By Prof. Janine R. Wedel
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Extra info for Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe, 1990-1997
In the study of aid and development, little attention has been paid to how aid actually happens. Yet how aid happens—through whom and to whom, under what circumstances, and with which goals—determines not only the nature of what recipients actually get and how they respond to it, but its ultimate success or failure. This book shows how relationships, both between Easterners and Westerners and among fellow Easterners, shaped the outcomes of nearly all of the strategies that the major donors employed in aid to Central Europe, Russia, and Ukraine: technical assistance through person-to-person contacts, grants to political-economic groups and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the recipient nations, and loans to small businesses.
During times of perceived national dispossession and hardship, such as the martial law imposed in Poland in the early 1980s, millions of households received relief parcels both from private relatives abroad and from religious and charitable organizations. Images of the prosperous West were refined to commercial icons: imported Swiss chocolates, French perfume, German wine, Viennese coffee, Bic razor blades, Johnny Walker whiskey, and Marlboro cigarettes could be purchased only in Pewex stores, retail outlets operated by the Polish government where Poles could buy imported goods for hard currency.
There are many parallels between the aid story in the more “advanced” Visegrád nations and the other nations of the Eastern Bloc. ) Later, when the aid frontier moved east, I began to examine assistance to Russia, generally the major donor priority in the former Soviet Union. When donors began to see Ukraine as important, I then followed some aid projects in that nation. ) I focus on “grant” aid—the technical assistance, training, and donations that do not have to be repaid by the recipients. Of the $80 billion in aid committed by the industrialized countries to Central and Eastern Europe from 1990 to 1996, some 40 percent consisted of grant aid (See appendix 1: Table 1).