USAID Field Report Serbia and Montenegro Sep 2001

Report
from US Agency for International Development
Published on 30 Sep 2001


United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Humanitarian Response
Office of Transition Initiatives

Program Description

The United States Agency for International Development's Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) launched the Democratic Transition Initiative (DTI) in Serbia and Montenegro in early 2001 to consolidate the political gains achieved through elections in September and December 2000. DTI promotes citizen action that encourages participation and government accountability. DTI-supported projects are designed to improve citizen participation in government decision-making; support interest groups that promote government reform and responsiveness to citizens; magnify democratic gains through the use of media; and promote a transparent electoral process that encourages active and informed citizen participation. The first phase of OTI's program to promote a peaceful democratic transition in Serbia and Montenegro began in July 1997. OTI intensified its support to action-oriented media, civil society groups, democratically-oriented municipalities, and democratic political initiatives leading up to elections in 2000.

OTI's implementing partner in Serbia and Montenegro is Creative Associates International, Incorporated.

Country Situation

The September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States garnered intense media coverage, with regular programming preempted by live satellite coverage from New York and Washington. The attacks pushed most local events into the background and local officials and politicians denounced the terrorist acts and expressed sympathy for the victims and their families. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic condemned the attacks at a joint press conference in Podgorica. To express solidarity with the people of the United States, the government of Montenegro proclaimed September 14, 2001, a Day of Remembrance in Montenegro. The Yugoslav government stated it was ready to assist in international efforts to find and punish the perpetrators.

Efforts by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) government to schedule talks on the future of relations between the two remaining republics in Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, remain stalled. The Montenegrin ruling coalition refused to participate in discussions with the FRY government, arguing that their boycott of the 2000 federal elections means that they do not recognize the current federal government. By month's end, the federal government and republic level governments had yet to find a solution to the impasse.

In September, the United Nations Security Council lifted its embargo on the FRY's purchase of weapons, military equipment, spare parts and ammunition imports. The Security Council established the embargo in March 1998, in response to the Milosevic's regime's military and police repression in the predominately Albanian province of Kosovo. The Security Council explained that the new decision reflected its approval of the increasing cooperation of the new Belgrade authorities with the UN civilian administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). The Yugoslav Defense Ministry welcomed the decision to lift the arms embargo, noting that it provided evidence of the growing trust of the international community in FRY policies.

In September, Serbia's Minister for Economy and Privatization, Aleksandar Vlahovic, presented the republic government's privatization program to the public. Serbian government officials held a central promotional presentation, kicking off a public education campaign on the privatization process. Minister Vlahovic stated that in addition to distributing brochures to companies and producing television spots, government officials would visit communities throughout Serbia to explain privatization efforts directly to the people.

Workers from Telekom Serbia and the Post, Telegraph, and Telephone Serbia (PTT) went on strike in September over wages and management concerns. The Telekom Serbia labor union complained that the "management committee has not had a meeting for months. The business plan has not been adopted, no investments in the company are being made." According to the PTT Serbia union, some 90% of the employees are on strike (approx. 10,000 people), but basic services are still being provided.

Serbs living in Presevo municipality (Southern Serbia) and the Presevo-based Serbian Council for Human Rights expressed concern about an increasing number of home sales by Serbs to ethnic Albanians. According to the Council for Human Rights, limited financial prospects and an uncertain future appear to be the main reasons for the home sales, although there is concern that Serbs feel increasingly unwelcome in the predominately ethnic Albanian municipality.

The Vojvodina Executive Council is drafting an omnibus bill to devolve policy responsibility from the Serbian republic level government to the Vojvodina provincial authorities for education, culture, health, social and pension security, water management, agriculture, public information and the official use of language and alphabet. In a news conference, Executive Council Vice-President Dusko Radosavljevic, a senior official of the Reformists of Vojvodina (RV) political party, explained that the Executive Council was drafting the omnibus bill following agreements made at a meeting of the respective governments of Vojvodina and Serbia.

OTI Highlights

A. Narrative Summary

On September 14, the NGO Otpor ("Resistance") kicked off the follow-on phase for its anti-corruption campaign. In this next phase, the campaign will expand upon earlier anti-corruption efforts to show how corruption pervades all levels of Serbian society. DTI provided funding for billboard, television, radio and newspaper ads. Billboards for the campaign feature a set of rotting teeth (the campaign uses images of unhealthy-i.e. corrupt-organisms, which can be cured of their illness) with the slogan "unroot corruption...without anesthesia." In addition to the media component, the campaign includes panel discussions and the establishment of 40 local offices to collect and investigate evidence of corruption.

The municipality of Paracin (population 65,000) is located in the Morava river valley and has been a stronghold for the traditional Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) and Yugoslav United Left (JUL). Until the most recent elections, the democratic opposition parties had never achieved electoral success. Izvor (1,200 inhabitants) was specifically targeted for DTI's community improvement process because of this political history and the need to build active citizen participation in decision-making. One project is a DTI-funded water project.

In September, a DTI engineer and project development officer (PDO) visited Izvor and reported that the work was progressing well with active community participation. Local community members, the municipal government and the Paracin Water Supply Company all have made contributions to the project.

During the month, DTI met with the World Bank and other donors to coordinate efforts to assist the Serbian republic government improve public relations and education efforts in promoting privatization reforms. Other donors decided to provide consultants, polling, and training to the various ministries and public relations officers, and DTI agreed to fund five priority public education campaigns. By engaging public relations officers from each of the republic ministries, along with representatives from the government communications bureau, DTI hopes that a priority list of five issues can be determined.

In September, a DTI media officer participated in Transparency International's Regional Conference on Anti-corruption, Rule of Law, and the Media in Dubrovnik, Croatia. With Serbia still at the beginning of the reform process, the conference provided several ideas on how DTI can encourage grantees to devise creative strategies to publicize and promote governmental reform initiatives. The media officer also gave a presentation on media and legal reforms in Serbia, highlighting the work of DTI.

B. Indicators of Success

In September, DTI worked with USAID partners to leverage a key public information campaign. Working with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and MAPA, a Montenegrin marketing agency, DTI helped to increase public awareness and discussion of the ongoing mass voucher privatization (MVP) process in Montenegro. MAPA produced four 20-25 minute programs about key components of the MVP process, presenting a coherent explanation of the complicated privatization process. The programs each aired once on state television during prime time, and will be aired once again before the MVP's end date of October 15. To further increase public awareness of privatization efforts, PriceWaterhouseCoopers funded a DTI grantee to produce a 14-part series of ads examining public companies to be privatized that will be aired between the showings of the MAPA programs on state television. Montena TV and TV Rozaje will also broadcast the ads. To meet the October 15 deadline, DTI and the grantee conceptualized and produced the media project within a month.

Citizens and television stations commented positively on the recent DTI-funded television mini-series, "Sofa", produced by ShockArt, a documentary production house. Ten 30-minute programs of "Sofa" were broadcast in September. The programs examined the role of the intellectual elite during the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia over the past decade and posed questions about personal and generational responsibility for the bloodshed. ShockArt's unique format consisted of personal interviews with well-known intellectuals, seated on a distinctive red sofa in various locations throughout Belgrade. Several television stations, including Radio Television Serbia, the state-owned media outlet, contacted ShockArt to see about broadcasting the program on its stations. ShockArt is currently arranging to broadcast some of its programs on additional stations.

DTI recommended four of six Serbian mayors selected by the U.S. State Department to participate in their International Visitors Program. DTI recommended these mayors because of their successful cooperation in the Community Improvement Project (CIP) process. The mayors will visit the United States for a two-to-three week period at the end of October, visiting Washington, D.C., New York and additional cities/towns similar in size to their respective municipalities.

The DTI Serbia and Montenegro baseline study has not only provided data that can be used to gauge program impact, but also provides information that program staff can use to encourage local governments to engage in citizen consultation in the CIP process. In a recent meeting with the President of the Executive Council from Knic Municipality, a Kragujevac office PDO referred to the study to highlight the discrepancy in opinion between local officials and citizens regarding citizen participation. The PDO cited the finding that 100% of Montenegrin and 78% of Serb local representatives indicated that they had communicated with their constituents in the past six months. This finding contrasted with the 77% of Montenegrin citizens and 87% of Serbian citizens who responded that their local representatives had not communicated with them in the same time period. Citing this statistic enabled the PDO to confidently suggest that a town hall meeting, with ample pre-meeting citizen notification, including a media component, could be the appropriate vehicle for identifying the target community's priorities and selecting a project for DTI. For more information on the DTI baseline study, see the August monthly report.

C. Grants Activity Summary

In September 2001, DTI approved 20 grants, valued at $573,730, bringing the total number of approved grants in FY 2001 to 284 grants.


Obligated funds (USD)
Number of grants approved
Office
CIP*
NGO Support
Media
Election Support
Total Office for Sept
CIP*
NGO Support
Media
Election Support
Total for Sept
Belgrade
91,692
-
21,670
-
113,362
3
-
4
-
7
Kragujevac
116,219
-
-
-
116,219
5
-
-
-
5
Nis
298,189
-
-
-
298,189
6
-
-
-
6
Novi Sad
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Podgorica
42,000
-
3,960
-
45,960
1
-
1
-
2
Month of Sept 2001
548,100
-
25,630
-
573,730
15
-
5
-
20
Approved To Date **
3,594,363
612,635
1,193,668
1,643,464
7,044,130
133
22
74
55
284
CIP* - Community Improvement Projects
Approved to Date** -- This total includes RONCO grants approved between October 1-December 22, 2000.

Southern Serbia Grants Activity Summary: February 2001 - present

 
Obligated Funds (USD)
Number of Grants Committed
Southern Serbia
CIP
NGO Support
Media
Election Support
Total
CIP
NGO Support
Media
Election Support
Total Office
Under Development *
45,820
-
-
-
45,820
10
-
-
-
10
Approved
714,341
-
47,150
-
761,491
16
-
3
-
19
Completed
265,258
4,725
-
-
269,983
9
1
-
-
10
TOTAL
1,025,418
4,725
47,150
-
1,077,293
35
1
3
-
39
* Please note that project costs have not been developed for all projects under development

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

Priorities for October include:

  • Continued coordination with newly selected USAID Mission-supported NGOs, which will be implementing a similar community impact project (CIP) process.
  • Incorporation of indicators for measuring impact into the DTI grants database.
  • Finalization of DTI's Revised Program Strategy.
  • Continued development of tools for monitoring and evaluation.

For further information or questions, please contact:

In Serbia, contact Paul Randolph, Country Representative for Serbia/Montenegro (Paul_Randolph@dti.co.yu) and/or Erin Miller, Deputy Country Representative (Erin_Miller@dti.co.yu).

In Washington, contact Robert Jenkins, Europe and Eurasia Team Leader (rjenkins@usaid.gov) and/or Sara Brewer, Program Manager (sbrewer@usaid.gov).