BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and May 2000 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 5, 2000
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
A combination of six factors determined the state of stability in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), the most dramatic of all elements in the present security mosaic of the Western Balkans:
First, there was a mounting resistance of the Serbian opposition against the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. A rally of more than 30'000 in Belgrade on 17 May was activated by a newly rising movement of students and young people – ‘Otpor’ (‘Resistance’).
Second, there was a crackdown on the Serbian free media. The repression may be characterised as a typical authoritarian/totalitarian political act of the worst type. The silencing of the media in the federation is also a symptom of an increasing panic within the structure of the regime.
Third, the upcoming municipal elections in Montenegro are inducing more polarity and expectations of a more serious clash between Podgorica and Belgrade. However, the balance between the opposing forces in the rebellious member of the federation does not provide for dramatic changes after the election results. The launch of infrastructure projects within the Pact of Stability for south-eastern Europe and the practical engagement of the democratic government of Montenegro in the pact help the consolidation of the republic's anti-Milosevic forces.
Fourth, the internal tension within the armed forces and the police forces of the FRY is also rising. The ‘sons of the people’ who are in the Yugoslav army (VJ) and the police are facing the real danger of becoming instruments of the regime for massive repressive and bloody actions, if events escalate to a civil war, and opposition representatives suggest Milosevic is driving the situation in this direction.
Fifth, there were demonstrations of support for the Milosevic regime by the Russian Government, which hosted the visits of the foreign minister and the defence minister of the FRY. The latter is an indicted criminal by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague.
Sixth, the US senate was in danger of committing a grave political and strategic mistake by adopting a legal decision to withdraw American troops from Kosovo, and this influenced the developments in the whole region. The consequences would have been grave and would have nullified all that has been done to reach greater stability of the region of south-eastern Europe in the past year.
Kosovo and Bosnia remained the other two complicated variables in the Balkan security equation. Despite some improvements, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a territory divided into three, rather than an entity. While some steps of rapprochement have been noticed in the Kosovo Transition Council, new violence, killings and hostilities dominate the security landscape of the troubled province. The upcoming test of democratic participation in the upcoming elections this autumn may become the first formal step to the formation of institutions that would lead to the partition of Kosovo. The level of political consciousness and practical behaviour of the political leaders do not provide much evidence to the contrary – of the democratic multi-ethnic future of Kosovo. Yet there is time to consider the options before and after the elections and adopt this dimension of the internal political organisation that the international community is trying to induce – of tolerance, pluralism and democracy.
In May Bulgaria and Slovenia experienced internal political problems which may endure in the Bulgarian case. Badly managed corruption scandals within the ruling coalition and escalating governmental criticism against the most successful segment of the democratic Bulgarian society – the media – further complicate the government’s ability to steer the situation to a constructive outcome. A parliamentary and national consensus on EU and NATO membership has tended to calm the existing tensions.
Croatia formally joined NATO's Partnership for Peace, marking another step towards stability in south-eastern Europe.
The post-conflict situation in Kosovo in May was relatively stable, without major outbursts of violence or breakthroughs in peace-reconstruction.
On 4 May the new SACEUR, General Joseph Ralston, visited the KFOR troops in Kosovo and discussed the situation in the province.
On 8 May Ekrem Rexha, a former KLA commander and director of environment and safety for the municipality of Prizren, was shot and killed on his way to work. Four other people were injured in a separate incident in Kosovo. On 15 May in the village of Rimaniste in Kosovo a body was found and identified as the UNMIK staff member of Serbian ethnicity, Petar Topljski, 25, who had been missing for a week. Despite improved conditions of security for UNMIK staff, the killers found a way to their goal. This act was intended to intimidate an UNMIK staff member of Serbian origin, who had been working with dedication, despite threats and isolation.
On 20 May 250 US KFOR soldiers found an arms and ammunition store, including a rocket launcher, explosives and hand grenades, in the Albanian populated village of Uglidjare. A day earlier the 70 year-old Serbian peasant Dragan Peric of the village of Gojbulja, 25 kilometres north-west of Pristina, was killed by three Albanians while tending his cattle near his home.
On 2 May in Gracanica UN Secretary-General Special Representative for Kosovo Bernard Kouchner, Bishop Artemje of the Serb National Council, and KFOR Commander General Joun Ortuno signed an agreement for the formation of a Joint Committee on Returns of Displaced Persons and Refugees. They will head the committee, which will work to ensure a safe and sustained return of Kosovo Serbs. This development was the first concrete step towards fulfilling the conditions of complete participation by the Kosovo Serbs in the joint administrative structure of Kosovo. A UN Security Council delegation that was inspecting the province at that time welcomed the agreement. In early May the Interim Administrative Council of Kosovo adopted a broadcast media code of practice, a regulation that will govern hate speech in the Kosovo media. There are, however, no corresponding rules for print media. On 10 May the Kosovo Transition Council (KTC) issued a statement condemning acts of violence against all people of Kosovo. Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb leaders pledged to work with UNMIK to improve the situation of the Serb and other minority communities in Kosovo, so they may realise their fundamental right to security, freedom of movement, and participation in government institutions. At the same time Kosovo leaders demanded the unconditional handover of Kosovo Albanians and members of other Kosovo communities detained in prisons in Serbia. The KTC also reaffirmed the right of all refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes with dignity and security. However, on 22 May the authorities of Serbia confirmed the sentences of the Albanians jailed in Serbian prisons.
The general situation in Kosovo, especially security, could have been endangered if the US Senate had adopted an amendment of Senator Byrd and Senator Warner, within the Fiscal Year 2001 Military Construction Appropriations Bill, which demanded the withdrawal of US peacekeepers from Kosovo, after imposing a deadline on the withdrawal of 1 July 2001. However, on 18 May the US Senate defeated the amendment by a 53 to 47 vote. The amendment would have meant the imposition of an artificial deadline – a guaranteed factor of demoralisation of the US allies and partners already involved in KFOR. It would have led to the emboldening of the proponents of violence as a solution to the existing disputes, both on the Serbian and on the Albanian sides. The regime of Milosevic would have received an easy victory without firing a shot. Previous statements to the European allies by the US that the Europeans increase their share of the burden have long been met: more than 80 per cent of troops engaged in KFOR are from European countries.
A real issue that remains to be solved by the US Congress is the adoption of a supplemental appropriation. Any US exit strategy for American forces is contingent to civilian reconstruction and rebuilding the administration in Kosovo.
On 18 May the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina released a summary report prepared by the mission and the office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCR), concerning human trafficking in that country. The report covers incidents of trafficking over an 18-month period and notes that Bosnia has emerged as a significant destination for women from eastern Europe.
Evidence shows also that Bosnia and Herzegovina is slow in preparing for the upcoming negotiations with the EU for a stability and association agreement, expected to start this autumn.
The upcoming local elections in Albania are perceived by observers as a prelude to the national elections and as a major test of Albania’s democratic development and of the stability of the country and the region. Therefore all stages of the election process need support – registration, including by door-to-door enumeration, voting and counting. International observation and monitoring, a major task for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, may substantially help.
The chain of events in May followed the logic of the previous month, when a political crisis started to mount after the disclosure of high-level corruption cases in the ruling party and government. The pauperisation of the people led to many strikes in various branches of the economy. Most dramatic and destabilising was the protest by pilots of the national airline “Balkan”. The international polling agency Gallup announced that 57 per cent of the voters in Bulgaria did not approve of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, and 53 per cent wanted his resignation. Only 26 per cent trusted him, and the hard voting bloc of the ruling party shrank to 21 per cent. A correlating question and answer shows that 90 per cent of the people believe that the ruling United Democratic Forces (UDF) coalition utilises its power for personal enrichment. In the meantime, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) held its regular party congress, which radically changed the party’s position in favour of Bulgaria’s membership in NATO. Yet the mechanism for bringing the majority of BSP voters to that thinking remains unclear. At the congress the BSP decided to submit a no-confidence vote of the government in the parliament, despite the clear pro-government majority in the People’s Assembly. The no-confidence vote was defeated 133 to 67, with 16 abstentions. The prime minister’s interpretation of the voting was that there was no corruption in the ruling party. The UDF started a political counter-offensive the next day: first, the Bulgarian media were blamed for raising the political tensions artificially; and second, popular organisations of citizens, led by highly respected intellectuals, were accused of plotting against the state and the constitutional order because of their assessment of the social ineffectiveness of the present political parties. The internal contradictions in the UDF as well as the criticism of the mounting energy in Bulgarian civil society and its media will not stop, and the Government faces new political trials in the weeks and months to come.
In the meantime, the political situation has been calmed down by the adoption by the country’s parliament on 26 May of the first joint decision that calls for Bulgaria's membership in the EU and NATO. The prime minister acknowledged the wisdom by all who shaped this historically significant consensual national position.
On 2 May in Pozarevac, Serbia, three armed bodyguards of Marko Milosevic, Slobodan Milosevic's son, attacked and beat three peaceful democratic activists from the Otpor! movement of students and young people, formed in October 1998. Otpor! is committed to non-violence and political independence. The opposition Studio-B TV channel in Belgrade showed the incident. The state authorities fined it about $10'000 on 4 May. Events escalated when on 13 May Bozko Perosevic, the regional leader of the Socialist Party of Milosevic in Vojvodina, was shot dead in Novi Sad. The opposition and its NATO supporters were accused of the assassination. On 17 May the Studio-B TV was attacked and occupied by the Serbian militia, following the orders of the authorities. The electronic media, owned by the Belgrade municipality, dominated by the Serbian Movement for Renewal (‘Obnovlenie’) of Vuk Draskovic, was accused of appealing for unrest and overthrowing the Belgrade regime. Some smaller anti-Milosevic radio-stations were also closed. The reaction of the opposition was to protest across the country, mainly in Belgrade, in a gathering of 30'000 people on 17 May. The police and special forces brutally countered the acts of violence, started by football fans, who sided with the protesters in front of the Belgrade mayor’s office. The opposition parties pledged to give a new start to the street protests against the Milosevic government.
Sweeping changes on 6 May in the leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) police angered the opposition pro-Serbian Social-Democratic Party (SDP). The reason was the involvement of police officers in arms and drugs traffic in the past 3 to 4 months and the police-organised bugging scandal against the interior minister in February. The information that was collected has been used by the opposition SDP and by the Belgrade intelligence services. On 17 May the president of the republic, Boris Trajkovsky, told the parliament that he would not become involved in the political fight between the ruling party and the opposition and would not let hatred and nationalism overwhelm his country.
The new Slovenian prime minister, the conservative politician Andrej Bajuk, 56, was elected on 3 May, replacing Janez Drnovsek, from the centre-left. The parliament in Ljubljana elected Bajuk with a narrow majority and mandated him to form the new government, which will function until October/November this year, when general elections are to be held. The government's major focus will be the preparation of Slovenia for EU membership. From a legislative plan of 76 laws for this year, only 11 have been adopted. After failing to get the approval of his cabinet on 24 May, Bajuk will try again to handle the issue at the beginning of June in parliament.
The Turkish Parliament elected Ahmet Necdet Sezer, former chairman of the Constitutional Court, on 5 May as the country’s tenth president. Three hundred and thirty MPs of 550 voted for his election. The expectations in and outside Turkey are that Sezer will boost the country’s democratic credentials and make it fit for EU membership.
On 8 May the Turkish police arrested a group of fundamentalists from the Grey Wolves group. The arrest is in connection with the assassination of Turkish journalist Ugur Mumdzhu in February 1993.
(1) The Romanian minister of the environment announced on 22 May the government’s decision to close the chemical plant in Turnu Magurele, which regularly causes transborder air-pollution in Nikopol, Bulgaria, until cases of air-pollution can be prevented . (2) On 25 May in Rousse, Bulgaria, a joint Bulgarian-Romanian expert group discussed details of the construction of the second bridge across the Danube at Vidin-Kalafat.
Greece has made available $1'125 million to start the construction of the road between the border towns of Ksanti (Greece) and Rudozem (Bulgaria). A long-standing problem of migrating bears has been overcome; a tunnel is planned to avoid disturbing the natural routes of the bears in the bordering region.
On 15-16 May Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov made the first official visit of a Bulgarian president to FYROM at the invitation of his counterpart in Skopje, Boris Trajkovsky. Stoyanov said that from that moment on the two countries should go together to the EU and forget the prejudices of the past. Nine agreements were signed during the visit, on border demarcation, transborder dispute resolution, cooperation in culture, science and education, tourism, legal help for private cases, plant protection, veterinary/sanitary cooperation, and standards.
Talks were held on 11 May in Skopje on the territorial border dispute between the two countries at the FYROM-Kosovo (FRY) border. The heights on the territory of FRY, claimed by FYROM, provide the Serbian side with potential strategic control of the whole territory of the southern neighbour. While the authorities in Skopje say they will not make any compromises on the issue, the Serbian counterparts use the negotiations as an opportunity to recall the sovereignty of the Kosovo part of the Serbian territory and oppose any claims of partitioning the province from the republic.
(1) The two countries began their participation in the NATO military exercise Dynamic Mix ( 20 May to 10 June). The exercise involves navy and air forces and covers the whole area of the Aegean Sea to the port of Thessaloniki. Turkey, Greece and Italy are the hosts of the exercise that comprises 14 allies, 15'000 troops, 65 ships and 290 aircraft, the largest NATO exercise in the south-eastern region this year. (2) The two countries said in Florence during the NATO ministerial that they would begin cleaning the Maritza River, the natural state border. Bulgaria, where the river originates, will be included in the project.
The head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodulous, visited Romania on 21-27 May and met with the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoktist. This is the first visit of the Greek Archbishop to Bucharest since the changes in 1989.
On 29-30 May the president of Bulgaria visited Albania and met with Albanian President Rexep Meydani. They confirmed the priority of the political and economic objective in the bilateral relations, the construction of Corridor 8 from Burgas, on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast to the Albanian Adriatic coast. The corridor would include oil transportation facilities, road, railway and telecommunication systems. By mid- June the interior ministers of the two countries are expected to negotiate the regulations that would bar transborder criminality. According to initial plans, the oil pipeline from Burgas to Vlora should be constructed by 2005, 500km on Bulgarian territory and a further 400km in FYROM and Albania. Forty per cent of the Caspian Sea oil that goes to the Black Sea is expected to be transferred westwards through this pipeline.
The Pact of Stability for South-Eastern Europe
On 23 May Pact of Stability Coordinator Bodo Hombach met with the President of Montenegro Milo Jukanovic. They discussed the funding aspects of three major infrastructure projects in Montenegro within the Pact of Stability. The projects are about a water-pipe system on the Adriatic coast, highways and the modernisation of the port of Bar.
The Southeast European Defence Ministerial Process
Participants in the Southeast European Defence Ministerial (SEDM) joined as observers the American-Macedonian engineering field-training exercise Cornerstone 00-3 in FYROM. The exercise began on 1 May and will last till 30 June. It aims to develop a common understanding of military interoperability in peace support operations and foster mutual trust, respect and cooperation between the participants. Four humanitarian civic assistance projects, including renovation of medical clinics in Pepeliste and Krivolak and minor engineering projects at two elementary schools, will be completed. The exercise includes for the first time military engineer observers from other countries participating in the SEDM process. The SEDM brings together three NATO countries – Greece, Turkey and Italy – and four countries in the Partnership for Peace PfP partner and contending for membership in NATO – Albania, Bulgaria, FYROM and Romania. Slovenia regularly joins as an observer.
(1) The National Employment Service of Bulgaria announced on 22 May that 726'358 Bulgarians, 19 per cent of the working population, are unemployed. (2) At the beginning of May the price of the Brady obligations on the foreign debt dropped at the international markets. The different obligations marked 0.12 to 0.25 cents decreases. According to a Deutsche Bank report, the political instability in Bulgaria influences negatively the rate of the foreign debt obligations. (3) A report by the ING, the Dutch Bank, at the beginning of May estimates that Bulgaria needs 20 years to reach the income of the EU population. In the meantime, Bulgaria has to insure 17 per cent a year growth of the gross national product. Presently the income of the Bulgarian is 7 per cent of the average EU income. While the Bulgarian chief negotiator with the EU judged that on 1 January 2007 Bulgaria would be ready to join the union, the ING report sets the date at 2008 to 2010 at the earliest. (4) According to Jeffrey Sax, of Harvard University and economic counsellor to the Bulgarian president, the problem in Bulgaria lies not with high energy prices but with the low income of the people. Price rises at international markets and the preservation of low incomes lead to pressure on the individual’s finances. The solution is not in fixing prices artificially, but in raising economic productivity, so all can profit. The government has obligations to foreign creditors and cannot allow itself to subsidise prices. Its space for manoeuvring is limited. The only way out is to accelerate economic growth, a development that, according to Sax, is largely dependent on the perspective of bureaucratic decisions of the EC in Brussels. The EU has the potential to include the country in the process of lasting economic growth, if it so decides.
A bilateral agreement of 2 May provides that Romania will take $2 less per 1'000 cubic metres of natural gas transited to Bulgaria. The agreement covers the period of 1 January 2000 till the end of 2004. The year’s profit from that reduction is equal to $6. 4 million.
On 3 May the EC proposed that Greece should join the Euro, increasing the EU’s single currency area from 11 to 12 members at the beginning of next year. EU finance ministers, after consultations with the European Parliament and a discussion among EU leaders in June, will make the final decision. However, the most important part has been passed by Greece; the country has fulfilled the necessary conditions by bringing its inflation rate, long-term interest rates, budgetary situation and exchange rate stability into line with the requirements of the single currency. The EC urged the Greek Government to continue a stability-oriented strategy based on a tight budget policy and moderate wage increase.
The Romanian Government and the International Monetary Fund have reached a preliminary agreement on the extension of a $540 million standby accord. The IMF had approved until the end of May a technical extension of the accord of which only $73 million has been released. If the agreement is ratified, the IMF will extend the standby accord to the end of February 2001.
VI The Influence of External Factors on the Region: National Great Powers and International Institutions
The proximity talks on Cyprus have been postponed from the initial date, 23 May, after the illness of Glafcos Clerides, who recently had surgery. Clerides and Rauf Denktash are to resume talks in Geneva on 5 July.
(1) Croatia formally joined NATO’s PfP and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), after being invited on 10 May by the North Atlantic Council. On 25 May, during the NAC ministerial in Florence, Italy, Croatia signed the PfP framework document and became the 46th member of the EAPC, composed of Allies and Partners, and the 26th member of the PfP. This major step towards Croatia’s integration in the Euro-Atlantic community marks the recognition of the achievements of the new Croatian Government in advancing regional peace and stability, democracy and human rights. (2) On 25 May in Florence, during a meeting with the American Secretary of State within the NAC ministerial, and in implementation of NATO’s South-East European Initiative, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova has been asked to present the priority issues in overcoming the obstacles to stability in the region on behalf of the FRY's neighbours. Among other things, she has mentioned the need for continuous support to the Government of Montenegro, better targeting of sanctions against the FRY, restoring the transportation on the Danube, a balanced treatment of Serbs and Albanians and joint pressure on them to behave in a tolerant way. (3) The Bulgarian foreign minister demanded at the EAPC meeting in Florence inclusion of Bulgaria at the expected second round of NATO enlargement in 2002.
(1) Günter Ferheugen, the EU commissioner on enlargement, demanded on 5 May that Brussels set clear deadlines for the accession of the 12 candidates. His concept is to carry out the enlargement in waves – first the central European countries, then the countries of south-eastern Europe. Any candidate meeting the criteria for membership would be welcome to join the union ahead of schedule. (2) The Eurobarometre poll showed on 12 May the following approval by the populations of EU member countries for the accession of the south-eastern European candidate states: Bulgaria, 36 per cent; Romania, 34 per cent; Slovenia, 34 per cent, and Turkey, 30 per cent. (3) The EU has planned €7 billion for infrastructure and environmental improvement of the 10 central/eastern European candidate countries. Bulgaria has applied, with 4 environmental projects for €171 million and with three transport infrastructure projects worth €588 million. (4) The EU has decided to give a trade boost to the Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro: it will be able to export aluminium to the EU duty-free, after approval by the member states at the beginning of June. The EU intends to ensure that only locally produced metal benefits from the concession.
(1) US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met separately with the Turkish foreign minister and the Greek foreign minister on 2 May in New York, followed by a three-party meeting. At a dinner in New York, the Greek Foreign Minister Yeorios Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem received Statesmen of the Year awards from the East-West Institute. Albright recounted how the two leaders had worked together to improve bilateral relations on such issues as organised crime, the environment and Turkish accession to the EU. She said the US would do everything in its power to help the two countries sustain their extraordinary momentum and encourage new steps to a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus. (2) Greece was named one of the weakest links in anti-terrorism in a State Department report on terrorism. (3) On 12 May Albright hosted a dinner in honour of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios in Washington, DC. She spoke of reconciliation among those who lived around the Aegean Sea as the key to the future; of Greece’s special role in helping to spread democracy and prosperity throughout south-eastern Europe; and of the need of a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus. The US have a full-time Cyprus coordinator at the State Department, whom the president has also appointed the special presidential emissary for Cyprus. The US strongly support the EU’s decision to start accession talks with Cyprus. (4) On 1 May Secretary of Defence W. Cohen and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton visited Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel. They also visited the FYROM. (5) The US Department of State has added six judges and prosecutors who have taken repressive actions against the media and the opposition in FRY to the visa ban list and have asked the EU to do the same. (6) At a Wilton Park Conference in Brdo Castle, Slovenia, on 11 May, the US permanent representative on the NAC, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, sketched the US agenda for south-eastern Europe: a) stay the course in Bosnia and Kosovo; b) build regional security through the PfP and the EAPC; c) help aspirant states prepare for eventual NATO membership; d) keep the OSCE actively engaged in promoting democratic development, supporting human rights, and building transparency and confidence about military activities; e) remain committed to the success of the EU-guided Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. (7) On 23-24 May General Edward Anderson, director of the Department for Strategic Planning of the US Defense Department visited Sofia and discussed the practical help in the next budget year for the Bulgarian military reform Plan 2004 by the US. He said Bulgaria played a pivotal role for the security of south-eastern Europe. The big challenge for Bulgaria is finding all the resources needed for the execution of the ambitious reform programme. (8) Bulgarian deputy defense minister Velizar Shalamanov informed his US counterparts, on 25 May in Washington, DC, of the progress of the Bulgarian armed forces in their preparation for membership in NATO. (9) On 22 May the US secretary of state held talks with Romanian Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu in Washington, DC, on bilateral and south-east European issues. They both expressed dismay at the increasing repression in Serbia and discussed joint support for pro-democracy Serbs.
(1) The Russian Gasprom tzar, Rem Vyahirev, visited Bulgaria and met with the president, the prime minister and Bulgargas business partners on 25-26 May. Gasprom may lower the price of the natural gas for Bulgaria if Bulgaria lowers the transit tax of Russian gas to Turkey, Greece and the FYROM. Vyahirev was accompanied by former Russian Ambassador to Sofia and now first deputy foreign minister Aleksandr Avdeev. He presented an oral address to the Bulgarian president by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Avdeev also attended the business talks between Vyahirev and the Bulgargas chiefs on the construction of the gas transit infrastructure to Greece, Turkey and the FYROM through Bulgaria. Avdeev also received from the prime minister an invitation to the Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov to visit Bulgaria. (2) Yugoslav Defence Minister Dragoljub Ojdanic, the war criminal indicted by the ICTY in The Hague on 26 May 1999 for crimes committed in Kosovo, visited Russia on 7-12 May. He met with Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeev and discussed bilateral military cooperation, the situation in the Balkans and the NATO operation in Kosovo. The defence minister of the FRY was present at the military parade in Moscow, honouring the 55-year jubilee of the victory against Nazi Germany. He also met with other senior Russian officials. This visit and the Russian reception was in violation of UNSC Resolutions 827, 1244 and others. (2) On 15 May Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met FRY Foreign Minister Jivadin Jovanovic in Moscow. Ivanov considers the isolation of FRY counterproductive, and that bringing FRY into the security issues of the region may lead to a solution. Russia pledged to continue to help stabilise the region. The two foreign ministers declared similarities in their positions on many international issues. Jovanovic met acting minister of economics Alexander Shapovaliants. The FRY will receive $102 million credit and oil and oil products worth of $32 million; Russian entrepreneurs will join the reconstruction activities in FRY in the transport, gas and oil infrastructure and industrial sectors. (3) On 25 May in Florence, at the EAPC and the Joint Council NATO-Russia meeting, Ivanov extended an apology for the visit of Dragoliub Ojdanic. A chain of bureaucratic mistakes in Moscow was given as the reason for the diplomatic gaffe. Ivanov said those responsible for the invitation would be punished. However, few would believe there had been an innocent mistake in bringing two key FRY ministers – one of them an indicted criminal – to downtown Moscow, one after the other. (4) On 29 May leaders of the Serbian opposition Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic and Voislav Kostunitsa visited Russia. Draskovic accused Russian officials earlier this month of supporting the Belgrade regime’s attack against the media during the visit of the FRY Foreign Minister to Moscow. In Moscow they were received only by Russian MPs and were denied a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov. It was a clear sign of continuing Russian support for the present official leaders of Belgrade.
Fragile stability and a fragile tendency to economic vitality characterised the situation in Kosovo. The continuing challenge the situation presents, and the need to preserve the vital relationship with the other NATO Allies of the US, provided for a Senate vote that will keep US troops as part of the KFOR with no fixed deadline. The need for burden-sharing with the European Allies has been met: more than 80 per cent of the troops in Kosovo are European. The need for effectiveness remains.
The escalation of internal tensions in FRY led to brutal suppression of the democratic media and the opposition. The armed forces and the police of the federation face hard choices, with dramatic consequences for the future of their country – should they support a dictator and his clique or not allow themselves to be dragged into a bloody clash with their own people?
The importance of external powers to the region remains decisive for the future of south-eastern Europe. Russia’s support to official Belgrade is strongly criticised by the opposition in FRY. Russia's playing the "Serbian card" is not well received by others in the area. The involvement of the EU and the Stability Pact is crucial for preserving the stabilisation and region-building tendencies. The acceleration of the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania, as well as of Slovenia, in NATO has become a more necessary factor in regional stability than before. The role of Croatia as the 26th PfP participant in the stabilisation of south-eastern Europe increases. The continuation of the Greek-Turkish rapprochement is becoming part of the "hardware" of regional stability.