BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and November 2000 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 11, 2000
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
November 2000 was marked by reactions to a series of elections in the region: municipal elections in Kosovo, federal presidential and parliamentary elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), federal and local elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, presidential elections in the constituent Republika Srpska, and parliamentary and presidential elections in Romania.
The post-election period in Kosovo brought some of the worst acts of terrorism in recent months. Security in neighbouring Southern Serbia, whose population includes a big Albanian minority, worsened after intensified activity by militant forces against Serbian authorities and the Serbian response to these acts. The momentum towards independence following the elections in Kosovo was the main factor behind these destabilising activities.
The drive for independence in Montenegro significantly affects politics and security in the Balkans. Perceived in the West as proof of the democratic changes in FRY, the call for independence is rapidly becoming an article of faith for the Montenegrins, who see it as a natural outcome of their courage in opposing the former dictatorial regime.
Five years to the month after Dayton, Bosnia-Herzegovina is still divided three ways and lacks effective central institutions, including armed forces. The fact that indicted war criminals remain openly at liberty constitutes a major obstacle to integration in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
FRY continued to re-establish itself in the international community. With a new and democratic government, Serbia now needs to make a greater contribution to the efforts to stabilize trouble spots in the former Yugoslavia. This would require, of course, more resolute internal political acts, including the restriction of the influence of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and the stimulation of democracy. It would also require from Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica a defusing of the persistent hatred directed at those who backed NATO's steps to curtail the devastation of two million Albanians and the suppression of democracy in Serbia. Willingly or not, Kostunica has inherited the consequences of the NATO campaign against the oppressive regime of Milosevic. Any attempt to demonize NATO's Kosovo campaign for domestic or – worse – external advantage runs the risk of obstructing social, economic and political evolution in Serbia.
The new political situation in Serbia and the path to democracy it has undertaken have motivated Bulgaria to reconsider the balance between regional and EU involvement in favor of the latter, since it considers that the rebuilding of the region can best be carried out in a European context. While remaining a staunch example of stability to the long-troubled region, Bulgaria insists on assuming its responsibilities as a prospective EU member, since it regards membership as the most effective means of ensuring ongoing progress in Bulgaria and in Southeastern Europe generally. Experts at the Brussels-based Centre for European Political Studies (CEPS) have correctly noted Bulgaria's unwillingness to accept the Pact of Stability for Southeast Europe as a kind of substitute for membership of the EU.
The successful municipal elections in Kosovo opened the way to the next step in the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 – the establishment of Kosovo-wide institutions. However, tension and violence will not easily disappear from Kosovo. On 22 November a bomb ripped through the residence of senior FRY representative in Kosovo Stanimir Vukicevic. He was not harmed, but one Serb was killed and three others were wounded in the early morning blast. The terrorist act was a professional one, according to Kosovo Force (KFOR) sources.
Tensions escalated further after Jemmail Mustafa, a close associate of the moderate Albanian Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova, was assassinated in front of his home on 23 November. Rugova's party won the municipal elections in Kosovo on 28 October.
Since 21 November the Army for the Liberation of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja (ALPBM) in Southern Serbia has intensified its movements to and from Kosovo. Serbian sources have reported the killing of four policemen by 400 armed Albanians in Southern Serbia. Serbian police stationed in the demilitarized zone between Serbia and Kosovo are preparing for a strike against ALPBM. They await orders from national and international authorities. On 24 November Kostunica insisted that KFOR restore order in the buffer zone between Kosovo and Serbia within 72 hours. The Yugoslav authorities want Kosovo to be hermetically sealed as a prerequisite for peace in the province. FRY Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic told Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 24 November that the international community should determine the status of Kosovo and that neighboring Bulgaria, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), along with FRY, should become the guarantors of this status. In the meantime, FYROM armed forces intensified their activities along the border with Kosovo. Admiral Guido Venturoni, head of the NATO Military Committee, said during a visit to Bulgaria on 23 November that KFOR is in full control of the buffer zone along the Kosovo-Serbian border. On 28 November Serbian authorities and representatives of ALPBM agreed to scale down hostilities. Kostunica said that war should not be expected because of the refugee flows from Southern Serbia to Kosovo, but some police enforcement would be needed to restore order. KFOR representatives have been instrumental in mediating the agreement between the Serbs and the Albanians of ALPBM. However, the agreement is scheduled to expire on 1 December. Furthermore, KFOR troops from the US contingent actively patrol the buffer zone between Kosovo and Southern Serbia.
The 11 November elections for government representatives at various levels were the latest of five successful elections since the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sixty-three per cent of eligible voters participated, and the elections were monitored by 700 international supervisors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The election process was orderly and peaceful. There is an obvious trend toward greater political pluralism. At the same time, the victory of hard-line nationalist or separatist parties in the elections may be considered a setback, especially in Republika Srpska, where Mirko Sarovic was elected president with 50.1 per cent of the vote. The establishment of a multi-ethnic state based on freedom and tolerance, the ongoing return of refugees, and the privatization of the economy in Bosnia can be achieved only when the central political structure has been strengthened and those indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have been brought to justice. If the newly elected authorities do not cooperate in the fulfillment of these tasks, the Office of the High Representative (OHR) will be in position to remove uncooperative officials, according to the Dayton accord. The newly elected representatives on the governing bodies of Bosnia-Herzegovina have the political and moral obligation to match the political progress in neighboring Croatia and Serbia.
On 21 November Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community marked the fifth anniversary of the signing in Paris of the peace accord worked out in Dayton, Ohio. Five years after Dayton put an end to the systematic killing in Bosnia, analysts can enumerate at least six big issues that remain to be addressed in the coming years. The first is the need to strengthen the presidency and the other central authorities of the federation; the establishment of an effective military force is a priority. The second issue is the need to accelerate the return of refugees; by mid-November 35'063 Muslims and 3'170 Croats had returned since the end of the war, most in the last two years, but that is just a fraction of those who were driven from their homes during the war. The third issue is the need to deal with corruption and the lack of transparency and accountability; privatization and economic reform will remain impossible if attention is not paid to these problems. Fourth, there is the need to weaken and eliminate extremist political parties. Fifth, new laws need to be adopted to protect the freedom of the press – a vital component of a free society. Finally, the search for and the apprehension of indicted war criminals must continue. On 17 November Richard Holbrooke, speaking on the fifth anniversary of the Dayton accord, of which he is the architect, said that the continued presence at large of Karadzic, Mladic and Milosevic is “a symbol of defiance against the international community ... and it undermines the efforts to implement Dayton”.
The Bulgarian political parties are trying to define winning coalitions for the general elections to be held in June-July 2001. These will be the first elections in which the major contenders from the Right and the Left will not diverge on fundamental issues related to national security and foreign policy: they agree on the need for integration with both the EU and NATO.
The Greek Ministry of Defense has decided that the size of the armed forces will decrease and they will become more professional. The document names Turkey as a potential security threat and recommends a strategic build-up to face threats from the East. However, NATO remains the bedrock of Greek national defense. Turkey is a member of that Alliance too.
On 1 November the UN General Assembly's acceptance of Yugoslavia's application for membership was accompanied by acclamation, speeches, an escort to conduct the FRY delegation to its seat in the assembly hall, and a flag-raising ceremony. The UN's priorities for Yugoslavia continue to be the release of political prisoners, cooperation with the ICTY in The Hague, and clarification of the relations between Serbia and Montenegro.
On 4 November a new federal government was chosen by the Yugoslav Parliament (Skupstina). Forty-nine-year-old Zoran Zizic, Vice-Chairman of the Socialist Party of Montenegro, is the new prime minister. Nine of the 16 cabinet members are from the democratic opposition of Serbia, supporting Kostunica. Immediate economic issues, next year's budget and the restoration of bilateral diplomatic relations are prominent on the agenda of the new cabinet. While FRY's new foreign minister declared that his country will establish diplomatic relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina and will strengthen its relations with neighboring FYROM, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Hungary, there is still a need to clarify relations with Kosovo (formally a Serbian province), with Montenegro and with Albania. It is important that Serbia, which occupies a central position in the Balkans, is active in promoting stable relations among the countries of Southeastern Europe.
On 24 November, during the international EU-Western Balkans conference in Zagreb, Montenegrin President Milo Jukanovic said that the referendum on independence for his country would take place in the first half of 2001. The US and the West have generally not supported independence for Montenegro. Instead they have called for transparent democratic discussions between Montenegro and Serbia that would lead eventually to mutually satisfactory arrangements between the two republics. However, there is already evidence that discussions between their leaders on a full range of issues of mutual concern have not produced the results expected by the US and the West. The drive for independence in Montenegro is gathering momentum, and a democratic solution to this uneasy situation needs to be agreed between Jukanovic and Kostunica to prevent conflict. Present threats of conflict between the two countries need to be prevented by utilizing the democratic potential that is gathering momentum in Belgrade and is already strong in Podgoriza. The June local elections revealed a north-south split and a de facto internal border within Montenegro; moves to heal this schism must form part of the joint political effort of the two leaders and deserve international support.
Preparation for the general elections in Serbia on 23 December have provoked new waves of activity from the Socialist Party of Serbia, headed by Milosevic, who was re-elected unopposed as leader by the party congress on 25 November. His version of the events of the first week of October is that a coup d'état removed him from power, though earlier in October he conceded victory to Kostunica in the presidential elections. He also cites traitors – paid spies of the West – as a principal cause of the dramatic change in his fortunes. His wife, the influential Mira Markovic, has directly accused the generals within the police and the armed forces who failed to use force against the opposition in September-October this year. A few days later, on 28 November, she joined the newly elected Yugoslav parliament as an MP representing the hard-line leftist party that she leads. As Peter Maas wrote recently in The New York Times, “If history is any guide, Serbia's rendezvous with truth is years away.” Patience and time will be needed to face the truth about the past decade that destroyed so much in the Balkans and about the part played not only by the politicians of FRY, but also by its people.
The parliamentary and presidential elections in Romania on 26 November brought the former Communists back to power. Ion Iliescu, the Party of Social Democracy (PSD) leader who served as president in 1990-96, won 36.7 per cent of the vote, while the candidate from the nationalist Greater Romania party came second with 28.4 per cent. The two candidates will contest a second round of elections on 10 December. The parliament will contain representatives of the PSD, which won 37 per cent of the vote, the Greater Romania party with 20 per cent, as well as the National Liberal party led by Mircha Ionescu-Kintus and the Democratic Party representing the Hungarians in Romania. The ruling center-right coalition could not pass the 10 per cent entry threshold set for coalitions. There is consensus among the Romanian people and politicians regarding the country's eventual membership of both the EU and NATO. However, huge economic and administrative reforms are needed to reach both goals. The turn towards populism and nationalism will not provide the best political context in which to solve the huge tasks of economic and social improvement.
a. Greece-Bulgaria. On 13 November Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Petar Zhotev and Greek Minister of Economics Yanos Papandoniou met in Sofia to discuss Greece's investment of US$ 60 million in Bulgarian projects. This is part of a bigger Greek plan for reconstruction in the Balkans. The projects should be completed by 2004. Papandoniou also met Prime Minister Ivan Kostov. Trade between the two countries in 1999 was US$ 648 million. Of the ten European transport corridors five cross Bulgaria and three cross Greece.
b. Bulgaria-Croatia. On 25 November in Budapest Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan agreed that Racan should visit Sofia for talks by the end of December.
c. FYROM-Greece. Lubomir Frchkovsky, the former interior and foreign minister of FYROM, wrote on 28 November in the independent newspaper Dnevnik that Greek influence on the evolving political processes in FYROM had become too aggressive. By 1 December the ruling coalition in Skopje will face a no-confidence vote after the Democratic Alternative party left the government of Prime Minister Liubcho Georgievsky. The center-right government of Georgievsky inherited 50 per cent unemployment from the Social Democratic Union (the former pro-Milosevic Communists), but managed to cope with the refugee crisis in 1999 and to secure peace with the Albanian minority, partly by engaging it in the government of the country. This month the government of Georgievsky managed to conclude the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU.
d. Bulgaria-Turkey. Nadezhda Mihailova, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister, and Ismail Cem, his counterpart from Turkey, met on 27 November during the OSCE meeting in Vienna. They confirmed the stability of their bilateral relations and their countries' important role in ensuring stability in the Balkan region.
Post-Yugoslav Relations: FRY, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM, Slovenia. The division of the former Yugoslav federation's wealth started this month in Sarajevo. Forty-six tons of gold are to be divided among the former constituent republics. According to a scheme proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), FRY would get 36.52 per cent, Croatia 28.49 per cent, Slovenia 16.39 per cent, Bosnia-Herzegovina 13.2 per cent and FYROM 5.4 per cent. Final approval is expected in Belgrade in the first week of December.
(1) A Pact of Stability meeting under the title “Consultative Forum with the Yugoslav Authorities” was convened on 13-14 November in Belgrade. Bodo Hombach, the pact's coordinator, attended the forum, as did the Hungarian foreign minister, the president of FRY, a representative of the Bulgarian foreign ministry and representatives of 60 municipalities from Europe and North America. The aim was to transform the so-called “Seged process”, which supported 120 towns run by the Serbian opposition, into a wider ranging process in support of Yugoslav municipalities.
(2) On 20 November Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov met with EC President Romano Prodi. Part of their agenda dealt with Bulgaria's evolving attitudes to its engagements with the current plethora of regional initiatives vis-ŕ-vis its larger efforts to achieve entry into the EU. Bulgaria strongly disagrees with the Serbian view that integration into the EU is a matter for the region as a whole, rather than for the individual countries of Southeastern Europe. The strategy of differentiated accession to the EU is the one the EU is expected to follow in Southeastern Europe. However, Bulgaria's reluctance to invest its entire political energy in the multitude of regional initiatives – the “Sofia process”, SECI, the Pact of Stability – should not be seen as a refusal to contribute to the production of stability in the region. Bulgaria is destined to remain the symbol of stability in Southeastern Europe, but it hopes to fulfill this role in a context that will provide greater possibilities for concentration on its pre-accession obligations to the EU. Bulgaria is satisfied with the results of its regional activity throughout the 1990s, and now, with Milosevic already gone from power in Belgrade and FRY looking to be more actively involved in improving the stability of regional relations, Sofia conceives its region-building policy as more closely linked to the integration of individual countries into the EU. Being in the forefront of this initiative along with Slovenia, it may serve to promote the attractiveness of Southeastern Europe to the expanding EU by proving the viability of individual national cases in the region. Europe and European-ness will thus become an integral part of the ethos of the Balkans, as it is in Greece.
The Albanian Government has imposed limitations on the supply of electricity. The worst drought in 30 years, coupled with the fact that only half the population regularly pays for the consumption of electricity, has caused use to be restricted to just five hours per day.
(1) According to the National Statistics Institute, inflation for the first 10 months of this year in Bulgaria was 10.1 per cent. The inflation in 1998 was only 1 per cent, and in 1999 6.2 per cent. The inflation planned for 2000 by the government was 2.8 per cent, and this figure was corrected three times during the year – to 3.5, 6.3 and 9.5 per cent.
(2) Bulgaria has received only US$ 24 million of the US$ 200 million promised by the EU to pay for the closure of the country's first two nuclear plant reactors, in Kozloduy, by 2002. On 13 November the prime minister declared that if the EU is not ready to provide financial and technical support, the two parties should reconsider the terms of the closure.
The Currency Council of Montenegro has decided to ban transactions in Yugoslav dinars in the republic from 13 November. The only legal currency remains the German mark, introduced a year ago in parallel with the dinar.
On 13-14 November in Belgrade, Yugoslav and Bulgarian construction firms agreed to sign a protocol of intent for the joint construction of the Sofia-Nis highway. They face the problem of clarifying the financial scheme for implementing the project. The highway is part of the Bulgarian National Plan of Regional Development for 2001 and may attract Bulgarian subsidies along with funding from external sources. The construction of gas pipelines from Bulgaria to Serbia was also on the agenda for bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The three countries are preparing a trilateral memorandum for cooperation in the construction of the oil pipeline from Bourgas (Bulgaria) to Vlora (Albania) through FYROM. The US AMBO Corporation has evaluated the project costs at US$ 1.13 billion, and on 28 November head of AMBO Ted Ferguson told Bulgarian Minister for Construction Evgeniy Chachev in Sofia that AMBO will invest in the project, which will take four years to complete. By March 2001 Exxon, Texaco and Chevron will also decide the extent of their participation in the project. The oil pipeline is expected to become functional by 2005-06. The three countries are expected to adopt identical tax legislation in this area shortly.
VI. The Influence of External Factors on the Region: National Great Powers and International Institutions
US-Bulgaria. (1) On 2 November in Washington, DC, the two countries signed a Preliminary Cultural Preservation Agreement. At the signing ceremony Department of Treasury deputy secretary Richard Eizenstat said that preservation of the cultural heritage of nations goes beyond buildings, historic places and sacred sites to the teaching, learning and cultural values that make up the soul of a country.
(2) US Ambassador to Sofia Richard Miles said on 14 November that the validity of US visas for Bulgarians will soon be extended from three months to several years.
US-FRY. (1) The US has established formal diplomatic relations with FRY, effective from 17 November. In a statement on 18 November, US President Bill Clinton explained the decision as a demonstration of support for a historic democratic transition that he said was far from over. The US provides US$ 45 million in emergency food aid for the people of Serbia. This month FRY re-established both its membership of the UN and the OSCE and its diplomatic relations with other Western states.
(2) At a briefing by officials of the ICTY on 21 November, Ambassador James B. Cunningham, US deputy permanent representative to the UN, said all major figures indicted by the tribunal, including Milosevic, must end up in court. He said major political and military figures indicted and still at large, some in leadership positions in the Republika Srpska, impeded the full implementation of the Dayton accord and prevented refugees from returning to their homes.
NATO-Bulgaria. (1) Bulgaria will withdraw its transport platoon from the Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 15 January next year, according to a Council of Ministers decision on 16 November. The decision needs to be approved by the parliament. The reason is the expected doubling of the country's participation in the KFOR missions in Kosovo.
(2) On 23 November head of the NATO Military Committee Admiral Guido Venturoni visited Bulgaria and met the president, the prime minister, the minister of defense and other military leaders.
(3) On 30 November Deputy Secretary-General of NATO Sergio Balanzino visited Sofia and met the president, the prime minister and the ministers of foreign affairs and defense. The talks focused on Bulgaria's preparation for NATO membership.
NATO-FRY. (1) On 20 November the NATO-Ukraine Commission, in a meeting at ambassadorial level, welcomed the democratic changes in FRY and reaffirmed its commitment to the full implementation of UNSC Resolution 1244 and to the establishment of a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo within FRY.
(2) In a speech in Dayton, Ohio, on 18 November marking the fifth anniversary of the peace accord that ended the war in Bosnia, US Ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow called for a reorientation of NATO's relationships with Bosnia, Kosovo and FRY away from confrontation and toward cooperation and integration. Vershbow said that only when NATO air power was harnessed to the assertive diplomacy of the US, which reached its climax in Dayton, was the US able to put an end to the Bosnian war. In Kosovo NATO applied the same logic. Through the air campaign and KFOR's deployment to Kosovo, NATO made clear that genocide and the politics of hatred and conquest are not acceptable in the modern world.
EU-Bulgaria. (1) The regular EC report for 2000 on the country's progress towards accession gives a favorable assessment of Bulgaria's reforms and fulfillment of the accession criteria, especially as compared with other candidate countries from the region. However, the level of corruption and the state of the administrative, judicial and banking systems are not yet acceptable to the commission. More also needs to be done in terms of economic growth.
(2) The meeting of the EU Council of Ministers (of the Interior and Justice) from 30 November to 1 December will deal with the lifting of the visa regime for Bulgaria in accordance with the motion passed by the General Affairs Council and the Committee of the Permanent Representatives on 22 November. Bulgarian society and its official institutions agree on the need to lift the Schengen visa regime. The resolution of this issue by the EU will have a substantial effect on how the country's integration and its regional and foreign policy develop.
EU-Western Balkans. On 24 November in Zagreb, foreign ministers of the 15 EU member states and Balkan leaders from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, FYROM, FRY and Slovenia attended a summit that declared a new era of cooperation between the EU and this part of the region that has been so troubled over the last 10 years. Croatia and the EU presidency co-hosted the event. Bernard Kouchner, head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), represented Kosovo at the meeting. It would be unrealistic to expect too much of this conference, but it gave a good start to the settling of relations among the post-Yugoslav sovereign states after a decade of war, hatred and ethnic intolerance. The western part of the Balkans owes much to the general stability of the region, and the countries originating from the former Yugoslav federation need to work hard to cancel this debt. A special effort is needed to improve Serb-Albanian relations for the good of the Balkans and Europe. The participation of Kostunica was one of the highlights of the summit. However, concerning the relations of FRY with the powers external to the region – the EU, the US and Russia – one can hardly agree with Kostunica's views. According to his conception, Europe together with Russia would serve (in the interests of Serbia) as a counter-balance to the US. Such a configuration would excessively entrench these influential power centers of modern international relations in the region, and thus provide a recipe for disagreements, contradictions and clashes – a development clearly at odds with the interests of the region, which needs their benign involvement and not a balancing of their powers. This outdated approach to policy in the Balkans logically contradicts Kostunica's vision of integration into the EU on a regional rather than an individual country basis. What would integration mean according to his logic – uniting together against the might of the Americans? Obviously this thinking and its outcomes favor neither bilateral links between individual Balkan countries and the US nor the EU's interest in cooperating with Washington to cope with hard issues of security in various corners of the world. Moreover, it is time to put an end to the Yugoslav policy of involving the Russians against the EU and the US in the Balkans.
EU-FYROM. On 24 November the EU and FYROM signed the Agreement of Stabilization and Association, which will pave the way for the future accession of Skopje into the EU.
EU-Turkey. (1) On 8 November, following a declaration by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz that his country will be ready to start accession negotiations with the EU in 2001, the EU published a list of the short- and medium-term reforms that Ankara will need to undertake in the meantime. The commission's document includes the following recommendations: continuing Turkey's moratorium on the death penalty pending its abolition; allowing all citizens equal rights in terms of culture, education and broadcasting; lifting restrictions on freedom of expression and ending torture; and curbing the influence exercised by the military in politics by virtue of their presence on the National Security Council, whose secretary-general is a top-ranking military officer.
(2) On 23 November Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit stressed Turkey's dissatisfaction with the EU's suggestions about the involvement of non-EU NATO members in the formation and activity of the future EU rapid reaction force. Ecevit said that Turkey would not automatically allow NATO troops, equipment and bases in its territory to be used by the EU, unless Turkey was allowed to take part in the decision-making process of the EU-led operations.
Russia-FYROM. Russia requested permission from both NATO and Skopje to station six to seven officers in FYROM to provide logistical support to the Russian KFOR contingent in Kosovo. Russia also requires a base for the technical maintenance of its machines and equipment in Kosovo.
Russia-Bulgaria. On 24 November the Bulgarian Minister for Emergency Situations signed an agreement in Moscow with his Russian counterpart for mutual help in handling cases of emergency.
1. The tensions in southern Serbia and the killing of four Serbian policemen by Albanian extremists, despite the cease-fire agreement, augur difficult relations between the 70'000 Albanians living there and the Serb authorities. The intervention of KFOR preserves the stability of the situation, but the unresolved Albanian question as well as the pending Serbian question in the western Balkans will need to be handled by more courageous and openly democratic means than the traditional use of kalashnikovs on the Albanian side and tanks on the Serbian side – a scenario all too familiar from Kosovo. Albanian leaders (in Kosovo, southern Serbia, western FYROM and Albania) as well as the new president in Belgrade need to think and act along the lines discussed at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb this month. Montenegro's drift towards independence continues without any clear and open discussion by the international community. The rise of nationalist forces in Republika Srpska (in Bosnia-Herzegovina) and in Romania represents a negative factor in the evolving political situation of the Balkans.
2. Efforts to rebuild the Balkans are at a turning point after the elections in Romania and the signals towards Brussels from Sofia during the last month. The EU needs finally to step in decisively in Southeastern Europe with an encompassing strategy designed to benefit not just one state, but all its future borderlands.