BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and February 2001 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 2, 2001
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
VI. THE INFLUENCE OF EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
In the most troubled part of the Balkans, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), a correlation is occurring between several factors: as both the speed of the release of war criminals and the amount of support from the Yugoslav authorities for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague become less, the intensity of the clashes between Albanians and Serbs in Southern Serbia and Kosovo increase, and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) becomes less effective at coping with this situation. Serbian and Yugoslav governments are claiming that they are playing a greater role in tackling the situation, including with their military forces. So by not providing a decisive effort in coming to terms with the Albanians, who suffered enormously under the Milosevic regime, the new leaders in Belgrade are blocking any political breakthrough of the situation. The unwillingness to deal with the Serbian extremists by sending those guilty to The Hague gives implicit support to the Albanian militants to carry on their terrorist campaigns, and dooms the leaders in Belgrade to coping with the wave of murders of Serbs in Kosovo and Southern Serbia. The pending constitutional status of Kosovo is the second major factor that is driving the violence in the province.
The tensions in Kosovo and the escalating conflict in Southern Serbia are closely related. The killing of Serbian policemen in Kosovo at the beginning of February was followed by confrontations with KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovska Mitrovica and the bomb attack on a bus in Kosovo on 16 February which killed 10 Serbian civilians and injured 40 others. The fiercest clash since November last year occurred in Southern Serbia on 6 February, when Albanian rebels attacked a convoy near Veliki Trnovac which included the US ambassador to the FRY, William Montgomery; but no one was wounded. Several times Albanian fighters violated the border with the Former Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Three-thousand Albanian separatists are acting in the five-kilometer (km) buffer zone between Kosovo and Southern Serbia. The headquarters of this fighting contingent is in Dobrosin, and the zone is separated into four sectors with respective commanders. The Kosovo province is the main supplier for the Albanian separatists in Southern Serbia. The authorities in Belgrade tabled a plan that seeks to resolve the tensions through political means, and are consulting with the international community on it, including with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Albanian militants attempted to kidnap the official representative of Belgrade for implementing this plan, Nebojsa Covic, close to Bujanovac on 22 February. The peaceful Serbian plan provides for cutting the buffer zone to three km – a development that the separatists strongly dislike.
It is far from clear that violence only begets violence in Kosovo and Southern Serbia – a democratic Kosovo cannot be built upon the blood of innocents. While most ethnic Albanians in Southern Serbia seek only greater civil rights within Serbia, militants are fighting for the region to be joined to an eventually independent Kosovo. This behavior outlines the reasons of the tensions. The only possible solution to the problems in Southern Serbia is political – and not military – dialogue.
(1) The ICTY in The Hague found three Bosnian Serbs – Kunarac, Kovac, and Vukovic – guilty of violating laws, customs of war, and crimes against humanity for acts of rape, torture, and enslavement. The case involved crimes of sexual violence against Muslim women and girls in 1992 in the Bosnian municipality of Foca. This is the first case to enter a conviction for rape and enslavement as a crime against humanity.
(2) The Stabilization Force (SFOR) carried out a 10-hour search of the headquarters of the Bosnian Croat army in the west of the country on 12 February. This was the third raid of Bosnian Croat premises in six months. The hard-line political leadership of the Bosnian Croats is blocking the formation of Bosnia’s new government. The Bosnian Croat nationalist party, the HDZ, is preparing to form its own mini-state within Bosnia – a development that SFOR would hardly tolerate.
Thousands of fish were killed on 16 February by ammonia that leaked from the chemical plant Dolchim into the Romanian river Jiu near the city of Kraiova. The concentration of ammonia was ten times higher than normal. This is the second pollution incident this month and the third since the beginning of the year. The Jiu, unfortunately, flows into the Danube and hence eventually to the Black Sea.
(1) The government of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament on 16 February. Out of 240 MPs, 135 supported the cabinet, making it the first in the past decade to stay in office for a full four-year term. The increase in the crime rate has been the reason for the opposition attacking the government.
(2) The troubles of the present government continued with a wave of strikes in various sectors of the economy. The problems associated with the conflict of the cabinet with arms producers and their families in the town of Sopot, and the protests of the badly privatized and malfunctioning refinery “Plama”, were added to by radio journalists of National Public Radio contesting the appointment of their new boss. The largest problem, however, was the bankruptcy of the national airline company “Balkan”. The criticism from the opposition and the general public of this last case has been of total mishandling of the privatization deal of the airline company several months ago, including the criminal behavior of the people responsible for striking the deal with the new owners from the Zeevi Group in Israel.
(1) The Serbian parliament dismissed judges and prosecutors loyal to Slobodan Milosevic on 15 February, and appointed new ones in an effort to clear the way to a domestic trial of the former dictator. The reluctance of Belgrade to extradite war criminals, fearing damage to the democratic process, has been supported in certain European and US circles. However, the eventual cooperation of Belgrade with the ICTY in The Hague may lead to enhanced democracy. This is true not only of the cooperation from 11-19 February in finding evidence of the guilt of Croat extremists against Serbs in 1993 and 1995, but also for Milosevic and other leaders indicted by the ICTY, because the democratization process in Serbia has clear international legal imperatives as well as the obvious short-term political reasoning. President Vojislav Kostunica’s demands for compensation from NATO are likely to damage the domestic process of democratization in his country.
(2) The Serbian minister of the interior, Dusan Mihailovic, survived an assassination attempt in the center of the Yugoslav capital on 16 February. The federal minister of the interior, Zoran Jivkovic, interpreted this attack as a warning to the new authorities to stop prosecutions against representatives of the former regime.
(3) President Milo Djukanovic of Montenegro announced on 20 February that the early parliamentary elections would take place on 22 April. The results of the election are expected to determine if the republic is going to break from the federation. According to opinion polls, 62 per cent of Montenegrins support independence or a loose confederation with Serbia. The new US secretary of state, Colin Powell, refused to see Djukanovic in Washington earlier this month, signaling his opposition to the independence of the republic.
Scandals of “bugging” politicians provoked the opposition to call for the resignation of the minister of the interior and deputy prime minister, Dosta Dimovska, and Prime Minister Liubcho Georgievsky. Though Dimovska dismissed the accusations, she presented her resignation to Georgievsky. But the government did not accept the resignation when it was presented to parliament on 21 February.
Upon a motion presented by the Romanian president, the Supreme Defense Council appointed George Fulga as the new chief of the country’s foreign intelligence, the Romanian Information Service, on 13 February. Fulga was an MP in the ruling Party of Social Democracy.
a. Greece-Bulgaria. The Bulgarian foreign minister visited Greece on 8-9 February, and met with her counterpart Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou. She was also received by Greek President Constantinos Stefanopoulos. Greece confirmed its support of Bulgaria’s integration into NATO and the EU (European Union). The two ministers agreed that the construction of three checkpoints at their mutual border should be accelerated. The construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline was also discussed. The idea of providing Bulgaria with an economic outlet on the Aegean Sea in return for a similar privilege for Greece at the Black Sea was discussed by the two leading politicians.
b. FRY-Bulgaria. The Yugoslav government announced on 19 February that it has decided to postpone the construction of the 156-km Sofia-Nis highway indefinitely, by not including the project in the infrastructure package it discusses as part of the Pact of Stability for Southeastern Europe. The Yugoslav government would not provide a US$ 330 million guarantee for a “peripheral road stretch”. Serbia is not ready to support even a privately funded high-speed road between the two cities. The official agreement of Belgrade is of key importance since the land under the proposed road is mostly state owned. The presidents of the two countries, Kostunica of the FRY and Petar Stoyanov of Bulgaria, met in Nis on 20 December and agreed that this highway would help link Western Europe with the Middle East, and so it has been included in the Bulgarian national plan of regional development. Bulgarian analysts consider this kind of behavior of the FRY as counterproductive and not appropriate for a late-comer to the processes of regional cooperation in Southeastern Europe.
c. FRY-FYROM. (1) Prime Minister Georgievsky visited Belgrade on 19-20 February for talks with his Serbian counterpart, Zoran Djindjic. This was the first visit of the Macedonian leader to Belgrade since becoming prime minister. (2) President Kostunica and President Boris Traikovsky of the FYROM signed a treaty of delimitation of the state boundaries in Skopje on 23 February. Macedonian officials have commented that this treaty precludes the most contentious issue in the bilateral relations of the past decade – the definition of the borders of the two independent states.
d. FYROM-Bulgaria. Presidents Traikovski and Stoyanov agreed on 23 February to meet in Sofia in May for the official visit of the Macedonian president to Bulgaria. By that time the foreign ministers of the neighboring states were instructed to prepare two documents for signing: the Declaration of Friendship between Bulgaria and Macedonia, and a Re-admission Agreement. The latter would provide the citizens of the FYROMacedonia with an easy visa regime after Bulgaria joins the Schengen visa regime zone.
Bulgaria-Romania-Turkey. The presidents of Romania, Turkey, and Bulgaria (Ion Iliescu, Ahmet Sezer, and Petar Stoyanov, respectively) had the fourth of the regular series of trilateral meetings in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on 15-16 February. A broad range of issues were discussed, including the security situation in Southeastern Europe. The meeting was a good opportunity to underline the importance of good-neighborly relations after the three countries were treated differentially by the EU after December 2000: while Bulgaria and Romania were considered for a defined number of votes in the Council of Ministers and seats in the European parliament, Turkey – which has “candidate” status – was not; and while Bulgaria will join the Schengen visa regime area in 2-3 months, Romania has a set of problems to correct before being afforded the same status. Nevertheless, tackling criminality was a central topic of discussions for the three presidents, and they agreed to provide joint training for those involved in fighting organized crime in Turkey. The next meeting in this series will be in Ankara in 2002.
The fourth summit meeting of the countries participating in the process of cooperation in Southeastern Europe, the so-called Sofia Process which began in Bulgaria in 1996, was convened in Skopje on 23 February. Participants in the forum were the presidents of the FYROM, the FRY, and Bulgaria, President Ion lliescu of Romania, and the chairman of the collective leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jivko Radisic. The meeting was attended also by Prime Ministers Ilir Meta, Costas Simitis, and Bülent Ecevit, of Albania, Greece, and Turkey, respectively. Croatia had observer status in the forum. The EU was represented by its foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the commissioner for external affairs, Chris Patten, and the coordinator of the Pact of Stability for Southeastern Europe, Bodo Hombach. The final documents of the meeting – a political declaration and an action plan for regional and economic cooperation – address the recent violent developments in Kosovo and Southern Serbia, the need for cooperation in fighting terrorism and corruption, as well as the belief of the countries of the region for the need to continue NATO’s enlargement. It has been stressed that the developments in Southern Serbia hinder the efforts to build a “European Balkans”. The good news is that both the Yugoslav president and the Albanian prime minister condemned the violence and the killing of innocent people. During the summit the FRY and Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a declaration of good-neighborly relations, stability, and cooperation. Thus Bosnia and Herzegovina became a full and equal participant, while the FRY rejoined the regional process of stability and cooperation. The summit meeting was an excellent opportunity for bilateral talks and discussions on various issues.
1. Bulgaria. (1) A facility for processing nuclear waste started to work in the nuclear power plant at Kozloduy on 9 February. Investor in this installation is the US company Westinghouse. The facility reduces the volume of the waste by a factor of four. The installation will be finally ready by the summer of this year. (2) A pre-project study into the construction of a plant for recycling old cars begins in April. It will be built by Japan in Lom on the Danube, and will cost US$ 200 million. The plant is expected to be ready in three years and will employ 2'500 people (plus 7'500 during construction). The design is environmentally friendly.
2. FRY. The government of the FRY has re-established on 12 February internal customs posts by putting up checkpoints on the borders of Serbia with Kosovo and Montenegro. This is necessary to prevent smuggling, officials said, particularly the illegal trafficking of cigarettes. However, Podgorica considers this decision of Belgrade a political one, similar to acts of Milosevic in the past when trying to impose trade barriers to goods from Montenegro. A year ago Montenegro introduced the German mark as the substitution currency in the republic. The road of Podgorica to independence has important economic aspects, too.
3. Turkey. The Turkish stock market suffered a steep plunge on 21 February. Though the country signed in December 1999 a program to fight inflation together with a stand-by agreement worth US$ 4 billion, a year later Turkey is again in a financial crisis. At the end of 2000 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) supported the Turkish economy with a new three-year anti-inflation program, backed by US$ 11 billion, despite the long history of high inflation. The decision of the government to float the lira in response to the crisis led to a 37 per cent fall in the lira’s value. This directly contradicts the agreement with the IMF, but the leaders of the IMF prefer to support this measure in an effort to stabilize the exchange rate and ensure a decline in the inflation rate. Turkey has signed 16 agreements with the IMF since 1961, all of which have been violated by the Turkish side.
VI. THE INFLUENCE OF EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
USA-the Balkans. US Secretary of State Powell dispelled fears on 4 February that the US plans a sudden withdrawal of their peacekeepers from the Balkans. The US is committed to peace in the Balkans, both in Bosnia and Kosovo. Although the US would like to see all the troops come out that is not going to happen in the immediate future. Powell told his ABC television audience that the US is not “cutting and running”. He went on to say that the US did not have a date when all US troops would come out, and reaffirmed that the US was part of a great alliance that is still the bedrock of security in Europe, both politically and militarily. Powell concluded that the US would continue to consult with its allies.
USA-FYROM. It was announced on 6 February that the Southeast Europe Equity Fund, Ltd., has committed itself to an investment of US$ 20 million in the privatization of the largest telecommunications provider in FYROM. Through the fund a consortium – syndicated by the Hungarian telecommunications company MATAV – and an affiliate of Interamerican Group – a publicly-traded Greek firm – acquired 51 per cent of Makedonski Telecommunikacii AD (MT), the national telecommunications provider for the country. MT is currently the sole telecommunications provider in Macedonia.
USA-Greece. The US Department of State informed the press on 8 February that the US, along with several other countries, has formed an Olympics security advisory group for the 2004 Olympics. The group met with Greek officials late last year and will continue consultations this spring. The US State Department expects that the Greek government will continue to take concrete steps towards the arrest and prosecution of terrorists.
USA-Bulgaria. The deputy chief of the Bulgarian General Staff, General Orlin Marinchev, and Brigade General Elisabeth Ann Herral, chief of logistics of the European command of the US armed forces, signed an agreement in Sofia on 21 February for the acquisition of goods and mutual services between Bulgaria and the US. The agreement was approved by the Bulgarian government in September 1999 and is the first of this kind to be signed by Bulgaria. It provides logistics support for US troops in joint exercises, training, military operations or other joint activities, in emergency or unforeseen contingencies. The services will be paid for according to US and NATO standards. The services include the provision of food, water, oil, gasoline, clothes, transportation, communications, and ports.
NATO-Southeastern Europe. The Bulgarian foreign minister, Nadezhda Mihailova, presented on 3 February the position of the nine candidate states to NATO –including the five applicants from the Balkans – to the annual conference on security policy in Munich, Germany. Mihailova said that not making the enlargement would lead to dangerous gray zones of insecurity.
NATO-Slovenia. The Slovenian foreign minister, Dimitrij Rupel, visited Paris on 7 February and met with his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine. Rupel said that Slovenia will be ready to join NATO in 2002. He added that his country’s chances of joining the EU would be boosted if it is admitted to NATO.
Europe. European Commissioner
Patten told the participants in the summit meeting in Skopje for cooperation in
the region on 23 February that the European Commission will provide Southeastern
Europe with US$ 735 million in 2001. This
huge sum is a clear reflection of the importance of the region for the EU.
EU-FRY. The EU foreign policy chief and former secretary general of NATO, Javier Solana, visited Belgrade on 8 February together with the Swedish foreign minister, Anna Lindh, who represented the Swedish presidency of the EU. Solana told his Belgrade audience that he is committed to help Yugoslavia to join Europe. On the next day he visited Tirana and met with the Albanian president, Rexhep Meidani, Prime Minister Ilir Meta, and Foreign Minister Pascal Milo.
(1) The Russian minister of defense, Igor Sergeev, visited Belgrade on 7 February, following visits to the Russian contingents in SFOR and KFOR. He met with Yugoslav President Kostunica, the minister of defense of the FRY, Slobodan Krapovic, and the chief of the General Staff, Nebojsa Pavkovic. Kostunica thanked the Russian official for Moscow’s support of the democratic changes in Serbia. Sergeev discussed the situation in Southern Serbia and condemned the Albanian separatists. He said that additional measures should be taken by the peacekeepers of KFOR to get the situation under control. A military-technical agreement for cooperation was signed by the defense ministers of the two countries. Sergeev also expressed concern that the Yugoslav military is too hasty about moving to membership in NATO’s PfP (Partnership for Peace).
(2) The Russian Ministry of Emergent Situations announced on 21 February that it will begin de-mining of Yugoslavia on 1 March. A plan will also be drafted on removing depleted uranium from the country’s soil. There are assessments that around 60 per cent of munitions were not detonated during NATO’s strike against the FRY. Russian, Greek, and Swiss experts will assess the environmental damage caused in Yugoslavia by the NATO campaign in 1999.
(3) Prime Minister Djindjic visited Moscow on 22 February and met with the Russian prime minister, Mikhail Kassyanov. He had also meetings with the foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, and with the speaker of the Duma, Genadiy Selezniov. The focus of the bilateral discussions was the supply of Russian gas for Serbia and the eventual Russian participation in the reconstruction of the country’s economy following the NATO strikes in 1999. Russia is also expected to participate in the country’s privatization process. The FRY has a debt of approximately US$ 300 million to Russian gas suppliers.
Russia-Croatia. Croatia’s Office of the President announced on 6 February that Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted the invitation of Croatian President Stipe Mesic to visit Croatia. Putin has said that Russia is interested in developing bilateral relations and appreciates the efforts of the Croatian leadership to develop good-neighborly relations with the former Yugoslav countries.
Russia-Bulgaria. Bulgarian government officials said on 15 February that Russian tourists will be able to enter the country without visas in 2001. The Russian ambassador to Sofia said on 15 February that the negotiations of visa arrangements will start soon.
1. The tensions in Southern Serbia continued and Albanian acts of terrorism against Serbs continued, despite the official proposal of Belgrade to seek a political solution to the escalating conflict. Albanian separatist leaders should be aware of a major difference between the present situation and that which existed in March 1999: the democratic governments of Serbia and Yugoslavia use the language of dialogue, and the international community condemns Albanian separatism in Southern Serbia. It is time for violence to end, and the international military force that is engaged in the region can provide stability against any provocation. It is now necessary for war criminals from the whole area to receive appropriate treatment.
2. Regional cooperation is again being focused upon by the countries from the region, now that the FRY has re-integrated and Bosnia and Herzegovina is a committed participant. The deeper involvement of the EU in these processes is a new, specific feature of the evolving situation in Southeastern Europe.