“I’m excited to use this call today to pick up our conversation from last year. As we move into the Year of Action, we look forward to regular consultations with civil society. This isn’t a one-way conversation, either. We plan to both listen and share, and work in partnership with civil society to achieve our shared summit goals this year. The main goal in the Year of Action is to sustain the summit’s momentum and land concrete results that shore up democracies around the world, including our own; push back against the raw deal of authoritarianism; defend and promote respect for human rights; and combat corruption. And at a time when all indicators flag continued democratic backsliding, we cannot achieve our summit goals without a meaningful partnership with civil society. So, I thank you all for your leadership.
Today we’re honored to be joined by Secretary Blinken, and thank you for being with us today. I’m also delighted to welcome Erin Barclay, our coordinator for global democratic renewal, who will moderate today’s Q&A. And as the Secretary, given the pace of world events, has been called away to a meeting at the White House, his time with us is a bit compressed. I want to hand the floor to him, and thank you, sir, for your leadership.”