SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and July 2003 Issue in Brief)
Study 51, 2003
ISSN 1311 – 3240
MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
During the reported period,
it became ever more clear that the positive tendencies in the Balkans
could not be isolated from the global ’bigger issues’ of the day. Specifically,
the dominant themes this month were the impact of the ongoing fight against
terrorism, and the power struggle between the US and the EU on the International
Criminal Court (ICC) as well as the polarization of the Southeastern European
states’ positions on this issue.
American military leaders have given the following assessment of the situation
in Iraq, which is of interest to all countries participating in the peace-building
efforts there, including countries from Southeastern Europe: the conflict
has switched to classic guerrilla warfare. Elements of the Ba’ath party
are behind the guerrilla attacks, and it is still difficult to tell how
organized and how strong their resistance will be. Iraqi-based and external
terrorist groups are also trying to exploit this situation, adding to
the post-war reconstruction burdens. This will place additional pressure
on the coalition forces and the peacekeepers that have started to arrive
in Iraq, many of which are ill prepared to fight guerrillas. Romania and
Bulgaria sent advance units to Iraq to prepare the arrival of the main
contingents. The Croatian government has also decided to send a small
unit to Iraq, but the Croatian parliament has yet to approve that decision.
In July, NATO began setting up a headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. NATO
is preparing to take over ISAF’s mission, and all NATO countries, including
old and future members from the Balkans, will be more deeply involved
in the fight against the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida, as well
as in restoring order and stability in this strategically significant
This month, Croatia was alerted by warnings of an al-Qaida plot against
Croatian Airlines. This was a wake-up call for a country that had not
hitherto felt threatened by terrorists. Another Bulgarian was killed by
a terrorist attack outside of the country. This was the second case in
half a year of a Bulgarian national being killed in Israel by Palestinian
terrorists. In Albania, government forces arrested two terrorist suspects
that were on the US State Department’s terrorist blacklist for Southeastern
A World Bank report this month highlighted a security threat in Southeastern
Europe that has been rather neglected: AIDS. The report studies the situation
in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania and sees very negative tendencies for
the three countries, especially Romania, but also for the region in general,
and recommends specific measures.
The second important topic has been the ICC and the way the US and the
EU have been exercising their power on the topic of the court and its
treatment of US citizens. Washington imposed sanctions on Bulgaria, Croatia,
Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia for not exempting US citizens from
the jurisdiction of the ICC – while the EU strongly supports the court.
The US decided to withdraw a very important ‘carrot’ from some countries,
namely its military assistance to these countries while they are preparing
to join NATO (Bulgaria and Slovenia), implementing the MAP standards (Croatia),
and preparing to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program (Serbia
and Montenegro). The EU has also in the last months exerted pressure on
all Balkan states to follow the official EU policy of supporting the ICC.
The US and the EU accused each other of blackmailing the small states.
The deadline for the ICC decision was on 1 July: Albania was the only
country from Southeastern Europe to ratify a bilateral agreement with
the US on exempting US citizens from the ICC’s jurisdiction. Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Romania have yet to ratify their agreements.
The White House rewarded all four countries: President George Bush waived
the prohibition against US military assistance for some months. Bulgaria
and Slovenia will have to wait until they become NATO members before receiving
US military aid again. Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro lost more in
this EU-US dispute. What the two power centers have neglected to comprehend
about the Balkans was that the countries there are still recuperating
from a tragic past, requiring more positivism in coping with fundamental
economic, social, inter-ethnic, infrastructure, and defense-reform problems.
The dispute over the ICC generated additional strain and problems for
the transition countries in the region.
There have been interesting developments in the post-conflict reconstruction
of the Balkans, too. During a visit of NATO Secretary-General George Robertson
to Kosovo, the Alliance reaffirmed its long-term commitment to the stability
and peaceful future of the province. However, bringing security to individual
Serbs and other minorities returning to their homes would be even more
desirable. For the first time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, army officers
from the two federal entities that until recently were fighting each other
came together for a joint training. This was a small, but important step
towards establishing a single command-and-control system of the federal
state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Macedonia, NATO and the EU decided
at the request of Skopje to extend the EU peacekeeping operation ‘Concordia’
until 15 December of this year. The international presence remains a major
stabilizing factor, and Skopje’s plans to end the assistance of the foreign
troops after December 2003 currently seems risky in terms of the security
situation of the young and conflict torn state.
Moving to the specific national developments, the government crisis in
Albania cast a negative light on Tirana’s efforts to achieve NATO and
EU membership. In Turkey, the religious-leaning government presented a
new package of legislation. This was required for moving a step closer
to accession negotiations with the EU. Another interpretation was that
the new laws, which aim at limiting the power of the military, were enacted
not from a pro-EU stance, but in order to shake Turkey’s secular tradition,
whose staunchest supporter is the Turkish military.
Bilateral, multilateral, and regional relations were not very intensive
this month, but were instrumental to improving the general regional situation.
In a unique trilateral meeting of the presidents of Albania, Bulgaria,
and Macedonia on the territories of the three countries, they promoted
the construction of Pan-European Transport corridor 8, a large-scale project
that the Italian EU Presidency strongly supports. The three presidents
agreed to have regular trilateral meetings in this format.
July saw lots of activity in terms of the economic cooperation between
individual Balkan countries and the US, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), and the World Bank (WB). A broad spectrum of economic, infrastructural,
and social projects was confirmed and funded. Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia,
Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro received this support.
The process of differentiated integration in Southeastern Europe also
affected direct relationships with the EU and NATO. NATO confirmed its
‘open doors’ policy towards the Albanian leadership during the visit of
Secretary-General Robertson to Tirana. After applying for participation
in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, Serbia and Montenegro were
told by the Alliance that General Ratko Mladic would first have to be
arrested and sent to the ICTY in The Hague, and the lawsuit initiated
some time ago by the former Yugoslav state against NATO would have to
be dropped. The seven NATO candidates’ ratification process continued
this month in Germany, Luxemburg, and Italy. Turkey will host a NATO summit
in Istanbul in May 2004 that will integrate the seven new members, including
three from Southeastern Europe – Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia. This
month the European Commission visibly pressured Bulgaria to speed up the
constitutional changes required to meet the legal requirements for EU
membership. If the changes are implemented by September, the European
Commission will be able to complete the accession negotiations within
the framework of its current mandate, and with its current staff.
Both the US and Russia were active in Southeastern Europe this month.
The US had active bilateral relations with Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria,
and Turkey. Both Washington and Ankara are seeking ways of matching their
interests and overcome several critical periods in their relations in
the last few months. The US is monitoring the evolution of the regional
situation in Southeastern Europe to choose the right moment to leave the
newly stabilized Balkans to the care of the EU. Russia has left the Western
Balkans in terms of the military presence there: the last Russian peacekeeper
left KFOR after the last Russian military left SFOR in June. Russia is
promoting its arms trade, and Greece bought a Russian-made battleship
SECURITY THREATS, CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS
a) Terrorism and Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan
1) The Situation in Iraq. General John Abizaid, the head
of US Central Command, said on 16 July in the Pentagon that coalition
forces were facing a classic guerrilla-type campaign. Abizaid said the
campaign was being waged by Ba’athist remnants and some foreign terrorist
elements throughout Iraq. Coalition troops were adapting their tactics
in order to end the attacks. The General said the coalition forces saw
“a cellular organization of six to eight people…attacking us sometimes
at times and places of their own choosing. They are receiving help from
probably regional-level leaders.” General Abizaid said there was also
significant terrorist group activity in Iraq. The Ansar-al-Islam terrorist
group that was hit in the opening stages of the war is reforming and presents
a threat to coalition troops. There are doubts they could be infiltrating
through Iran. General Abizaid said there was a threat from al-Qaida or
“al-Qaida-look-alikes” who were waiting for an opportunity to move against
the US forces. However, the primary resistance was from mid-level Ba’athist
leaders, he said, adding that the resistance was becoming more organized
and was learning and adapting to the coalition tactics, techniques, and
procedures. This requires adapting to their tactics, techniques and procedures,
said the US general. Abizaid told reporters that in order to keep the
force structure stable until the security situation improves, year-long
deployments were possible for certain units. There are currently 148’000
Americans and 13’000 coalition troops in Iraq.
This description of the situation is very important for the contributing
countries, and especially for their leaders, troops, and commanders. Fighting
guerrillas is a more specific military activity than peacekeeping. The
troops would require additional special training and preparation.
2) Romania. (1) The Romanian parliament decided on 26
June to send 56 additional troops to Iraq for participation in the peacekeeping
operation. The total number of Romanian soldiers grew to 734. The new
group includes command and information officers. Romania has already pledged
to deploy military police, de-mining and engineer units, and 24 flag officers.
The engineers will be under Polish command, and the rest under British
and Italian command. (2) On 17 July, a detachment of 77 infantry troops
and three officers left Bucharest to prepare the major contingent for
the peacekeeping duties.
3) Bulgaria. Thirty soldiers of the Bulgarian vanguard
left for Kuwait on 26 July with equipment to prepare the arrival of the
battalion in August. The main part of the equipment will be shipped from
the Black Sea port of Burgas. There are 20 women in the Bulgarian contingent.
Some of the soldiers are Muslims. The Bulgarian participation is self-sustained
with part of the military budget. The Bulgarian soldiers will be based
in the town of Babil, not far from Babylon. (2) A Bulgarian worker was
killed on 30 June in the Israeli-occupied West Bank by Palestinian terrorists
of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the military arm of Yasser Arafat’s al-Fatah.
The 47-year old Bulgarian, father of two children, had been legally working
in Israel. He is the second Bulgarian killed by Palestinian terrorists
in the last half a year and the fourth Bulgarian national killed by terrorists
since 11 September 2001.
4) Croatia. (1) Foreign secret services warned the Croatian
Ministry of the Interior that al-Qaida terrorists were planning to hijack
a Croatia Airlines plane and use it to hit some US site somewhere in the
region. This was announced to the press on 3 July. Croatian authorities
took special measures to tighten control at the airports. (2) Croatian
government decided on 15 July to propose that parliament confirm the sending
of 40 to 60 peacekeepers to Iraq. This will probably be a special-forces
platoon that will serve under US command. Croatia considers this a necessary
step on its way to NATO membership, in which the US plays a leading role.
5) Albania. Albanian police arrested Gafur Adili and
his companion Taip Mustafaj, who are on the US blacklist of terrorist
suspects, on 1 July near the Macedonian border. They were charged with
encouraging ethnic, national, and racial hatred. Both carried forged passports.
Adili has been accused by Macedonian authorities of links with the outlawed
Albanian National Army (ANA). The ANA has claimed responsibility for several
illegal actions in Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. It is dedicated to the
formation of a ‘Greater Albania’. Albanian President Alfred Moisiu defended
the arrest of the two suspects.
6) NATO/ISAF. More than 50 NATO troops arrived in Kabul
on 12 July to set up headquarters in preparation for NATO’s takeover of
the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan on 11 August. NATO will be responsible
for the planning and command of ISAF, which will continue to operate under
UN mandate and the ISAF banner. This will be the first operation outside
of Europe in the 54-year history of NATO.
A World Bank report of 10 July called for urgent measures to halt the
spread of AIDS. The report, entitled “HIV/AIDS in Southeastern Europe:
Case Studies from Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania” reviews the current
status of AIDS epidemics in the three countries, evaluates the approaches
and strategies currently being used in each country, and makes strategic
recommendations both for governments and for the World Bank’s current
and potential future involvement. The conclusions of the report are that
without effective prevention, morbidity and mortality caused by HIV/AIDS
may grow significantly in the next five to ten years. Southeastern Europe
is experiencing the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world. In
Bulgaria, 366 HIV-positive patients have been recorded since 1987. Croatia
reported 341 cases of HIV by the end of 2001. Romania reported the largest
number of HIV infections, reachig 12’559 cases by mid-2002.
The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
a) Macedonia. (1) The government in Skopje asked
the EU on 26 June to extend the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in
the country until December in order to stabilize peace after the end of
the ethnic conflict two years ago. (2) The North Atlantic Council agreed
on 16 July in Brussels to extend the provision of NATO assets to the EU’s
Operation ‘Concordia’ in Macedonia until 15 December 2003. This is the
first EU peacekeeping mission and the first in which NATO assets have
been made available to the EU. The commander of the mission, German Admiral
Rainer Feist, is also Deputy SACEUR. The NATO move anticipated the EU’s
decision to extend Operation ‘Concordia’ until the end of this year, which
came later that day. The operation in Macedonia was run by NATO until
the end of March this year, when it was handed over to the EU. NATO is
still providing a special force to the EU to pull its troops out in case
of emergencies, and they share headquarters used by NATO back-up forces
for the crisis management mission in neighboring Kosovo.
b) Kosovo. (1) NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson
visited Kosovo on 26 June. He underlined NATO’s commitment to stability
and security in the province, and said NATO would not allow Kosovo to
become a hotbed of organized crime or nationalist extremism. The 19 Permanent
Ambassadors and representatives of seven countries invited to join NATO
accompanied Lord Robertson in his mission to Kosovo. (2) Eleven Kosovo
provisional government and political leaders issued an invitation on 2
July encouraging all displaced ethnic Serbs and other minorities to return
to their homes. The Kosovo leaders also pledged to work with UNMIK and
the provisional institutions to build a democratic and tolerant multi-ethnic
Kosovo. The pledge needs to be supported by action against burning houses
of Serbs and other minorities who have declared their will to go back
home. Around 200’000 Serbs and members of other minorities fled after
the war in 1999 fearing revenge and attack. (3) A Kosovo court on 16 July
sentenced to jail a former Albanian guerrilla leader as well as three
others accused of war crimes committed during the 1998-99 conflict. This
was the first war crimes trial of former KLA members. A panel of three
international judges sentenced Rustem Mustafa (Remi) to 17 years’ imprisonment.
The others received 13, 10, and five years respectively. The prosecutor
accused them of torturing fellow Albanians for collaboration with the
Serb authorities. The accused pleaded not guilty. They are still considered
heroes by many Albanians for their KLA past.
c) Bosnia and Herzegovina. (1) US President George Bush
sent a letter to Congressional leaders on 22 July informing them that
he has directed continued deployment and participation of American combat-equipped
armed forces to Bosnia and Herzegovina and other states in the region
to support the NATO-led SFOR in its efforts to apprehend persons indicted
for war crimes and to conduct counter-terrorism operations. UN Security
Council Resolution 1491 authorized member states on 11 July to continue
SFOR for a period of 12 months. SFOR’s mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
is also to deter hostilities, stabilize and consolidate the peace, contribute
to a secure environment and provide selective support to key tasks of
key civil implementation organizations. The US force contribution to SFOR
is 1’800 personnel, or 15 per cent of the total force of approximately
12’000. Seventeen NATO nations and 11 others provided military personnel
or other support to SFOR. (2) SFOR brought together army officers from
Bosnia’s Serb, Muslim, and Croat communities on 22 July for the first
joint training program since the war that pitted the three ethnic communities
against each other. In total, 165 officers from the Muslim-Croat Federation
and Republika Srpska came together for a joint military training program.
Bosnia’s two entities have separate armies, each under its own chain of
command. NATO has demanded the establishment of a common command-and-control
system for these armed forces as a requirement for Bosnia and Herzegovina
joining NATO’s PfP Program.
THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
The Albanian government was in crisis on 19 July after two ministers’
resignations. Ilir Meta resigned from his position of foreign minister
on 18 July. Sokol Nano, the minister for integration, also resigned on
19 July citing his dissatisfaction with bickering within the government.
The resignation of Meta, who is in dispute with Prime Minister Fatos Nano,
could deepen divisions at all levels of power. The present situation does
not bode well for Albania’s accession to NATO and the EU.
On 23 July, the AKP ruling party and the government outlined a controversial
reform package that could curb the role of Turkey’s powerful military
in politics. This is generally considered a major step towards Turkey’s
EU membership. However, the Turkish military think this could be a step
in diminishing the power of the pillar of secularism in Turkey – the armed
forces and the military establishment. The new legislation is possibly
the last in a series of reform packages before the EU issues a progress
report on Turkey’s candidacy, expected in October 2003. Turkey is expected
to make significant progress by 2004 in raising the protection of human
rights to EU standards.
THE STATE OF BILATERAL, MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS
a) Bulgaria-Croatia. On 14-15 July Croatian President
Stipe Mesic visited Bulgaria and met with President Georgy Parvanov of
Bulgaria. They discussed bilateral relations, regional issues, European
and Euro-Atlantic integration, global politics, and ways of further cooperation
of the two countries. The Bulgarian president thanked his Croatian counterpart
for the good treatment of the Bulgarian minority in Croatia.
b) Croatia-Macedonia. The president of Macedonia, Boris
Trajkovski, visited Zagreb on 16-18 July and met with President Stipe
Mesic of Croatia. The two presidents agreed to intensify their economic
cooperation. Both countries are aiming at NATO and EU membership. Croatia
applied for EU membership in February this year and hopes to be admitted
in 2007. Trajkovski said his country might apply for EU membership by
the end of 2003. The president of Macedonia met also other leaders of
c) Bulgaria-Turkey. Turkish Interior Minister Abdul Kadir
Aksu visited Bulgaria on 28-29 June and signed an agreement on cooperation
between the two countries’ police forces with his Bulgarian host, Minister
Georgy Petkanov. They also agreed to exchange police attaches as part
of the diplomatic services of the two neighboring countries. His Turkish
counterpart announced that a new agreement on fighting crime and smuggling
was under discussion and would contain a clause protecting classified
2. Multilateral Relations – Trilateral
The presidents of Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia – Alfred Moisiu, Georgy
Parvanov and Boris Trajkovski – met on 11-13 July on the territories of
the three countries on three consecutive days. The meeting was initiated
by Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov. The three presidents declared
their will to develop their trilateral ties and cooperation. The meeting
continues the logic and philosophy of the forum organized by the Greek
EU Presidency in Porto Karas on the Western Balkans. The three presidents
demonstrated the political will and readiness of their countries to implement
the infrastructure project “All-European Transport Corridor No 8”. It
is considered to be one of the most important communication links in the
Balkans, starting from the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, passing through
Southern Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania, and ending on the Albanian
Adriatic coast. The project will also include the construction of a gas
pipeline, an electric currency line, and an optic cable. Italy has demonstrated
great interest in the realization of the project. The transport corridor
will be 1’300km long (more than 50 per cent of which will be on Bulgarian
territory) and will cost €2.2 billion. The three presidents agreed to
meet regularly in this trilateral format. Albanian President Moisiu said
that with this meeting, the time of disputes and conflicts was over. The
EU, NATO, the WB, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
are expected to provide special support for the project.
3. Regional Relations: The
Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe
Stability Pact coordinator Erhard Busek and Romanian Justice Minister
Stanoiu signed an agreement on 16 July on setting-up the Stability Pact’s
Regional Center for Organized Crime in Bucharest. Busek said Romania had
to adopt laws on the protection of data and witnesses.
THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
(1) The WB on 26 June approved a US$13 million supplemental loan in addition
to its original US$17 million loan to help Albania improve nearly 2’000
km of national and secondary roads and bridges, and also to provide traffic
safety upgrades. (2) As part of its support for continued structural reform
in Albania, the WB on 10 July approved a US$18 million loan to help reduce
poverty and promote sustained economic growth. The credit will support
more effective and efficient policy formulation and implementation, improved
access to social services, better targeting of scarce fiscal resources
to those most in need, and policies conducive to sustained growth. The
credit will also provide capital for reforms that promote sustainable
growth, support private sector development and increase transparency of
government practices and accountability of high public officials.
On 2 July IMF approved in principle a disbursement of an additional USUS$6
million to Albania under a program designed to spur economic growth and
reduce poverty. The decision became effective on 10 July. According to
IMF sources Albania’s economic performance during the first year of the
three-year program has been satisfactory, but structural reform has been
slower than envisaged. Key priorities are removing administrative barriers
to investment, improving governance, and fighting corruption. IMF has
identified strong measures to broaden the tax base, improve revenue collection,
and strengthen budgetary procedures. They are expected to permit both
increased expenditures on priority measures for poverty alleviation and
continued fiscal consolidation.
(1) On 2 July the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a USUS$78’000
grant to Romania’s National Institute of Hydrology and Water Management
to help it test large-scale flood control technologies in the country’s
larger river basins. An earlier program funded by USTDA tested technologies
along smaller rivers. The additional technical assistance funded by the
new grant is designed to lead to a flood management system for the entire
country. (2) On 4 July USTDA awarded USUS$257,120 grant to Bucharest to
fund a study on expanding that city’s information technology infrastructure.
The goal is to create an integrated, comprehensive system that will allow
the municipal government to better serve the public by improving access
to official information and by making the government more responsive and
efficient in handling everyday operations.
4. US-Serbia and Montenegro.
The USTDA on 7 July awarded a USUS$325,936 grant to Serbia Broadband (SBB)
to fund a feasibility study on a republic-wide fiber-optic network project
currently planned for Serbia. The study will help SBB assess the technical
and economic viability of the proposed network and to review the legal,
regulating, and organizational requirements of the project. On the same
date USTDA awarded Telekom Srbija USUS$293,814 to fund a study of the
cost-accounting/cost-allocation methods that best meet the changing requirements
of this industry.
On 8 July the WB approved a USUS$156.5 million loan for Croatia to help
modernize operations at port Rijeka and reduce congestion by re-routing
heavy road traffic away from the city center. These improvements are expected
to increase Croatia’s trade competitiveness.
The IMF has completed on 8 July its third review of Bulgaria’s economic
performance and has approved the disbursement of USUS$37 million under
its Stand-By Agreement with Sofia. IMF top-level executives have said
that strong fiscal performance of Bulgaria is commendable and has contributed
to robust growth, subdued inflation, a strong external position and a
decline in unemployment. IMF considers also progress in the structural
reform in a number of areas – energy and railway sectors, tax administration
and the sale of the last major state-owned bank. This will enable Bulgaria
to achieve sustained robust growth and improved living standards.
7. US-Bulgaria and Romania.
A US business delegation, headed by the US Deputy Secretary of Trade,
Samuel Bodman visited Bulgaria on 17-18 July. Eleven US companies’ representatives
from the fields of energy, telecommunications and car building accompanied
the Deputy Secretary of Trade. US Westinghouse has demonstrated a particular
interest in the construction of a second nuclear plant near Belene on
the Danube. Samuel Bodman said the US Administration relies on Bulgarian
companies with proved abilities in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.
On 15-16 July the US delegation had visited Romania to draw the outlines
of an intensified bilateral economic cooperation.
THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE INTO
THE EU AND NATO
At the end of June, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül announced
that the NATO summit in May 2004 would take place in Istanbul. The summit
will see NATO’s next enlargement from 19 to 26 members, welcoming the
seven invitees. Leaders from 46 countries, including Russia, Ukraine,
and Central Asia will attend the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council meeting
in May next year, which will take place on the sidelines of the NATO summit.
2. NATO-Seven Candidate States.
On 11 July, the Upper Chamber of the German Parliament ratified the Accession
Protocols to the Washington Treaty signed by NATO member states and the
seven invited candidates – including Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia.
On 9 July the Parliament of Luxembourg unanimously ratified the Accession
Protocols. Two weeks later, the Italian Parliament approved the ratification
of the Protocols as well. Canada, Norway, the US, Denmark, and Hungary
have already ratified the Protocols. Poland and the Czech Republic have
launched the ratification procedures.
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, together with ambassadors of
the North Atlantic Council, visited Tirana on 17 July to review the progress
the country has made in preparing for membership. Robertson met with President
Alfred Moisiu, Prime Minister Fatos Nano, and other top officials. Albania’s
armed forces are currently implementing reforms to meet NATO standards.
Tirana has sent peacekeeping contingents to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan,
and Iraq. Robertson said that Albania had a lot to do before it could
join NATO. In a newspaper interview a day earlier, Robertson had urged
Albania to tighten its borders and fight corruption and organized crime.
4. NATO-Serbia and Montenegro.
George Katsirdakis, acting director for the Defense Partnership and Cooperation
at NATO, said on 17 July in Brussels that Serbia and Montenegro had to
arrest top Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic if he was in
the country, and also had to drop a lawsuit against NATO, if the country
wanted to upgrade ties. In June this year, Belgrade requested admission
to NATO’s PfP Program. Serbia and Montenegro insists that Croatia and
Bosnia and Herzegovina withdraw their cases against Serbia and Montenegro
over wars in the 1990s at the ICTY in The Hague, but the NATO official
said Belgrade’s lawsuit against NATO was not related to the two issues.
EU Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen visited Bulgaria
on 10 July and confirmed the European Council’s determination to complete
the accession negotiations. He insisted that the planned changes to the
Bulgarian Constitution had to be completed by 1 September this year to
provide the necessary timeframe for the EC to fulfill its part of the
negotiations. The Bulgarian Parliament has already demonstrated consensus
on the introduction of changes that would adapt Bulgaria’s legal system
to the acquis communautaire of the EU. Bulgarian MPs, however, believe
that a realistic timeframe for passing all the changes would be by the
end of September this year.
THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT
POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
a) US-Bulgaria. Bulgarian Finance Minister Milen Velchev
visited Washington, D. C. on 24-26 June. He discussed Iraq’s USUS$1.7
billion debt to Bulgaria with US officials and signed a treaty for ending
double taxation of individuals and companies in both countries. He expressed
Bulgaria’s readiness to host US military bases.
b) US-Southeastern Europe. (1) Ambassador Daniel Serwer
of the Washington-based think-tank USIP told US Congress at a Congressional
Testimony on 25 June: “We are today more than midway in the two transitions
occurring in the Balkans: closer to peace than war, and closer to European
than to US leadership. The right way out of the Balkans is to finish the
job, withdrawing US troops and turning the Balkans over to Europe only
after the essential remaining tasks have been accomplished: security sector
reform in Serbia, a decision on Kosovo, and transfer to The Hague of all
indicted war criminals”. (2) In remarks on on 1 July, US President Bush
did not exclude legal action prohibiting military assistance for countries
that do not exempt US citizens from the jurisdiction of the ICC, such
as Bulgaria and Slovenia. Bulgaria has already spent USUS$10 million,
or 50 per cent, of this aid and hopes to start receiving it again after
joining NATO in May 2004. Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia held to the
position of the EU on the ICC, which contradicts the US one. Croatia and
Serbia and Montenegro were also ‘punished’ by the US law and the Bush
administration. President Bush waived the prohibition on US military assistance
to Romania until 1 November 2003, and those of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
and Macedonia until 1 January 2004. These countries have exempted US citizens
from the ICC jurisdiction and Albania has ratified the bilateral agreement
with the US on this issue.
c) US-Turkey. US special forces on 4 July detained 11
Turkish commandos suspected of plotting the assassination of the mayor
in Sulaimaniyah, in northern Iraq. The arrested Turkish soldiers were
dispatched to Baghdad. Both the Turkish government and the Turkish armed
forces protested the arrest. 57 hours after the arrest, they were freed
and returned back to Sulaimaniyah. The US State Department announced on
7 July that the US alliance with Turkey was alive and strong despite the
recent troubles. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül visited Washington,
D. C. on 24-25 July and met with US Secretary of State Colin Powell. A
few days earlier, General John Abizaid, head of the US Central Command,
made a request during his visit to Turkey for a possible Turkish commitment
of 10’000 troops in Iraq. Turkey has already offered assistance for reconstruction
and humanitarian relief in Iraq. Ankara said it was actively considering
the US request, but that the government needed assurances of economic
and business contracts with the US and a common understanding with the
Bush administration on Iraq’s future.
d) US-Serbia and Montenegro. On 24 July Serbian Prime
Minister Zoran Zivkovic met with US Secretary of State Colin Powell at
the State Department in Washington, D.C. The foreign minister of Serbia
and Montenegro, Goran Svilanovic, also attended the meeting. Powell complimented
the Serbian leaders for their reforms in the aftermath of the assassination
of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Powell confirmed that the US
was cooperating with Belgrade in the “war against terrorism”.
a) Russia-Greece. Greek Defense Minister Yanos Papandoniou
visited Moscow from 26-27 June and met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei
Ivanov. The Russian minister highly praised the bilateral military ties,
and the Greek minister insisted on more active Russian participation on
security matters in the EU and NATO context. Papandoniou visited the production
facility where the third ‘Zubr’-class hovercraft, purchased by the Greek
armed forces, is being made.
b) Russia-Romania. Russian President Vladimir Putin and
Romanian President Ion Iliescu signed a Russian-Romanian Treaty on Friendly
Relations and Cooperation on 4 July in Moscow. The negotiations on the
‘Basic Treaty’ were started in 1992. Romania, Iliescu said, seeks a privileged
partnership with Russia. A joint declaration by the two countries’ foreign
ministers condemns the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact as well as Romania’s
participation in World War II on the side of Nazi Germany.
c) Russia-Southeastern Europe. On 23 July, the last 50
Russian KFOR peacekeepers left the Balkans from Pristina airport, and
the last of their technical equipment left the Leskovac railway station.
Russia had already withdrawn from Bosnia in June. Russia’s KFOR presence
lasted 4 years and included 650 soldiers. In May this year, President
Putin decided to withdraw the Russian forces from Southeastern Europe.
SACEUR James Jones, speaking on 3 July in Brussels, praised the Russian
military contingent’s peacekeeping service in Kosovo. History would show
that NATO-Russia military cooperation ended the civil war in the Balkans
and sparked the development of a new, broader, special partnership in
Europe, said the General.
Europe was caught up between the diplomatic pressures of EU and US on
the ICC in July, but nevertheless delivered the needed support in the
fight on terrorism and post-war reconstructions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The trend towards peace continued in the region itself with the active
participation of the Balkan countries. The prevailing stability, however,
still needs the input of external powers, and NATO, the US, and the EU
will remain the main providers of security in the months and years to
CONTACT AND REFERENCE
Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief
ISSN 1311 – 3240
Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova
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Dr. Todor Tagarev