BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

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

(A Background and July 2003 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 51, 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
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
VI. THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE INTO THE EU AND NATO
VII. THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
1. US
2. Russia
VIII. CONCLUSIONS

I. INTRODUCTION
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 country.
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 Europe.
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 this month.

 

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

1. Security Threats

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.

b) AIDS
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.


2. 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.

 

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

1. Albania.
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.

2. Turkey.
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.

 

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

1. Bilateral Relations
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 Croatia.
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 information.


2. Multilateral Relations – Trilateral Relations: Albania-Bulgaria-Macedonia
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.

 

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

1. WB-Albania.
(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.

2. IMF-Albania.
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.

3. US-Romania.
(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.

5. WB-Croatia.
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.

6. IMF-Bulgaria.
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.

 

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

1. NATO-Turkey.
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.

3. NATO-Albania.
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.

5. EU-Bulgaria.
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.

 

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

1. US
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”.

2. Russia
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.

 

VIII. CONCLUSIONS

Southeastern 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 come.


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