BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE

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

January 2004

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

Research Study 57, 2004

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, Nuclear Proliferation, Post-War Reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq
2. Post-Conflict Developments in the Balkans
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
VIII. CONCLUSIONS

I. INTRODUCTION
The last days of 2003, and the first month of 2004 confirmed the dual engagements of Southeastern Europe in the area of stability: contributing to the stabilization of other regions in the world and continuing to work for its own stability. The participation of Southeastern Europeans in peacekeeping, post-conflict rehabilitation activities, and occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq continued. The first Bulgarian victims in the post-war stabilization of Iraq were registered. Five soldiers and officers were killed, and two dozen more injured, after a suicide car-bomb attack on the military base ‘India’ in Kerbala. The death of the Bulgarian military was a heavy blow on the nation, which mourned the victims on 30 December. IAEA Director Mohammed ElBaradei issued a warning a few weeks later that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. The fact that two powerful secular Muslim states, Turkey and Pakistan, decided to join forces in combating terrorism this month is regarded in some parts as a sign of a high level of danger facing every country.
The Western Balkans is a terrain of competing forces that wish to shift developments to more stability and less conflict and hatred. The visit of the new NATO secretary-general to the Western Balkans confirmed the alliance‘s determination to maintain its presence in the area, although the EU will also share the military burden in the years to come. The results of the Serbian parliamentary elections on 28 December 2003 came as a great shock to many. These results confirm a vital mood of revenge, ethnic intolerance, and hatred in Serbian society that threatens to throw back the development of the broader Balkan region to earlier periods. The parliamentary election victory of the nationalist Serbian Radical party can hardly be compared to the return to power of the Croatian nationalists in November last year, who have adopted a clear pro-reform, pro-EU, and pro-NATO political course. The ghost of ‘Greater Serbia’ is again very much alive in Serbian political and social life – a real setback for the democratic segments of this society.
Greece announced this month that it would convene early parliamentary elections in March. Bilateral Greek-Turkish relations in the last month saw definite progress in both the political and the economic fields. The positive developments in the bilateral relations of Turkey and Greece constitute a key factor of stability in the broader region of Southeastern Europe.
The EU this month sent clear signals of its continued interest in accepting Turkey as a member in the longer term, if Ankara introduces all reforms that are required for membership. This month, the EU also confirmed its readiness to complete accession negotiations with Bulgaria by the end of 2004 and integrate the country in the beginning of 2007. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), General James Jones, confirmed in January the existence of working relations with Bulgaria and Romania, and the high probability of their being allowed to join NATO before the June summit in Istanbul later this year.
The US continued its cooperation with Bulgaria in fighting organized crime and terrorism. After a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to Washington, the White House confirmed that Ankara was solidly on board in the joint fight against terrorism. The Bulgarian Chairmanship of the OSCE that started on 1 January also prioritizes the fight on terrorism.

 

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

1. Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Post-War Reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq

a. Terrorism: Turkey-Pakistan. Turkey and Pakistan decided on 20 January to begin pooling resources in the battle against Islamic extremists. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who survived two recent assassination attempts, paid a three-day visit to Turkey on 19-21 January and met with Turkish President Sezer and the prime minister. The leaders of the two countries signed an agreement on “terrorism and crime”. The leaders expressed their endeavor that terrorism should be rooted out. Both Pakistan and Turkey have been targeted by presumed Muslim extremists in the recent months. The intelligence services of the two secular Muslim states are strong, cooperate with US intelligence, and are eager to expose possible links between domestic extremism and external terrorist groups.

b. Nuclear Proliferation: IAEA Warning. In one of the last issues of German weekly magazine Der Spiegel in January, IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei wrote that the world has never been as close to nuclear war as it is today. His major concern is the danger that nuclear arms produced by democratic states may fall into the hands of terrorists and dictators. This serious concern highlights the need for continuing a comprehensive nuclear non-proliferation policy, as well as staying close to the sources of such threats and acquiring tools of influence in a preventive and pre-emptive manner. c. Post-War Build-Up of Afghanistan. On 6 January, NATO took command of a peace-building mission in northern Afghanistan. This was the first step in a NATO plan to expand the mission out of the capital and into the country’s troubled provinces ahead of crucial summer elections. German troops took over command from US troops in Kunduz, north of Kabul. Other NATO nations established Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), freeing up the US military to focus on battling Taliban insurgents in the south and east. PRT are small teams of civilian and military personnel working in Afghanistan’s provinces to provide security for aid workers and help with reconstruction work. There are currently six PRT under the command of the US-led coalition forces.

d. Post-War Reconstruction of Iraq
1) Romania. On 5 January, Romanian State Secretary Decebal Lina, responsible for the arms industry, proposed to supply the new Iraqi army with weapons. The formal offer of artillery ammunition and Kalashnikov rifles will be made when the US opens the bidding process.
2) Bulgaria. The killing on 27 December 2003 of five Bulgarian soldiers and officers in Kerbala, part of the occupation battalion in Iraq, provoked a variety of reactions in Bulgarian society and institutions. First of all, the loss of life was a shock to Bulgarians. The Bulgarian state and public opinion treated them and their families as heroes. Second, the military and society were not intimidated, and the ambition to continue the occupation of Iraq grew higher as a result of the killing. Third, all state institutions, pressed by internal institutional procedures, by the civil society, and by the media, reconsidered their basic attitudes to current and future engagements by the Bulgarian armed forces in various contingencies. A new awareness of the reality of military intervention and of the necessary institutional and military-technical capabilities, was born in the weeks after the killing in Kerbala. Though the motivation of many Bulgarian rangers in Iraq has been partly professional, partly financial, the additional realization of the magnitude of the threat led to a better public understanding of the importance of the country’s policy. Fourth, the Bulgarian president, the government, and the parliament were unanimous in not changing the country’s policy. What was new was the public’s expectation of greater effectiveness and success by Bulgarian armed forces and the other institutions from the security sector. Fifth, the loss of human life in Iraq triggered a new psychological and social process: 62 rangers of the second battalion pulled back from the mission, but 140 new ones volunteered to join. Sixth, the fight on terrorists and insurgents in Iraq does not divert the major focus of the external participants there – stabilizing, reconstructing, and rebuilding Iraq economically, politically, institutionally, and culturally. The stated goal of the international occupation forces is to create a democratic Iraq. The aim is to help the people of Iraq, not replace them in building their own new life.


2. Post-Conflict Developments in the Balkans

a. FYROM. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski discussed issues concerning Skopje’s membership in NATO in Ohrid on 19 January. The president announced that he would appoint the new chief of staff of the Macedonian armed forces in February, in accordance with his prerogatives. In the past weeks, discussions had ensued between him and the government over the right choice for the chief of staff.

b. Kosovo. (1) The KFOR force carried out a training exercise on 1-2 January to practice their rapid-deployment abilities. About 1’000 peacekeepers – part of the tactical reserve units stationed in Kosovo – took part in the four-phase operation code-named “Flowing Tears”. The tactical reserve is part of the 19’000-strong NATO-led force in the province. These units conduct everyday tasks in the area where they are deployed, but maintain the ability to move quickly to reinforce other regions in Kosovo, and to conduct operations when needed. (2) On 16 January, new NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pledged in Pristina that NATO would remain committed to the province and continue providing security. Though NATO has other mounting engagements elsewhere, mainly in Afghanistan, considerable changes to the structure of troops in Kosovo were not expected. The two ethnic communities in Kosovo remain deeply divided. Mr. de Hoop Scheffer appealed for compromise to allow displaced people to return home, as stipulated by the UN. No decisions on the status of Kosovo are to be made before the UN-set conditions are met. However, the unofficial target date for reaching the UNMIK goals is mid-2005. (3) At the “Stockholm International Forum: Preventing Genocide”, held on 26-28 January, Jean-Christian Cady, a UN representative in Kosovo, said that the ethnic conflict in this province had provided several valuable lessons on international efforts to prevent ethnic conflict: The international community needed to demonstrate a ‘clear and common will’ to stop ethnic cleansing. It also had to be able to quickly deploy an international mission. This mission would have to have a robust mandate and a military component. Any delay in establishing a full peacekeeping presence could lead to interethnic retaliation and difficulty in achieving refugee returns, he said.

c. Bosnia and Herzegovina. (1) The IMF on 31 December 2003 approved the extension of the Stand-By Arrangement for Bosnia and Herzegovina by two months to 29 February 2004. The extension will assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in preparing for the IMF’s upcoming fourth review under the Stand-By Arrangement, approved on 2 August 2002. (2) EU High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown warned the politicians of that country on 7 January to accept reforms by June this year if they wanted Sarajevo to join NATO’s PfP program. In addition, the European Commission will review the country’s progress towards membership and decide whether to conclude a Stabilization and Association Agreement. The reform of the judicial system is among the priority tasks for the Bosnian politicians, who are still ethnically divided. Ashdown also said that if Bosnia failed to jump on the European train now, it might not get another chance for a long time to come. (3) On 22 January President George Bush sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate informing them that he had directed the continued deployment and participation of US 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. There are 1’800 US troops in SFOR, comprising just 15 per cent of the total force. (4) On 21 January, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana held initial talks for the EU to take over peacekeeping duties in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of this year, but the date might be pushed back. It was still difficult to give an exact date, the NATO Secretary-General said after the meeting. NATO has to find what residual role it will play in Bosnia. The SFOR contingent now numbers 12’000, and EU countries have agreed in principle to deploy a 6’000-strong force of their own in Bosnia in 2004 to replace NATO’s force, possibly under British command. The EU already took over policing responsibilities from the UN a year ago. (5) On 28 January, EU High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown issued a decree that transformed the six separate municipalities in Mostar into a single assembly and administration. This administrative act marks a new step towards strengthening the country’s central authorities at the local level.

 

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

1. Serbia and Montenegro. The Serbian Radical Party of ICTY-indicted war criminal and right-wing extremist Vojislav Seselj won the parliamentary elections of 28 December 2003 with 27.01 per cent of the votes, garnering 82 seats in the 250-member parliament of Serbia. Though in custody in The Hague, Seselj was on the list of elected MPs. Second place went to former Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia, with some 18 per cent of the votes. The third-strongest party was the Democratic party of late Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, followed by the G-17 Plus party and the coalition between the Serbian Renewal movement and New Serbia. In the new parliament, the Socialist party of Slobodan Milosevic is represented by 22 MPs. Milosevic himself was at the head of his Socialist party’s electoral list. Tomislav Nikolic, the leader of the radicals while Seselj is in jail, replaced him in February 2003. Seselj went voluntarily to The Hague to stand trial and present his party’s ideological stance. Nikolic was deputy prime minister of Serbia in 1999, but resigned in protest of the intervention of NATO in Kosovo. He likes to end his speeches with the slogan: “Long live Greater Serbia”. Tomislav Nikolic dedicated the victory of his party to Vojislav Seselj. Nikolic believes that Serbia will not be able to join the EU in the next ten years. He is confident that Serbia will never become a member of NATO, and thus collaborate with the US. On 21 January, Nikolic told the press that Serbia did not want to be a NATO member, as Serbs did not want to cooperate with the US. The Radical Party, headed by Seselj and Nikolic, still believes in expanding Serbia beyond its current borders to incorporate other ethnic Serbs in the region. The plenary meeting of the newly elected Serbian parliament on 30 January is scheduled to elect the governing institutions of the country and of the parliament itself. The Serbian democratic parties hope to reach agreement on coalition plans. Whatever government is formed must cooperate with the ICTY in The Hague. Failing to do so would mean the loss of valuable aid from the EU and the US. New parliamentary elections are quite probable.

2. Albania. (1) On 1 January, Albania launched a major reform of its judicial system, establishing a separate court system devoted to hearing cases on organized crime, human trafficking, and murder. The 27 judges serving on the newly created ‘Serious Crimes Court’ will have adequate expertise to deal with such cases. Albanian President Alfred Moisiu had a crucial role in insisting on changes in the establishment of the rule of law in Albanian society. Last year, he denounced ‘suspicious links between politics and crime’. The newly created system will hear any case where defendants face 15 years in prison or more. The judges of the new court will have bodyguards and will receive better payment – US$1’000-1’700 per month, compared to the average judge’s salary of US$800. (2) The government announced on 19 January that it would introduce reforms aimed at fighting human trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime. US and Italian experts will aid the government in drawing-up measures against terrorism, crime, and other threats. The reforms will also tackle corruption in the ranks of police and customs officials. 2004 is expected to be a decisive year in the fight against trafficking and organized crime in Albania.

3. Greece. On 7 January, Prime Minister Costas Simitis decided to step down as a leader of the Socialist Party (PASOK) and called for early elections on 7 March, though the mandate of his cabinet does not expire until April. With this step, Simitis intended to boost his Socialist Party and end political uncertainties during the run-up to the Olympic Games. The political battle for power will be fought between the ruling PASOK and the party of Simitis’ foreign minister, George Papandreou, , on one side, and the New Democracy right-centre party and its leader, Costas Karamanlis (47), on the other. On 8 February, PASOK will convene a special party conference to elect George Papandreou as leader. At the time of writing, 11 per cent of the Greeks were undecided on how to vote. The contest between the two parties and its leaders is very close, and the final results are hard to predict. Recent polls have shown that George Papandreou (51) is the most popular politician in Greece, but the Socialists have lagged behind the main conservative opposition New Democracy party by about 10 percentage points for over a year.

4. Romania. (1) On 8 January, Romanian Ministry of Defense sources announced their objectives for 2004, including developing the strategic and military profile of Romania within NATO in a way that will take into account the changes inside NATO. The ministry will also define a new regional security profile and strengthen cooperation in the field of security in the Black Sea area and the Caucasus. The Romanian Defense Ministry is also in the process of adjusting its planning mechanism according to NATO’s planning revision. Romania will update its human resources legislation to satisfy the requirements of NATO. The Romanian armed forces will continue their downsizing to reach acceptable levels of troops, and to ensure social protection measures for the staff made redundant. (2) It was announced on 19 January that Secretary of State with the Ministry of Defense George Cristian Maior had told an MoD meeting that Romania would purchase another Hercules-130 military transport aircraft in 2004. This will increase the number of such planes in the country’s air force to five. The US Department of Defense is selling the new airplane to Romania and will upgrade the other four. The fleet of strategic transporters is included in Romania’s offer of forces as part of its NATO bid. Romanian forces for NATO also include detachments of mountain troops, NBC protection, light infantry, and three upgraded frigates that will soon join the military naval forces.

5. Croatia. On 27 January, former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic expressed ‘shame and remorse’ for persecuting non-Serbs in Croatia in the early 1990s, pleading guilty to charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague ICTY. Babic was a central figure in the Krajina Serb republic on the territory of Croatia as the Yugoslav federation collapsed. He was a close ally of Milosevic, but in 2002 testified against him at the ICTY trial in The Hague. Babic faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but the prosecution may recommend a lesser sentence.

 

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

1. Bilateral Relations
Greece-Turkey. On 17 January, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou called on Turkey to start a joint process with Greece of cutting costs for defense and transfer future funds to education and social programs in the two countries. Papndreou was speaking during a visit to Alexandroupolis, on the Greek-Turkish border. ‘My vision is peace for the region,’ said Papandreou. ‘We [Greece and Turkey] must agree together to have a gradual and balanced reduction in defense spending after the 7 March elections.’ Greece and Turkey are two of NATO’s biggest defense spenders as a percentage of GDP. Greece will cut its military spending to 4 per cent of GDP in 2005. The US spends around 3.5 per cent of its GDP on defense. On 19 January, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul responded positively to his Greek counterpart’s overture. ‘We want to create a new climate in this part of the world’, the Turkish foreign minister said. Turkey is an EU candidate.

Turkey-Bulgaria.The Bulgarian Armed Forces chief of staff, General Nikola Kolev, visited Turkey from 28-30 January. He discussed bilateral cooperation and met with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Turkey hopes that Bulgaria will support Turkey’s drive for EU membership.

 

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

1. Turkey-Greece. On 23 December 2003 at a ceremony in Ankara, the governments of Turkey and Greece signed an agreement on building a natural gas pipeline connecting the two countries. The pipeline will deliver natural gas from Azerbaijan to Greece via Turkey from the beginning of 2006 and is an important block of the East-West Energy Corridor. The initial delivery volume will be 500 million cubic meters; the project represents another significant economic link between the two countries. In the second phase of the project, the total volume of natural gas delivered to Greece and Europe via Turkey will reach 11 billion cubic meters.

2. US-Bulgaria, Romania. US President George Bush asked the US Senate on 21 January to approve the ratification of an Additional Protocol between the US and Bulgaria to preserve the two countries’ Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) after Bulgaria joins the EU in 2007. A similar document has already been sent to the Senate concerning Romania. The protocols would establish a framework acceptable to the European Commission for avoiding or remedying present and possible future incompatibilities between their BIT obligations and their future EU membership obligations.

 

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

1. EU
a. EU-Bulgaria. The Irish EU Presidency confirmed to the Bulgarian press that Bulgaria could complete its EU accession negotiations by the end of 2004. Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said on 19 January that it was less likely that the last negotiation chapters with Bulgaria could be concluded by June, when the presidency of Ireland expires, but he was quite sure that this could happen by the end of the year. Bulgaria and Romania are still waiting for the EU to set a financial framework for ending the negotiation processes. It had been expected in December 2003 that this should happen in January-February 2004. Without a clear financial framework, negotiations would be impossible, although the Bulgarian side is fully prepared to do its part of the joint work.

b. EU-Turkey. (1) On 15 January, EU President Romano Prodi visited Turkey and met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, has a population of 68 million, 20 per cent of which are Kurds. Eighty-nine per cent of Turkey’s population is Muslim. (2) EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana told the Turkish newspaper “Zaman” on 21 January that relations between the civilian authorities and the Turkish military would improve and correspond to European standards. Solana commended the reforms introduced by the Turkish government and parliament. He pointed out, however, that more should be done to increase the effectiveness and independence of the judicial system. The EU High Representative thought there were still obstacles preventing the full realization of human rights in the country. He added that the key to Turkey’s EU integration lay not only in the hands of Brussels, but also in those of Ankara. Solana called on both Turks and Greeks to return to the negotiation table over the issue of Cyprus and accept UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s plan for solving the issue. (3) On 21 January, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said hours before arriving in Ankara that the EU should admit Turkey as a full member to boost its own security in the 21st century. He also told the Turkish daily “Hürriyet” that ‘if we close the doors on Turkey, we will pay a very heavy price. For us, for Europe, Turkey is a strategic partner…. Turkey’s strategic importance has become even more evident since 9/11’. Germany is home to some 2 million Turks.

2. NATO
a. NATO-Bulgaria. (1) The Commander of the United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), General James Jones, visited Bulgaria on 8 January. This was an official NATO visit, during which he met with representatives of the Bulgarian state, government, and military. Jones was accompanied by a team of experts that continued the bilateral negotiations on the establishment of US military bases on Bulgarian soil. (2) Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels on 21 January. They discussed issues of cooperation between NATO and the OSCE, which will be chaired by the Bulgarian foreign minister in 2004. Passy also met with the US Permanent Representative to NATO, Nicholas Burns. The US diplomat confirmed that teams from the US Department of State and the US Department of Defense would visit Bulgaria again and negotiate the establishment of US military bases in the country. Such teams had already visited Sofia in December 2003.

b. NATO – Western Balkans. On 18 January, the German newspaper “Bild am Sonntag” published a commentary entitled ‘NATO is facing new tasks’ by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. Concerning the Balkans, he wrote that ‘NATO played a key role in the pacification of Southeastern Europe. Its resolute intervention terminated the civil wars there and led the Balkans back on the road to Europe. However, peace there is not yet self-supporting. The time has come in Bosnia to replace NATO troops by an EU mission. But Kosovo and the Balkans as a whole still need the stabilizing presence of the Atlantic alliance’, Scheffer wrote.

 

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

1. US
a. US-Macedonia. On 31 December 2003, US President George Bush issued a waiver allowing the continuation of military aid to Macedonia, although it had signed the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), because Skopje had signed Article 98 agreements exempting US personnel from war crimes prosecution. The ICC will not be able to try US personnel stationed in Macedonia.

b. US-Bulgaria. The deputy chief of the US Secret Service, George Roberts, visited Sofia from 26-27 January and met with high-level Ministry of Interior officials. One aim of the visit was the joint fight against money counterfeiting.The US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the US Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the CIA are expected to establish official offices in Sofia by the beginning of 2005.

c. US-Turkey. US President George Bush met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House on 28 January and assured him that “the United States' ambition is for a peaceful country, a democratic Iraq that is territorially intact.”. The US president expressed appreciation for Erdogan’s efforts to resolve the long-standing dispute over Cyprus and for his “steadfast determination to fight terror”. Erdogan said that the two countries “share the same views regarding their strategic partnership in restructuring Iraq,”and thanked Bush for designating the PKK, KADEK and Kongra Gel as terrorist organizations. The leaders of the two governments discussed the Middle East region and the importance of continuing to promote freedom, democracy, and peace in that region. On 29 January, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul also discussed bilateral issues and the problems of Cyprus, Iraq, Syria, terrorism, and other questions of importance to the Middle Eastern region.

2. Russia
Russia-Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense imposed a fine of US$600’000 on Russian aircraft maker Mikoyan Gurevich at the end of January for delaying the upgrades of 20 of the Bulgarian air force’s MiG-29 fighters according to NATO standards, as per a contract that was signed in the beginning of 2002 and was worth US$60 million. The explanation given by the Russian company was that it had too much work to do under a huge contract with India – an explanation that shows how unreliable the contracting party is from a Bulgarian point of view. Bulgaria will not be able to start its NATO membership with an intact air force that is capable of participating in real operations. The issue reopened the debate over the Bulgarian government’s decision two years ago to upgrade the MiG-29s.

3. OSCE
OSCE-Bulgaria.
On 1 January, Bulgaria took over the chairmanship of the OSCE for 2004. The OSCE is a unique Euro-Atlantic-Asiatic security organization with 55 member states. Six out of 19 OSCE field missions are situated in the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia and Montenegro. The Balkans region is viewed by the OSCE primarily as a hotbed of trafficking in drugs and humans, with weak governments and unstable economies. Bulgaria will try to involve the capabilities of the EU, NATO, and other institutions in the realization of the OSCE tasks. The Bulgarian chairmanship attaches vital importance to combating smuggling, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and terrorism. An important document on these goals, the ‘Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the 21st Century’, will be the adopted in Maastricht by the OSCE foreign ministers. The OSCE will continue to assist Georgia in building democratic institutions and in implementing market reforms, as well as aiding Moldova in its search for a solution to the Transdniester conflict.

 

VIII. CONCLUSIONS

The campaign against “terrorism” continued in the Balkan states in January. NATO and the EU both remain committed to the stability of the Western Balkans, though national progress in individual countries there is not smooth at all, especially in Serbia. There is potential for improvement in Greek-Turkish relations, for example by reducing defense spending. Both the EU and the US tried to improve their relations with Turkey in January, assessing Ankara as key strategic ally. Very soon, NATO and the US will finalize plans to establish military bases in Romania and Bulgaria.


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ISSN 1311 – 3240

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