Background Information

Description and analysis of the current situation in target countries

The current situation in the target countries (Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine) is in certain respects reminiscent of the situation in Central Europe at the beginning of the 1990‘s. With the exception of Belarus, where the situation is very unfortunate because of president Lukashenka’s absolute monopoly of political authority, these countries are now in the beginning phases of the transformation process. Although each individual target country certainly has its specific problems and characteristics, there exist many fundamental commonalities between them:

Weak civil society

Over time, state-sponsored communist ideology drove a large share of citizens into apathy and discouraged them from voluntary participation in social activity. Authoritative politicians that have ruled since the fall of the communist regimes further inhibited and in some countries still restrict the growth of civil society, the formation and free operation of non-profit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), an independent media, etc. Despite all of the obstacles, a gradual growth in the number of NGOs and independent media is observable, often with foreign assistance.

Lack of democratic political culture

A common problem among the target countries is the strong position of entrenched political elite, who are connected with the previous non-democratic regimes and oppose the development of democratic governance of public affairs. It is hopeful, however, to observe the entry of young politicians who are not connected to the entrenched political elite and who have an interest in their country democratizing. Other problems are the often manipulated elections (Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine)

Problems with economic transition

The process of successful economic transition is principally jeopardized by corruption, non-transparent privatization and an unfavorable entrepreneurial environment.

Existence of fractured internal linkages

In some target countries, the peaceful transition to democracy is further threatened by political abuse of fractured linkages in society (religious, national, language and culture). Some of the target countries even experienced civil conflict (Armenia) or separatist tendencies (Moldova).