Chairman Rohrabacher, Ranking Member Meeks, on behalf of the
In many ways, the
Progress in the region, however, is uneven. Important achievements are at risk and intractable issues remain. The Balkans, the Caucasus,
The humanitarian needs in eastern
The President’s budget foreign assistance request of
Despite real signs of progress in the western Balkans — fragile institutions, unreliable rule of law, poor governance, and restricted media endanger these young democracies and create vulnerabilities to destabilizing actors. The region faces multiple threats, including violent extremists, organized criminal groups, and malign foreign players, especially
Political fragility puts the successful transition of western Balkan countries at risk. For example
Currently, the western Balkans region is almost entirely dependent on
Corruption is the currency of malign Russian influence. Corrupt actors abuse regulatory loopholes and inefficient, byzantine bureaucracies for self-benefit, often leaving law-abiding, well-intentioned citizens – including foreign investors – little or no recourse to protect basic property rights, enforce contracts, or achieve fair judicial enforcement. Lack of economic and political reform in these areas instills a lack of confidence in freedom and democratization.
Compounding the threats posed by external meddling in the region, the western Balkans region faces the internal challenge of dealing with the threat of violent extremism. Open source reporting shows that as many as 950 foreign fighters from the region have traveled to
Rooting out violent extremism in the Balkans is critical to advancing America’s national security interests. The President’s budget request for the region protects America’s security and our allies by addressing the underlying conditions that contribute to conflict and instability, foreign fighter recruitment, and radicalization. At
Our efforts to prevent recruitment and radicalization are targeted to specific communities, but offer us important lessons to build upon in our work throughout the region. As we know, the threat of extremist ideologies anywhere is cause for concern everywhere. Thus, we are examining opportunities to further expand preventative and CVE programming into our development portfolios throughout the Balkans, as well as in the Caucasus.
Leveraged Funding and Partnerships
As we work to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of
In many areas, the
Of course, long-term change hinges on a clear manifestation of political will from host governments.
Partnerships like these form the backbone to our assistance approach in the region and generate impacts well beyond what any singular donor country could achieve. We are very proud to see these “graduated” countries now providing support to countries still endeavoring to transition to stable, modern democracies. At
It is clear that countries in
These young democracies are fighting battles on multiple fronts.USAID is uniquely positioned to assist these countries on their paths toward greater Euro-Atlantic integration, which will require long-term commitment. Our assistance builds resilience throughout the region through efforts to develop civil society and independent media; a growing private sector and increased energy security; and democratic institutions grounded in the rule of law. We know that success in the region will be difficult, but as emerging risks threaten shared goals of stability and prosperity, our sustained engagement in the region is as important as ever.
Thank you for your attention. I’ll be glad to take your questions.
Read this original document at: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA14/20170725/106317/HHRG-115-FA14-Wstate-EllisM-20170725.pdf