BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and April 2000 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 4, 2000
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
Two centres of gravity continued to characterise South-East European (SEE) developments in April 2000: the clash with President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic, who is hiding in Belgrade with no consistent mid- and long-term strategies, and the slow, difficult, and yet promising EU integration movement of all countries from the region but Serbia for now.
The clash with Milosevic took place on five post-Yugoslav and two international “fronts”: in Serbia,; Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo; the neighbouring post-Yugoslav countries, the non-Western Balkan SEE countries, and international institutions like the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Council of Europe (CE), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation In Europe (OSCE), etc. Highlights in SEE's political and security area in April were the 14 April rally of the united Serbian opposition in Belgrade; municipal elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina; the Eurocorps headquarters assumption of command over the international force in Kosovo (under NATO command and with NATO troops); the arrest of a Bosnian Serb leader, Momcilo Krajisnik, who faces charges of military crimes at the Hague-based ICTY; the involvement of Kosovo Serb leaders in the governing structures of the province; and a variety of KFOR activities to preserve a secure and stable environment in the province.
The most persisting aspect of the complex security situation in the broader Balkan region continues to be the zero-sum claims and ambitions of the Kosovo Albanians and Serbs, reflecting similar behaviour of Albanians and Serbs in the western Balkans in general. The key challenge in transforming the present security situation is to find ways of breaking the vicious circle of hatred, conflict, and revenge between Serbs and Albanians. One way may be recognition by the Serbs that they had inflicted injustices against Albanians that should be reciprocated by the Albanians by starting to differentiate between Serbian criminals and other Serbs who also strive for peace and calm. For their part, Serbs should join the international governing effort and act to improve the state of Kosovo province, refraining from accusations that Serbs who do that commit acts of treason. Next, Serbs must understand they are not obliged to respond to calls from extremists, even leaders, that all Serbian people are drawn into a life-and-death war with the Albanians. Albanians, including their leaders like Ibrahim Rugova, must forget the 19th-century dream of a Greater Albania in a 21st-century Europe. This is a goal utterly unacceptable to Europeans , including the rest of the Balkan peoples.
Another major challenge would be finding the right answer to the future status of Kosovo. However, before engaging in this task, all those involved should press for developing a record of tolerant inter-ethnic relations in Kosovo.
in April 2000 was predominantly shaped by KFOR security stabilisation activities and UNMIK reconstruction efforts.
The USA increased its forces in the KFOR Multinational Brigade East with 125 reconnaissance troops – a long-range survey team that will help monitor Kosovo’s boundary with southern Serbia. They were deployed from the V Corps in Germany and are expected to stay at the border between Kosovo and the Presevo Valley – an adjoining area in Serbia – for the next six months. A company of the First Armoured Division, already in FYROMacedonia, will be equipped with 14 tanks and six Paladin artillery pieces. US soldiers in FYROMacedonia have lacked this armour support since January 2000. The tanks will improve the force protection for Task Force Able Sentry in the republic neighbouring Kosovo and will deter any provocation along the FYROMacedonia borders.
A major issue of concern for KFOR remains any violation of the ground security zone in the Presevo Valley by Kosovar Albanians or Serbs. KFOR is watching if the Kosovar Albanians deliver on their promise to hand in their uniforms and disarm forces operating in the Serb area outside Kosovo in the Presevo Valley. However, KFOR troops remain vulnerable to acts of violence: 12 American soldiers were wounded during an incident that arose from a routine weapons search by KFOR – one of many searches carried out regularly as part of the mission to maintain a secure environment. This includes the confiscation of weapons concealed illegally by those who might commit acts of violence, obviously an activity disliked by extremists on both side of the ethnic divide.
KFOR completed Exercise Dynamic Response 2000 by mid-April according to plan. The design was to ensure that the strategic reserve force deployed for both Kosovo and Bosnia reinforcement can get into action quickly. The reserve force performed its tasks, and the effort came out as planned.
On 18 April a change in the KFOR command took place: the German General Klaus Reinhardt turned leadership of the NATO-led force over to General Juan Ortuno of Spain. Gen Ortuno serves as commanding general of Eurocorps. His assumption of command marked the first time that Eurocorps, rather than an individual NATO member nation, has held the top KFOR post. The outgoing SACEUR, Gen Wesley Clark, presided over the change of command.
On 2 April the Serb National Council of Gracanica decided to participate with observers in sessions of the Interim Administrative Council (IAC) and the Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC). This was a courageous step by Kosovo Serb representatives that may bring the goal of creating a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo closer. The task is not easy: on the next day tensions appeared within the Serb community in Kosovo. Some Serbs demonstrated against that decision, and there were even clashes with KFOR soldiers guarding the Gracanica Monastery.
The Austrian-led OSCE Presidency appealed to all OSCE member states to contribute more police trainers in order to allow the Police School to double its teaching capacity. With violence continuing throughout Kosovo, and KFOR’s peacekeepers and the UN civilian police stretched, the value of producing more trained Kosovar police is obvious.
The special representative of the UN Secretary General, Bernard Kouchner, the EU, and members of the IAC and KTC issued a joint statement against violence in the province on 19 April in Pristina.
French-led NATO troops arrested Momcilo Krajisnik, a former Bosnian Serb leader, on 3 April. He was indicted by the ICTY this year for a list of atrocities committed between 1 July 1991 and 31 December 1992: the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats from some 40 villages and towns; the massacre of hundreds of civilians; and criminal activities at 11 prison camps where Muslims and Croats were tortured and executed on his orders. He is the highest ranking wartime leader brought to the tribunal. During the war he was the second most powerful political leader on the Bosnian Serb side, subordinate only to President Radovan Karadzic. Krajisnik was charged both as an individual and as a responsible commander. It is remarkable that his arrest aroused little reaction among the Serbs in Bosnia itself, where he had represented them in Bosnia’s three-man presidency. Krajisnik pleaded “not guilty” before the ICTY in the Hague on 7 April to nine counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Krajisnik is the 41st suspect brought to trial before the tribunal.
The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted fair and peaceful municipal elections on 8 April. These took place in a safe and secure environment with only a few reports of isolated security incidents. The elections marked a step forward in mobilising the people’s energy to govern their own country.
General Ratko Mladic, who led the atrocities in Srebrenica during June 1995, hides in Belgrade, according to Wolfgang Petritsch, High Representative of the international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The arrest of the alleged war criminal would mark a major peace-building move in the republic.
Bulgaria plunged into a deep moral and political crisis, provoked by the high level of poverty and corruption among the ruling elite. The trigger was provided by the former minister of the interior, Bogomil Bonev, who was dismissed in December 1999, despite his highest rating among the cabinet ministers. He informed the public of corruption cases involving high-level officials. He informed the prime minister, who remained passive. The attack against the government may escalate to the introduction of a vote of no confidence by the leading opposition party, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, to be discussed in early May. The leadership of the governing United Democratic Forces (UDF) introduced a counter-proposal for a change in the constitution that would allow lifting the immunity of MPs and judicial magistrates. Opposition representatives and the public interpreted this move as a drift towards repression of differing opinions.
There is growing evidence that Milosevic is becoming desperate: he is closing down newspapers and threatening local mayors. He probably understands how isolated he is – at home and internationally. In a state increasingly prone to mafia-like activities, another close friend of Milosevic, the chief of the national flying company JAT was shot dead at the entrance of his home on 26 April.
More than 100,000 Serbs from all over the country took part in a massive opposition rally in Belgrade on 14 April. They demonstrated against the undemocratic regime of Milosevic, as speeches by opposition leaders and protest slogans showed. The demonstrators condemned efforts of the ruling regime to silence the media by intimidation and brutal repression.
FRY joined the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 (CWC) on 21 April. The accession document was presented to the secretary general of the UN.
The former prime minister of FYROM and opposition leader, Branko Crvenkovski, declared a platform to unite all opposition forces against the ruling coalition in Skopje. Crvenkovski's Social-Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDUM) will organise “the biggest rally in the history of the country” on 18 May. It is expected to call for early elections. In the meantime, the government of Skopje is reorganising the work of the country’s intelligence agency after recent allegations that it intervened in the political activity of the young state. It Is alleged that the agency leaked information that usually reached the country’s opposition, closely linked with the regime in Belgrade.
The Greek legislative elections of 9 April led the ruling PASOK to a victory with a very small margin, yet enough to provide it with 158 seats in the 300-member Greek Parliament. The opposition New Democracy party received 125 seats. Platforms of the two major contending parties demonstrated a broad consensus on the course Greece has chosen regarding European Monetary Union issues, improvement in relations with Turkey, and an active Greek role in building stability in the Balkans. This policy contrasts with the decision to supply 250 new battle tanks for the Greek army. Given the country’s friendly relations with its Balkan neighbours and the recent rapprochement with Turkey, there are doubts about the reason to protect the northern borders with the new Challenger-2E battle tank, made by Vickers of the UK.
The minority government of Janez Drnovsek lost the confidence vote it asked for on 8 April after the dismissal of 10 cabinet ministers from the partner Slovenian People’s Party. Parliament must choose a new prime minister within 30 days or re-elect the former one. The alternative would be early general elections.
A joint letter of the prime ministers of Bulgaria and Romania was addressed to ambassadors of the governments of the EU and NATO countries in Sofia. The letter appeals for support in cleaning debris from the Danube river and restoration of transportation. Costs for the cleaning are estimated at €24 million.
The Black Sea Navy exercise that took place during the second week of April near the Bulgarian coast involved joint operation of submarines during a simulated ‘embargo operation’ and air defence activity with Romanian and Bulgarian participation.
A Bulgarian delegation of the Constitutional Court visited their colleagues in Zagreb on 12-14 April and met with President Stipe Mesic of Croatia. Though launched at about the same time, the two institutions differ in their authority and functions.
Bulgarian Defence Minister Boyko Noev visited Skopje on 19-20 April and met with his counterpart, Nikola Kliusev, Foreign Minister Alexander Dimitrov, Prime Minister Liubcho Georgievsky, and President Boris Trajkovsky. Bilateral military cooperation and SEE security were central topics of the meetings. Purchase of Bulgarian armaments by the neighbouring state's armed forces was also discussed during the visit.
Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov is expected to visit FYROMacedonia during the second half of May.
The Pact of Stability for South-East Europe
At the SEE regional funding conference in Brussels on 29-30 March, the region's countries within the Pact of Stability pledged $2.3 billion for projects out of a broader 2000 "total assistance to SEE" package estimated at over $6 billion. Over 85 per cent of this assistance is to be provided by European countries and institutions. More than $2.4 billion have been committed by the donors, including for a “quick-start” package. The projects are aimed at developing infrastructure, promoting private sector development, supporting policy and institutional reforms, and encouraging democratisation, reconciliation, and security.
The Stability Pact for SEE operates under the auspices of the OSCE, with the EU playing a lead coordinating role. Major achievements of the Stability Pact include: advancing economic development, fighting corruption, promoting democratisation, human rights and refugee returns, building regional security cooperation, and promoting regional cooperation in general. A quick-start package of measures was funded to support regional efforts in demining, arms control verification, and fighting organised crime. Regional security cooperation includes controlling small arms and light weapons, implementing weapons of mass destruction commitments, controlling arms exports, and re-training retired military officers in Bulgaria and Romania.
The number of unemployed in Bulgaria has reached 717,000 or near 19 per cent of the country's workforce. In certain regions unemployment is more than 50 per cent.
Bulgaria's foreign debt had reached $8.878 billion by early April, $43 million less than at the end of February. During the same period internal debt reached $2.54 billion, $35 million more than the previous month.
Bulgaria rates 111th in the list of the US trading partners. The US Department of Commerce assesses the customs procedures in Bulgaria as heavy and inconsistent. Excessive documentation and corruption worsen the situation. There are some improvements in legalising the software and film business in Bulgaria, according to the US Department of Commerce report.
Croatia is soon to start negotiations on a new loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The eventual deal would signal the beginning of a more open and liberal economic policy. The EU has already set up a joint consultative task force. The end of summer 2000 is expected to mark the beginning of talks on stabilisation and association agreement with the Union.
FYROMacedonia introduced value added tax (VAT) on 1 April. It is 19%, but 5% for a limited number of items.
The EU will provide €30 million to Bulgaria to rehabilitate the Vidin-Sofia road by the end of 2001. This money is part of funds approved by the Stability Pact donors’ conference and is linked to construction of a second bridge over the Danube at Vidin-Kalafat.
VI The Influence of External Factors on the Region: National Great Powers and International Institutions
Bulgaria has not violated UN sanctions against rebels in Angola by trading with arms, Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said on 7 April. Bulgaria exercises a very severe control regime for weapons delivery, and there have been no contacts with UNITA guerrillas. Kostov disclosed these results of the investigation to the MPs, following allegations by high UN officials of selling arms to UNITA rebels in Angola earlier this year.
The OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities, Max van der Stool, visited Skopje on 20 April. He received complaints about the treatment of Macedonians in neighbouring Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and FRY by the Minister of Emigrants of FYROM, Martin Trenevski. The Ministry of Emigrants will be soon closed as unnecessary, according to sources from the republic. The minister himself served in the Yugoslav military intelligence service till 1982.
The outgoing SACEUR, Gen Wesley Clark, visited Turkey on 8 April and met with Deputy Prime Minister Yozkan and the Chief of General Staff of the Turkish armed forces, Gen Kavrakoglou.
(1) US Secretary of Commerce William Daley addressed the American-Turkish Council on 30 March in Washington, DC, and reported good news regarding progress on a variety of US-Turkish commercial ventures, particularly in the energy sector. Much of the progress was attributed to measures taken by the Turkish government to improve the climate for foreign investment in that country. (2) US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with eight municipal leaders from Serbia who were visiting the United States at the invitation of Freedom House. They told her that the Milosevic regime had obstructed their governments by cutting their funding, disrupting municipal services, closing down local media outlets, threatening opponents, and raising ungrounded charges against them and other political leaders. Mrs Albright promised to support them with practical humanitarian projects for democratic municipalities. Humanitarian and environmental concerns may also be addressed by the USA's Stability Pact partners. (3) Ambassador Alfred Moses, US President Bill Clinton’s special emissary for Cyprus, met In Ankara on 12 April with Dr. O. Faruk Logoglu, under secretary of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They discussed the next round on Cyprus, scheduled for 23 May in New York.
On 17-20 April former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov visited Sofia to present to the public the Bulgarian translation of his book “Years in the Big Policy”. He also met with the prime minister of Bulgaria, Foreign Minister Mihailova, and representatives of non-governmental organisations. Primakov reminded the Bulgarian public of various dangers to security in the Balkans, conveying a perception of the invariant nature of Balkan conflicts – a notion strongly doubted by many Bulgarian analysts. Russia, an old-time player in the region including during the Primakov government, could not perform a policy different from participation in conflict management. The big challenge for the present big powers is their involvement in conflict-prevention and post-conflict reconstruction activities – political know-how that Russian policy still needs to learn about. The Balkans have for years exerted region-building efforts parallel to conflict-resolution activities. Russia still needs to find its place in this format of the evolving Balkan history at the end of the 20th century and start of the 21st. The visit of the scholarly Primakov proved that need.
Stabilisation of the security situation in Kosovo and in neighbouring Southern Serbia was at the centre of KFOR activity. The multinational force controls the situation and provides a stable environment for reconstruction efforts. Predictions of the last year for a long-term and sustained engagement by the international community turned into reality after the clashes in Mitrovica in February and March. Real contributions to the civil police are needed.
The SEE security situation largely depends on internal developments in each of the region's countries. April marked major internal political events in Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, and Turkey. Stability of the regime in Belgrade is not the only security factor, though It remains an important one. Internal progress of all the non-Western Balkan countries towards European integration determines the "hardware" of the region's stability. The practical launch of projects within the Stability Pact requires stable governments in countries adjacent to the post-Yugoslav territory, especially to FRY and Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is why the Greek success in adapting to the Euro-zone, the success of Bulgaria in fighting the corrupt bureaucracy and improving its citizens' living conditions, and overcoming political problems in Slovenia and Turkey would most significantly add to solving SEE security problems. The Balkan security situation remains intertwined with the region-building progress of individual countries and the region.