Ambassador Yovanovitch’s Remarks at 2016 Election Breakfast

Celebration of the U.S. Presidential Elections with an “Election Breakfast” hosted by Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, America House, Kyiv, November 9, 2016

America House, Kyiv

November 9, 2016

Доброго ранку!  Good morning.  Welcome to America House. There are a lot of people here today. And we welcome you to this breakfast celebrating the results, we are anticipating the results,  of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

This morning, we continue a tradition that began with George Washington back in 1796.  That year, in his farewell address, the first U.S. president told our young nation that he was going home.  That he had been president long enough and it was time to step aside.  Ever since then, every four years, the American people have gathered to choose their next leader.

It is past midnight on the east coast of the United States, and it’s not yet clear who the winner is.  And that is okay.

While there has been a lot of anticipation about the result of election, today’s event isn’t just about the vote itself or even the potential winner.  We’re here to celebrate democracy.

I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous quote and many of you have heard it before:  “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” And this election season, American democracy was on full display, in all its exciting and sometimes frustrating messiness.

It is also important to remember that elections are only one aspect of a successful democracy.  Free, fair, and transparent elections form the foundation that supports other critical aspects of democracy.

These are universal human rights, respect for the rule of law, a vibrant and thriving civil society, open markets, a free and independent media, and freedom of speech and expression.

So I do want to extend a  welcome to everybody, including those in government, but I want to extend a special welcome to our civil society, press and private sector partners here this morning. All of you are essential to democracy.

A vibrant civil society legitimizes democratic institutions and electoral results of an open government.

A free and open press acts as the voice of the people and can work as an important check on government excess and abuse.

Business works with other sectors of society to provide employment, build infrastructure, and spur innovation and growth.

This morning I also want to take the opportunity to congratulate the American people. They are making their voice heard and by voting, are exercising their rights to hold government accountable.

This presidential election has been very competitive, and at times messy, but our process, warts and all, ensures that candidates listen and are responsive to the needs and desires of citizens.

The final results are not in, but I think we all have  confidence in the process of our democratic system to  declare a winner in time.  And I have confidence in the American people, that at the end of the process, we will come together and support whomever is elected.

And for all my Ukrainian friends in the room today, many of whom, in fact all of you, have been watching these elections so closely,    there is one thing I am quite certain about: no matter who the next commander-in-chief is, that throughout the transition period, through the next Administration, the United States will remain a strong partner of Ukraine.

There has been a strong bipartisan commitment to Ukraine’s independence, territorial integrity, democracy and further integration into Western and European structures and I’m confident that will continue.  As many of you know, we are celebrating 25 years of  U.S.-Ukrainian partnership this year and I know  this partnership will continue to thrive.

So I want to thank everybody again for joining us here today  to help celebrate the democratic process. Please, enjoy the rest of the morning.