Good afternoon and thank you to Expert Forum for inviting me here today. It’s an honor to be speaking, along with these distinguished Ambassadors, to the very people who are transforming judicial and law enforcement systems in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
It’s been 25 years since the fall of the iron curtain and rise of democratic states in the region. Together, all of us have been working diligently to transform your countries into thriving democracies. But, as Thomas Jefferson said, “The generation who starts a revolution rarely finishes it.” I think we can all agree that there is still work to be done. As Vice President Biden said here in Bucharest a year ago, “For any young democracy, the most difficult but important step is burying the legacy of tyranny and establishing an economy and a government and institutions that abide by the rule of law. Every country faces challenges to the rule of law, including my own. And the choices each of our countries make matter immensely — not only for our own individual nations, but for our neighbors. “
Today, particularly in the context of the rise of Da’esh and Russia’s actions, establishing the rule of law and a functioning judiciary based on trust is critically important. With globalization and an increasingly interconnected world, crime and terrorism can cross borders in more sophisticated ways than ever before. Therefore, we must work together and rely on each other to counter global threats to our collective security and sovereignty. To do so, we must build systems and institutions that are strong, mutually supportive and free from corruption. Indeed, for Romania and the United States, these values are critical to our common membership in NATO. As the NATO treaty states, NATO member states form a unique community of values, committed to the principle of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and rule of law.
This need for collective security is what drives the United States Government’s efforts to help countries like Romania, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to fight corruption and modernize the judicial and law enforcement institutions. Beyond our traditional USAID and Department of Justice training programs, the United States Government is fine tuning its assistance to countries in the region to better combat transnational threats. The European Bureau in the State Department launched a new initiative to re-energize our efforts to fight corruption in Central and Eastern Europe.
Here in Bucharest, we now have a U.S. Government anti-corruption strategy. Supporting it are a regional intellectual property law enforcement coordinator, and a US federal prosecutor who is here to provide mentoring, guidance and training on intellectual property rights enforcement to countries in the region. Through the FBI’s Corruption unit, we are deploying FBI agents specialized in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to help fight corruption. In Romania, this agent has been assisting law enforcement and prosecutors and also provided training to hundreds of police, prosecutors, judges, students and businesses on the FCPA, which is complementary to Romania’s anti-corruption approach, because it investigates and prosecutes American companies suspected of illegal acts – a crime in the US even if done in a foreign country.
We’ve also stepped up our efforts to create asset recovery systems in the region. We’ve deployed a number of agents from the FBI’s kleptocracy unit to Ukraine to assist in identifying illicitly obtained assets of the previous political leaders. We contribute to the World Bank’s STAR initiative and the UN Convention against Corruption.
Beyond technical assistance to law enforcement and the judiciary, the United States Government is starting to think about the next generation. Here in Bucharest, for example, our Embassy recently launched a poster contest entitled “Corruption Kills Your Future.” We received over 140 fantastic submissions from young people around Romania via a high profile Facebook campaign and we’ll be taking the top 16 on a road show. Speaking of Facebook, we’ve found at our embassy that some of our most resonant postings – the ones that get the most “likes” – are precisely those that speak out strongly about the scourge of corruption and dangers it poses to national security and economic vibrancy.
These various United States Government efforts are meant to complement those of your own countries, along with efforts from our European partners. As your countries work to integrate into the trans-Atlantic community, it’s vital that we coordinate our efforts to combat communal threats. That’s why I am happy to join my distinguished colleagues the Ambassadors from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands here today. Together we can accomplish the goal of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace. Adherence to rule of law, with the support of all institutions, is critical to that vision. In sum, as Vice President Biden said about achieving that goal, “And when we do, our children’s generation will be eternally grateful because it will solidify for the remainder of this century the democracy your parents fought so hard to establish.”