SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and October 2003 Issue in Brief)
Study 54, 2003
ISSN 1311 – 3240
MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
In October the countries of
Southeastern Europe continued their contributions to the fight against
terrorism and post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, while
persisting with the preservation of stability, post-conflict rehabilitation,
and region-building in the Balkan region itself.
In Afghanistan, soldiers from Southeastern Europe continue to share the
burden of peacekeeping with NATO, and in Iraq, they support the occupation
troops. The UN Security Council approved extending the NATO mandate beyond
Kabul. In Iraq, Bulgarian firms are making initial steps to contribute
to post-conflict reconstruction. Turkey is still wavering on the issue
of sending troops to Iraq. The Bush administration understands the problems
that Turkish troops could face in a country with Kurdish population where
it is perceived as ‘the occupier of Iraq for 400 years’.
Forty ministers from countries on the Council of Europe met in Sofia in
October to arrive at a better legal framework for fighting terrorism in
A remaining persistent security threat in the region is posed by the 17
fugitives from justice in the Western Balkans who are not yet facing the
ICTY in The Hague for prosecution and trial.
The post-conflict reconstruction agenda in October included, for the first
time since 1999, a meeting between the leaders of the Kosovar Albanians
and the Serbian leadership from Belgrade. This was a first step towards
resolving urgent technical and humanitarian issues. Kosovo continues to
be unstable and more efforts, including by US troops, are required to
stabilize the province.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, measures have already been taken to hand over
the task of security stabilisation to EU forces by mid-2004. This would
give US troops more freedom to participate in peacekeeping missions elsewhere
in the world. Efforts by the ICTY to bring to justice war criminals in
Bosnia and Herzegovina continued during October.
At the national level, Albania held impartial local elections, as did
Bulgaria, where the second round will continue in the beginning of November.
Under a Schengen-type agreement, Bulgarians will no longer require visa
to visit Switzerland after 1 December this year. The Bulgarian Socialist
Party was accepted as a full member of the Socialist International in
the end of the month. Romania adopted constitutional changes in a referendum
to adjust the country’s legal system to EU membership. In Serbia and Montenegro,
preparations were underway for the presidential elections on 16 November,
and Croatia was preparing for the parliamentary elections on 23 November.
The bilateral contacts were aimed at further improving stability and adapting
the countries to the European and Euro-Atlantic perspectives of the region.
In economic developments – a Raiffeisen Bank report this month confirmed
the impetus that Southeastern European economies would get by formulating
a clear EU perspective for all countries of the region.
EU membership drew nearer for Bulgaria after it closed its 26th negotiation
chapter with the EU on justice and internal affairs. Croatia’s candidacy
was in jeopardy after the EU postponed the agreement of launching accession
negotiations in 2004 due to lack of adequate cooperation with the ICTY
in The Hague.
Poland and Turkey ratified the accession protocols of the seven candidate
countries, and France opened the ratification process on the issue in
October. Eleven countries have now ratified the accession documents ahead
of the May 2004 summit in Istanbul.
In the period under consideration, the US confirmed its interest in developing
bilateral relations with Bulgaria and Romania. The president of Romania
and the speaker of the Bulgarian parliament made official visits to Washington,
D.C. in October and held high-level talks. US military leaders reaffirmed
the strategic value of Bulgaria’s position in the Black Sea area.
SECURITY THREATS, CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS
a) Terrorism and Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan
1) Turkey. The Turkish Parliament agreed on 7 October
to dispatch Turkish troops to Iraq. Up to 10’000 Turkish troops in Iraq,
though 50’000 is also a discussed figure, are expected to trigger a US$8.5
billion loan to Ankara. Officially, the deal has been denied. The US has
been expecting and hoping for Turkish cooperation as it is eager to diminish
its burden in Iraq. Neither the Turkish military, nor Iraqi Kurds from
the northern part of the country, nor Iraqi leaders from the US-appointed
Governing Council were happy with this decision. The Iraqis declared that
Turkish troops were not welcome in their country. While the US administration
was initially confident that it could convince reluctant Iraqi leaders
to accept Turkish troops, it has gradually realized that Turkey – which,
under the Ottoman Empire, was the colonial power in Iraq for 400 years
– could create more new problems than it would solve old ones. US Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on 21 October that Turkey, the Coalition,
and the Iraqis were still discussing whether Turkish troops would be deployed
in Iraq. There was still an ongoing process of deliberation over an acceptable
approach. However, the US secretary of defense added that Washington was
in contact with at least four or five other countries besides Turkey on
the issue of sending more troops to Iraq.
2) Bulgaria. (1) The Bulgarian arms firm ‘Arsenal’, one
of the key arms producers in the country, has won a tender to supply the
newly-formed Iraqi army with light weaponry, government officials reported
on 2 October in Sofia. The tender was organized by the US Central Command
in Iraq. The company also produces artillery systems, ammunition, gunpowder,
primers, and pyrotechnic products. In the beginning of the month, Bulgarian
Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov and the chief of the general staff,
General Nikola Kolev, visited Kerbala, where a Bulgarian battalion serves
under Polish command to ensure the security of the city. (2) A conference
sponsored by the Council of Europe on fighting terrorism was convened
on 8-10 October in Sofia and attended by European ministers of justice.
The ministers of the CE states agreed that measures to combat political
extremism must conform with human rights. The conference was a step forward
in adopting a European Convention on Fighting Terrorism. (3) Two Bulgarian
reconstruction projects attracted the special attention of the US administrator
for Iraq, Paul Bremer, at the Donors’ Conference for Iraq On 23-24 October
in Madrid – one on establishing a free-trade zone between Iraq and Jordan,
and another on assessing the capacity of Iraqi industrial facilities,
constructed by former Council for Mutual Economic Aid (CMEA) countries.
3) Albania. A second Albanian peacekeeping contingent
left for Iraq on 13 October. The first unit of 71 non-combatant troops
was sent in April to support the occupation and was based in Mosul under
4) The UN Security Council. The UN Security Council on
16 October unanimously adopted Resolution 1511, which gives more powers
to the UN and the UN Secretary-General in assisting the reconstruction
of Iraq. The Resolution would provide a framework for UN and international
participation in the political and economic rebuilding of Iraq and maintaining
of security there. This would not, however, take place at the expense
of the US-led Coalition’s control over Iraq’s immediate political future.
Even Syria voted in favor of the draft. Restoring UN Security Council
unity over Iraq was a substantial achievement after the damaging divisions
that emerged last winter. The initial process of the new UN resolution
adoption was launched by Spain, the UK, and Cameroon. However, Russia,
Germany, and France declared that they would not give Iraq any extra aid,
nor send troops. A Donors’ Conference on 24 October in Madrid collected
US$33 billion of reconstruction help for Iraq.
5) NATO. NATO asked its military planners on 6 October
to advance preparations for the deployment of its peacekeeping troops
beyond the capital Kabul. NATO asked the UN to adopt a resolution on the
issue and make its deployment possible. The meeting of NATO defense ministers
in Colorado on 8 October confirmed the expansion of NATO troops, manned
mostly by European NATO members. Germany is sending 450 soldiers to the
northern region of Kunduz once the UN Security Council approves an expanded
mandate for the NATO-led ISAF. The additional troops are needed to stabilize
the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, which is under threat from al-Qaida
and Taliban attacks. The UN Security Council on 13 October adopted Resolution
1510 authorizing ISAF to expand its operations in Afghanistan beyond Kabul.
b) Other Security Threats: ICTY-Indicted War Criminals.
The chief UN prosecutor of the ICTY, Carla Del Ponte, said on 9 October
that Serbia, Croatia, Bosnian Serbs, and Croats had failed to cooperate
fully with the court in surrendering war criminals and documents. Carla
Del Ponte reported to the UN Security Council that Croatia had shown considerable
cooperation, except when it came to arresting General Ante Gotovina, indicted
by the ICTY for atrocities against Serbs. Del Ponte said Croatia has provided
outdated information on him. As for Serbia, she said that the Belgrade
authorities emphasized the need to cooperate with the Tribunal, but when
action was demanded, the ICTY faced obstruction. Among the 17 remaining
fugitives well over half, including Ratko Mladic, were in Serbia. In Republika
Srpska of Bosnia and Herzegovina no fugitives were arrested, not even
former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Bosnian Croats have engaged,
said Del Ponte, into a deceitful denial on needed documents. The ICTY
is to complete indictments in 2004, wind up its trials in 2008, and end
appeals in 2010. But much depends on how soon the 17 fugitives could be
brought to trial. 62 cases would be transferred to national courts, and
30 more people are expected to be charged by Del Ponte.
The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
a) Kosovo. (1) In accordance with UN Security Council
Resolution 1244, the first talks since 1999 between the autonomous government
of Kosovo and its constitutional principals from Serbia and Montenegro
started on 14 October in Vienna. Officially, the talks were scheduled
to cover only ‘technical issues’. The ethnic hatred between Albanians
and Serbs remains very high. The closed-door talks were attended by EU
High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. The
province’s delegation for the talks did not include a Serbian representative.
The agenda of the talks included the fate of 3’700 Kosovo Albanians still
missing, and the return of 180’000 Serbs who fled Kosovo for fear of reprisals.
Other topics were power supply for Kosovo from Serbia, as well as transport
and telecommunications, including Serbian recognition of car registration
plates issued in Kosovo. The talks lasted for half a day and were followed
by meetings of experts. The Serbian delegation was headed by Serbian Prime
Minister Zoran Zivkovic and Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic. The delegation
from Kosovo was led by President Ibrahim Rugova and Kosovo Assembly Chairman,
Nexhat Daci. (2) On 21-22 October in Pristina an OSCE-convened expert
conference made recommendations for a Kosovo Action Plan to Combat Human
Trafficking. It addresses gaps in the current criminal justice system
and in care for victims of trafficking. The new Kosovo plan would complement
the OSCE Action Plan of July this year. The plan was tailored to local
needs and aims at reaching concrete results.
b) Bosnia and Herzegovina. (1) On 3 October, the EU defense
ministers offered to take over the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and
Herzegovina from NATO by the middle of 2004 – a move that could free US
troops for other duties in the world. The takeover could lead also to
reducing the size of the troops to 6’000, though it was too early to fix
a firm number of troops needed. The UK offered to lead the force, which
would be the EU’s most ambitious operation since it launched a joint military
structure at the beginning of 2003. The NATO defense ministers’ meeting
in Colorado, US considered the possibility of eventually shifting the
burden to the EU, but the US still has to decide what role it will keep
in Bosnia and Herzegovina. US military officials see an opportunity to
pull out the 1’500-strong US National Guard force and to increase the
police presence with major EU participation. (2) The Hague-based ICTY
on 29 October sentenced a Bosnian Serb to eight years in prison for beating
to death and torturing prisoners in 1992-95 at a Serbian detention camp.
Predrag Banovic (34) pleaded guilty in June to one count of a crime against
humanity after reaching a plea agreement with the prosecutors. Four other
charges were dropped under the deal. Slobodan Milosevic was the best man
at Banovic’s wedding in the court’s high-security detention unit in 2002.
THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
Albania. Local elections were held on 12 October in Albania.
The polls went smoothly and brought positive results for the opposition
Democratic Party. A row within the ruling Albanian Socialist Party between
Prime Minister Fatos Nano and former Foreign Minister Ilir Meta weakened
the government’s political position as well as that of the country in
its EU and NATO bids.
2. Romania. On 19 October, 90 per cent of the Romanian
voters approved changing their constitution to bring it closer to EU law.
Romania hopes to join the EU in 2007. Under the constitutional changes,
private property is guaranteed, the police is demilitarized, and the justice
system is independent. Ethnic minorities may use their mother tongue when
dealing with the state, and foreigners are permitted to buy land in Romania.
3. Bulgaria. (1) The Swiss government announced on 22
October that Bulgarians would be permitted to travel without visas to
Switzerland from 1 December. The Schengen regime requirements would apply.
(2) In the first round of municipal elections on 26 October, the Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP) won with 32 per cent. The ruling National Movement
Simeon the Second (NMSS) (a centre-right liberal party) participated for
the first time and was the big loser in these elections. The centre-right
parties also lost, after corruption charges were made against the main
right opposition party, the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), that related
to events before 2001, while the party was still in power. The new situation
created pressure on the parties of the right to seek alignments before
the second round of the local elections on 3 November. The elections are
important not only for shaping the local government, but also for the
parliamentary elections in 2005. (3) The biggest leftist party and most
influential opposition force in Bulgaria, the BSP, was admitted as a full
member of the Socialist International on 29 October during the latter’s
Twenty Second Congress in Sao Paolo, Brazil. All 160 delegations unanimously
voted in favor of the BSP’s membership. This boosts the party’s chances
to approach the 2005 parliamentary elections as the best-shaped political
organization in Bulgaria.
4. Serbia and Montenegro. The OSCE office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights (DIHR) has established an Election Observation
Mission to monitor the presidential elections in Serbia and Montenegro
on 16 November. 19 international observers will monitor the election campaign,
including the media, political activities, administrative preparations
and the resolution of election disputes. 150 short-term observers will
be displayed shortly before the day of the elections to monitor the actual
voting tabulation and tabulation of ballots.
5. Croatia. The OSCE office for DIHR has established
an Election Observation Mission to monitor Croatia’s parliamentary elections
on 23 November. The mission comprises 19 experts from 17 OSCE participating
states. They will focus on the election campaign, the legislative framework
and its implementation, the media, the work of the election administration
and relevant governing bodies, and the complaints and appeals process.
THE STATE OF BILATERAL, MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS
1. Turkey-Bulgaria. On 8-10 October Bulgarian President
Georgi Parvanov made an official visit to Turkey. He met with Turkish
President Ahmet Sezer and with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The two
leaders confirmed their strong ties within NATO and their commitment to
stability in the Balkans. A business delegation of 60 people accompanied
the Bulgarian president and met with 80 Turkish businesspeople in Istanbul.
They discussed contacts and projects. An open issue in the bilateral relations
that was not discussed in details is compensation for descendants of the
Bulgarian refugees ethnically cleansed in the beginning of the last century,
who were forced to abandon their private houses and lands in the European
part of Turkey. The Turkish side, in turn, would like to discuss the issue
of the pensions of those Turks that left Bulgaria in the 1980s.
2. Bulgaria-Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 17 October, Bosnian
Prime Minister Adnan Terzic visited Bulgaria. He met with Bulgarian President
Georgi Parvanov and Prime Minister Simeon Coburgotski. The leaders of
the two countries discussed bilateral cooperation and regional issues.
3. Albania-Croatia. On 27-28 October Croatian President
Stjepan Mesic paid a working visit to Albania and met with his Albanian
counterpart, President Alfred Moisiu. The Croatian president also met
with other Albanian officials at governmental and at municipal level.
The two presidents discussed bilateral relations and the two countries’
plans of integrating in EU and in NATO. Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia
formed an Adriatic grouping for cooperation in acceding to NATO in the
spring of this year.
THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
USTDA-Albania. On 30 September USTDA awarded a US$526,600 grant
to the Albanian Ministry of Economy to fund a feasibility study on expanding
and modernizing the port of Vlora. The study will examine the future cargo
and passenger demands and the possibility of building a new oil terminal
and distribution system at the port, as well as evaluate the service facilities
and other needs of a thermal power plant under consideration at the port.
2. Assessment of the Economic Situation of Southeastern Europe
(SEE). According to a Raiffeisen Bank report of 13 October, “
with the first wave of EU’s eastward enlargement the countries of SEE
are going to move into the spotlight as the final pieces of the puzzle
of a truly unified Europe. From the year 2001 on, the economies of the
SEE countries have on average grown even faster than those of the Central
European and Baltic accession countries, who are generally considered
as the ‘growth region’ in Europe. The SEE economies without any exception
have to deal with persistent, high current account deficits. Those deficits
are caused by enormous deficits in the visual trade balance, which are
to some degree offset by the surplus of the service sector and transfers.
The lack of a competitive export-oriented industrial sector is the direct
result of a lack of investment, particularly foreign direct investment,
which is hampered by the generally weak framework of institutions and
enforcement of laws.
There is no question that the SEE economies have a vast catch up potential
for growth. Tapping this potential, however, will not be possible in a
realistic time frame without a greatly increased involvement of foreign
investors. The EU plays the decisive role, not only in terms of financial
aid, but most importantly for the formulation of a clear perspective for
EU-membership in the foreseeable future. The experience with the CEE countries
that will join the EU in 2004 proved that such a perspective can contribute
significantly to speed up and secure the necessary political, economic
and institutional changes”.
3. IMF-Macedonia. The IMF on 17 October approved US$5.7
million for Macedonia after completing its first review of the country’s
economic performance under a 14-month stand-by arrangement. The sum will
be immediately disbursed. Macedonia’s sound fiscal and monetary policy
in 2003 is the main reason for the IMF’s decision. However, continued
reforms are needed to create a predictable business climate. Implementing
judicial reforms and addressing governance problems are among the priorities.
4. Serbia and Montenegro. Serbian officials said on 26
October that thanks to big privatization deals in 2003, the country would
generate €1.3 billion from sell-offs – €300 million more than initially
predicted. Most of the revenue comes from the sale of cigarette-manufacturing
plants to Philip Morris International and British-American Tobacco; from
the sale of the second largest retailer of oil products, Beopetrol, to
Russian giant Lukoil, and from smaller sales. The country’s privatization
team will have a more difficult task in 2004 in selling loss-making companies.
THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE INTO
THE EU AND NATO
a) EU-Croatia. The possible return to power of the HDZ
Croatian Democratic Union nationalist political bloc at the 23 November
parliamentary elections would further complicate Croatia’s present failure
to arrest generals wanted by the ICTY in The Hague. This could threaten
Croatia’s EU membership bid, dimming hopes of following the trail blazed
by the former Yugoslav state of Slovenia. ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla
Del Ponte insists that General Ante Gotovina, a hero for many Croats,
is hiding in Croatia and is aided by state and intelligence officials.
The Netherlands and the UK have refused to ratify an EU Stabilization
and Association Agreement with Croatia until they are convinced. The European
Commission is exhibiting a similar negative stance until Gotovina is arrested.
This development harms Zagreb’s hopes of starting accession negotiations
b) EU-Bulgaria. (1) According to German police experts
from Bavaria and members of the European Commission’s National Service
for Fighting Forgeries, Bulgaria will likely fulfill all required criteria
by 2007 and will be a leading country in combating currency forgery, especially
forged Euros. This was announced to the press on 24 October by Edward
Lindgens of the Bavarian Criminal Service. In 2003, he said, the Bulgarian
police succeeded in crushing this trend in criminality in close cooperation
with EU countries and institutions. (2) Bulgaria finalized its 26th chapter
of EU accession negotiations, dealing with ‘Justice and Internal Affairs’,
on 29 October. The chapter is called the “chapter of trust” and is usually
the last in the accession negotiation process. EU standards in the areas
of internal affairs, the judicial system, and security are well implemented
in Bulgaria. For many years, Bulgaria has already been a de facto ally
of both the EU and NATO.
NATO-Seven Candidate Countries. (1) Polish President
Alexander Kwasniewski ratified the accession protocols of seven candidate
countries to NATO on 3 October. The three candidates from Southeastern
Europe are Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia . Poland was the tenth NATO
country to ratify the accession protocols to the Washington Treaty (1949)
after Canada, Norway, the US, Denmark, Hungary, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy,
and the Czech Republic. (2) The ratification process of the NATO enlargement
protocols was begun on 8 October in Paris, France when a draft law on
the ratification of the document was submitted to the French president
and government. (3) The Turkish parliament ratified the accession protocols
of the seven candidate countries on 16 October, becoming the eleventh
NATO member out of 19 to ratify the documents. Turkey was the only NATO
state that adopted a law obliging all Turkish governments to work towards
integrating Romania and Bulgaria into NATO.
THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT
POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
1. US-Bulgaria. (1) The NATO Commander for Southern Europe,
US Admiral Gregory Johnson, visited Bulgaria on 14 October. He met with
the defense minister, Nikolai Svinarov, and discussed military reforms
and preparations related to Bulgaria’s planned accession to NATO in May
2004 with him and other Bulgarian leaders. Admiral Johnson highlighted
the important role Bulgaria will play as an allied post in the Black Sea
region. (2) The speaker of the Bulgarian parliament, Ognyan Gerdzhikov,
visited the US on 16-20 October to participate in commemorating the 100-year
anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations. He met with Secretary of
State Colin Powell and discussed the eventual establishment of US military
bases in Bulgaria.
2. US-Romania. Romanian President Ion Iliescu met with
US President George Bush in Washington, D. C. on 28 October, and with
US Secretary of State Colin Powell a day later. Bush thanked Romania for
its help in the fight against “terrorism”, but also criticized the high
level of corruption in the country. Powell thanked Romania for its help
in Afghanistan and Iraq. The leaders of the two countries noted the improvement
of bilateral relations in other areas as well. Romania hopes to receive
a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council and relies on US support
to achieve that goal.
self-image of Southeastern Europe is linked to the region’s contribution
to the “fight against terrorism” and post-conflict rehabilitation in the
broader Middle East. The gradual accession of countries from the region
to the EU and NATO adds to the modern self-identification of the Southeastern
European area. At the same time, residual problems in the Western Balkans
create obstacles to the full participation of all countries from the Balkans
in overcoming traditional stereotypes about the region. The elections
in five countries in the region in October and November are a test of
democratic processes’ maturity in the Balkans transition countries. Another
contribution by post-Yugoslav states towards that end could be full cooperation
with the ICTY in The Hague. Continued support by the US for the region
was another in highlight the Balkans in October .
CONTACT AND REFERENCE
Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief
ISSN 1311 – 3240
Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova
Address: ISIS, 1618
Mr. Valeri Rachev, M.
P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria
Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M.
Phone/ Fax: ++(359-2-)
Dr. Todor Tagarev