Ambassador Cella’s First Press Conference

Statement of United States Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, Joseph James Cella

Bula Vinaka!  It is our pleasure to welcome everyone to Somerset House.

We give thanks to God for being here.

It is a joy, a high honor, and a great blessing to represent the United States of America in the Republic of Fiji, and to the other island nations of Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu.

I would like to thank President Donald Trump for nominating me and entrusting me with this weighty responsibility.  I would also like to thank Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo for their support.

Please let me first introduce 8 of the greatest blessings in my life.  My wife, Kristen, and my children, Francesca, John Paul, Dominic, Rita Rose, Mariana, Anthony and Joseph.   And I am delighted to say they will all be active public diplomats!  Thank you honey, thank you kids.

One week ago we all concluded our transit of 18 time zones and 23 hours before arriving in your beautiful country.  We were a bit tired, but our joy and excitement dominated and it was an exhilarating first week.  We were fortunate to be provided a seamless transition through the hard work of colleagues in Washington and here at the Embassy Suva.  We have received a warm and hospitable Fijian welcome from everyone we have met.

I am an every-day American.  I grew up in rural Michigan as did my wife.  We live on a dirt road on a historic farm we are bringing back to life.  We work very hard in all that we do.  And I am very much looking forward to extending that to my work with the government and people of Fiji.

The United States of America has been a blessed nation and we are exceptional because of the immutable truths upon which we are founded.  Because of this, we have a unique obligation to lead and serve as an exemplar, and an integral element of the noble mission and work of the State Department is to bring the truth and light of our democratic principles to all cultures in the world.  And we are fortunate to be partners with Fiji and the four other island nations.

The work of the State Department, and my work as United States Ambassador, is in service of the good of others, supporting the inherent and great dignity of the human person, especially against those who wish to undermine it.

International order is moored on best practices and behavior, manifesting itself in freedom and religious liberty, sovereignty and stability, economic security and prosperity, and peace.  I am looking forward to working constructively with the people of Fiji and the other nations covered by Embassy Suva and their leadership on these matters of prime importance.

The United States enjoys robust and longstanding relationships with Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu.  In my service as United States Ambassador, we will build new bridges while enhancing and preserving existing ones.

Three key pillars that will guide my service:

First, directing and maintaining active and regular contact with top officials in each country and engaging closely with the regional and international  intergovernmental organizations. My key goals will be the further cultivation and showcasing of democratic, free market principles rooted in each country’s right to choose its own sovereign course; fostering vibrant economies through free, fair, and reciprocal trade and expansion of tourism; promoting and maintaining close partnerships for security and stability on issues ranging from free and open passage for all vessels, the impact of climate change on the island nations, and the scourge of human trafficking.

Second, building and expanding on the successes of the past, by working with the interagency of our government that advocate the interests of businesses, scholars, tourists, and using people-to-people diplomacy through a variety of cultural and educational exchanges, including the Fulbright Scholarship and reminding our allies of our fidelity to time-honored principles.

Third, engaging citizens from all walks of life in each island nation, demonstrating our common principles and appreciation for their rich history and diverse culture. As a bridge-builder, I look forward to interacting with leaders from civic societies and the faith communities.

Third, engaging citizens from all walks of life in each island nation, demonstrating our common principles and appreciation for their rich history and diverse culture.  As a bridge-builder, I look forward to interacting with leaders from civic societies and the faith communities.

In my time of service, I will advance the inviolable dignity of the human person, and we will engage each and every person with dignity, worth and respect, and worthily represent the title of “Ambassador” to all whom I encounter.

May God Bless the United States America and May God Bless the Republic of Fiji.

Thank you very much.