The following summary outlines a selection of the key assistance developments which occurred during FY 2010 and were supported by funds obligated from the Assistance to Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA) account under the authorities of the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act and the FREEDOM Support Act (FSA). More detailed information for each country and region is available at http://www.state.gov/p/eur/ace/index.htm.
In the course of 21 years of SEED Act assistance, many recipient countries have achieved membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO and the European Union (EU), and become donor nations themselves. By the end of FY 2010, eleven countries had graduated from SEED assistance and six countries in Southeastern Europe continued to be recipients: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Many challenges remain, such as Serbia’s refusal to accept Kosovo’s independence and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s continuing inter-ethnic tension. However, U.S. assistance continues to be an effective force in moving this region toward security, prosperity and democracy. Since the surest road to long-term stability in the region is integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, U.S. assistance programs in the Balkans have largely shifted their emphasis from dealing with the aftermath of the violent conflicts of the 1990s to fostering reforms needed for integration into NATO and the EU.
Kosovo continued to be a major focus of assistance efforts in the Balkans during FY 2010, as the U.S sought to ensure that the country had the legal framework and administrative capacity to stand as a stable, multiethnic, democratic and prosperous country. U.S. technical assistance contributed to the drafting or passage of legislation in such areas as money laundering, nonproliferation, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and amendments to electoral law. U.S. support facilitated a restructuring of the Kosovo Police, significantly reducing duplicative administrative functions and allowing roughly 450 officers to be reassigned to patrol duties. Assistance in tax collection and revenue management has helped address the long-term fiscal viability of the Kosovo Government and contributed to an 8 percent increase in revenues collected over the prior year.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, U.S. programs sought to create greater responsiveness and effectiveness at the national and local levels of government, while also promoting an emphasis on substantive policy issues and the nation’s European aspirations in the campaign leading up to general elections in October 2010. U.S. support for the justice sector was also significant as U.S.-funded advisers helped national and regional police work with counterparts in Serbia to conduct simultaneous raids against suspected arms traffickers, leading to multiple arrests and a weapons seizure. With U.S. support for the establishment of organized crime and terrorism task forces, seven terrorism suspects were arrested and multiple operations were conducted against organized criminal groups. Simultaneously, the USG sought to bridge the significant ethnic divide in schools by supporting work with entity- and canton-level ministries of education to establish two new democracy and human rights curricula throughout the country and implement a civic education program in all elementary and high schools nationwide.
In Serbia, the USG continued to seek to solidify the gains made over the past several years on issues of democratic governance and the rule of law, which should contribute to making the country a stabilizing force in the region. Among other activities, U.S. assistance contributed to the drafting of a political party financing law that will make political fundraising more transparent. The USG also provided advanced training on the use of asset-forfeiture legislation, facilitating the recovery of almost $280 million derived from organized crime and corruption. U.S. efforts at the municipal level to develop the capacity to promote economic growth and investment enabled Local Economic Development Offices to facilitate $1.6 billion in new investment and create 16,500 new jobs and 491 new businesses.
With appropriate progress on democratic and economic reforms and fulfillment of the criteria for integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, more countries will in due course graduate from SEED assistance.
FY 2010 is the eighteenth year of assistance under the FSA to help the Eurasian and Central Asian countries become stable, prosperous, free-market, pluralistic democracies. U.S. assistance continues to be critical to engaging governments and societies in the region to respond effectively to the transnational threats of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and narcotics trafficking. This is particularly important for the Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan. In Tajikistan, U.S. assistance facilitated deployment of two liaison officers from the Tajik Drug Control Agency to Northern Afghanistan to work with counterparts to combat the flow of narcotics across the border. The USG also provided equipment and technical assistance to help improve the country’s capacity to control and monitor its long frontier with Afghanistan.
U.S. support to the Kyrgyz Republic last year played a critical role in restoring stability to the country, including support for immediate humanitarian relief, job creation in the aftermath of April and June violence, and assistance to the government to return the country to a democratic path. Humanitarian relief, including food aid and shelter assistance, was provided to displaced persons, with almost 2,000 shelters being provided with U.S. and other international funding before the onset of winter. Programs were also initiated to help instill economic stability through job creation and agricultural support. Experts trained 500 police officers in internationally recognized methods for crowd control and provided relevant equipment to reduce the potential for violence and unrest in the October elections. The U.S. donated two ambulances and other equipment to the Traffic Safety Police to replace what was damaged or destroyed during the April events. In addition, the United States sponsored candidate debates, political party trainings, and elections monitoring for the June referendum and the October parliamentary elections.
In Georgia, the U.S. has been able to bolster the reform efforts taken by the government and people of Georgia, especially in areas of energy, health, and media. Among other activities, U.S. funding provided professional engineering and technical services to oversee gas and power infrastructure construction projects, including implementation of the contract to extend gas services to tens of thousands of households and businesses in the area surrounding the city of Poti. Technical guidance and training in the health sector has contributed to major increases in the tuberculosis detection rate and increased the proportion of patients successfully completing treatment. U.S. assistance is also enabling civil society to play a more prominent role in constitutional and electoral reform.
In Ukraine, U.S. experts worked with the EU and the World Bank to guide the development of a new procurement law through extensive commentary and coordination within the Ukrainian Government. The new procurement law enabled Ukraine to meet a key benchmark for international financial institutions; thereby unlocking millions in budget support (€43 million in EU grants and $500 million in World Bank financing). The USG also continued to work toward transparent and fair electoral processes, supporting over 470 international and 1,000 domestic monitors of Ukraine’s presidential elections, which were recognized as having met most international standards for democratic processes. Assistance funds also continued to support the U.S. commitment to the cleanup of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster site.
In Moldova, U.S. assistance to improve election administration and support civic monitoring contributed to parliamentary elections assessed to have met most of the country’s international commitments to democratic standards. Moldova’s economic development is being further supported by a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact, signed in 2010, which will support major road and agricultural sector improvements.
Approximately half of State Department and USAID-managed assistance to Russia in FY 2010 continued to be directed toward support for human rights and democratic reform. Assistance for Russian NGOs, including strengthening their ties to their U.S. NGOs, was a particular focus during 2010. For example, U.S. support advanced Russian NGOs’ advocacy efforts on behalf of amendments to current labor legislation and the federal Law on the Public Oversight System, and the adoption of a “Law on Inclusive Education of Persons with Disabilities.” Small grants to Russian NGOs helped improve their handling of human rights cases in domestic and international courts, and increased public awareness about violations of human and legal rights, including those of servicemen and civilians in the North Caucasus, and NGO and political activists.
The Office of the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia will continue to fulfill its mandate, under the SEED Act and FSA, to ensure that U.S. aid to the region supports U.S. foreign policy goals, is well-coordinated within the USG as well as with other international donors, and is being spent efficiently and effectively to maximize its value to U.S. taxpayers.