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Cablegate: Czech Republic: Solidly On Board with Belarus

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

REF: STATE 168836

1. (U) SUMMARY. The Czech MFA and its partner NGO People
in Need (PIN) are strongly committed to democracy promotion
in Belarus. The GOCR and USG approaches to Belarus are fully
aligned, and Czech MFA is actively engaged in molding EU
policy on Belarus transition. MFA has approved USD 18,000
to support a public opinion poll project in Belarus, and
seeks to support a joint Czech-Polish project for radio
transmission into Belarus through financial and programmatic
support in direct cooperation with PIN. Both Czech MFA and
PIN are dedicated to taking the Czech Republic,s &lessons
learned8 based on its own transition to a democracy and
actively marketing it across borders. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Visiting USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for
Europe and Eurasia Thomas Mefford, accompanied by visiting
Czech Desk Officer and econoff, met September 26 with
Gabriela Dlouha, MFA Director for the Office of Transition
Promotion (TRANS) to discuss the Czech Republic,s roadmap as
an emerging donor, with particular focus on Belarus. Dlouha
emphasized that TRANS is a critical part of the overall Czech
development assistance system, and is directly linked to GOCR
foreign policy objectives. TRANS seeks to support Czech NGOs
(among which PIN is its primary partner), in foreign
countries, as well as in the development of Czech civil
society, by encouraging these NGOs to seek an active role in
public discourse on foreign policy. Dlouha noted that while
TRANS has a strong and clear vision of where it wants to take
its mission, it faces a steep learning curve when it comes to
program management and implementation. Responding to Desk
Officer,s inquiry about coordination with the EU, Dlouha
said that GOCR will remain cognizant of Brussels, but also
seeks to realize its own vision of democracy promotion and
will try to influence EU policy to that end.

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3. (U) Dlouha cited democracy promotion in Belarus as a key
objective. MFA plans to use radio broadcasts to advance
democracy in Belarus, in conjunction with PIN and a Polish
NGO, East European Democracy Institute. MFA will also
provide USD 18,000 to support a public opinion poll project
in Belarus. MFA plans to support the radio project via three
avenues: financial support, serving on the board of radio
for Belarus, and programmatic contributions in cooperation
with Czech Radio. (She noted that GOCR successfully
convinced the EU that the radio project tender should be for
programs in Belarussian, not just Russian.) PIN will supply
pre-recorded radio programs, which the Poles will broadcast
into Belarus. The programs will feature prominent Czechs,
such as Former President Vaclav Havel, expressing their views
on the democratic process. MFA also seeks to bring people
from Belarus to the Czech Republic and transmit their stories
over Czech Radio. DAA Mefford commented that Belarus was an
opportunity for GOCR to put TRANS on the map.

4. (U) In a separate meeting on September 21, poloffs met
with Simon Panek, Director of PIN, and Igor Blazevic, head of
PIN,s Human Rights Section, to discuss the radio project and
PIN,s ongoing efforts to promote democracy in Central Asia
and the Middle East. Panek said the EU has declined to fund
the radio project because the Polish NGO has not existed for
three years, a requirement for EU funds. Panek also hinted
that the tender for this project might have been written to
favor Deutsche Welle. In addition to the radio project, PIN
also offered to provide as many as 10 trained and experienced
local election monitors for upcoming elections in Belarus.
Panek clarified that such assistance would need to be part of
a larger monitoring effort led by others.

5. (U) COMMENT: Democracy promotion is one of few areas
where GOCR is willing to stand tall and shape EU policy
formation. The USG should engage GOCR given this timely
nexus between USG and GOCR foreign policy evolution embracing
democracy promotion. Post suggests State and USAID consider
a coordinated approach to inform and engage the MFA (and
through it, also PIN) -- whether through co-financing
projects, co-sponsoring events, and/or shared country/policy
assessments -- in our democracy promotion activities around
the world, and particularly in this region. Post Belarus
assistance primary POC is Political Officer Sarah Peck.

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