Remarks by Assistant Administrator Brock Bierman, German Marshall Fund: “Partners for Freedom: Can the Transatlantic Community Work Together to Safeguard Democracy in Europe and Eurasia?”

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Remarks by Assistant Administrator Brock Bierman, German Marshall Fund: “Partners for Freedom: Can the Transatlantic Community Work Together to Safeguard Democracy in Europe and Eurasia?”

(Remarks as prepared)

When we talk about the strength of democracies, we cannot ignore the authoritarian powers who seek to weaken, damage, and destroy them.

USAID recently launched the Countering Malign Kremlin Influence Development Framework to respond to the authoritarian challenge in this region.  

Simply put, the Kremlin is not interested in the self-directed development or freedom or choice of its neighbors.  It doesn’t seek to build up its neighbors. Rather, it prefers to manipulate their weaknesses for its own gain. . It prefers to impose its will rather than to build partnerships.   Instead it views the democratic and economic gains of others to be a threat to its own interests.

This distorted view, if left unchecked, poses a fundamental threat to the region. 

Rather than build up its own nation, the Kremlin bolsters oligarchic interests by suppressing the prospects of other nations.  Putin props up his autocracy by waging a campaign to undermine core Euro-Atlantic institutions and to weaken support for democratic and free-market systems.  The Kremlin interferes in elections; wages information warfare; encourages corruption, seeks to marginalize and repress civil society, and undermines the rule of law.  

The USAID CMKI development framework responds to this authoritarian pressure by increasing the economic and democratic resilience of our partner countries, and working to mitigate the effects of Kremlin soft power aggression upon a range of institutions.  

The framework is a development solution for a development problem.  The Kremlin’s actions seek to steal the hard won development gains these countries have made for its own benefit.  While USAID seeks to help countries achieve greater independence and democratic resilience; the Kremlin hopes to drain away this liberty for its own gain. 

Our view is this: Kremlin malign influence anywhere undermines freedom everywhere.  That means this fight is bigger than USAID, or any one organization or country alone.  Safeguarding these principles that the Kremlin seeks to undermine will demand a broad coalition of partners -- each contributing their unique experience, expertise, or resources to the cause. 

Last updated: November 04, 2019

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