WASHINGTON —U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced Ian Kelly of Bethesda as President Obama’s nominee to be U.S. Representative to the 56-country Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“The OSCE is at a critical juncture. The organization still confronts such challenges as resolving protracted conflicts in the Caucasus, addressing the prospect of renewed inter-ethnic conflicts in the Balkans, and resolving our impasse with Russia over the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty,” Cardin said. “In the human dimension, challenges persist and are increasing with several OSCE States backsliding on commitments to democracy, rule of law, tolerance, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of media and religion.
“Mr. Kelly’s expertise and long-time service in Moscow and throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union will greatly benefit him in this new role should he be confirmed. As the former State Department Director of Democratic Initiatives to the Newly Independent States, Mr. Kelly coordinated the activities of nearly a dozen federal agencies involved in democracy building in the former Soviet Union and oversaw an $80 million annual budget. As a regional public affairs officer he visited all twelve former Soviet republics, experience that will be invaluable as the organization this year is chaired for the first time by a former Soviet state, Kazakhstan. He is fluent in Russian.
“The follow through Mr. Kelly showed after our first meeting proved he is committed to strengthening U.S. participation and leadership in Vienna. Mr. Kelly may be relatively new to the OSCE as an institution, but I can think of few people who know the OSCE region better.”
If confirmed, Mr. Kelly, the State Department Spokesman since May, would fill an ambassadorship that has been vacant for more than a year.