BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

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

(A Background and June 2003 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 50, 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
III. THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
IV. THE STATE OF BILATERAL, MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS
1. Bilateral Relations
  2. Multilateral Relations
  3. Regional Relations
V. THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
1. US - Romania
2. Bulgaria
3. World Bank-Serbia and Montenegro
VI. THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE INTO THE EU AND NATO
1. EU - Turkey
2. EU - Serbia and Montenegro
3. EU - Bulgaria
4. EU-Southeastern Europe
5. NATO-Seven Candidate States
6. NATO-Albania, Croatia, Macedonia
7. NATO-Serbia and Montenegro
VII. THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
1. US
2. Russia-Southeastern Europe
VIII. CONCLUSIONS

I. INTRODUCTION
During the reported period, there were a number of significant international forums that discussed Southeastern European issues in a generally positive context: the G-8 summit, the US-Russian summit, and especially the EU summit provided a very positive background for the further stabilization of the region and its progress towards integration and adapting to globalization. Bottom-up efforts for improving the situation reached new levels of maturity as well. The configuration of bilateral, trilateral, and regional relations in June proved that the rejection of conflicting attitudes in the Western Balkans is an irreversible process. This is why the continuing tensions and deficiencies in Kosovo, and to lesser degree in Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, are becoming more and more estranged from the general trends and moods in the region of Southeastern Europe. The conditionality principle remains an important tool for the EU and the US in their relations with Western Balkan nations in tackling the remaining deficiencies in the area.
This month saw persistent efforts by Turkey to catch up with the other candidates for EU membership. The issues are exclusively domestic and the ambition of this government is to reach the required standards in time to start accession negotiations next year. The European Parliament was skeptic that this ambition can be fulfilled. The EU summit, however, provided more political opportunities for Turkey’s ambitions. The EU summit in Thessaloniki this month confirmed the practical applicability of the strategy of differentiated integration – this time including the whole region in its scope. An efficient combination of domestic reform efforts and top-down EU support would eventually lead to the next step towards enlargement by preparing the next applicant for membership. Romania and Bulgaria received confirmation that they will become members in 2007 after successfully completing their negotiations in 2004. Slovenia will become a full member in May 2004.
NATO’s influence on the development of regional processes is also crucial: stability will become more pervasive in the Balkans with the enlargement of NATO to include Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia, with a realistic perspective of NATO membership for Albania, Macedonia, and Croatia in the near future as well, and after the application of Serbia and Montenegro to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. The NATO candidates’ responsible attitude towards the fight on terrorism and the post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq shows the growing stabilization potential of the region and its new role in world politics. This does not mean that the remaining problems in the region itself are soon to be resolved, but in exchange for participating in the global campaign against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, regional actors hope for continuing support from influential global actors in solving the region’s own problems. Russia ended its military mission in the Balkans and started pulling its contingent from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The countries of Southeastern Europe were caught between a rock and a hard place in the dispute between the US and the EU over the International Criminal Court (ICC). Of the Southeastern European states, only Albania has fully accepted the US position on this issue so far. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on 2 June renewing immunity for UN peacekeepers from prosecution for war crimes by the ICC for another year. France, Germany, and Syria abstained. The resolution was first passed in July 2002 to ensure that persons from countries that do not recognize the ICC and who participate in UN peacekeeping operations will not be subject to the court’s jurisdiction. The US considers the ICC to be “a fatally flawed institution” – a view strongly opposed by the EU countries. The countries of Southeastern Europe want to have good cooperative relations with both the US and EU, and the present state of affairs puts them under some pressure in addition to the existing local issues. The pressure is especially heavy due to US legislation that prohibits the government from providing military technical support to countries, including NATO candidates, that have not signed bilateral agreements exempting US soldiers and citizens from the jurisdiction of the ICC.

 

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

1. Security Threats: Terrorism, Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq, Afghanistan
a) Bulgaria. (1) The Bulgarian battalion earmarked for deployment in Iraq has completed its training of 480 servicemen, based on NATO practices. Particular emphasis was given to training the 42 command staff. The servicemen were recruited on a voluntary basis and are aged between 25 and 30. In Iraq, the unit will help with building control and surveillance posts in addition to patrols, escort missions, and liaison work with the local administration. The battalion will be supplied from Bulgaria. Logistical and other support in Iraq will be provided by US troops. The battalion leaves for Iraq with a 15-day stock of fuel and food and 60 tons of water. The unit includes a medical crew. The armament of the contingent is dust and heat resistant. One of the companies of the battalion was originally recruited for a chemical defense mission during the war in Iraq. The unit has been built around a core of servicemen with mission experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bulgarians will join the Polish division in Iraq. (2) Bulgaria will replace its chemical warfare defense contingent, currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of ISAF, with a security unit, Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov announced on 10 June. The move is required by the ISAF command, which does not need a chemical defense unit. The security unit will ensure the safety of ISAF headquarters.
b) Romania. On 19 June, the Romanian Parliament approved the deployment of 678 peacekeepers to Iraq as part of international efforts to stabilize the country. Bucharest is sending an infantry battalion, military police, de-mining units, and 20 staff officers. Another four officers will be dispatched in a liaison capacity to command centers in Northwood (UK) and Rome. The troops will be placed under Italian and UK command.
c) Turkey. Turkish officials said on 24 June that Turkey would widen its support for the US-led coalition in Iraq as it works to repair ties with Washington, damaged in March by its refusal to allow US troops to attack from Turkey. Ankara will permit all members of the US-led coalition to use its ports and airbases to transport materials and supplies to the war-torn country but not troops and weapons. The cabinet decision was handed to Turkey's president on 24 June and marks an expansion of Turkey's limited support to US forces in northern Iraq and comes in response to a UN vote to end sanctions on Iraq. Ankara hopes to secure up to USUS$8.5 billion in loan guarantees pledged by Washington for its frail economy. A much larger aid package fell through when Turkey refused to allow US troops to open a northern front from Turkish territory. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has said he will travel to Washington in July for talks with US officials.


2. The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
a) Kosovo. (1) Kosovo UNMIK chief Michael Steiner, who stepped down as head of the UN mission on 10 June and will leave later this year, traveled to Albania on 3 June to win the government’s support for resuming talks between Albanian leaders in Kosovo and government leaders from Serbia and Montenegro at the EU summit meeting on 20-21 June in Porto Karas, Greece. Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta urged Kosovars to start talking with Serbia, describing dialog as critical for the Balkan countries’ target of joining the EU. A lack of dialog would be considered a step backward, the Albanian leader said. UNMIK officials hope that direct talks between former foes can help solve the province’s most vexing problems, such as its stagnant economy, porous borders and organized crime. The practical steps to stabilize the province, develop the economy and ease ethnic tensions should take priority over talks on whether Kosovo should be independent or part of Serbia and Montenegro. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana expressed strong support for the talks on 6 June while he visited Belgrade. (2) On 10 June, four years after the end of the NATO-led war on the regime of Milosevic in Yugoslavia, the UN Security Council held a meeting on Kosovo. It concluded that progress had been made on a number of issues – the transfer of non-reserved competencies to the provisional self-government; in strengthening UNMIK’s presence in Mitrovica, and on the needed economic reforms. However, violence continued and the UNSC condemned it. The remaining challenges in Kosovo, according to UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi, include freedom of movement, minority participation, the return of displaced minorities, the development of local agencies, and talks between Belgrade and Pristina. (3) One of the highlights of the Porto Karas summit meeting in Greece was the announcement made by the President of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, that Belgrade would launch talks with ethnic Albanians on the status of Kosovo in July. The murder in early June of an elderly Serbian couple and their son in Obilic, Kosovo, unarmed and asleep in their home was another example of the lack of tolerance and the inability of communities to respect ethnic differences. Such acts can very severely hurt Kosovo’s progress toward final status. The killing appears to be motivated by an early success of the Serb return program there. The killing must be condemned, because it goes to the heart of what the international community and the Kosovars are trying to accomplish. The eventual talks between Belgrade and Pristina may proceed with international mediation, as demanded by the Kosovo Albanians. Early models for a future autonomous status of Kosovo, developed by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, have already been disseminated. (4) A contingent of 34 Georgian soldiers arrived in Kosovo at the end of June to join the Turkish KFOR unit. The Georgian soldiers received two weeks’ special training in Turkey for this mission. A company of Georgian soldiers has been serving in the German KFOR contingent since May. Tbilisi has participated in the Kosovo peacekeeping operation since 1999.
b) Bosnia and Herzegovina. (1) Prime Minister Adnan Terzic and Foreign Minister Mladen Ivanic of Bosnia and Herzegovina met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in Washington, D. C., on 16 June. They agreed on the need to accelerate economic and military reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the continuing importance of the US role in maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans. The US will continue its support for the on-going military reform and for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s early entry into the PfP program, and eventually NATO. Sarajevo must improve its performance in combating human trafficking within the next three months to avoid restrictions on US assistance. The deputy secretary and the foreign minister signed a memorandum of understanding on the “Tracker” export control licensing system. It will assist Sarajevo in its efforts to develop a state-level system to control the export of sensitive military technologies. (2) Pope John Paul II visited Bosnia and Herzegovina on 21-22 June. At a mass in Banja Luka, he asked forgiveness for the atrocities committed by Catholics during the Bosnian war of 1991-95. He also called for ethnic reconciliation.

 

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

1. Turkey.
The Turkish government on 12 June submitted a package of legal reforms to parliament that was designed to meet EU membership standards, but removed one item that raised concern among the mighty military. A planned measure that would have allowed places of worship to be set up in private homes was left out of the package. The military sees itself as the guardian of the country’s secular system and wants to make sure that religion is kept under observation to prevent the spread of radical movements. The draft package will be discussed through parliamentary committees before it comes to decisions in the assembly. Turkey wants to pass all the reforms needed to meet the political standards for membership this year so it can prove to the Union it is able to implement them in time for a review of progress in late 2004. The package will not probably be the last one. EU stressed the changes must be put in practice before Turkey can hope to win a start to membership negotiations at the 2004 review. The objective to join EU was very definitively placed as a main priority by this government and the Turkish state and hopes are high with the leading elite.

2. Serbia and Montenegro.
The government in Belgrade announced on 13 June that it had arrested top war crimes suspect Colonel Veselin Sljivancanin (50), indicted by the UNCTY in The Hague for the 1991 massacre of more than 200 people near the Croatian town of Vukovar. Dozens of riot police and nationalists were injured in battles during the arrest of the suspect. Serbia’s new pro-Western government has been under pressure from the West to arrest and hand over war crime suspects. The US has given Belgrade until 15 June to cooperate with UN Tribunal or risk losing financial aid and political support. Washington allocated US $110 million in aid to Serbia in 2003. Two other major war crimes fugitives – former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, are also demanded for arrest by the UN ICTY. The US announced on 16 June that Serbia had cooperated with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and was eligible for US$110 million in US aid. The ruling, known as “certification”, required the signature of the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
3. Bulgaria.
In the first three months of 2003, more than 10’000 Bulgarians from Ukraine, Moldova, and Macedonia, and less from other countries, have applied for Bulgarian citizenship. More than 12’000 applications for citizenship were submitted in 2003. This year will probably mark a record high for Bulgarian citizenship applications, the Bulgarian president’s office said on 2 June. . Three reasons for this can be identified: the improved social and economic situation, improved activity with the Bulgarians abroad, and Bulgaria’s upcoming NATO and EU membership.

 

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

1. Bilateral Relations
a) Croatia-Serbia and Montenegro. As part of an effort to strengthen regional relations and to facilitate further refugee return, the government of Croatia decided this month in coordination with the government of Serbia and Montenegro to lift visa requirements. Thus, the citizens of the two countries will be able to travel to the neighboring country without a visa. Initially, the arrangement would be a temporary one – for the next six months – but would likely be made permanent in the very near future. An estimated 300’000 Serbs fled Croatia during this country’s war for independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991-95. One third of them returned, but many found their houses destroyed or occupied by Bosnian Croat refugees. The Croatian government offered Serbs with no home a permanent lease on newly built flats or buy them at a discount.
b) Bulgaria-Serbia and Montenegro. The Defense Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Boris Tadic, visited Sofia on 6 June and met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Nikolai Svinarov. Belgrade is interested to know more about the reform of the defense establishment in Bulgaria and hopes for Bulgarian support in joining NATO’s PfP program. The two ministers agreed to meet regularly 2-3 times every year. Tadic said he still believed Bulgaria’s decision to make its airspace available for NATO’s war on Yugoslavia had been fundamentally wrong. This assessment, which is shared by many Serbian politicians and analysts, however, does not take into account the state that their country would currently be in under a stable Milosevic regime. Joining PfP means that some value will have to be re-assessed, and Serbian politicians need to do so for the sake of their own people’s future.
c) Bulgaria-Greece. (1) The foreign ministers of Bulgaria and Greece, Solomon Passy and George Papandreou, agreed on 4 June at a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Madrid to accelerate the construction of the border check-point “Gotse Delchev” before the opening of the Olympic Games in Greece in August next year. (2) Construction of a 17-km road connecting Podkova in Bulgaria and Makaza in Greece began on 6 June on the Bulgarian-Greek border. It is part of European Transport Corridor No 9. On the Greek side, the road will be 30 km long and will be completed by the end of 2005. A Turkish construction consortium has been contracted to work on the Bulgarian section of the road.
d) Bulgaria-Slovenia. Slovenian President Yanez Drnovsek visited Sofia from 17-18 June. He met with Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov and other officials. They discussed bilateral, regional, European, and other international issues.
e) Bulgaria-Macedonia. (1) A bilateral business forum was convened on 23-24 June in Sofia. Bulgarian President Parvanov and Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski participated and gave their support to the business forum. The two leaders agreed that the construction of European Transport Corridor No 8 from Burgas on the Black Sea via Skopje to the Albanian port of Vlora on the Adriatic Sea was very important for the region’s development and was in urgent need of EU support. The bilateral trade in 2002 between the two neighboring countries only totaled US$145 million. Macedonian businessmen called for more Bulgarian investment in their country. By the end of this year, the neighbors will launch joint customs teams and thus promote the flow of traffic across the state borders. (2) Two separate incidents with Bulgarian citizens, visiting Macedonia spoiled the atmosphere of the bilateral relations. Both of them have been maltreated, humiliated, beaten and the Bulgarian woman – sexually harassed by Macedonian policemen. Macedonian authorities also violated the bilateral consular agreement by preventing the Bulgarian citizen to get in contact with the consular service of Bulgaria and by not informing this service for the incident. The only reason for the conflict between the Bulgarian woman and a Macedonian citizen has been an argument in a travelling bus, during which the Bulgarian has said that the Macedonian state was ten years old (actually last year Macedonian authorities officially marked the 10-year anniversary of the formation of Macedonia) and that Alexander the Great has been a Greek and not a Macedonian. National identity dilemmas continue to frustrate Macedonian politicians and common citizens. The ‘modus operandi’ of the Macedonian authorities in this situation is to apply the Communist International ‘formula’ to deal with the issue: behaving like Serbian chauvinists by identifying themselves through hating the Bulgarians. The new young Macedonian state is free to prove its case as a viable entity without necessarily grabbing someone else’s history or by antagonizing other nations to self-identify. The common European future continues to be the most effective antidote of residual peculiar Balkan nationalisms.


2. Multilateral Relations
a) Romania-Bulgaria-Turkey. The sixth regular trilateral summit of the presidents of Romania, Ion Iliescu, Bulgaria, Georgy Parvanov, and of Turkey, Ahmet Sezer, was convened from 2-4 June in Mamaia, Romania. The three leaders agreed to seek make these meetings more efficient. Two ideas on to reach that objective were discussed: bringing business delegations to the meetings, and involving Greece for a four-way meeting, instead of continuing with the two sets of trilateral meetings of Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey on the one hand, and of Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece on the other. Turkish President Sezer agreed to a new format with Greek participation. Romanian President also agreed to that idea. The first trilateral meeting of then presidents Petar Stoyanov of Bulgaria, Emil Constantinescu of Romania, and Süleiman Demirel of Turkey was convened on 3 October 1997 in Evksinograd, Bulgaria, near Varna on the Black Sea. The fifth trilateral meeting in 2002 was held in Cheshme, Turkey.
b) Albania-Croatia-Macedonia. Members of the parliamentary committees on foreign affairs from the three countries met on 18 June in Skopje to discuss their countries’ integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions. US Ambassadors to Macedonia and NATO Lawrence Butler and Nicholas Burns also attended the meeting. The lawmakers of the three countries agreed to cooperate in lobbying for NATO membership in 2006. In July of this year, they decided to discuss these issues again in Dubrovnik, Croatia.


3. Regional Relations
a) Western Balkans. A group of Western Balkan leaders including the presidents of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro gathered in Ohrid, Macedonia on 2 June and asked the EU to pursue an “open-door” policy to help them along the path from a decade of wars and plunging living standards to eventual EU membership. The EU will have ten new members after its expansion in 2004, among them the northwestern Balkan nation of Slovenia. In 2007, another two countries will join: Bulgaria and Romania. The European Commission in May proposed sending financial support and EU civil servants to work with the governments of the Western Balkan countries.
b) SEEBRIG. The Multinational Peacekeeping Brigade for Southeastern Europe (SEEBRIG) concludes its activity in Bulgaria on 1 July; according to the principle of rotation, the brigade will move as scheduled to Constanta, Romania. SEEBRIG has the capacity to participate in multinational peacekeeping operations under NATO command. Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Romania, and Turkey participate in the peacekeeping brigade.

 

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

1. US-Romania.
US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Romanian Minister of Industry and Resources Dan Ioan Popescu signed an agreement on 3 June in Washington, D.C. on increasing collaboration in the energy sector and fostering the development of Romania’s energy sector. The two countries will exchange information and consider collaboration in several broad areas of energy research and development such as energy efficiency, upgrading of energy resources and energy infrastructure, and environmental protection.


2. Bulgaria.
On 5 June, Moody’s Investors Service raised the credit rating of Bulgaria from B1 to Ba2 on foreign credits of the country. The rating of Bulgaria’s bank deposits was heightened from B2 to Ba3. Moody’s underlines the closing gap between the foreign debt of Bulgaria and its GDP as a positive development.


3. World Bank (WB)-Serbia and Montenegro.
The WB announced on 10 June that it had approved a US$80 million credit for Serbia and Montenegro to support regulatory, institutional, and structural reforms in the private and financial sectors. The objective of the program is to improve the business environment, strengthen the financial system, privatize and/or liquidate majority state-owned banks, and privatize and restructure public-owned enterprises.

 

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

1. EU-Turkey
The European Parliament passed a resolution on 5 June stating that Turkey was not yet ready to begin negotiations for future membership. The resolution makes it doubtful that Turkey’s reforms will satisfy EU requirements for starting entry talks. The resolution calls on Turkey to set up a new political and constitutional system and give full control of its military budget to parliament. The EU has given Turkey 18 months time to remove barriers to free speech, end the military’s influence over elected officials, and increase the cultural rights of its estimated 12 million-strong Kurdish population. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said he believed his country would join the EU by 2012.


2. EU-Serbia and Montenegro
The EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, visited Belgrade on 6 June. He told local politicians that the country could only be integrated into the EU as a unified state. The majority of Montenegrins and Serbs would prefer a separation of the two constituent republics of the federation. Some months ago, Javier Solana personally exerted strong political pressure to keep the federation intact – contrary to the bottom-up domestic pressures.


3. EU-Bulgaria
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy met with the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, EC Commissioner for Enlargement, Günter Verheugen, and EC Commissioner for Social Affairs, Ana Diamantopoulou in Brussels from 12-13 June. Bulgaria wants to close all its accession negotiation chapters by the end of 2004 and needs confirmation from the EU leaders. Passy discussed issues of the Convention concerning CFSP, the status of the EU president, and the future EU foreign minister with Solana. The Bulgarian foreign minister also met SACEUR General James Jones. Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov also participated in the meeting.


4. EU-Southeastern Europe
The EU summit meeting on 20-21 June in Porto Karas, Greece decided to provide €200 million to the Western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro. The funds are to be used for further stabilizing the area, mainly through fighting corruption and organized crime. Bulgaria and Romania received an additional 30 per cent increase of their pre-accession funds of €1 billion. As expected, they received two clear signals from EU leaders, a date for ending accession negotiations in 2004, and joining the EU as full members in 2007. It was confirmed that Bulgaria would hold 17 places in the European Parliament and ten votes in the Council of Ministers. Croatia may join the EU in 2008-2009, according to Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, the current president of the EU. Zagreb wants to be ready to join the Union in 2007 together with Bulgaria and Romania. Turkey may start its accession negotiations in 2004, according to Simitis. The comments that earlier membership of Bulgaria and Romania in the EU would lead to tensions and even conflicts are perceptually flawed. This observation by former Finnish President and chief of the International Crisis Group, Marti Ahtisaari misses the perspective of the earlier membership of Slovenia and its benign reflection on the rest of the Balkans, but also the unique progress of the countries of the region, removing the grounds for any predominantly ‘crisis-oriented’ approach. Now all the Balkan countries have an identical strategic objective – EU membership. The Southeastern European countries’ current practice of ‘differentiated EU accession’ is proving effective. Furthermore, the EU is approaching a strategic and practical concept of integrating the whole region. In addition, Bulgaria and Romania have always confirmed their readiness to continue working together with their Balkan neighbors until all of them become full members of the EU. These developments do not indicate increasing tensions, but rather point towards a resolution of the real differences that staggered entry into the Union creates, and indicate growing harmony. It is more difficult for outsiders to feel the growing power of the evolving regional security community of states.


5. NATO-Seven Candidate States
The Hungarian Parliament on 2 June ratified the NATO Accession Protocols of the seven candidate countries, including those of Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia. Canada, Norway, the US, and Denmark have already ratified the accession protocols of the candidate states. All 329 Hungarian MPs voted in favor of ratification.


6. NATO-Albania, Croatia, Macedonia
The Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council on 3 June said that this round of enlargement would not be the last. NATO’s door remains open. “We commend Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Croatia for their continuing reform efforts and their pursuit of regional cooperation. These countries will need to continue to implement the extensive political, economic, defence and other reforms identified through the MAP process, in order to advance their candidacies. We want them to succeed, and will continue to support and assist their reform efforts. The MAP will remain the vehicle to keep aspirants’ progress under review, and we encourage each aspirants to take ownership of the reform process and to pursue vigorously their key reform objectives.”, the final communiqué says.


7. NATO-Serbia and Montenegro
Four years after NATO bombed Serbia because of its repression of Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro requested admission to NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) Program on 19 June in a letter from Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic. The letter said this move would help the armed forces complete the reform process. Belgrade pledges to continue its international cooperation, including with the ICTY in The Hague.

 

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

1. US
a) US-Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 June approved a draft decision on ratification of the agreement between the federation and the US regarding extradition to the ICC. The draft decision was forwarded to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency.
b) US-Albania. On 10 June US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Tirana. He thanked Albania for its strong support in the global campaign against terror, and in particular, for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US Secretary of Defense discussed with the Albanian Defense Minister Pandeli Majko their common interest in having Albania proceed along the path towards full NATO membership over the years ahead. Albania has signed a bilateral ‘Article 98’ Agreement, by which it has pledged to protect US citizens accused of crimes against humanity from being turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The two sides discussed the continuation of joint exercises and training cooperation. Defense Minister Majko said that Albania considers the US a ‘strategic partner’. He also said that “Albania has lined up alongside the US in the global challenge of our times – the fight against terrorism and the dictatorial regimes nourishing it – as a partner, willing to carry out its duties among the large family of civilized nations.”


2. Russia-Southeastern Europe
The withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping contingent from the Balkans began on 5 June. According to the Commander of the Russian Land Forces, Colonel General Nikolai Kormiltsev, the withdrawal should be completed around 1 August. The Russian troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina were transported back to Russia between 5 and 14 June. The withdrawal from Kosovo started on 17 June and will last till 23 July. According to the Russian command, the contingent has practically accomplished its tasks.

 

VIII. CONCLUSIONS

The events of the past month have sent very strong signals that the region of Southeastern Europe is getting closer to EU membership and the instruments of NATO for extending stability work effectively in the Balkans. The involvement of countries from Southeastern Europe in the global fight against terrorism, WMD proliferation, and regional instability is a new experience for the region: it already shows the potential to deliver stability to others, and is no longer only a consumer of security. A new level of bilateral, multilateral, and regional relations in the Balkans will contribute substantially to these developments.


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