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June 20, 09

NEWS / Success on Global Challenges Requires Strong U.S.-European Ties


By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer
Source: http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2009/June/20090617120002dmslahrellek0.1076776.html?CP.rss=true
Washington — Working with European allies, in groups and one-on-one, remains critical to achieving U.S. success in tackling the global challenges the trans-Atlantic alliance faces, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon says.

“The United States cooperates with Europe on literally all of the most important challenges,” Gordon said at a June 16 congressional hearing. “We’ve made great progress in the past 20 years, since the end of the Cold War, but clearly more remains to be done.”

Gordon, who is the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasia affairs, outlined three main categories for U.S. priorities in the alliance: engage with Europe on global challenges; work toward a Europe that is whole, free, democratic and at peace; and work toward a renewed relationship with Russia.

Efforts to address these challenges, he said, are enhanced by working with critical alliances and partnerships in Europe, including NATO, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

“We believe that the openness of Western institutions, like the EU and NATO, to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe has been, simply put, the most successful democratization strategy in history, and it has brought peace, stability and prosperity to millions, and the administration strongly believes that this process must continue,” Gordon said at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing.

Gordon said the Obama administration supports the sovereignty and independence of all European states, including those that emerged out of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. The United States intends to continue nurturing democratic and economic progress in the “still-fragile reformers,” and to promote further integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions, he said.

Gordon added that President Obama’s administration supports Turkey’s aspirations for membership in the European Union. Turkey is a long-time member of the NATO alliance, and is regarded by the United States as a pivotal ally in working with southern Europe, Eastern Europe and in the Middle East.

“We are engaged energetically to support efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize relations, and efforts by Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh,” Gordon said. He just returned from the region, saying it was important for the United States to “do what we can to promote the historic processes.”

Gordon said the United States is also actively supporting negotiations toward a settlement in Cyprus, and promoting diversification of European energy supplies.

RENEWED TIES WITH RUSSIA

Gordon said the United States is looking forward to coming talks with Russian officials in a number of different areas and venues. Obama is scheduled to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow July 6–8 to discuss reducing the number of nuclear weapons, enhancing nuclear security, and cooperating on issues such as counterterrorism, Afghanistan, counternarcotics, Iran, North Korea and environment and energy.

Obama and Medvedev met for the first time in London on April 1 just before the G20 economic summit, and launched talks across a range of issues. The United States will also be meeting with Russian counterparts at the OSCE ministerial in Corfu, Greece; the NATO-Russia Council also in Corfu; and the July Moscow Summit, Gordon said.

“We look forward to those discussions, but also to the opportunity of strengthening relations with Russia,” Gordon said. He emphasized that while the United States wants to reinvigorate relations with Russia, the Obama administration will not abandon principles or ignore concerns about democracy and human rights.

Tags: secretary of state,
 




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