Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff met in Washington with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to discuss strengthening trade between Georgia and New Zealand and U.S.-New Zealand security cooperation.
Before their meeting, the Senator and Prime Minister addressed yesterday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Sen. Ossoff expressed his commitment to affirming the shared values that connect the United States and New Zealand.
“I look forward to discussing the shared values between our two countries, our commitments to building a world based on free democratic societies that respect the dignity and human rights of all people, living on a clean, beautiful, healthy planet, where we’re free to speak and participate in determining who leads and represents us, where we can trust that future generations will inherit an Earth that is sound, and healthy, and clean, and where love for each other, and empathy for each other, is the bedrock of how human beings and nations get along,” Sen. Ossoff said.
Please find a transcript of their remarks below:
SEN. OSSOFF: “Well good morning, all, and welcome, thank you for joining us. It’s such a pleasure, Prime Minister, to join in welcoming you to the United States, and on behalf of the people of Georgia, welcoming you to my office. I’ve been looking forward to this discussion.
“I do briefly want to address yesterday’s horrific events in Texas. My wife Alisha and I welcomed baby daughter into the world in December. And every night when we hold Eva, every night when we pray for her safety and health, it’s a feeling that parents across the country and around the world know. There’s no feeling like it. And the agony that the parents of children slaughtered in their school in Texas must be feeling right now is unfathomable. And the cruelty and the barbarity of an attack on beautiful little children like this is unspeakable. And we need to change. We have to reform our laws to keep weapons out of the hands of killers. And we have to heal our national soul so that this doesn’t keep happening and can never feel routine; this is not routine. And I know the Prime Minister after the tragic massacre in Christchurch, demonstrated the kind of leadership that we need to see in this country right now. I’m probably the only member of the Senate who grew up during a time when these kinds of attacks in schools were routine. We cannot let this be what passes for normal in America.
“One of the reasons that I’ve been looking forward, Prime Minister, to welcoming you is because we both are of a generation that perhaps sees the world a little bit differently. And so today I look forward to discussing the shared values between our two countries, our commitments to building a world based on free democratic societies that respect the dignity and human rights of all people, living on a clean, beautiful, healthy planet, where we’re free to speak and participate in determining who leads and represents us, where we can trust that future generations will inherit an Earth that is sound, and healthy, and clean, and where the love for each other, and the empathy for each other, is the bedrock of how human beings and nations get along. And you have demonstrated those values so inspiringly during your tenure, so it’s a pleasure to have you here. Prime Minister, please.”
PRIME MINISTER ARDERN: “Thank you both. Thank you, Senators, for your words and for the opportunity to meet with you today. I had the opportunity to very briefly reflect yesterday when asked on the horrific event in Texas. When I first heard the news, my reflections were not as a politician, but as you say, as a parent. You can’t help but think of what it would be as a parent to have something like that happen in your school community, and it is so hard to fathom. And so, my first reflection would just be for the families, who are caught up in this absolutely horrific act. From the perspective being as a leader, I can only reflect on our experience, but if there’s any message that I can share from that and take what you will from it, I believe change is possible. I do. Even on the most difficult of political issues, when you have will amongst your people, then change is possible. And we saw that in New Zealand. And I think that had we not made the changes we did, the New Zealand public would have called for it, and would have called for us to move. And so, I’ll be happy to share our learnings. Take them as you will, because everyone’s circumstances are different, everyone’s histories are different, their experiences are different, but regardless of all of that I still believe change is possible.”
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