Cablegate: Is There a Future for the Ankara Hub

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Embassy Ankara and REO Ankara recommend that EUR and OES
consider closing the Hub in Ankara upon the departure of the
incumbent REO. This proposal has been discussed with Hub
embassies. Most agreed that without program funding the Hub
cannot be effective. Kiev, however, saw value in having
someone cover regional issues, even if there are no programs.

2. The Ankara Hub was established in 1999 to cover the Black
Sea/Caucasus region (Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria). The region suffers
from a number of transboundary EST&H problems that the Hubs
were established to address. These include industrial
pollution, inadequate wastewater treatment, excessive
nutrient runoff into the Black Sea and widespread
deforestation. Cooperation among the Black Sea/Caucasus
countries is poor and is complicated by historical
animosities and suspicions. Regional organizations, such as
the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), are largely
ineffective in addressing regional problems. In addition,
USAID programs in the region -- particularly environmental
programs -- have been sharply reduced.

3. The challenges and opportunities for the Hub are
apparent. However, a lack of program funding has limited the
efforts of the Ankara Hub to fulfill its role. The Ankara
Hub has never been allotted funds from the annual OESI
program for regional activities. REO and his predecessor
have visited client posts and consulted with regional
organizations and NGOs to develop an expertise on the EST&H
challenges facing the region, support efforts to build
regional cooperation and raise awareness of these issues.
However, identification of issues needing Hub intervention
has not resulted in funding to support Hub initiatives. The
absence of program funding and the relatively higher priority
accorded other issues in a region where embassies have a
challenging agenda mean that the Ankara Hub can point to few
examples where Hub efforts have contributed to new
initiatives or enhanced regional cooperation. As the 2002
draft report on Environmental Hubs pointed out: The ability
of the Hubs "to stimulate the sort of regional environmental
science and health activities, such as regional environmental
workshops, that are central to their mandate is dependent on
their access to some funding of this kind" (program funding).
"Promoting regional dialogue takes money."

4. Without program funds, EUR, OES and Ankara resources
maintaining a Hub are not well utilized. Space and support
resources in Ankara are at a premium; we do not encourage
regional activities here. While we have been happy to
provide support for important science and environmental
activities, the Hub experience here has been marginal.
Embassy Ankara and REO recommend that the Department consider
closing the Hub upon departure of the incumbent.

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