Thank you very much for your letter of 29 March
1999, about the work of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy
in Central Asia and the Transcaucasus.
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your
enquiry. I wish to do so in two parts, firstly by providing some
relevant context about our work in general, and secondly a factual
summary of our work to date in the Central Asia and Transcaucasus
WFD was established in 1992 with a modest £1
million budget; in 1998-99 its total budget stood at £3 million.
WFD's priority regions are (in declining order of budgetary spend):
Central and Eastern Europe; former Soviet Union (including CAT
countries); and Anglophone Africa. WFD has a broad mandate, which
was agreed through thorough consultations with Parliament, the
FCO, the UK political parties, and scholars in the field of democratisation.
This mandate gives us a wide geographical remit, and charges us
with working in a number of different sectors including party-to-party
work, parliaments, legal and human rights bodies, independent
media, trades unions, voter education, NGOs, and women's organisations.
We also make fostering pluralism our method as well as our objective,
by giving a large number of small grants to a range of different
Thus we are deliberately and purposefully thinly
spread. The Committee is invited to read our new strategic plan
[not printed], which demonstrates that WFD is an organisation
with a very clear sense of direction and purpose and a detailed
understanding of its comparative advantage. WFD bid for, and has
received in full, a 33 per cent increase to its budget, up from
£3 million in 1998-99 to £4 million in 1999-2000. We
believe this is testimony to the high regard in which our work
is held by Parliament and the FCO and our capacity to expand the
scale of our operations and impacts.
I attach a table summarising our projects in
the CAT region since our inception. The Committee may see that,
over the seven-year period of its existence, WFD has funded 56
projects in the CAT region, with a total value of £365,806.
We consider this a significant contribution to the democratic
development of the region, and that, given the current opportunities
and needs in the CAT region for work of the type which WFD supports,
and for an organisation of our scale, it is a respectable portfolio.
Until very recently many CAT countries were
making, at best, slow progress towards democracy, and thus there
were limited opportunities for WFD to identify and support meaningful
work. Fortunately, in some CAT countries, progress has recently
been more encouraging, and WFD thus anticipates great scope to
develop projects there. The increased earmark (£160,000)
for the CAT region in our 1999-2000 budget reflects this assessment.
This is a significant sum, and a substantial increase over the
last couple of years' spend in the region.
When I joined WFD as Chief Executive in July
1997 I made an immediate determination that we should seek to
intensify our project activity in the CAT region. In autumn 1997,
I visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and sent our project manager
for the former Soviet Union region to Armenia and Georgia, both
visits intended to raise our profile and promote interest in and
applications for the type of support WFD provides. I am pleased
to say that since those visits, our work in the region has increased
significantly, as the Committee may see from the projects table
attached. WFD's FSU project manager has recently been to Uzbekistan,
and will shortly be visiting Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, both visits
in order to continue building the momentum. It is worth pointing
out that in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, no other funders are
active yet either, as these two countries are, respectively, too
dangerous and under too strong a dictatorship, for effective or
||Project Synopsis ||Budget A
Armenia: Parliamentary Delegation
|To provide funding for an all-party parliamentary group from Armenia to visit the UK for two weeks in February and March, to learn about parliamentary and constitutional issues in order to suggest reforms on their return to Armenia.
|Armenia: Training and Resource Centre for Political Parties
||To fund the Democracy Union for eight months from September 1997 to set up a training and resource centre open to all Armenian political parties, by creating a library on political literature and providing Internet access, running a one-week training course for a cross-party group of politicians, and publishing eight issues of a bulletin which would act as a cross-party platform for politicians.
|Armenia: Observing the Media Coverage for the UK General Election
||To fund the British East-West Centre to invite four Armenian journalists to Britain for one week in late April/early May 1997, to observe the role of the media in the UK general election, and to discuss with their British counterparts issues relevant to media coverage of elections.
|Armenia: Young Conservative Leadership School
||To fund the Freedom Training Programme, via the Conservative party, to organise a seminar in Yerevan in summer 1998 for the right-of-centre youth and student organisations of Armenia.
|Azerbaijan: Party Training for the National Independence Party
||To fund the Conservative Party to run a training seminar in the UK in May 1995, for 12 regional campaign managers from the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan, to provide advice about party organisation and to include visits to local constituencies.
|Azerbaijan: Training Assessment Visit||To fund the Conservative Party to send two party officials to examine the work of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan, at the end of April 1995, in order to provide some training but also prepare for a visit of regional campaign managers to the UK in May 1995.
|Azerbaijan: "Conservatism and Democracy" Seminar
||To fund the Conservative Party to support a political and civic education conference for the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan in July 1998.
|Azerbaijan: Advice on Party Presentation and Research
||To fund the Conservative Party to send two specialists in research and presentation matters to assist the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan in its preparation of the election campaign, during August 1995.
|Azerbaijan: Assessment Visit||To fund one Conservative Party representative to travel to Azerbaijan for five days in summer 1997 to assess the programme of joint activity with the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan and to investigate the possibilities of establishing links with the Azerbaijan Popular Front.
|Azerbaijan: Assessment Visit||To fund the Labour Party to undertake an assessment visit to Azerbaijan to study the political situation and to assess the potential for democracy- building assistance with sister parties.
|Azerbaijan: Assistance for NIPA Opinion Research
||To fund one Conservative Party specialist in opinion research and polling to pay a five-day visit to Baku in spring 1997 to assist the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan in establishing their own opinion research operation.
|Azerbaijan: Assistance on Election Campaign Organisation
||To fund the Conservative Party to send two specialists in election campaigning in September 1995, to assist the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan to prepare for its General Election Campaign.
|Azerbaijan: Attendance at IDU Meeting||To fund the Conservative Party to enable them to send a senior member of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan as an observer to the International Democrat Union Leaders' Conference in August 1995.
|Azerbaijan: Cycle of Political Seminars for Young Leaders
||To fund over one year starting from July 1996 a series of 10 structured seminars on themes related to democracy and civic education for a cross-party, nation-wide group of some 40 young Azerbaijani political leaders and activists, journalists and academics; to fund the publication of a corresponding series of 10 bulletins as working material for the course and for wider dissemination to relevant organisations across Azerbaijan.
|Azerbaijan: Electoral Platforms for Municipal Elections
||To fund the Centre for the Modernisation of Azerbaijan for six months from April 1999 to train independent candidates in preparing their electoral campaign for the municipal elections.
|Azerbaijan: Enlightening Population about Local Government
||To fund the Support Centre for Democratic Elections for three months from March 1999 to run a programme to the general public on the importance of local government in the run-up to the first municipal elections in summer 1999. This will be carried out through the publication of three new brochures, replacing existing material and through a series of seminars in 10 towns of Azerbaijan.
|Azerbaijan: Equipment for|
National Independence Party
|To fund the Conservative Party to provide desktop publishing equipment and election leaflets for the NIPA's November 1995 General Election campaign.
|Azerbaijan: Equipment for National Independence Party
||To fund the Conservative Party to supply some basic computer equipment in summer 1997 to assist the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan in the run-up to the local government and Presidential elections.
|Azerbaijan: Equipment support to the Peace and Conflict Resolution Centre
||To provide essential equipment and some core funding from spring 1998 for 12 months for the Peace and Conflict Resolution Centre to assist them in their work promoting peaceful resolution of social, ethnic and political issues in Azerbaijan.
|Azerbaijan: Expansion of Independent News Agency
||To purchase a TV transmitter for the Azerbaijan News Service, the first independent news agency and TV and Radio company in Baku, to enable it to upgrade its transmitting capacity and reach a substantial section of Azerbaijan's TV audience.
|Azerbaijan: Media and Presentation Training
||To fund the Conservative Party to bring six of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan's spokesmen to attend Media and Presentation training in the UK in summer 1996.
|Azerbaijan: Parliamentary Visit to Baku
||To fund the Conservative Party to send two Members of Parliament to Azerbaijan for three days in July 1996 for discussions with newly elected members of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan, to help them increase their effectiveness in Parliament as members of one of the only two opposition parties with parliamentary representation.
|Azerbaijan: Promoting Free and Fair Elections
||To fund the Assistance Centre for Democratic Elections for six months from August 1997 to run a programme to educate election commissions, candidates' representatives, observers and the general public on electoral fraud and on the means of countering it, through the publication of a brochure and through a series of seminars.
|Azerbaijan: Promotion of Voter Activity
||To fund the Support Centre for Democratic Elections for six months from May 1998 to run a series of eight seminars and produce two brochures to raise public awareness of the election law.
|Azerbaijan: Publication of Human Rights Manual
||To fund the Institute of Peace and Democracy in Baku for three months from May 1998 to publish a manual on human rights law for NGOs, colleges, political parties and the general public. This manual aims to raise public awareness of human rights issues in Azerbaijan and the material is based on that developed in 1997 workshops funded by WFD.
|Azerbaijan: Publication of Party Newspaper
||To fund the Labour Party to assist the Social Democratic party of Azerbaijan with the publication of the party newspaper, Istiqlal.
|Azerbaijan: Publication of Textbooks for Politicians
||To fund the INAM Centre for Pluralism for 10 months from autumn 1997 to publish 10 textbooks for political parties and institutes on a range of issues relating to politics, to fill the existing vacuum in political science literature in the Azeri language.
|Azerbaijan: Publication of Textbooks for Politicians
||To fund the INAM Centre for Pluralism for 10 months from November 1998 to publish 10 textbooks for political parties and institutes on a range of issues relating to politics, to fill the vacuum in political science literature in the Azeri language.
|Azerbaijan: SDP Elections Assistance||To fund the Labour Party to assist the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan to organise electoral awareness seminars in four districts in preparation for the presidential elections in October 1998.
|Azerbaijan: Support to "525 Newspaper"
||To fund the independent Azerbaijani "525 Newspaper", a weekly national publication covering national and world news, to enable it to purchase essential technical equipment and to rent premises for six months in a period of financial difficulties.
|Azerbaijan: Support to "Yeni Musavat" Newspaper
||To purchase additional equipment for the independent newspaper "Yeni Musavat" to improve its competitiveness.
|Azerbaijan: Training for Human Rights Activists
||To fund the Institute of Peace and Democracy to run a series of 10 training workshops for 16 representatives of eight local human rights NGOs, over a period of 10 weeks from spring 1997; to also organise an intensive five-day seminar on international human rights laws and practices to be delivered by an Amnesty International expert in summer 1997.|
|Azerbaijan: UK Visit by Civil Servants and Bankers
||To assist in the organisation of a UK visit in July 1995 for three Azerbaijani public servants, two from central ministries and one from the Azeri National Bank, with the financial sponsorship of BP.
|Azerbaijan: Women's Rights||To fund the Institute of Peace and Democracy to run a series of 10 training workshops for an average of 25 participants from Azeri women's organisations in autumn 1998.
|Azerbaijan: Young Conservative Leadership School
||To fund the European Young Conservatives to send four trainers to run a seven-day seminar on party organisation and election campaigning in Baku, Azerbaijan, for some 25 representatives of the Youth of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan, to help strengthen the party's organisation and electoral prospects.
|Azerbaijan: Trade Union Development||To fund the Committee for Protection of Oil Industry Workers' Rights for nine months from February 1999 to run a series of training seminars for trade union and human rights activists.
|Caucasus: Information and Media Training
||To further the Institute for War and Peace Reporting to expand throughout the Caucasus its media assistance operations based in Georgia, for one year from May 1997.
|Georgia: Fact Finding Visit||To fund the Conservative Party to enable them to send two people to Georgia in June 1995 to examine the work of the Union of Georgian Traditionalists and determine possible future projects with them.
|Georgia: Assessment Visit||To fund the Labour Party to send one representative to Georgia for four days in 1997 to carry out an assessment of the political situation and discuss the potential for democracy-building assistance with sister parties.
|Georgia: Assistance to the National Democratic Party of Georgia
||To fund a six-day visit to Georgia in August 1997 by a Conservative Party representative to provide training and assistance to the National Democractic Party of Georgia, and to assess the current political situation within the NDP.
|Georgia: Campaigning Assistance to Union of Georgian Traditionalists
||To fund the Conservative Party to send a representative to assist the Union of Georgian Traditionalists to conduct their election campaign, in October 1995.
|Georgia: Parliament and Regional Mass Media
||To fund Public Relations Service of the Georgian Parliament for six months from June 1998 to promote transparency and accountability in the Georgian government and encourage access of information to regional journalists.
|Georgia: Support for Human Rights Research and Information Centre
||To fund the newly established Caucasian Research and Information Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Studies, based in Tbilisi, to purchase computer and communications equipment during summer 1995, to enhance the capabilities of its headquarters.
|Georgia: Technical Support to "Adamianis Uplebebi"
||To fund in spring 1997 the twice-monthly human rights newspaper "Adamianis Uplebebi" to upgrade its computer equipment to expand its operations to include the publication of handbooks and methodological materials on human rights issues for NGOs and colleges.
|Georgia: Training for Regional Organisers of the National Democratic Party of Georgia
||To fund the Conservative Party to organise a training visit to the UK in early 1998 for three regional organisers of the National Democratic Party of Georgia.
|Kazakhstan: Trade Union Education||To fund the European Foundation for Social Partnership and Training Initiatives to run a five-day training course in Alma Aty on "Education Methods and Materials" for 16 trade union officers from the regions and the capital, to maximise their leadership and education skills, in March 1997.
|Kazakhstan: Trade Union Education Programme
||To part-fund a 12 month training programme in union organisation and training methods for key trade union members in Kazakhstan, starting in summer 1996. This project has been submitted to the TACIS Democracy Programme for funding with the Westminster Foundation as a Partner organisation.
|Kazakhstan: Trade Union Feasibility Study
||Funding to support a two-week feasibility study to Kazakhstan by Manchester Department of Trade Union Education during the spring of 1995, to consider future assistance required to develop democratic trade unions.
|Kazakhstan: UK Study Tour for Deputies of the Kazakhstan Parliament
||To co-administer in conjunction with the International Tax and Investment Centre, Washington, a UK study tour in October 1994 for 15 Deputies of the Kazakhstan Parliament to study the Western system of taxation. The budget of £56,000 is being provided by the Know How Fund.
|Kazakhstan: Conflict Management and Prevention Workshop
||To fund a two-week workshop in Almaty in summer 1998 on methods of conflict resolution for 25 participants from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
|Kazakhstan: Legal Advice for the Mass Media of Central Asia
||To provide core funding for ANESMICA for 12 months from February 1998 to provide legal and financial consultations to journalists from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirgzia and Tadzhikistan.
|Kazakhstan: NGO Development and Networking
||To part-fund the Civil Initiatives Centre from April 1998 for 12 months. The CIC provides consultations and training to Kazak NGOs.
|Kazakhstan: Promotion for Independent Press
||To buy equipment for The Globe in spring 1998. The Globe is a training and information centre for Kazak journalists to helping them to broaden their outlook, improve their skills and discuss political and economic issues.
|Kyrgyzstan: Promotion of Democracy||To part fund the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights to run a 12 month project from June 1998 aimed at eliminating voter apathy and promoting the advantage of democratic processes.
|Uzbekistan: Human Rights Training||To part-fund the Canadian Human Rights Foundation to run a Training for Trainers Seminar for NGO activists of CIS, particularly Central Asia. The seminar will be run in conjunction with UNDP Tashkent and aims to improve instructional design and training skills as well as general human rights awareness.
|Uzbekistan: Women in the Democratic Process
||To fund the training of trainers from a leading women's NGO in Tashkent, in a six-month programme planned for the first half of 1996 aimed at increasing women's involvement in the democratic process.
|Plus: Two cross-border projects in Central Asia and one cross-border project in Caucasus.|