USAID Europe & Eurasia
Monthly Update: October 2019
Assistant Administrator Brock Bierman meets with civil society grantees working to advance civic engagement and democratic values in Black Sea countries. Photo: Jeanne Neal
On the Frontlines of Democracy: How are Frontline States Building Resilience to the Kremlin’s Malign Influence?

This fall continues to be a busy season. Our team has been meeting with partners throughout the region to explore opportunities for collaboration and synergy in USAID's initiative to counter malign Kremlin influence. Below you'll find the message I delivered at the German Marshall Fund in Bucharest, Romania. Novemember is shaping up to be a busy one, so look forward to updates from visits to the field in next month's newsletter.

My goal for these engagements is straightforward. I want to be clear about what CMKI is and what it is not. At USAID, we believe that foreign assistance should help nations to stand on their own and make their own choices. We believe in governments that are accountable to their people. We believe in equipping institutions, businesses, and citizens with the tools they need to choose their own futures. 

Our view is this: Kremlin malign influence is undermining freedom -- not just the freedom of the countries in the region, but freedom for all of us. That means this struggle is far bigger than USAID, or any one organization or country can take on alone. Safeguarding the principles that the Kremlin seeks to undermine will demand a broad coalition of partners -- each contributing their unique experience, expertise, or resources to support freedom, liberty, and democracy.  

Here in Romania, the people are experienced in pushing back against Kremlin pressure. Whether the Kremlin decides to use energy as a political lever; or when Facebook and Twitter are flooded by pro-Putin narratives; or when cyberattacks threaten to disable essential online systems. This experience can help others facing similar interference and can demonstrate effective means for self-defense. And that is an important message to spread. 

It is also important to be clear about CMKI is not. This effort is not directed against Russia or the Russian people. This is about Putin and his aggressive foreign policy and authoritarian approach to governance. 

We hope you will continue to follow developments in Europe & Eurasia by subscribing to this newsletter and following us on Twitter at @BBiermanUSAID and @USAIDEurope .

-Brock Bierman, USAID Assistant Administrator
Former USAID Recipient Pays it Forward: Innovator in Serbia Coaches New Generation of Entrepreneurs

With just two initial employees, Miodrag Tomić opened a small food processing business in his home town of Knjaževac, Serbia, back in 1992. Today, that business — Desing — employs 45 people in a 100,000-square-foot factory, and exports to 27 countries worldwide with an annual revenue of 4 million euros (roughly $4.3 million). Understanding that the expertise of others helped launch his business, Tomić decided to share his know how.

For more than a decade, USAID has worked with Serbian counterparts to form the building blocks for an open and transparent market economy and modernized laws and regulations that will move Serbia closer to EU integration and make it easier for businesses to operate and prosper in Serbia. 
Solidifying Judicial Reform through Stronger Court Leadership: Albania

For courts to carry out their function in a democratic society, highly qualified body of professional administrators, whose leadership complements the role of the Chief Judges, are critical.

With USAID training, Chancellors in Albania's judicial system have the tools, skills, and empowerment they need to lead the effort to improve Albania's court operations.
Fostering Next Generation of Civic Activists Through Youth Democracy Camp: Kosovo

Kosovo’s youth have great potential to serve as agents of change in shaping a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo -- but they need opportunities to engage with youth outside of their own communities.

USAID launched democracy camp to bring young emerging civic activists together to build bridges among diverse communities and to build skills as young leaders.
USAID Improves Cyber Security Overseas & At Home

What does cyber security have to do with the energy sector? Like other industries, from media to health care, modern energy systems are increasingly operated by computer networks, which can create vulnerabilities to being hacked.

In recognition of Cyber Security Awareness Month, Steve Burns, lead energy and infrastructure specialist in USAID's Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, outlines how USAID works to combat cyber attacks on energy systems in countries bordering the Black Sea.
Investing in Smallholder Farmers: North Macedonia

Smallholder farmers make up a large portion of the population in North Macedonia. Unfortunately, they are often unable to access credit to buy new equipment and hire new employees.

USAID is committed to partnering with the private sector to help small farmers expand their businesses and improve their livelihoods and communities, thus moving them beyond the need for foreign assistance.