December 9, 2021
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us this evening. Paul and I are delighted to host you at our home for this commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day and International Human Rights Day.
This year, we have combined our celebration of these two events, not just because they occur on consecutive days, but because the two themes are inextricably linked. A commitment to fight corruption, and to promote and defend human rights, are hallmarks of free societies. They are necessary activities for safeguarding the world against authoritarian movements. They are inseparable goals, only achievable when elected leaders and engaged citizens work together.
Fighting against authoritarianism, corruption, and human rights abuses are core American values. They form the foundation of President Biden’s foreign policy, and are not only essential elements for American security and prosperity, but are fundamental for maintaining peace and security in societies around the world.
The United States stands up for human rights around the world not just because it is the right thing to do – but because societies that respect human rights are more peaceful, prosperous, and stable, and offer both Americans and citizens around the world the prospect of a more hopeful future. If the United States and those who share our values are to succeed in meeting the many challenges we face today, we must start by defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.
As human rights abuses fray the fabric of free societies, corruption, too, weakens the foundations of democracies from within. Earlier this week President Biden released the first-ever comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter corruption. In the same way upholding human rights globally is good for both America and the world, the President’s strategy recognizes that fighting corruption in the United States and abroad is key to ensuring prosperity and security for societies around the world.
Over the past few days, the themes of fighting authoritarianism, combatting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights are being discussed at the virtual Summit for Democracy. This Summit is a public recognition by the United States that democracy –ours, yours — is imperfect, unfinished and constantly evolving and improving. By meeting with government, private sector, civil society and other leaders who share our values and vision for the future, we hope to move closer to living up to our ideals. We’re so pleased President Anastasiades is participating in this virtual summit and applaud his announcement of commitments on protection of children, the advancement of gender equality and the protection of labor rights.
Confidence in the power of democracy, in the right of all people to live free from corruption and from assaults on their humanity, are core values of the people of Cyprus as well. I have seen evidence of that in the efforts of Cypriots across the island over the last year to tackle important issues such as trafficking in persons, gender equality, and fighting the disinformation that threatens public health and social cohesion. Tonight, we have gathered Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders from academia, business, government, law, media, and politics, along with members of the international community to recognize the work you are doing in support of human rights and transparency, and to encourage further dialogue and cooperation.
If you will permit me, there is one among our number that I would like to acknowledge this evening. Alexandra Attalides. Her work as a political activist, and now as an elected representative, has led to a growing consensus that abuses of public power should not be tolerated and must be stopped. In part due to her efforts, anticorruption reform initiatives are now at the forefront of the political conversation in Cyprus and the forefront of Parliament’s legislative agenda.
In recognition of these achievements, yesterday Secretary of State Antony Blinken named Alexandra as one of the Department of State’s Anticorruption Champions for 2021. She is one of 12 individuals from around the world receiving this recognition, for demonstrating leadership, courage, and impact in combating corruption. It is now my pleasure to present her with a certificate from the Department of State, and to ask her to make a few remarks. Alexandra, will you please come forward?