Credentialing Reception Remarks, November 7, 2019

Remarks by Ambassador Kenneth M. Howery
Credentialing Reception, November 7, 2019

Minister Hultquist, Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Friends,

I am delighted to welcome all of you to the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence.  This day has been a long time coming.  It has already far exceeded my highest expectations.

This morning I had the honor of presenting my credentials to His Majesty the King, Carl XVI [the Sixteenth] Gustav, at the Royal Palace.  As I walked through the rooms, I was reminded  so clearly of my first visit to Sweden as a backpacker sixteen years ago.  On that trip, I toured the Palace with several friends.  I never could have imagined then that I would one day return to that same palace in a carriage wearing a top hat to meet the King as the new U.S. Ambassador.  Today’s events will be among the highlights of my life.  They mark the official beginning of my tenure as Ambassador, representing the United States of America to the great Kingdom of Sweden.

I am not a career diplomat, but I come from a family in Texas that believes in public service so when the President asked me to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, I jumped at the chance.  Since that first visit to Stockholm, I have traveled to Sweden half a dozen times and have gained tremendous respect for the global outlook, the creativity, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Swedish people.

It is a privilege to represent the United States in any country.  But it is a particular privilege to serve as the U.S. Ambassador in a country like Sweden, one of America’s most important partners in Europe and a force for good in the world.  The relationship between the United States and Sweden has deep roots.  Almost four centuries ago, during the reign of Queen Christina, Swedes established a colony in present-day Delaware.  And in 1783, Sweden was the first non-belligerent country to recognize our new republic as an independent country.   (My most distinguished predecessor, Benjamin Franklin, had a hand in that.)

Since that time our relationship has only grown stronger, in large part because of the millions of Swedes who emigrated to the United States and helped make our country what it is today.  Roughly four million Americans can trace their roots back to Sweden and the United States continues to welcome close to 4,000 Swedish students to U.S. colleges and universities each year as well as hundreds of thousands of other Swedish visitors.

Sweden is one of our most trusted and reliable partners in addressing many of the complex issues we face globally – issues like North Korea, the Arctic, Afghanistan, China, Iraq, development aid, and nuclear disarmament, to name just a few.

As Ambassador, I want to:  strengthen our security and defense cooperation in order to counter the challenges posed by non-democratic regimes; prioritize deepening our economic cooperation to promote the mutual prosperity of both our countries; and, building on these two pillars, develop even greater connections between our peoples through artistic, cultural, and scientific programs and exchanges.

Of course, given my background, I have a special interest in our economic relationship.  Today, we trade 25 billion dollars worth in goods and services annually, and together we invest over 90 billion dollars in each other’s economies, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Sweden is the 15th-largest investor in the United States.  For a country of ten million people, those are remarkable statistics.  But perhaps the most compelling statistic is that Stockholm has the highest number of billion-dollar start-ups per capita of any region in the world after Silicon Valley.

I hope my own background as an entrepreneur and innovator will allow me to bring a new perspective and approach to advance our already strong bilateral relationship.  I truly believe that innovation and technology will be key to solving our most difficult challenges while seizing new opportunities.  As the great Swedish statesman Dag Hammarskjöld once said, “It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity.”

I want to close by thanking all of you for your ongoing commitment to U.S.-Swedish cooperation.  My team at the U.S. Embassy and I are excited to partner with the Swedish government and the Swedish people in this calling.

In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to getting to know many of you personally as friends, and to exploring with you the tremendous possibilities that lie ahead for our two nations.  So in that spirit, I invite you all to raise a glass – to U.S.-Swedish friendship.

Skål!