BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

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

(A Background and October 2003 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 54, 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
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
VIII. CONCLUSIONS

I. INTRODUCTION
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 European countries.
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.

 

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) 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 US command.
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.


2. 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.

 

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

1. 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.

 

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

Bilateral Relations
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.

 

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

1. 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.

 

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

1. EU
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 in 2004.

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.

2. 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.

 

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

1. US
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.

 

VIII. CONCLUSIONS

The 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 .


EDITORIAL STAFF:

CONTACT AND REFERENCE

Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief

ISSN 1311 – 3240

Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova

Address: ISIS, 1618 Sofia,

Mr. Valeri Rachev, M. A.

P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria

Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M. A.

Phone/ Fax: ++(359-2-) 551 828

Dr. Todor Tagarev

E-Mail Address: isis@mgu.bg


21-11-2003  / Webmaster / © 2003 ISIS / Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich