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David Cameron Revives Thatcher Fund to Rival Russian Influence in Eastern Europe

Fund targets neighboring nations of Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina for “democratization”

This article originally appeared at Gazeta.ruTranslated for RI by Evialina Savostyanova

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the revival of a fund introduced by Margaret Thatcher to prevent a crisis similar to the Ukrainian one in post-Soviet countries. A British observer believes that the head of the U.K. government, who was uninvolved in the peace process in Ukraine, deliberately seeks to irritate Vladimir Putin.

<figcaption>Cameron deliberately seeks to irritate Putin</figcaption>
Cameron deliberately seeks to irritate Putin

As reported by Bloomberg, Cameron will tell other European Union leaders about the fund on Thursday. According to the report, the initial budget for the fund is £5 million ($7.35 million) and is to be used for the democratization of countries such as Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the future, the fund will be doubled. According to the agency sources, the fund is being created in an attempt to counter the influence of Russia in post-Soviet countries. The fund will work under the title “Good Governance Fund.”

A representative of the British authorities told reporters that “talking” is not enough to support democracy. He said that if Russian neighbors feel threatened by Russia, “we must be at their side with concrete help.”

Western states do not conceal the fact that they consider Georgia and Moldova as potential points of tension because there are frozen territorial conflicts on their territories.

The fund, which will direct financial resources to various countries in the post-Soviet space, resembles an organization created by “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, who, like the current prime minister, represented the Conservative Party. The Know How Fund was set up in 1989 to help countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, which were still in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence but had already started the process of democratization.

Interestingly, these three countries were the most economically developed in the socialist bloc.

As noted by Kate Hamilton, author of an extensive research report devoted to the Know How Fund, Margaret Thatcher initially doubted the effectiveness of such a fund, as she feared the Polish authorities would apprehend it as a “sop” rather than real economic assistance.

Nevertheless, she gave the green light to the project and offered the fund’s assistance to the then Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski. The last leader of communist Poland had already permitted reformers to start running the country. The Warsaw Assistance Program included annual payments of £5 million, which were supposed to be used as a fee for the work of consultants in the field of privatization and market reforms.

Western observers have noted that today’s re-establishment of the fund is London’s wish to demonstrate a tough stance against Russia. In the first place, a signal is being sent to other EU leaders, who have not only expressed disagreement on tougher anti-Russian sanctions but even consider canceling the existing ones.

This opinion, in particular, was expressed by the British political reporter at Business Insider, Thomas Hirst, who notes that Cameron is deliberately seeking to “irritate Putin,” sending a signal that London can offer Russia’s neighbors its own alternative regional development models.

Moreover, Hirst said, the Cameron fund is doomed to become a much more politicized structure than the similar Thatcher fund.

It is worth noting that the British prime minister was almost totally uninvolved in the settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine; in Europe, the first violin was played by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. So the establishment of the fund can be viewed as an attempt to gain extra points in the foreign policy game.

The fund is being created just a few months before the next parliamentary elections in the U.K.. Cameron is counting on winning, but the opposition Labour party is breathing down Cameron’s neck and trailing, according to recent surveys, by only 1–2%.

Chances are high that the winner will have to seek a coalition, a situation Cameron would like to avoid. Currently he runs the country together with the Liberal Democrats, but analysts predict that this time the third place could be taken by the UK Independence Party, known for its Euro-skepticism and dissatisfaction with the traditional methods of solving international problems.

By increasing foreign policy activity, Cameron clearly hopes to capture extra votes in the coming elections and form a single-party government.


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