Northern Europe Initiative

 

United States Department of State Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Office of Nordic and Baltic Affairs


 

 

The Northern Europe Initiative

 – an Assessment April 2002

 

 

Table of Contents

Preface iv

Summary vi

Section I: Introduction and Methodology 1

Section II: Conceptual Model of the Northern Europe Initiative (NEI) 4

Section III: NEI Regional Projects and Bilateral Programs 5

Section IV: NEI Goals Versus Performance-A Comparative Analysis 27

Section V: Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations 35

 

Tables

1 Conditional Continuum 2

2 Regional Programs 5

3 Tallinn Bilateral Projects 10

4 Riga Bilateral Projects 12

5 Ethnic Composition of Latvia 14

6 Vilnius Bilateral Projects 15

7 Analysis-Research Questions and Regional Projects 27

8 Analysis-Research Questions and Tallinn, Estonia Bilateral Projects 28

9 Analysis-Research Questions and Riga, Latvia Bilateral Projects 29

10 Analysis-Research Questions and Vilnius, Lithuania Bilateral Projects 29

11 Analysis on Northwest Russia Projects-Research Questions and American Consulate in St. Petersburg 30

12 Analysis-Research Questions and Warsaw, Poland Bilateral Project 31

13 Analysis-Research Questions and Stockholm, Sweden Projects 31

14 Analysis-Research Questions and Oslo, Norway Mission Projects 32

15 Analysis-Research Questions and Copenhagen, Denmark Mission Projects 33

16 Analysis-Research Questions and Helsinki, Finland Mission Projects 33

17 Analysis-Research Questions and Reykjavik, Iceland Mission Projects 34

 

Preface

This assessment report proposes recommendations and judgments about various programs and projects funded from the U.S. Government’s Northern Europe Initiative (NEI) policy. The NEI is the U.S. strategy in the Baltic Sea region, providing the conceptual framework for its policy and programs in the region. Funding for NEI has been derived from multi-sources, e.g., the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act of 1989, the Freedom and Support Act (FSA): Assistance for Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union of 1998 and the Department of State; and the Bureau ofInternational Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INLE). There are and have been other U.S. assistance programs operating in the region prior to the NEI. In many instances, NEI goals are complementary to these programs and activities and are therefore considered a part of the overall NEI policy (regardless of funding source) because they are all a part of the Posts’ diplomatic and economic portfolios. Some of these activities have been terminated, whereas others are operational with multi-year financial commitments.

These agencies include: Department of Defense (DOD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Peace Corps, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Only those programs that the U.S. Missions in the region consider as NEI programs are covered in this study.

The database for this report has been derived from the following sources:

  • SEED Act (H.R.3402), FSA, INLE, printed reports, cables, memorandums, E-mails, and other correspondence
  • The EUR NEI Coordinator
  • Officials from the Office of Nordic and Baltic Affairs
  • Embassy personnel in Riga, Latvia and Stockholm, Sweden, and NGO practitioners in Latvia and officials from
  • NGO Associations in the United States

 

All projects assessed had adequate information to make definitive statements about the activity impact on targeted populations.

Additional insights, support, information, and assistance for this report were derived from personnel in different Department of State offices (e.g., EURJACE/EEA, EUR-ACE). In its most concrete form, NEI is a collection of projects in the Baltic Sea region. A wide variety of projects have been undertaken since NEI’s launch in 1997-small NGO grants, regional International Visitors programs, multi-year technical assistance programs, and many others in between. Some of these have been implemented with Nordic countries or other partners; Posts have implemented others; and “outsiders” from the U.S. Government and/or NGO community have implemented many. All have been designed to address specific needs. The central questions that this assessment will address are:

  • To what extent have the NEI programs and projects enhanced the ability of the Baltic States, i.e., Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and northwest Russia’s ability to cooperate or integrate into regional Western institutions, e.g., EU, NATO, WTO, and others?
  • How has the U.S. Government-NEI policy strengthened its relationship with the Nordic states, Poland, Germany, and the EU in promoting regional cooperation between these entities?
  • How useful has the NEI program and project been for its recipients and the U.S. Government and their overall impact on society?

 

Summary

The Northern Europe Initiative Assessment study reviewed 16 selected regional and bilateral projects and programs funded by NEI. This report is the first systematic examination ofNEI, with the goal of recommend- ing future appropriate action to improve, modify, or adapt the program to new realities.

Using the procedures leads to the following conclusions regarding the future direction of the NEI.

 

Findings

  • The NEI is a modest program meant to complement U.S. Government and other Baltic Sea region governments’ efforts and provide a value-added dimension to these initiatives. The NEI has successfully complemented other efforts to reinforce the message that U.S. Government endeavors can be best achieved through wide-range areas of cooperation.
  • One objective of NEI was to help bolster U.S. trade and investments in the Baltic Sea region. In that regard, the NEI had no impact.
  • At least three Posts-Tallinn, Oslo, and Helsinki-have raised fundamental questions about the direction of NEI. Oslo is concerned about the Baltic-centered focus of NEI. Tallinn wonders if the NEI should recast its strategic umbrella and refocus integration eastward toward Russia. This will mean changing the label of the NEI policy.
  • Embassy Helsinki believes that the NEI program’s continued focus, primarily on the relationship between the Baltics and Russia, can undermine positive developments in the region.
  • Embassy Helsinki favors the NEI policy direction supporting Baltic nations becoming new members of the EU and possibly NATO allies, rather than focusing on bilateral assistance.
  • The NEI has made some real accomplishments, but these have not always been well advertised. Posts Vilnius, Stockholm, Oslo, Riga, and St. Petersburg share this view.
  • Reinvigorating public diplomacy efforts in support ofNEI remains a key goal. It is important, however, that NEI provide a realistic picture of its functioning and not try to oversell the initiative.
  • Posts are looking forward to receiving a matrix of all NEI projects and their current status. This tool would be invaluable in coordinating activities with other regional Posts. It would also enhance their public diplomacy work.
  • The Posts believe, and the researcher concurs, that the beneficiary countries are now better positioned to assess the real regional and local value ofNEI activities.
  • Future assessments must include site visits by researchers to all of the Posts included in the review. To rely on written documentation without interviewing implementing offices limits the effectiveness and risks the validity of the study.

 

Section I: Introduction and Methodology

The Northern Europe Initiative (NEI) is a U.S. Government strategy, led by the Department of State, to (a) promote stability in the increasingly vital Baltic Sea region, (b) bolster U.S. trade and investment there, and (c) strengthen key Western institutions and security structures. NEI provides the framework-with an emphasis on regional, cross-border cooperation-for U.S. Government-sponsored activities and programs in this area. Geographically, the initiative encompasses all of the countries and areas bordering the Baltic Sea, plus Iceland.

  • Estonia
  • Sweden
  • Latvia
  • Poland
  • Northern Germany
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Lithuania
  • Finland
  • Northwest Russia
  • Denmark

NEI was launched in 1997 as a response to the dramatic progress that occurred in Europe and the Baltic Sea region in the years following the break-up of the Soviet Union. The collapse of communism provided an opportunity for the first time in European history to build a whole and free Europe without dividing lines. It also opened up the opportunity to build a new partnership between the United States and Europe.

The region is made up largely of countries committed to international engagement and to regional cooperation. Although the former communist-bloc countries still lag economically behind their wealthier neighbors, they are making significant progress in their efforts to increase prosperity for their citizens. The Baltic region provides a unique historical opportunity for new economically cooperative structures, which can serve as a model for other parts of Europe. Northern Europe is also a promising area for broader U.S. efforts to integrate Russia into the West in a positive fashion.

NEI is intending to take advantage of these possibilities by energizing U.S. Government agencies, allies, and friends in the private sector and the community of nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s). NEI policy is focused on promoting interregional cooperation in six priority areas: trade and business, CIVIC society, environment, law enforcement, energy, and public health.

 

Methodology

In order to make an assessment of the value of the various NEI-funded programs and projects in the Baltic region, it is reasonable and important to establish some evaluation criteria about the four central questions of the assessment study. Without exhausting all possibilities, these criteria are embedded in these questions:

  • To what extent have the activities of the NEI enhanced the Baltic States, i.e., Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and northwest Russia’s ability to integrate into regional Western institutions, e.g., EU, NATO, WTO, etc.
  • How has the U.S. Government NEI policy strengthened its relationship with the Nordic states, Poland, Germany, and the EU in promoting regional cooperation among these entities?
  • Has the NEI bolstered U.S. trade in the Baltic Sea region?
  • How useful have the NEI projects been for their recipients and the U.S. Government in terms of their overall impact on society?

 

The data base utilized for analysis is based upon five sources:

  • The opinions and reports from implementing officials at the American Missions in the region who are directing or monitoring the specific programmatic activities;
  • The various reports, surveys, and products of the funded projects and programs;
  • Interviews with implementing NGO officials in the region;
  • The qualitative assessment of the NEI coordinator for the past 3 years;
  • and The NEI policy contribution to the accomplishment of goals of the U.S. Government in the Baltic Sea Region.

 

The central research questions in the study are explored by examining and evaluating the impact of both regional and Mission programs on achieving the objectives of the explicit Northern Europe policy goals. Here the primary device or scheme of assessment is a status or conditional continuum calibrated to contain high, moderate, low, and neutral statements as identified in the database. Figure 1 defines this conditional continuum, which permits a ranking of implementation outcomes.

 

Table I – Conditional Continuum

High – Strongly achieves at least two or more of the goals ofNEI

Moderate – At least one ofNEI’s goals are met fairly well, but sometime problems arise

Low – NEI goals are not achieved, and project should be adjusted or terminated

Neutral – Insignificant factor that played little or no role in achieving the NEI goals

This study reviews selected U.S. Government-funded regional and bilateral programs in the six priority areas: trade and business, civil society, environment, law enforcement, energy, and public health. Each of the selected projects is identified in section IV of the comparative analysis. The following definitional discussion highlights the importance of these areas in achieving the goals of NE!.

Trade and Business involves developing regional economical ties and expanding U.S. business opportunities in northern Europe. The Baltic region, itself a direct market with nearly 60 million people and a potential stepping stone to the much larger markets of Russia and central and eastern Europe, is ripe with such opportunities. U.S. Embassies there have developed a number of programs to support American companies interested in investing in and trading with the Baltic and Nordic states and with northwest Russia.

Civil Society is about increased public participation in the political system for all ethnic groups, which should contribute significantly to internal stability and economic prosperity.

Environment deals with the many environmental challenges in the NEI region. Environmental initiatives can address cross-border watershed management projects and programs that provide training in environmental management for military bases in the region.

Law Enforcement is critical in establishing an efficient legal system in the Baltic States to combat corruption and to end money-laundering there and in northwest Russia. Legal assistance and training to all three Baltic States and Russia are critical in creating a modem legal education for students from all three Baltic republics. Law Enforcement against Organized Crime is also important in establishing the rule of law.

Energy Reform in this Region is a basic building block for northern Europe’s economic growth. The development and implementation of a regional energy investment strategy are important in creating a common regional electricity market. This goal is only possible through the restructuring of the power sector, within an effective price and regulatory framework, and a privatized energy sector in order to attract strategic investment (including U.S. investment).

Public Health in many ways may be the key area that will ultimately determine the future well-being of the Baltic States and northern Russia. Tuberculosis and HIV infection rates are exceptionally high in this region. Working together with UNAIDS, the Baltic Sea States Task Force on Infectious Diseases, the governments in the region, and the U.S. helped launch a regional HIV/ AIDS strategy in 2000 to guide all international treatment efforts in the region. In March 2000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opened a Center of Excellence for Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Latvia, which is cofunded by Sweden and Latvia. The Center serves as a magnet research, treatment, and training center for the entire region. The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen serves as a hub for public health activities throughout the NEI region.

 

Organization of the Study

Section I provides an overview of the goals of the Northern Europe Initiative (NEI), methodology, and criteria utilized in analyzing the data based upon the NEI six priority areas.

Section II presents a conceptual model, which organizes and illustrates the structural relationship between the Post and selected NEI activities.

Section III is an analysis of three case studies about regional and bilateral programs. In this section specific Mission NEI programs and activities are examined.

Section IV compares and contrasts the regional and Embassy programs to determine to what extent they address the central research question of the study. This is accomplished by using a qualitative ranking technique.

Section V provides findings, conclusions, and policy recommendations.

 

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Case Study #1: Public Health

CDC Regional Tuberculosis Project

 

In response to the growing tuberculosis (TB) public health emergency in the Baltic States, the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania pooled their resources and developed a strategy to halt the spread of multi drug resistant (MDR) TB. The U.S. Government contributed $850,000 in FY 2000-2001.

Implementation Project: a Center of Excellence established for MDR- TB in Riga, Latvia.

 

Resulting Activity

  • The Center has assisted Latvia in further reducing its MDR- TB burden by setting up a sustainable and reproducible model ofMDR TB management in a resource poor country.
  • The Center is used to train clinicians from other Soviet republics of the region that face the same issue with MDR- TB.

In Estonia, the national TB program trains participants on all aspects of ambulatory care and infection controls. Three phases of training have been funded with a grant from the Northern Europe Initiative (NEI) and the Finnish

Lung Association. Phase four received a $100,000 grant from NEI in 2002 to complete the TB nurses training.

In contrast to Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania has the largest population in the Baltic States. In 2002, Lithuanian officials received a $150,000 grant from NEI to complete a survey so that they can move forward to establish a national strategy for MDR- TB. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is assisting Lithuanian officials in this regard.

Assessment by U.S. Embassies in Riga and TalJinn. The NEI programs have been a success in combating drug- resistant TB. CDC Regional Tuberculosis projects are quite exciting and are moving forward. The commitment from national partners is great, and they bave proven quite willing to share their experience. The delegation from Russia that participated in the January 2001 TB course gave them rave reviews. As a compliment to the technical and programmatic quality of the Latvian Program, the World Health Organization has approved it to receive MDR- TB drugs through the Global Drug Fund/Green Light Committee. It provides drugs at a greatly discounted price. Washington has continued to be in communication with the Council of Baltic Sea States/Task Force on Communicable Diseases in the hope that additional support can be leveraged for this particular program.

 

Case Study #2: Energy
Baltic Regional Electricity Market Project

 

The Baltic Regional Electricity Market project was initiated under USAID funding. This l8-month technical assistance project has an estimated completion date of July 31, 2002. The project has provided assistance to the Forum of Baltic Regulators and Transmission Operators. The status and the assessment of this project’s work are viewed in the context of current U.S. foreign policy objectives in the region. U.S. Government funding for FY 2000-2001 was $300,000. Some of the lessons learned from the project include the following:

  • Today there is no possibility of delivering gas to the Baltics, except via Russia. There are no high- voltage lines connecting the Baltics with Poland or Finland.
  • Although it might be possible technically to supply Kaliningrad with power from Lithuania, without any connection to Latvia or Estonia, a highly reliable and low-cost supply of electric energy can be achieved only when western Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are all operating in one interconnected power system.
  • The good news is that the recent development in foreign policy guarantees has enhanced energy security for the Baltic countries. As a result, NATO accession will not require the Baltics to become independent of Russia. The supply of gas from Russia will continue, and the joint operation of an interconnected electricity network will continue.
  • The Russian electric power system has initiated a reform program, intended to attract foreign investment and establish an electricity market on the basis of principles that will be roughly comparable to the EU. For the Russians, the Russian Electricity Directive is the most important piece oflegislation governing the future of electrical companies in the Baltic countries.
  • This legislation will be critical for all the Baltic States, particularly if they join the European Union.

 

Complications

The two main complications in setting up a Baltic Regional Electricity Market are adverse energy development in southeastern Europe and Russia’s inability to increase gas or electricity exports to the Baltics.

  • The level of economic development in Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic of (FYR)), is substantially below that of EU accession candidates in northern Europe.
  • The aging Unified System of Russia’s power stations equipment exceeds the rates at which they are updated and new facilities are installed. This means a substantial growth of repair costs and maintenance, an increase in the incidence of equipment failures and low fuel efficiency. As a result, UES of Russia expects an output shortfall by 2005.

 

Assessment

From a foreign policy perspective there are three reasons why the formulation of a Baltic regional electricity market would be desirable. First, it would set a good example for the Balkans. Second, it would promote cooperation among the Baltic States, Russia, and other states in the region. Third, it would establish a framework in which power supply alternatives could be evaluated on a regional basis and implemented. The prospects for NATO and EU accession are favorable; the Baltics have “graduated” from USAID technical assistance programs; and arguably, the EU should take responsibility for any further assistance. More research is needed to understand the long-term electricity supply problem.

 

Case Study #3: Environment

Watershed Management: Environment

 

The programmatic activities of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 5 Office of International Activities in the Baltic region, were conducted under the umbrella and funding of the Department of State’s Northern Europe Initiative’s Great Lakes/Baltic Sea Partnership. The Freedom Act funding focused on Russian participation in Watershed Management (Nemunas River Basin, Sesupe River sub- basin), and 3 Rivers in three countries (Lithuania, Russia, and Latvia) in the Yom, Aluksne, and Pskov triangle area). U.S. Government Funding for FY 2000-2001 was $185,000.

In May 2000, Kaliningrad officials were introduced to watershed management concepts in a joint Russian- Baltic training visit to the Great Lakes Region. This meeting was the first of many between officials from the EPA, Lithuanians, and their Russian counterparts. The results of these meetings and interactions led to the following:

  • Completion of the first joint water quality survey on the Sesupe and Nemunas River by Lithuanians and Russians in the Kaliningrad Region.
  • An agreement to collaborate in the areas of river quality modeling and data management and pollution prevention education.
  • Routine cross-border, working-level Government contacts maintained as a result of meetings facilitated by U.S. project funds and/or TACIS.
  • Latvians invited Russians to attend the first Baltic Military Conference on Environmental Cooperation in Sigulda (September 2001. Military and civilian representatives from Germany, Poland, 3 Baltic Countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and U.S. attended. Russia sends military attache from Riga due to lack of travel funds).
  • Russians from Emergency Response Ministry (Moscow and Kaliningrad) and Baltic Fleet participate in Officer and Senior Non- Commissioned Officer Environmental Awareness course at Lithuanian invitation (Sweden pays for Russian travel). All three Baltic countries attended
  • the course and the trainers were from the US, Sweden, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • Introduction of watershed management concepts to NGO’s and local Governments to deal with multilateral watershed situations. Commitment of support on the part of Estonian and Latvian national government for local trans boundary activities.

 

Complications

The Ministry of Natural Resources (Moscow) reconfirmed that the current Marine Inspector is the official Sesupe project lead. Both the Inspector and the Head of Department of Natural Resources ofKaliningrad Region Administration strongly support this and the related Swedish watershed activities. The head of the committee of Natural Resources is reportedly adverse to international projects; he refused to allow his staff to participate in our training and is reportedly the source of continued delays in scheduling meetings with Sweden, Lithuanians, and others. Staffs from TACIS, Lithuanian MOE, and Lithuanian Wildlife and Grain have noted this. If not addressed, this could prove to be a barrier to closer working relationships between Kaliningrad, the Lithuanians, and other neighboring countries.

 

Assessment

Embassy Tallinn reports that the Watershed Management project was a success and points out that the project accomplished three tasks in three countries, which merged with three rivers. Local NGO’s from the three nations cooperated on monitoring the water quality in a river that runs through all the countries and empties into the Baltic Sea. All sides were engaged and achieved discreet goals. This worked well because the endeavor was depoliticized-as often is the case in the environmental arena.

EPA did an excellent job in assisting project implementation and in monitoring its progress, thus providing the expertise Tallinn lacked to fully monitor the project’s evolution.

 

The Lithuanian and Kaliningrad Governments established formal working relationships between themselves in the area of environment by providing specific tasks for each side to work on. Equipment provided needed capacity to conduct basic water surveys. Work has been initiated to develop compatible sampling and analytical procedures, databases, and GIS coverage.

Kaliningrad military (Baltic Fleet) and emergency response personnel were introduced to basic environmental management concepts.

The Watershed Management Project has helped to increase the capacity of local governments and nongovernmental organizations for multilateral watershed management. This improved working relationships and mechanisms.

 

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part of the SEED Baltic earmark. The NGO’s that were recipients of the small grants are still spending these funds, and final reports about the projects are not due until October 2002.

Estonian Language CD-ROM Project

Embassy Tallinn reports that this project was very successful because it had a concrete goal: the production of an Estonian language CD-ROM geared to middle- schoolers and hinged to the Estonian school-leaving exam. This will help to compensate for the dearth of teachers of Estonian as a second language and to modernize the non- Estonian integration foundation. It has the support of the Government of Estonia (GOE). The project used State’s Global Technology Corps resources to get a start. The

Learning Company, the U.S. largest foreign language software company, provided its advice and services to Estonia, free of charge. The U.S. Government contributed $40,000 in FY 2000-2001.

Regional Police Training Center

Embassy Tallinn refurbished a room in the local police academy, which is anxious to take on a more ambitious regional role in combating organized crime. The facility is equipped with translation equipment and computers. The U.S. and Estonian authorities will conduct regional training in this classroom. Embassy Tallinn considers the center to be a success because it is a permanent fixture to be used for regional purposes. The U.S. Government contributed $75,000 in FY 2000-2001.

 

 

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Democracy Commission

Through the Democracy Commission, the U.S. continued to support activities to stabilize democracy. In FY 2001, $225,000 was distributed to 20 Latvian NGO’s to support programs focused on human rights, civic education, Holocaust issues, local environmental education, anti-corruption initiatives, women’s issues, and social integration. Two examples of funded projects include:

  • Transparency International  – Transparency International is an anti-corruption NGO organization that promotes transparency in government and society, and works to reduce corruption at the national and international levels. The grant supported the project, “Strengthening the Public Opinion and Building Capacity for Anti-corruption Work in Latvia.” The project was implemented through a series of public discussions involving the media, a coalition, and monitoring. The grant paid honoraria, advertisement, and program expenses. In FY 2000-2001, Government contributed $9,914.
  • Riga Graduate School of Law – The Graduate School of Law is a private school that offers an intensive and demanding Masters’ Program in International and European Law to graduates from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The grant provided funds that supported a 2-day conference that initiated public debate and raised awareness about the draft Latvia Code of Criminal Procedures. Latvian law students, media representatives, the European Council, and the members of the European Court of Human Rights and U.S. judiciary participated in the project. The grant paid salaries, space rental, per diems, transportation, and administrative expenses. In FY 2000-2001, the U.S. Government contributed $20,695.

 

Assessment

The programs of Transparency International and the Riga Graduate School of Law enjoy good reputations. The researcher reviewed program documentation and concluded that the two projects fulfilled the scope of work outlined in their agreements with Embassy Riga and that they delivered quality products. Embassy Riga concurs with the researcher’s assessment.

 

Criminal Procedure Code Reform Program

The project’s focus is the anti-corruption and rule of law area. The program has two dimensions. The first consists of helping the Latvians to design, staff, and implement an Anti-Corruption Bureau. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney General’s Office send representatives to Latvia every 6-8 weeks. Using their extensive experience in successful corruption investigations and prosecutions, they provide guidance to the Latvian Government on successful models for each task force. The second area focuses on replacing Latvia’s Criminal Procedure Code. The current Code is a hodge-podge of Soviet, pre-Soviet, and modem European law implemented during the 10 years since independence. In FY 2000-2001, the U.S. Government contributed $65,000.

 

Assessment

A U.S. anti-corruption team report (January 13-18, 2002) on the proposed law to create an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Latvia stated that an ACB can make a significant contribution to the effort to combat official corruption in Latvia. The report suggested that the impact of an ACB is contingent upon the following conditions:

  • The independence and integrity of the Bureau, and the appearance of its independence and integrity, are adequately protected;
  • The scope of the Bureau’s authority is broad enough to permit it to address the corruption problem in a comprehensive way;
  • The resources committed to the Bureau are adequate to address the tasks assigned to it;
  • The internal structure and eventual staffing of the Bureau enhance rather than impede its potential to be effective;
  • Expectations for the results to be achieved by the bureau are realistic; and
  • Anticipated changes to the Criminal Procedure Code, that would have an impact on corruption investigations, are adopted when they are posed.

 

Fast-Track Language Training

Social integration is a priority in Latvia, and the NEI supports three projects: two Latvian-language programs and a public awareness campaign. These operations are designed to assist the challenges of a country with close to 40 percent non-Latvians as residents. All three programs are managed by the United Nations Development Program and enjoy the support of multiple cofunders.

The Fast-Track program provides short courses for noncitizens to learn the Latvian language, which will assist them to pass the Latvian citizenship test. In FY 2001, the U.S. Government contributed $95,000.

 

Assessment

The course originated in a Freedom House-managed project and was greatly oversubscribed. It has close to a

95 percent success rate in the citizenship test. Polls show that the percentage of people who do not know the Latvian language decreased from 23 percent in 1996 to 9 percent in 2000. This program is considered by many as one of the best integration projects in Latvia, with the Fast-Track program making a contribution to the change.

Embassy Riga reported recently a steady rise in the number of citizenship applications, from 692 in December 2001 to 1,001 in January 2002. The rise is the result of the Government of Latvia (GOL) lowering naturalization fees and the recent public awareness campaign (organized by OSeE and partially funded by NEI), which played an important role. The campaign included information booths, newspaper and TV advertising, and direct mailings. The advertisements (“Make your choice!”) highlighted everyday Russian-speaking residents who had chosen Latvian citizenship.

 

 

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Vilnius Democracy Commission in FY 2000 supported 16 small grants to Lithuanian NGO’s. Two of those projects are highlighted in the next section of this paper.

  • The Center for Public Strategies ($11,930). The Center is a newly established organization with goals to promote better understanding of ethical differences and to implement civic initiatives that support tolerance within society. The grant supported a project, “Processes of Democratization in Lithuania in the Golden Age.” The project initiated debates that focused on three issues: E-Power and Democracy, Minorities and Citizenship in the Global World, and Globalization Theories and Public Policy. From the debates, researchers were able to publish policy recommendations on the role of globalization and public policy. The grant paid for salaries, honoraria, and publication expenses.
  • The Missing Persons Families Support Center ($5,342). The Center works for the prevention of trafficking of women and children and the reintegration of victims into society. The grant supported the implementation of an education and prevention program, aimed at attacking the problems of trafficking and protection of civil rights. The project consisted of meetings with schools in Lithuania to 1) advise educators on their curriculum, 2) present lectures to students, 3) produce printed materials and videos, 4) develop case studies, and 5) distribute material for resource centers and libraries. The grant paid salaries, transportation, publications, and administrative expenses.

 

Embassy Vilnius Commentary on USAID HIV/AIDS Project

HIV/AIDS is one of the most critical problems facing the Baltic States, but the work of the contractor that USAID hired to run the program has been unsatisfactory. The HIV/AIDS program is the largest expenditure of American funds and has yielded disappointing results. There have been lengthy delays in developing the program, questionable program management decisions, and, most importantly, very little actual spending on programs on the ground. USAID is conducting a program review to determine the next steps.

The Partners for Financial Stability program has been a success in the Baltics due to the work of the East-West Management Institute. USAID is now proposing to spend another $300,000 to fund other bilateral programs. Post Vilnius agreed to this program, provided the project manager develops specific guidelines for each of the U.S. programs.

 

Assessment

The Vilnius Democracy Commission has been very successful in generating proposals and funding NGO’s that are responsive to NEI goals. On the other hand, inadequate information about other funded programs inhibits an assessment of speculating their overall performance in reference to the NEI mission. The other two programs reported on, HIV/AIDS and Partners for Stability, are funded and managed by USAID; they address many of the concerns of NEI.

 

 

Northwest Russia – Kaliningrad American Consulate St. Petersburg

From the Consulate perspective, NEI should be judged primarily by the extent to which it strengthens cross-border ties between northwest Russia’s professional and civic organizations and their Baltic/regional counterparts. To the extent it succeeds in achieving that goal, it addresses key problems involving Russia’s European integration and Russia’s own civic society development. Overall, NEI has played a meaningful role in this regard. It has contributed to integrating Russian NGO’s and civic organizations into the wider regional context. It has allowed contract building, opened doors to training and funding from a variety of sources, and promoted sharing of best practices.

 

Successful Projects Involving Northwest Russia-Kaliningrad

  • A very successful cross-border cooperation NEI project focused notably on environmental issues. Specifically, the Pskov Oblast project centered on the “Three Rivers in Three Countries” conducted in conjunction with EPA. The project focused on watershed issues in Russia, Estonia, and Lithuania. The Consulate is proposing another Pskov-related project to strengthen cross- border cooperation, particularly on the environmental matters.
  • Funding was made available to bring Baltic participants to Russian conferences that discussed issues such as freedom of speech, ethnic tolerance, NATO, and E-government. These issues are of key significance in the region, because by funding these conferences they encourage a free flow of ideas, enabling the breakdown of stereotypes.
  • Freedom House sponsored training for Russian journalists to promote objective reporting on Baltic issues. By focusing on journalists, NEI addresses a group with a particularly significant ability to deal with stereotypes and enhance communications.

 

Problems and Concerns

NEI programs have sometimes fallen short when “Baltic-wide” programs fail to take into account Russia’s development lag. This was most evident in the Women’s Mentoring Project. Baltic women entrepreneurs possessed more advanced Internet skills, English-language skills, financial opportunities, and “transparent” business culture than their Russian counterparts. In addition, problems of importing donated computer equipment for the Russian participants in a timely manner caused ill feelings. Unfortunately, Russian participants in other regional NEI programs have mentioned this “second class cousin” feeling. We would recommend additional attention be given to designing more feasible Russian participation goals in large regional projects.

The Consulate also suggests the NEI process become more systematic. Currently, projects are solicited on a somewhat ad hoc basis. This results in scrambling to draft project proposals to meet deadlines, often with incomplete or inaccurate descriptions. Flawed designs can prevent good projects from receiving the support they may deserve.

 

 

Another difficulty is the dual funding structures in place for NEI Russian projects. While Baltic projects can directly utilize NEI funds, Russian projects (or portions of common projects) must use FSA funds. The Consulate knows and appreciates that FSA managers do their utmost to provide timely funding for all of our projects. We would recommend a mechanism, however, allowing EURlNB to directly manage NEI FSA funds, thus avoiding extra paper work and funding delays.

 

Assessment

Overall, the NEI has significantly helped to accelerate northwest Russia’s integration with Europe and the Baltic States on all levels. The NEI has enhanced regional stability and has had a positive effect on larger integration issues.

Unfortunately, NEI accomplishments in Kaliningrad have not always been well advertised. Reinvigorating the Post public diplomacy efforts on NEI’s behalf remains a goal. In so doing, we should be careful not to oversell NEI. Its modest assistance programs are meant to complement other regional and bilateral efforts in the Baltic Sea Region by providing useful value-added resources, services, and products. By highlighting the fact that a NEI project has successfully complemented other efforts, we would not only provide a realistic picture of its functioning but also reinforce the message that our goals can best be achieved through a wide range of cooperation.

Finally, the Post is looking forward to receiving a performance matrix from EURlNB with all the NEI projects and their current status. This tool would be invaluable in coordinating Mission activities with other regional posts. It would also enhance their public diplomacy work.

 

 

NEI Projects and Programs in Other Countries Bordering the Baltic Sea- Poland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland

American Embassy Warsaw

The Post participated in one NEI-funded project. The project supported a study of leasing mechanisms to support energy efficiency, and was conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The project was dormant for several months and appears to have been unsuccessful due to the lack of support from the Government of Poland, due in part to the changing regulatory situation.

The project does not appear to have had any regional cooperation element, aside from the fact that other projects were coincidentally being undertaken in Baltic countries. Post does not support additional funding for this project.

Poland has always been a marginal player in NEI, given the higher priority placed on relations with the European Union and the Ukraine.

Assessment

The one area where the Post sees potential for NEl work, and in which the Government of Poland (GOP) is interested, is Kaliningrad. The Post would strongly support a U.S. Government-financed project that brings together Poles, Russians, Lithuanians, and others to craft practical means to improve trade and political and other ties between Kaliningrad and its neighbors.

 

 

American Consulate Hamburg

Northern German officials and NGO’s have been enthusiastic supporters of the NEI and of the EU’s Northern Dimension, given the importance of regional cooperation in “their” front yard pool. German police have participated in several NEI training programs in the past 3 years, and participants from Kiel, Hamburg, and other northern German cities have participated in some of the NEI regional International Visitor programs. The Consul General in Hamburg organized a conference in May 2001 in Schwerin on E-Government that brought together municipal officials and IT specialists from the Baltic states, Russia, Poland, the Nordic countries, and the U.S. to learn about and share experiences regarding government provision of E-services.

Germany, as 2000-2001 chair of the Council of Baltic Sea States, organized several regional seminars and workshops on topics like NGO development and electronic commerce, but the U.S. did not participate directly in those. Germany also provides a significant amount of bilateral assistance to the Baltic States.

Assessment

German police participation in NEI training programs with other police in the Baltic Sea region has helped to facilitate regional cooperation and cross-border ties. These officials’ participation in regional meetings are important but are marginal when considering the range of NEI initiatives. The May 200 I E-Government conference was the Consulate’s most significant NEI accomplishment because it brought together municipal officials and IT specialists from the Baltic States, Russia, Poland, and the Nordic countries.

 

American Embassy Stockholm

Embassy Stockholm considers public health/ infectious diseases and the regional International Visitors (IV) program in Sweden as successes worthy of note. (The Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program of Russia (MNEPR) is the principal loser among its activities.)

  • In the area of Infectious Diseases, the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI), Karolinska Institute, has had useful cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control on relevant activity in the Baltics and Russia. The Post believes this cooperation can and should continue. They also note that SMI is increasingly upgrading its attention to international work with the creation of a secretariat to coordinate its projects. SMI will be looking more actively at cooperation and linkages with foreign partners. This implies that project funding will continue.
  • Stockholm initiated the regional International Visitor program on NEI in 1999,2000, and 2001. The Post believes it has contributed measurably to enhanced linkages among specialists throughout the region. European participants learned about U.S. cooperation with Northern Europe in areas of law enforcement , the environment, energy, business promotion, and building civil society.
  • The Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program of Russia (MNEPR) predates NEI, but its regional goals are consistent with NEl. No other NEI- related activity in Sweden has failed due to the inability by all negotiating parties to reach an acceptable compromise. As a result, the stalemate of MNEPR negotiations also stymied promising ideas for other projects that have never gotten off the ground. Thus, the shadow cast by the failure of these negotiations is even longer.

Assessment

The Post believes that the beneficiary countries are better positioned to assess the real (i.e., local) value of any of these activities and defer to their colleagues across the Baltic to make those judgments. evertheless, the Mission believes that there is value added in partnering with Sweden on discreet activities. It can help the U.S. Government leverage their support to obtain more funds and provide for closer ties throughout the region, one of the NEI pillars.

 

American Embassy Copenhagen

The Copenhagen Regional Environmental Office (CREO) focuses on three of the NEI priority areas (environment, energy, and health). The Post believes that by and large, the NEI program in Denmark has been a great success. While there is still much work to be done, NEI funding has assisted the integration of former iron curtain states into the Western family of free-market, democratic nations. For this Post, an effective NEI program should fulfill at least one (hopefully more) of the following criteria:

  • The activity should fit into an existing or new process. For example, a program on integrated coastal zone should fit into the regional ICZM plan developed by the Helsinki Commission.
  • Where possible, the program should be implemented jointly with a cosponsor (government, NGO, etc.). The Post believes the most reliable indicator of success for an NEI project is the level of effectiveness, enthusiasm, and capacity of the cosponsoring organization.
  • NEI programs should be evaluated not simply in the context of the events themselves, but in the wider context of the wider political message they send.

 

Two Successful CREO Pojects

1) The Post’s work on alien invasive species is a positive example of working within a process. That effort began when the Nordic States compiled an exhaustive catalog of invasive species in their countries. However, they did not include relevant and critical information from the wider regional ecosystem of the Baltic Sea, its watershed, and surrounding areas.

To remedy this, the Nordics expressed an interest in expanding their efforts to include the Baltic States, Poland, and Russia. The U.S., with considerable experience in both invasive species and regional (North America) strategies, was able to facilitate this process through an ongoing series of NEI workshops and meetings.

2) In 1999 the Post hosted an NEI workshop on Y2K preparation. The primary goal of the workshop was to initiate an on-going communication exchange on Y2K

preparations in the region and how to best solve the potential problems leading up to the millennium changeover. Good intentions to work together were expressed by everyone at the conference. Nevertheless, no regional information exchanges were initiated for the conference, nor did the conference help with preparations within the countries attending.

 

Assessment

The Copenhagen Mission’s work with NEI leads to

the following:

  • Working through existing structures and mechanisms is more effective than trying to create new ones. For instance, the U.S. was (and is) concerned about the growing incidence of HIV/ AIDS in the eastern Baltic Region. The NEI sponsored and co-organized a series of 2-day regional workshops aimed at developing a strategy to deal with this threat. That strategy was plugged into the Council of Baltic Sea States’ Infectious Disease Task Force for Implementation. The U.S. provided start-up costs and salary for a coordinator for a year, with the CBSS agreeing to maintain the operation beyond that time.
  • The CREO does not possess the technical expertise or administrative resources to effectively advance any environment, energy, or health agendas that Post pursues in the region. Instead, the Mission is reliant upon cosponsors to playa leading role in formulating strategies, designing agendas, identifying participants, and outlining desired results. The CREO’s role is one of facilitator by which it brings players together, moderates a discussion of the issues, and offers seed money for program activities.
  • The Post has learned through experience that the choice of a cosponsor( s) is critical to the ultimate success of a project. For example, the CREO spring 2000 unsuccessful foray into urban/port redevelopment was due not to poor choice of issues, but rather to a poor choice of partners.
  • Similarly, the Post’s success with the ongoing civil-military emergency planning (CMEP) activities is almost entirely ascribable to the strength and ability of U.S. Government partners in that program.
  • The Post has seen initial suspicion of U.S. participation in various regional fora, quickly dispelled by promise of U.S. expertise or funding. The Mission’s work with the Helsinki Commission is another case in point to attitudes shifting over the past year from cautiously standoffish to willingness to cooperate. In sum, the Post believes the NEI has been fully successful and is worthy of continuation and expansion.

 

 

American Embassy Helsinki

The focus of Embassy Helsinki’s report concerning NEI projects was directed at policy concerns and the future direction of the NEI policy. As a consequence, there is no assessment for Helsinki because no specific NEI projects were reported on Finland. There are, however, a number of Baltic Sea region activities that the Post has been active with that support NEI objectives. For instance, Finnish- U.S. relations, both official and on a people-to-people level, have developed even closer thanks to the excellent U.S. Fulbright Program, targeted public outreach, and an active visitor exchange program.

The Post’s primary concern is that NEI must not undermine the Baltic Countries once they become members of the European Union (EU). In other words, regional cooperation will take place in an entirely new framework when the Balticsjoin EU and possibly NATO. This means that cooperation increasingly will be defmed between EU-Russia and NATO-Russia rather than bilaterally. Therefore, NEI should be revised to reflect support for the Baltics as members of the EU or NATO and not individual nations.

Two other NEI-related initiatives that Post has been actively involved in are the EU’s Northern Dimension and the Baltic Marine Environmental Protection Commission (the “Helsinki Commission” or HELCOM).

 

 

American Embassy Reykjavik

Embassy Reykjavik decided after the October 1999 Women’s Conference and Democracy Conference to devote its limited resources to just one major NEI project, the 2000 Nordic/Baltic Businesswomen’s Mentoring Initiative. In general, the Mission considers the project a success (albeit limited) in promoting NEI objectives and regional cooperation in Iceland.

The Embassy assembled a fairly representative group of Icelandic mentors (eight in all) who were enthusiastic about helping their Baltic counterparts. The Tallinn kick- off meeting was extremely useful in matching mentors and clients and in getting the project started. To sustain interest in the project, the Embassy arranged for the mentors to meet regularly with the Ambassador and set up a special roundtable for a session with then Secretary Albright when she visited Iceland in October 2000.

Most of the Icelandic mentors had regular contact with their clients during the l-year mentoring period.

a computer donation program with a local information technology firm. The donated computers had to be significantly modified by the receiving Post before they could be distributed to needy clients (e.g., CD-Rom drives had to be installed, software loaded, etc.). It would have been easier, cheaper, and faster to buy new computers for the clients.

In spite of the problems, the Post believes the Mentoring Project was worthwhile. There was considerable positive publicity in setting up the project, promoting the work of the mentors and organizing the computer donation. The local contacts are still paying dividends for the Embassy.

The Embassy strongly supports the continuation ofNE!. The Mentoring initiative was a concrete project that encompassed all interested NEI countries. The Embassy supports future projects, which include human trafficking and police/ judicial cooperation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Dr. Michael Frazier is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Howard University. Dr. Frazier served as a Visiting Scholar and Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, from 2001 to 2002. He has written three books and numerous articles; serves as the editor of the refereed journal, Government & Politics; and has served in public administration assignments in eight Federal agencies. He has taught at four American universities-National Defense College, Howard, Maryland, and Cincinnati.