Early in October, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Peter A. Prahar to be the US Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia.
The United States Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment on November 20th.
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an island nation in the central Pacific with close historical and economic ties to the United States. The FSM was established in 1979 after five decades of direct US-control through a region-wide United Nation overseen Trust Territory.
Prior to the confirmation, Prahar was serving as the transnational crime officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Before that assignment, he served in the Office of Asian, African and European Programs in the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Other previous assignments included tours in China, Japan, Albania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Rwanda.
In 1983, the US and FSM governments entered into a status of Free Association. The ongoing agreement provides Micronesia with significant financial assistance in exchange for US defense rights in the region. It also allows for open and reciprocal travel rights for both countries' citizens, as well as access for Micronesian nationals to US social services and entitlements.
Despite its close relationship with the United State, Micronesia is challenged by high rates of poverty and low levels of K12 and secondary educational attainment.
Addressing the Foreign Relations Committee, Peter Prahar explained:
"Under the Compact, the United States provides more than $90 million in annual assistance to the FSM through Fiscal Year 2023. Last year, total U.S. assistance to the country, including all federal services, programs, and grants, exceeded $130 million…This assistance is intended to be an economic springboard as the FSM improves its business climate, fiscal policies, and capacity to govern, while reducing its dependence on recurrent, public sector expenditures supported by foreign assistance.
"If we are to meet these development goals by 2023 – which, in development terms, is very soon – we must ensure that programs in which we invest have clearly stated goals and objectives, agreed-upon benchmarks and performance indicators, and formal monitoring and evaluation plans that provide feedback on what is working and what is not, and how deficient areas can be improved.
"At the same time, while insisting on reasonable safeguards for U.S. taxpayer money, we must be careful to avoid the impression that the most powerful country in the world is dictating to one of the smallest. We need to reaffirm that we seek the same results from the Compact’s investments to the FSM: a good educational system, improved public health, effective governmental services, an open business climate, and protection of the FSM’s unique and lovely environment.Read Prahar's full statement to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations here.
Habele is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that promotes educational access and accomplishments in the remote Outer Islands of Micronesia.