During the four decades of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, the state regularly provided developmental and humanitarian assistance to friendly regimes. As with all government functions, this aid was tightly controlled by the Communist Party apparatus and managed according to its political and ideological dictates, with no accountability to common citizens for whom "donations" to aid initiatives were often mandatory.
The advent of democracy in 1989 brought profound changes to this system. Foreign aid (non-trade) was suspended altogether for five years while government ministries were reorganized and the country underwent economic restructuring and privatization. The Czech Republic re-instituted a foreign aid program in 1995 – the first formerly Communist nation in Central Europe to do so – with an annual budget appropriated by an elected parliament set to have reached $20 million in 1999. At the same time, a number of Czech NGOs (i.e. ADRA, Caritas, People in Need Foundation) have also established their own fundraising and operational capacities in this area and provided millions of dollars in direct relief aid to crisis-stricken countries in Eastern Europe, particularly former Yugoslavia, as well as territories of the former Soviet Union. Volunteer programs are flourishing, especially among university students. These developments are indicative of a strong civil society with a sense of global responsibility, and have figured prominently in the Czech Republic’s acceptance into the OSCE and NATO and its pending membership in the European Union.
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