Hi, my name is Mark Brzezinski

Hej – Mitt namn är Mark Brzezinski och jag är USAs nya ambassadör till Sverige. Jag är ytterst tacksam för detta viktiga uppdrag och jag ser fram emot att fördjupa den historiska vänskapen mellan våra länder.

U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski dressed to meet HM King Carl XVI Gustaf

Hi, my name is Mark Brzezinski and I’m the new ambassador of the United States in Sweden. I am profoundly grateful for this important opportunity to further the historic friendship between the United States and Sweden. On November 24, I had the great honor to present my credentials as ambassador to His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf, thus formally beginning my representation of my country here in Sweden. I want to thank both President Obama and Secretary Clinton for entrusting me with this important mission. I’d like to share with you some photographs from that wonderful day.

I have moved to Sweden with my wife Natalia and daughter Aurora. We know Sweden has a strong reputation as a very family friendly place. We are looking forward to family life here and learning lessons about “lagom” (balance). I am very excited that my young daughter will spend a portion of her childhood in Sweden, no doubt learning the language better than me!

My wife and I are both first generation Americans, and our families are originally from Central Europe. I was born in America to parents cast on its shores by World War II. Growing up I learned the American story of hard work and opportunity. My parents taught me the importance of public service and instilled in me a love of my country. We are genuinely enthusiastic to live in Sweden.

We can see already what amazingly beautiful nature there is to explore here. I am passionate about nature and the environment, in part because I grew up in a little rural haven, within the Washington DC metropolis. We lived in a pre-Civil War farmhouse, had a horse named Strawberry and a German Sheppard named Napoleon, and my Mother – an artist – raised bees for honey. I remember my parents gardening tomatoes and herbs, and taking my brother, sister and me on “rock hunting” at rock pits in places like Colorado and North Carolina. My family and I look forward to feeding our love of the outdoors by going berry picking and hiking in Sweden’s forests during the summer, and to skiing and skating in the winter.

I am aware there is already outstanding cooperation between the United States and Sweden on environmental sustainability and alternative energy that is not only helping protect our planet, but also creating business opportunities and research collaboration for both countries. I will be a strong supporter of continuing those efforts. Since the United States is a member of the Arctic Council, I can’t wait to work with Sweden as the current Chair to advance our common goals of protecting the environment and conserving the Arctic’s biological resources while promoting economic cooperation.

Coming to Sweden at this time is a magnificent challenge. Sweden is a very important partner in the turbulent world in which we now live. Sweden has joined us in Afghanistan and Libya and continues to lead in promoting integration of the Balkans in to the EU. In Afghanistan, Sweden has been supporting the Afghan people as part of the international coalition — providing healthcare, education and other support. In Libya, Sweden’s contribution is an example of a country that is not even a member of NATO stepping up and taking a principled stand in protecting vulnerable people and universal rights. The people of the Balkans have been the recipients of the national generosity of Sweden’s development assistance programs. Not only in terms of manpower and resources, but also in terms of moral authority, Sweden is a special partner in the challenges we face.

The leadership Sweden has shown regarding the Eastern Partnership is an excellent example of how a country can quietly go about making a difference. Sweden supported the democratic aspirations of its Baltic neighbors two decades ago, and today backs those caught under the weight of oppression in Belarus, and increased development of the rule of law in Ukraine.

Let me close with a personal story: My Grandfather, Tadeusz Brzezinski, served as Poland’s consul general in Leipzig, Germany from 1931 to 1935. As Consul General, he provided Polish passports to Jews, even if they were not Polish citizens, so they could be freed from imprisonment or leave Nazi Germany. His story is part of what informs my belief that basic values are a universal imperative. In 2012, Sweden will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat whose efforts to save Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust clearly demonstrated the importance of not being indifferent. He paid with his life for that commitment. It will be my mission to advance the U.S.-Swedish relationship in a way that honors that legacy.

As I know Swedes do, I place the highest importance on my family. My wife Natalia and I are a strong team for each other, and we want to be a strong team in the important responsibility of representing the United States here in Sweden. That is why we thought it would be fun and useful to do this blog as a joint enterprise. We will alternate our posts, so that we can share perspectives from both of us of how we are experiencing Sweden in the various roles as: ambassador, diplomatic spouse, husband, wife, father, mother.