BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and January 2003 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 45, 2003
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Serbia and Montenegro
Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro
Regional Cooperation: Meeting of Heads of Police from Southeast Europe
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.