Senate Foreign Relations Chair Menendez Wonders Where Russia Will Stop
~"By all means, 'sanction me.'" ~
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BRUSSELS (March 22, 2014) – On the second day of the ninth Brussels Forum, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Russia's targeted aggression toward Ukraine was obvious. "This is only the most recent example in a series of events requiring, I think, little imagination to connect the dots of disruptive Russian behavior throughout the world," he said. "What other country might be the target of Putin's expansionist desires?"
He also embraced his recent inclusion on a list of individuals targeted for sanctions by the Kremlin. "I have just been sanctioned by Vladimir Putin, I suspect, for standing up for the Ukrainian people, standing up for freedom, standing up for democracy," he said. "And if that is the case, I say, by all means, 'sanction me.' And I would say sanction all of us who stand for the freedom of Ukraine."
Menendez spoke at Brussels Forum, an annual conference on transatlantic relations organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and attended by heads of state, officials from the EU institutions and member states, U.S. officials, congressional representatives, parliamentarians, and academics.
He also said that Western inaction on Crimea could have global consequences. "If the West does not act appropriately," he asked, "what will China say when it is looking at its territorial desires in the South China Sea?"
At a session of Syria earlier in the day, Kristalina Georgieva, commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid & crisis response with the European Commission, expressed frustration with the lack of serious efforts to contain the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict in that country.
"We are bailing the ocean with a slightly bigger spoon," she said, referring to recent decisions to allow cross-border assistance instead of just in-country assistance. "What is happening is the needs are so great, the fighting still so intense, and the economy so destroyed that even the progress that we are now seeing is not enough to change course in humanitarian terms."
Alia Mansour, a member of the Syrian National Coalition, likewise expressed frustration that the international community had not effectively supported opposition groups. "We were hoping that the international community and Mr. Obama would support the more moderate Syrian people," she said. "But unfortunately, he was doing nothing for the last three years. He was just drawing red lines and letting Bashar al-Assad cross them. And in the end, not only Syria will be paying the price of these extremist groups, the whole world will pay. The whole world will suffer."
Later in the day on a panel covering workforce and employment issues, Caroline Atkinson, deputy national security advisor for international economics on the U.S. National Security Council, said that the U.S. economic "trajectory is the right one," but that certain segments of the economy require particular attention.
"The long-term unemployed need specific programs," she said. "We need to work with the private sector to put the long-term unemployed back to work."
Wilfried Porth, a member of the board of management at Daimler AG, said that government programs were not necessarily the best solution to unemployment issues. "Companies are only successful if their products are successful," he said. "Political interventions might help in the short term, but not in the long term."
Brussels Forum is an annual high-level meeting of the most influential U.S., European, and global political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic. With over 50 countries represented and more than 400 attendees, the ninth edition of Brussels Forum include heads of state, senior officials from the European Union institutions and the member states, U.S. government officials and Congressional representatives, parliamentarians, academics, and media. GMF is joined in this initiative by our founding partners Daimler and the Federal Authorities of Belgium. We are also very pleased to welcome as strategic partners BP, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia, the OCP Policy Center, Lilly, Bank of America, and the Government of Montenegro. In addition, we would like to recognize the support of our forum partners Deloitte, Brussels Capital Region, Chevron, Solvay, NATO, ApexBrasil, Asan Institute for Policy Studies, the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the European Union, and Wilfried Maartens Centre for European Studies. Finally, we appreciate the backing of our dinner program partners IBM, Japan Foundation, and the Ford Motor Company. GMF also thanks Star Alliance, the official airline network for Brussels Forum.
(GMF), with major support from the Federal Authorities of Belgium and Daimler, will host the ninth Brussels Forum, an annual high-level meeting of top international political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges facing both sides of the Atlantic. Participants include senior officials from the European Union institutions and the member states, U.S. government officials, U.S. Congressional representatives, parliamentarians, academics, and private sector representatives.