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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Georgia [Republic]: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

The small Black Sea-bordering country of Georgia gained its independence at the end of 1991 with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. The United States had an early interest in its fate, since the well-known former Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, soon became its leader. Democratic and economic reforms faltered during his rule, however. New prospects for the country emerged after Shevardnadze was ousted in 2003 and the U.S.-educated Mikheil Saakashvili was elected president. Then-U.S. President George W. Bush visited Georgia in 2005, and praised the democratic and economic aims of the Saakashvili government while calling on it to deepen reforms. The August 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict caused much damage to Georgia’s economy and military, as well as contributing to hundreds of casualties and tens of thousands of displaced persons in Georgia. The United States quickly pledged $1 billion in humanitarian and recovery assistance for Georgia. In early 2009, the United States and Georgia signed a Strategic Partnership Charter, which pledged U.S. support for democratization, economic development, and security reforms in Georgia. The Obama Administration has pledged continued U.S. support to uphold Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The United States has been Georgia’s largest bilateral aid donor, budgeting cumulative aid of $2.7 billion in FY1992-FY2008 (all agencies and programs). Georgia has regularly ranked among the top world states in terms of per capita U.S. aid. U.S.-budgeted foreign assistance for Georgia in FY2008 was $713.5 million and $359 million in FY2009 (including annual foreign operations appropriations and tranches from the $1 billion aid pledge). Estimated aid to Georgia in FY2010 was about $171.6 million, and planned spending for FY2011 is about $90 million (country totals for foreign assistance for FY2011 under the continuing resolution, H.R. 1473; P.L. 112-10, signed into law on April 15, 2011, are being finalized). The Administration has requested $87.6 million for foreign assistance for Georgia for FY2012.



Date of Report: May 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: 97-727
Price: $29.95

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Kyrgyzstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Kyrgyzstan is a small and poor Central Asian country that gained independence in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The United States has been interested in helping Kyrgyzstan to enhance its sovereignty and territorial integrity, increase democratic participation and civil society, bolster economic reform and development, strengthen human rights, prevent weapons proliferation, and more effectively combat transnational terrorism and trafficking in persons and narcotics. The United States has pursued these interests throughout Central Asia, with special strategic attention to oil-rich Kazakhstan and somewhat less to Kyrgyzstan.

The significance of Kyrgyzstan to the United States increased after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Kyrgyzstan offered to host U.S. forces at an airbase at the Manas international airport outside of the capital, Bishkek, and it opened in December 2001. The U.S. military repaired and later upgraded the air field for aerial refueling, airlift and airdrop, medical evacuation, and support for U.S. and coalition personnel and cargo transiting in and out of Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz government threatened to close down the airbase in early 2009, but renewed the lease on the airbase (renamed the Manas Transit Center) in June 2009 after the United States agreed to higher lease and other payments. Current President Roza Otunbayeva has declared that the interim government will support the continued presence of the transit center, although some changes to the lease may be sought in the future, in recognition that ongoing instability in Afghanistan jeopardizes Kyrgyzstan and wider regional security. In 2011, the Manas Transit Center hosted about 850 U.S. troops and 750 contractors and a fleet of KC-135 refueling tankers.

Cumulative U.S. budgeted assistance to Kyrgyzstan for FY1992-FY2008 was $953.5 million (all agencies and programs). Kyrgyzstan ranks third in such aid per capita among the Soviet successor states, indicative of U.S. government and congressional support in the early 1990s for its apparent progress in making reforms and more recently to support anti-terrorism, border protection, and operations in Afghanistan. After an April 2010 coup in Kyrgyzstan and ethnic violence in June 2010 in the south of the country, the United States committed about $90 million in urgent humanitarian and other assistance in addition to appropriated foreign assistance of $53.6 million. The Administration has requested $46.6 million in foreign aid for Kyrgyzstan for FY2012 for democratization, security, health, education, and agricultural reform programs
.


Date of Report: May 11, 2011
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: 97-690
Price: $29.95

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy


Steven Woehrel
Specialist in European Affairs

On February 7, 2010, Viktor Yanukovych defeated Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko to win Ukraine’s presidency. International monitors praised the conduct of the election, although Tymoshenko charged that the election had been fraudulent. Yanukovych was able to quickly to form a new parliamentary majority in the current parliament by inducing dozens of supporters of the previous government to change sides. Government opponents charged that bribery and threats to the business interests of members were used to effect the change.

The global economic crisis hit Ukraine hard. Ukraine’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by an estimated 15% in 2009. The economy began to recover in 2010, with GDP increasing by 4.2%, due in part to a surge in demand for Ukrainian steel exports. However, living standards for many Ukrainians remain low, leading to a rapid drop in Yanukovych’s popularity when compared to the period soon after his inauguration.

President Yanukovych has pursued closer ties with Russia, especially in the economic sphere. A major focus of his policy has been to seek reduced prices for natural gas supplies from Moscow. In April 2010, he agreed to extend the lease of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine for 25 years in exchange for a reduction in gas prices. However, the impact of the deal on gas prices has been less than anticipated, as oil prices (on which Ukraine’s gas price is calculated) have soared due to unrest in the Middle East. As a result, Yanukovych has sought additional gas price cuts from Moscow, so far without success.

Yanukovych has said that EU integration is a key priority for Ukraine, but his administration appears to be wavering between a free trade agreement with the EU currently under negotiation and an incompatible customs union with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s natural gas costs would decrease if it joined the customs union.

At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, the Bush Administration strongly supported granting Ukraine a Membership Action Plan, a key stepping-stone to NATO membership. However, opposition by Germany, France, and several other countries blocked the effort. The issue became moot after Viktor Yanukovych became president in February 2010 and announced that Ukraine would no longer seek NATO membership. However, Ukraine has maintained its cooperation with NATO, including the holding of joint military exercises.

The Obama Administration has worked to “reset” relations with Russia, but has warned that it will not accept any country’s assertion of a sphere of influence, a reminder of U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. The Administration has not publicly expressed concern about what some observers view as the increasing pro-Russian tilt of Ukraine’s foreign policy under Yanukovych.

The Administration has focused on helping Ukraine rid itself of its supplies of highly enriched uranium, assisting Ukraine with the clean-up of the Chornobyl nuclear site, and diversifying Ukraine’s sources of energy, including advice on developing Ukraine’s shale gas reserves. Administration officials have expressed concerns about regression in Ukraine’s democratic development since Yanukovych took power, including in such areas as media freedoms, election laws and the conduct of elections, and selective prosecution of the government’s political opponents.



Date of Report: May 12, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: RL33460
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bosnia: Current Issues and U.S. Policy


Steven Woehrel
Specialist in European Affairs

In recent years, many analysts have expressed concern that the international community’s efforts over the past 15 years to stabilize Bosnia are failing. Milorad Dodik, President of the Republika Srpska (RS), one of the two semi-autonomous “entities” within Bosnia, has obstructed efforts to make Bosnia’s central government more effective. He has repeatedly asserted the RS’s right to secede from Bosnia, although he has so far refrained from trying to make this threat a reality. A RS referendum, scheduled for June 2011, aimed at attacking the legitimacy of a central government-level court, may lead to a confrontation with the international community. Ethnic Croat leaders in Bosnia have called for the creation of a third, Croat “entity,” threatening a further fragmentation of the country. After two major Croat parties were excluded from the government of the Federation (the other autonomous “entity” in Bosnia), they refused to recognize its legitimacy and formed their own assembly. Bosnia has failed to form a central government, more than six months after October 2010 elections.

The Office of the High Representative (OHR), chosen by leading countries and international institutions, oversees implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. It has the power to fire Bosnian officials and impose laws, if need be, to enforce the Dayton Accords. However, the international community has proved unwilling in recent years to back the High Representative in using these powers boldly, fearing a backlash among Bosnian Serb leaders. As a result, OHR has become increasingly ineffective, according to many observers.

The international community has vowed to close OHR after Bosnia meets a series of five objectives and two conditions, ending direct international oversight. However, the failure of Bosnia to achieve these objectives and conditions has led the European Union to consider plans to enhance its role, while leaving OHR to more limited tasks. The EU’s main inducement to enlist the cooperation of Bosnian leaders—the prospect of eventual EU membership—has so far proved insufficient. The prospect of NATO membership has also had little effect. In April 2010, NATO foreign ministers agreed to permit Bosnia to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP) program, a key stepping-stone to membership for NATO. However, the ministers stressed that NATO will not accept Bosnia’s Annual National Plan under the program until the entities agree to the registration of defense installations as the property of the central government. Dodik has rejected doing so for installations on RS territory.

Some observers are concerned that the combination of internal tensions within Bosnia and a declining international role could perhaps lead to violence and the destabilization of the region as a whole. This could be more likely if the RS tried to secede from Bosnia. However, there are factors acting against conflict, including the lack of support for war among Bosnians, the reduction in the level of weaponry in the country since the war, and, the fact that neighboring Serbia and Croatia would not see a conflict as being in their interest, given their desire for EU membership.

According to the USAID “Greenbook,” the United States provided just over $2 billion in aid to Bosnia between FY 1993 and FY 2009. However, the U.S. role in the country has declined in recent years as the EU role has increased. The Obama Administration has stressed the importance of maintaining a close partnership with the EU in dealing with Bosnia. Like the EU, the United States has urged Bosnian politicians to agree to constitutional and other reforms to make Bosnia’s central government institutions more effective, so that the country can become a better candidate for eventual NATO and EU membership.



Date of Report: May 2, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R40479
Price: $29.95

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy


Steven Woehrel
Specialist in European Affairs

On February 7, 2010, Viktor Yanukovych defeated Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko to win Ukraine’s presidency. International monitors praised the conduct of the election, although Tymoshenko charged that the election had been fraudulent. Yanukovych was able to quickly to form a new parliamentary majority in the current parliament by inducing dozens of supporters of the previous government to change sides.

The global economic crisis hit Ukraine hard. Ukraine’s real Gross Domestic Product fell by an estimated 15% in 2009. The economy began to recover in 2010, due in part to a surge in demand for Ukrainian steel exports. However, living standards for many Ukrainians remain low, leading to a rapid drop in Yanukovych’s popularity when compared to the period soon after his inauguration.

Under the leadership of former President Viktor Yushchenko from 2005-2010, Ukraine sought integration into the global economy and Euro-Atlantic institutions. In the longer term, Yushchenko set the goal of Ukrainian membership in the European Union and NATO. Relations with Russia were tense over such issues as Ukraine’s NATO aspirations and energy supplies. President Yanukovych has pursued closer ties with Russia, especially in the economic sphere. A major focus of his policy has been to seek reduced prices for natural gas supplies from Moscow. In April 2010, he agreed to extend the lease of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine for 25 years in exchange for a reduction in gas prices. Yanukovych has said EU integration is a key priority for Ukraine, but his administration appears to be wavering between a free trade agreement with the EU and an incompatible customs union with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

During Yushchenko’s presidency, U.S. officials were upbeat about Ukraine’s successes in some areas, such as securing WTO membership, as well as in holding free and fair elections and improving media freedoms, while acknowledging difficulties in others, such as fighting corruption, establishing the rule of law, and adopting constitutional reforms. The Bush Administration strongly supported granting a Membership Action Plan to Ukraine at the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, a key stepping-stone to NATO membership. However, opposition by Germany, France, and several other countries blocked the effort. The issue became moot after Viktor Yanukovych became president in February 2010 and announced that Ukraine would no longer seek NATO membership.

The Obama Administration has worked to “reset” relations with Russia, but has warned that it will not accept any country’s assertion of a sphere of influence, a reminder of U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. The Administration has not publicly expressed concern about what some observers view as the increasing pro-Russian tilt of Ukraine’s foreign policy under Yanukovych. The Administration has focused on practical issues, such as helping Ukraine rid itself of its supplies of highly enriched uranium, and diversifying Ukraine’s sources of energy, including advice on unconventional natural gas development. Administration officials have expressed concerns about regression in Ukraine’s democratic development since Yanukovych took power, including in such areas as media freedoms, election laws and the conduct of elections, and perceived selective prosecution of the government’s political opponents.



Date of Report: April 26, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: RL33460
Price: $29.95

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Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.