Armenia + 2 more

The conflict prevention capacities of the United States government in the South Caucasus

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Analysis
Source
Posted
Originally published




By Michael Lund
Center for Strategic and International Studies and Management Systems International

Washington D.C., December 1999
Pre-publication copy

Edited by M. Marwaha-Diedrich for the FEWER Secretariat

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 CONTEXT

When the break-up of the Soviet Union resulted in the sudden independence of many of the republics that had comprised it, many aspects of these new states’ very essence were rapidly and simultaneously made highly uncertain and changing. These features included their basic forms of governance, political leaders, economic policies, trade links, territorial boundaries, and inter-state military and political alliances. As in several other regions, in the republics of the Caucasus, the suspicions, mistreatment, and competition for power among ethnic groups as well as among the republics - which formerly had been regulated if not resolved under Soviet and communist party rule - created a number of actual or potential violent intra-state and inter-state civil conflicts. In particular, three violent conflicts erupted over quests for self-determination in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Currently, the region faces new threats from these arrested but unresolved conflicts, as well as from other tensions within these new states and between them, including the spill-over effects of the renewed war in Chechnya.

Moreover, because of the increasing importance of issues such as access to the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea and the potential spread of Islamic fundamentalism, the region has become more vulnerable to geopolitical pressures and rivalries emanating from the more powerful states of Russia, the U.S., Iran, and Turkey. Thus, a major issue arising is whether these states can avoid making the Caucasus into even more of an arena of competition or instead, can work out an understanding which allows the new states of the Caucasus to flourish independently.

1.2 PURPOSE OF THIS REPORT

The EastWest Institute (EWI) and the Forum on Early Warning and Early Response (FEWER) seek to provide sound assessments of situations of potential violent conflict in various regions and to offer recommendations about preventive actions that are likely to be effective. Offered recommendations for action need to be not only effective but also realistic in view of the interests and capacities of the actors being addressed. This report seeks to help inform the future recommendations of EWI, FEWER and other organizations with regard to possible conflicts in the South Caucasus through an examination of the concrete capacities for conflict prevention and resolution of one international actor whose policies are becoming increasingly important and can make a significant difference in that region, the United States Government. The specific geographic area that is the focus of the study is the South Caucasus region of Europe, comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. By providing information about many U.S. programs, both explicitly or potentially relevant to conflict prevention, the report seeks to enable EWI and the FEWER network to recommend persuasive policy options that speak more directly to the interests and avowed goals of the U.S. government in the region and also to enable local NGOs and governments in the region to engage more knowledgeably and effectively with specific U.S. agencies.

In particular, the report identifies U.S. operations and personnel that might be targeted for receiving EWI and FEWER assessments and recommendations in order to motivate them to take concrete steps to prevent possible conflicts. The report first outlines current U.S. interests and policy goals in the Caucasus and the U.S. government’s overall decision-making structure affecting this region. It then describes major programs and initiatives that the U.S. State Department, A.I.D., and Defense Department operate toward the south Caucasus region as a whole and in the three countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Other major development donors to particular countries and major U.S. non-profit or profit-making contracting organizations are also listed.

1.4 SCOPE

Because of the U.S. Government’s comparatively large size and the interests it maintains in virtually every region of the world, its activities in the south Caucasus are carried out by a large number of agencies, as well as by many non-governmental organizations that are funded by these agencies. The U.S. agencies that may affect conflict prevention and resolution in the region include not only the three main Cabinet departments of the Department of State, Agency for International Development, and the Department of Defense, but also the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Energy, and Agriculture, the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and the independent federal agencies known as the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The U.S. Congress should also be listed, since it often shapes specific U.S. policies and the budget resources directed to the region. One could also include non-federal U.S. government activities in the Caucasus, such as those of individual U.S. states. Although they are not part of the U.S. Government, the U.S. Government is also a major influence on international financial and other inter-governmental organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the U.N. Security Council, which have a vital impact on the region.

Despite these many manifestations of U.S. governmental involvement in the south Caucasus, however, the limits on this study did not permit an exhaustive inventory and the report should not be considered as comprehensive. Instead, it concentrates on the three cabinet-level executive U.S. agencies that are most active in the region, the Department of State (DOS), the Agency for International Development (AID), and the Department of Defense (DOD).

Even with respect to these three U.S. agencies, the question remains as to which of their programs should be included as conflict prevention capacities. To clarify this, the notion of conflict prevention guiding the report needs explanation. Broadly speaking, conflict prevention is usually defined as any activity that may help to prevent potentially new violent conflicts from erupting or escalating from low levels of violence, to keep waning violent conflicts from re-erupting, and to contain active conflicts from spreading to new sites. This includes the creation or strengthening of a society’s capacities to address disputes in ways that result in their non-violent resolution.

The most obvious U.S. activities that fit this definition are the official diplomatic and peacekeeping initiatives that have been taken in direct response to the armed conflicts that have already escalated to the use of armed force, such as in Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia. An example is the three-nation Minsk Group which conducts direct diplomatic intervention into the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and thus contact with those who may have the power to control it. Many more non-official initiatives taken toward these conflicts, such as low-key political dialogues, are also carried out by various non-governmental organizations and frequently funded by one or more U.S. or other government agency. Together, these explicit initiatives with respect to the manifestations of possible or actual violent conflicts are referred to as "direct," "operational," or "light" prevention.

However, both these types of activities comprise a relatively small proportion of the U.S. government activity in the south Caucasus. In surveying U.S. government policies and programs in the Caucasus (and undoubtedly in other regions as well), it becomes immediately obvious that the vast bulk of U.S. programs make little or no reference specifically to preventing the emergence of violent conflicts. Most of these activities are not described in terms that are directly relevant to conflict prevention objectives - although they may refer to the broad purposes of maintaining security and preserving peace. Instead, programs state their purposes as development, economic and political reform, good governance, humanitarian aid, trade, public health, education, and so on - an array of objectives that are familiar to observers of the post-Cold War policies of many Western governments in developing and transitional societies. These programs are in their separate ways seeking to create or strengthen the elements needed to operate a modern democratic state and civil society.

Yet many of the pervasive conditions that these goals are addressed to, such as poverty and corruption, can result in violent conflicts if particular elements in a society or government are sufficiently mobilised to act on grievances arising from these conditions by engaging in violent or other coercive behaviour. Hence, the programs with the objectives that deal with underlying sources of potential conflict can be considered as possible ways to prevent emerging violent conflicts and have been referred to as "structural" or "deep" prevention. Consequently, the report includes such programs within its scope by including them as possible U.S. capacities for conflict prevention.

This inclusive notion of the means of conflict prevention is consistent with a widely-shared assumption regarding what particular policy instruments should be included under conflict prevention. That assumption holds that virtually all programs, projects, and actions of a government in a locale that is vulnerable to conflict can have a direct or indirect effect on either reducing or increasing the level of conflict. Although a few international actors run programs and projects that are explicitly and exclusively devoted to conflict prevention, such as the OSCE’s High Commissioner for National Minorities, the notion of conflict prevention that is now generally accepted by the European Union, the World Bank, and other international entities does not restrict it to such discrete programs with organisational embodiments and staffs that are operationally distinct from programs in policy sectors with other names and objectives. Instead, conflict prevention’s goals and criteria can and ought to be applied, at least in principle, to almost any activity of an actor that has significant consequences for a society and its economy and politics.

In sum, the report describes a wide variety of U.S. programs that operate in many policy sectors and which - depending on how, when and where they are implemented - may have positive or negative impacts on the prevention of violent conflicts. It needs to be added that the ways in which these many differing programs and sets of programs, whether they are direct or structural prevention, specifically affect the dynamics and sources of conflicts is only beginning to be studied and documented. Expanding the knowledge of how particular kinds of preventive interventions can actually be effective is one of the most important next steps that EWI, FEWER and other organisations concerned with violent conflicts are beginning to take. But although the development of such a knowledge-base for the field is at this relatively early point, it would be mistaken to exclude these many existing programs from a survey of conflict prevention capacity, simply because their exact intersections with the phenomenon of conflict are not yet very well understood.

2. U.S. GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS

2.1 U.S. INTERESTS AND POLICY GOALS

In the dawning years of the post-Cold War era, the U.S. Government was pre-occupied with concerns in other regions such as the Middle East, the Gulf, and Russia itself. Its main concern with respect to the latter and the other nuclear states in the area were and continue to be to ensure the secure reduction and non-proliferation of the former Soviet arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and the peaceful disposition of the scientific expertise that was employed to develop and manage them. Consequently, the U.S. did not take an active interest in the Caucasus region specifically and tended to regard it as lying within a Russian sphere of influence that implicitly accepted the Russian notion of the so-called "near-abroad." As the 1990’s unfolded, however, several factors led the U.S. to increasingly develop a more explicit set of goals and policies toward the Caucasus and to build bilateral relations with each of the three independent governments there.

The outbreak in 1992 of the ethnic conflicts in the region led to the humanitarian and diplomatic involvement of several international actors such as the United Nations (UN), the then-Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (C.S.C.E.), and European governments, as well as Russia, which had played a role in supporting various sides in these conflicts. In part because of its membership and obligations to these organizations as well as its distinct diplomatic interests, the U.S. was forced to take a greater interest in alleviating and resolving these conflicts, and to become more concerned about Russia’s intentions in the region. U.S. domestic interest groups such as Armenian-Americans also took an active interest in their ethnic brethren in the region. More recently, growing evidence that the Caspian Sea and its environs may represent a huge potential alternative source of oil to the Middle East for Western energy needs has greatly increased U.S. Government attention to the Caucasus and the central Asian states to the east, as spokesmen for U.S. oil companies have lobbied to take advantage of these opportunities. Although a route through Iran is estimated to be the most economical way to transport oil from the Caspian reserves, the U.S. tends to favour a route that goes under the Caspian Sea and through Georgia to a Turkish port on the Black Sea.

Thus, the main interests of the U.S. in the region now include increasing regional stability and regional economic and political cooperation, preserving a stable national political and economic climates for investment and diplomacy, maintaining a counterbalance in the region to the influence of Russia and Iran, promoting governments that are friendly to the West and the U.S. in particular, and gaining some access to the region’s oil resources. By and large, the U.S. has had the closest relations with Georgia and increasingly good relations with Azerbaijan, while Armenia has continued to maintain relatively closer relations with Russia.

To pursue these overall interests, the U.S.’s policy goals in recent years have been to:

  • achieve a more definitive resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, beyond the ceasefire signed by Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1994, through negotiations that are being implemented by the OSCE;
  • reduce poverty and unemployment, improve individual citizens’ economic well-being, and advance general economic and social development, as well as create future markets for U.S. goods and investment, through promoting market-oriented economies, more open trade and increased foreign investment;
  • avoid political instability by building more open, legitimate, democratic and effective governments;
  • achieve solutions to the inter-state rivalries and disputes that have emerged over the apportioning of the Caspian offshore oil reserves and over oil pipeline routes, in ways that provide U.S. access and avoid a Russian monopoly of these resources;

2.2 U.S. DECISION-MAKING

The articulation and implementation of these goals is supposed to be governed by a decision-making structure with the President and the National Security Council at its top. In principle, they are the leading decision-makers with authority over the cabinet departments but have relatively little power over the independent agencies. In practice, however, except within the parameters determined by the U.S.’s overall goals and the budget decided by Congress, the size of the U.S. government and variety of its many agencies and their sub-units defies the ability of any central decision-makers to define a single set of coherent policy goals, establish clear priorities among them, and direct these many entities to follow a consistent and ordered strategy in the Caucasus region or its individual countries. Thus, contrasts between the influence exerted over Cabinet departments by the White House and the autonomy of an independent agency should not be exaggerated. U.S. policy in the region is more aptly described as the combination of the particular agendas and programs of the many U.S. agencies and their contractors, as well as the private sector actors, who are active in the region.

It follows that there is no explicit and integrated U.S. policy toward conflict prevention and resolution in the Caucasus. Perhaps the closest thing to such a strategy is a set of implicit assumptions that underlie the array of U.S. government activities. This is the theory that programs such as economic reform to marketise economies and assistance for building democratic institutions and the rule of law are themselves the best antidotes against the emergence of violent conflicts. Although much research supports the presumption that in the long run, market economies and democracy enhance stability, it is not clear that simply promoting those goals is always effective in preventing the likelihood of violence to erupt, especially in national settings with weak states and highly divided societies. In such settings, peace and stability have not always followed from the introduction of such programs. In fact, the opposite result may occur and actually has. Such links are widely and naively assumed to occur without question or close evaluation.

2.3 U.S. PROGRAMS

To pursue its goals, the U.S. government mainly uses the policy tools of:

  • foreign aid assistance and trade,
  • diplomatic relations with individual countries and regional powers such as Russia and the Ukraine,
  • U.S. participation in three multilateral bodies in which it shares memberships with the states in and around the region the United Nations, and the OSCE; and
  • military-to-military relations with some of the Caucasus countries in the region through bilateral programs and NATO.

State Department

In addition to the diplomatic relations it has with each government in the region, the U.S. State Department carries out certain initiatives vis-à-vis the region as a whole.

Ambassador at Large and Special Adviser to the Secretary for the New Independent States (N.I.S.)

This office is responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing U.S. foreign policy in the twelve countries of Eurasia, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Issues covered by the office are democracy, human rights, economic prosperity, the environment, regional cooperation and conflict resolution, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and international crime. The current occupant is Stephen Sestanovich.

Special Negotiator for Nagorno-Karabakh and Regional Conflicts

This negotiator acts as the U.S. representative in the OSCE Minsk Group, which is composed of the U.S., Russia and France and has been carrying out negotiations since 1994 concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The new occupant appointed in August 1999 is Carey Cavanaugh.

Security programs

The State Department supports the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow, which employs former Soviet weapons scientists in Armenia to prevent the spreading of their weapons-related expertise.

U.S. Department of Defense

The U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) carries out several programs in Eastern and Central European countries to promote democratic values among national militaries.

The Joint Contact Team Program plans bilateral programs that bring American ideals with respect to civil-military relations to the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. In-country military liaison teams help facilitate the assistance that host nations need to implement democratic reforms such as human rights guarantees, military legal codes to enforce the rights of the citizen soldier, and a governmental structure that makes the military subordinate to civilian democratic control. The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program promotes military-to-military relations and introduces military and civilian officials to democratic values. The George C Marshall Center in Germany teaches courses, holds conferences, and sponsors research on defense procedures and organization in democracies for mid-level to senior-level military and civilian officers.

The NATO Partnership for Peace, started in 1994, has created partnerships between NATO members and the militaries of almost all Eastern European states as a way to promote transparency in military planning and confidence-building. It also conducts joint military exercises with individual countries’ military forces and multilateral forces so as to promote mutual trust and confidence among former adversaries and to develop common military procedures, doctrines and standards.

U.S. Agency for International Development

The U.S. government is one of the major providers of official development assistance to the Caucasus region. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has an important role as Special Coordinator for the disbursement of aid.

Special Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to the New Independent States This position is tasked with overseeing and coordinating the programs of development assistance to the N.I.S. and compiling an annual report on their size and accomplishments. The current occupant is William B. Taylor, Jr.

Details on the country-specific activities of U.S. AID are discussed in Section 3.

3. COUNTRY-SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES OF U.S. AID

Armenia

Since 1995, U.S. policy toward Armenia has sought to reduce the proportion of aid for humanitarian assistance and replace it with more development-oriented assistance, aimed at enabling Armenia to make as rapid a transition as possible to a market economy. In FY 1998, development aid totalling $77 million, exceeded humanitarian aid ($39 million) for the first time since 1992. That year, the U.S. provided a total of about $131 million in assistance, focussed mainly on economic reform, energy reform, democracy and good governance, private sector development, education and training, humanitarian assistance and agriculture. The FY 2000 development aid request totals $71.5 million. As the political situation improves, AID also hopes to increase regional integration in various areas with Armenia’s neighbors. Some AID-funded programs are carried out by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Commerce, Energy, and Agriculture and the U.S. Information Agency, through a technical cooperation program with Armenia.

The U.S. Government is the largest provider of official development assistance to Armenia (52% of the total in FY 1997). Other donors include the International Monetary Fund (the findings of missions to examine monetary policy are incorporated into AID technical assistance); UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Bank, the European Union, UNICEF, World Food Programme, France, Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland.

Aid is provided under the following main headings.

Economic restructuring

The largest portion of the FY 2000 request, $33 million, was in this area. Priorities in FY 1999 included creation of a capital market, banker training, support of a Central Bank, and loan programs for small and medium enterprises. To achieve tax and fiscal reform and administrative efficiency, AID is supporting:

  • automation of the Treasury department budget process and other modernization measures for the municipal finance and of tax collection administrative systems in order to increase revenues,
  • advice to the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) for revision of tax codes and of the customs code to encourage more trade ,
  • a review of taxes and fees to facilitate trade and investment and efficient tax collection,
  • advice to the executive branch and National Assembly in creating a more transparent and efficient budget process.

Private enterprise development

To achieve more foreign and domestic investment, technology transfer, access to credit by domestic enterprises, access to export markets, accession to the WTO, and an improved legal and regulatory framework for economic activities, AID has been providing:

  • firm level assistance to create sustainable employment opportunities and reduce poverty.
  • firm level assistance and credit for small and medium enterprises (SME’s) including agribusiness through loans and training programs to develop growth strategies and improving products and services,
  • creation of a land registration and titling system and real estate market,
  • privatization of state-owned enterprises through offering of shares in a new capital market being created,
  • help to convert accounting standards,
  • assistance to creation of an enterprise database development of firm associations,
  • support of a local NGO providing technical assistance to the agricultural sector,
  • targeted technical assistance to leverage large loans from the World Bank.

Other donors include the Lincy Foundation, World Bank, German Development Agency (GTZ), the EBRD, and the EU TACIS programme. Contractors include the Eurasia Foundation, Shorebank (credit to SME’s), FINCA (micro-credit), IESC, RONCO (land titling and registration), Sibley International (accounting reform), IBTCI (privatization) and Academy for Educational Development (AED, training).

Financial sector development

Several AID programs aim at greater technical proficiency in financial transactions, public confidence in banking sector, and wider availability of financial services through:

creation of a strong central bank and commercial banks through training bank staff,

  • an electronic payments system for collecting utilities payments and disbursing social payments,
  • assistance in portfolio management,
  • support for a capital market.

Other donors in this area include: EU, TACIS, GTZ, World Bank, Lincy Foundation, Eurasia Foundation. Contractors include Shorebank, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Barents Group, and AED.

Energy restructuring

Since 1995, policy has shifting from humanitarian assistance to reform of the energy sector, attainment of private sector participation in energy production and distribution, increased efficiency, and reduced environmental hazards due to the continued operation of a nuclear power plant. Support has been provided for:

  • technical assistance in drafting a new energy law,
  • an energy regulatory commission,
  • privatization and restructuring of the power sector, improving financial viability of the sector, encouragement of commercialization of power sector.

Other donors are the World Bank, European Union. Contractors include Hagler Bailly, U.S. Energy Association, U.S. Geological Survey, and AED.

Democratization and citizens participation

Efforts to increase public participation and local initiative to energize local authorities included:

  • support for organizations such as NDI, IFES, and INTERNEWS to establish and strengthen democratic processes such as political parties and independent media.,
  • judicial and legislative reforms,
  • parliamentary training and support of indigenous NGO’s working toward legal and social reforms.

AID has also sought to spread information more widely, increase confidence in citizens’ ability to effect change and in political institutions, and foster the growth of civil society through:
  • combating the recurrence of the recent fraud in elections,
  • strengthening media coverage of public affairs,
  • technical/ journalistic training of journalists and media production specialists,
  • funding for making elections more transparent,
  • civic education in schools,
  • expanding and maturing of the NGO sector and opposition parties, such as through coalition building and advocacy of democratic reforms.

Judicial reform

Beginning in 1997, AID sought to strengthen the rule of law through improving the legal system’s independence from the executive branch, the impartiality of adjudication and enforcement, and the reduction of bribery and political connections. These objectives were pursued through:

  • aid for drafting the civil and criminal code,
  • support for independent associations of judges and other legal professionals,
  • support of a law library and law curriculum,
  • support for judicial examinations for new judges,
  • advice for a constitutional amendment to reduce the judiciary’s dependence on the executive branch.

AID is the leading and most comprehensive and ongoing donor in democratic development, but other donors such as the EU, Open Society Institute, and USIA provide some aid to NGO’s and media. The OSCE and Council of Europe provide aid around elections to the Central Election Commission. AID coordinates with the World Bank in a broad legal reform program, with EU/TACIS with respect to the Judicial Training Institute, as well as GTZ and the Dutch Government.

Contractors include Internews, Eurasia Foundation, National Democratic Institute, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IES), Armenian Assembly of America’s NGO Training and Resource Center, Junior Achievement of Armenia, the American Bar Association’s Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI), AMEX International, Inc. and IRIS.

Social stabilization

In 1993, much aid was devoted to the humanitarian needs of households and schools for food, such as bulk wheat, fuel such as kerosene, and medicines in response to recent natural disasters and war. But assistance has increasingly focused on longer-term institution-building efforts to create a self-sustaining social policy system, such as unemployment insurance, pension protection and community development programs. Emphasis is on improving social policymaking and administration, more effective targeting of assistance delivery on vulnerable and needy households, increased access to health care, food and shelter, creating civic social action groups, and reducing the social policy sector’s dependence on international support. In 1999, the policy emphasis was on assisting the government’s efforts to establish a sustainable social safety net delivery mechanisms and pilot projects for efficient delivery of social services, including decentralized health care. Thus, AID supported:

  • the establishment of a government monitoring system to track vulnerable groups,
  • supported local responsibility for producing potable water and irrigation,
  • technical assistance to aid GOA to identify most viable policy options for its social service system.

Other donors include the World Bank and the Armenian diaspora’s charitable contributions for orphanages, schools, health clinics, etc. Contractors have included UNICEF, American International Health Alliance, Save the Children Federation, IOM.

The Mission Director is Diane Tsitsos. USAID’s Armenia programs are managed from USAID/ Caucasus, Yerevan, Armenia, Contact: Geraldine Donnelly (Phone) 3742-151-955; (Fax) 3742-151-131. The Washington staff can be contacted through

USAID/ Yerevan
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20521-7020
Phone: 3742-151-955; Fax: 3742-151-131

Azerbaijan

In 1992, US aid to Azerbaijan was severely restricted by Section 907 of the U.S. Freedom Support Act, which prohibited aiding governments that blockade or use offensive force against Armenia. However, emergency humanitarian aid for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP’s) was provided in the form of food, clothing, medicines, basic health services, shelter, and rehabilitation of water-supply and sanitation systems through UNHCR, ICRC, and WFP. Aid was given through NGO’s such as Relief International, American Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, CARE, Save the Children, and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

Changes in the law made it possible to increase this aid somewhat and that for democracy-building through NGO’s, as well as for de-mining, resettlement and rehabilitation of areas occupied by Armenian forces. In 1997, some US-based, in-country training could be provided to selected Azeri private citizens and groups for business development and related leadership fields and improving humanitarian assistance management and delivery. This could include aid to farmers and agribusiness enterpreneurs in agricultural marketing, small business and banking, private university faculty and administration in curriculum development in economics and business administration, and local NGO’s in humanitarian aid program management, civil society, election monitoring, environment, journalism and mass media communications. Azerbaijan began an economic reform program in February 1996, including freeing bread and energy prices, and a program aimed at privatizing 75% of state-owned enterprises by 1998.

Nevertheless, U.S. AID still feels unable to provide the kind of assistance it believes necessary to stimulate the needed economic and political reforms that are needed to assure development of its oil reserves and political stability. Thus, it awaits a more definitive resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through a peace settlement that goes beyond the ceasefire. If and when a peace settlement is reached, more aid is planned for economic restructuring and business development. The gap between Azerbaijan’s potential ability from its oil revenues to support a transition to a market economy and pressing social needs, on the one hand, and its reluctance to liberalize its policies in order to do so, on the other, is also a source of major concern. The FY 1997 budget was $16.4 million and FY 1999 request was $33 million.

U.S. AID’s current stated goals in Azerbaijan include:

  • relief of remaining human suffering due to the earlier conflict, through strengthening the capacity of local NGO’s and community groups,
  • more accountable and responsive government through greater citizen participation and promotion of rule of law, and support for municipal elections, political party training, and support of independent media,
  • growth of the nascent private sector, through small and medium business development and training, and commercial law reform,

Humanitarian and social programs
  • primary health case, basic shelter, rehabilitation of urban shelter, income generation projects, and resettlement projects that were provided to IDPs are funded by AID,
  • food assistance is provided under the Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress program through U.S. private voluntary organizations,
  • medical equipment and supplies provided to Baku hospitals and medicines throughout Azerbaijan through State, Defense, AID, and NGO’s through the sponsorship and coordination of the Office of Coordinator to the NIS,
  • grants are provided by AID competitively for health, nutrition, shelter and economic opportunity through a new Azerbaijan Humanitarian Assistance Program in 1998 that is funded by AID and implemented by Mercy Corps International,
  • assistance for health and shelter needs goes to refugees, displaced persons, and needy civilians affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh (N-K) conflict through service providers that now can include Azerbaijan government health facilities and health providers. An example is a hospital partnership between Baylor Hospital and two hospitals in Baku. Another aspect provides rehabilitation of shelters in the Goranboy region in order to attract IDP’s home and income-generating activities and health care to keep them at home. These projects are expected to be village-based and designed with the participation of communities and grassroots community groups.

Economic restructuring
  • technical assistance and training are provided under the Small Business Lending and Microcredit Programs through an AID grant to Shorebank to enhance the small-business lending capacity of banks that provide loans for small business development, especially in agriculture and agribusiness. The loans are funded through International Finance Corporation loans and credit lines,
  • support for village bank lending activity and small loans to micro-entrepreneurs not serviced by the commercial banking sector through the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA),
  • hands-on technical assistance in production, transformation, marketing and finance to for-profit agricultural and agro-processing sectors under the Farmer to Farmer Program,
  • support to development of farmers associations and processing cooperatives in order to enhance the development and opportunities of agricultural enterprises and local organizations,

Democracy and civil society
  • voter education to the public about the electoral process and technical assistance and training for officials of the Central Electoral Commission about the new presidential election law, including a guide for poll-workers, provided by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES),
  • technical assistance from NDI funded by AID to the 6 political parties and to a local NGO that observed the October 1998 presidential election,
  • election observation by NDI and the International Republican Institute funded by AID,
  • grants from AID to the NGO Internews to conduct seminars to assist independent television stations to produce and exchange programming and to register and obtain broadcast licenses in the face of barriers posed by the government, and for a manual on how to conduct media election coverage,
  • grants for organizational development and training to local NGO’s working in the environmental and social sectors and other fields implemented by the Initiative for Social Action and Renewal (ISAR),
  • promotion of professional and business development associations, such as a local press association, and training to print journalists, from AID through the Eurasia Foundation,
  • support for local NGO’s to develop educational materials, conduct seminars and courses, create a technologically equipped human rights center and organize associations regarding democracy, human rights, and civic education, under the Democracy Fund Small Grants Program administered by USIA,
  • computer training and access under the Internet Access and training program to scholars, journalists, and others seeking information through Internet centers, administered by USIA,
  • exchange and visitor programs for students, scholars, politicians, journalists, editors, businessmen, and lawyers in the skills and methods of democracy through USIA,
  • university partnership projects through USIA that created an MBA program at Azerbaijan’s Western University and overhauled Khazur University’s library and information resource center,
  • training programs funded by AID in business development, agro-business, democratization, and community development for IDP and refugee leaders implemented through the Academy for Educational Development (AED) .

Other donors such as France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands, as well as the IMF and the World Bank, are providing a large amount of credit for restructuring the economy, stimulating small business development, and rehabilitating the power and water supply system. UNHCR is prominent in coordinating refugee assistance, and UNDP, UNICEF, the WFP, and WHO, as well as the International Federation of the Red Cross and the ICRC, provide direct humanitarian aid.

Spending level and funding source (approximate annual budget level and source of funds e.g., annual parliamentary appropriations, special funds, loans):

  • USD 6.5 million for restructuring,
  • USD 5.9 million for democratization,
  • USD 7.5 million for social stabilisation, and
  • USD 13.5 million for cross-cutting programs.

The Mission Director is Michael Farbman. USAID affairs in Azerbaijan are managed from USAID/ Caucasus, Yerevan, Armenia. Contact: Geraldine Donnelly (Phone) 3742-151-955; (Fax) 3742-151-131.

USAID/ Baku
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20521-7050
Tel 8922-960-469
Fax Not available

Georgia

In recent years, the overall goals of USAID programs have been economic restructuring, democratic transition, social stabilization and increased border control of illegal goods trafficking.

Security

  • Basic support equipment, housing and barracks, and other needs provided under the Border Security and Law Enforcement Program to border guards and the Customs Service to increase control over Georgia’s borders,
  • maritime equipment under the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) (or Nunn-Lugar Program) Program of the DoD to strengthen border security and help prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other trafficking of illegal goods,
  • financing of communications equipment under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Program to increase the ability of Georgia’s military forces to participate in NATO Partnership for Peace Program,
  • funding under the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET) to send Georgian officers to ranger and infantry training, a command and general staff course, English language training, and education in civil-military relations,
  • funding for tours to NATO for Georgian government officials and journalists in order to introduce them to NATO policy, the PfP, and European security and thus to increase understanding of NATO in Georgia,
  • funding for projects at universities and scientific institutes for former Soviet weapons scientists under the ISTC Program.

Energy delivery
  • funding from AID to the World Bank, Merrill Lynch and AES for providing assistance to municipal gas and electricity distribution enterprises to facilitate their privatization and increase efficient delivery of energy
  • funding from AID for a pilot demonstration project in the collection of energy payments by incorporating management reform, public education, equipment repairs, and revised policies,
  • support to the National Electricity Regulatory Commission from AID for increasing energy payment rates and thus allowing cost recovery and reinvestment in better service

Economic restructuring
  • technical assistance funded by AID under the Comprehensive Market Reform Programme (CMRP) to create and supply a Budget Analysis Office in the Parliament and a Fiscal Analysis Unit in the Ministry of Finance in order to increase tax collection,
  • tours to U.S. under USIA’s International Visitor Program for budget officers of the MoF and Parliament to programs on budget and fiscal management for training in procedures such as line itemization and money transfer,
  • technical assistance provided by AID through a contractor for creating a legal team in the Parliament to advise parliamentarians on land market issues so as to stimulate land privatization,
  • training funded by AID to accountants and auditors in market-oriented accounting principles, standards, and practices,
  • support from AID for establishing pilot share registries and the drafting of a securities law and law on entrepreneurs, thus helping to establish a securities market and inaugurate futures trading,
  • support from AID for the development of a legal and regulatory framework conducive to free trade and investment,
  • macro-economics curriculum. Support for translation from USIA of a college-level textbook on macro-economics, and for other curriculum development, through the Soros Open Society Institute and Eurasia Foundation,
  • bank training. Funding from AID for creating a local NGO that implemented a train-the-trainers program to train employees of commercial banks in finance,
  • electronic payments. Technical assistance funded by AID in electronic payment systems for the National Bank,
  • small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). financial and technical support from AID for training loan officers and credit committee members in lending institutions that guided the disbursement of loans to private companies in and around Tbilisi, and supporting the use of volunteer senior executives to provide technical, managerial, and business planning assistance through a resource center,
  • AID support for enterprises to produce better quality seed and improved technical and financial management for seed production.

Democracy
  • public information NGO’s. Grants that are awarded by the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy Commission provided to local NGO’s through a small grants program administered by USIA. A grant supported the information center Alternativa for a conflict resolution project to create public information centers to promote the settlement of the Georgia-Ossetian conflict. Grants were given to a local association of information specialists for training in information retrieval, the Caucusus-American Bureau on Human Rights and the Rule of Law for monitoring and advocating human rights and the Youth League for civic education in the regions. Grants were also given to independent newspapers, including Kavkazioni for a Southern Caucasus Journalists Center devoted to conflict resolution and publication of a regional newspaper Common Caucasus Newspaper in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan,
  • election assistance. Technical assistance to the Central Election Commission for a poll-worker manual, training of election officials and poll-watchers, and voter education,
  • judicial reform. AID support for clinical legal education, support for expanding lawyers’ associations, technical assistance for drafting codes and laws, and a judicial qualifying exam,
  • parliamentary assistance. Support for a manual on legislative oversight and facilitation of better-focussed hearings, a weekly government question answering hour, reporting from committees to the full parliament, and improved information management services,
  • citizen participation. Support for a local NGO, International Society for Free Elections (ISFED), to establish citizen advisory committees in Tbilisi and several regions. In some municipalities, for example, the latter obtained public hearings on the local budget,
  • public administration education. Support from USIA for a master’s programme in public administration at the Georgian Institute of Public Administration,
  • research center. Support from USIA for a Tbilisi information reference center to assist Georgian officials to answer various technical questions relevant to the content of various laws,
  • education exchanges and opportunities. Under the Future Leaders Exchange Program, USIA is supporting visits of Georgian and Abkhazian high school students to the U.S., and university studies in the U.S. by Georgian students,
  • professional exchanges. Under USIA’s Community Connections Program and International Visitor program, Georgian entrepreneurs and other professionals worked in U.S. businesses similar to their own or visited the U.S. to participate in training and seminars on their subjects. Areas of professional activity included wheat-growing, agricultural lending, education, journalism, law, human rights, cultural preservation, and teaching of the disabled. U.S. speakers on certain subjects such as international adoption were brought to Georgia to participate in a Georgian conference on the subject,
  • Georgian-Abkhazian Youth Camp. AID supported a summer camp for Georgian and Abkhazian children in which they learned conflict resolution skills and established friendships.

Humanitarian and social sector
  • food assistance. Food donated through the US Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress Program, and wheat and vegetable oil was provided through the P.L. 480 Program,
  • humanitarian goods. Various basic commodities were funded by the Department of State’s Operation Provide Hope and distributed by U.S. private voluntary organizations such as United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Shelter, water and sanitation facilities, food and other basic needs were provided to the UN World Food Programme and UN High Commissioner for Refugees for IDP’s through AID,
  • fuel assistance. Natural gas was purchased and delivered by AID to cover a shortfall in fuel needed at the Russian-Georgian border for generating electricity in late winter,
  • youth houses. Funding from AID for youth houses in Sukhumi and Tbilisi for traumatized victims of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict,
  • disease prevention. AID funding for UNICEF mass inoculations against measles for children, for immunization of adults and children at risk of diptheria, and for travel for health professionals to study HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases.

Cooperating actors have been the World Food Programme, International Organization for Migration, and UNICEF. Other actors include World Bank-Georgia, UNDP, and the Eurasia Foundation. Contractors include American Educational Development, ABA/ CEELI, AMEX, NDI, and IRI.

USAID’s Georgia programs are managed from USAID/ Caucasus, Yerevan, Armenia, Geraldine Donnelly (Phone) 3742-151-955; (Fax) 3742-151-131.

In Washington, contact:
USAID/ Tbilisi
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20521-3180
Tel: 8832-93-2916
Fax: 995 8832-0010133

4. ENTRY POINTS FOR ENGAGEMENT

A few broad observations may stimulate discussion and exploration of the most promising entry points for EWI and FEWER reports and activities in the Caucasus. Three kinds of issues may provide the greatest leverage for EWI, FEWER and other international and local NGO’s in preventing violent conflicts in the region.

1) Add impetus to resolve unresolved conflicts. The first involves promoting more intense support from the U.S. and other influential actors behind balanced, impartial and cooperative efforts to advance the OSCE and other negotiations that are currently being conducted to definitively resolve the Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts. They should not follow the course of the unresolved Chechnya conflict. This may include providing additional NGO non-official dialogues or other services where needed in the area of people-to-people contacts in various sectors and levels in order to build up stronger cross-lines peace constituencies. However, it is imperative that any such efforts study what already has gone on of this type of activity so they can provide value-added support and enhance the synergy of such efforts. They should not simply add further confusion among the array of NGO-sponsored activities that have been launched.

2) Monitor and improve conflict prevention impacts of non-conflict sensitive programs so they are effective as "structural prevention." The main emphasis of U.S. policy in the region is on seemingly technical-economic and non-political concerns such as market-oriented reform of the economy and humanitarian aid. This emphasis involves programs that operate through conventional aid sectors such as macro-economic policy in the central government and the social services. By and large, relatively less aid appears to be focussed on promoting effective and accommodating political processes. But although these programs are aimed at creating modern state and civil societies, the effects of such processes in a country can either contribute toward or prevent the emergence of potential violent conflicts.

3) Increase dialogue with personnel in different technical fields. These types of dominant U.S. Caucasus programs bring EWI and FEWER into a potential dialogue with a myriad of technical fields and their personnel such as government administrators, contractors, consultants, scientists, doctors, accountants, and professionals of many other sorts. Such persons have the predominant expertise and legitimacy but do not generally see themselves as related to the cause of conflict prevention. Consequently, EWI and FEWER face the interesting analytical challenge of showing how the many types of programs in these sectors can have impact in avoiding doing more harm through conflict exacerbation and doing greater good in conflict prevention if they operated in specifically conflict-sensitive and targeted ways. Thus, its recommendations might speak to programs such as the physical and procedural modernization of government tax collection or budget-making. But to accomplish this kind of specific programmatic advice, EWI and FEWER reports need to consider how the operations and impact of actual or potential programs stack up in terms of specifically defined prevention and peace-building criteria. On the one hand, the analysis should show the positive or negative links between various programs while on the other, the sources and dynamics of emerging conflicts and the societal capacities that preserve and strengthen non-violent means for addressing problems.

4) Develop criteria for peace/ conflict impact assessment. Criteria for tracking the impact of programs on peace or conflict are not well developed. Some that could be used are the allocation of benefits from programs across major mobilized societal groups and regions, the timing of programs in relation to events that may increase tensions, and their use in defusing the proximate sources of violence such as unemployed youth. More work needs to be done to elaborate a list of such criteria and see how they are reflected in differing ways to the design and implementation programs in many policy sectors.

5) Address relatively ignored issues and areas. Despite the involvement of many U.S. and other programs in various parts and aspects of the life of the Caucasus, a number of sub-regions and policy issues present potential for increased tensions and instability that can become exploited politically. An example that was discussed at the Tbilisi workshop sponsored by the EastWest Institute was the region of Javakheti, which is a mountainous and highly undeveloped area lying to the south of Tbilisi and adjacent to the border with Armenia. With its predominant population of ethnic Armenians, its social isolation from the mainstream Georgian economy and political system, its heavy dependence for income on the employment of inhabitants at a Russian military base, and the beginnings of political organization around autonomy issues, the Javakheti area cannot be ignored but needs to be better integrated into Georgia through specific projects that address its needs in low-key ways. Another such area which has avoided conflict so far but could generate increasing tensions is Adjaria in Georgia.

5. SELECTED REFERENCES

Zbigniew Brezinski, "The Caucasus and New Geo-political Realities: How the West Can Support the Region," Keynote Address at a conference sponsored by the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Congress, Washington, D.C. March 26, 1997.

John J. Maresca, "U.S. Ban on Aid to Azerbaijan (Section 907): How it Started and Why it Should be Lifted," Azerbaijan International, Winter 1998

Websites:
http://www.info.usaid.gov/pubs/cp2000/eni/armenia.html
http://www.info.usaid.gov/pubs/cp2000/eni/azerbaij.html
http://www.info.usaid.gov/pubs/cp2000/eni/georgia.html