An area of emphasis for my administration has been international relations. We are finding that globalization plays an important role in our everyday lives.
I became secretary of state in December 2000. In my early days of office, I was informed that I was Nebraska’s chief protocol officer, which entailed serving as a goodwill ambassador for international relations. I discovered that this function was merely a custom and tradition of the office, with no statutory authorization.
Sensing that international matters and contacts were going to be increasingly important for Nebraska, I went to the Legislature and sought to formalize my international role. In 2003, the Legislature passed legislation that authorizes the secretary of state to serve as chief protocol officer and promote commerce, educational studies and cultural exchanges between Nebraska and nations of the world.
My protocol activities include meeting with international dignitaries and visitors, attending international-related events, acting as a liaison with
Secretary of State John Gale and his wife, Carol, are pictured in Beijing during a study trip to China.
As chief protocol officer, I have sponsored conferences and symposiums to build strong ties between Nebraska and the international community. For example, the Secretary of State’s Diplomatic Conference has been held several times in Omaha. The conference has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for diplomatic officials to visit our state, network with key Nebraska representatives and hear about the exciting opportunities occurring in the state.
My office receives a steady stream of international visitors each year. I consider it an honor and privilege to host such guests as a means to promote global goodwill and understanding.
Increasingly, Nebraska’s economy is closely linked to the international economy. We have to seek new opportunities to attract international investment to our state and market our products abroad.
In our troubled world, we cannot forget the importance of educational and cultural exchanges. These exchanges can go a long ways towards increasing awareness and easing tensions.
Formal international agreements are made between governments. But friendships are formed person to person, and these personal relationships will prove more and more important in the years ahead in our global community.
Through Nebraska’s international efforts, the state is creating friends all over the world. This will open doors to business, educational and cultural opportunities.
John A. Gale
Secretary of State