BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and July 2001 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 7, 2001
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
The present conflict in Macedonia is the result of several factors: First, a poor heritage of inter-ethnic cohabitation and attitudes prevalent in Serbia, which dominates the former Yugoslav federation, regarding the young state of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Second, national institutions that were slow to evolve and react along European lines of political behavior. Third, an Albanian ethnic elite that chose 19th-century tools to solve 21st-century regional problems. Fourth, the delayed and unwilling involvement of capable and powerful political actors such as the EU, the US and NATO in brokering a peace agreement, matched by a hard-line Russian policy calling for suppression of the Albanian rebels as the best way out of the situation.
Fifth, view in Macedonia and generally in the Balkans, that assumes that a powerful external factor should take the initiative of solving the region's own, local problems; this attitude is up against a similarly ineffective local point of view that our own problems are too specific for the outsider to understand and resolve.
In July, a cease-fire between the Macedonian troops and the Albanian rebels was followed by difficult negotiations for drafting a permanent agreement to solve the issues. However, after running into difficulties, the Albanian side, which is, without doubt, coordinating its activity with the rebels, returned to armed fighting, while the Macedonian forces refrained from using their full armament. Intolerance in Macedonian society coincided with impatience in resolving the issues as soon as possible. Such was the complex environment in which the international and foreign official brokers had to work and try to advance the processes in a peaceful direction.
In Kosovo, the UN and OSCE representatives together with KFOR continued their preparations for the general elections in autumn. Key election issues are the establishment of law and order in the province and the involvement in the process of Kosovar Serbs – both those who fled the province and those who remained after the Albanian ethnic cleansing campaign after the end of the 1999 crisis.
At the national level, the government of Croatia was on the brink of crisis after its firm decision to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. In FRY, the federal government had to undergo changes after it entered into crisis following the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic and his transfer to the ICTY. In Bulgaria, after the sweeping election victory of the national movement of the former king Simeon II, a smooth transfer of power took place in July, marking a civilized continuity in the country’s efforts to join the EU and NATO in the next few years.
Both NATO and the EU continued their support for countries of South-Eastern Europe in preparation of the countries joining the two institutions. Russia, though involved with FRY, developing bilateral mutually advantageous relations with Greece and stimulating the military solution of the Macedonian crisis, still lacks the clout of a major power in the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans. If Russia can sharpen its profile in this context, it may gain the respect of the Balkan nations, not just that of FRY and Greece.
The forms of political dialogue were altered by fighting between the regular security forces and the ethnic Albanian rebels depending on the level of acceptance by the negotiating parties, facilitated by Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski with the help of the US Ambassador, James Pardew, and the EU envoy, François Leotard. Their efforts were strengthened by the French constitutional expert Rober Badinter and the Dutch OSCE representative Hans van der Stoel. A fragile cease-fire was reached on 5 July and preserved until 10 July. Then it was violated again when the Albanian ANL took military control over certain villages, blocked the transportation on some roads, fired on Macedonian armed forces units, blasted cars in the capital of Skopje, and kidnapped Macedonian Slavs. Two EU monitoring mission officers were killed on 20 July by a mine that Albanian rebels placed on a road. A new round of violence started on 22 July. Heavy fighting in Tetovo was provoked by the Albanian terrorists, endangering the peace-process. As a counter-measure, the Macedonian forces closed the border check-points with Kosovo, and the ministers of defense and the interior issued a joint warning that unless the Albanians withdrew from the positions recently taken in Tetovo in violation of the 5 July cease-fire agreement, they would use all the forces of the Macedonian army and police to take control of the positions with all the consequences this might incur for the Albanian civilians in the city.
An additional negative effect of the evolving situation was the continued displacement of the Slavic population from Tetovo to Bitola, and of Albanians from Bitola to Tetovo, Struga and Gostivar. Apart from the tensions of the last weeks, a major motivation for this displacement is the lack of confidence in the negotiated model of settling the ethnic situation in the country and its practical value. According to the UNHCR, there are about 35'000 refugees and 120'000 displaced people in FYROMacedonia. Sixty thousand Macedonian Albanians have fled to Kosovo, while 15'000 Albanians have returned to their homes. A sad result of the ethnic hatred induced by the Albanian extremists since February this year is the real ethnic division of Macedonian society – a reality that is not irreversible, but that would require much more outside support for involving the different ethnic groups in meaningful economic activity and political and psychological rehabilitation projects. The cease-fire of 5 July cleared the way for negotiating an agreement among the political and ethnic groups represented in parliament under the guidance of Trajkovski and with the mediation of the US and EU envoys to the talks. The agreement is very important for NATO’s preparations to deploy a task force of about 3'000 soldiers to Macedonia. Such a NATO operation will not begin until a general agreement on a political solution to the problems is reached. The intense talks on the framework agreement continued during most of the month. All documents necessary for a political settlement have been placed on the table. The mediators have urged the parties to de-emphasize their differences. NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson and EU High Commissioner on Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana agreed on 26 July that “95 per cent” of the narrowing of the gap between the Macedonian and the Albanian parties had been achieved. There is no deadline for reaching the agreement.
The negotiations have been slow and difficult because the Albanian side was introducing new obstacles to the process. They have been using the pauses in the negotiations to rearrange, re-arm and reposition the forces of the ANL. The armed rebels are, for all practical purposes, an instrument of influencing the negotiation process while the international mediators and monitors from the US, EU and NATO press the Macedonian government to refrain from using the full power of its armed forces. The intention of Pardew and Leotard is clear: to prevent civil war. However, the influence of the ANL extremists on the negotiation process has an intimidating effect on the Macedonian population and is creating ethnic hatred. This provocative behavior of the ANL, openly used by the two ethnic Albanian parties within the negotiation process, has a destructive effect on the image of the negotiations as an instrument of solving conflicts. The Albanian side was pressing for a scenario that resembled the ineffective Rambouillet conference and that would eventually necessitate a NATO intervention and territorial separation of the warring sides. The “genuine wish” of the Albanian political representatives for recognition of their human rights and claims to equality for the Albanian language are met with distrust by many. The CE's and the EU's calls for equality and human rights are widely regarded as a smoke-screen employed by the Albanian elites to disguise their true purpose of federalization and future separation of Albanian-populated territories. Any other objective could be much more easily achieved within the democratic framework of the Macedonian state and through due political process before initiating ethnic hostilities.
This does not mean, however, that the participants in the talks, including the Albanians, cannot be steered towards a fair agreement – notwithstanding the escalating claims of the Albanian parties. The involvement of NATO, the US and the EU as mediating actors is a sufficiently powerful factor to enforce a solution on troublemakers in the young multi-ethnic state of FYROMacedonia.
First, the cease-fire agreement of 5 July was negotiated by NATO and the EU and signed separately by the Macedonian government and the ethnic Albanian rebels. Though the ANL is not recognized as a party to the formal negotiations, NATO and the EU have the authority to restrain the rebels during the negotiation process.
Second, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, during his meeting with Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva on 11 July in Washington, DC, reiterated the strong American support for the Macedonian government and its determination to find a political solution to the crisis. US President George W. Bush visited Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo on 24 July and told US servicemen and servicewomen that the biggest challenge was Macedonia, where rebels were endangering peace and stability. He urged the politicians of this country to continue the negotiations.
Third, the summit communiqué released by the G-8 on 21 July insisted that all parties to the conflict in Macedonia be responsible and contribute to the rapid success of the political dialogue.
Fourth, Robertson, Solana, and the current OSCE President, Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, visited Skopje on 26 July and gave fresh support to the lagging negotiations and to the hope of avoiding another Balkan war.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski's assessment that the West was brutally imposing the Albanian language as a second official language and was instating an Albanian police force in the ethnic Albanian regions in cowboy manner, are seen as an inadequate response to the international peace efforts. The prime minister also said the international community was wooing the terrorists in Macedonia. In a Newsweek interview in July he said that NATO had in fact given birth to the monster of Albanian terrorism. He also said the international community was exerting pressure on his country’s institutions, rather than on the Albanian terrorists. This attitude is shared by other government leaders and is a reflection of current attitudes; it is also reflected in current attitudes. Para-military units have been formed by Macedonian Slavs as an eventual counter-weight to the Albanian terrorists and to replace the politically paralyzed regular armed forces and police of Macedonia. The embassies of Germany, Britain, the US, and representative offices of the OSCE and of the Greek press agency were attacked and damaged by nationalist Macedonian Slav groups.
A last-minute agreement between NATO envoy Peter Fate and the ANL commander, Ali Ahmeti (the US Government forbade transactions with the Ahmeti last month and banned him from traveling to the US) facilitated a rebel withdrawal to the 5 July cease-fire positions. The agreement was followed by a short visit of NATO, EU and OSCE leaders to Skopje on 26 July. The result was new hope that the remaining unsettled issues could be resolved and that NATO could begin disarming Albanian rebels. Nevertheless, the US State Department ordered part of its embassy personnel in Skopje to be evacuated and advised its citizens to refrain from traveling to Macedonia. The Macedonian branch of the US Peace Corps has ceased its activities for the time being.
It is not difficult to see that Macedonia is in turmoil and on the brink of a civil war. Major divisions are marring society and the government: Albanians are against Macedonians; Social-Democrats in the government are against the ruling VMRO, and the Albanian party of Arben Xhaferi is disappointed with its union with the VMRO; the president opposes the positions of the prime minister.
The crisis in Macedonia is influenced by the militant position of the Kosovo Albanian leaders, who provide shelter and armaments to the Macedonian Albanian extremists. During the last month, however, the Macedonian Slavic side has also gained military support from Russia in approaching and dealing with the conflict. Trajkovski sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on 20 July, asking for greater involvement of Russia in resolving the conflict in the Balkans. Russia would hardly undertake unilateral actions in support of the government in Skopje against the Albanian extremists but would most probably continue its support of military action against the terrorists without necessarily dealing with all the other consequences for the stability of the country and the region. The increased supply of Ukrainian arms, to a region where the political situation is already polarized, is not a real contribution to the longer-term stability of the region.
The escalating conflict in neighboring Macedonia put the Bulgarian government to a hard test in a period of transition of power after the June elections. The dialogue between the presidents of the two countries by telephone has been preserved. Though Bulgarian paratroopers trained for contingencies close to the border with Macedonia in July, the Bulgarian political and government leaders are preserving a consensus of non-involvement in the crisis in Macedonia in a different format, but with NATO, OSCE, UN and the EU, if needed. The Bulgarian position is that it is worthwhile investing in the political dialogue between Macedonians and Albanians who will continue to live together. There is an understanding that the present situation is a difficult test that has to be passed by the Macedonian politicians and statesmen.
Our non-governmental view of the developing crisis in Macedonia is that the international community should define a clearer stance on the role of arms and fighting in conducting peace-settlement negotiations and that the ANL should be finally outlawed and its leaders called to justice for crimes committed since February this year. Albanian criminals should be treated as fairly as Serb, Croat, Muslim and other war criminals; otherwise, the future will be mined with outbursts of hatred and violence. The resurgence of Macedonian terrorism must be prevented, as it could detract attention from the danger of Albanian terrorism. Should a new law be introduced or the preamble of the Constitution be changed under armed duress, this would create a precedent for future disasters. It is legitimate to ask where the support to Kosovo has gone in the last two years – towards re-constructing a democratic and peaceful society, or towards inducing separatist movements to the neighboring regions? Can the people of the Balkans and the international community be fooled by extremist militant activists, who hope to achieve disintegration and destabilization under the guise of defending human rights? The deficiencies of an ineffective government of a young state like Macedonia cannot be compared to the crimes of those who would purposefully eliminate a nascent democratic society and state. The attempts at ethnic cleansing made by both sides should be punished by the national and international judicial institutions. The ICTY should finally turn to the wrongdoings of the Albanian terrorists in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. It should be made clear to the leaders of the Albanian ethnic groups in the different countries of the Balkans how difficult it will be for them to be integrated in the EU and join NATO if continue their struggle for freedom in the Western Balkans by continuously supporting and allying with terrorist Albanian groupings. Finally, it is high time to launch major preventive economic projects that would render hatred on ethnic grounds meaningless in Macedonia and throughout the Balkan region.
In Kosovo during the last month, UNMIK has focused on preparing for the elections, on improving law and order and on the plight of Kosovo Serbs – both those who remain in Kosovo and those who wish to return. There are still delays or shortages that cause problems with the staffing. The Central Election Commission decided to extend the deadline for certification of political parties seeking to form coalitions. The call for Serbian authorities' involvement in facilitating the participation of Serbs in the Kosovo elections has been matched with the creation and deployment of mobile teams to visit Kosovo Serbs and inform them of election procedures. Both UNMIK and KFOR have additional tasks in guaranteeing the security of the Serbs and their free participation in the upcoming general elections. Unfortunately, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's critical assessment that the upcoming 17 November elections in Kosovo have not been sufficiently prepared serves as a kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. He said on 28 July that neither UNMIK nor KFOR had done anything for the normal voting process.
On 10 July US, German and Italian soldiers began deploying to Kosovo as part of the Rapid Guardian II training exercise. It was aimed at exercising the rapid deployment of NATO response forces. An airborne task force of approximately 200 soldiers from the US Southern Task Force in Vicenza, Italy, conducted a parachute drop into the British sector in Kosovo. The exercise lasted until 20 July.
On 24 July US President Bush visited Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo for a few hours. He met with the 6'000 US KFOR contingent. He assessed their mission as vital for stopping those who use religious and ethnic differences for provoking violence. He said he wanted to cut short the soldiers’ presence in the Balkans, but that since the Americans had gone in together with the other NATO allies, they would also leave together with them.
The Bosnian Serb Parliament gave initial approval on 26 July to a long-delayed law on the transfer of war crimes suspects to the ICTY in The Hague. The Bosnian Serb government, which is still dominated by hard-liners, is trying to ease pressure from the tribunal for quick action on extraditions by showing good faith. Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic are the two Bosnian Serbs most wanted by the tribunal in The Hague.
Unidentified terrorists blew up the main water pipeline in the Albanian town of Kukas on 6 July – just a day before the second round of the parliamentary elections. The ruling Socialist Party won in 37 out of the 44 election regions on 8 July. Thus, the winners were able to form their own socialist government. Analysts in the Balkans believe the Albanian leadership can provide a more active support to the government in Skopje in their dispute with the extremist Albanian factor in FYROMacedonia.
The Bulgarian parliament on 24 July approved Simeon Koburggotski, candidate for prime minister and leader of the National Movement Simeon the Second (NMSS), as the new head of the Bulgarian government with 141 of 240 votes. The members of his cabinet were approved by parliament with 147 votes. Parliament will have a right-wing opposition (51 MPs) as well as a left-wing opposition (48 MPs). The ruling coalition includes the NMSS (120 MPs) and the coalition Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF)-Liberal Union-Euro-Roma (21 MPs). The coalition agreement for forming the new government calls for a policy of guaranteeing internal security and social order, battling corruption effectively, preserving the currency board arrangement until Bulgaria joins the European Monetary Union, maintaining strict financial discipline, transparent and fast completion of privatization, lowering the profit tax, fighting unemployment by liberalizing the labor market, more ambitious investment programs in the regions with the highest unemployment, supporting economically backward regions, stimulating national production and export, accelerating the integration into NATO and the EU, and keeping the stability in the Balkans. The selection of Dr. Solomon Passy, president of the country's most influential NGO, the Atlantic Club, and MP for the NMSS, as foreign minister in the new government is a clear sign that Bulgaria is confirming its European and Atlantic orientation in geopolitical terms. President Petar Stoyanov's meetings with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson in Salzburg at the beginning of July and with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London during the last week of the month underlined the prime objective of the new Bulgarian government, which is joining NATO and the EU.
The Croatian Social Democratic government of Ivica Racan survived the worst crisis since it came to power in the beginning of 2000. The prime minister survived a no-confidence vote in the Croatian parliament on 16 July. The reason was the government’s decision to hand over two Croatian generals suspected of war crimes to the ICTY. The Croatian government appears to have decided to remove all stains from Croatia's own war for national liberation from the Serbs. One of the generals, Rahim Ademi, gave himself up to The Hague, and another, Ante Gotovina, is supposed to be in hiding in South America. Racan received the support of 93 of 151 MPs (36 were against). In May this year, unemployment in Croatia reached 22 per cent of the active population. The deficit currently stands at 5.3 per cent and the government is in for difficult discussions with the IMF, which is reviewing the first US$250 million aid package.
1) The FRY parliament approved the new government, headed by the former finance minister, Dragisa Pesic, late on 24 June. Five of the ministers are from Serbia and five from Montenegro, from the Socialist People’s Party (SNP). The previous coalition collapsed over the transfer of Slobodan Milosevic to the UN crimes tribunal. Zoran Svilanovic keeps his position of foreign minister of FRY. Preserving the federation, improving relations between Serbia and Montenegro and re-integrating FRY into the global institutions are among the priorities of the new prime minister. (2) During an interview with a US television channel, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said on 13 July that after Montenegro had discarded its union with Serbia, Yugoslavia had for all practical purposes ceased to exist as a state. Yugoslavia and the federal government, Djindjic added, were in fact identical with Serbia. (3) The leaders of the three major political parties in Vojvodina, where 350'000 Hungarians live, said on 26 July that Serbia must give back autonomy to the region. They insisted on a 3 August deadline for this decision. They also want to participate in the talks on the future of the federation as representatives of more than 2 million people in the region.
A joint military exercise took place on 23-24 July on both sides of the border between Bulgaria and Turkey: Bulgarian soldiers fired at a Turkish training ground and Turkish troops fired at a Bulgarian one. Turkey is the only NATO state that has adopted a law obliging its government to elaborate practical measures for the integration of Bulgaria into NATO.
Balkan Stability Pact Coordinator Bodo Hombach visited Bulgaria on 30 July and met with the president, the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs. He discussed the situation in Macedonia, regional cooperation, and the role of the Stability Pact in the process of Bulgaria’s accession to the EU and NATO. The Stability Pact is directly involved in the construction of a second bridge over the Danube and the highway between Sofia and Nis in FRY.
Loans of around US$3 billion from the IMF and the World Bank were delayed in July until Turkey met the loan conditions in the sensitive areas of telecommunications and banking. The government gave in to IMF pressure over the appointment of a professional board to manage Turk Telekom ahead of privatization, which the senior coalition partner to the government, the Nationalist Action Party, has made clear it is not fully comfortable with.
From the beginning of 2001 until the end of May, the foreign debt of Bulgaria was reduced by US$350 million, and now stands at US$10.02 billion, according to the Bulgarian National Bank.
The US construction corporation Bechtel has agreed to invest US$450 million in construction projects in Bulgaria. Vice-President Charles Redman met on 13 July with the designated ministers of economics and of finance in the new government and told them that Bechtel was ready to begin investing from March 2002. Investment projects include the Upper Arda hydropower plant , the highways connecting Orizovo and Burgas (on the Black Sea) and Sofia and Nis (linking Bulgaria and FRY), and the Sofia-Kulata highway linking Bulgaria and Greece. Bechtel also has an interest in building the oil pipeline linking Burgas, Skopje and Vlora, the new runway at Sofia Airport and the passenger terminal at the same airport.
Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase ended a visit to Germany on 5 July where he had sought more Western support for Romania’s efforts to join the EU and NATO. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder told Nastase that Germany backed Romania’s efforts but that it still had a long way to go before meeting EU membership criteria. Nastase emphasized his government’s commitment to reform and its determination to bring Romania closer to the EU and NATO.
(1) An EU program worth €1.28 million over the next two years will provide an EU coordinator from Germany to help the Bulgarian prosecution. The purpose of the program is to help the Bulgarian prosecution service reach EU level. The EU coordinator works in everyday contact with the General Prosecutor of the Republic of Bulgaria. (2) The next round of accession negotiations between Bulgaria and the EU began on 27 July in Brussels. The negotiating parties have now finalized 11 of the 31 chapters, with two more set for completion during this round and two new ones to be initiated. The change of government in Bulgaria did not have any negative effect on the negotiation process.
Romanian President Ion Iliescu visited NATO headquarters in Brussels on 9-10 July. He told his NATO hosts that alliance membership for Romania and its Balkan neighbor Bulgaria next year could improve stability in the fragile zone adjoining former Yugoslavia.
The regular Partnership for Peace (PfP) navy exercise Breeze 2001 was held on 26 July on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Participating in the exercise were 20 navy vessels from Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey and the US. The exercise included artillery fire, an attack on a seagoing convoy, transfer of help from one vessel to another, and search and rescue operations of air force pilots.
VII. The Influence of Other External Factors on the Region: National Great Powers and International Institutions
(1) On 11 July, US Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones told the House International Relations Subcommittee on Europe that while many challenges remain for the US in the Balkans, there is increasing evidence of progress: former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was transferred to The Hague to stand trial, Kosovo is set to hold its first provincial elections, Albania and Bulgaria have held democratic elections, Bosnia continues to make progress in building democratic institutions, Croatia is becoming a model for democratic reform and Macedonia continues to rely on democratic institutions to confront a violent insurgency and pursue political reform. Jones also said that the proposed NATO peacekeeping force to Macedonia, dubbed MFOR, would be supported by the US with logistics, medical assistance, transport helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The ultimate goal of the US, Jones said, is to work its way out the Balkans, relying on democratic institutions and free markets as foundations of stability. (2) US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said on 12 July at a National Press Club luncheon that “The real story is that the Balkans is one of the first proving grounds for this new paradigm of NATO-EU cooperation.... The president has stressed that America is committed to helping this region become fully a part of Europe, whole, free and at peace. He also stressed that the only way to make this vision real is for the United States, NATO and EU to do it together. That means ... that the United States will not always grab the headlines. But it does mean that the United States is committed to partnership with our European allies, and that our commitment remains strong”.
On 19 July Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic paid a visit to the US European Command headquarters. This was the first visit of an official from FRY to the headquarters since operation Allied Force. The visitors met with General Carlton Fulford, deputy commander-in-chief of the US European Command, and discussed lessons learned from the efforts to restore peace and stability in Southern Serbia.
(1) A team of US military experts arrived in Bulgaria on 16 July to assess the preparedness of the army for future NATO membership. The visit was ordered by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the experts will report directly to him. The team visited the ministry of defense, the general staff and military units. (2) Bruce Jackson, head of the American Committee for NATO enlargement, arrived in Sofia 25 July for a two-day visit. He met the president, the prime minister and the foreign minister. Jackson discussed the speeding up of the solution of financial and personnel issues in the army before the summit meeting of NATO in Prague next year. Jackson was also in Bulgaria to prepare the October meeting of the applicant countries for NATO membership in Sofia. After his visit to Bulgaria he left for Romania.
Putin met with Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis in Moscow on 16 July. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou. The leaders of the two countries discussed the situation in the Balkans and the transportation of Russian oil to Greece.
A delegation of the Yugoslav parliament, led by the Speaker Srdjo Bozovic, visited Moscow on 18 July and met with Speaker of the Duma Gennadii Seleznev. He said the Russian Duma condemned the West's policy for the dissolution of Yugoslavia. He also underlined the Russian position in favor of preserving the territorial integrity of FRY.
1. The crisis in FYROMacedonia continued, with some hopes that a negotiated agreement would establish a formula for the solution of the ethnic tensions, which center on the issues of the Albanian language and the presence of police forces in regions with a larger Albanian concentration. The pressure on the Albanian extremists to stop using terrorist activities for pressing their political case should be intensified. More effort will be needed to calm the Macedonians who have been forced by the Albanian terrorists to flee their homes. Major issues for an effective concerted US-EU influence on the ground in Macedonia need to be resolved too.
2. The smooth transition of power after the elections in Bulgaria has turned out to be a significant stabilizing factor in the broader region. The Albanian general elections ended with a more or less stabilizing effect on the Albanian society. The accelerated integration of some of the Balkan countries in NATO can prove to be a decisive factor for the longer-term stability of the whole region.