FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance
PERFORMANCE REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: EUROPE REGIONAL PROGRAMS
FY 2008 Foreign Assistance Goals
The substantial investment made over nearly two decades by the United States Government (USG), the Europeans and other donors to bring about the political and economic transformation of Southeastern Europe has yielded important gains and prevented the region from becoming a source of broader instability. Regional USG assistance to promote peace and security continued to be of major importance. U.S. support for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) helped support field missions and minimize risk to minority populations during Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The Office of the High Representative continued to be an important broker in relations between entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. U.S. support and assistance also facilitated the transition of the Stability Pact for South East Europe to the locally-directed Regional Cooperation Council which seeks to promote collaborative approaches to issues of mutual concern including disaster response, corruption and energy. Regional efforts continue to be an important supplement to bilateral programs in areas such as crime, trade, energy and regional security, which are by nature multilateral. Regional studies, assessments, and workshops in the democracy and health areas dovetail Mission portfolios and promote both Mission and Washington understanding of key issues facing the region.
Total FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $22.27m*
(*Foreign Operations appropriated assistance, excluding centrally managed Foreign Operations funds that are not budgeted for specific countries or regions.)
Highlights of FY 2008 Performance by Area of Focus
Peace and Security
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Supported the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Budapest, which graduated over 200 students from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia Montenegro, Romania and Serbia. U.S. embassies which sponsored trainees reported improved cooperation with those officials upon their return. More of its graduates are assuming top leadership positions in their national justice agencies, bringing with them the concepts of modern, democratic policing, respect for human and civil rights, and commitment to cross-border cooperation with neighbors (and the U.S.).
- Through support for the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative Center for Combating Trans-Border Crime (SECI Center), helped coordinate 23 joint investigations and facilitated more than 3500 information exchanges. Major joint operations included: work with Romanian and the Hungarian authorities to dismantle a migrant smuggling network; liaising between the Prosecutors’ Office of Hungary and Ministry of Interior in Macedonia to facilitate a corruption and money laundering case against a Macedonian official; disrupting and dismantling a transnational criminal network involving Macedonia, Serbia and Greece which recruited Chinese migrants, secured forged travel documents, and organized illegal transport by plane from China to Russia and Serbia, and by car from Serbia to Macedonia and Greece at illegal border crossing points; assisting Bosnian authorities in disrupting a drug trafficking ring; and facilitating a investigation by U.S. prosecutors and SEC officials in a U.S. bribery case.
- Contributed to reducing transnational crime by combating trafficking in persons (TIP) through support for the Program to Support the Development of "Transnational Referral Mechanisms (TRM) for Trafficked Persons in South-Eastern Europe." This USG-funded activity operates in ten countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia), primary countries of origin for TIP in the region. Major achievements of this program in FY08 were: national teams in each country commented on a second draft of the TRM guidelines and standard operating procedures and translated the document into their local language; national teams in each country demonstrated increased commitment to the implementation of the TRM guidelines; specific guidelines on how to deal with child victims of TIP were added to the TRM; representatives from each participating country came together in Rome to solidify contact and make joint progress in refining TRM guidelines; and Italy obtained funding from the EU to extend the TRM program to key countries of destination for TIP victims.
- Through support for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), helped ensure that the situation remained calm during and after Kosovo`s declaration of independence. OSCE municipal teams in Kosovo helped ensure that the transition to independence was largely peaceful and respectful of the rights of minorities. The OSCE continues to be a leading player in conflict prevention and democratic development in the states of the Western Balkans.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped produced the Nations in Transit (NIT) report, a comprehensive annual progress report on the status of democracy and governance reforms in 28 Europe and Eurasia countries. NIT provides in-depth analysis and quantitative rankings of progress in democratization, thus assisting donors and governments to assess priorities, measure results of programs and make funding decisions. The seven areas assessed by NIT include: Electoral Process, Civil Society, Independent Media, National Governance, Local Governance, Judicial Framework and Independence, and Corruption. NIT is used as a benchmarking instrument for phase-out decisions and focusing resources for future programming. The annual NIT index was published, both electronically and in bound volumes, and distributed to USG actors and to pertinent public and private organizations. The index is used to support Monitoring Country Progress reports and field unit strategic planning, program design, assessment and results monitoring. NIT is used regularly by the State Department and Congress. NIT is influential in the region in fostering debates among political activists, journalists, and government officials on democratic development.
- Helped create a regional network of investigative journalists in Southeast Europe (SEE) via the Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (CCRP). Organized crime and corruption crosses borders and is often tied to political-economic interests. This project aims to professionalize and expand the amount of investigative journalism through better resourced team reporting and to reduce risks to individual journalists engaged in this dangerous but critically important work. A resulting report profiled how some duty free shops owned by politically-connected businessmen were engaged in tobacco smuggling operations. As the story was being reported, several duty-free shops in Bulgaria and Montenegro abruptly closed. The CCRP website doubled the number of visitors within four months of operation. Regional media are citing the project and re-publishing the reports, greatly expanding the reach of the original investigative journalism. The CCRP has garnered support from other donors to augment USG support, including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
- Encouraged cooperation to fight corruption, a core issue throughout SEE that hinders economic growth, foreign investment, and the EU accession process, through support for the Stability Pact Anti-corruption Initiative’s (SPAI) Regional Secretariat Liaison Office (RSLO) in Sarajevo. RSLO’s mandate is to be a center of excellence for the region – as well as a clearinghouse of information on anticorruption legislation, best practices, projects, and experts. RSLO is managed by experts from SEE and enjoys the firm support of the region, with one of its major achievements being the contribution of each member country towards the operational costs of the RSLO. Through regional forums, technical assistance, and peer support, RSLO increases the political will to adopt and the technical capacity to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), now signed by all nine SPAI countries, ratified by eight.
- Through a public diplomacy grant, supported the first regional workshop, held in Kosovo, for alumni of U.S. Government-supported programming. Over 100 alumni from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia attended. Action plans were adopted by the conferees on ways to work together across borders to affect the improvement of relations the region.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Contributed to regional cooperation on health issues by: sponsoring the WHO/EURO TB ministerial forum, attended by 53 countries, which called for the full adoption of the STOP TB Strategy; producing special publications with recommendations and best practices for improving family planning and reproductive health services; and producing the highly praised assessment “Empowering Health Care Consumers in Europe and Eurasia (EandE),” which assessed the region’s experience in motivating health care consumers to take more responsibility for their health area. Albania was one of three countries participating in the study; USG programs provided in-country technical assistance to Albania.
- Through limited funding for education, continued to support, develop and maintain a cadre of highly trained and diverse U.S. scholars and the next generation of experts to serve in long-term government and academic positions whose experience and regional connections are a key resource for U.S. analysts, foreign policy makers and assistance implementers.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Developed new quantitative and qualitative analytic tools further to close compliance gaps with international standards of financial transparency and accountability issued by the two international standard setters in this arena: the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
- To achieve long term impact, USG assistance helped underdeveloped regional and local professional associations receive assistance from more advanced professional associations in building human and institutional capacity. Resource-leveraging public private partnerships (twinning alliances) partnered with more advanced European institutions, as development mentors, with less developed beneficiary associations in the Europe and Eurasia region.
- To extend the impact of USG assistance and ensure sustainability, USG resources developed, tested and promoted global use of an integrated set of “model” tools for closing compliance gaps. Additionally, through technical leadership, donor coordination and outreach to international standard setters – including the World Bank, leading European professional associations, educational institutions, and multi-national audit firms – USG assistance contributed to the development of a more stable and predictable macroeconomic environment by informing and advancing the global and regional development agendas of other donors dedicated to serving the public interest through promotion of high-quality professional standards of fiscal transparency and accountability.
- Continued to support the Athens Energy Community and their effort to create SEE regional electricity and gas markets integrated with the Western European internal energy market and sharing a sound and common regulatory framework. USG activities helped these countries respond to the difficult energy price and energy import situation by demonstrating the potential for energy efficiency, especially to mitigate impacts on the poor.
- Supported regional energy security, efficiency and renewable energy activities through assessments and trainings and through the first ever DCA loan for renewable technology in the region, signed by Macedonia (see success stories).
- Improved regional private sector competitiveness through training and networking. Training in areas such areas as international performance standards helped firms increase productivity by as much as 60 percent. Programs also addressed work-force development needs, including for youth.
Cash-Strapped Municipalities Increase Energy Efficiency – USG funding in FY 2008 helped to better prepare municipalities to address the challenges of decentralization. A series of energy efficiency demonstration projects showed that small investments would achieve significant savings on energy bills, which can be used to improve education services. Seminars spread the findings to mayors. A Development Credit Authority (DCA) facility to guarantee loans to municipalities was particularly critical since banks were reluctant to lend to municipalities since they previously lacked experience in financial management and in borrowing. The issuance of the first loan was issued under the Macedonia DCA facility was a milestone this year. The $635,000 loan was issued by UniBanka to the municipality of Karpos for the construction of a new primary school featuring energy efficient heating, lighting, and building envelope. In addition to being the first loan under the energy efficiency DCA facility, the loan is also noteworthy for two other significant firsts in Macedonia: the first loan of any sort, from any source, to a Macedonian municipality; and the first school in Macedonia to be built by a municipality. The loan will be used to build the primary school “Jan Amos Komenski” with more efficient use of energy and significant reduction of operating cost.