BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

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

(A Background and January 2003 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 45, 2003

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 and the Threat of Iraq`s Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Casualties
2. The Post-Conflict Issues in FYROM, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
III. THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
1. Serbia and Montenegro
2. Turkey
3. Bulgaria
IV. BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS. THE STATE OF THE REGIONAL INITIATIVES
1. Romania - FYROM
  2. FYROM - Croatia
  3. Albania - FYROM
  4. Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro
  5. Regional Cooperation: Meeting of Heads of Police from Southeast Europe
V. THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
1. Bulgaria
2. Bulgaria - Greece
3. IMF - Turkey
VI. THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IN EU AND IN NATO
1. EU - Greece
2. EU - Bulgaria
3. NATO - Slovenia
4. NATO - Bulgaria
VII. THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
1. US
2. Russia
VIII. CONCLUSIONS

I. INTRODUCTION
Accession negotiations for the seven NATO invitees from the Baltic region and Central and Southeastern Europe began in January. Washington has indicated that the US Senate is expected to receive the amended NATO treaty in April for consideration and ratification. This is an important step in the approval process for new members. Changes to the Washington Treaty will reflect concern over the global threat of terrorism and the belief that the majority of NATO's threats are expected to come from outside Europe. This move marks a change from an inward focus by NATO military planners to an outward focus in strategic thinking.

The war against terrorism and the immediate concern of weapons of mass casualties (WMC) and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) falling into the hands of terrorists is a major worry to those countries invited to join NATO. While not all countries agree with the policy of mounting pressure on Iraq, the threat of Saddam Hussein acquiring WMD and the possible transfer of these weapons to terrorists groups will ensure that all NATO candidates from Southeastern Europe will support an anti-Iraq coalition. Terrorism remains a constant danger to the international community. No country is immune from the threat. Moreover, the principal of solidarity is a factor of utmost significance when forming a coalition against modern terrorism. UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1456, adopted unanimously on 20 January with the participation of the Bulgarian Foreign Minister (the only Southeast European representative on the Security Council), called on all nations to take a number of steps to prevent and suppress all active and passive support of terrorism. This resolution provides additional impetus to act decisively in the event of Iraq misleading the international community over its WMD programs. Turkey remains a crucial player in the continued standoff against Iraq, regardless of whether the crisis is resolved diplomatically or through a military assault on Baghdad. Developments in Iraq will impact the stability of Turkey as well as the country's future economic and political development. Throughout January, Ankara worked to find a peaceful solution to the crisis while also preparing for war. Preparations of various kinds were also underway in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Greece.

During the month of January, the security situation in the Western Balkans was relatively calm. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) continues to tackle fundamental national identity issues, though these are often masked by international political activity. The constitutional status of Kosovo continues to be discussed but with no conclusions. The EU began its first security operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina while Montenegro, leading officials in the capital, Podgorica, continue to press for Montenegrin independence. Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic voluntarily surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Bilateral cooperation focused on providing better opportunities for Western Balkan Countries to accede to NATO and the EU. Regional police cooperation concentrated on the fight against organized crime.

Greece assumed the six-month presidency of the EU. International pressure to solve the Cyprus question has never been so concentrated and intense as in the last few months. Russia announced its continued presence in the Western Balkans as part of the international community's peacekeeping efforts there.

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

1. Security Threats: Terrorism and the Threat of Iraq`s Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Casualties

a) Turkey. Turkish officials declared in January that their country's support for military action against Iraq remains contingent on a UNSC resolution. The Turkish economy is fragile and the prospect of regional destabilization as a result of a war against Iraq may bring huge problems to the Turkish state. Strong public opposition to a war has added to the pressure on the Turkish government. While the government favors a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the crisis, a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq remains the second best option. These factors have strongly influenced Turkey's demands for economic support in its bilateral relations with the United States. Turkey has bitter memories of the 1991 Gulf War when US air strikes on Iraq were launched from Turkish air bases. Back then, Washington failed to deliver on its promise of financial aid and, according to Ankara, the country suffered some US$40 billion in lost trade revenue.

Turkey is now seeking some US$28 billion in compensation for the threat a war would pose to its exports, macroeconomic balance, and vital tourism sector. The US wants access to Turkish air bases and permission to allow US soldiers to cross the Turkish border into Iraq but the Turkish parliament may yet deny this.

Prime Minister Abdullah Gül visited Syria, Jordan, and Egypt in an effort to assess opportunities for a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis. On 6 January, Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said the Turkish public would not accept having thousands of US soldiers stationed in their country for a war against neighboring Iraq. But if war breaks out a second northern front against Baghdad would greatly facilitate US military operations. Despite Turkey's misgivings, Ankara, a staunch NATO member and US ally, is expected to back US military action. The Bush administration is believed to be considering an offer of US$3 billion in immediate aid to Turkey, followed by up to US$20 billion in loan guarantees and military assistance.

General Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Ankara on 19-20 January and said Turkey was being very cooperative over requests for support in the event of a war against Iraq. On 21 January, Turkish leaders authorized the country's military to draft detailed plans for the stationing of US troops in their country. Parallel diplomatic efforts continued in Istanbul on 23 January when the foreign ministers of six neighboring countries discussed the crisis. The foreign ministers of Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran adopted a declaration calling for a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis. The Turkish military, however, is preparing for any contingency and has reinforced its forces on its border with Iraq.

b) Bulgaria. (1) Bulgarian officials discussed a request by the Bush administration for the use of the country's airspace and its Black Sea air base in Sarafovo. There is no change in the procedure of granting such requests; it remains the ultimate right of the Bulgarian parliament. Permission may be granted for each over-flight, for a number of planes or for a certain period of time. Bulgaria's Foreign Minister, Solomon Passy, said on 13 January that in the event of Bulgaria's participation in a military operation against Iraq, the country's support would not differ from assistance provided to the military campaigns in Kosovo, Afghanistan and the 1991 Gulf War. Alongside the military and medical support provided to the international coalition during the 1991 conflict, Bulgaria was also ready to provide bottled water and the use of Black Sea coast recreation centers for coalition service personnel. Bulgarian troops may join an eventual peacekeeping operation in the event of military action in Iraq. (2) Bulgarian authorities announced on 15 January that they had arrested Sahib Abd Al Amir Al Hadat (59), an Iraqi national with US citizenship, who is wanted by Interpol. Al Hadat, a trusted confidant of Saddam Hussein, brokered deals with German engineer Bernd Schompeter for the production of an Iraqi super-artillery gun. Schompeter is currently on trial in a Manheim court for his part in the affair. After a formal request by Germany, Al Hadat will be extradited within 40 days to Manheim. (3) Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov said on 29 January that the parameters of Bulgarian involvement in a possible military operation against Iraq would be fixed after the country receives a concrete request.

c) Hungary. Hungary will receive 3,000 Iraqi opposition activists at the beginning of February. Some already started arriving on 29 January. They will train with 150 US military police as part of a possible Iraqi liberation force. Iraqi émigrés in North America and Europe will receive 90 days of training at the Taszar base and airfield for liaison tasks between US military leadership and the Iraqi civilian population. Hungary's security concern is that these Iraqi opposition activists may become terrorist targets on Hungarian soil. Although a NATO member, Hungary did not contribute military support to the US-led war in Afghanistan and only recently decided to send 50 medics to support the operations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

d) Romania. Bucharest will discuss the implications of an eventual war on Iraq at a meeting of the Supreme Council for Romania's Defense on 10 February. Romanian authorities are of the opinion that the world's great powers must first adopt a concrete position before Romania decides on its role.

e) The EU. Greece's Foreign Minister, George Papandreou, announced on 8 January that he would lead a EU mission to Arab states next month in a bid to avert war in Iraq. Greece currently holds the rotating EU Presidency. The mission will try to mediate between the USA and Iraq as well as put forward its own ideas on how to avert a conflict. Papandreou's tour of the region will take in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia as well as meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

f) NATO. On 15 January the United States made a formal request for limited help from NATO in the event of war with Iraq. Last month Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz presented an informal list of American requests including: a) protecting Turkey from the threat of an Iraqi counterstrike; b) using NATO's planning facilities to coordinate efforts such as air and sea transport for troops and equipment, air-to-air refueling, and possibly air cover for ground troops; c) using collective forces such as AWACS surveillance planes, minesweepers, and naval patrol ships; and d) provide troops to enforce peace and help rebuild Iraq after Saddam Hussein's regime is removed from power. Congressman Doug Bereuter, who heads NATO Parliamentary Assembly, said the United States could also be seeking base and over-flight rights from its allies. NATO is not expected to play a front-line role in a possible military strike, though the US is hoping individual allies will join a coalition against the Iraqi leader. On 28 January, France said it was too early to start military planning while there is still hope that diplomacy and UN weapons inspections might avoid a war. Diplomats in NATO say the deadlock within the alliance is becoming tense: despite two weeks of deliberation, the 19 members cannot agree on a policy of action on Iraq.

2. ThePost-Conflict Issues in FYROM, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina

a) FYROM. (1) Greece's Foreign Minister, George Papandreou, representing the Greek EU Presidency, said on 11 January that the Union's rapid reaction force will be ready by May of this year. Soon afterwards, it will launch its first operation by taking over the NATO peace mission in FYROM. (2) In a letter to Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, dated 18 January, FYROM President Boris Traikovsky wrote: "I would like to respond favorably to the offer of the EU and to invite you to take the necessary measures to enable the taking over by the EU of the military mission currently implemented by NATO". The EU made a deal with NATO in December 2002 over its access to alliance planning and logistics, opening the way for troops from its 60,000-strong rapid reaction force to assume NATO's responsibilities in FYROM. (3) On 26 January, EU Foreign Ministers gave the green light for the Union to take over from NATO in FYROM. This is the EU's first military operation. Over the next few months, 350 personnel will be deployed to the country. A launch date and the term of the operation were not set but March is seen as a possible start for a six-month period.

b) Kosovo. (1) Ambassador Pascal Fieschi, the head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK), said on 14 January that the focus of the mission's program for 2003 would be to help and enable the people of Kosovo to take ever-increasing responsibility for the institutions of public life. The main efforts of OMIK will be directed at supporting responsible public policy-making, democratic values, human rights, a permanent legal structure for elections and police training in Kosovo. (2) On 15 January NATO and PfP countries began a month-long exercise in Kosovo consisting of Operational Reserve Forces (ORF) and Strategic Reserve Forces (SRF) military units. This new operational concept will enable NATO to deploy more rapidly and to deal with any military contingency in Kosovo or anywhere else in the region. Operational Rehearsal Rapid Guardian (RG 03) comprises sea, air and land operations and demonstrates NATO's resolve and capability to maintain stability in the Balkans. It is directed by the Commander of KFOR and coordinated by the Joint Force Commander within the NATO headquarters responsible for the Balkans operations (CINSOUTH). Both are under the supervision of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
(3) In a speech on 16 January, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said it was time to start serious talks on the final status of Kosovo. The majority of people in Kosovo are definitely against a Serb-dominated federal state, of which Kosovo would be a part. The position of Michael Steiner, the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) chief, is that UNSC resolution 1244 has already established a process on this issue but the time is not yet ripe for its launching. Before this process is launched, the groundwork for a multi-ethnic democracy has to be laid. A particularly important precondition is the return of refugees and displaced persons, ensuring the safety and freedom of movement for minorities, combating organized crime, and nurturing inclusive and effective self-governance. However, if the modernization and integration of the Western Balkans into the EU does not develop while KFOR remains the main guarantor of the province's stability, some kind of statehood may start evolving in Kosovo. This is sure to result in new ethnic unrest.

c) Bosnia and Herzegovina. (1) The EU has begun its first foreign security operation, taking over policing duties from the UN in Bosnia. The EU Police Mission (EUPM) involves 512 officers - 422 from EU member states and 90 from other countries, including Russia and Canada. The UN operation to monitor and reform Bosnia's police forces was set up in 1995 as part of the Dayton peace accords. EUPM is a key test of the EU's common security and defense policy agreed under the Nice Treaty (2001). EUPM will work alongside the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), also deployed under the Dayton accords. EUPM's mandate will run until 2005. Commissioner Sven Fredrikson of Denmark, who headed the UN Police Mission, will also lead the EUPM. The EUPM will oversee about 16,000 police officers in Bosnia's two autonomous regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and Republika Srpska. It will be responsible for border police and the new central security ministry and information agency. (2) One hundred and forty-two Bulgarian servicemen from the Tundzha light infantry brigade left on 2 January to join the Bulgarian contingent in the SFOR base at Camp Butmir near Sarajevo. This contingent will stay at the camp for half a year. The Tundzha light infantry brigade was the first to receive a NATO certificate after the country received an invitation to join the alliance. (3) Strikes and street protests spread across Bosnia in mid-January fuelled by discontent over plunging living standards. Bosnian workers blame much of their worsening plight on the country's clumsy privatization process that has led to heavy job losses and has been accompanied by huge wage backlogs and company debt. The same situation faces Republika Srpska. The present rate of unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 40 per cent and is expected to rise. Bosnia has yet to enact proper labor legislation and so there is little protection for workers.

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

1. Serbia and Montenegro
(1) The Speaker of the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Natasha Micic, became caretaker president of the country when the term of the incumbent Milan Milutinovic ended in January. Natasha Micic is the first female president in the history of Serbia. On two occasions last year the Serbs failed to elect a president due to a low voter turnout. (2) Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic voluntarily surrendered to the ICTY in The Hague on 20 January. The Tribunal has accused Milutinovic of helping to plan the persecution, deportation and murder of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1998-1999. He has denied the charges arguing that as Serbian president he had no real power over the behavior of the armed forces. Milutinovic has undergone bypass surgery and complains of serious health problems. At his first ICTY appearance in The Hague on 26 January, he pleaded "not guilty" to crimes against humanity during the Kosovo conflict in 1999. (3) The United States has said Serbia and Montenegro risk losing economic assistance after 31 March if the two countries do not arrest war crimes suspects, including Ratko Mladic. (4) On 8 January Milo Djukanovic repeated his commitment to Montenegrin independence as parliament approved his new government, completing his transition from President to Prime Minister. Djukanovic expects Montenegro to gain full independence from Belgrade within the next three years, while concentrating on further stabilization and transformation. (5) On 28 January the parliament of Serbia voted the end of Yugoslavia. According to an agreement between Belgrade and Podgorica, three years form now both Serbia and Montenegro will have the right to seek independence from the loose republic they have formed.

2. Turkey
(1) Legal obstacles blocking the leader of Turkey's ruling party, Recep Erdogan, from becoming a member of parliament and then prime minister were cleared in January. Under the Turkish constitution, the parliament elects the country's new prime minister. (2) Recep Erdogan publicly condemned the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on 6 January for his reticence in accepting the plan submitted by the UN Secretary General as a basis to negotiating the reunification of Cyprus. Erdogan said he is not in favor of continuing the current policy in Cyprus. He added: "We shall do what we have to do…Cyprus is not Mr. Denktash's personal affair. If we think that it is negotiable then let's negotiate." A few days later, on 9 January, Turkish Cypriot opposition groups called for tens of thousands of supporters to take to the street to support talks on a UN plan aimed at reuniting the island before it joins the EU. According to Turkish Cypriot opposition, Rauf Denktash is not doing enough to find a solution based on the plan outlined by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. On 14 January a rally of several thousand protesters in Northern Cyprus called for the unification of the island. At the EU's Copenhagen summit on 12-13 December 2002, it was decided that only the Greek part of Cyprus would enter the union if the island was not united by 28 February. Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said on 6 January that the two communities on the island might not reach an agreement by 28 February but by 16 April at the latest.

3.Bulgaria
Forty Bulgarian military service personnel left Prizren in Kosovo on 14 January to join the multinational peacekeeping brigade there. One of the NATO bases in the province is situated there.

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

1. Romania-FYROM
The decision by the Macedonian government to impose entry visas for Romanian citizens came into force on 1 January. Romanian diplomats and officials are exempted from this regulation. The decision is a reciprocal answer to the imposition of a visa regime on FYROM by Romania.

2. FYROM-Croatia
The Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tonino Picula, paid a visit to Skopje and met with the Foreign Minister of FYROM, Ilinka Mitreva, on 10 January. They agreed to strengthen cooperation ties between their two countries with a view to gaining a clearer perspective on NATO membership. The two countries agreed to prepare a cooperation document and to sign it in March. The two foreign ministers also agreed to urge the EU summit in Thessaloniki to offer a clearer perspective on the prospects of both countries' membership into the Union. The two countries also agreed to improve economic cooperation. They have already signed 23 cooperation agreements and with a trade exchange amounting to over US$100 million.

3. Albania-FYROM
(1) The President of FYROM, Boris Traikovsky, and of Albania, Alfred Moisiu, agreed to have a round-table discussion on the integration of Western Balkan countries into the EU. The aim of the discussion will be to draft joint proposals to the EU on enhancing the stabilization and accession process in both countries. FYROM expects the support of Greece for ratifying the Stabilization and Accession Agreement of Skopje with the Union, signed on 9 April 2001. (2) The chief of the General Staff of the Albanian armed forces, Major General Pellumb Qazimi, met with his counterpart from FYROM, General Metody Stamboliysky in Tirana on 14 January. They discussed the reform of their military establishments in view of their preparations to join NATO. The military leaders discussed joint exercises and the establishment of a joint training and education centre for peacekeeping missions. They also agreed to establish a Macedonian military liaison in Albania to maintain cooperation between the two armies. Officials from Albania, Croatia and FYROM recently agreed to hold joint negotiations on NATO membership.

4. Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro
On 16 January the Council of Ministers of Bulgaria adopted a motion obliging Bulgarian banks and companies to freeze the assets of Slobodan Milosevic and, if possible, those of his family and close associates. The cabinet also lifted the embargo against Belgrade that was imposed by the EU in the late 1990s. The decisions of the Bulgarian government are in line with agreements for cooperation with the ICTY in The Hague.

5. Regional Cooperation: Meeting of Heads of Police from Southeast Europe
The second meeting of police leaders from Southeast Europe was convened in Thessaloniki, Greece on 19 January. During the meeting it was reported that 80 per cent of the heroin going to Western Europe comes from Turkey. Every month 4-6 tons of drugs are entering Western Europe from Turkey. According to one of the Greek police chiefs attending the meeting, the traffic of heroin is under the control of the Albanian, Yugoslav and Turkish mafia. The representatives agreed that all regional criminal networks for drugs, prostitution and illegal immigration are to be found in Serbia and Montenegro. Albania is the main provider of heroin and cannabis for the Balkan region.

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

1. Bulgaria
On 14 January the Bulgarian Finance Minister Milen Velchev told a forum of investors in Central and Eastern Europe gathering in Vienna that an eventual war against Iraq will lead to an increase in Bulgaria's rate of inflation to 5.4 per cent compared to the predicted 4 per cent for 2004. Economic growth is also expected to fall from 4.8 per cent to 4.6 per cent in the event of war.

2. Bulgaria-Greece
The Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Development, Georgios Agrissiotis, told a press conference in Sofia on 14 January that Greece expects to import more Bulgarian electricity this year. Greek companies are interested in participating in the privatization of Bulgarian energy companies. Agrissiotis also said there are prospects for joint Greek-Bulgarian exploitation of geothermal energy sources.

3. IMF-Turkey
Anne Krueger, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met with the Turkish Minister of the Economy, Ali Babacan, in Ankara on 16 January. The two agreed that as soon as the Turkish government has clarified its concrete policy plans, an IMF mission will be sent to Ankara to discuss the 2003 budget and other key elements of an IMF-supported economic program. The mission will also consider what action the government needs to take to ensure a positive momentum in economic recovery and financial stabilization.

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

1. EU-Greece
Greece assumed the revolving presidency of the EU from Denmark on 1 January. Greece hopes to complete the process of enlargement of the Union, especially the issue of the Convention on the Future of Europe. The member-states are expected to sign a Treaty for the Constitution of Europe at a meeting in Thessaloniki in June. Greece will also put an accent on the finalization of Bulgaria's accession negotiations with the Union, the acceleration of this process by Romania and on giving a clearer EU perspective to Western Balkan countries.

2. EU-Bulgaria
The EU signed agreements for seven new infrastructure projects with Bulgaria in Sofia on 21 January. The projects are from the ISPA program and are worth  243 million. Bulgaria had signed nine such agreements for  670 million. Sofia will spend an additional  65 million this year from the Phare 2000 program. A further  9 million will be spent on modernizing the Bulgarian border police force on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, and  1 million on the fight against drugs. EU support for these programs is seen as a legitimate effort to decrease the pressure on its outer borders.

3. NATO-Slovenia
Slovenia's Defense Minister, Dr. Anton Grizold, said on 21 January that the country would have to draft women into its army of 35,000 troops if citizens voted against joining NATO in a referendum to be held on 23 March. Concern at rising defense costs, the vulnerability of Slovenian territory to terrorist attacks and the use of Slovenian soldiers to purse American foreign policy interests have left many unenthusiastic about joining NATO. The abolition of conscription will only be possible if Slovenia joins the alliance said Grizold. The Slovenian Ministry of Defense added that military spending would remain high, particularly for air defenses, if the country chooses to remain outside NATO.

4. NATO-Bulgaria
(1) In preparation for accession talks with NATO, on 3 January Bulgaria's General Staff publicly proposed several options for national specialization in the alliance: a) for land forces, light infantry formations; special units for fighting paramilitary formations; units for nuclear, chemical and biological defense; engineer and mine-sweeping units; rear and medical formations and modules; b) for air forces: Anatov An-26 transport planes and Mi-17 transport helicopters; rear formations; c) naval forces: two basic minesweepers; a rocket corvette for embargo operations; patrol ships for embargo operations; a logistic ship for providing fuel, food, water, munitions and medical supplies; and one or two special forces units (SEALS) for special operations. (2) UK General (ret.) Jeremy McKenzie met with officials from the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the armed forces in Sofia on 8 January. He suggested four tasks in the process of accession to NATO: first, defining national defense needs; second, studying what is needed by NATO for collective defense; third, a strategic defense review; and fourth, specialization within NATO after Bulgaria's final integration in the alliance. (3) On 9 January the Bulgarian President and the Consultative Council for National Security (CCNS) gave full political support to the delegation that started accession negotiations with NATO in Brussels on 10 January. This was the first of two rounds of negotiations. The talks lasted sixty minutes. Three years of joint work on the Membership Action Plan (MAP) strongly facilitated this stage of the accession process. Bulgaria was the third invitee after Lithuania and Romania to begin negotiations with NATO.

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

1. US

a) USA-Cyprus. A report published by the US State Department on 14 January made clear US support for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the special adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro DeSoto, the UN Good Offices Mission on Cyprus, and their efforts to reach a just and durable settlement in a way that addresses the legitimate interests of both sides and of Greece and Turkey. The report continued that the large demonstrations in Cyprus on 14 January showed that Turkish Cypriots understand the significant benefits of achieving a comprehensive settlement by 28 February as provided by the UN Secretary General's plan.

b) USA and FYROM, Albania, Croatia. The State Secretaries of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of FYROM, Albania and Croatia met in Skopje on 23 January and agreed on the draft of a charter of cooperation among them and between their countries and the United States in the process of NATO integration. The draft will be completed in February in Tirana, Albania. The finalization will take place in Dubrovnik, Croatia in March. The US Ambassador to FYROM, Lawrence Butler, and the President of the Project for Democracies in Transition, Bruce Jackson, participated in the meeting in Skopje. President George Bush supported the charter in a letter to the President of FYROM, Boris Traikovsky. According to the United States, the doors for partnership remain open for Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2. Russia: Russia-Bulgaria
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov made a working visit to Moscow on 21 January at the invitation of the Russian Orthodox Christian patriarch Alexii II. President Parvanov was awarded a special prize for his contribution to the Orthodox Christian religion, which included a sum of US$20,000. Russian President Vladimir Putin later received Parvanov at the Kremlin. The two leaders agreed to step up cooperative projects in the energy sector, including Russian participation in the privatization of the respective public sector in Bulgaria. President Putin confirmed his visit to Bulgaria on 1-3 March and Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov visited Bulgaria to prepare the way. The visit will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the liberation of Bulgaria after a victorious Russian war over Turkey in 1877-78. More than 200,000 Russian soldiers as well as tens of thousands of Ukrainian, Romanian and Finnish soldiers were killed during the war as well as thousands of Bulgarian volunteers and non-combatants. The Russians have been held in high regard by the Bulgarian people ever since. The historical and cultural ties of the two people go back to the early Middle Ages when Bulgaria, an established great European power at the time, presented the Cyrilic Slavonic alphabet, basic elements of Slavonic literature and culture, and the Orthodox Christian religion to the young and comparatively weak Russian state. Bulgarian Social Democrats launched the Social Democratic movement on Russian soil in the late 19th century. This was later championed and ruined by the Stalinist-Bolshevik regime. After World War II, the post-war Yalta division of Europe by the allied powers placed Bulgaria in the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia imposed a Stalinist totalitarian model of socialism on the country for more than forty years.

VIII. CONCLUSIONS
Preparations for a possible war against Iraq have influenced the policies of individual Balkan countries differently. The two NATO candidates, Bulgaria and Romania, have been careful but not hesitating in their support of US policy on Iraq. If war starts, we can expect to see consequences of an economic, political or ethno-religious nature. In the event of war, Balkan political leaders should be careful to avoid further destabilization in Southeast Europe. Efforts should be made to counter expected terrorist activity in the region. The continued division of the main EU states over the crisis in Iraq has complicated the position of those countries in the Balkan region that support US policy. A more open and active dialogue by the leaders of these countries with their people is necessary to explain events as they evolve.


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ISSN 1311 – 3240

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