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William B. Taylor

Friday, May 31st 2002.

Guest: Mr. Frederick Schieck, Deputy Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Host: Veran Matic


Matic: The US President's “Compact for Development" created a separate development assistance account called, the "Millennium Challenge Account", will Serbia have access to this Fund?

Schieck: I believe that it was in March that President Bush announced the ‘’Millennium Challenge Account’’, which is a very important step because it represents 50 per cent increase in US economic assistance to the countries of the world. We are now in the process of defining how that programme will work. One of the important things that the President said was that we wanted to assist governments which were making good progress. And so, we are currently in the process of trying to define what is good progress. So, I cannot be specific on which countries would be eligible at this time, but I assume that Serbia would be included within the broader list of countries which we would want to consider as possible candidates, but it’s not… it’s too soon to say which one would actually be on it.  

Bozidar Djelic

Schieck: We have always believed that the most responsive governments are the governments which are close to the people

Matic: The United States Government is investing $ 200 million over 5 years in community development in Serbia.  Can you explain why this assistance is a priority for the United States Government?

Schieck: We have always believed that the most responsive governments are the governments which are close to the people, and clearly when we speak of things like education, and health, and local roads, local government plays a very important role. My understanding is that here, in Serbia, there is a policy of the government to delegate authorities, greater authorities, to local governments for these kinds of things. And for us, this is a good opportunity to provide assistance to help that process along. We believe that it also strengthens democracy because we believe that at the local level leaders are more responsive to what peoples’ needs are, and if we can facilitate that process through this programme, we believe that it would be to the benefit of the people of Serbia.   

Matic: Does USAID recognize judicial reform as a key-element of democratic transition? How?

Schieck: Judicial reform is very important. We believe that people must have confidence in their judicial systems, for a simple things, if it’s only to enforce a contract, but if people think that the judicial system isn’t fair, you know, or that… that it isn’t … doesn’t make the correct decisions, if they believe that there’s undue influence in the system, then a country loses a lot, and so we have a high priority on trying to strengthen the judiciaries, because we think it has a direct impact on how people view their own governments, and how the governments work.  

Will Serbia have to face the same certification issues next March 2003?

Schieck: We look forward to a continued cooperation by Serbia with the Hague Tribunal, and we all hope that the certification will no longer be required in future, but it’s too soon to say exactly where we’ll come out of this right now.

© B92, 2002