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28

JUNE 2016

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

CounteringCorruption

Regionally:

THE “EUR”

INITIATIVE

Foreign Service Officer George Kent served as the

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs’ first senior

anti-corruption coordinator from 2014 to 2015, and

previously directed Europe-Asia programming for the

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

This spring he began a tour as deputy chief of mission in Kyiv.

W

hen FSO Victoria Nuland

became assistant secretary

for European and Eur-

asian affairs in late 2013,

she set out her strategic

priorities for U.S. relations

with Europe in an Atlantic

Council speech titled

“Toward a Trans-Atlantic Renaissance.” To the surprise of some, Assistant Secretary

Nuland added countering corruption to the more traditional

issues on our core Europe policy agenda, such as promoting

trans-Atlantic trade, European energy security and refreshed

trans-Atlantic security ties.

For more than two years, the EUR Bureau has treated coun-

tering corruption as a strategic priority with regional stability

Here are one

bureau’s country-

specific plans and

unique, multivector

approaches.

BY GEORGE KENT

implications. Corruption not only limits prosperity and weakens

effective democratic governance, but also acts as a wormhole

for malevolent outside influences, subverting sovereignty and

regional stability. These actors can be nation-state actors, such

as Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation, or transnational organi-

zations, like organized crime or terror networks.

The multivector democratic, economic and geopolitical

implications of corruption played out most clearly in Ukraine,

where popular outrage against the excesses of a kleptocratic

regime sparked the Revolution of Dignity (also known as the

Euromaidan Revolution), which took place there between

November 2013 and February 2014.

The bureau’s next challenge was putting the new strategic

priority into action. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the col-

lapse of the Soviet Union, EUR had pioneered a cross-cutting

approach of matching foreign assistance to country-specific

priorities, both through the Office of the Coordinator of U.S.

Assistance to Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia (ACE) and

intensive engagement with posts. However, the new counter-

corruption priority did not fit neatly into the previous paradigm,

for two reasons. First, many of the countries for which counter-

ing corruption is a priority graduated from foreign assistance a

decade ago. Second, much of what is needed falls in the realm

FOCUS

ON CORRUPTION AND FOREIGN POLICY