BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and October 1999 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 12, 1999
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N SPONSORED MONTHLY
There is speculation in Belgrade that Slobodan Milosevic is ready to grant independence to Montenegro as part of a deal to keep his grip on power in Serbia. The continuing demonstrations of opposition organisations throughout Serbia have not yet gathered momentum. Hence, the opposition does not yet have pressing arguments for participating in drafting the FRY’s political agenda, including issues on the federation’s future.
In October it became more obvious than in the previous month that KFOR and UNMIK need to prepare for a hard Balkan winter and for a longer stay, working in Kosovo without great reliance on Belgrade’s constructive support in solving the broad range of issues in the province. This would lead to narrowing substantially Belgrade’s participation in shaping the future of this province, including its constitutional arrangement. The Kosovo and FRY situation is negatively reflected oin the evolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina rehabilitation efforts.
Although this tendency is not the best environment for Stability Pact projects, the sooner they start, the broader Balkan environment may begin to have a positive influence on the internal developments in FRY, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
were central for October.
Kosovo continues to face the challenges of transforming the former KLA into a constructive Kosovo Protection Corpse, protecting the safety of all ethnic groups, and determining the democratic future of Serbia. The safety of KFOR and UNMIK also turned into a most challenging issue. A Bulgarian official of UNMIK, Valentin Krumov, was brutally murdered by Albanians on 11 October, merely for answering in the Slavic language to the question of what time it was. The uncertain future of KLA, the continuing ethnic intolerance toward the Serbian and Roma minority in Kosovo, and the vulnerability of the province to organised crime are interconnected in a complex way. Serbs continue to be murdered by Albanians seeking revenge. Military and para-military formations in Serbia claim to return to the province due to what they consider KFOR’s ‘incapacity to protect of Serbs’, whose number continues to diminish. Russia threatens to withdraw from KFOR due to speculations in Western circles about partitioning the province. Moscow continues to believe that an independent Kosovo has been NATO’s intention from the start.
The KFOR answer to individual acts of terror against Serbs that was announced on 19 October was more troops and military vehicles on the streets of Kosovo’s capital. Some 173 graduates of Kosovo’s new police academy completed their studies and joined UN administration efforts to bring normality to the province. On 23 October Lord Robertson warned Albanians in Pristina that NATO would not passively witness creation of a mono-ethnic Kosovo. General Klaus Reinhardt, the new KFOR commander-in-chief, promised on 9 October that he will keep a close watch over the Kosovo Protection Corpse and its 5,000 former KLA fighters. In order to maintain KFOR ability to deploy rapidly in contingency areas should the need arise, a company team from the Southern European task force in Vicenza, Italy, conducted an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Kosovo on 1 October.
During his two-day tour of Kosovo on 13-14 October the UN Secretary General was informed by UNMIK officials of their concern about lack of money to pay for local civil service – doctors, teachers, fire-fighters. There have also been major problems in integrating schools and communities in Kosovo.
UNEP announced this month its study of the devastating effects on the environment from the air strikes in Yugoslavia. The territory concerned is mostly in FRY, but also includes the Danube and Black Sea. Sweden’s environmental minister leads the UNEP group in the Balkans and considers the pollution a grave threat to the health of people in the region. A similar position was also taken by a Finnish Environment Ministry study.
The steps of bringing back the area’s normality are yetl modest. Hungary, motivated by the need to provide better winter conditions for Hungarians in Vojvodina allowed Russian gas shipments to Serbia to pass through its territory on humanitrian grounds. This was made possible after Belgrade gave assurances that it would pay about $ 20 million in overdue debts. The Bulgarian prime-minister described constructive efforts within the Pact for Stability in Southeastern Europe as existing only in the field of intentions. The special coordinator of the Pact for Stability, Bodo Hombach, announced in Sofia on 20 October that an investment charter for the Balkans will be ready by the end of this year. It will specify obstacles to investments in the region and how to overcome them. The Expectations of the regional governments are that the Pact for Stability will become meaningful when fresh ideas are supported by fresh money.
The Bosnian Serb war-time leader Radovan Karadzic still holds political influence in Republika Srpska the UN Special Representative to Bosnia Jacques Klein said on 12 October. According to him, people fail to understand the extent of Karadzic’s influence in the political life of the Republika Srpska.Klein criticised international officials for failing to arrest Karadzic and his military commander, General Ratko Mladic, who have been indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity. Karadzic was living openly in Bosnia for years after the Dayton agreement was signed. During a visit to the Balkans on 27 October the UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said that the tribunal’s priority was to bring the two Bosnian Serbs and Yugoslav President Milosevic to justice.
Goran Jelisic, known as the "Serb Adolf" for allegedly comparing himself to Hitler, was convicted of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of international humanitarian law. He was acquitted by the ICTY on genocide, saying the prosecution did not prove he had planned to destroy the region’s Muslim population.
A troublesome tendency in Bosnia is the continuing fragmentation of Bosnians into small ethnic communities. Preparations for joining the Council of Europe may influence on the refugees to return and young people to stay in their country – despite the feudal-like separatist behaviour of some Bosnian leaders.
The 31-years- old Albanian prime-minister, Pandeli Majko, was defeated on 11 October in a leadership contest within his Socialist Party by Fatos Nano, and he resigned from office on 26 October. Majko had been keen on organising the reception of more than half a million Kosovar refugees this spring and to support all aspects of the NATO campaign in the Balkans. Corruption remained his biggest unsolved concern.
The ruling UDF improved its relative position in the municipalities after elections on 16 and 23 October but lost many voters in comparison to 1997 parliamentary elections. Major reasons for this loss were the hardships of on-going economic reforms compounded by Bulgarian losses from the war in Kosovo, the continuing low standard of living for more than 90 per cent of the people, corrupt administration practices, and inadequate UDF political activity. The left and centre-left opposition have not yet produced an attractive political alternative for voters despite their relative election success.
On 25 October the Polish foreign minister, Dr. Bronislaw Geremek, told his Bulgarian counterpart in Warsaw that Poland’s interest for the last 60 years has been to use a bridge over the Danube at Vidin-Kalafat. The issue of the second bridge has been dramatically contested by the Romanian government which tries to monopolise the energy supply and perspective trade routes from the Caspian-Black Sea area and block Bulgaria’s connection with Western and Central Europe by denying cooperation in buildinga bridge in the western part of the Danube river’s Bulgarian section. The war in Kosovo demonstrated Bulgaria’s national security interest in having a bridge at Vidin-Kalafat. This option coincides with Trans-European transport corridor 4.
Croatia’s Constitutional Court upheld a ruling on 21 October allowing a Bosnian Croat war crime suspect, Mladen Naletilic, to be sent to the ICTY in The Hague. Naletilic is accused of 17 war crimes during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia. His extradition was delayed after the government suspended the order for medical reasons.
Croatia continues to raise suspicions about the climate for free and fair elections. These suspicions are based on lack of an election law and electoral districts as well as the election date. Scheduling the elections during the Christmas holidays is seen as a clear step to discourageing both voting and monitoring. The need for the latter stems among other things from the continued state control of the media.
The Democratic Party of Montenegro is negotiating with Milosevic’s Serbian Socialist Party to reorganise the federation. The implied threats are pro-Western Montenegrin claims for a referendum on the status of the republic and the Serbian Radical Party’s promise of a civil war if Montenegro decides to separate. Anyway, Montenegrin authorities adopted a law for Montenegrin citizenship in the last week of October – a step in the direction of gaining more independence from Belgrade. There are approximately 12,000-15,000 lightly armed policemen loyal to President Djukanovic and a similar number of better armed Yugoslav forces loyal to Belgrade in Montenegro. There are around 2,000 paramilitaries supportive of the Belgrade regime in Montenegro. About 200,000 Montenegrins live in Serbia. The economic and fiscal situation of Podgorica is worsening because of the negative influence of the Serbian situation and the purposeful blocking of goods transported to Montenegro by Serb border officers. Social instability is imminent, and one can hardly guess if President Djukanovic and his democratic government would survive serious social instability.
People in Serbia’s main cities experienced mandatory two-hour electricity blackouts. Hyperinflation and food shortages are fresh signs of a worsening social security situation that coincided with a seasonal cold snap.
Serbian opposition demonstrations were treated brutally by the police in early October. When leaders of the Serbian pro-democracy opposition met with US and European diplomats on 19 October in the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia, early removal of international sanctions was urged by the Serbian side. They argued was that punitive measures, such as a ban of commercial air travel, play into Milosevic’s hands. EU foreign ministers approved $ 5 million in fuel oil aid for Nis and Pirot, two opposition-controlled Serbian cities in which oil refineries were destroyed during NATO’s bombing campaign. Germany and France are ready to provide humanitarian aid and lift the air travel ban. Austria is set to repair some Danube River bridges damaged by NATO airstrikes. The United States does not favour any reconstruction support while the regime of Milosevic remains in power.
President Stoyanov visited Ljubliana on 27-28 October and met with his counterpart President Milan Kuchan. They signed agreements of cooperation in sea communications and the military area. Bulgaria agreed to become a re-exporting area for Slovenian goods.
Albanian prime-minister Majko visited Sofia on 25 October and met with Bulgarian prime-minister Kostov. Both countries are interested in the success of the stability pact. Bulgaria has a special interest of carrying out infrastructure projects in Albania and FYRO Macedonia that will be linked with the Bulgarian infrastructure, and a regional effect will be produced. The projects envision connecting the Black Sea and the Adriatic by highways, railways, oil and gas pipelines running through Bulgaria, FYRO Macedonia, and Albania.
Greek Prime- Minister Costas Simitis told the Greek Parliament on 6 October that the unprecedented positive climate in the bilateral Greek-Turkish relations should be translated into concrete steps by Ankara for a lasting good-neighbourly relationship.
A meeting organised by the Coalition of the Left was held on 20 October in Athens to discuss ways in which Greece and Turkey can reduce their armaments. Representatives of the Government, of all political parties, major organisations, and local governments were invited to speak at the meeting.
Greek Public Order Minister, Michalis Chrysohoides said on 22 October that regular cooperation between the Greek and Albanian police forces was bringing the desired result and would be strengthened, especially in Epirus and southern Albania – the two regions on either side of the Greek-Albanian border. These meetings consolidated a feeling of security among the Greek minority in southern Albania as police worked together to break up gangs in the neighbouring country. After the meeting of Mr. Chrysohoides and his Albanian counterpart, Spartak Poci, in the Albanian town of Sarande, they agreed to cooperate in patrolling sea regions to counter smuggling and illegal immigration.
The Foreign Minister of Bulgaria visited Ankara on 13-14 October and met with Turkish Foreign Minister Cem and Prime Minister Ecevit. Bilateral issues of cooperation were discussed in the social, educational, and military fields.
The prime-ministers of the two countries, Ecevit and Kostov, started up the "Upper Arda" hydroelectric project in Southern Bulgaria on 26 October. It is part of an "electricity for infrastructure" deal. Turkey will increase the import of electricity from Bulgaria in exchange of involving Turkish companies in construction projects in Bulgaria. The two prime-ministers agreed that ‘Bulgarian’ Turks’ service in the Bulgarian armed forces would be valid in Turkey too.
f) Bulgaria-FYRO Macedonia
Bulgaria and FYROMacedonia signed a bilateral agreement for a free trade area on 13 October. The trade between the two countries will increase by 30 per cent in 2000. Construction of a 110- km long and $ 23 million. electric grid that will connect the electric networks of the two countries started on 7 October.
An annual joint military "Nikiforos" exercise was conducted 2-7 October in the Eastern Mediterranean by Greek and Cypriot armed forces. Greek aircraft did not land on Cypriot territory to prevent Turkish aircraft from being sent to Northern Cyprus.
The leaders of the CEFTA countries discussed in Budapest on 20 October the ways the forum can become an instrument in accelerating integration of EU member-states in the EU. They agreed that the restoration of normal transportion on the Danube should be a priority for the Pact for Stability of Southeastern Europe.
b) Multilateral Meeting of Social Ministers from South-East Europe in Sofia
The Ministers met on 21 October with representatives of trade unions and of employers. They discussed the draft of a social plan for the region – an effort encouraged by the coordinator of the Pact for Stability, Mr. Bodo Hombach.
Blockage of Danube transport by war debris was a main topic of discussion at the first meeting of the Working Group on economic issues of the Pact for Stability of South-East Europe in the Italian city of Bari. Only Bulgaria had lost some Euro 60 million from this to date.
At another occasion, the Economic Forum of South-East Europe in Sofia (18-21 October), other economic aspects were discussed on realising the region’s Stability Pact. The pact’s special coordinator, Mr. Hombach of Germany, said a broad investment charter for the Balkans will be drafted. The charter will include a list of obstacles for investments in the region and how to overcome them; individual plans for each country; strategies of attracting fresh money from outside the region. This document will be overseen by Great Britain with the cooperation of the USA and the OECD. A Council of the Economic Consultants, composed by experts from the region and Pact for Stability countries will function within the charter and will provide information and recommendations. The donor countries’ conference will be convened by the end of this year.
VI The Influence of External Factors on the Region: National Great Powers and International Institutions
(1) It was announced pm the USA and Albania had reached agreement on terms of Albania’s accession to the WTO. Albania’s commitments in the US-Albanian negotiations were part of broader accession negotiations conducted in Geneva.
(2) The US TDA announced the signing on 6 October of two grants totalling $ 1,27 million to FYRO Macedonia for railway modernisation projects. TDA has been actively promoting US involvement in building the East-West corridor that connects Albania, Bulgaria, and FYRO Macedonia since President Clinton announced the $ 30- million South Balkan Development Initiative in 1995. US businesses are eager to help the three South Balkan countries as they move forward with an interstate transportation corridor that is far superior to the sum of its parts.
(3) the US confirmed its position on the Cyprus issue after the visit of Turkish Prime-Minister Ecevit to Washington, D. C.: – the leaders of the two communities need to be represented; the UN will determine modalities of the talks; the USA favours comprehensive negotiations without preconditions under the UN auspices and favours any modality that results in this outcome.
(4) 10 US military experts are introducing a field integrated communication and information system (FICIS) for the Bulgarian armed forces by launching an initial study together with 80 Bulgarian counterparts. Highest quality communication equipment worth $ 2 million will be provided for the Bulgarian Army by the US "Harris" company.
1) The European Commission formally recommended on 13 October that EU authorities start accession negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania. This EC decision was political, and the two countries have a long way to go to meet all the economic criteria for membership.
2) The EU may confer in Helsinki on 10-11 December on Turkey’s status of a ‘candidate for membership’ . Though the admission process will be slow and difficult, the effect on the majority of Turks and the political elite will be of great importance and a sign of their gaining full acceptance into the Western club. Adoption of thousands of legal norms and improvement in the general human rights regime are some of the tasks Turkey must implement before becoming a full member of the Union.
3) The EU High Representative for the CFSP, Dr. J. Solana, and the EC Commissioner for External Affairs, C. Patton, visited Kosovo on 29 October. They both repeated the aim of the Union to create a functioning democratic and multiethnic province.
4) The EU promised Romania on 28 October 1999 an annual $ 636 million in aid till 2006 to save the Romanian state from bankruptcy. The EU condition is for Romania to strengthen its democracy.
The OSCE Commissioner on Minorities, Max van der Stoel, visited Greece on 9 October and urged revision of some clauses of the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty regulating minority issues between Athens and Ankara. The commissioner said the Copenhagen Convention for the Protection of the Minority Rights should be the legal basis for treating minorities in Greece. Greece has not yet ratified the Convention, and Turkey has not yet signed it.
1) The Bulgarian Ambassador to the Alliance, Boiko Noev, presented the Bulgarian Annual Programme for Preparation for NATO Membership (1999-2000) on 21 October in Brussels. The formula of this year’s programme has been "an accelerated preparation". It comprises politics and economics, defence and military issues, resources, security, and legal issues.
2) The 7th regular meeting of the Group for Standardisation of the Materiel and Engineering Activities of NATO was convened with PfP participation in Sofia on 25 October. This meeting of the AC/301 Group was the first to be carried out in a non-NATO country.
1. Conditions for a self-sustaining peace in Bosnia and Kosovo have not been achieved yet. Continuing internal instability in the Yugoslav federation further complicates the security situation in the two post-conflict areas. The coming winter may lead to a rise in tensions inside Serbia and between Serbia and Montenegro. An intensified KFOR presence on the streets of major Kosovo towns was a counter-measure to brutal acts of revenge by Albanians against Serbs. One UNMIK official was killed by Albanians in Kosovo. The Secretary General of NATO warned the Albanians that a mono-ethnic Kosovo will not be tolerated. The High Representative of the EU CFSP underlined the same thesis to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo who were pretending to cantoniseof the province.
2. Preparations continued for starting projects of the Pact for Stability of South-East Europe continued. An investment charter and the donor countries’ conference will be ready in December. Bilateral relations were added in the region this month to keeping the region-building mood in an active state. The EC decision to propose to the EU to start accession negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania is a major region-building impulse for the entire Balkans.