From "Liberation" In France - 9-23-00

The following is an "automatic/computer" translation (therefore somewhat clumsy) from LIBERATION, the french publication. - Jared

Translator is at: http://babel.altavista.com/translate.dyn

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The opposition receives beautiful New Year's gifts of the Uncle Sam

[quote:] " We cannot impose the democracy in Serbia, but we can help the opposition to link ourselves. " - Madeleine Albright [end quote]

This year, the United States spent 25 million dollars.

By our Washington correspondent PASCAL RICHÉ

Did the Americans go too far in the "aide to the democracy "? In Belgrade, as [in the] countryside, Slobodan Milosevic's government does not cease to denounce the financing " by NATO " of its political opponents, starting with its principal rival, Vojislav Kostunica. It takes pretext of this help to repress the medias or the organizations which disturb it. All admittedly were flooded with European and American money. "Fax, surveys/polls, plane tickets, photocopiers, seminars abroad, medias... All their is financed with, as bases back, Hungary ", testifies a former employee to the State Department, who worked on aid to the Balkans.

" critical Situation "

In Washington, the day before the Yugoslav elections, the authors of these financings try to minimize the scope of it. Not to obstruct the opponents in their country, but also not to endanger them. At the State Department, one is told that the supplementary programmes only aim at "consolidating the democratic structures ", that they " are targeted on no party in particular " and that they " benefit all the countries in transition ". The same embarrassment is perceptible at the organizations which relay the official aid for democracy.

"We decided not to speak more about this subject. The situation is in this too critical moment ", explains Jane Jacobsen, of the National Endowment for Democracy. This organization even removed the page of its Web site detailing its actions towards Serbia.

"We know that Milosevic wants to steal this election (by the stuffing of ballot boxes, note)," complains Greg Schulte, adviser of Bill Clinton for Eastern Europe. "Then, he reverses the argument by showing his opponents to distort the rules of the game with foreign money. It is a propaganda absurdity: he controls all the medias!"

According to official figures' of USaid, the American agency in charge of the co-operation, 25 million dollars were spent this year for Serbia alone, against about fifteen million in 1999 and 41,5 million programmed into 2001. An internal document in USaid specifies that 3.8 million dollars is assigned to the "political process ", in particular financing "the technical aid and the support for the political parties of opposition" and "the sponsorship of surveys/polls and analyses".

The largest piece, 11.3 million dollars, goes to "civil society" (the nongovernmental organizations Mouvements of women, Militants of the democracy, etc.) and 5 million to the "municipal and humane" aid, which includes assistance to local persons in charge of the opposition. The remainder is devoted to the expenses of the intermediaries (1). The money is taken on funds special [?], Seed (Support for East European Democracies), forwarded by USaid and is finally managed by "independent" associations and cousins: the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute... One of the largest budgets of "the assistance to the democracy" was the installation of the "ring around Serbia ": six radio transmitters in particular broadcasting Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.

Until a few months ago, the Americans asserted their support for the opposition openly. In March, Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State, explained that all the Serb ones which wanted to drive out Milosevic "could count on the full support of the United States", underlining: "We cannot impose the democracy in Serbia, but we can help the opposition to link to one another, helped by independent medias."

Footnote: (1) Without counting the assistance of large American private foundations, like that of the billionaire of Hungarian extraction George Soros.

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