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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with bipartisan Congressional support, is supporting new locally driven initiatives in Central Europe with the goal of strengthening democratic institutions, civil society, and independent media, “which are all pillars of resilient democratic societies”, the US Embassy in Budapest said on Monday. The statement said that “these programs will be implemented by a coalition of partners with deep knowledge of the region, experience in providing tailored support to local communities, and a commitment to internationally-recognized best practices to support democracy”. In Central Europe, USAID supports local partners in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to “increase the capacity of civil society to strengthen democratic principles and empower citizens to protect fundamental freedoms”, it said. Additionally, to “strengthen the competitiveness, financial independence, and sustainability of the independent media sector”, “build the watchdog skills of civil society and media to enhance rule of law observance, combat corruption, and increase access to justice” and to “increase civic engagement through collective action of citizens to strengthen democratic systems,” the statement said. It added that “the Biden-Harris Administration has made clear that bolstering democracy in the United States and around the world is essential to meeting the unprecedented challenges of our time”. “The US Congress, with bipartisan support, appropriated funds to strengthen democracy and civil society in Central Europe, including for transparency, independent media, rule of law, minority rights, and programs to combat anti-Semitism,” the statement said.