Cameron Revives Thatcher Plan to Protect Eastern Europe

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has revived a Cold War-era program introduced by Margaret Thatcher to strengthen governance in eastern Europe and help countries stand up to the threat of Russian dominance.

A 5 million pound ($7.35 million) fund already being used to help build institutions in Ukraine will be extended with a further 15 million pounds to support democracy in Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, British officials said.

The model for the program is Thatcher’s Know-How Fund, set up in 1989 and used to help develop institutions, governance and economies in countries that had been in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, including Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private.

Cameron was due to tell other European Union leaders about the “Good Governance Fund,” which could also be used to help modernize the countries’ energy and banking sectors, at a dinner meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday.

The crisis in Ukraine was precipitated by the weakness of its institutions, corruption and Russian opposition to attempts to develop a market economy in the former-Soviet state and the goal of the fund would be to prevent a repeat, the officials said.

Cameron will push for European Union sanctions against Russia to be continued until the Minsk agreement to stop fighting in Ukraine is fully implemented, the officials said. If that can’t be agreed at the current European Council meeting, the group should signal its intent to use a June meeting to renew sanctions, which are due to expire in July, they said.