ICYMI: Shaheen Discusses Strengthening Democracies Around the World in Virtual Atlantic Council Event with Estonian President Kaljulaid

May 06, 2021

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, participated in a moderated virtual discussion on strengthening democracies around the world, which was hosted by the Atlantic Council. Shaheen joined Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid in a talk entitled “In Dialogue: Strengthening the Foundation of Liberal Democracies” to discuss how the transatlantic community can strengthen foreign policy cooperation to confront bad actors. The discussion, moderated by journalist Susan Glasser, was featured as part of the U.S.-EU Future Forum, in conjunction with the EU Delegation to the U.S.  

Shaheen and President Kaljulaid discussed a number of critical issues, including holding an adversarial Russia accountable – in part, by stopping completion of the Russian pipeline Nord Stream II—as well as protecting women and girls in Afghanistan as the U.S. and NATO withdraw troops. They also discussed strengthening the transatlantic alliance and pursuing a global response to combat climate change, among other key foreign policy concerns. 

Shaheen also fielded a question from a student from the University of New Hampshire, Marina Cardoso-Vianna-Vaz, on how climate policy goals can inform diplomacy. Shaheen discussed efforts in the Senate to infuse climate policy with foreign diplomacy through institutions like USAID, and noted that clean energy can provide a powerful path for countries like Ukraine to gain energy independence from Russia.  

Shaheen is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), where she serves as Chair of the SFRC Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation. Shaheen is also co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which she helped establish in 2018 to safeguard the transatlantic alliance from adversaries seeking to undermine democratic institutions. She co-authored Nord Stream II-related legislation designed to halt construction of the pipeline in order to preserve Europe’s energy independence and prevent Vladimir Putin from spreading the Kremlin’s malign influence throughout the region. It was signed into law in 2019 as part of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Shaheen built on her work in the FY21 NDAA that became law by adding a provision that further clarifies those sanctions, which target companies working with the Russian vessels sent to complete the pipeline. The Senator’s previous bipartisan effort led to a freeze in the construction of the pipeline.  

Shaheen has repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in ongoing negotiations a U.S. foreign policy priority. She previously raised this with Secretary of State Blinken, both before and during his confirmation hearing. Shaheen repeatedly pushed former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make women’s inclusion in Afghan peace negotiations a U.S. foreign policy priority under the Trump administration. During a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan in 2019, Shaheen met with a group of Afghan women who described how dramatically their lives had improved since the Taliban government was toppled nearly 2 decades ago. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Act, which was signed into law in 2017 and secures women’s leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. 

Watch the full discussion here   

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