This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRAGUE 001590
EUR/NCE FOR FICHTE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2015 TAGS: PGOV PREL EZ CU UP GG MD SR BK IZ BO BM SUBJECT: CZECHS ON TRANSFORMING DEMOCRACIES
REF: PRAGUE 832
Classified By: Political-Military Officer Brian Greaney for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Summary: The Czech MFA's Director for Transformation Cooperation believes that many international efforts to foster democratic change -- including in particular those of the EU -- suffer because the funding mechanisms chosen impede the chances for success. She believes that donors need to be prepared to fund very small projects, be more flexible, more creative, and prepared to take risks. She suggested that a workshop to discuss best practices in doing this could be useful. End summary.
2. (U) Visiting EUR/ERA director Peter Chase met with Gabriela Dlouha, MFA Director for Transformation Cooperation, Oct 26 to discuss GOCR experiences in fostering democratic change in oppressive or transformative regimes. A full description of the work of the Transformation Cooperation Office can be found in Ref A.
3. (C) Director Dlouha described her current priorities as falling into two parts. Targeted "States in Transition" comprised Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Iraq. Targeted dictatorships were Belarus, Cuba, and Burma.
4. (C) Dlouha described the types of activities which appeared to have the greatest impact, especially in authoritarian regimes. She believed programs should not be dependent on authorization from authoritarian host-government regimes, as is now the case for EU programs. Targeted, short-term projects were best, because NGO partners were small and did not have a large absorbtive capacity. Small project budgets also had the advantage of being harder for the host government to track and impede. In such cases, host government changing of rules governing international assistance might not necessarily kill a project, because alternative "under-the-radar" ways could be found to get the financing to the implementing partner. A small project also meant that quick implementation was possible, thus providing a quick impact. Large-scale development assistance projects such as those the European Commission can do were a poor model for fostering transitional democratic change. Effective grassroots implementers often did not have the capacity to absorb millions of dollars in grants, and the rules surrounding large development assistance grants prevented the recipient from acting with the necessary flexibility. Donors would also have to be prepared to occasionally take some risks. The control and auditing mechanisms used for traditional development assistance were not appropriate to the situation where an implementing partner was executing a program that had the disapproval of the authoritarian host government. There were other ways of exercising financial control than paper-based accounting.
5. (SBU) In addition to programs in targeted countries, Dlouha said the Czechs were focused on exchanges of people, and sharing lessons-learned from the Czech transition experience. She cautioned that international visits to the U.S. would show activists a country that is too far down the road to democracy. Dlouha thought visits by activists from targeted countries to newly-transitioned states would be more useful, as they would demonstrate the steps necessary towards an attainable goal.
6. (SBU) Dlouha indicated that it might be extremely useful for key donors to get together in an informal workshop to discuss best practices in promoting democratic change under repressive regimes. She said there is a lack of such discussion now in part because various donors have different mechanisms for this. In some cases the mechanisms may be in the foreign office; in others, combined with development assistance; and in still others (Germany), in private foundations. She thought such an exchange could be particularly useful as the EU considers changes to its own democracy promotion programs.
7. (U) This cable has been cleared by Mr. Chase. CABANISS