Recently we learned that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has refused to fund the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, known to our community and to Ukraine as one of the most effective non-governmental organizations helping transform Ukraine from a post-Soviet society into a democratic and transparent state governed by the rule of law and served by accountable public officials, according to the Ukrainian Weekly newspaper editorial.
That the Bush administration does not see the folly of this refusal is, frankly, beyond belief. The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation has an excellent track record - one that may be second to none in helping Ukraine by working with what the foundation likes to call its "democratic modernizers."
In the early 1990s, USUF was the first U.S. organization to provide hands-on technical assistance to fledgling democrats involved in local government and non-governmental institutions.
Some of these democrats of newly independent Ukraine received on-the-job training in Ukraine; others were bought to the United States to learn from counterparts in this country.
The successes have been many during USUF`s 15 years of work. O.P. Popov, a "graduate" of USUF`s programs who today is Ukraine`s minister of housing and communal services, recently wrote to Rep. Nita Lowey, chair of the House Subcommittee on States, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, urging her to support funding for the foundation so that it could "continue its significant contributions not only to the development of local democracy in Ukraine, but also to the strengthening of relationships between our countries both at the national level and at the level of people diplomacy."
Another beneficiary of the USUF`s programs, Tymofiy Motrenko, who heads the Main Department of the Civil Service of Ukraine and has been tasked with reforming the public administration system, also provided a very positive assessment of USUF programs.
In fact, he suggested to Rep. Lowey that a new program "focused on the top 300 or so Ukrainian civil servants who will develop the mindset and skills to become the agents of change in their areas of responsibility" would "provide maximum benefits."
Clearly, there is much more that the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation can do in the area of democratic institution-building in Ukraine. The key, of course, is more funding - not a halt in funding.
Indeed, just last year, the U.S. Senate`s Committee on Appropriations reported: "The committee is aware of the work of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, and commends the foundation for its support of democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine.
The committee directs USAID to continue to support the foundation`s activities . The committee expects funding levels to exceed those of prior years." The counterpart committee in the House of Representatives expressed similar sentiments.
So why has USAID decided to simply refuse funding for USUF? And why are the wishes of the U.S. Congress being disregarded?
Is Ukraine no longer to be considered a strategic partner of the U.S.? These are questions that must be answered, questions for which the administration must be held accountable.
We strongly support the valuable work of the U.S-Ukraine Foundation and we urge the Congress to demand that its recommendations with regard to aid programs for Ukraine be followed.
Furthermore, we demand that the Bush administration back up its fine words regarding U.S.-Ukraine relations and democracy-building in general with the bucks required.
Since 2000, the U.S. Congress has directed the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the U.S.- Ukraine Foundation.
In Fiscal Year 2007, the U.S. Senate directed USAID to fund the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation at the $10 million level. USAID`s response has been to cut off all funding to USUF.
USUF calls on to call or fax Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY)
and Frank Wolf (R-VA).
NUMBERS TO CALL:
Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) - (202) 225-6506 - FAX: 202-225-0546
Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) - (202) 225-5136 - FAX: 202-225-0437
Ask Representatives Lowey and Wolf to exercise their authority to restore funding to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation on the Continuing Resolution, so the Foundation can continue its invaluable work in helping develop civil and democratic society in Ukraine, a critically-important country to U.S. foreign policy interests.
Representative Lowey is the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and Representative Wolf is the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.