Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

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Bilateral Cooperation with Prioritised Countries

Bilateral development aid is at present the prevalent form of foreign aid as provided by the Czech Republic. This type of foreign aid concentrates specifically on the longer-term projects for cooperation with a restricted number of partner countries defined in the previous chapter. This, however, should not mean a complete elimination of individual foreign aid projects to be carried in other countries provided that they meet the requirements of territorial or sectoral priority of the Czech foreign aid program. The group of the so-called prioritised countries consists mainly of the low and least developed countries. The proportion of foreign aid to these countries should gradually increase so as to be in line with recommendations of the UN and the OECD/DAC; in the OECD/DAC countries currently about 25% of foreign aid goes to least developed countries (LDCs), compared with about 13% in the Czech Foreign Aid Plan for 2001.

Forms of Foreign Development Aid

The projects of bilateral foreign aid may take form of a financial, material or technical aid. Technical aid (consultations, provision of expertise, seminars, etc.) currently represents and in future is expected to represent a very significant part of the Czech foreign aid as this type of aid fully complies with the principles of partnership. The provision of technical aid should make use of the long-term experience of Czech experts in particular sectors as well as using services provided by voluntary workers on the basis of the concept for support of voluntary work in international organisations as developed by the MFA. As for the methods of financing foreign aid, the Czech Republic prefers to provide grants rather than loans. The reason for this is that providing grants is more conducive to maintain the non-commercial character of foreign aid without increasing the debt of an aid-receiving country. In a special form of bilateral aid the Czech Republic is also prepared to provide so-called 'soft loans'. These loans are provided on the basis of a document adopted by the Czech Government no. 389/1999 and entitled Supporting Exports by Providing Long-term Government Loans under Advantageous Conditions. This document is in line with the agreements and principles of the OECD.

Cooperation with Non-governmental Organisations

Apart from traditional foreign aid projects developed by various government departments, an important part of bilateral foreign aid program is the joint financing of foreign aid projects by NGOs that have their own professional expertise at their disposal and, in some cases, are also better able to reflect the needs of aid-receiving countries. Non-governmental organisations also play an important role especially in increasing awareness of global solidarity among the Czech general public, in the area of development training (e.g. training volunteers or specialist workers in the area of foreign aid), and in many other areas. The joint financing of a foreign aid project means that in a project implemented by a NGO the costs are shared, e.g. with up to 80% in most cases provided from the Czech foreign aid budget. General condition for joint financing of a foreign aid projects is for NGOs to make contribution to meet the targets and to implement the principles and priorities of the Czech foreign aid program. This cooperation with the accepted NGOs is in future to be based on the system of accreditation.

Multilateral Foreign Aid

The Czech Republic considers the multilateral foreign aid to be an important part of the Czech foreign aid program. It is expected that this type of foreign aid should account for up to one-third of the total foreign aid program, which is comparable with the average for this type of foreign aid in the OECD countries. At present, this type of the Czech foreign aid projects, as provided under Government Decision no. 153 of 15 March 1995, accounts for 10% of the total foreign aid budget; however, if we count financial contributions made by the Czech Republic to the relevant international organisations (which is in line with the OECD/DAC evidence keeping system), the multilateral foreign aid would account for up to 60% of the Czech foreign aid budget. Apart from the mandatory contributions arising from membership in international organisations (e.g. UN organisations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund), the Czech Republic also makes selective contributions on voluntary basis, mostly for specified purposes, through various agencies. At the same time, the Czech Republic is monitoring the effectiveness of funds provided and the compatibility of activities of an implementing organisation to ensure that they are in line with the targets, principles and priorities (territorial or sectoral) of the Czech foreign aid program. Hence, the multilateral foreign aid can suitably supplement or even directly initiate bilateral foreign aid projects. Czech Republic also takes part in the development activities of the UN and it's various organisations. Within the UN system the Czech Republic will give priority to use so-called 'trust funds' to allow the Czech Republic to join international development projects which may also serve Czech interests and priorities.

The Czech Republic and the EU Development Policy

The document entitled the Summary of Expected Requirements and Obligations of the Czech Republic in the Area of Foreign Aid Policy after the Accession to the European Union is being presented to the Czech Government for information together with this Concept. Upon its entry into the EU, the Czech Republic will have to join the foreign aid system of the European Community (EC). This applies in particular to the Cotonou Agreement, participation in financing the European Development Fund (EDF) and harmonization of customs preferences granted to developing countries (the so-called general system of preferences). These steps will have for the Czech Republic financial, institutional as well as organizational impacts. With a view to the procedure and timetable of negotiations on the financial contribution of the Czech Republic towards the EC regular budget and the country's contribution towards the EDF, as well as with a view to routine changes in the system of providing development aid within the EU, the impacts of the accession in the field of development aid on the Czech Republic's state budget cannot be estimated at present. The opportunities, the Czech Republic will have after joining the EU development aid system, will include above all its appropriate influence on directing this aid to territories corresponding with the foreign policy priorities of the Czech Republic. By properly ensuring the organizational part of bilateral and multilateral development aid, targeted appropriation of the two components of the aid ('Czech' and 'Community') can well complement each other and thus guarantee greater effectiveness. Entities in the Czech Republic will also have the opportunity to participate in the realization of development projects and other business activities funded from the EDF.