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Assistant Secretary Gordon on U.S. Policy in the Balkans

As prepared

Thank you very much. It really is an honor and a pleasure for me to be back in Sarajevo, particularly with so many good friends and colleagues in the room. This conference comes at a very timely moment. I am glad to see Bosnia and Herzegovina getting the high-profile attention it deserves and to be able to lend the voice and perspectives of the United States to the discussion.

Let me begin by thanking the conference hosts for having me here and for organizing this conference: The Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, especially Executive Director Dan Hamilton, and the America-Bosnia Foundation, especially President Sasha Toperich. CTR and the America-Bosnia Foundation are uniquely equipped to put on such a conference and they have done a superb job of assembling an outstanding group of scholars and practitioners. I would also like to thank the conference sponsors, including the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, led by Ambassador Patrick Moon, who is also here today. Indeed, it is a tribute to the importance and timeliness of this conference that in a difficult economic climate, so many internationally renowned foundations – 15 in all from the United States and Europe – have so generously contributed. Finally, let me thank Mike Haltzel, not just for organizing this conference but for his long and constant dedication to Balkans issues, first in the United States Senate and more recently in his role at SAIS.

I first visited Sarajevo in 1994, at a time when Bosnia and Herzegovina was still in the grips of the terrible war that would take the lives of over 100,000 people and displace millions of others. I don’t need to remind this audience of the horrors that took place during those dark years or of all the hard work Bosnians have done since then to rebuild this country. The United States and NATO, particularly, made an enormous investment in peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And with our help, but mostly as a result of your own efforts, Bosnia and Herzegovina has come a long way since.

For the United States, our commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina is an integral part of our long-standing commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, democratic, and at peace. We believe strongly in the idea that all of Europe must join the Euro-Atlantic institutions and realize the benefits of stability and prosperity. The Balkans are a critical part of Europe—historically, geographically and culturally and its future lies within the Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States will always support an open door to the European Union and to NATO and we will always be ready to help countries to walk through that door.

As part of this commitment, we take pride in what we have done with and for the Bosnian people. And our commitment continues in the Obama Administration, as demonstrated by the persistent diplomatic attention that Bosnia and Herzegovina receives. Vice-President Biden came here on one of his very first trips as Vice President, in May 2009; Secretary of State Clinton traveled here this past October, and Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg has visited this country six times during his tenure, more than any other country in the world except Japan. Congress also takes a deep interest in developments here, as the frequent Congressional delegations to Sarajevo will attest.

Many officials in this administration have deep a personal connection with Bosnia. Our professional identities, our understanding of international diplomacy, and even our careers were forged in the crucible of the Balkans War of the 1990s. Over the years, the United States has sent tens of thousands of American soldiers and diplomats to establish and keep the peace. We’ve invested roughly 1.5 billion dollars to help rebuild, strengthen public institutions, foster better education and promote economic development. We provide $300 million a year to help Western Balkans countries meet EU and NATO requirements. We are deeply and personally invested in the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In short, we have been your friends. And friends sometimes need to speak to each other bluntly. Bosnia and Herzegovina has made great progress since the horrors of the 1990s. But it in the last four or five years, it has not moved in the right direction. There has been a dangerous rise in nationalist rhetoric. The institutions of the state and the Dayton settlement have been brazenly challenged. There have been attempts to roll back the reforms that are necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the EU and NATO. In general, Bosnian politicians have been too willing to stoke ethnic fears and to privilege their own personal political interests over the needs of the people they are supposed to represent.

If this does not stop – and again I owe it to my friends here to be blunt – then Bosnia risks being left behind, as the rest of the region moves forward.

We can already see this happening. With the help of the international community, many states in this region are making progress: Slovenia joined the EU in 2004; Albania and Croatia joined NATO in 2009; Croatia’s EU candidacy is steadily advancing, following the favorable recommendation by the European Commission just last week. Macedonia will join NATO as soon as its name dispute is resolved. Kosovo recently celebrated the 3rd year of its independence and continues to progress as a multi-ethnic democracy. Montenegro, only five years since independence, already has EU candidacy status and is a full participant in NATO’s Membership Action Plan. Serbia has applied for EU candidacy and is making progress along that path, including through the recent arrest and extradition of Ratko Mladic.

Of course, all of these countries still have a lot of work to do to realize their aspirations: Serbia and Kosovo particularly need to advance in their dialogue and to work creatively to resolve their differences before they can move much further along their path to EU membership. Throughout the Balkans, people are free from violence, but they often do not have jobs. Hatreds have eased but dangerous nationalism and prejudice persists.

So Bosnia is hardly the only country in the region to face major challenges. But whereas other countries in the region are managing to make progress, however halting, in their efforts to join Europe—Bosnia and Herzegovina is not.

To get back on the right path, Bosnia must be able to function as a state that can deliver results for all of its citizens. Reforms are needed for their own sake, but they are also necessary to meet EU requirements and the country’s international obligations. Only greater integration into Europe will provide the stability and opportunity that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina want for their children.

Bosnia’s leaders specifically need to make progress in three areas: government formation, respect for state institutions and the Dayton Framework, and governmental reform.

Government Formation

The first is state-level government formation. It has been eight months since the elections and this country still does not have a state-level government. Without a broad-based coalition government, Bosnia cannot make the decisions necessary to progress on the Euro-Atlantic reform agenda.

Efforts in the parliament to start the process for appointment of Chairman of the Council of Ministers are a step in the right direction. But it is disappointing that we still have not seen a serious initiative from any political party leader to form a governing coalition.

There is no time to lose. Unless a government is formed soon, the economic consequences will be felt far and wide. Moody’s has already downgraded the country’s credit rating from “stable” to “negative” due to the stalemate. Deficit spending will result in budget shortfalls in both entities later this year, but the IMF and other international financial institutions have made clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be able to access additional lending until a new state government is in place. Pensioners, veterans and other vulnerable groups whose benefits have already taken a hit will see deeper reductions.

Every day that passes without a government Bosnia and Herzegovina falls further behind its neighbors and increases the risk that Bosnia and Herzegovina will fall off the European path. In this context, it is irresponsible for any party to block formation of a government based on maximalist demands, be it a claim on a certain number of positions in the Council of Ministers or for a specific ministerial appointment. All must be prepared to compromise. Those who refuse to consider any compromise are playing into the hands of those who seek to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacity to function as a state. I will be meeting this afternoon with some of the major party leaders and will be looking forward to hearing from the constructive ideas about how to form a state-level government in the very near future.

The responsibility to form a government that can advance the well being of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina should supersede any personal or political concern.

Respect for State Institutions and the Dayton Framework

Second, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians need to demonstrate their commitment to the Dayton Framework and their willingness to abide by the decisions of state institutions.

Like other members of the international community, the United States has repeatedly reaffirmed our support for the Dayton framework – one state, two vibrant entities, three constituent peoples – to reassure all the peoples of the country that their future is secure within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the goal is a more functional — not a more centralized — country, capable of meeting European integration requirements.

Similar efforts at reassurance have been made by some politicians in Sarajevo, including by President Bakir Izetbegovic, who has made conciliatory statements and offered greater flexibility on key reforms required by NATO and the EU. In return, others have intensified separatist rhetoric and sought to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state institutions and OHR.

One of the most recent challenges to the state was the April 13 decision by the RS assembly to call a referendum on High Representative decisions and on the legitimacy of the BiH Court and Prosecutor’s Office.

The RS decision to step back from a referendum has headed off an immediate crisis. I hope that the leadership in Banja Luka uses this opportunity to reevaluate its approach—the challenges made by the RS assembly to the Dayton Framework are not acceptable. They are incompatible with the goal of European integration. The leaders and the people of the RS need to decide whether they want to have a relationship with the United States and with Europe or not.

Those who think they can outwait us and our Allies on the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board are wrong. As I have already made clear, the United States has a significant personal and political investment here. We will not give up on Bosnia and Herzegovina or its people.

We will continue to defend and strengthen existing state institutions, like the BiH State Court and Prosecutors Office, which are doing critical work to combat terrorism, organized crime and to bring war criminals to justice; and the Indirect Tax Administration, which had ensured a dedicated revenue stream for the BiH government.

We will continue to promote further reforms, including of the constitution, as are necessary for a functional state and for Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet EU accession requirements. And we will stand behind the High Representative and his decisions. We will not permit the closure of the Office of the High Representative until the agreed reform agenda is completed.

We also welcome the EU’s determination to play a leading role in supporting positive change and protecting against threats to stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. EU High Representative Ashton has named Peter Sorensen, a senior diplomat with 15 years of experience in the Balkans, to lead this EU effort. As Secretary Clinton wrote last week in an article co-authored with UK Foreign Secretary Hague, the United States “will be strongly supportive of Ambassador Sorensen, using all of the levers available to achieve progress, while working in close partnership with the Peace Implementation Council and the Office of the High Representative.”

And we will be prepared to take measures against any individuals and organizations that threaten to undermine the stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All levels of government in Bosnia must accept and respect Dayton.

Governmental Reform

Finally, Bosnia and Herzegovina must move forward with the governmental reforms necessary for NATO and EU integration.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future lies in its integration into Europe, specifically membership in NATO and the EU. Once the state level government is formed, we expect Bosnia and Herzegovina to move forward quickly to resolve the defense property issue so that it can participate in NATO’s Membership Action Plan. The EU has made clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina must take three steps in order to be considered for candidate status: establish a serious process to change the constitution to accommodate the Sejdic-Finci decision, act on state aid provisions, and conduct a census. In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs a well-functioning government at the state level that will have the power to engage effectively with Brussels and to participate effectively in the EU accession process.

We are convinced this is possible while protecting and preserving the decentralized government structures established in the Dayton constitution.

But it will require reform, including of the constitution. The most immediate change necessary to comply with basic EU human rights standards following the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the Sejdic-Finci case. And there will need to be additional changes over the longer term to ensure the state has sufficient functionality and decision-making capacity to comply with EU and NATO standards. Although the EU accession process will be difficult, it is the only viable alternative for this country. Threats to abandon the process or not participate are incompatible with the needs of the people.

Reform is also imperative in the entities. The Federation has far more government than it can afford. Years of mismanagement, corruption and political infighting by the previous government have exacerbated the problem. Last year the government had to adopt emergency austerity measures just to avoid bankruptcy and the new Federation government still faces serious funding issues. The most recent EU progress report singled out the Federation in particular as being incompatible with EU accession criteria.

The new Federation government has gotten off to a good start. It has a fresh opportunity to make progress on privatizations, which have languished for years due to corruption and political infighting, as well as on education and economic reforms.

We regret that the HDZ parties declined to accept a compromise that would have included them in the coalition. No political party can claim the exclusive right to represent an entire ethnic group.

But we also recognize the concerns of those citizens who feel that the new government does not include representatives that they elected or who are committed to representing their interests.

It is incumbent upon the new government to demonstrate that it is acting in the interests of all of the entity’s citizens. It is understandable that Bosnian Croats, as the least numerous of the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are concerned about their status within the Federation. But redrawing new internal boundaries to add a new entity or other layers of complexity to an already overly complicated government is unrealistic. We welcome recent steps by HDZ parties to participate actively in the Federation parliament.

The Republika Srpska faces its own serious economic challenges. The entity has exhausted all of its reserves from the RS telecom and oil refinery privatizations and now faces a $500 million deficit. Last year the RS economy grew at an anemic 1 percent. The forecast for this year is not much better. Provocative political rhetoric and attacks on the independence of the state judiciary is driving away foreign investment, which is a tenth of what it was just three years ago. The Republika Srspka would be much better off if its leaders focused more improving the economy and thus on serving the needs of the citizens rather than on promoting greater division within the country. A positive step would be to discuss with the Federation ways to harmonize their regulations and to promote inter-entity economic cooperation.

The Path to Europe

These steps together constitute a path toward Europe. If Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians make the necessary choices and compromises, we will be there to help with resources and political support. As Secretary Clinton said here in October, “The bonds between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States have been forged through harsh trials and historic triumphs and today we remain committed.”

But you should understand that our commitment will mean little if Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot summon the will to help itself. We stand ready to advise, assist and support, but we cannot do it alone. We need partners who share this vision and who are prepared to compromise for the greater good.

The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve better; they deserve a Euro-Atlantic future. The young people of this country, particularly, want and deserve to join the European mainstream, to travel and work abroad, and to take advantage of all that the modern world has to offer. There are courageous actors in this country, many of whom are represented at this conference, who understand what needs to be done. Each of you has responsibility to work in interests of all Bosnians and Herzegovinians, to work across ethnic lines, and to avoid feeding ethnic fears. We are confident that, in so doing, you can overcome your divisions and build a European state, just like so many other Europeans before you.

No one can do this for you. But I can tell you that if you try, the United States will be with you every step of the way.

Thank you very much.

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The Obama Administration’s European Agenda

As prepared

Thank you Fred, I am delighted to be here at the Atlantic Council today, as part of your broader program of events this afternoon. Through activities like these, the council has been one of the leading forums for ensuring the continued vitality of the transatlantic relationship, and I am especially pleased to be speaking to you just before the President travels to Lisbon for an important series of European summits.

In Lisbon, the President will meet with heads of state and government from all 28 NATO member nations; he will convene a summit of the 49 nations contributing troops to Afghanistan through ISAF as well as major economic assistance donors; he will join with his Allied counterparts and the President of Russia for a NATO-Russia Council Summit; and finally he will join the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council at the U.S.-EU Summit. This will be followed up with a trip by the Secretary of State to attend the OSCE Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. This is, by any standard, an intense schedule of diplomatic engagement. And the intensity of our upcoming interaction with Europe reveals how central the U.S.-European partnership is to addressing global challenges.

When the Obama administration came into office, we made re-engaging with our European allies one of our top priorities. President Obama did so because he recognized that there is no better partner for the United States than Europe, where we work with democratic, prosperous, militarily-capable allies who share our values and share our interests. We face a daunting international agenda that cannot be handled by any one nation alone, and that is why we so often turn to Europe as our partner of first and best resort.

So, as we approach the two-year mark of this administration, it is useful and important to take a step back and take a look at where we stand. To that end, I’d like to do three things today. First, I’ll describe the strategic objectives which drive our approach toward Europe. Then, I’d like to offer you an assessment of our record over the past two years on these objectives. Finally, I’ll outline what we see to be the next steps to be in our engagement with Europe, with a particular emphasis on the four major summits the United States will participate in starting this week.

When I think about this administration’s priorities in Europe, there are three basic objectives that stand out in our engagement with the continent:

1) First, we work with Europe as a partner in meeting global challenges. On every issue of global importance, Europe’s contributions are crucial to solving major international challenges. No matter what the issue is – from the war in Afghanistan, to the Iranian nuclear challenge, to the ongoing global economic troubles – Europe is indispensable. We are vastly stronger – in terms of legitimacy, resources, and ideas – when we join forces with Europe on the global agenda.

2) Second, we are still working with Europe on Europe, that is to say working to complete the historic project of helping to extend stability, security, prosperity and democracy to the entire continent. The extraordinary success that the United States and Europe have had together in promoting European integration, in consolidating and supporting the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and integrating them into Euro-Atlantic institutions demonstrates the promise of this enterprise. But our work is not done. And so the effort continues in the Balkans and further to Europe’s east and in the Caucasus.

3) Finally, we have sought to set relations with Russia on a more constructive course. President Obama recognized that he had inherited a relationship that was in a difficult place and that this situation did not serve the interests of the United States or its allies. Therefore, our goal has been to cooperate with Russia where we have common interests but not at the expense of our principles or our friends.

Looking back on the past two years of the Obama administration, we have significant progress we can point to in each area:

First, on working with Europe on global challenges, we have worked together as never before with our European partners on the major security challenges we face in the world today. Specifically:

  • In Afghanistan, in the wake of the President’s speech in November 2009, Europe contributed about 7000 additional troops, over 100 training teams for the Afghan army and police, and nearly $300 million for the Afghan National Army trust fund. European nations now have almost 40,000 troops in Afghanistan and the total European contribution to Afghanistan since 2001 comes to $14 billion.
  • On Iran, we maintained unity in our efforts to engage and have at the same time seen the strongest-ever set of sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council and even more robust set of follow-on sanctions adopted by the European Union. These additional measures taken by the EU cover a variety of areas critical to the regime including trade, finance, banking and insurance, transport, and the gas and oil sectors, in addition to new visa bans and asset freezes. These steps have raised the price of Iran’s failure to meet its obligations and we hope will serve to bring them back to the negotiating table.
  • On missile defense, we gained broad support for our Phased Adaptive Approach which seeks to counter the real and current missile threats Europe faces and we are moving forward with plans to identify various basing locations. We expect, at the NATO Summit in Lisbon, that NATO leaders will adopt missile defense as a NATO capability.

In the second area, extending the European zone of peace, prosperity, and democracy we have also had some important successes but equally important challenges remain. As I said at the outset, the work of “completing” Europe is not finished. What I think is most notable about efforts now under the Obama Administration is how closely – as part of a deliberate strategy – we are working together with Europe to achieve this goal.

  • Take, for instance, the countries of the EU’S Eastern Partnership: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The United States strongly supports and works with this EU initiative to extend democracy, stability, and security to this part of the world. We share the same strategy because we share the same goals.
  • The same can be said of the Balkans: the U.S. and European view is that Europe will not be complete until all of the countries of the Western Balkans are full EU members. I was with Secretary Clinton last month on her trip to the Balkans and I can tell you that our policy toward the region is very closely coordinated with the European Union. On the dialog between Serbia and Kosovo, on the future of Bosnia, on Croatia’s path to the EU, we have consulted closely with Europe. We also welcomed Albania and Croatia into NATO, extended Membership Action Plans to Bosnia and Montenegro, and Macedonia will join once the dispute over its name is resolved. The intensive joint diplomacy of recent months has shown how closely our visions are aligned, something which is essential for progress in the region.

Finally, what has arguably been the most controversial part of our European agenda – our reset with Russia – has started to pay significant dividends. We have made enormous progress in setting our bilateral relationship on a path of pragmatic cooperation. We can now say that effective diplomacy with Russia can help with U.S. global priorities. This diplomacy has already had some tangible benefits:

  • First, we have concluded a New START Treaty. The agreement is the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades and significantly reduces the number of nuclear weapons and launchers deployed by the United States and Russia while also putting in place a strong verification regime.
  • We have concluded a lethal transit agreement for ferrying supplies to Afghanistan across Russia that is now an important logistics route for our efforts in Afghanistan and has completed more than 500 flights.
  • We have secured cooperation with Russia on Iran, both in terms of a strong UN Security Council resolution and additional steps by Russia to ban the sale of S-300 missiles to Iran.
  • We have done all of this without compromising our principles – in particular our steadfast commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all of the nations of Europe and our commitment to human rights in Russia.

As you can see, it’s been a full two years. But we have more to do. And I think the best way to convey that is for me to describe the four upcoming summits we have with Europe: a NATO Summit, a NATO-Russia Council Summit, a U.S.-EU Summit, and an OSCE Summit. These institutions are the pillars of peace and prosperity in Europe and Eurasia. Our agenda for these summits illustrates very well how engaged we are with Europe and how we intend to advance our strategic objectives in and with Europe.


At the NATO Summit, we plan to unveil a new Strategic Concept, lay out the approach that we and our NATO allies are taking to transition in Afghanistan, and advance our relationship with Russia. The new Strategic Concept – the first in 11 years – will chart the future course of the alliance and prepare it to meet new threats. NATO Secretary General Rasmussen has done a superb job producing a document with vision, clarity and focus. It places Article 5—our collective defense commitment—rightly at the heart of why we are NATO Allies, while also recognizing that NATO is no longer just a regional military alliance. The Strategic Concept will also identify the capabilities we need – including territorial missile defense and cyber early warning systems – to meet new security challenges and better protect Allied populations. We look forward to a robust endorsement of it from allies at Lisbon.

We also intend to revamp the way NATO does business through organizational reforms that will allow NATO to implement these capabilities more effectively and more rapidly. We will examine how to strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones. Partnerships – with non-NATO members in Europe, with institutions like the UN, EU, and the OSCE, with strategic allies like Japan and Australia – are one of NATO’s most potent tools.

On Afghanistan, the President and his counterparts from ISAF will emphasize two mutually supportive themes. The first theme is an announcement of a responsible transition that will gradually turn over lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to Afghan National Security Forces. Transition is actually a process that began in President Karzai’s inaugural address over a year ago. The idea is that transition will unfold according to conditions on the ground, including progress in training Afghan forces, and assessments carried out by Afghan and international experts. Transition will not happen overnight. It is not a single event and it will not be a rush for the exit. The second theme is announcement by all NATO Allies that will reaffirm their deep and enduring commitment to Afghanistan’s security and in particular to the development of its security forces.

NATO-Russia Council

NATO’s relationship with Russia has been transformed in the last 20 years from adversary to partner. We are partners in dealing with a full range of security challenges. And the business of practical cooperation will enhance our collective security: Russia’s and that of every ally. This is the first NATO-Russia Council meeting since the Georgia conflict in 2008 and an opportunity to demonstrate that we can extend our bilateral reset with Russia into the NATO arena. We have already demonstrated that we can practically cooperate while standing by our principles. We have consistently maintained our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia’s neighbors and stood up for human rights within Russia.

We now want to take this practical cooperation to a higher level, in areas of shared interest such as Afghanistan, missile defense, counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and counter-piracy. NATO and Russia expect to agree on the NATO-Russia Joint Review of 21st Century Security Challenges to demonstrate a shared understanding of these issues and other potential threats. Let me add, however, that these efforts at cooperation will in no way limit the United States’ or NATO’s capacity to deploy missile defense or other collective defense capabilities.

U.S.-EU Summit

This U.S.-EU summit will be the first since the EU strengthened itself via the Lisbon Treaty. Our participation represents another opportunity to demonstrate that we believe that a strong and united Europe is a stronger partner for the United States. This summit in particular will highlight our expanded and strategic partnership in three concrete and crucial areas, the economy, security, and global issues.

On economic cooperation, it is important to remember that the United States and Europe are each others’ largest trade and investment partners, accounting some $4 trillion in flows and generating approximately 1 in 10 jobs. The relationship is central to both our economic futures. We will follow-up on the G-20 meetings last week in Seoul to sustain the recovery and generate jobs for our economies, by consulting on best steps to address current imbalances in the global economy and by addressing bilateral barriers to trade. The leaders will task the Transatlantic Economic Council to coordinate our policies to promote innovation and to get regulators to pursue greater collaboration, especially in new and emerging technologies.

On security cooperation, we will identify ways to enhance our already significant common efforts on counter-terrorism and security, including through data exchange programs such as the Passenger Name Record agreement which protect both our privacy and our security, through cooperation on cybersecurity, and through sharing best practices to combat violent extremism. As the events of this summer demonstrated, both Europe and the United States face an ongoing threat and close transatlantic cooperation is crucial to addressing it.

Finally on global challenges, the leaders will address a number of critical foreign policy issues such as Iran, climate change, Middle East peace, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In particular, we will look to better coordinate development assistance. The United States and Europe together provide 80 percent of the world’s development assistance. We will work on ways to avoid duplication and get greater value from U.S. and EU resources, while better meeting the development needs of poorer countries, as well as those emerging from crises and disaster


At the OSCE Summit, we will mark the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, which was a watershed moment in the Cold War, and we will emphasize that the commitments and principles in the Helsinki Final Act still apply equally to each participating state today. The OSCE has matured from its Cold War roots to become a global forum meant to prevent crises, promote human rights, and enhance good governance. But thirty-five years later, the Helsinki principles are still not universally implemented. We have witnessed in recent months instances of continuing violence against journalists, steps to undermine the work of human rights activists and NGOs, and actions that call into question the basic rights of ethnic minorities. There is more to be done.

At the Astana Summit, we will seek to revitalize the OSCE across all its dimensions, underscoring the importance of protections for journalists and the freedom of expression, seeking new steps to enhance energy security and promote transparency and good governance, and strengthening military transparency through work to update core elements of Europe’s arms control framework.

The vast agenda we will address through these four major summits reflects a single enduring truth. Global problems today are so complex and interrelated that they are beyond the scope of any one country to dictate solutions. In seeking partners to meet these new global challenges, the United States can have no closer friend than Europe. Together – and only by working together – we can build a world with more freedom, more opportunity, and more security for all our citizens.

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