BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE

(A Background and February 2002 Issue in Brief)

© Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS), Sofia

Research Study 02, 2002

Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240

AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL


I. INTRODUCTION
II. SECURITY THREATS, CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS
1. Security Threats: Terrorism
2. The Conflict in Macedonia and Post-Conflict Issues in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina
III. THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
1. Greece
2. Bulgaria
3. Albania
4. FRY
5. Croatia
IV.  THE BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS. THE STATE OF THE REGIONAL INITIATIVES
1. Bilateral Relations
2. Multilateral Relations: Turkey-Greece-Bulgaria-Romania
3. Regional Initiatives
V. THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
1. Bulgaria-Japan
2. IMF-Turkey
VI. THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTH EAST EUROPE IN EU AND IN NATO
1. EU
2. NATO
VII. THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
1. USA
2. Russia
VIII.  CONCLUSIONS: THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE EVOLUTION OF REGION-BUILDING

I. INTRODUCTION

The October 2001 arrests of Bosnia-based members of the al-Qaida terrorist cell by NATO troops were given extensive media coverage in February 2002: Facts were disclosed that confirmed the initial suspicions of a terrorist link. The weak state of Bosnia continues to be hospitable to the al-Qaida network within the strategically important region of Central Europe. At the same time, Bosnia-Herzegovina remains highly dangerous for US military forces. US-Russian joint counter-terrorist structures indicated in February the need to cooperate in dealing with the terrorist threat stemming from the Balkans. Turkish security forces detained suspects in February with links to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. Turkey confirmed that it is prepared to lead the international peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan in the next months. Turkish armed forces will also train Afghan troops for the protection of the country’s government.

In February, Bulgaria increased its economic support for the Afghan interim administration. Sofia will also train Afghan officers. The Bulgarian defense and domestic security authorities also stepped up their efforts to counter terrorism through cooperation with Turkish, French, and Russian special forces. Both Bulgaria’s and Romania’s applications for NATO membership are being considered in terms of improving the allied capacity of countering terrorist pressure from the East: The Black Sea coast is considered a front line of the alliance in rebuffing terrorist activity stemming from the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.

The security situation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) showed signs of improvements, despite the difficulties experienced by country’s authorities in re-establishing control of villages held by ethnic Albanian rebels. At the request of the state leadership, NATO troops led by Germany will most probably stay for an additional three months. The NATO secretary-general visited Skopje, warning of the need to continue the full implementation of the Ohrid peace agreement. Though the donor conference is expected to take place in March and a domestic political agreement has been reached to stage general elections in June this year, a danger to the country’s security situation remains. This danger lies both with the Albanian National Army (ANA) – an extremist and illegal organization of ethnic Albanians – and with wrong political decisions on the part of the government. The situation in Kosovo remained tense after riots broke out both on the Albanian and the Serb side, when individuals disrupting public order were arrested by KFOR and police forces. German politician Michael Steiner took over as head of UNMIK in Kosovo in February. His major ambition at the start of his term is to help form a government and break the stalemate after the last November elections, as well as to intensify the process of privatization in the province. Russia announced it would withdraw part of its troops from Kosovo.

Despite the continuing volatility of Bosnia-Herzegovina, efforts by the international community to stabilize the security situation and strengthen the state institutions have not ceased. Soon, Bosnia-Herzegovina will become the 44th member of the Council of Europe (CE).

The Albanian prime minister resigned in late January, and his successor from the same ruling party took over in February. In Bulgaria, the prime minister and his government survived a no-confidence vote in the country’s parliament and will press on with their program for reforms. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), the trial against former leader Slobodan Milosevic did not stir the kind of domestic upheaval the old demagogue and power broker had aimed to achieve with his defense at the ICTY in The Hague. A controversial issue is the EU's pressure on Montenegro to stop with its efforts to break away from the present federation. In Croatia, huge defense cuts until 2005 were decided.

Important high-level bilateral contacts were realized among the Southeast European countries, adding substantially to the stability of the region. A multilateral forum in Istanbul this month of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania brought a new dimension to the activities preceding the NATO enlargement decision in November this year in Prague. The two NATO Balkan states declared their full support for the two neighbors’ applications to join the alliance. Maybe another similar political demonstration at a higher level, possibly involving the prime ministers of the four countries and presented to the US president, could add additional political clout to the applications of Bulgaria and Romania. The multiple effects of such a demonstration would include specific positive regional repercussions: The Balkans could make some decisive steps in the direction of a working security community of nations should two major states from the peninsula join the alliance. The membership of Slovenia, and later of Albania, FYROM, and Croatia, will definitely provide an effective counter-measure to the destabilizing tendencies in the region of Southeastern Europe.

In the meantime, both NATO and US experts are scrutinizing the candidates' preparations for joining the alliance. They toured the aspirant countries in February and will continue to do so until November. Both Bulgarian and Romanian government representatives visited Moscow in February in an effort to improve political relations and to intensify economic ties.

II. SECURITY THREATS, CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS

1. Security Threats: Terrorism

a) Al-Qaida Link in Bosnia
After NATO troops raided a Saudi aid agency based in Sarajevo last October, computer files were found that provided evidence of planned terrorist attacks on US territory. This report was confirmed on 21 February by Western diplomats. Now it is absolutely sure that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida cells are still in Bosnia-Herzegovina. More than 3'000 Muslim fighters, or mujahideen, fought on the side of the Bosnian government against the Serbs in the 1990s and some of them acquired local citizenship and passports, either through marriages or through a law that allowed them to acquire citizenship if they had fought against the Serbs for at least two years. Under the corrupt system, some opted to simply purchase Bosnian passports for US$1'000-2'000. Many of these passports were made out to persons who had never set a foot on Bosnian territory. After being released from detention in February, the six al-Qaida suspects were arrested on the spot by US officials and transferred to Guantanamo, Cuba. Bosnia-Herzegovina is an ideal hideout for the al-Qaida terrorist network, as the central authorities of the federation are still very weak, the police is not yet effective, and the borders are poorly guarded.

b) Arrests of al-Qaida Suspects in Turkey
On 19 February, Turkish security forces detained three suspects with links to the al-Qaida network. According to Turkish police sources, they were planning bomb attacks in Israel. They have collected experience in Afghan Taliban training camps. The three arrested were Arabs – a Palestinian, an Iraqi, and a Jordanian, all belonging to a Middle Eastern group called the Union of Imams. Turks who supported the three terrorists were also arrested.

c) US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Report on the Balkan Situation
During testimony given by CIA Director George J. Tenet before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 6 February, Tenet described the danger that Albanians might perceive the Slav-dominated government and the international community as untrustworthy. The reading of ISIS is that the perception of despair may easily push extremist-minded Albanians to terrorist activity – a tendency the government should prevent by political moves.

Discussing the Bosnian situation, the CIA director underlined the dangerous combination of several factors: the continuing presence of Muslim extremists from outside the region, weak border controls, the large amount of weapons, pervasive corruption, and organized crime. ISIS's reading of this combination is that Bosnia is an ideal milieu for terrorist organizations and terrorist activity.

d) US-Russian Counter-Terrorist Cooperation in the Balkans
The US-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan issued a joint statement on 8 February in Washington, DC. It shows that the two sides have had discussions concerning an increased terrorist threat in the Balkans. Both countries have agreed to support the expansion of anti-terrorist cooperation within the UN, OSCE, NATO, and other international structures, as well as bilaterally.

e) Turkey
(1) Germany, France, Turkey, and Britain reached an informal agreement on 2 February according to which Turkey would take over from Britain as the lead nation in the International Security Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. (2) Turkey announced on 4 February that it had been asked to train and equip a military battalion in Afghanistan. Its mission will be to secure the new regime in Kabul. Ankara will respond positively to this request and will provide uniforms, equipment, and training for 600 soldiers.

f) Bulgaria
(1) A special envoy of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry in Kabul, Angel Orbetsov, is laying the ground for Bulgarian economic support for Afghanistan, including the restoration of the capital’s trolley-bus system. (2) The Bulgarian contingent of 31 professional soldiers arrived in Afghanistan for its mission within the British contingent. The Bulgarian parliament ratified the memorandum for the creation of a Bulgarian ISAF military contingent on 7 February. (3) The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense announced that the Rakovsky Defense College would accept Afghan officers for training. (4) The prime ministers of Bulgaria and Turkey agreed on 30 January in Sofia to boost joint efforts in the global fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. They agreed to tighten control of the Bulgarian-Turkish border and prevent human trafficking, mainly of people from Iraq, Pakistan, and Palestine. (5) A French Ministry of Defense official announced on 11 February in Veliko Tirnovo, Bulgaria, that joint training of counter-terrorism commandos and cooperation in the training of crisis management staff is envisaged in the new agreement on cooperation between the armed forces of Bulgaria and France in 2002. (6) The general-secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Major General Boyko Borisov, invited members of the Russian elite special forces Alfa to Bulgaria during a visit to Moscow on 11 February. He also reached agreements on other cooperative measures in fighting terrorism and the illegal trafficking of nuclear materials and weapons. (7) On 26 February, the ministers of the interior of Bulgaria and FYROM signed an agreement in Skopje to fight terrorist activity.

2. The Conflict in FYROM and Post-Conflict Issues in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

a) FYROM
A booby trap killed one Macedonian in the village of Aracinovo, some 10 kilometers southeast of the capital Skopje on 10 February. Albanian insurgents were blamed for the tragedy, and a fierce protest was staged by Aracinovo villagers in front of the parliament in Skopje on 11 February. Minister of the Interior Liube Boskovsky accused Albanian ANA extremists of continuing their occasional attacks with the purpose of destabilizing the overall peace process in the country. In implementation of the Ohrid peace accords Macedonian police, including ethnically mixed formations, have returned to more than 60 per cent of the villages controlled by Albanian rebels. Defense Minister Vlado Popovsky expects a spring offensive of the Albanian rebels. According to Popovsky, 3'500 extremists possess weapons. If the correct political steps are taken, they might have the potential to decrease the tensions. The announcement of the country’s early general elections in June this year is one of these appropriate moves. It would be dangerous if the police force was turned into a new armed force to replace the regular armed forces. The government should also prevent the creation of "ethnically cleansed" territories – a dangerous precondition favoring the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons in an eventual crisis. The ICTY in The Hague can help lower the tensions by fair prosecution and trial of war criminals on both sides of the ethnic divide. The visit of the president of FYROM, Boris Trajkovski, to Washington, DC, and his meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell gave cause for optimism that the dispute with Greece over the official country name would be resolved by the end of this year. The upcoming donors’ conference on FYROM in March will have a similar constructive effect on the domestic situation in the country. During his visit to Skopje on 10 February, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson reminded his hosts how important the thorough implementation of the agreements signed last August in Ohrid is for the peace process. Following a request by the government of FYROM, Lord Robertson promised to prolong the NATO monitoring operation Amber Fox in this country by an additional three months.

b) Kosovo
(1) The Russian defense minister declared on 4 February that Russia will downsize its KFOR contingent to free troops needed back home. Eight hundred of the total 1'800 are expected to return to Russia. An important argument for Russia is that there has not been a real armed struggle in Kosovo during the past year. According to the Russian authorities, it is time for police forces to step in and secure the rule of law in the province. (2) The mandate of the new UNMIK chief, the 53-year-old veteran German diplomat and Balkan expert, Michael Steiner, began on 14 February. Among his priorities at the beginning of his work are forming an active government of Kosovo and the process of privatization. He believes that despite all the difficulties, there is progress in the evolution of the situation in the province.

c) Southern Serbia
The Yugoslav federal authorities announced at the beginning of February that municipal elections would be held this spring in Southern Serbia. The participation of both Serbs and Albanians in these elections is a crucial prerequisite for the future stability of the region, plagued with armed ethnic clashes for many months in 1999-2000. The cooperation of the international community, including NATO, with the Yugoslav authorities led to a lessening of the tensions and offered a chance for longer-term stable political arrangements. The return of ethnic minorities, determining the fate of the missing, the resolution of the issue of the political prisoners, and improvement of conditions for the ethnic minorities, are elements of longer-term solutions.

d) Bosnia-Herzegovina
(1) At the end of January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CE (PACE) voted that Bosnia-Herzegovina be granted accession to this organization. Thus, Bosnia-Herzegovina is expected to become the 44th member of the CE by the end of 2002. (2) There is an ongoing discussion between the country’s authorities and OSCE representatives over the issue of reducing the armed forces from 35'000 to 10'500. The question of social re-integration of laid-off workers is grave, considering the high unemployment in the country.

III. THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES

1. Greece

Greece plans to sign arms contracts worth US$10 billion in the next two years as part of the modernization program of the Greek armed forces. US and Israeli companies are the main contenders for the contracts.

2. Bulgaria

On 13 February, the government of Simeon Saxkoburggotsky survived the first no-confidence vote in the parliament with 134 opposed, 50 in favor, and 45 abstentions. The vote was initiated by the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), which dramatically lost power in the June 2001 general elections. The members of the other major opposition coalition of Socialists and Social Democrats abstained.

3. Albania

In the last days of January, Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta resigned after failing to resolve a long-running feud in the ruling Socialist Party that paralyzed political life in the country. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) froze some important and expected loans. The ruling party nominated the Socialist Pandeli Majko as the next prime minister on 6 February, and the Albanian parliament approved this nomination on 22 February with 81 votes in favor and 42 opposed.

4. FRY

(1) The signs of social and political division in Serbia persisted this month. The narrow vote in favor of returning some of the regional powers stripped from Vojvodina during the rule of Milosevic highlighted again the different positions of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic – who favored the return – and President Vojislav Kostunica’s party, which abstained from the vote. Serbian society also remained divided over the trial against Milosevic in The Hague. While some Serbs praised him as a national hero, a position interestingly supported by the almost unanimous resolution of the Russian Duma, another part of Serbian society insisted that Milosevic's demagogical statements should not hinder the democratic reforms in this country. (2) The Yugoslav parliament appointed agronomist and senior Socialist activist Velimir Radojevic as defense minister on 29 January, following the resignation of Slobodan Krapovic earlier in January. The main reason for this change is seen in differences between Krapovic and President Kostunica over General Nebojsa Pavkovic's position as chief of the general staff. Kostunica came to power in a bloodless coup against Milosevic with the decisive support of General Pavkovic, the armed forces, and the security services – a fact that will delay democratic reforms in the defense establishment of Serbia for a long time to come. (3) The constitutional status of Montenegro was the focus of EU and US political attention in February. EU High Commissioner on Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana applied heavy pressure to one side, namely Montenegro. This strategy actually polarizes the parties and makes the tense situation worse. Some expert EU circles criticized this official position of Brussels. The position of the US State Department, announced on 13 February by Secretary of State Colin Powell, shows greater caution: While the US increased its financial support for Serbia from US$105 million to US$110 million and decreased the support for Montenegro from US$60 million to US$25 million, the Bush administration will take the necessary time to see whether or not Montenegro can find a way to stay within the Yugoslav federation. Going slowly and not immediately calling for Montenegrin independence provides the US with more opportunities to study the issue and clarify the implications of such a policy change.

5. Croatia

The Croatian Defense Ministry announced at the end of January that 21'200 jobs will be cut by the end of 2005 as part of moves to adapt the Croatian military to NATO standards. Improving the military budget and rejuvenating the armed forces are also expected as results of the cuts. This target is to be achieved primarily through early retirement plans and re-training.

IV. THE BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS. THE STATE OF THE REGIONAL INITIATIVES

1. Bilateral Relations

a) Bulgaria-Montenegro
On 29 January, the Bulgarian National Electric Company (NEC) started providing 1.7 million kilowatt hours per day to the Montenegrin power grid, thus allowing the republic to cease its power-saving regime. Three other foreign companies contended for the electricity supplies in Montenegro.

b) Bulgaria-Turkey
A broad range of bilateral issues were discussed during the two-day official visit of Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to Bulgaria on 30-31 January. Among the talking points were energy issues, military relations, the joint fight against terrorism, the issue of pensions of Bulgarians who now live in Turkey, clearing the remaining minefields on the border of the two countries, and the need to resolve unsettled property issues between Bulgarians and Turks. Ecevit's meetings with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxkoburggotsky and with President Georgi Parvanov also dealt with regional security issues and with Turkey’s support for Bulgaria’s NATO membership.

c) Turkey-Greece
The bilateral talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries that started in New York in the beginning of the month were continued on 12 February in Istanbul, Turkey. The long-term purpose of the talks is to add to the rapprochement between the traditional rivals and NATO allies in a more substantive way. In 1999, Turkey received candidate status with the EU.

d) Romania-Greece
The prime minister of Greece, Kostas Simitis, visited Bucharest on 5 February and met with his counterpart, Adrian Nastase, and with President Ion Iliescu. Simitis underlined Greek support for Romania’s membership in both NATO and the EU as a factor contributing to the stability in Southeast Europe.

e) Romania-FRY
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic visited Romania on 8 February and met with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase to discuss bilateral and regional issues.

f) FYROM-FRY
The deputy prime minister of Serbia, Nebojsa Covic, visited Skopje at the beginning of February. The two sides discussed the exchange of experience and intelligence information in dealing with Albanian rebels.

g) Bulgaria-Greece
Greek Defense Minister Yannos Papandoniou visited Bulgaria on 12-13 February and met with his counterpart, Nikolay Svinarov. Papandoniou met also with President Parvanov.

h) Turkey-Romania
Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase visited Ankara on 18-19 February and met with Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. During this visit, the Turkish authorities confirmed their firm support for Bulgaria's and Romania's applications for NATO membership.

i) FYROM-Bulgaria
(1) FYROM Defense Minister Vlado Popovsky visited Sofia on 29-30 January and met with his counterpart, Nikolay Svinarov. Skopje was negotiating ammunitions sales, but not sales of heavy armaments, Popovsky said. His country is in great need of up-to-date military personnel that is educated and ready to implement new missions. (2) Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov made an official visit to Skopje on 26-27 February – his first one there and his second visit abroad after a trip to Brussels. Members of the delegation included Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and Minister of the Interior Georgi Petkanov. Both signed agreements of cooperation with their counterparts, which included provisions for closer coordination in the fight against terrorism. President Parvanov met with President Boris Traikovsky and Prime Minister Liubcho Georgievsky and spoke to the members of the Macedonian parliament.

2. Multilateral Relations: Turkey-Greece-Bulgaria-Romania

Turkey and Greece backed the applications of their Balkan neighbors Bulgaria and Romania for NATO membership during a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries on 13 February. The post-11 September 2001 problems stem from an area close to these Balkan countries, and the latter can form a strong barrier to terrorism and to the illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons, and human beings. The next meeting of the four ministers will be in Athens, and the Bulgarian foreign minister suggested that the defense ministers of the four countries join the meeting. According to some analysts, a coordinated visit of the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey in Washington, DC, a meeting with US President George Bush, and a convincing presentation of the four countries’ NATO cooperation before the Prague summit of the alliance may eventually play a strong political role for NATO's decision in November.

3. Regional Initiatives

a) Police Cooperation in Southeast Europe
A meeting of the directors of the police services of the Balkan states was convened in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on 9-10 February. The topic of the meeting was fighting organized crime in the region. The police chiefs also discussed cooperation in fighting drugs trafficking and trade with women and children. They agreed to establish a database on all serious crimes and criminals and to link the police services electronically.

b) Pact of Stability
The Business Consultative Forum within the Pact of Stability was convened in Sofia on 7 February and was attended by its coordinator Erhard Busek. The forum agreed to involve local businessmen and resources more closely in the pact’s projects. A few days later, Busek told the Austrian press how important politically the integration in NATO of Bulgaria and Romania would be for regional stability.

V. THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION

1. Bulgaria-Japan

Japan has granted a loan of US$109.2 million to Bulgaria for the extension of the metro lines in Sofia. The loan was agreed for a period of 30 years with the first re-payment in 10 years time. The annual interest rate is 2.2 per cent. A special part of the agreement was the obligation of the Bulgarian side to preserve the unique archaeological monuments at the lower levels of central Sofia.

2. IMF-Turkey

On 1 February, the IMF endorsed about US$16.3 billion worth of loans to Turkey for the period 2002-2004. The loans were added to those granted in 1999-2001, worth around US$19 billion. Thus, Turkey has become the IMF’s largest borrower. Turkey will use the first installment of US$ 7 billion for repaying part of its debt to the IMF and for stabilizing the banking system of the country.

VI. THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEAST EUROPE IN EU AND IN NATO

1. EU

a) EU-Slovenia
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek said on 1 February that his country expected a formal invitation to join the European Union (EU) and to complete preparations for full membership in 2004. Slovenia, the prime minister said, would be a net contributor to the EU, not a country that requires subsidies or assistance.

b) EU-Bulgaria
(1) The Bulgarian government adopted a strategy on 7 February for accelerating the country’s integration in the EU. Each ministry has specific tasks within the overall strategy. Administrative and judicial reforms, as well as the strategy of the structure funds, are at the heart of the government’s strategy. (2) The Bulgarian president made his first visit abroad on 6-8 February to the EC in Brussels. He confirmed the full political commitment of Bulgaria to accelerating its preparations for EU membership.

2. NATO

a) NATO-Southeast European Applicant Countries
NATO experts and experts of individual NATO countries visited Albania, FYROM, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Romania during the past month. Significant work has been done in Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia in adapting to NATO standards. The simultaneous participation of Romanian and Bulgarian contingents in SFOR, KFOR, and ISAF is impressive and considered by NATO to be a real contribution to the missions of the alliance. Much work remains to be carried out by both Albania and FYROM, but there is no alternative to their future membership.

b) NATO-Bulgaria
During his first visit abroad, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov met with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson and with SACEUR, General Joseph Ralston. Parvanov said that even if his country were invited in November this year to join NATO, it would continue to work hard on the modernization of its armed forces. Lord Robertson began a visit to Bulgaria on 28 February. Bulgaria has already adopted amendments to its military doctrine and has planned participation in 15 PfP military exercises in 2002. A representative survey conducted by the Institute for Sociology in Sofia shows that 76.9 per cent of the Bulgarians over 18 years have been in favor of NATO membership.

VII. THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

1. USA

a) USA-Bulgaria
(1) President Bush nominated James W. Pardew as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of US to the Republic of Bulgaria. Presently, Pardew serves as the special advisor for Southeast Europe in the office of the assistant secretary of state for European affairs. (2) On 13 February, General Carlton Fulford, deputy commander of the US European forces, arrived in Sofia. Later in March, US experts will arrive to discuss the destruction of SS-23 missiles, for which the US will provide substantial financial support. (3) The commander of the US ground forces in Europe, General Montgomery Mages, arrived in Bulgaria on 20 February to study the options of Bulgaria’s hosting exercises for US infantry units. During his visit, he inspected the training field of Novo Selo and a Bulgarian military unit in Kazanlak. He also met with General Staff officers in Sofia. (4) A US military delegation from the Pentagon arrived on 21 February, led by General Gregory Rountree, deputy chief of the Europe department that will study the reform of armed forces in the period 26 February-1 March. The delegation visited the training field of Koren and the multinational brigade in Karlovo.

b) USA-Romania
Romanian President Ion Iliescu began his visit to Washington, DC, on 5 February. Romanian Foreign Minister and former ambassador to the US Mircea Geoana accompanied him. During the three-day visit, Iliescu met with the US president and with senior US administration officials. He also gave a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC.

2. Russia

a) Russia-Romania
In mid-February a Romanian delegation headed by Prime Minister Adrian Nastase visited Moscow in an effort to improve the bilateral relations. A visit by Iliescu to Moscow is already in the process of preparation and will take place later this year.

b) Russia-Bulgaria
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy visited Moscow from 30 January to 1 February and held talks with his counterpart, Igor Ivanov. A visit by Prime Minister Saxkoburggotsky to Russia is in being prepared. Russian Duma members visited Sofia in February. The trade deficit of Bulgaria with Russia was US$1.43 billion in 2001.

VIII. CONCLUSIONS: THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION

The Balkans have proved to be one of the hotspots in the campaign against terrorism, and the region-building efforts through NATO enlargement have to take this threat into consideration. The preparedness of five Balkan NATO membership candidates was closely scrutinized. Intensive bilateral contacts, as well as multilateral and regional relations, contributed to the cooperative atmosphere in the region. Each of the continuing post-conflict tensions has a good chance of being diffused and brought under control.


EDITORIAL STAFF:

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Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief

ISSN 1311 – 3240

Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova

Address: ISIS, 1618 Sofia,

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P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria

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E-Mail Address: isis@cserv.mgu.bg


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