FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance
Foreign Assistance Goals
The primary goal of U.S. regional assistance programs is to improve cross-border cooperation in areas essential to the economic and political success of Central Asia, as well as to promote security. The region is full of great opportunities and great challenges. It possesses a wealth of natural resources ranging from highly educated people to huge hydrocarbon reserves. It has millions of acres of fertile farmland fed by great rivers and is optimally located to benefit from world trade, situated at the crossroads between Europe, South Asia and the Middle East. Unfortunately, the region suffers from a legacy of corruption, isolation, irrational boundaries, environmental disaster, and centrally planned development that leaves each of the new states without the infrastructure or the expertise they would need to exist as independent nations. In this position the newly independent states of Central Asia are in fact largely dependent on each other for survival and at the same time governed by officials possessing little experience with international cooperation. In addition, the region is also a major transit route for heroin and other drugs flowing from Afghanistan, creating serious security as well as public health problems.
United States regional programs are focused on five objectives; improving the systems of energy production and sharing, expanding trade, fostering free media, innovating higher education and improving security cooperation to control international terrorism and the trade of narcotics. These objectives are addressed in the regional portfolio because success in each area will require significant cross-border cooperation and coordination and because these challenges cannot be sufficiently addressed with bilateral projects alone. Activities in 2008 included USG work to help Central Asian’s escape their traditional isolation by expanding trade relations into new economically feasible directions, fostering of coordination between regional law enforcement officials to better combat the threats of international terrorism and narcotics, and a program to help the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) gain U.S. accreditation.
Total FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $5.93m*
Highlights of FY 2008 Performance by Area of Focus
Peace and Security
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Supported Chemical Precursor Control. U.S. counternarcotics assistance helped launch Operation TARCET, a multilateral operation organized from Kazakhstan to target acetic anhydride (AA) en route to Afghanistan. In total, 109 Central Asian law enforcement officers participated in the operation along various borders in the region. While the assessment of the operation is still ongoing, initial reports show that, for the first time since 2001, seizures of precursor chemicals have been carried out by Afghanistan’s neighbors including: 156 kilos of acetic anhydride seized in Tajikistan (one case); 1.6 tons of acetic acid in Uzbekistan (one case); and six tons of sulphuric acid in the Kyrgyz Republic (four cases). Follow-up investigations were launched in each of the cases and a trafficking group operating in the Republic of Korea has been identified and dismantled, and prosecutions are underway.
- Supported the Central Asia Regional Information Coordination Center (CARICC) to counter the narcotics trade. USG support helped CARICC start its operations in November 2007, even before the all parties had formally agreed to participate. Since the start of the pilot phase a series of information bulletins regarding drug seizures, smuggling trends and crime groups have been issued by the Center. CARICC was the focal point for coordination of Operation TARCET, described above. In addition, CARICC developed a strategic drug threat assessment for the region. CARICC will be a focal point for the drug profiling units being established under the EC’s CADAP program. Operations initiated by the liaison officers and coordinated through the Center have resulted in the dismantling of ten trafficking routes, the arrest of numerous traffickers and seizure of 200 kilograms of heroin. The Center began development of information collection databases; different types of software for intelligence analysis are being tested in CARICC to identify the most suitable solutions for the needs of CARICC. Interpol committed to an office within the Center once the CARICC Agreement enters into force. Though they have yet to establish an office at CARICC, Interpol did install their I-24/7 criminal database computer system in December 2007 and training was provided to CARICC staff. In addition to providing encrypted, secure, real-time communication links, the I-24/7 system gave access to valuable policing information on the Interpol network.
- Supported law enforcement training at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Budapest. ILEA Budapest has graduated over 200 students from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Armenia. ILEA Budapest conducted five 8-week core and approximately ten 1- to 2-week specialized courses – in addition to numerous conferences and seminars on law enforcement-related topics. To ensure quality training, ILEA Budapest conducted four types of internally-focused conferences: needs assessment to bring U.S. and local law enforcement leadership together to assess local needs; curriculum, to determine and update curriculum based on changing needs and conditions; leaders, to bring together leaders from participating nations to discuss program relevance to pressing law enforcement issues in their respective countries; and retraining, to bring ILEA graduates back to provide feedback on all aspects of the program.
Governing Justly and Democratically
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Provided communities throughout Central Asia with greater access to objective news and information beyond Russian produced media. In FY2008, the program reached a potential viewing audience of 20,065,000, nearly 33 percent of the Central Asian population. This represents an 18 percent increase in potential viewing audience from project launch in March 2007. In 2008, 42 private television stations in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan participated in the regional content exchange. Partner stations re-broadcast content received either over the air or from delivered video cassettes and DVDs. The satellite broadcasts for 12 hours per day, including five hours of new content, five hours of rebroadcasts, and two hours of music. The daily schedule for new content consists of 30 minutes each of Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, and Uzbek language programming, one hour of programming in Tajik, and two hours in Russian. Satellite broadcasts are also available to any viewer with a home satellite receiver. Recent market survey data indicate that approximately 60 percent of satellite viewers in Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic tune into the broadcasts regularly. In Tajikistan, 24 percent of satellite viewers tune in and in Uzbekistan 17 percent watch regularly.
Investing in People
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Worked to enhance regional cooperation on research and general higher educational issues through support for the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. In FY 2008, AUCA worked towards U.S. accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The USG is seeking to support an example of a Western-style liberal arts and science university that fosters critical thinking, prepares students for entry into the workplace and fosters a vibrant and well trained faculty. U.S. accreditation will help attract more international students and better faculty and will allow for credits earned at AUCA to be applied to almost any university in the world.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan improve the regional trading environment, characterized by cumbersome customs clearance procedures, non-World Trade Organization (WTO)-compliant customs valuation, and other requirements that do not conform to international norms. Key achievements in 2008 include analysis and technical advice on specific priority accession or implementation issues as identified by key ministry counterparts responsible for WTO issues, and engagement to ensure proper implementation of WTO-compliant procedures for customs valuation, standards, and intellectual property rights. USG assistance also presented the three governments with proposals to streamline customs procedures, modernize border transit management, and develop a single system for pre-customs clearance designed to reduce paperwork and streamline import/export licensing.
- Completed a feasibility study related to electrical transmission in the southern region of the Kyrgyz Republic, and began a studies looking into the feasibility of the proposed Yagnob coal electrical generation plant in Tajikistan and the proposed north-south transmission line in the Kyrgyz Republic. Following a USG-sponsored regional conference, reached agreement with regional officials on pursuing a regional fiber optic line. The proposed project will connect to the fiber optic ring now under construction in Afghanistan and reach eastward into Pakistan and northward into Central Asia and into Europe through Azerbaijan and Turkey. A USG-funded aviation conference focused on regional integration in Central and South Asia and aviation liberalization. This conference was run in parallel with the American Association of Airport Executives’ 14th Annual North America / Central Europe / Central and South Asia Airport Issues Conference in Athens, Greece, October 28-30, 2008. The conference educated public sector officials and helped define regional approaches to liberalize aviation markets in the region; improve regional aviation links (number and frequency of flights); improve the conditions for air cargo; foster private sector financing; and, improve safety, security and customs issues. For FY 2008, USG trade development projects were linked to $172 million in new U.S. exports to the region.
- In the energy sector, assisted efforts to understand and implement legal and regulatory reforms which would support power sector development, stimulate private investment, and expand access to regional markets. Regional market development includes USG support for the implementation of the Central Asia–South Asia high voltage transmission line project, by advising CAR countries on the development of export oriented policies and with analysis of power sector investment opportunities. The Regional Energy Market Assistance Program (REMAP) directly supports USG efforts in Afghanistan on development of electric power networks and commercialization under the North East Power Systems (NEPS) project that will require the import of approximately 300 megawatts each from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. NEPS and transmission lines to import CAR power to Afghanistan, currently under planning and construction phase, are a priority for stabilizing Afghanistan.
- Provided Power System Simulation software and technical assistance to six national grid companies and the regional Coordination Dispatch Center, which completed national transmission planning models. These models will be integrated to produce a model for all of Central Asia – a model that can be used to analyze transmission system bottlenecks, guide infrastructure investment plans, and increase the reliability of the transmission system. The latter being especially important to integrating the Central Asia system with Afghanistan through new interconnections with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
- Through the USG-funded advisor for regional integration and energy, an intergovernmental agreement was signed that provided a structure for the trade and transmission of electricity between Pakistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
- Working with border customs departments throughout the region, helped identify key administrative and technical barriers to expanding cross border electricity flow among Central Asian countries. Issues such as complicated customs declaration procedures, prepayment for future electricity trade, and payment for regulatory services were discussed.
- Provided trade capacity building support to Central Asian governments reviewing legislation for compliance with World Trade Organization agreements and regulations -- including trade related intellectual property rights protection, sanitary and phyto-sanitary controls, food safety, and customs valuation. USG assistance provided support to draft amendments on Customs Codes and Laws on Free Economic Zones and helped with efforts to introduce a Single-Window and Simplification of Export and Import Procedures and Documentation, organized initially under a German Assistance Agency (GTZ) project. In cooperation with GTZ, a Single Window concept paper and Feasibility Study for Single Window was completed and went to the ministries for review and comments in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan.