BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

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

(A Background and December 2003 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 56, 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. Terrorism and Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan
2. The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
III. THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
IV. THE STATE OF BILATERAL, MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS
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
The last month of 2003 was an eventful and important one for the evolution of Southeastern Europe. The issue of terrorism continued to dominate the security environment of the area. DNA tests confirmed that one of the victims of the Istanbul bombings in November was a Bulgarian citizen – the fifth killed in terrorist acts within fourteen months. Bulgaria stepped up its cooperation with the US and Cyprus in fighting terrorism in December. The Turkish authorities say they have completely neutralized the alleged Turkey-based al-Qaida cell that some believe may have organized the terrorist acts on 15 and 20 November, although the Turkish president made it clear early on that he did not believe there was any such connection with al-Qaida. In Greece the court sentenced to life imprisonment six of the activists of the ’17 November’ terrorist group, crushing the backbone of the organization. Two Balkan states, Turkey and Slovenia, announced plans in December to contribute to the NATO-led ISAF peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. Bulgarian officials said that the second Bulgarian contingent for Iraq would be ready to move into positions in Kerbala by 5 February 2004. Five Bulgarian soldiers were killed and 20 others wounded after three consecutive attacks on 27 December in Kerbala.
In post-conflict regional developments, the EU police mission ‘Proxima’ took over in Macedonia from the EU military force ‘Concordia’, with parliamentary approval from Skopje. Efforts to preserve security in the country are taking a new direction with an accent on fighting organized crime. The situation in this country, however, is still far from stable, and the ethnic balance remains the crux of the problem. In Kosovo, the official presentation of the ‘Standards for Kosovo’ to be achieved before the future status topic is addressed, did not receive a welcome reception by the government in Serbia. However, there is no other feasible policy than working on the implementation of the standards. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first steps towards centralized military leadership and command have been undertaken – a real breakthrough, compared to the hard war and post-war years. SFOR is further diminishing its numbers as a reflection of the improving security situation. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, joining NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program has become a more realistic perspective .
At the national level, the new Croatian government took office and began the implementation of its policy as promised before the elections. The ambition of accelerating the accession to NATO and EU needs to be matched with a continuation of reforms and a change of attitudes to meet the high international demands. In Albania, the prolonged government crisis was ended, and now the responsibility of the political elite will define the future success or failure of the country’s reforms on the way to NATO and EU.
In the area of bilateral and regional cooperation, there were continued signs of improving relations and of old reflexes. The future EU membership of Turkey became an issue of Greek domestic political and religious discourse – strange enough in the leading EU country of the region. The increasing cooperation between the Ministries of Justice in the Southeastern European region was in stark contrast to the anti-Turkish comments made by an otherwise respected Greek religious leader.
A major economic development in the reported period was seen in the preparations for launching a Southeastern European airline company. It will eventually link the capitals of the Balkan countries, which will stimulate regional contacts in various areas.
The integration of Southeastern Europe into the EU and NATO continues, and the December council meetings of the two institutions defined the prospects for the coming years for the countries from the region. Bulgaria and Romania were granted long-expected dates for completing the accession negotiations at the EU summit. They will sign the accession treaties and become full-fledged members of the community on 1 January 2007. The two countries will most probably join NATO together with Slovenia before the June summit, probably in March or April 2004, after the last ratification takes place. All non-EU and non-NATO states from Southeastern Europe were encouraged in their integration efforts. Even Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro have substantially increased their chances of joining NATO’s PfP by mid-2004.
Lastly, the new US basing policy and force restructuring will likely lead to the establishment of US military bases in Romania and Bulgaria, and will retain existing bases in Turkey. However, the process of base and forces realignment is in its very early stages and far from clearly-defined. Bucharest, Sofia, and Ankara have demonstrated their political support for the US plans.

 

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

1. Terrorism and Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan

One of the specific features of the post-conflict development and region-building policy is the participation of Southeastern Europeancountries in the post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation activities in war-torn areas as Afghanistan and Iraq. Preserving stability, bringing law and order to the people of these countries bear grave risks for the life of the participating troops and civilians. Responsibility to help others is a small compensation of the external investments in the security and economic progress of South East Europe. It is also the responsibility of contemporary democratic societies to fight with all elements of terrorism everywhere on the globe.

a. Terrorism
1) Bulgaria. On 2 December, DNA tests proved that a Bulgarian citizen, Miroslav Kamenov Miroslavov (37), was one the victims of the terrorist attacks in Istanbul in November. He was killed in the terrorist bombing of the British HSBC bank. He was the fifth Bulgarian killed in terrorist acts within a year. The first was a sailor on the French oil tanker ‘Limbourg’, attacked by al-Qaida in the Eastern Mediterranean on 6 October 2002. The second was a Bulgarian national with Austrian citizenship, Emilia Uzunova. She died in Moscow during the hostage drama in a theatre in late October 2002. On 5 January 2003, Palestinian extremists killed Bulgarian citizen Krasimir Angelov in Tel Aviv, and Bulgarian citizen Christo Radkov was killed near Jenin.
2) US-Bulgaria. In the first week of December, General Boyko Borisov, the highest-ranking police officer and Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of Bulgaria, visited the US at the invitation of the head of the US Secret Service, Ralph Basham. The FBI, the Secret Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) assessed the activity of their Bulgarian counterparts in fighting organized crime highly, especially concerning forgery and drugs trafficking.
3) Cyprus-Bulgaria. On 2 December, Bulgarian Interior Minister Georgy Petkanov and his Cypriot counterpart Doros Teodorou signed an agreement in Nikosia on cooperation in the fields of fighting terrorism, organized crime, and illegal immigration.
4) Turkey. The Turkish press announced on 20 December that according to one of the suspected organizers of the terrorist acts in November in Istanbul who was arrested by the Turkish police, Adnan Ersoez, the terrorist network al-Qaida had ordered and paid for the attacks that took the lives of 62 people. The suspect confessed that preparations for the two terrorist acts on 15 and 20 November had taken two years. Earlier, on 15 December another suspect, Fevzi Yitiz, also allegedly confessed that Osama bin Laden had been directly involved in planning and ordering the terrorist acts in Istanbul. The initial intention had been to attack the US military base in Incirlik, but the heightened protection against terrorists led to change of plans and attacks in Istanbul seemed easier. According to these reports, the al-Qaida network allegedly provided US$400’000 for the terrorist acts in Istanbul. By attacking Turkey, the terrorists wanted to punish a country that gave a bad example to other Muslim nations by cooperating with the US and the EU. The attacks show that Turkey has become a military battleground of the fighters for Islam. A total of 159 suspected terrorists were arrested in connection with the attacks in Istanbul, of whom 35 have already been brought to court. Among the arrested was a suspected high-level al-Qaida leader, Turkish citizen Harun Ilham (32). He lived in Afghanistan for four years and was allegedly trained in a terrorist camp.
5) Greece. On 17 December, a Greek court convicted 15 members of the ’17 November’ terrorist group that has carried out murders and other acts of terror in the last 27 years. Prominent Greek, US, British, and Turkish diplomats have been among the victims of the terrorists. The leader and mastermind of the terrorist group, Alexandros Giotopoulos (59), the hit man of the organization, Dimitris Koufodinas, and four other terrorists were sentenced to life imprisonment. The 15 were accused of 2’500 crimes, including murders, bombings, and bank robberies. The demise of the ’17 November’ terrorist group is welcome news ahead of the Olympic games in Greece in 2004. Greek authorities said that more arrests of ’17 November’ members may follow, but that the core of the group had been destroyed.

b. Afghanistan/ISAF.
1) Turkey. On 4 December, Turkey offered NATO’s ISAF peacekeepers in Afghanistan three Black Hawk helicopters. NATO has taken on greater obligations in providing order and security beyond Kabul, but is short on intelligence staff and helicopters. NATO’s ability to expand the mission has largely depended on the number of helicopters, with only three provided by Germany. The total of 11 helicopters required by ISAF has been almost reached after the Netherlands offered four helicopters on a temporary basis, and Turkey sent three helicopters.
2) Slovenia. On 4 December, the Slovenian government decided to take part in the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan. Up to 20 Slovenian soldiers are to join in the fifth ISAF troop replacement in Afghanistan. The soldiers of the 1st brigade of the Slovene armed forces will participate in the operation, which will take place between February and August 2004. Two Slovene military will work in the ISAF command and the rest will join the international brigade in Kabul.

c. Iraq/Coalition Forces: Bulgaria.
The second Bulgarian battalion of the coalition of occupation forces in Iraq will take position in Kerbala by 5 February 2004. The replacement of the present forces begins on 15 January. Part of the equipment of the new contingent is already on its way to Kuwait by ship. The experiences made by the first battalion have caused some changes of equipment for the second one. The Bulgarian troops are part of the Polish-led occupation sector of Iraq. On 27 December, five Bulgarian soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in three successive car-bomb attacks in Kerbala.


2. The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina

a. Macedonia. (1) The EU police mission ‘Proxima’ replaced the EU military operation ‘Concordia’ on 15 December at a ceremony in Skopje attended by EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana and the prime minister of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski. The police mission marked a shift from peacekeeping to fighting against organized crime. Prime Minister Crvenkovski strongly encouraged the departure of EU troops and their replacement by the EU police mission, but many experts consider the Macedonian security situation to be volatile still, and believe the state will be unable to cope without an international security force. By the end of January 2004, the police mission ‘Proxima’ should number 350 – 200 foreign police officers and 150 Macedonians. Police officers will not be armed and will have no executive power. On 12 December, the country’s parliament unanimously approved the new EU police mission. (2) On 16 December OSCE, EU, NATO, and US representatives in Skopje welcomed the results of the ‘Weapons Collection Program’. Many people with unregistered weapons, ammunition, and explosives took the opportunity to hand them over to the authorities. The program will continue until the destruction of all items collected under international observation.

b. Kosovo. On 10 December UNMIK Chief Harri Holkeri presented the ‘Standards for Kosovo’ – an extensive and detailed outline of the requirements that must be met before the question of the future status of Kosovo is addressed. According to UNMIK, the standards are designed to ensure that all people in Kosovo, regardless of ethnic background, race, or religion, are free to live, work, and travel without fear, hostility or danger and where there is tolerance, justice, and peace for everyone. The standards cover eight broad categories of democratization: 1) functioning democratic institutions, including elections, the provisional institutions of self-government, and media and civil society; 2) rule of law, including equal access to justice; 3) freedom of movement, and free use of language; 4) sustainable returns and the rights of communities and their members; 5) economy; 6) property rights, including preservation of cultural heritage; 7) dialog, including Pristina-Belgrade dialogue and regional dialogue; and 8) Kosovo Protection Corps, whose mandate is stated as a civilian emergency organization, which carries out rapid disaster response tasks for public safety and humanitarian assistance in Kosovo in times of emergency. On 12 December, the UN Security Council in its 4880th session expressed support for the ‘Standards of Kosovo’ presented on 10 December in Pristina, after hearing a briefing on 11 December from UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno. The UNSC endorses the ‘standards before status’ policy in application of its Resolution 1244 of 1999. Kosovo provisional institutions for self-government have to achieve certain standards before the final status of Kosovo can be addressed. A first opportunity for a comprehensive review of the standards is scheduled for around mid-2005. The UN Security Council reiterated the primacy of the regulations promulgated by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and subsidiary instruments as the law applicable in Kosovo. On 8 December, Serbian officials said the UNMIK plan was unacceptable and insisted that Kosovo remained part of their country. EU foreign ministers urged Serbs and Montenegrins on 9 December to vote in pro-European, pro-Western politicians at the elections on 28 December.

c. Bosnia and Herzegovina. (1) On 27 November, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson urged Bosnia during his last visit to Sarajevo to improve its ‘schizophrenic’ military and arrest war crimes fugitives. The state of having two armies in Bosnia, one for the Serbs and one for the Muslim-Croat Federation, Lord Robertson said, was politically divisive, economically exhausting, and militarily useless. He said no country was able to maintain this kind of defense schizophrenia. During his farewell tour to Sarajevo, Lord Robertson told Bosnians that arresting war criminals was the responsibility of their elected officials, and not among NATO’s prime tasks. (2) On 1 December, NATO defense ministers agreed to slash the Alliance’s SFOR peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 11’900 to 7’000 by next March. NATO has been in this country since 1995, and would be amenable to an eventual transfer of SFOR to the EU at a later stage. NATO is ready for that step because of the improving situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO will not disengage and may retain a liaison office in Sarajevo. NATO may also eventually use its recently launched Response Force, which can be deployed to hotspots within five days, as a deterrent in case problems flare up in Bosnia after the alliance pulls out. (3) On 1 December, Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the first central defense law since the 1992-95 war, unifying the command of the country’s separate ethnic armies in a key step toward joining NATO’s PfP Program. The law establishes a central defense and command headquarters to control the armies of Bosnia’s two highly independent entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb-run Republika Srpska. The international community’s High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paddy Ashdown, said that membership in NATO offered Bosnia the best chance of long-term peace and security, and said the decision of 1 December gave hope to all those who want to see the country become a functional state on the road to Europe. Under the law, the Supreme Commander will be Bosnia’s tripartite central presidency composed of three members – a Croat, a Muslim, and a Serb. It also introduces the post of a defense minister within the central government. The armed forces will have a common General Staff, a single uniform, and one flag, although they will remain ethnically distinct. The law of 1 December is a step forward in changing the rules of the Dayton Agreement by using provisions of the Agreement itself. (4) On 10 December, the ICTY in The Hague sentenced Dragan Obrenovic, the former commander of a Bosnian Serb brigade, to 17 years in prison for his participation in the persecution of Bosnian Muslim civilians after the fall of the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995. Obrenovic pleaded guilty to one count of crimes against humanity.

 

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

1. Albania. On 14 December, the governing Socialist Party in Albania re-elected Fatos Nano as its leader for a four-year term. On 20 December, the Socialist Party negotiated an agreement with a handful of minor parties to form a new government and end a five-month-old crisis generated by internal conflicts in the ruling party. President Alfred Moisiu warned on 18 December that he would call early elections unless the government crisis came to an end soon. The next parliamentary elections are due to be held in 2005.

2. Bulgaria. (1) The Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria announced on 15 December that Bulgarian armed forces will have a new structure in 2005 after the country joins NATO and will start implementing reform plans, which will be completed in 2015. The new structure has been approved by military and civilian experts and will include three levels of command – the General Staff, the general staffs of the different armed forces, and brigade-level command. The Strategic Defense Review that is in process will end in March 2004. (2) On 17 December the National Security Consultative Council, together with the president, approved the establishment of US, NATO, and allied forces military bases in Bulgaria. (3) In December, the German company Daimler-Chrysler signed a US$316 million contract to supply 12’900 transport vehicles for the Bulgarian army, which is beginning to adapt arms and equipment to NATO standards. The order will be carried out in the next eight years and includes various kinds of trucks and off-road vehicles.

3. Croatia. On 22 December, Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader (50) presented his center-right cabinet to the inaugural session of parliament. The new government vowed to raise living standards, earn the trust of the West, and speed progress to EU membership. A total of 88 MPs in the 152-seat parliament voted for Sanader’s government. 12 of the 14 ministers will be from the conservative HDZ party of the prime minister, who won the elections in November. The foreign minister of the new cabinet will be Miomir Zuzul (48), a career diplomat and former ambassador to Washington, D.C.

4. Serbia and Montenegro. Early parliamentary elections were held in Serbia on 28 December. Their aim was to overcome the political deadlock by constituting a parliament that would elect a new government and the president of Serbia. Final results will be officially announced on 1 January 2004, but initial reports show that the winner is the Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj, indicted for war crimes by the ICTY in The Hague. The right-wing extremist party is presently chaired by Tomislav Nikolic. The party won 85 seats in the Serbian parliament, allowing it to block any constitutional change that could allow Serbia to break out of the current political stalemate. The initial results put Serbia again in the political backyard of the region, pulling it and the Serbian people back to the past.

 

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

1. Bilateral Relations
a. Greece-Turkey. On 4 December the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos, called neighboring Turks ‘barbarians’ who had no place in the “Christian” EU. The Archbishop has attacked the Greek government in the past for improving ties with Turkey. He said during a sermon in Athens that the Muslim nation could not be allowed to join the EU, because ‘no barbarian can come into the family of Christians’. He added that diplomacy was good, but Greeks could not forget their history. This declaration reflects misconceptions within the EU regarding its social and political significance, as well as typical bilateral Greek-Turkish problems that require vision and far-sightedness to overcome.
b. Macedonia-Bulgaria. On 15-16 December, Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov visited Skopje and met with Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski. The Macedonian host underlined the importance of the Bulgarian donation of tanks for his country during the crisis in 2001. He thanked his Bulgarian counterpart for the support in dealing with problems on the way to NATO membership. The two ministers signed an Annual Plan for Bilateral Military Cooperation in 2004. The Bulgarian defense minister also met with Speaker of the Parliament Ljubco Jordanovski and with President Boris Trajkovski.

2. Regional Relations: Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe.
The Fourth Balkan Regional Meeting of the Ministers of Justice was convened on 10 December in Sofia. This time, the topic was: “The trafficking of children and the protection of the victims of crimes and witnesses”. The ministers of justice from the region signed a joint document that enlists the measures the individual countries will undertake: drafting of adequate laws; introduction and implementation of procedures for protection of victims and witnesses; creating efficient mechanisms for fast identification of child trafficking victims, etc. Bulgaria and Albania have already signed an agreement on implementing such measures. Helga Konrad of the Stability Pactfor Southeastern Europe told the conference that the EU countries would establish quotas for protected persons who will be accepted and hidden in other countries. There are between 120’000 and 200’000 victims of human trafficking in the Balkans annually, including children.

 

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

1. IMF-Bulgaria. On 1 December, Bulgaria became the 55th country to subscribe to the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), which was established in 1996 as a guide for providing the public with more timely and comprehensive economic and financial data. Subscribers promise to provide the IMF with information on how they disseminate statistical data. According to the IMF, this contributes to the pursuit of sound macroeconomic policies and the improved functioning of financial markets.
2. Slovenia. On 15 December, the Slovenian Statistical Office reported that Slovenia’s economy had grown by 2.3 per cent over the previous year in the third quarter. Nevertheless, it would be premature to forecast a clear upturn of the economy. Slovenia’s GDP growth in 2000 was 4.1 per cent, in 2001 it was 2.9 per cent, and in 2002 it was 3.2 per cent. Slovenia hopes to be part of the Euro zone by 2007.
3. Bulgaria. The GDP of Bulgaria grew by 4.3 percent in the third quarter, according a statement by to the National Statistics Institute of Bulgaria on 22 December. GDP growth for the first nine months of 2003, compared to the same period of 2002, was 4.2 per cent. The purchasing power of Bulgarian consumers, however, is still a fraction of that of the average EU citizen (26 per cent).
4. Southeastern European Airline. A Balkan regional airline is in an advanced planning stage, according to sources in the Stability Pact for Southern Europe. Shortly before Christmas, it was announced that the airline will link the capitals of seven Balkan countries – Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Tirana. The new air company will not compete with national carriers on trans-Atlantic routes. So far, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have supported the project.

 

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

1. EU – South East Europe.
The EU summit of 12-13 December approved four crucial terms for Bulgaria’s EU accession efforts: 1) the very beginning of 2004: by this time, the EC must provide Bulgaria with the financial framework for the period 2007-2013, so that Sofia can conclude the negotiations on the remaining three financial chapters as well as the chapter on competition with the present Commission; 2) EU leaders supported Bulgaria’s plan to complete the accession negotiations in 2004; 3) EU agreed to sign the accession treaty with Bulgaria at the earliest possible date in 2005; and 4) Bulgaria will become a full-fledged member of EU on 1 January 2007. Romania was given similar target dates, with the additional condition ‘depending on the individual achievements’. Bucharest is for the time being lagging behind Bulgaria in the accession negotiations, but experts believe this can be compensated in the following months. On 4 December French President Jacques Chirac wrote in a letter to Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Coburgotski that Paris supports without any reservations the efforts of Bulgaria to join the Union in 2007. The EU summit decided to offer Turkey a date for starting the accession negotiations in December 2004 only if Ankara executes important political and economic reforms by the end of 2004 and makes efforts to solve the Cyprus issue. The official application of Croatia to join the EU will be formally considered by the EU Council in the first half of 2004, but the Council called on the new government in Zagreb to make all efforts to meet EU standards and entry criteria before it could open entry talks. The EU statement “added that Croatia had to show full cooperation with the ICTY in The Hague and also carry through on promises to boost minority rights and facilitate refugee returns” (Associated Press, 9 December 2003). The EU foreign ministers promised the Western Balkan countries as a group future membership in the EU at a meeting on 9 December and called on them to speed up political and economic reforms and cooperate more with Brussels to fight human trafficking and organized crime. EU leaders promised to provide an extra €210 million on top of €4.65 billion for the 2000-2006 period to stimulate promoting of reforms in the Western Balkans, but gave no specific pledges as to when the countries there could apply to join the EU.

2. NATO – Seven Candidate Countries.
(1) On 27 November, Belgium ratified the accession protocols of the seven candidate states to the Washington Treaty (1949), including those of Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia. 136 Belgian MPs voted in favor and only one abstained during the voting. (2) On 2 December, the Alþingi (the Parliament of Iceland) ratified the NATO accession protocols of the seven candidate states. Only the Green MPs abstained. (3) On 18 December, the Upper Chamber of Dutch Parliament approved entry protocols for the accession of the seven candidates to NATO. The Lower House approved the documents on 25 November. What is still needed is the signature of the Dutch Queen Beatrix. (4) The NATO Council, in a session of the foreign ministers, decided on 4 December to integrate the seven candidate countries by the end of March or the beginning of April 2004, i.e., before the Istanbul summit in the end of June 2004. It is expected that in the following three months, Spain, Portugal, and France will complete the ratification process of the accession protocols of the seven candidate countries to the Washington Treaty.

3. NATO – Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson visited Belgrade and Sarajevo November 26-27 to discuss NATO partnership status with Serbia and Montenegro (SaM) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In Belgrade Robertson reiterated that a vital precondition for future cooperation remained the arrest and handover of indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic, who is believed to be hiding in Serbia and Montenegro. In Sarajevo the Secretary General said defence reform and creating a joint ministry is a key precondition for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become a NATO partner.” In Belgrade Lord Robertson met with President Marovic, Foreign Minister Svilanovic, Defense Minister Tadic and Deputy Prime Minister Covic. The Secretary General also addressed the Military Academy in Belgrade, urging army commanders to leave the past behind and look to the future. Lord Robertson discussed in Belgrade the offer of Serbia and Montenegro to send troops to NATO-led ISAF forces. In Sarajevo he talked with the SFOR commanders, the High Representative of the international community, Lord Ashdown and the Bosnian Presidency (http://belgrade.usembassy.gov/current/031201.html).

4. NATO – South East Europe.
At meeting on 4 December in Brussels, the NATO foreign ministers issued a communiqué encouraging Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia to “continue pursuing the reforms necessary to advance their candidacies for NATO membership and offered support for the reform efforts. It also reaffirmed that the current round of enlargement will not be the last and that NATO’s door remains open. The Ministers recognized the progress made by Belgrade and Sarajevo in their efforts to join NATO’s PfP, and said these countries would be welcomed into the programme once they had met the necessary conditions, in particular to detain and turn over persons indicted for war crimes by the ICTY in The Hague. ” (http://www.useu.be/Categories/Defense/Dec0403NATOFMCommunique.html)

 

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

1. US
a. US – Turkey. On 9 December US Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman visited Ankara and Istanbul and met with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. The High-ranking US official told his Turkish hosts the US wanted to continue using the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. The visit of Grossman was part of a tour of several European capitals to consult over Washington’s plans to realign its troops in Europe. “The US is set to restructure its forces in Europe to improve its ability to tackle global terrorism”, according to recent comments by Colin Powell. The change of the US force structure would be a positive thing for NATO and would strengthen it, Grossman said. The Turkish reaction was positive.
b. US – Romania. On 9-10 December US Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith arrived in Bucharest and discussed the establishment of US military bases in Romania. Washington will start realigning its troops in Europe next year (2004), although the whole process will take years. Feith met with the Romanian foreign and defense ministers and discussed US needs to change its base structure to adapt to the 9/11 threat environment and the technological advances achieved by the US armed forces.
c. US – Bulgaria. (1) On 4-5 December, NATO Parliamentary Assembly President and US Congressman Douglas Bereuter , visited Sofia. He held talks on the possibility of setting up US military bases in Bulgaria. (2) On 11 December, US Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith visited Sofia and met with President Georgi Parvanov, Prime Minister Simeon Coburgotski, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, and Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov. Feith acquainted Bulgarian leaders with the US government’s vision of how to change its basing policy and global force structure. Bulgaria is one of the potential new sites to host forces. The US was assured of the Bulgarians’ political will to host such bases and to build up the required additional infrastructure. (3) On 19 December, the Bulgarian parliament approved by a margin of 200-3 the establishment of US military bases on Bulgarian territory. Bulgaria says it sees this “cooperative and responsible” attitude towards US military activity as part of the global fight on terrorism. The reformed former Communist Party, now the Bulgarian Socialist Party, also supported the vote.

2. Russia: Russia-Bulgaria.
On 17-18 December, the chairman of the Council of the Federation of the Russian Duma, Sergei Mironov, visited Bulgaria and met with the speaker of the Bulgarian parliament, Ognyan Gerdzhikov. They discussed bilateral issues. Mironov said Russia was not enthusiastic about the US bases in Bulgaria, but hopes the bases will be used for fighting terrorism.

3. OSCE – Bulgaria.
On 1 January 2004, Bulgaria will hold the OSCE presidency for one year. The fight against terrorism will be a major focus of the presidency’s activity.

 

VIII. CONCLUSIONS

2003 ended for Southeastern Europe with a definite progress of the security situation and improved positions on the road to EU and NATO membership. Some of the countries of the region are already participating in activities aimed at bringing stability and peace to other trouble spots of the world, and bringing sacrifices for this cause.


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ISSN 1311 – 3240

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