Ireland continues its assistance to the Balkans and the CIS (Confederation of Independent States)
The Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr. Tom Kitt T.D., today announced the first round of grants in 2004 for countries of the Balkans Region and of the CIS (Confederation of Independent States), amounting to about €3.5m. This assistance reinforces the commitment of Development Cooperation Ireland (the Government’s programme of official development assistance) to the process of transition to democracy and of post conflict reconstruction in those areas.
Minister Kitt said,
“There must be a comprehensive approach to the reform process through building the capacity of Governments and Administrations, improving the rule of law and civil society, supporting trade and investment while at the same time providing assistance for vulnerable groups who are in danger of being left behind by changing economic and social conditions.”
On 6 April 2004, Minister of State Kitt, representing the EU Presidency, co-chaired in Tokyo, along with the Japanese State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Isao Matsumiya, a Ministerial Conference on Peace Consolidation and Economic Development in the Western Balkans. The Conference provided an opportunity for political leaders from the region to meet in a neutral venue conducive to dialogue.
“The recent difficulties in Kosovo emphasise the importance of ongoing and sustained commitment to the stabilisation of the region and improved regional cooperation,” said the Minister.
On 7 and 8 April, Ireland is hosting an informal Ministerial Conference on Communicating Europe. The Conference will include a dedicated Seminar involving the countries of the Western Balkans to offer an opportunity for a discussion on the relationship of the EU with those countries.
In announcing the grants today Minister of State Kitt emphasised that,
“vulnerable groups such as minorities and displaced persons continue to suffer from inequality and exclusion. Issues such as poverty alleviation and the protection of human rights of children, women, refugees, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities must not be forgotten in the emerging transition countries of the Balkans and of the CIS’.”
Note for Editors
Projects being supported are located in: Albania, Bosnia, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Chechnya/Ingushetia and regional Balkans as a whole.
Partners included: the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, World Food Programme, European Centre for Minority Issues, International Rescue Committee, CARE International and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Top