Stability Pact faces loss of donor funds

The Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe appears to be in danger of falling apart as the countries that have undertaken to fund the region’s reconstruction no longer seem prepared to continue contributing. Well-informed sources in Balkan capitals say that the donor countries – comprising the 15 EU member states, the US, Canada, Japan, Russia, Switzerland and Norway – have given word that they are not prepared to provide the funds necessary to continue with the Stability Pact’s existing programs, let alone provide funding for new ones. The reason cited is the continuing political instability and repeated crises in the region, as well as developments in Central Asia. The 2nd Donors’ Conference that was scheduled for Bucharest on October 25-26, where new funds for the Stability Pact were to be announced, is being downgraded to a meeting of the Stability Pact’s regional bank. A diplomatic source involved in the Stability Pact told Kathimerini that the pact’s survival is in jeopardy. The donors have made clear that they will not provide funds and that if they do these will not be sufficient to continue the infrastructure projects and other things that need to be done. Under these circumstances, the Stability Pact will not be able to continue. Unfortunately, we are facing the end of this effort, the source said. At the last donors’ conference, in April 2000 in Slovenia, 2.5 billion euros had been pledged for infrastructure projects in Southeastern Europe as part of the Stability Pact, a figure that was too small for the region’s needs but which recipient countries believed would grow. At the meeting of national coordinators of the Stability Pact in Thessaloniki on Tuesday evening, recipient countries expressed fear that the effort would be abandoned because of other priorities resulting from the new international situation. The Stability Pact’s Greek representative, Irene Lambraki, said that such concerns were voiced but the meeting was still a success. Diplomatic sources in Brussels also tie the Stability Pact’s uncertain future with the decision by Bodo Hombach not to seek to renew his term as the pact’s head when his term expires in December. The EU is to discuss Hombach’s possible successor on Monday.

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