U.S.-Baltic Foundation

Baltic Good Governance Initiative

Ambassador Ints Silins

Program Committee Chairman USBF Board Member
Ints Silins, Former U.S. Ambassador to Latvia

     -  What is BGGI
     -  BGGI's Purpose
     -  BGGI's Programs and Activities
     -  About Corruption in the Baltic States
     -  Organizations BGGI Supports
     -  How you can help


What:

The Baltic Good Governance Initiative (BGGI) was created to assist individuals and organizations in the United States to support NGO’s in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in promoting good governance and civil society.

 

Purpose:

"The Baltic Good Governance Initiative is devoted to the promotion of honest, responsive government by providing financial support for organizations and institutions in the Baltic Region that are working to combat corruption by devising ways to make government activities more transparent and government officials accountable for the public resources entrusted to them, to educate the public and businesses of the undesirable impact of corruption on the functioning of a free society and their responsibilities in protecting the integrity of democratic institutions, and to promote the creation and adoption of business practices that reduce the incidence of corruption."

 

BGGI's Programs and Activities

Click here to download USBF Press Release
about Baltic Good Governance Initiative

 

Program Committee:

The BGGI is run by a Program Committee composed of interested USBF board members and others.  The Committee is chaired by USBF board member Ints Silins, former U.S. Ambassador to Latvia.  The BGGI Committee will establish a working group of both specialists and interested and supportive private individuals to identify problem areas, design programs and make recommendations to address these issues in a timely and effective manner.  Working group members will receive periodic updates on the work of the committee as well as invitations to events and meetings.

Why supporting BGGI is important:

Since regaining independence in 1991, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have made great progress in establishing democratic governments, free-market economies and the beginnings of civil society.  Each country has taken steps to become more transparent and accountable to its citizens.  All three have established government and public institutions to fight corruption.

Despite these successes, the issue of good governance remains a critical one for the Baltic region.  According to Transparency International’s September 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), progress toward promoting clean government has slowed or stopped in the Baltic States in recent years.  Estonia, whose CPI rating puts it at the mid-point of EU member states, saw its score drop slightly.  Latvia and Lithuania, which received identical ratings putting them in the EU’s bottom 25 percent, were either stagnant (Lithuania) or showed diminishing progress compared to previous years (Latvia).

Recent developments in Latvia illustrate the consequence of the issue of good governance.  An attempt by Prime Minister Kalvitis to dismiss the head of the government’s anti-corruption agency triggered protests in October and November 2007 that led to the collapse of his government in December.  An anti-corruption NGO, the Latvian chapter of Transparency International, was a pivotal player in this process.  Such a demonstration of the growing potency of civil society in combating poor governance is of course encouraging, with promising implications for all three Baltic states.

The reality is, however, that NGO’s like TI Latvia are starving for funds as their initial external sources dry up before an internal culture of giving can develop.  If a “civil society gap” develops, progress toward good government can be lost.  USBF wants to forestall such an outcome by providing sustaining support to Baltic NGO’s working to combat corruption.

 

Fighting Government Corruption: The American Experience

As citizens of the world’s oldest modern democracy, Americans have over two hundred years of hands-on experience in advancing and protecting the integrity of cherished public institutions.  While both old forms of corruption persist and new ones arise, American national, state and local governments and the citizens they serve have, over the centuries, devised many successful models which may be of interest and use to the Baltic States. 

 

Organizations BGGI Supports 

Delna

Biography of Laura Mikelsones

Laura MikelsoneLaura Mikelsone became the Executive Director of Transparency International Latvia, also known as Delna, in October 2008.  She is a specialist in group dynamics and organization theory who has worked as a management consultant, as the board member of a newly established trading company, and as the manager of the division responsible for relations with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Latvia’s Ministry of Economics.

Ms. Mikelsone received a Bachelors degree in Economics and Business Administration from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and a Masters in International Relations from the University of Warwick, UK.   In addition, she has received advanced training in group dynamics, psychological testing and management.

Ms. Mikelsone is married, has two children and lives in Riga.


Biography of Lolita Cigane

Lolita CiganeLolita Cigane has been chairperson of Transparency International Latvia, also known as Delna, since March 2008.  She is one of Latvia’s leading anti-corruption experts and activists and is often quoted in the local and international media on issues of democracy, good governance and anti-corruption.

Ms. Cigane specializes in political party financing and has actively promoted transparency and accountability in the finances of Latvia’s political parties.  She is a respected international expert on elections, election campaigns and party financing.  Work with international organizations has taken her to several former communist countries and countries with developing democracies, including Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Philippines, Jordan and Lebanon.

Lolita Cigane holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and a Master of Science in Political Economy from the London School of Economics, UK.  She is married, has two sons and lives in Riga, Latvia.


    - Interview Conversation with Lolita Cigane
    - Interview Conversation with Rasma Karklins

 

How you can help:

You may support the Baltic Good Governance Initiative by doing one of the following:

  1. Sign up for the BGGI working group
  2. Donate online using a credit or debit card by clicking the Donate icon below
  3. Mail a check payable to USBF and write BGGI in the memo line.  Please send checks to:

The U.S.- Baltic Foundation
1701 K Street NW Suite 903
Washington, DC 20006

 

 

Share your ideas with us:

Do you have comments, suggestions or questions?  Put BGGI in your e-mail subject line and send it to: [email protected]

 

Donate