Six American Senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking him to investigate the meddling of Obama administration diplomats in the domestic political situation in Macedonia by favoring the left political side, and asking him to stop the practice of funding NGO programs led by the George Soros Open Society Foundation. The letter comes after seven House members separately asked for investigations in US Embassy and USAID Macedonia grants and demanded that Ambassador Jess Baily is fired.
As you are undoubtedly aware, Macedonia has been entrenched in a process of building its own coalition Government after elections held in December of 2016. Unfortunately, we have received credible reports that, over the past few years, the U.S. Mission there has actively intervened in the party politics of Macedonia, as well as in the shaping of its media environment and civil society, often favoring left-leaning political groups over others. We find thee reports discouraging and, if true, highly problematic. Several letters were recently sent to the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia inquiring into the role the U.S. Mission to Macedonia plays in the distribution of U.S. foreign aid in Macedonia, the ongoing and sometimes tumultuous Macedonian political landscape, and in shaping Macedonia’s media environment and civil society. The responses to these letters have not alleviated our concern. We respectfully ask that you use your authority to investigate all funds associated with promoting democracy and governance and review the programs, accounts, and multiplicity of U.S. entities involved in such activities. We must take this critical moment – at the start of a new administration – to review how all our tax dollars are being utilized in order to halt activities that are formenting political unrest, disrespecting national sovereignty and civil society, and ultimately undermining our attempts to build beneficial international relationships”, the letter addressed to Secretary Tillerson asks. It is signed by Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Thom Tills, James Inhofe, David Perdue and Bill Cassidy, all from the ruling Republican Party.
The letter was picked up by top conservative media outlets. Leading Fox News host Sean Hannity published an article titled: “GOP Senators: Obama, NOT RUSSIA, Interfered in Foreign Elections”, drawing a parallel between the Obama era meddling in Macedonian politics with the allegations from the Democratic Party that Russia was influencing the US elections. “The lawmakers revealed that they have had multiple conversations with foreign officials, many of whom confirmed that the Obama administration actively interfered with foreign elections in Europe, Latin America, and Africa”, Hannity said in the article.
The letter addressed to Secretary Tillerson draws particular attention to the funding of George Soros led groups in Macedonia through US foreign aid grants.
“Much of the concerning activity in Macedonia has been perpetuated through USAID funds awarded to implementing entities such as George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. As the recipient of multiple grant awards and serving as a USAID contractor implementing projects in this small nation of 2,1 million people, our taxpayer funded foreign aid goes far, allowing Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM) to push a progressive agenda and invigorate the political left. Our foreign aid should only be used to promote a political agenda if it is in the security or economic interests of our country to do so, and even at that, we must be cautious and respectful in such an endeavor. We should be especially wary of promoting policies that remain controversial even in our own country and that have the potential to harm our relationship with the citizens of the recipient countries”, Secretary Tillerson is informed by the Senators.
Besides on Macedonia, a similar matter is raised in the letter on neighboring Albania, where the local branch of the Open Society Foundation was also receiving US Government funding and pushed left wing projects to help the Edi Rama led Government, the six Republican Senators say. “Its experts, with funding from USAID, have created the controversial Strategy Document for Albanian Judicial Reform. Some leaders believe that these ‘reforms’ are ultimately aimed to give the Prime Minister and left – of – center government full control over judiciary power”.
The push comes at a time when the White House is preparing its budget, which, according to media reports, calls for serious cuts in the State Department and especially in USAID foreign aid programs. In some reports, the cuts could go as high as 40 percent, diverting the savings toward military programs.