Washington, D.C. - Dr. Michael Carpenter, an American diplomat who is the nominee to serve as the U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), spoke about combating the demise of democracy and the rise of corruption in the OSCE region during a full committee hearing yesterday by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, presided by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). In his opening remarks, Dr. Carpenter, a career officer with the United States Foreign Service who has served in the Office of Russian Affairs, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and in the Office of Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts, stated that "democratic institutions are under assault and increasingly aggressive authoritarian regimes seek to weaken and divide democratic states against one another." He noted that Russia is using "active measures to disrupt and weaken democratic rivals," while underscoring the erosion of fair elections in the OSCE geographical space. Dr. Carpenter focused on three key points, including the promotion of comprehensive security via politico-military, economic and environmental, and human rights priorities, establishing stronger anti-corruption measures, and strengthening the resilience of frontline democracies. "In Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and many Balkan countries, OSCE institutions offer a range of tools for strengthening democratic resilience," said Dr. Carpenter. "Supporting religious freedom, media pluralism, electoral reform, and judicial independence all fall into this basket, as do efforts to bridge societal divides and resolve longstanding conflicts." Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), expressed his concern regarding the "significant decline" of democracy in the OSCE region and that the increasing corruption is the "fuel that allows autocratic regimes to stay in power." He highlighted the significance of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and looked forward to working with the Administration on its implementation. In response, Dr. Carpenter acknowledged the "growth of authoritarianism around the world" and regimes that have "consolidated political power by using corrupt means," including via forms of bribery to accumulate economic power. "I value these efforts and the incredible number of ideas and bills that have come out of the Helsinki Commission, and I look forward to advancing this agenda if confirmed," said Dr. Carpenter. Earlier this week, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee James McGovern (D-MA), submitted an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is intended to strengthen the scope of the existing Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The amendment (#655) calls for the U.S. to "authorize sanctions for serious human rights abuse, any violation of internationally recognized human rights, or corruption." Amendment #655, along with other pro-human rights ones and accountability amendments offered to the FY22 NDAA (H.R. 4350), are strongly supported by the Assembly. "We welcome Dr. Carpenter's remarks regarding the importance of supporting and strengthening democracies as well as the promotion of human rights," said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "In addition, the U.S. as a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group must continue to engage and assert its leadership to help facilitate a lasting and just resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," Ardouny added. The U.S. earlier this month called for a "comprehensive and sustainable political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict" and follows a joint statement by the OSCE Co-Chairs (the U.S., France and Russia) calling for a "negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining core substantive issues of the conflict" and urging the resumption of talks "as soon as possible."
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.