BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

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

(A Background and May 2003 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 49, 2003

Hard copy: ISSN 1311 – 3240

AN ISN-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL


I. INTRODUCTION
II. SECURITY THREATS, CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS
1. Security Threats: Terrorism, Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq, Afghanistan
2. The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina: Kosovo
III. THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
1. Serbia and Montenegro
IV. BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS. THE STATE OF THE REGIONAL INITIATIVES
1. Bilateral Relations
  2. State of the Regional Initiatives: Pact of Stability for Southeastern Europe/ EU/NATO/OSCE
V. THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
1. World Bank-Southeastern Europe
2. Caspian Gas-Southeastern Europe
3. Bulgaria-Greece
VI. THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE INTO THE EU AND NATO
1. EU - Bulgaria
2. EU - Romania
3. NATO - Serbia and Montenegro
4. NATO - Seven Candidates
VII. THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: US
1. US - Seven Candidate States
2. US - Albania, Croatia, Macedonia
3. US - Turkey
4. US - Albania
5. US - Bosnia and Herzegovina
6. US - Bulgaria
7. US - Macedonia
8. US - Serbia and Montenegro
VIII. CONCLUSIONS

I. INTRODUCTION
This month, leading representatives of the US Department of State restated their position that the war on terrorism remains an open-ended activity, and warned that anyone who provided safe haven or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to terrorist groups would be attacked by counter-terrorist forces. The United States will take the campaign to the attackers and will take care of its own protection, Richard Haas, US State Department Director of Policy Planning told radio BBC. The war on terrorism, the message runs, will ebb and flow, with occasional resurgences. This ‘war’, Haas continued, will not end anytime soon, and thinking about so-called ‘exit strategies’ is inappropriate.
It also became clear that the countries that stay on the sidelines would find themselves at the very least with a diminished international role, as the case of Turkey shows. In May, NATO signaled it would be more involved in the various US-led campaigns, including in the occupation forces for Afghanistan and Iraq.
Peacekeeping in Iraq began after the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1483 on 22 May. Most of the peacekeepers will be stationed in the respective regions of Iraq in the next two months. Several Balkan countries (Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania) have sent troops as part of the peacekeeping mission in Iraq. The Security Council Resolution, approved overwhelmingly, allows the United States to administer and rebuild Iraq. In September this year, a new Iraqi administration is expected to take over food distribution from the present ‘Authority’, as the US and British occupying forces are called in the UNSCR and the respective conventions.
In the Balkans, the most difficult question is still the status of Kosovo. There were signs of preparatory efforts to find a longer-term solution to this issue, as well as confirmation of the longer-term engagement of the international community with a stabilizing presence in the area and continued commitment to modernizing and integrating the whole peninsula into the Euro-Atlantic structures. A ‘bottom-up’ effort is still required to further improve the interethnic relations in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. Despite the urgency of the post-war reconstruction of Iraq and the continuing fight against terrorism, the US, NATO, and the EU will not completely divert their focus from Kosovo and the rest of the Western Balkans in the coming months.
In May, Montenegro pressed its case for independence after the election of a new president. The bilateral relations were a clear reflection of positive, constructive attitudes and of a will to contribute to the progress of the region. At the regional level, fighting trans-border crime was the focus of stabilizing the Balkans. The coordination of law enforcement in Southeastern Europe continues to be a major challenge at the national, regional, and European levels.
This month, both the EU and the World Bank (WB) were active in supporting regional projects. One such undertaking deals with the transit of Caspian gas to Central and Western Europe via Bulgaria and Romania, and another centers on improving the management of water resources in Southeastern Europe. Both these projects can contribute substantially to the economic and infrastructure modernization of the region.
The process of differentiated integration of Southeastern Europe in the European and Euro-Atlantic structures continued after the decision to integrate Slovenia in the EU. Bulgaria and Romania received assurances that their accession negotiations could end in 2004, and the target date of 2007 for full integration of the two countries remains unchanged as far as the EU is concerned. These signals were important for both Sofia and Bucharest, giving the governments the necessary leverage to pursue the necessary reforms to meet the EU accession criteria. In May, Bulgaria told the EU it was prepared to provide troops and equipment to the newly formed European Security Forces. NATO continued its ratification process (in the United States Senate and the Danish parliament) of the Accession Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949. NATO is already involving the leading military authorities of the seven candidates, including three from the Balkans, in the everyday activities of the Alliance. This month, Serbia and Montenegro received a very clear signal in Brussels concerning the requirements Belgrade has to meet before joining the Partnership for Peace Program.
May was very much a ‘US month’ in Southeastern Europe. First, the US Senate voted in favor of the accession of Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia to NATO. Furthermore, Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and the US signed the ‘Adriatic Charter’ that provides formal US support to the three countries on their way to full NATO membership. Also, the US showed a diminished interest in Turkish bases by leaving the military base in Incirlik, though US troops remain there as part of a NATO command. US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Albania to thank the government for its support in the war on Iraq, and to sign a bilateral agreement for exempting each other’s citizens from prosecution by the ICC. A joint military exercise of US and Albanian forces took place in the second half of May on Albanian territory. The Bosnian authorities are in the process of ratifying an agreement with the US to prohibit the extradition of US citizens to the ICC. Powell visited Bulgaria to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations. He thanked the “Bulgarian allies” for their diplomatic and military support in the war against Iraq, for their full commitment to fighting terrorism, and for their peacekeeping activities side by side with US troops. Powell congratulated Bulgaria on the unanimous US Senate vote in favor of Bulgaria joining NATO. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz thanked Skopje for its support of the US-led coalition against Iraq. Finally, this month, the US president opened the way for a practical and intensive military assistance to Serbia and Montenegro in an effort to encourage defense reform and strengthen the democratic institutions of the country.

 

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

1. Security Threats: Terrorism, Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq, Afghanistan
a) Bulgaria. (1) Two Bulgarian citizens were close to becoming victims of the 13 May terrorist act in Saudi Arabia. This attack was a reminder that terrorism is ubiquitous. Three Bulgarians have been killed in three separate terrorist acts since 2002. (2) On 22 May, the Bulgarian government decided to send 500 peacekeepers for the post-war stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. The battalion, assembled from 600 volunteers, will be transported to Iraq by the end of June. It will serve under Polish command. On 29 May, parliament approved the government’s decision.
b) UNSC Resolution 1483. On 1 May, US President Bush announced in a televised speech from a US aircraft carrier off the coast of California that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, and said coalition forces were engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. On 22 May, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1483 ending economic sanctions on Iraq, setting out the responsibilities of the UN in Iraq, and supporting the establishment of a transitional administration run by Iraqis. By a vote of 14 to 0, the 15-member Council (Syria was absent from the meeting) adopted the resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The Council asked the UN Secretary-General to appoint a special representative for Iraq with independent responsibilities to coordinate UN activities and assist the Iraqi people. The Resolution outlined seven areas of responsibility, including coordination of humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, safe return of refugees and displaced persons, human rights, and legal and judicial reform. The US and UK officially accepted the responsibilities of occupying powers in Iraq and in the Resolution they are referred to as the ‘Authority’. UNSC resolution 1483 indirectly seals the toppling down of the regime of Saddam Hussein and the intervention of the international coalition for the immediate disarmament of Iraq.
c) Romania. On 13 May, Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said Bucharest would send 500 peacekeepers to help stabilize post-war Iraq. The troops would probably be mechanized infantry and NBC warfare soldiers. The Romanian troops, together with Italian soldiers, will probably be under British command in the south of Iraq.
d) US-Turkey. On 6 May US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman called on Turkey to play a constructive role in the region as well as in post-war Iraq and at the United Nations. He acknowledged there is a sense of disappointment in the US that Turkey did not support the campaign against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Grossman said the future of US-Turkish relationship depends on what Turkey chooses to do. Improvement of bilateral relations are contingent on several things Ankara could do: continue to provide robust support to coalition forces in Northern Iraq; make it easy for NGOs to do their work in Iraq; convey to Syria the message conveyed by US Secretary of State; cooperate in the UN on post-war Iraq.
On 6 May US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, speaking on CNN Turk television, also criticized Ankara for not supporting the US in the campaign against Saddam Hussein’s regime or post-conflict goals for the region.
e) Macedonia. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski told the press on 17 May in Skopje that his country would send a 39-man troop to Iraq on 6 June to support the democratic process, and provide humanitarian support, which is now essential, and also in order to help secure law and order. President Trajkovski said that millions of people would remember Iraq’s liberation as an act of democracy, and affirmed Skopje’s continued support for US policy and activities.
f) NATO. On 21 May, the North Atlantic Council unanimously decided to task NATO’s military authorities with providing advice as soon as possible on the Polish request for NATO support in the context of their leadership of a sector in a stabilization force in Iraq. The Lithuanian and the Bulgarian peacekeeping contingents will be under Polish command. Units from other nations will join after parliamentary approval is given. NATO’s SHAPE will have a significant role in the post-war stabilization activities in Iraq.


2. The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina: Kosovo
It would be premature to declare that progress has taken roots in Kosovo in view of the continuing political violence, corruption, human trafficking, and drugs and weapons smuggling, as well as the high unemployment rate, all of which are facts of life in the province. More progress is needed in aiding the return of refugees and securing minority rights. Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo still need to fully accept responsibility for creating functioning multiethnic communities that will participate in the provisional institutions, respect cultural sites, and resolutely oppose violence and terror.
In testimony given to the US House Committee on International Relations on “The Future of Kosovo”, Daniel Serwer, Director of the Balkan Initiative and Peace Operations at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), offered four suggestions to those with responsibilities for Kosovo: 1) The State Department should begin consulting with Europe on the final status of Kosovo, with a view to outlining a EU- and US-led process by the fall of 2003; 2) Pristina should prepare for talks on the province’s final status by forming a coordinating center to deal with Belgrade and ending hostility towards Serbs and other minorities; 3) Belgrade should end its hostility towards the UN authorities in Kosovo and establish constructive relations, including in northern Kosovo and in the Kosovo Assembly; 4) The UN should revive its proposal for talks on practical issues with a view to opening them this summer. We should add to this proposal a contending vision in Europe and North America that the evolutionary processes in Kosovo must be left to develop without any pressure. However, a clearer constitutional picture in Serbia, Kosovo, and Montenegro will stimulate the reform processes in this part of former Yugoslavia.

 

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

1. Serbia and Montenegro
Presidential elections were held in Montenegro on 11 May. Filip Vujanovic (48), Speaker of the Parliament and representative of the Democratic Party of the Socialists, won the election with 63.3 per cent of the votes. This was possible after the government of Montenegro revised its electoral law in order to eliminate the voter turnout requirement. Two previous votes in December 2002 and February 2003 had failed. In both cases, Vujanovic was the leading contender. He supports Montenegro’s integration into the EU and NATO as a sovereign nation. Vujanovic has served as Justice Minister, as Interior Minister, and twice as Prime Minister. It was regrettable, however, that major opposition parties failed to field a candidate. The incomplete separation of state and party functions in Montenegro continues to be a concern for democratic observers.

 

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

1. Bilateral Relations
a) Bulgaria-Croatia. On 7 May, Croatian Prime Minister, Ivica Racan visited Sofia. He met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Coburgotski and signed a bilateral agreement for cooperation in health care and medicine. Talks on cooperation in road and railway construction will continue.
b) Turkey-Bulgaria. The ministers of the interior of Turkey and Bulgaria met in Ankara on 10 May. Abdulkadir Aksu of Turkey and Georgi Petkanov of Bulgaria agreed to continue the bilateral cooperation in fighting crime. The Bulgarian side promised to improve security on Bulgarian roads after several Turkish drivers were attacked and robbed last year.
c) Macedonia-Albania. The Prime Minister of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski, met in Ohrid with Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano on 21 May. The two leaders focused on further development of relations between the two countries. The neighboring states will soon open a new border crossing and are intensifying their cooperation in combating crime.
d) Croatia-Romania. Romanian President Ion Iliescu visited Croatia on 26-27 May and met with his counterpart, Stipe Mesic. Trade between the two countries tripled in 2002. President Iliescu also met with Prime Minister Ivica Racan. Croatia intends to catch up with Romania and Bulgaria and join the EU by 2007.


2. State of the Regional Initiatives: Pact of Stability for Southeastern Europe/ EU/NATO/OSCE
A regional conference on “Management and Security at the Borders of the Western Balkans” was held on 22-23 May in Ohrid, Macedonia, at the initiative of NATO, the EU, the OSCE, and the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. Representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro participated in the event at ministerial and deputy-ministerial level. The conference was aimed at hammering out a common strategy to battle cross-border organized crime – a main source of instability in Southeastern Europe. NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson also participated in the conference. The full integration of the Western Balkans in the Euro-Atlantic structures is the strategic goal of all participants in the conference. But before that, a crucial challenge needs to be met – tightening border controls without hampering the legal traffic of goods and people between the neighboring countries that have been at war in the last years. A NATO statement issued during the conference indicated that Western help could be expected in setting up specialized police forces for border control.

 

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

1. World Bank-Southeastern Europe
On 7 May, the WB and the Greek EU Presidency organized a conference in Athens on the sustainable development of water resources. It called for a new form of “environmental diplomacy” to enhance cooperation on water issues among governments, international agencies, private industry, and NGOs. The conference adopted a declaration that applauds two regional cooperative efforts: the Southeastern Europe Transboundary River Basin and Lake Basin Management Program and the Mediterranean Shared Aquifers Management Program. The WB says water needs to be higher on the development agenda of countries in the Balkans because better river basin management can pre-empt floods, drought, coastal erosion, and river pollution.


2. Caspian Gas-Southeastern Europe
The project for gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Central and Western Europe was reported on 14 May to be included in the EU “Trans-European Energy Networks”. The project will be subsidized by EU funds. The price of the pipeline would be €6 billion. The project is a joint initiative of the Bulgarian ‘Bulgargas’ company, Romanian ‘Transgas’, Turkish ‘Botas’, Austrian OMV, and Hungarian MOL. The five companies concluded that the most appropriate route runs through Bulgaria and Romania.


3. Bulgaria-Greece
Negotiations for exporting Bulgarian electricity to Greece were completed successfully on 16 May. The agreement covers the export of 440-480 million kWh for one year.

 

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

1. EU-Bulgaria
(1) The EC announced on 8 May that it was increasing its current financial support to Bulgaria of €300 million by 40 per cent in the period 2004-2006. On the same day, the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov met EC President Romano Prodi in Brussels. Mr. Prodi said the EC could not guarantee that bilateral accession talks with Bulgaria would end in 2004, but said the EC was sticking by its earlier commitment to integrate Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. (2) Bulgarian Minister of Defense Nikolay Svinarov told the EU General Affairs Council meeting in the Ministers of Defense format on 19 May in Brussels that Bulgaria welcomes the creation of European security forces and will participate actively from this year on. Bulgaria is ready to provide a mechanized company to the Euroforce in 2003, and a mechanized battalion in 2004. In 2004, Bulgaria will be able to provide an engineer battalion specialized in building refugee camps and purifying water sources. Also, Bulgaria may provide a company for chemical warfare protection, two transport and two fighting helicopters, one battleship, and four staff officers in 2004.


2. EU-Romania
The EU said on 19 May it hoped to conclude accession negotiations with Romania by October 2004, allowing the country and its neighbor Bulgaria to join the Union in 2007. The EC said it would do everything in its power to conclude negotiations with Romania during its mandate, which expires at the end of October 2004. EC expects Romania to make strong efforts to root out corruption, overhaul its creaking administration and judicial systems, and restructure its economy. The EC is sure that Romania has the political will to fulfill all the conditions for accession. Bucharest is working hard to win the status of “a functioning market economy”. Romania is the only candidate country to earn this label yet, meaning that it is capable of withstanding the competitive pressures of the EU’s single market over the medium term.


3. NATO-Serbia and Montenegro
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson met with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic on 20 May in Brussels to discuss the conditions Serbia and Montenegro must fulfill to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Zivkovic said his country is determined to meet all the requirements by the end of 2003, including the arrest of all indicted war criminals on its territory. The NATO Secretary-General underlined the fact that this is a critical precondition, and that it includes the arrest of Ratko Mladic, who is believed to be hiding in Serbia. He said Zivkovic had made it clear that if General Mladic is on Serbian territory, he will be arrested on the indictment and arrest warrant issued by the ICTY in The Hague.


4. NATO-Seven Candidates
(1) On 14 May, the chiefs of the General Staffs of the seven candidate states, including Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia participated in the meeting of the Military Committee of the Alliance. The chiefs of the General Staffs will participate from now on in the three annual meetings of the Committee. (2) The Danish parliament on 15 May ratified the NATO Accession Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty (1949) by a vote of 101-4 in favor. Denmark was the fourth state after Canada, Norway, and the United States to ratify the Accession Protocols.

 

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

1. US-Seven Candidate States
On 8 May, the US Senate voted unanimously (96-0) to ratify the expansion of NATO. The vote underscored the relevance of the military alliance. Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia were among the countries that passed the hardest test of the US Senate ratification process. Slovenia was the only one of the seven countries that was not part of the anti-Iraqi coalition. The Senate approved an amendment instructing President George Bush to ask NATO to consider dropping its requirement that decisions be unanimous – a reflection of the US frustration at the blockage of the Turkish request for NATO support during the war in Iraq. Also, without mentioning any country, the amendment asks NATO to consider a policy for suspending members that no longer adhere to democratic principles.


2. US-Albania, Croatia, Macedonia
US Secretary of State Colin Powell signed the ‘Adriatic Charter of Partnership’ with Foreign Ministers Ilir Meta of Albania, Tonino Picula of Croatia, and Ilinka Mitreva of Macedonia on 2 May. It underscores and formalizes US support for the shared aspirations of the three countries to full integration in the Euro-Atlantic community, including membership in NATO. The Adriatic Charter was jointly proposed to President Bush by the presidents of Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia at the NATO Prague Summit in November 2002. Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia jointly drafted the Charter.


3. US-Turkey
Turkish officials on 7 May rejected criticism by US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who suggested that the country had made a mistake by not opening its doors to the US military during the Iraq war. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey, from the very beginning, had never made any mistakes, and had taken all necessary steps in all sincerity. On 27 May, the chief of the General Staff of the Turkish armed forces warned the ruling Islamist party that it was in risj of jeopardizing the secular character of the Turkish state. In the last 40 years, the Turkish military has three times installed a military government after staging coup d’etats. On 1 May the United States shut its last major Turkish military mission as part of a regional shuffle of bases that is raising the questions about Turkey’s strategic importance to Washington. The US withdrew from the military base in Incirlik 50 jets and refuelling planes and 1’400 personnel. Another 1’400 US personnel, serving in a NATO mission will remain at the base.


4. US-Albania
(1) On 2 May, US Secretary of State Colin Powell signed an agreement in Tirana with Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano on the respective exemption of the two countries’ citizens from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Secretary of State Powell thanked Albanian leaders for supporting the US-led war on Iraq. Albania sent 70 non-combat soldiers to Iraq. Albania was the 32nd country to agree to the US demand for exemption of its soldiers and civilians from the court’s jurisdiction. The Bush administration opposes anything that might support politically motivated attempts to bring US forces to justice. (2) A two-week long joint military exercise of 1’500 Albanian and US forces ended on 30 May in Albania. Elements of the US Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 6, who had participated in Operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’, joined the exercise on the US side. The Albanian forces included military police, infantry, coordinators from various army units, and observers.


5. US-Bosnia and Herzegovina
On 14 May, the Bosnian Presidency accepted a draft deal with the US on the non-extradition of US citizens to the ICC and forwarded it to the country’s Council of Ministers for a vote. The talks on the issue started in March and were completed on 14 May. The Bosnian parliament is expected to ratify the agreement by 1 July.


6. US-Bulgaria
US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Sofia on 15 May to launch the celebration of the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the US and Bulgaria, to congratulate the Bulgarians on getting much closer to joining NATO with the approval of the US Senate of the Accession Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty (1949), and to thank Bulgaria for its steadfast support in the liberation of Iraq and the international campaign against terrorism. Powell thanked Bulgaria for the role it played in supporting UNSC Resolution 1441 to put pressure on Iraq to disarm peacefully. Then Bulgaria made the courageous decision to join the coalition of the willing that freed the world from the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, said Powell to the people at the central Alexander Batenberg Square in Sofia. You, continued the Secretary of State, stayed true to your principles and had the courage to act. Powell reminded that US and Bulgaria serve together in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and soon will serve together in Iraq. He also noted the unanimous vote of the US Senate on 8 May to welcome Bulgaria in NATO. Secretary Powell told the press that Bulgaria plays an important role in the fight against terrorism – it is “our strong right hand in the war on terrorism and the disarmament of Saddam Hussein”. The Secretary of State clarified the issue of the US bases in Bulgaria: no decisions are taken yet and he does not think there will be any for some time. This is still an issue that is under analysis by the Pentagon.


7. US-Macedonia
On 16-17 May US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz visited Macedonia and met with Macedonian officials, including President Boris Trajkovski. Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz thanked him for Macedonia’s support, and especially for the president’s personal support of the coalition to disarm Iraq. He also expressed US support for democracy and the peaceful settlement of disputes in Macedonia. The US applauds the Adriatic Charter and the aspiration of Macedonia and its neighbors to become full members of the Euro-Atlantic community. Wolfowitz underlined the importance of the reform of the country’s armed forces as an essential element of building a democratic Macedonia. Before coming to Skopje, Wolfowitz had visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. He confirmed US’s strong commitment to supporting peace and stability in the troubled region of the Western Balkans.


8. US - Serbia and Montenegro
The White House announced on 7 May that President Bush has issued a Presidential Determination that opens the way for Serbia and Montenegro to receive defense articles, services, and assistance from the US. According to President Bush, defense cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro will encourage continued defense reform and strengthen Serbia and Montenegro’s democratic institutions. The US encourages the government of Serbia and Montenegro to pursue the reforms that will advance the country’s integration with the Euro-Atlantic community, the White House statement said.

 

VIII. CONCLUSIONS

A difficult period for Southeastern Europe proved that the region is capable of continuing its integration in the European and Euro-Atlantic institutions while participating in the solution of tasks of global importance like fighting terrorism and countering proliferation of WMD. Several Balkan countries played significant roles in the past few months, which have been testing for the region, while others refrained from becoming involved. The US played a crucial part in helping the Balkan countries overcome that test, taking advantage of the chance to bargain with three Balkan states the exemption of its citizens from the ICC prosecution. The ratification of the Bulgarian, Romanian, and Slovenian NATO accession protocols by the US Senate in May was a historic occasion for the region and a major step towards full emancipation in the Euro-Atlantic space of democratic nations. The countries of Southeastern Europe can contribute even more to the rehabilitation of the trans-Atlantic links, remaining a unifying segment throughout the whole period of crisis.


EDITORIAL STAFF:

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ISSN 1311 – 3240

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