Ambassador Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said it is important to have a debate “on the best way to advance democracy and freedom” in the world. For example, democracy means not only elections but also the rule of law, justice, and functioning institutions. Speaking with host Carol Castiel of VOA News Now’s Press Conference USA, Ambassador Fried said he fundamentally disagrees with the argument that Washington should concentrate on stability and “strong men who provide stability.” He said he thinks security and democracy are linked, and he noted that the Cold War ended “because of democratic movements.” The Ambassador suggested that both the United States and Europe are beginning to look at the integration of their Muslim communities as a “challenge they have to meet.” He also suggested that a secular, democratic Turkey with its Muslim-majority population would be valuable in promoting that kind of integration.
Ambassador Fried said the United States stands with its European allies in supporting democracy in Belarus. He noted that the international community – except for Russia – views last month’s elections in Belarus as “fraudulent.” He said Washington supports visa sanctions against key members of the regime in Minsk and is seeking ways to reach out to the Belarusian people. He also noted Washington is “very concerned” about the lack of democracy in Uzbekistan, especially since last May’s uprising in Andijon.
Ambassador Fried said the United States would like to continue cooperating with Russia, particularly on terrorism. However, those “differences” that exist - such as democratic governance and Russia’s policies toward its neighbors - should be addressed “frankly.” He added that the United States has “nothing to gain” by seeing Russia weak. The Ambassador said it’s the nature of U.S. foreign policy that Washington has to do several things simultaneously. For example, neither country wants to see a nuclear-armed Iran. At the same time Washington must pursue its agenda of promoting democracy in Russia and of encouraging the Kremlin to deepen its reforms. But Ambassador Fried cautioned that Washington must be “patient” in its pursuit of those goals. He firmly supported U.S. participation in the G-8 summit of industrialized nations in St. Petersburg this summer.
Ambassador Fried said that America would remain involved in the Balkans - militarily, politically, and economically. One example is supporting negotiations on “final status for Kosovo.” He predicted that would involve neither a return to the situation before 1999 nor a “mono-ethnic” state where the Serb minority has no rights.
Regarding the violence in Darfur, which the United States has labeled as “genocide,” Ambassador Fried said the international community has a responsibility to see the violence stop. He said NATO has a role to play in providing security to the region, along with the United Nations and the African Union. NATO is working on the arrangements, which need to happen “quickly,” despite the political and logistical “difficulties.”For full audio of the program Encounter click here.