2012 Embassy Events
Remarks - Richard G.Lugar Center for Public Health Research (August 12)
Mr. President, Mr. Minister, Madame Director, Assistant Secretary Weber, Ambassador Brink, distinguished guests and friends: I thank our hosts for this wonderful occasion.
Mr. President, I have been to Tbilisi many times, including 2004 to break ground here at this facility. But this visit is very special. I am deeply honored you have elected to rededicate this facility as the Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research. I am profoundly touched by your remarks, as I am by your friendship and the cooperation and partnership of the people of Georgia.
The end of the Soviet Union ushered in an era of change and risk unprecedented in history. I have worked to ensure that we took full advantage of the opportunities presented to the United States to remedy the risks posed by the massive stockpile of chemical, nuclear and biological knowledge and material amassed throughout the former Soviet Union.
The Nunn-Lugar program is a triumph measured in more than the numbers of missiles, warheads, chemical weapons and biological pathogens now under lock and key or destroyed. It has been the basis upon which the United States has found constructive means to engage former adversaries and mew partners, united together by a common vision and a common desire to detect and defeat new threats.
I am pleased with the progress that has been made here. This laboratory has the potential to become a regional center for disease surveillance, research, as well as biosafety and security. The United States is committed to a regional concept for disease surveillance that will support this nation’s efforts to collaborate with international partners to fights both human and animal diseases, the so-called One Health Concept.
We know that naturally-occurring pathogens present grave dangers. They are threats to our lives and to our livestock.
My hope is that in relocating Georgia’s national Centers for Disease Control and Georgia’s collection of especially dangerous pathogens here, we will begin to achieve excellence and foster greater work and cooperation in the coming year.
The Nunn-Lugar program’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program creates an opportunity to work toward a common objective of preventing the spread of disease and ensuring cooperation. The Lugar Center for Public Health Research represents a key link between the United States and Georgia, and indeed, the world. We have the means and the desire to lead.
Georgia’s One Health Strategy means more to me than simply understanding the necessity of working on both human an animal disease and bureaucratic organization. To me, it expresses the foundation of the Nunn-Lugar program-we work together as one to defeat threats common to all nations.
Your decision to invite me here and to rename the facility in my honor will be forever memorable, an event I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Mr. President, thank you, very much