BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND
THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
Background and August 2002 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 40, 2002
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED
MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
Both negative and positive events
were seen this month that are likely to have an effect on the individual
countries of the region of Southeastern Europe. A 'country snapshot' would
1) By participating in the ISAF
mission in Afghanistan, Albania joined an out-of-area peacekeeping mission
for the first time. The country is still experiencing a political period
of calm after the historic national consensus decision to elect a common
candidate for president of the country. Some tensions with the neighboring
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) surfaced in connection with
the efforts of the Macedonian interior minister to exacerbate ethnic pressure
in the two countries' border region. As noted previously by ISIS, the
traditional Serbian state and ethnic model adopted by the leaders of the
young Macedonian nation may cause trouble.
2) Bosnia and Herzegovina continues
to tolerate the fact that war criminal Radovan Karadzic remains at large.
The special protection he enjoys in the Republika Srpska unnecessarily
extends the processes of national reconciliation and central state-building.
However, the international stabilization forces continue in their attempts
to implement the orders of the ICTY in The Hague by arresting Karadzic.
3) Bulgaria has privatized the national
tobacco company. The deal has added to existing tensions in other social
and economic sectors. The political autumn is expected to be controversial,
though no major shifts can be expected in the country's political landscapedue
to the importance of accelerated EU accession negotiations and NATO's
Prague summit. In the meantime, major blows were dealt against organized
crime during the summer, especially against a well-organized group of
4) Croatia has emerged from a long
political crisis and is now heading towards a decisive period in its preparation
for NATO membership.
5) The run-up to the general election
in Macedonia began this month with incidents and ethnic tensions. The
country faces major problems, including the open issue of the national
identity and roots. In the midst of preparation for national parliamentary
elections, the Macedonian press is again raising the issue of 'expansionist
Greek behavior' and of its claims that Alexander the Great was of ancient
Greek origin and not the ancestor of the present Macedonian nation and
state. Referring to more recent history, when the Comintern, backed by
Serbian nationalists, created the 'Macedonian nation', may shed more light
on the historical mindset of the present propaganda masters in Skopje
and Belgrade. As a counter-project to Greek plans for a monument to Alexander,
Skopje is planning to erect a huge monument in the downtown of the capital.
In the meantime, the outlawed Albanian National Army (ANA) resumed its
terrorist activity against Macedonian citizens on the eve of the September
6) Greece continued its investigation
of the 17 November terrorist group and preparations for peaceful and secure
Olympic Games in 2004. The only EU and NATO country in the Balkans continues
to be a real provider of long-term stability in the region.
7) Romania pressed its case for
NATO membership by concluding a bilateral agreement with the US that excludes
US soldiers from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court
(ICC). However, this step caused political problems between Bucharest
and the EU.
8) Serbia and Montenegro continued
to be one of the most unstable political actors in the Balkans: the ruling
coalition is divided on the eve of the presidential elections in Serbia,
there is no clear agreement about the constitutional future of the federation,
and Kosovo is a constant source of incidents and problems.
9) Slovenia is the region's 'safe
haven', focused on its preparation for EU and NATO membership and on improving
the living standards of the small nation. In geopolitical terms, however,
the resulting stability affects mainly what is already the most stable
periphery of the region, namely the northwest.
10) Preparations continue for early
elections in November in Turkey. The position of Chief of the General
Staff of the powerful Turkish armed forces changed as per regular procedure.however,
the changeover took place during a time of strategic uncertainty concerning
Ankara's volatile neighbor, Iraq. A bomb blast in the headquarters of
Turkey's second-largest political party bade ill for the upcoming November
elections and tainted Turkey's image on its road to EU membership.
Regionally, preparations for joining NATO and the EU as well as the fight
against terrorism are the main factorsleading to integration in the region
of Southeastern Europe. The historic decision of the Turkish parliament
to adopt a package of laws to bring this country closer to EU membership
marks a significant step. The conflict between Washington and Brussels
over the ICC has a negative impact, however, on the candidates' efforts
to integrate into NATO and the EU. No candidate is in a position to successfully
contest the position of either the EU or the US. This divergence between
Washington and Brussels may very easily preclude the required political
dynamism in the transforming candidate states. For the Balkan region,
this divergence has another meaning - it diminishes the effectiveness
of the 'benign pressure' both the EU and the US exercise towards stabilizing
the regional situation.
SECURITY THREATS, CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS
1. Security Threats:
(1) On 31 July, the 17 November urban guerrilla group announced through
the press it would continue to fight, despite the arrest of some of its
key members. Greek authorities have declared their intent to root out
the whole organization before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The 17
November statement called for an exchange of prisoners. Analysts believe
the 17 November group is far removed from its stated leftist ideological
ideals, objectives and methods. (2) On 2 August, 17 November members tunneled
their way into an armory on the Greek island of Kos. Three semi-automatic
revolvers, three submachine guns, and 17 revolvers were found to be missing.
Albania on 5 August contributed 30 soldiers to ISAF in Afghanistan to
help keep the peace. This was the first peacekeeping mission of Albanian
soldiers outside the Balkans. Albanian soldiers are also participating
in SFOR. The Albanian troops will patrol the Afghan capital Kabul. Albania
is the twentieth country to participate in the 5'000-strong ISAF, which
is led by Turkey.
(1) Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov visited Bulgarian troops
serving in ISAF in the past month. On 22 August, he attended the changeover
of the Bulgarian contingent and delivered a donation of technical equipment.
The donation from Sofia included eight PKM machine guns, 12 SPG-7 launchers,
eight 82mm mortars, 400 AK-47 rifles, 30 radio sets, 900 grenades, 300
mortar rounds, and over 120'000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. Minister
Svinarov met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. (2) Bulgaria decided
on 23 August to send US$320'000 worth of humanitarian help for Afghanistan.
The aid package will include underwear, gloves, stoves, tents, sheets,
Issues in FYROM, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovin
(1) On 13 August, Macedonians marked the one-year anniversary of the
Ohrid Peace Agreement. It is considered to have laid down a firm foundation
for Macedonia's future and its peaceful development on the path of Euro-Atlantic
integration. The implementation of the agreement is well advanced, and
the groundwork for the upcoming parliamentary elections has been accomplished.
Still, Macedonia's unemployment level is massive at 50 per cent. Some
Macedonian citizens are seeking Bulgarian citizenship, while others emigrate
to the US, Canada, and Australia. A third group with nostalgic feelings
towards the Yugoslavia that once was, sees the future in a second integration
with Serbia. This prospect is even more likely if the elections in September
are won by the pro-Serbian Social-Democratic Union. A real problem is
the non-implementation of a fundamental provision of the Ohrid agreement:
ending the 15-year residence requirement for the right to vote, which
mostly affected Albanians. This provision was considered a centerpiece
of the reform program in August 2001. (2) The International Crisis Group
(ICG) said on 14 August that endemic corruption is endangering the fragile
peace in Macedonia. Corruption works powerfully against the fundamental
objectives of the international community in Macedonia. The issue of corruption
is worse in comparison to other post-Communist countries due to the country's
security situation. The Ohrid Agreement between ethnic Slavs and Albanians
may survive only if a truly democratic society and a market economy are
created. This is currently prevented by large-scale corruption. The only
way the problem may be solved seems to be by linking financial aid to
anti-corruption reforms, appointing foreign anti-graft advisers to the
government in Skopje, and international monitoring. (3) Two violent incidents
on 16 August left three people injured after the first night of the campaign
for the 15 September election. Suspected ethnic Albanians fired shots
and threw a hand grenade, wounding Macedonian soldiers. The same night,
one ethnic Albanian was wounded in a shooting on the outskirts of Skopje.
Members of rivaling Albanian parties are blamed for the shooting. More
tensions among Albanian factions are expected in the election campaign
process. (4) Two Macedonian police officers were shot on 26 August near
Skopje in one of the worst incidents since the signing of the Ohrid Agreements
in August 2001. The killing coincides with efforts by a moderate leader
and former commander of Albanian Liberation Army, Ali Ahmeti, to participate
in the political process of the country, including the election campaign.
The outlawed Albanian National Army (ANA) claimed responsibility for the
killing. More clashes between Albanian factions are expected in the next
weeks in Macedonia.
(1) Two US soldiers serving with KFOR were injured on 31 July in an
explosion in the Kosovo village of Klokot while on patrol. (2) KFOR detained
19 suspects on 8 August in an operation to hunt down armed extremists.
All of the detained individuals posed an immediate threat to a safe and
secure environment. The detention was carried out by KFOR soldiers in
a coordinated operation in 12 Kosovo communities backed by police and
a special KFOR unit. The population of those communities is mostly Albanian.
KFOR found some weapons and ammunitions, including two grenade launchers.
(3) UN police arrested a well-known former Kosovar Albanian guerrilla
commander, Rustem "Remi" Mustafa (a regional commander of the
now disbanded KLA) on 11 August in Pristina. A long investigation will
be needed before deciding on an indictment, KFOR authorities said. In
June, UN police investigating ex-rebels for crimes committed after the
war arrested four Kosovo Albanians. Two others surrendered to the police.
UNMIK and KFOR are expected to crack down on ex-guerrillas guilty of crimes
in upholding law and order in the province. The arrests sparked protests
among the local population.
c) Bosnia and Herzegovina
On 15 August SFOR troops blocked roads and mountain paths while using
helicopters to search for war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. SFOR had
information that he was hiding in the border area of Montenegro and Serbia.
Karadzic was indicted by the ICTY on charges of genocide and other war
crimes in the 1992-95 war in Bosnia. SFOR accuses Bosnian Serb leaders
of shielding Karadzic, who has been in hiding since 1996. The SFOR operation
was concluded after two days of unsuccessful searches. Nevertheless, the
operation improved the information picture concerning the war criminal.
THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
(1) Turkish political parties and their leaders are considering political
coalitions on the eve of the early parliamentary elections in November,
18 months before the regular term expires. No dominating configuration
of political forces has emerged two months before the elections. Two influential
leaders and former ministers of the government, Kemal Dervis and Ismail
Cem, will be part of opposing parties. (2) The Chief of General Staff
of the Turkish armed forces, Hüseyin Kivrikoglu, retired on 30 August.
He was succeeded by General Hilmi Ozkok.
The privatization process continues, and hot debates on the future of
the country's tobacco company characterized the social and political climate
of Bulgaria in August. The London-based financial association Tobacco
Capital Partners, backed by Deutsche Bank, won the bid on 23 August. Political
and trade union actors linked to the winner's competitors promised the
issue would remain on the political agenda this autumn and vowed to contest
the results at the High Administrative Court.
3. Serbia and
(1) The power struggle between Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica,
a nationalist constitutional lawyer, and the reform forces of Serbian
Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic increased on 1 August after a Serbian Parliamentary
Committee expelled 45 MPs of Kostunica's party for repeatedly boycotting
votes on reform bills and for preventing the formation of a quorum. They
were replaced by representatives of the remaining 17 ruling coalition
parties. The DOS ruling coalition has 131 deputies in the 250-member Serbian
parliament. (2) Belgrade could not settle its constitutional disputes
with Podgorica, endangering the launch of the loose federation of Serbia
and Montenegro. (3) The most likely candidates for the presidency of Serbia
in the 29 September elections will be Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub
Labos, a representative of the ruling Serbian DOS coalition, and Yugoslav
President Vojislav Kostunica. The latter promises constitutional changes
and early general elections if he wins. (4) The trial against the former
Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic by the ICTY continued in The Hague
on 26 August. He was indicted for war crimes during the war in Kosovo
in 1999 as well as for other crimes against humanity. The former leader
persists in trying to get involved in domestic affairs, though, obviously,
with diminishing success.
Zelka Antunovic is the first female defense minister in the history
of Croatia. This decision of the parliament in Zagreb helped end the political
crisis after approving the new government of Prime Minster Ivica Racan.
The Croatian Ministry of Defense is expected to dismiss 13'000 soldiers
in a defense reform that would open the way to future NATO membership.
THE BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS. THE STATE OF
THE REGIONAL INITIATIVES
1. Bilateral Relations
a) Serbia and Montenegro-Croatia
A group of Croatian officials on a formal visit to Serbia came under
fire from the Yugoslav army last month and their boat was seized. Belgrade
expressed its regret, but also played down the incident, which highlighted
tensions between the old foes. Four boats carrying several Croatian mayors,
a district governor, and civilians, including children, were headed for
Serengradsk island in the Danube. At least one of the boats came under
fire and was forced to dock as it approached the island, which Croatia
claims, but which is held by the Yugoslav army. The fire was a clear blunder
on the Yugoslav side, because this visit was included in a mutually agreed
program, but was badly coordinated among different Yugoslav institutions.
In the last week of August, the Macedonian press is reviewing the
personal behavior of the Minister of Defense of Skopje on particular deals
of his institution with an accent on Bulgarian partners. On the Bulgarian
side the deals of the Ministry of Defense with the Macedonian counterpart
have been transparent and under executive, parliamentary and public control.
Obviously the upcoming elections bear the potential of worsening not only
the profile of the political opponent, but also the bilateral relations
with certain countries - an effect the political actors in Skopje should
better prevent from happening.
c) Albania-Macedonia. The Albanian government on 26 August declared the
Minister of the Interior of Macedonia, Ljube Boskovski, a persona non
grata in Albania. The reason was the granting of Macedonian citizenship
to Albanian citizens in the bordering region of Prespa by the Ministry
of Interior in Skopje, an act that was interpreted in Tirana as an effort
to induce ethnic tensions. Boskovski was planning a visit to the same
region in the last days of August.
High-ranking Greek Foreign Ministry officials visited Bulgaria from
27-28 August and met with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy. The
two sides discussed routine bilateral issues of cooperation. Greek Deputy
Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdas signed an agreement on 28 August on
donating 54.29 million to Bulgaria as part of the Greek plan of
reconstructing the Balkans. The total funding provided by Greece to its
neighbors in the Balkan region is 550 million.
On 26 August, the Greek Foreign Ministry announced that Greece would
insist on fixing a date of opening accession negotiations between the
EU and Turkey. This was confirmed by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
The issue will be raised at the Copenhagen EU summit in December this
year. Athens hopes to induce warmer relations with Turkey and give an
impulse to the resolution of the difficult Cyprus issue.
THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
Prospects for the construction of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline
became dimmer this month after Kazakhstan - a potential oil supplier for
the trilateral project - claimed an equal share of the profits. This project
has been on the agenda for long, but with no practical success yet. Both
Greece and Bulgaria rely on the development of this project.
The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) signed a US$500'000
grant on 31 July with the Roads Directorate of the Republic of Serbia
to provide technical assistance in developing a national road system.
Once the Roads Management and Recovery plan has been completed, the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will release the rehabilitation
portion of the US$76 million road sector loan that will start the construction
phase of the project.
The Ex-Im Bank of the US announced on 16 August that it is providing
loan guarantees to several US manufacturers, supplying furniture and an
electric generator to Asyafin Turizm, the Istanbul company developing
a resort complex in Turkey's Kizilcehaman region.
Bulgaria's revenue from tourism is expected to reach US$1.5 billion
by the end of the year 2002. Last year, tourism generated US$1.3 billion
in revenue. The number of foreign tourists this year has risen by 13-15
per cent over 2001. Tourism from Germany rose by 39 per cent over last
year, while the number of Russian tourists dropped by 15 per cent.
THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IN EU
AND IN NATO
The Turkish parliament abolished the death penalty in session from 2-3
August in a bid to increase the chances of EU accession. The parliament
decided to grant the Kurds in Turkey the right to broadcast and teach
in Kurdish language. The death penalty remains in effect only during times
of war or threat of war. For peacetime, the death penalty was replaced
with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. The package of bills
adopted by the Turkish parliament lifts restrictions on people's rights
to associate and form civic organizations. It imposes stricter penalties
for human trafficking. It also allows non-Muslim minorities (Greek Orthodox,
Armenian Christians, and others) greater rights to religious property.
Turkish lawmakers set general elections for 3 November - 18 months earlier
than scheduled. These parliamentary decisions were rightly assessed as
a giant step on the road to joining the EU. The reform package tightened
regulations governing the police, who are frequently accused of human
rights abuses. After these difficult decisions had been passed, Turkish
officials insisted on launching EU membership negotiations. The Copenhagen
summit at the end of this year is expected to fix a date for the start
of these talks. EU officials, on the other hand, expect more progress
on the Cyprus issue before launching a negotiating process with Turkey.
The EU expressed its dismay on 8 August that Romania, aspiring for EU
and NATO membership, had struck a deal with Washington to prevent US citizens
from being turned over to the new International Criminal Court (ICC).
EU officials said they are concerned that other, mostly Central/Eastern
European candidates for both EU and NATO membership, were under pressure
from Washington to follow suit. The EU and Washington remain divided over
the ICC, which the US opposes out of fears that hostile nations may abuse
the court to bring politically motivated cases against US citizens. The
European Council regrets the fact that no coordination talks were arranged
by Romanian officials on such an important issue. Washington has instructed
its embassies to approach countries to negotiate bilateral agreements
to avoid US personnel being prosecuted in the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Israel, Romania, and East Timor were the first three countries to sign
such agreements with the US. The UN Security Council in July agreed to
give US peacekeepers immunity from prosecution by the ICC for one year.
The US seeks blanket immunity from the court and has threatened to veto
UN peacekeeping missions.
In the beginning of August, Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Petko Draganov
visited EU officials for discussions concerning the delicate issue of
the position adopted by the EU and NATO candidate countries towards US
insistence on changing the legal basis of the new ICC. According to ISIS
analysts, this is a classic case of major powers' interests clashing,
with the price paid by small countries. No one can deny that Romania,
Bulgaria, or other EU and NATO candidates have an existential interest
in joining these important European institutions. Any opposition between
the two institutions would be counterproductive to the larger interest
of all actors (major or minor) in coping with global issues in a cooperative
climate and framework. Bulgaria, for example, needs the goodwill of all
influential global and regional actors to reach its national goals and
interests. All smaller EU and NATO candidates are in a similar position.
This is why it is in their interest to see an end to the debate between
the EU and Washington over the question of the ICC. Any official declarations
to the effect that Washington will deny NATO membership to those who do
not conclude a bilateral agreement on the ICC is counter-productive to
the interests of NATO in the candidate states.
2. NATO: NATO-Bulgaria
Bulgarian Air Force and British Royal Air Force units held the "Lonely
Cat" exercise from 22-29 August. It simulated joint air defense suppression
strikes at low to medium altitudes.. While UK pilots have 220 flight hours
per year, their Bulgarian counterparts have only 20 flight hours of training.
THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT
POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Bulgaria began destroying more than one
hundred Cold War-era ballistic missiles on 14 August. Experts from Controlled
Demolition, a US contractor hired by the Bulgarian government, are documenting
the process and are scheduled to complete the work by 30 October. The
SS-23, Scud, and Frog missiles are destroyed by incineration and disposed
of separately. Bulgarian military technical facilities will take on most
of the mechanical destruction tasks. The experience of Czech and Slovak
counterparts was studied before starting the destruction process. Ecological
and political groups initiated protests that led to a complex environmental
study of the possible effects of the planned destruction. The study's
results led to a change in the initially planned method of destruction
and helped to calm the anxieties of the population living near the destruction
US/UN/Russia - Serbia and Montenegro
On 26 August, Russia and the US together with military support from
Yugoslavia, quickly evacuated one hundred pounds of weapons-grade uranium
from a Yugoslav nuclear reactor. Nearly 1'200 troops and several combat
helicopters escorted Russian, UN, and US officials as they transported
the 6'000 ingots of highly enriched uranium out of Belgrade's Vinca Institute
of Nuclear Sciences, the site of a secret Yugoslav atomic weapons program.
Weapons experts consider the Vinca Institute to be one of the most dangerous
and vulnerable nuclear storage facilities. A Yugoslav government official
said that after the disposal of the hazardous material, which could be
used to make nuclear weapons, Vinca is no longer a potential target for
possible terrorist attempts to get hold of this fuel. The operation to
remove the uranium, enough to make three bombs, had been secretly planned
for over a year.
Events during the month of August seemed to be leading up to a rather
hot political autumn: general elections in Macedonia under the pressure
of ethnic tension, shootings, and killings; presidential elections in
Serbia within a divided democratic political spectrum of parties; early
general elections in the regional power Turkey, marred by intense political
infighting and bomb attacks against headquarters of leading parties; rising
nervousness in Bulgaria and Romania on the eve of the Prague NATO summit
- a nervousness caused by the dubious pressure coming from Washington
and EU headquarters in Brussels as well as from dissatisfied social groups,
trade unions (in Bulgaria), and political actors; Greece continues to
be on the lookout for remaining members of the urban terrorist group 17
November ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games. With the exception of minor
tensions between Albania and Macedonia, as well as Greece and Macedonia,
the bilateral relationships in the region indicate a predominantly stable
situation in the coming weeks. The resolution of US-EU differences on
the ICC may have a positive influence on the general stability in the
region. The US-Russian cooperative effort with Yugoslav authorities this
month eliminated a potentially threatening opportunity for terrorists
to lay hands on enriched uranium suitable for producing nuclear weapons.
CONTACT AND REFERENCE
Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief
ISSN 1311 – 3240
Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova
Address: ISIS, 1618 Sofia,
Mr. Valeri Rachev, M. A.
P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria
Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M. A.
Phone/Fax: ++(359 - 2-) 551 828
Dr. Todor Tagarev