The United States intends to cut funding for assistance programs in most countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia, under the new budget proposed by the Obama administration on February 14.
Aid for Azerbaijan would see a significant decrease, while aid for Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan would decrease only slightly from the budget proposed last year. Only Kazakhstan would see a significant increase in aid. Overall, the general aid budget for the eight countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia would decrease by about 4 percent, from $241 million to $232 million, while the overall State Department budget would increase by about 1 percent.
The administration's proposal needs to be approved by Congress, which can make changes to the appropriations. But the request gives a hint as to the strategic priorities of the White House. The newly released budget is for fiscal year 2012, which starts in October 2011.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues. He is the author of EurasiaNet's Bug Pit blog.