FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance
FY 2008 Foreign Assistance Goals
United States Government (USG) assistance to Serbia seeks to help ensure the stability of the country and of the region by supporting Serbia’s steps toward Euro-Atlantic integration. In the peace and security sector, USG assistance programs in FY 2008 were designed to help the Government of Serbia (GOS) to reform the Ministry of Defense as well as restructure, professionalize, and modernize the Serbian Armed Forces as well as provide war crimes and organized crime training to Serbian police forces. USG democracy-building assistance aimed to foster democratic governance, encourage the growth of civil society, and help strengthen the rule of law. USG social-sector assistance forged links between Serbian and U.S. citizens, and the USG promoted economic growth by providing technical assistance to key sectors with the potential for growth.
Total FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $53.44m*
(*Foreign Operations appropriated assistance, excluding centrally managed Foreign Operations funds that are not budgeted for specific countries.)
Highlights of FY 2008 Performance by Area of Focus
Peace and Security
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Provided professional military educational opportunities for key future leaders of the Serbian Armed Forces, familiarizing them with organizational and operational procedures on the US/NATO model. This investment in Serbia’s future military leadership has enhanced the Serbian Armed Forces ability to support the war on terrorism and respond to regional crises by strengthening the ability of its military leadership to effectively lead, organize, and manage their forces in accordance with NATO standards.
- Increased Serbia’s potential to contribute to Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) such as ongoing NATO/US-led operations as well as other UNPKO worldwide by working with key leaders and supporting the transformation of Serbia’s military. USG funds in FY 2008 trained 21 Serbian Armed Forces Officers and 18 Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) at all levels of professional military education.
- Increased the capacity of Serbia to investigate and prosecute war crimes through training, mentoring, and material donations to the War Crimes Investigation Unit (WCIS). The WCIS has worked with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to bring accused war criminals to justice, including the apprehension and rendering to The Hague in 2008 of Radovan Karadzic. This was accomplished though WCIS’s cooperation with Serbian authorities including the Office of the Prosecutor for War Crimes.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped the GOS increase judicial efficiency and transparency. The commercial court network received a national award for transparency from Serbia’s independent freedom of information commissioner, based on USG work in internet publishing of case statistics.
- Provided support to a new governing coalition that campaigned on a strong pro-European platform and a new Parliament to advance the parliament’s institutional development and independence through budget and strategic planning work. In addition, legislative assistance to the party caucuses and new Members of Parliament (MPs) under a political party program was re-activated. By the end of FY 2008, some senior leaders of the extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), including several members of parliament, quit SRS to form a new party that, unlike SRS, endorses Serbia’s entry to the European Union.
- Provided support for campaigns for the Presidential elections in January 2008 and pre-term Parliamentary and local elections in May 2008, including assistance to civil society and independent media sectors at national and local levels. In addition to elections, grass roots civil society campaigns successfully addressed youth issues, rights of marginalized groups, environmental protection, and community volunteerism. As a result of USG media assistance, local and regional coverage on key reform issues, such as economic development and Euro-Atlantic integration, also increased. A high-profile international conference on the regulation of freedom of expression on the Internet received excellent nation-wide coverage.
- Contributed to the expansion of the Regional Witness Protection Cooperation Agreement (originally signed by Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro) to include Bulgaria and Macedonia; the signing of Serbia's first bilateral Victim Witness Support Cooperation Agreement between Belgrade District Court and the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the drafting of Serbia's first Draft Asset Forfeiture Law, draft Law on Public Prosecutors, and draft Law on State Council of Prosecutors. USG assistance supported the establishment of specialized Anti-Corruption Departments within the Republic Prosecutor’s Office and four District Offices that resulted in landmark organized crime, corruption and war crimes judgments and indictments including the arrests of two high-profile fugitives of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Stojan Zupljanin and Radovan Karadzic.
Investing in People
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped students attend higher education institutions in the United States. USG-sponsored American experts traveled to Serbia and provided training and a new perspective to the on-going debate on political and economic issues. In addition, the use of innovative technology allowed the USG to reach marginalized populations and underserved communities. By encouraging scholarly exchange and education options in the United States, the USG continued to expand the knowledge base of Serbians in a regional and international context.
- Sponsored visits by approximately 20 U.S. experts to Serbia to make presentations on topics related to free market economics, democracy, rule of law, civil society, and civic education. U.S. professionals conducted one-week lectures and presentations for students, academics, professionals, government leaders, and NGOs. The USG-funded Academic Advising Center reached over 5,000 students through direct and online advising and testing.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped the GOS to increase capacity in monetary policy, improved application of information technologies to government financial operations, and contributed to pension reform. USG programs helped the rewriting of Serbia’s securities law to meet international standards and contribute to capital market development for business growth.
- Through support to 21 newly-elected reform-minded local governments, enabled select municipalities to draw more than $550 million in private investment capital. Ten industry sectors that were identified as having significant potential for growth received USG assistance to improve market linkages that led to more than $20 million in new sales and investment contracts.
- Provided technical advice to prepare Serbia for World Trade Organization (WTO) accession. Serbia successfully completed its fourth and fifth Working Party meetings at the WTO and has submitted a number of required WTO accession documents.
National and Local Elections See Gains by Reform Parties and in Citizen Participation – Following a closely contested presidential election in January-February, Serbia’s fragile coalition government fell in March 2008. Parliamentary and local elections were held in May. The new government, elected on an EU-accession platform, was formed in July 2008. USG democracy assistance supported the electoral process by improving transparency in the political process, promoted balanced media coverage and equal access to media, facilitated issue-oriented public dialogue and debates, improved candidate and political party responsiveness to citizens’ concerns, and help to facilitate improved interaction between local government, civil society organizations, and ordinary citizens.
Energy Regulatory Partnership – USG assistance this year helped initiate an Energy Regulatory Partnership between the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the Energy Agency of the Republic of Serbia (AERS). The USG provided technical field support to the centrally-managed Utility Regulatory Program managed by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). Through the U.S.-Serbia partnership, the PUC and AERS held three workshops, two in Serbia and one in Pennsylvania, to exchange experience and information to improve market-based regulatory practices and foster long-term sustainable relationships. Host country commitment to the partnership has been excellent.
Victim Witness Support – Many members of the Serbian justice system were unaware of the existence of the Victim Witness Coordinator's Office, which the USG helped to establish. Providing Victim Witness Support, including information about court proceedings, logistical assistance, and coordination of other assistance such as witness protection, psychological assistance, legal assistance, is a crucial element contributing to a witness's decision to take part in criminal proceedings, especially in cross-border war crimes cases. The USG in Serbia organized a conference to present examples of the U.S. and International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Office of Victim Witness Coordinator and provided technical assistance for the establishment of this office at the Belgrade District Court. USG assistance included providing funding to cover the costs of equipping a Witnesses’ Waiting Room, publishing a leaflet on court proceedings and witness' rights and the initial costs of the Victim Witness Support Service. In order to build the capacity of the Victim Witness Support Service, the USG supported a one-week study visit to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where the Victim Witness Support Service learned how to set up its office and utilize best practices. The USG helped draft a Victim Witness Support Cooperation Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and organized a meeting for the three Victim Witness Support Services to discuss the provisions. In FY 2008, representatives of the Belgrade District Court and the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the Agreement. As the result of USG assistance, in the past 24 months, approximately 744 witnesses received witness support, both during investigations and during trial, which contributed to significant war crimes indictments, trials, and judgments.