Overview of U.S. Government Assistance
In FY 2006, the USG provided an estimated $7.01 million in assistance to Slovakia, including:
The last year for new SEED bilateral funding to Slovakia was FY 2000. Some additional SEED funding for public diplomacy and democracy initiatives were provided to Slovakia though FY 2003. Other forms of U.S. Government (USG) assistance to Poland continued through FY 2006.
FY 2006 Assistance Overview
U.S. STRATEGIC INTERESTS & FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES
Slovakia has graduated from being a beneficiary of international assistance for democratization and reform to become an agent of transformational democracy itself, sharing its experience and know-how to assist reformers and civil society in thets region and beyond. The Slovak government, and particularly NGOs, are providing strong complementary efforts in support of our most important foreign policy goals. As a member of NATO, the EU and, through 2007, the UN Security Council, Slovakia is involved in a multitude of international issues significant to U.S. interests. Slovaks have trained civil society NGOs in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, organized election monitoring in Ukraine, given voice to supporters of democracy in Belarus, and deployed troops and trainers to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and elsewhere.
Slovakia's memories of communism and its efforts to oust authoritarianism have motivated its civil society toward international activism promoting democracy. However, as the nation evolves and an increasing proportion of Slovaks grow up without experiencing communism, the nation may become more focused on internal affairs. The change to a more isolationist government in June 2006 has led the USG to redouble its efforts to maintain and strengthen Slovaks' capacity to promote democracy in the region and beyond.
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE PRIORITIES
To promote regional stability, the USG uses assistance funds to reform and enhance Slovak military capabilities while helping Slovakia contribute to NATO operations. Slovak military reform and modernization has served as an example to its neighbors, particularly Ukraine and Belarus, and can do so for others. The U.S. has strengthened Slovakia's counter-terrorism capacities by increasing needed customs and border assistance and by sharing experience with neighbors to fight terror.
To promote long-term economic partnership between the U.S. and Slovakia, the USG continues to support the Slovak-American Investment Fund. In FY 2006, the Fund targeted potential investments in biotechnology, software, alternative energy, and other knowledge-based products that form a basis for long-term cooperation. The USG is helping the Fund transition its activities in order to create ties between public and private institutions in our countries, strengthening the links between business and education. In recognition that social and economic inequality still hampers the democratic process in Slovakia, the USG provides assistance to programs to foster integration of the Roma community into the political, economic, and social spheres of Slovak life.
In June 2006 Slovakia elected a new government led by Prime Minister Robert Fico's Smer party, replacing the coalition led by Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. Under Dzurinda's leadership, the GOS enthusiastically cooperated with the U.S. on most major foreign policy objectives, especially in military efforts, sending troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Golan Heights, and other areas. Dzurinda's government was also very active in official and NGO democracy promotion efforts throughout the region, especially in Belarus and Ukraine. However, the incoming government is much less inclined to project itself internationally, and will follow through on its campaign promise to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2007. The GOS is also planning to cut assistance to NGOs, including those involved in democracy promotion abroad.
Given the changing circumstances, USG assistance programs have shifted focus toward convincing the GOS and the Slovak people of the unique role they play in bringing about democratic transformation throughout the region and world, and convincing the GOS to provide material support for these objectives. The change in governments has not altered the USG's ability to implement its core assistance programs. It has, however, required the U.S. to intensify its outreach to the government, parliament and NGOs, and to reorient recipients of USG public diplomacy assistance.
FY 2006 Country Program Performance
U.S. ASSISTANCE PRIORITIES
To strengthen investment in small- and medium-sized entrepreneurial ventures, in FY 2006 the USG continued to support the Slovak American Enterprise Fund (SAEF), extending the fund through March 2008. As the Fund approaches its final years, it has begun to focus its investments more heavily on high-tech and other knowledge-based products that will be crucial to Slovakia's continued economic growth in the long-term.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAMS, OUTPUTS, AND IMPACT
FY 2006 saw many changes and improvements for the Slovak-American Enterprise Fund. After receiving an extension, Fund management concentrated on improving the overall portfolio by investing in new companies and selling off the assets of poor performers. Since its inception, SAEF has invested more than $48 million. Of that amount, $41 million went into 46 Slovak companies in the form of equity ($27m) or loan ($18m) under the program of Direct Investments. The small loan program has provided $4 million to 51 recipients.
In 2006 SAEF closed a new equity investment of $3.4 million in the bio-fuel producer NEWDIESEL, which is a methyl-ester production facility using local capacities of rapeseed oil and proven technology. In the second half of the year the fund also sold off two non-productive assets, the wood company NOVOMANIP and a rabbit farm. At the end of the year, the fund was developing a pipeline of potential new investments in various stages of the approval process. These included a mobile virtual network operator, a software development firm, and an electro-biochemical kit manufacturer.
Investing in People
U.S. ASSISTANCE PRIORITIES
USG assistance programs in the social sphere focused on the economic and political integration of the Roma community. The four-year Roma integration program, launched in 2003, included the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAMS, OUTPUTS, AND IMPACT
The Roma integration program addressed continuing challenges to integration of this minority population, including high unemployment, substandard housing, low rates of educational achievement and political participation, a distorted image in the media, and direct and indirect discrimination. The activity operates local centers throughout Slovakia.
In FY 2006, USG assistance funded mini-grants to community organizations working to improve Roma access to education, employment, health, and other services, benefiting over 5,900 families. Based on the success of these projects, over two-thirds of the grantees that implemented projects have secured follow-on funding. Since May 2003, more than 1,600 people have been trained in change and conflict management and report regularly using their skills to improve Roma/majority relations. During this time frame, 168 teachers and 877 students received diversity training to promote tolerance, with the impact reaching over 5,000 students. The 2006 annual survey of target communities showed a significant increase in Roma participation in local government. As a result of previous Roma integration advocacy efforts, the Ministry of Social Affairs in Slovakia agreed this year to provide funding for 600 field social workers. In FY 2006 the local center implementing the project received GOS funding to provide training for these social workers.
Peace and Security
U.S. ASSISTANCE PRIORITIES
USG security assistance enhanced the interoperability and deployability of Slovak military forces. More broadly, assistance was designed to help Slovakia meet its NATO obligations, to strengthen U.S.-Slovak partnership on NATO and other security issues, and to help prevent terrorism. Within the context of NATO and other international mission operations, programs were targeted in large part toward improving Slovakia's capacities to provide niche operations such as engineering in Afghanistan, de-mining in Iraq, and the disposal of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons. The U.S. also increased export control assistance to help Slovakia strengthen its counter-terrorism capabilities, particularly on its border with Ukraine.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES
To modernize force capabilities, the USG provided assistance to develop a training complex that ties in training from maneuver units and simulated command post forces. USG security assistance has greatly assisted Slovakia's Force 2010 Defense Reform Program over the past five years primarily through the advice and assistance given by a USG-funded defense advisory group. Via this program, Slovakia recently purchased large quantities of NBC equipment, communications equipment for special ops units, and explosive ordnance disposal equipment and training. Other USG security assistance provided invaluable training as the Slovak military implemented reform. A joint contact team program sustained by the U.S. European Command continued to assist the Slovaks with the USG-funded training complex, NCO training and staff planning. A state partnership program with the Indiana National Guard focused on executing military-to-military contacts to enhance Slovak peacekeeping capabilities and use of the National Military Command Center.
Export and border control assistance provided an X-ray autovan for Slovak customs and training to Slovakia's border and area police. A memorandum of understanding was signed in FY 2006 to provide portal monitors and a database encryption system for use along the Ukraine borders, beginning in January 2007.
In FY 2006, USG programs continued to modernize the Slovak military and facilitate its ability to work regionally and overseas. This was the crucial factor in facilitating Slovakia's decisions to work with USG- and NATO-led multilateral forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and elsewhere. USG assistance also led to an alignment of views on many key defense and security issues in international forums, as seen by Slovakia's supportive voting record within NATO and the UN Security Council. Through USG military assistance programs, Slovakia undertook the largest acquisition and modernization program in its history. The GOS provided matching funds for these USG assistance programs, which enhanced their commitment to the partnership.
Slovakia used its newly trained and equipped troops to provide invaluable assistance to Operation Enduring Freedom, including de-mining the Kabul airport. Slovak soldiers contributed to Operation Iraqi Freedom by training military police, among other achievements. USG assistance was crucial to helping convince the new government to maintain a broad range of Slovak international military commitments. The GOS has stated that it will continue its military commitment in other theatres, and that it will continue training of Iraqi military police units in Slovakia despite the withdrawal of troops.
The Slovak customs service not only benefited from USG training, but multiplied the impact of USG assistance by training Croatian colleagues in what the Slovak service has learned.