BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:

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

(A Background and April 2001 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 4, 2001

Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240

AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL


I.  INTRODUCTION

II. CONFLICT AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS 

1. The Conflict in Macedonia, Southern Serbia and the Post-Conflict Situation in Kosovo
2. Post-Conflict Rehabilitation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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

1. Bulgaria
2. Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)

IV.  BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS: REGIONAL INITIATIVES 

1. Bilateral relations
2. Multilateral Relations

3. Regional initiatives

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

1. Bulgaria-US
2. Bulgaria

3. Turkey

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

1. The United States
2. NATO

3. EU

4. Russia

VII.  THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE EVOLUTION OF REGION-BUILDING: CONCLUSIONS 

 

 


I.  INTRODUCTION

The military campaign in the northern parts of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), aimed at neutralizing the extremist and separatist activities of the so-called Army for National Liberation (ANL) of the Albanians in the republic, has been successfully completed. The political issue of the future of the inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia remains complex, and there is no evidence of rapprochement so far. The international political pressure on the separatists in Macedonia has contributed in a positive way to the short-term stability of the area. However, contradicting political signals from Tirana, the continuing acts of violence in Kosovo and Southern Serbia, and the mounting political demands by the Albanian political representatives in Macedonia, together with a lack of awareness by parts of the Macedonian population of the delicate and dangerous ethnic situation in their country, are all factors that indicate a continued tension that would require a persistent effort to settle. Further fragmentation and destabilization of the Balkans may be prevented by the continued involvement of the EU and NATO at the political level and by closer monitoring of the military situation by KFOR troops. Reassurances from the Bush administration that the US will maintain its presence in the region, together with demonstrations of solidarity with Macedonia from neighboring countries, could further de-escalate the current tensions.  The historic Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Macedonia, which was signed this April, sends a strong message to all political actors in the area as to what will and what will not be tolerated by the EU family of nations in the Balkan region.

 Several domestic issues continue to have an impact on regional stability and progress: The arrest of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia; the parliamentary elections in Montenegro; the different positions taken by Albanian governmental representatives on the issue of the ethnic Albanian population in the Balkans; the continuing tensions between the Muslim-Croat federation and the Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Republic); the obstructions by Croat nationalists that have interfered with the investigation of Croat atrocities against civilian Serbs in the mid-90s; and the preparations in Bulgaria for the general elections in June.The events of the past two months in the Balkans have consistently shown the different ways the countries have evolved domestically and their differing approaches regarding accession to the EU and NATO - the two most significant bodies in Southeastern Europe in the past 12 years with regard to systemic changes there.

II. CONFLICT AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS 

1. The Conflict in Macedonia, Southern Serbia and the Post-Conflict Situation in Kosovo

The Macedonian army's operation against the Albanian separatists under the code name “Decisive Resistance”, which began on 16 February, was successfully completed on 9 April. It cost the government about US$13 million. The operation was concentrated in and around Tetovo. The costs for the police operations are estimated at about US$10 million. Skopje spent some US$320 million during the Kosovo crisis. Violence, however, continued, and on 28 April eight Macedonian soldiers and police officers were killed by Albanian terrorists in the bloodiest act of the last few months.

 

A Russian KFOR soldier was killed on 12 April while marking the administrative border between Kosovo and southern Serbia. New contingents of the Yugoslav army were introduced into the Ground Safety Zone (GSZ) on the Kosovo border on 11 April after an agreement with NATO had been reached. Albanian rebels of the Army for Liberation of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja (ALPBM) attacked Serbian police posts in the area. On 18 April a car bomb exploded near the UNMIK headquarters in Pristina. One person was killed and eight others injured. The same day, shots were fired at the OSCE field-office in Viti. A few days later, on 20 April, Albanian snipers fired on a convoy carrying three US diplomats in Southern Serbia, but nobody was injured. The incident took place near the village of Lucane in zone B of the GSZ on the border with Kosovo. Albanian moderate Ismet Rraci, President of the Klina Municipal Assembly, was assassinated on 24 April.

 

These attacks reflect the nervousness of the Albanian separatists, who perceive a growing acceptance of a peaceful solution of the tensions in the region. This development has emerged concurrently with the military dominance of KFOR, of the armed forces of Macedonia and of the Yugoslav army. It would be appropriate for the international community to send the Albanian insurgents a warning regarding possible indictments by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

In the meantime, the ruling coalition in Skopje has agreed to form a new government by the end of April with the opposition parties – first with the Social-Democratic Union and eventually with all parties represented in parliament, including the Albanian one. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski has initiated some efforts towards a political settlement of the ethnic tensions. The talks resulted in an agreement to establish a commission of Orthodox and Muslim Macedonians – ethnic Slavs and Albanians respectively – which will monitor the observation of Albanian rights. As a follow-up to these talks, the participants will study the need for modifications to the country's present constitution. A presidential secretariat will support the work of the commission. Improving the political dialogue and establishing a mechanism for further discussions are the main tasks of the commission and the secretariat. The activities of the two new structures will be coordinated with the existing institutions. The leader of the government coalition party Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), Arben Xhaferi, said that he would leave the coalition, if his grievances were not redressed within a month. Under this scenario, a return of insurgent activity could be expected. According to separatist sources, the Albanians have 7'000 men under arms, most of who have gathered military experience with the Kosovar Liberation Army (KLA) and are prepared for partisan warfare. According to Xhaferi, the crisis that has erupted in Macedonia is part of an inter-ethnic conflict whose history goes back more than 10  years. Albanians make up only three per cent of the country's administration, while they account for at least 25 per cent of the Macedonian population. According to Xhaferi, more than 50'000 Albanians have been persecuted for political reasons in the last 10 years, and this has added to the present tensions. The Albanians demand recognition as equal participants in Macedonian society in the constitution, a proportionate representation in the country's power structures and an amnesty for political prisoners. Federation or cantonization are not political goals of Xhaferi’s party; neither is a “greater Albania”. What the ethnic Albanians demand is easier communication among the Albanian communities living in different countries. Xhaferi's DPA and the other Albanian opposition party, the Democratic Prosperity party of Imer Imeri, are working in a joint commission for the wording of the Albanian claims that will be presented to the state leadership.

The EU and NATO are applying pressure to achieve a political settlement in an effort to prevent a new outbreak of war in the Balkans. Twice in April, the EU High Representative for  foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, made working visits to Skopje and tried to reinvigorate the peace process and solidify the national consensus. Accompanying him was Lord George Robertson, the Secretary-General of NATO, who together with the ambassadors of the 19 members of the Alliance visited Skopje for a meeting with the prime minister and the president of Macedonia. The aim of the visit on 3 April was to try to ease the ethnic tensions.

 

A long-prepared step in the relationship between the EU and Macedonia, the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), was completed on schedule. In the presence of all parliamentary parties of Macedonia, the agreement was signed on 9 April in Luxembourg, setting clear conditions for internal dialogue and stable relations with the neighboring countries. The SAA must be ratified by all 15 members of the union. The agreement is the first step towards Macedonia’s integration into the EU.

 

Diplomatic support for addressing Albanian dissent was provided at the meeting of the Contact Group for former Yugoslavia in Paris on 13 April. The Contact Group includes the US, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Russia. This was the first Contact Group meeting for new US Secretary of State Colin Powell. 

 

The government of Macedonia has received additional military support, this time from Britain. Equipment for removing mines and bombs, protective body armor and navigation devices will be supplied by the British armed forces. At the same time, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook urged the authorities in Skopje to address the legitimate aspirations of the Albanian minority. The Bulgarian parliament approved an agreement on 5 April that would allow the government to supply arms to Macedonia without the consent of parliament, which was dissolved on 19 April ahead of the mid-June general elections. Bulgaria is consulting with NATO about permission for unmanned aircraft and NATO troops to operate on Bulgarian territory.

 

Albania’s efforts to present itself as a moderate force in the Balkans suffered a blow when Justice Minister Arben Imami said his Democratic Alliance Party was aiming at accelerating the peaceful unification of Albania with Kosovo. Though the reaction of the foreign ministry was immediate and emphasized that this statement was not the government’s position, the reaction of the US ambassador to Tirana, Joseph Limprecht, was significant: “When a government minister calls for the creation of a 'greater Albania', this is interpreted as support for terrorists and extremist elements”. Both Albanian and other extremists in the Balkans should note what US Secretary of State Powell told reporters in Paris on 11 April before the Contact Group meeting: The US is constantly reviewing troop levels, and the aim is to reduce the US contingent as the situation becomes more peaceful. However, he said, “There is no end point. We have established no time by which U S troops have to be out.”

 

Political and diplomatic efforts are required to show the Albanians in the Balkans the extent to which the extremist and separatist activities jeopardize their objectives. Moderate political leaders, including Albanian leaders, have the chance to succeed in the Balkans. The creation of a commission to monitor the human rights of minorities in Macedonia is not enough to fulfill the tasks of ethnic pacification. Well-targeted reforms in Macedonia and Yugoslavia in the relationship with their ethnic Albanian citizens are indispensable and must be aimed at involving Albanians on an equal footing in the administrative, armed forces and police sectors. International programs for diminishing the ethnic tensions between Serbs, Albanians and Macedonians can contribute to a further stabilization of the overall security situation.

 

2. Post-Conflict Rehabilitation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

(1) Tensions erupted last month when the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) did not accept the election results after losing the executive power for the first time; these tensions continued as the HDZ tried to protect its sources of funding. The Office of the High Representative initiated an operation on 6 April to take control of Hercegovacka Banka and 10 bank branches throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bank is suspected of being engaged in criminal activity and is believed to be used by the hard-line HDZ to promote its campaign to establish a separate Croat-run state in Southwestern Bosnia. Twenty-one Italian, US, French, Spanish and Moroccan KFOR soldiers, as well as four Bosnian civilians, were injured in the operation. Earlier in March, some 8'000 Croat soldiers abandoned their barracks (and their arms) in response to the call for Croat self-rule. (2) SFOR troops arrested Colonel Dragan Obrenovic on 15 April. He was indicted by the ICTY for his involvement in the 1995 massacres of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. Obrenovic has been transferred to The Hague and will join General Radislav Krstic, already on trial for his role at Srebrenica after his apprehension by SFOR in December 1998. (3) The President of Switzerland, Moritz Leuenberger, promised concrete and practical help to Bosnia and Herzegovina in overcoming the effects of the war during a visit on 27 April. He called on the country's three ethnic groups to forge a strong multi-ethnic society. He signed bilateral agreements with Bosnian leaders that will help the country economically and will improve cooperation. Leuenberger promised that his country would help to clear some one million land mines across Bosnia and Herzegovina. Switzerland will also help in searching for people missing since the war.

 

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

 

1. Bulgaria

(1) Early polls on the upcoming (mid-June 2001) general election indicate that none of the main contending coalitions will achieve a majority in parliament. The center-right Union of Democratic Forces and the left-wing coalition “For Bulgaria” are expected to win an almost equal number of votes – about 35 per cent. However, the unpredictable variable with yet unknown potential is the so-called “coalition of the king”, a movement headed by the last constitutional monarch who ruled until 1946, Simeon II (Simeon Borisov Koburggotsky). (2) The government presented its annual report on national security for the year 2000 on 11 April. According to the report, the largest threats to Bulgaria’s security are the conflicts in the Western Balkans.  (3) The government approved the annual report on the state of the country’s defense and armed forces for 2000 on 19 April. The report states that the number of professional soldiers in the Bulgarian armed forces has reached 1789. The professionalization is an objective of a longer-term reform in Bulgaria.

 

2. Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)

(1) Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was arrested on 1 April and jailed pending an investigation by the Yugoslav authorities on various charges of financial misappropriation. No charges of war crimes have been laid against him. Shortly after the arrest of Milosevic, Carla Del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, said she expected him to be extradited to The Hague this year. If Belgrade refuses to surrender Milosevic, Del Ponte could ask the UN Security Council to impose sanctions. The ICTY is prepared to let Yugoslav officials continue questioning Milosevic in the tribunal’s detention facility regarding the charges brought against him at home. (2) The general elections in Montenegro on 22 April resulted in a slim victory for President Milo Djukanovic's coalition “Victory Belongs to Montenegro”. It won 36 out of 77 parliamentary seats. The aim of the coalition is to break away from Yugoslavia. Together with the other pro-independence parties, the coalition will have 44 seats in the parliament – short of the two-thirds majority required for secession under the constitution. The pro-federation coalition “Together for Yugoslavia” holds the remaining 33 seats. The EU, the US, France and Germany had persistently called upon Djukanovic to build a democratic Montenegro within a democratic Yugoslavia and to stop the process of fragmentation in the Balkans. This request was rejected by Djukanovic on 19 April at the final election rally in Podgorica, when he said that FRY President Vojislav Kostunica was like Serb nationalist Vojislav Seselj, but "with a black tie". (3) The Yugoslav army has charged 183 soldiers with crimes committed during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo, including killing people or putting them in danger, as well as property offences. No one has been charged with war crimes. There is some doubt about whether the charges have been brought out of a desire for justice or as a public relations exercise. (4) The governments of Serbia and Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav president are trying to stimulate the process of democratization by freeing 143 Kosovar Albanian prisoners as a gesture of good faith. Such acts can contribute to improving relations with the political leaders of the Kosovo Albanians and the population of the province.

 

IV.  BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS: REGIONAL INITIATIVES 

 

1. Bilateral relations

 

a) Greece-Bulgaria. (1) Prime Minister Ivan Kostov of Bulgaria visited Greece on 2-3 April at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Kostas Simitis. They discussed the regional security situation, mainly the conflict in  Macedonia. Considering the unwillingness of NATO to intervene,  the role of the neighboring countries, especially of Greece and Bulgaria, becomes crucial in stabilizing the situation. The two leaders were in full agreement that territorial changes in the Balkans were unacceptable, especially concerning Macedonia, and they would not foster ambitions for ethnically homogeneous states. The prime ministers agreed that the Multinational Peace Force of South-East Europe (MPFSEE) could be deployed in Kosovo for a peacekeeping mission. The economic utilization of the Bulgarian Black Sea and the Greek Aegean Sea ports were discussed during the visit. (2) The Chiefs of General Staffs of the armed forces of Greece and Bulgaria, General Manusos Paraiodakis and General Miho Mihov, observed joint exercises of small contingents of the two armies on both sides of the Bulgarian-Greek border at Sandansky in Bulgaria and Siderokastron in Greece on 4 April. They also signed an additional bilateral agreement on confidence-building measures between the armed forces of the two countries.

 

b) Bulgaria-Macedonia. President of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski visited Bulgaria on 5-6 April and met with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and Prime Minister Ivan Kostov. The leaders of the two neighboring states discussed different forms of cooperation to be implemented depending on the development of the internal situation in Macedonia.

 

c) Turkey-Greece. The foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece, Ismail Cem and George Papandreou, met in Ankara on 6 April and agreed to adopt the Ottawa Convention banning the use of land mines. This would require the two countries to destroy their land mines and to prohibit their use and production. While the Greek foreign minister pledged to cut the military spending of his country, his counterpart refrained from making similar promises.

 

d) Bulgaria-Albania. The Chief of General Staff of the Albanian armed forces, Brigadier General Palumb Casimi, visited Bulgaria on 25-26 April and met with his counterpart, General Mihov. They discussed bilateral cooperation as applicants for NATO membership and partners for peace, the delivery of Bulgarian spare parts for the Albanian aviation fleet and the regional security situation. The Albanian general declared his country’s unwillingness to deploy the MPFSEE in Kosovo. Mihov underlined the importance for Bulgaria of preserving the territorial integrity of Macedonia as well as traditional friendly relations with Albania.

 

e) Romania-Bulgaria. The defense ministers of Romania and Bulgaria, Jon Pascu and Boyko Noev, met on 27 April in Giurgiu, Romania, and agreed to carry out a joint exercise with the armed forces of Hungary and Turkey in 2002. An exercise of the two navies was also scheduled. Other areas of cooperation between the two countries’ armed forces aimed at improving their conformity with NATO standards of interaction were also agreed.

 

2. Multilateral Relations

 

a) Relations among the republics of former Yugoslavia

After long negotiations between the former republics of Yugoslavia, the delegates agreed on 11 April in Brussels to accept the formula proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concerning the division of 46 tons of Yugoslav gold worth US$440 million: The FRY will receive 36.52 per cent, Croatia will receive 28.49 per cent, Slovenia will receive16.39 per cent, Bosnia and Herzegovina will receive 13.2 per cent and Macedonia will receive 5.4 per cent.

 

b) Multilateral military cooperation

(1) Ministers of defense and their deputies from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, FRY, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Italy, the US, Sweden and Ukraine met in Skopje on 5 April to demonstrate their support for the stability of Macedonia. The meeting was attended by representatives of NATO, the EU and the UN. The forum discussed the new forms of crises in the region, issues related to the democratic control of armed forces and regional cooperation in the border areas. Albania was represented by its deputy defense minister. He stressed that his country was opposed to the MPFSEE's involvement in Kosovo or Macedonia. He said the NATO troops were adequate for mastering the current conflict situation. (2) A multinational engineering exercise codenamed “Corner Stone 2001” began on 10 April in Albania with the participation of the seven MPFSEE countries Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Italy, Romania and Turkey. The emphasis of the exercise will be on humanitarian, rescue and relief operations. The exercise will continue until the end of July.

 

3. Regional initiatives

The ministers of foreign affairs of the Sofia Process for Regional Cooperation and Security gathered on 12 April in Skopje at the invitation of Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim. US Secretary of State Colin Powell attended the meeting. The representatives confirmed their countries’ commitment to the rule of law and economic development as the source of real stability in the Balkans. They also jointly condemned violence and corruption. They confirmed their intention to transform the multi-ethnic nature of their societies from a source of conflict in the past into a new source of strength. All parts of society should be heard and be sure that they are part of the democratic constitutional political process. The ministers affirmed the efforts of the Macedonian government to launch a broad dialogue to strengthen inter-ethnic cooperation and move the country closer to Europe. Powell used the opportunity to confirm the US commitment to stability in the Balkans. He condemned the recent acts of extremism and terrorism in Macedonia and promised continuous US support for the government in Skopje and its efforts to preserve the multi-ethnic nature of Macedonian society.

 

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

1. Bulgaria-US. A delegation from the Atlantic Council of the US visited Bulgaria on 11-14 April and recommended ways of restructuring the country’s military industry. Production for and adaptation to NATO standards by the Bulgarian plants in VMZ, Sopot and Arsenal, and Kazanlak are part of the proposals that will be made in a more detailed report to potential US investors and Bulgarian producers.

 

2. Bulgaria. The government’s forecast predicts a five per cent economic growth this year, while independent sources predict six per cent growth. Should the agricultural sector perform well and reach 15 per cent growth, the general economic growth will reach eight per cent.

 

3. Turkey. (1) The Turkish government announced the main elements of its new economic reform plan on 14 April. It contains steps for stabilizing the country’s economy and for consolidating the national budget. The program has already been approved by the IMF, the US government and the US Treasury. (2) The IMF and the World Bank have announced that they will support the Turkish government’s austerity measures with US$10 billion, following talks with the country’s economic minister Kemal Dervis on 24-26 April. Turkey is also expected to receive US$6.25 billion left over from the last IMF loan. The Turkish economy is expected to shrink by 2.6 per cent by the end of 2001.

 

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

 

1. The United States

US-FRY. (1) US Secretary of State Powell conveyed his decision to Congress on the issue of the certification of FRY for the purposes of US aid programs there on 2 April. Powell said the FRY had met the criteria of Section 594 of the Foreign Operations Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriation Act of 2001. The US will continue to monitor how FRY authorities cooperate with the ICTY in The Hague. The initiation of an international donor conference for FRY will depend on the country's progress in cooperating with the tribunal. Powell told reporters on 11 April in Paris that he believes the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities will realize that, at the end of the day, they must comply with the will of the international community with respect to the administration of international justice. (2) The US position after the elections in Montenegro, announced by the State Department on 23 April, continues to be that a democratic Montenegro within a reformed and democratic Yugoslavia is best for the region.

 

US-Macedonia. Powell visited Macedonia on 12 April and met with the Macedonian president, prime minister and foreign minister. President Boris Trajkovski will visit the US on 2 May and will meet with US President George W Bush.

 

US-Cyprus. Powell met with the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, on 9 April. They discussed the resumption of the UN-led talks on Cyprus and US support for achieving a comprehensive settlement of the issues. They also discussed bilateral relations, economic matters and bi-communal programs.

 

USA-Bulgaria. Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, accompanied by Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, made an official visit to Washington, DC, on 22-27 April at the invitation of US Vice-President Dick Cheney. Kostov also met with Bush, Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission of the US Senate Jesse Helms, and the chairman of the sub-committee for NATO at the same commission, General Gordon Smith. Kostov had meetings with US executives and visited the American Enterprise Institute. The talks covered stability in the Balkans, avenues for improving cooperation, the territorial integrity of Macedonia and concerns about other parts of the Balkans. The US side noted the strategically important position that Bulgaria occupies in the region, especially with respect to energy issues in the region. The two sides will intensify their cooperation in fighting illegal drug trafficking through an FBI office in Sofia and US unmanned reconnaissance planes stationed at two Bulgarian military airfields. The US State Department has underlined the fact that Bulgaria stopped 50 per cent of all the drugs caught in Europe in 2000. Washington highly values the stabilizing role of Bulgaria in Southeast Europe, and considers Bulgaria a key factor of peace and a strong applicant for the upcoming second round of NATO enlargement in 2002.

 

2. NATO

NATO-Macedonia. The NATO Secretary-General and the 19 permanent representatives to the Alliance of the member states held a meeting with the Macedonian state and government leaders in Skopje on 3 April. They supported the effort of the Macedonian leaders to preserve the multi-ethnic fabric of the country’s society.

 

NATO-Bulgaria. (1) The Bulgarian parliament gave the government a mandate to allow the transit and presence of NATO troops after the dissolution of parliament; 196 voted in favor of the decision, two were against, and three MPs abstained. Earlier, parliament had ratified with a vast majority the agreement with NATO. (2) The president, the foreign minister and the defense minister of Bulgaria were in Brussels on April 30 to discuss within the “19+1” format the second NATO report that assesses Bulgaria’s preparedness for joining the Alliance. 15 NATO experts presented a 20-page report after extensive study in Bulgaria.

 

3. EU

EU-Bulgaria. The EU lifted travel restrictions for Bulgarians on 10 April, allowing them to travel to the Schengen area without visas. After the country became part of the Schengen visa regime zone, the EU decided to provide €3 million to Bulgaria and other candidate countries for tightening border, visa and immigration controls. The funds will be used mainly for purposes of standardization and personnel training.

 

EU-Croatia. The two sides are expected to complete their negotiations and sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), paving the way for full membership later this decade. The 15 EU members have to ratify this agreement in  a process that may take about two years.

 

4. Russia

Russia-Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the beginning of April,  UN Mission Representative in Sarajevo Jacques-Paul Klein made a working visit to Moscow and met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Klein informed his Russian colleagues in the SFOR mission about plans for continuing the Dayton Agreements implementation and making the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina irreversible. Both politicians agreed that the activity of extremists and separatists should be stopped.

 

Russia-Serbia. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic visited Moscow on 18-19 April and met with his Russian colleague, Mikhail Kasyanov. The Serb leader thanked his Russian friends for their efforts in preserving his country’s national sovereignty. He also displayed his displeasure with KFOR for its inability to deal with the security situation in Kosovo. He called for Russian support in reconstructing his country after the NATO bombings of 1999. Kasyanov said Russia considers the FRY its key partner in the Balkans and in Central Europe. Russia recently provided US$150 million worth of goods to Yugoslavia. There is some progress in the settlement in the Yugoslav debt to the Russian gas suppliers. Moscow showed an interest in participating in the privatization process in FRY. Kasyanov declared his readiness to expand the bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and social fields.

 

VII.  THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE EVOLUTION OF REGION-BUILDING: CONCLUSIONS 

Though the Macedonian armed and security forces successfully completed an operation to neutralize Albanian extremist activity, the separatists' change of strategy to ambushes, limited terrorist acts and maintenance of low-intensity violence occurred as predicted. The political dialogue in the country and the strong international support for a political settlement of the problems has not yet deterred the Albanian irredentists from creating obstacles to the normalization in the Western Balkan region and beyond. Both domestic and international political mobilization is needed to involve all Albanian political actors in a stable and reliable political relationship. There is already a clear line of division of the participating agents in the Balkan security arena: Those who use the instruments of the political dialogue for solving the pending issues, and those who purposefully destabilize the societies in the region by using weapons and violence for pressing a case that is not even clearly formulated. These developments further differentiate the countries of the Balkans in their evolution towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

 


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ISSN 1311 – 3240

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