiss those concerns and blow them away because frustrations, when neglected, tend to deepen and grow, and that’s where extremism can come from.

I emphasize, though, to all of you, none of these challenges is insurmountable. They’re not. If we show the strength and the resolve to address them, we’ve shown that when we act together based on a sound strategy and the coordinated use of our diplomacy and our power, we can make extraordinary gains. And what I find exciting about this moment is that we are actually staring at historic opportunities everywhere you look, if you make the right choices.

It’s a striking fact that this region, which is home to many of the world’s oldest cities, is also home to many of its youngest populations. In country after country, 60 to 65 percent of those countries are under the age of 30, 50 percent are under the age of 21, 40 percent are under the age of 18. And when people, and particularly young people, have no faith in the legitimate authority, when there are no outlets for people to be able to express their concerns, exasperation festers. Remember when you were young, when we were young? I remember those days in the ’60s when we had that same sense of distrust and exasperation, but the tools weren’t quite so lethal.

No one knows this or understands this frustration better than violent extremist groups. My colleague in a northern African country – I won’t tell you which one, but just – we went out to dinner one night and I said, “How are you doing? You have a large minority population that’s Muslim. How do you manage that?” And he said to me, “We’re very worried about it because extremists come in and what they do is they target young kids – 13, 14, 15 – and they pay them a stipend and they take them off and then they indoctrinate them. And then those kids don’t need to be paid anymore; they go out and become the next wave of recruiters.” And you know what this foreign minister said to me? He said, “You know, John, they have a 35-year plan. We don’t even have a five-year plan.”

Now, I ask you to think about that because extremists regularly use the stressors of society – like marginalization, and economic inequality, and corruption – as a recruitment tool. Remember that what happened in Tunisia was not a religious motivation, what happened in Tahrir Square was not a religious motivation. It was young people with their smartphones talking to each other, looking for jobs. Same thing with Syria. That was a fruit vendor in Tunisia who self-immolated because he got tired of being slapped around by a police officer because he couldn’t sell his fruit where he wanted to. And that’s what ignited the Arab Spring. So we all have a stake in moving beyond turmoil – theme of this conference.

And the question we need to ask ourselves: How are you best going to do that? How do you best create the jobs? Where is the opportunity and the prosperity for our children and for generations to come? So I just offer a question – answer to that quickly. Three words – or a few more words – education, innovation, and leading the energy revolution. Now, these are not separate. They are interlocking objectives. And without learning, obviously, in today’s world our citizens are going to lack the knowledge and the skills that they need to compete in the 21st century. And without innovation, many of those who graduate even from the top universities are going to be unable to find a good job and you’re already seeing some of that in Europe. And without clean energy, our economies are going to be held hostage to costly, unpredictable, and non-renewable sources of power that lead to uneven growth and threaten the future of us all. So what this means is that you have to tackle all three of these issues simultaneously.

Begin with the foundation – education – just for a minute. This region has a higher rate of educational achievement than much of the rest of the world. But there’s a troubling disconnect between the skills that schools teach and the expertise that the job market demands. In many of the regions, young people graduate with degrees that leave them absolutely ill-prepared for available positions. And that frustrates them and it frustrates potential employers as well. This is a fixable problem. In the United States we’ve developed a very robust system of junior and community colleges, and it’s supplemented by hands-on career counseling and direct private sector involvement with those education institutions so that there is a connection to the jobs that will be there and the people who are going to fill them. We think that countries across this region elsewhere could do the same. The State Department is already working closely with locally run non-profits who are focused on precisely this kind of matching of jobs to skills.

Now, each year Education for Employment reaches thousands of young people by helping, for example, a young Egyptian woman to learn English so she can pursue a career as a journalist, or teaching a man raised in the Moroccan desert the basics of computer science so he can become the manager of a technology firm in Casablanca.

That brings me to the second challenge and that concerns the jobs of the future. What are they? Where are they going to come from? How are they going to be developed? Who’s going to benefit from them the most? Well, I’m willing to bet at the heart of every story you have heard about somebody lifting themselves out of poverty is a new job or a new opportunity to make a better living. In the Mediterranean, as in the United States, more than half of the new jobs are created by small and medium-sized businesses. So if our goal is to reduce poverty, expand the middle class, and help families live a better life for themselves, then the answer is pretty simple: You’ve got to innovate. And that means doing more to help small businesses get started, grow, reach the market, and tap into the global marketplace.

America has one of the world’s most extensive small business support networks, and I learned about this firsthand when I was chairman of the Small Business Committee in the Senate. And the Small Business Administration now provides training and counseling services to a million firms every year, more than a thousand different development centers across the United States. I think it’s one of the mainstays of our economy. It’s why we are below 5 percent in unemployment; it’s why we are moving rapidly into new sectors, because we’re constantly trying to renew the marketplace – something that I know, regrettably, has been difficult in certain countries in Europe.

At our latest Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University in June, I met leading entrepreneurs from the Mediterranean like Youssef Chaqor, the Moroccan founder of Kilimanjaro Environnement, which is a green energy company that sells reprocessed cooking oil to biodiesel manufacturers. I also met Anat Shperling, an Israeli social entrepreneur whose company produces digital games that encourage young girls not to settle for anything less than their full potential.

So creating this kind of economic opportunity, I think, is essential to addressing many of the challenges that we face, and it is no – it’s no accident or coincidence that six of America’s Nobel laureates this year are immigrants. Our diversity is a strength, not a weakness, and in our interconnected world, I want to tell you it’s also a strategic imperative. And that is why last month, the U.S. consulate in Istanbul hosted a tech camp with participants from across the Mediterranean to provide training and jobs for refugees. A fellow by the name of Mojahed Akil is a Syrian refugee who lived in Turkey for four years, and through this program he developed Tarjemly Live, which is an Uber-type app concept that would give users access to on-demand interpretation and translation from Syrian refugees. And our U.S. consulate in Milan supports the social entrepreneurs who created Il Razzismo e una brutta storia, Racism is an Ugly Story, in order to help counter xenophobic rhetoric used against immigrants.

So education, innovation are critical. But you also need to think ahead and realize that the strongest economies – I’m convinced of this – are going to be built on the power sources of the future, not the past. And if we are going to win the battle with respect to climate change, my friends, we simply cannot continue to see coal-fired power plants brought online in country after country with an indifference to the targets that were set in Paris and an indifference to the consequences of that energy provision. Many of the clean energy technologies that will ignite whole new industries are already far cheaper and far more readily available and better performing than they were even a decade ago. And I want to emphasize to you, I think Saudi Arabia recently let a contract for 2.9 cents a kilowatt hour for solar. I know that several other contracts have gone out at 3 cents or 3.1 cents. It’s about competitive on its face with the dirtiest of fossil fuels, and certainly with coal and oil.

But guess what? No one in the business world is currently properly assessing – when I hear somebody say to me, “Well, we can’t afford that. We can’t afford the technology to do vast solar panels or wind or biodiesel,” or whatever it is, that’s not true. Because nobody is doing a genuine cost accounting of the cost of what happens with those fossil fuels. We are elevating roads in Miami Beach today to avoid the sea that now comes in on a sunny day. We have pumps that are being put in in order to pump the water back out. In Norfolk, Virginia, our Navy is contemplating how they’re going to have to change the piers because of the rise of sea level. In Boston, we now regularly have higher tides which bring the tide over the sea wall in the park and begins to flood the streets.

You can see this everywhere – fires that last longer. We spent some $55 billion cleaning up after eight storms last year. Think of what happens – that’s the cost. What happens to the quality of air when you burn particulates that are coming from coal? People with black lung who live near coal-fired mines or coal-fired plants. What happens to children who suffer from environmentally induced asthma? We spend – excuse me, I gave you the wrong figure. It’s $27 billion on the storm cleanup; it’s $55 billion that it costs us each year in our hospitals for children who are hospitalized because of environmental air quality, asthma induced by the environment.

Those are the real costs. And wait till you start tallying it up with whole groups of refugees who have to move from the Pacific islands because they can no longer live in their nation-state. So we need genuine cost accounting as people make an evaluation about the kinds of energy that they’re basing their choices on, and I say that good energy solutions are good climate solutions, but it’s also really good economic choices.

Over the past decade, global renewable energy market has expanded six-fold. Last year for the first time in history, more money was invested in alternative and renewable and sustainable energy than in fossil fuels – some $358 billion globally. That is an average. We’ve also seen an average of half a million new solar panels being installed every single day. For the first time since the pre-industrial era, more of the world’s money was spent on renewable energy than on fossil fuel plants. In my own country, wind generation has tripled since 2008 and solar has increased by a factor of 30. And much of this is due to President Obama’s strong decision to implement the most ambitious set of climate policies in American history, including tax credits for renewable energy development that were approved by our Congress with bipartisan support.

So I’ll just share with you that this is the leadership that’s helping to change our private sector, and today, greenhouse gas emissions are being restrained by market-based forces that are starting to take hold all around the world. Most businesspeople understand investing in clean energy makes good economic sense. And as we rebuild our infrastructure on a global basis, that’s where a lot of jobs are going to come. Every billion dollars that you invest in infrastructure, whether it’s a water project or a new hospital or school or it’s a transportation project, an airport, moving people more efficiently – every billion dollars, at least in America, is the equivalent of between 27,000 and 35,000 jobs. It’s pretty close to that in Europe as well.

So I’ll just say with everybody all of this isn’t taking place because of what one country’s government is doing, no. It’s what happens when people have faith in their own skills and values and when they respect the rights and dignity of other people and when they invest in the future and when the marketplace begins to create demand which moves in a certain direction. I’m not an expert on the ancient classics, but I learned enough about them as a student in college and high school and I remember that one of the great themes of Greek plays was that men and women for the first time were beginning to view themselves not as the property of the human master, but as individuals with rights and responsibilities. And when they worked or fought or tramped or built, they did so not because they had no other choice, but because they believed in the communities, the city states, the nations that they were building. They prized their own dignity and they had regard for one another. According to Euripides, the right of a man to say what he pleased was fundamental in Athens, and in Rome, there was no prouder word than “citizen.”

We are here at the Mediterranean Dialogues not as spectators, but everybody in this room is a real-life participant in a troubled world. We know we have choices to make as citizens and as countries that can spell the difference between security and suffering, progress and stagnation in an era of rapid and breathtaking transition. International challenges simply cannot be wished away and they can’t be ignored. And we cannot afford – not in my country, talking about just our country first or the other country first, or if every country adopted “our country first”, then you’ll have China first, Russia first, everybody else first; what happened to the common sense of our humanity and our mutuality?

We have to come to the aid of countries that are on the frontlines or next in line as targets for terrorist infiltration, because it will affect all of us. There is no “over there” anymore. It’s everywhere. We’re all interconnected. We have to improve governance, fight corruption, promote accountability, respect human rights. We need to teach skills and create jobs that will make extremist appeals fall on deaf ears. And we have to innovate and build it for an entire generation and the next dependent on it, because – as if they depend on it, and the truth is they do.

So there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m not going to tell you that – in the last four years or eight years of President Obama we’ve obviously not solved every problem, but I’ll tell you this: We’ve been honest about defining them and we’ve been clear about our determination to try to begin to address them and to lay the groundwork of leadership so that worldwide today as a consequence of that, my friends, we are on the cusp of the first generation of children in Africa who will be born free from AIDS. We are today at the point where if you’re a woman giving birth in a poor country today, you’re more likely to be able to live than not live than any time in our history. If you’re a young child born somewhere in the world today, you will be more likely to go to school than have food even though we know there are too many who still won’t.

We’ve changed those odds and we’re changing them every day compared to just 20 years ago. We’ve cut in half the number of women who die in childbirth and the number of infants who perished because of malnutrition. And for the first time in human history, severe poverty is below 10 percent on an international basis. We have defied predictions to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Remember when they predicted last year a million people were going to die from Ebola by Christmas of two years ago? And we sent 3,000 troops to West Africa and we worked with the British and the French and built capacity, and it was a mere fraction of that that actually passed away and we saved hundreds of thousands of lives. We joined forces with the global health community. We have every reason, I believe, to move forward with confidence, my friends.

So this is my final appearance as Secretary of State before this particular group of friends and I want to leave you with three very quick thoughts. First, I will always be grateful for the incredible opportunity and privilege I have had to represent my country in many places around the globe. It’s an unbelievable privilege.

Secondly, I am thankful to so many of you – Paolo, others – for your advice, your friendship, your contributions, your hard work in support of the goals that we share together.

And finally, I want to emphasize that nothing will speak to the current unease more than our working together to get the things done that we know have to be done. And I promise you that for as long as I am able, as citizen Kerry, I will continue to dedicate my energies to address the concerns from climate change to oceans to development to conflict resolution and to peace. (Speaks Italian.) Thank you. (Applause.)

Source: U.S Department of State.