SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and September 2003 Issue in Brief)
Study 53, 2003
ISSN 1311 – 3240
MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
In September, an Albanian occupation
soldier was wounded in Iraq; Turkey continued to demand a high price for
participating in a difficult operation in neighbouring Iraq; Bulgaria
and Romania decided to increase the duration and scope of their respective
occupation deployments in Iraq. With active Bulgarian involvement, the
discussion on a UN General Assembly resolution on Iraq continued. This
month, NATO finally decided to extend its stabilisation mission in Afghanistan
beyond the capital. Belgrade applied for participation in ISAF with its
own peacekeepers. Nuclear non-proliferation aspects of fighting terrorism
proved that preventive steps can be effective through international cooperation.
Such a preventive operation was carried out with US, Romanian, and Russian
The security situation in Macedonia was again undermined by Albanian separatists’
efforts to provoke a repetition of the 2001 destabilization. In Kosovo,
the Albanian drive to independence has been rebuffed by Serbian and federal
authorities and by the new UNMIK head of the province. In Bosnia and Herzegovina,
the dispute over whether EU troops should take over the stabilization
effort from NATO continued among the leading representatives of the two
institutions. It was clear, however, that neither the US nor NATO would
allow this dispute with the EU turn into a problem for the region’s security.
The EU also considers the preservation of stability in the Balkans to
be a priority task.
Some Balkan countries witnessed various developments in security sector
reform this month: Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Serbia and Montenegro
faced different issues in implementing their defense or security reforms.
The bilateral relations saw an increased activity with special efforts
to overcome the war past of the Western Balkans.
In the area of economic developments, a big US-Turkish financial agreement
reflected significant evolving interests in Southeastern Europe and the
NATO activities in Southeastern Europe involved Bulgaria, Romania, Albania,
Croatia, and Macedonia as well as Serbia and Montenegro. The visit of
US European Commander and SACEUR General James Jones to Romania and Bulgaria
was a display of NATO’s institutional interest in maintaining military
bases in the two countries.
The highlight of US activity in the Balkans this month was the celebration
of the 100-years anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations between
Bulgaria and the US. US Secretary of State Colin Powell organized a special
meeting with leaders from Southeastern Europe in New York to explain US
position on a new UN General Assembly resolution and to confirm the will
of Washington to continue the stabilization of the region. Russia was
also very active diplomatically in the Balkans this month: The Russian
foreign minister visited three Balkan countries, the Bulgarian president
was hosted twice by Russian President Putin, and Russia continued to cooperate
with Turkey on counter-terrorism issues.
September saw the beginning of the political season in the area, with
a complex nexus of problems left from previous periods. EU and NATO integration,
as well as national democratic developments, continued to pave the way
for broader regional progress.
SECURITY THREATS, CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BALKANS
a) Terrorism and Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan
1) Albania. A hand grenade attack on 15 September in
Mosul, Iraq injured an Albanian occupation soldier. Thirteen Iraqi policemen
were also injured. This was the Albanian contingent’s first casualty in
action in Iraq.
2) Turkey. SACEUR General James Jones visited Turkey
on 3 September and met with the country’s top military leaders. He said
the US would welcome any Turkish help in Iraq. Turkey is close to deciding
on whether to send a contingent of about 10’000 troops to Iraq, but continues
to face public and partly parliamentary opposition. In addition, Iraqi
officials of the interim administration declared on 5 September that the
Turkish troops were unwelcome. Turkish armed units would face problems
passing the generally pacified Iraqi north, where the Iraqi Kurds live.
Turkey already supports the reconstruction in Iraq with electricity deliveries
to its neighbor. Turkey was keen to win some of the lucrative reconstruction
projects in Iraq. Ankara is also ready to provide water purification teams,
doctors, and medical supplies.
3) Bulgaria. (1) The Bulgarian and Spanish Foreign Ministers,
Solomon Passy and Ana Palacio, agreed on 1 September in Bulgaria to work
closely in the UN Security Council to seek more international participation
in the stabilization of Iraq. They agreed that a new UN Resolution should
include a larger number of states in rebuilding Iraq. Both states consistently
side with the US and the UK on Iraq and currently contribute occupation
troops. (2) Bulgarian military officials declared on 6 September that
the country’s contingent might stay longer than initially planned (by
December this year). Accordingly, a second battalion is preparing to replace
the present one.
4) Romania. The Romanian Defense Ministry announced on
9 September that it was considering increasing the number of its occupation
troops in Iraq following a request from the US. This would add 56 more
soldiers to the 687 already there. Romania announced in August that it
was also prepared to send more troops to Afghanistan, where it already
has 450 soldiers.
5) NATO/ISAF. NATO took a preliminary step towards extending
its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan to areas beyond the capital on
18 September. Tribal warlords undermine both security and development
6) Serbia and Montenegro/NATO/ISAF. Serbia and Montenegro
is cooperating with NATO on the ISAF mission with plans for Serb forces
to be deployed to Kabul by the end of the year, according to reports by
official Serbian news channels on 17 September. The Serb forces would
be professional soldiers who would rely on US-provided equipment for Afghanistan’s
b) Other Security Threats: Nuclear Proliferation/Nuclear Terrorism.
Russia returned 14 kg of fresh highly enriched uranium from Romania under
the US-funded Research Reactor Fuel Return Initiative. The news was broken
on 22 September by the US Department of Energy. The uranium was originally
supplied by the former Soviet Union for the new-closed 2 MW research reactors
near Bucharest and will be down-blended for nuclear power plant fuel.
The step will contribute to the physical protection and accounting of
nuclear materials and to the prevention of illicit nuclear trafficking.
Inspectors from the IAEA were present as the uranium was loaded into canisters
for shipment. Romania, Russia, and the US cooperated closely in carrying
out this long-prepared secret operation in a pre-emptive move against
the threat of nuclear terrorism. A longer-term agreement between Russia
and the US on similar cases would make it easier to deal with this threat.
The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
a) Macedonia. (1) Macedonian security forces engaged
an Albanian armed group on 6-7 September in an area northeast of Skopje
as part of an ongoing law enforcement operation. There were limited casualties
on the side of the armed group. There was also limited property damage,
but no civilian casualties. Many civilians left the area preventively.
The Albanian armed groups seek to undermine peace and stability in the
country – a development that the governing coalition parties should prevent
together with the opposition parties. It is worth remembering that Albanian
rebels consider Serbia and Serbs as their main enemy and obstacle to unification.
The majority of Albanians perceive Macedonia and Macedonians as ‘Serbian
political products’. This explains the ferocity and persistence of their
fight. The counter-terrorist operation of the Macedonian ‘special forces’
was generally well prepared from professional point of view. However,
the Albanian media and top officials in Tirana assessed the attacks on
the ANA (the Albanian National Army) as ‘residual acts from the past by
Skopje’. According to officials in Skopje, this is not a new military
conflict like the one in 2001, but simply amounts to neutralizing criminal
groups. ANA representatives have promised more attacks and even a war
that would lead to the unification of all Albanians in the Balkans. The
present situation in Macedonia is a serious test for the EU’s 400-strong
EUROFOR force in the country, drawn from 26 nations. EUROFOR is supposed
to stay in Macedonia until 15 December this year under the name of ‘Operation
Concordia’. While Macedonians and Albanians have little trust towards
each other, both sides trust the EUROFOR. (2) The leader of Macedonia’s
Democratic Party of the Albanians, Arben Xhaferi, told the Albanian press
in Tirana on 15 September that Macedonia had to be divided and turned
into a federal state. He said efforts for peaceful agreement, understanding,
reconciliation, and tolerance had failed. He added that Macedonia was
already a divided country, because the ethnic communities lived according
to their own rules. (3) ANA leader Hamdi ‘Brezo’ Bairami on 15 September
threatened to attack Lipkovo, Aracinovo, and Skopje if a complete amnesty
for Macedonian Albanians is not granted by the end of September.
b) Kosovo. (1) Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic
told the federal parliament of Serbia and Montenegro on 5 September that
the continuing push by Kosovo Albanians for independence was a ‘dangerous
dream’, and that Serbs would never agree to give up the province. The
solution of the Kosovo problem, he said, would be the country’s accession
to the EU. A week earlier, the Serbian parliament had adopted a document
declaring Kosovo an integral and permanent part of Serbia – terms that
the parliament of Serbia and Montenegro did not use. (2) UNMIK chief Harri
Holkeri said on 18 September that the weak economy and high crime rates
in the province were still alarming, saying nothing had changed over the
past four years. Only the UN Security Council can make a final decision
concerning the status of Kosovo, not the local institutions, as Holkeri
pointed out. The first talks between Belgrade and Pristina are planned
for 14 October. The agenda would include energy, transport and telecommunications,
cooperation in returning Serb refugees, and cooperation on missing persons.
The issue of the final status of Kosovo is not included.
c) Bosnia and Herzegovina. (1) The defense ministers
of France and Germany met in Strasbourg on 4 September. They declared
that EU should push ahead with plans to replace NATO as the lead peacekeeper
in Bosnia and Herzegovina next year, despite reservations from the US.
However, according to ISIS analysis the magnitude of the problems in Bosnia
and Herzegovina – ethnic tensions, organized crime, suspected terrorist
activity, the search for war criminals, a difficult security sector reform,
and others – may turn out to be too hard for the nascent EU force to handle
after eventually replacing NATO. The crisis management capacity of the
EU forces still requires improvement. (2) NATO troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina
on 17 September announced the discovery of over 40t of illegal weapons
and ammunitions after three weeks of searching. The arms cache was found
in northwestern Bosnia. The SFOR troops in this country currently number
12’000, down from 60’000 in 1996. (3) On 18 September the chairman of
the Committee of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Myers, ended his
two-days visit to US peacekeepers in in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The SFOR
Commander, US Lieutenant-General William Ward, said: “The rule of law
has failed to take hold in a way that will ensure a stable peace that’'s
irreversible.” Nevertheless, investments made in Bosnia and Herzegovina
up to now have not been wasted – a lot has changed in this country and
many significant reforms are taking place now too. Myers said that the
Pentagon was reassessing the Balkans commitment, noting that one option
was for EU force to assume responsibility. He also said that US troops
in the Balkans would not be pulled out unilaterally from Kosovo or Bosnia.
THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES: SPECIFIC ISSUES
Croatia. A three-day session of the Croatian Parliament’s Interior
Policy and National Security Committee ended on 3 September . It discussed
integral security and the fight against terrorism. In its conclusions,
the committee expressed Croatia’s firm commitment to building a joint
defense and security identity, primarily within NATO, in combating terrorism.
The Committee also appealed for the reorganization of the country’s justice
2. Slovenia. On 9 September, Slovenian Prime Minister
Tone Rop said that his country had abolished obligatory military service
and would no longer call up recruits. He added that a professional army
was under development in Slovenia. Previous plans provided for abolishing
national conscript service by June 2004 – one month after the expected
entry into NATO. By 2010, the number of professional soldiers should reach
18’000, up from the present 5’000. The number of reservists will be reduced
for the same period from 30’000 to 19’000 troops. Slovenia plans to increase
its defense spending to two per cent of GDP by 2008 from the present 1.54
per cent of GDP.
3. Serbia and Montenegro. The Defense Minister of the
country, Boris Tadic said on 16 September that his country would downsize
its army from 80’000 to 50’000 and would establish closer ties to NATO.
The cuts are one of the preconditions for Serbia and Montenegro to join
the PfP program.
4. Bulgaria. (1) The municipal election campaign in Bulgaria
was launched on 19 September. On 26 October, voters will choose mayors
and municipal councilors. The elections will be a difficult test for the
present centrist liberal government, whose popularity has fallen in the
last months. (2) The Bulgarian parliament unanimously approved the proposed
changes to the country’s constitution on 24 September. The amendments
were linked to the magistrates’ immunity, non-removing, and mandating.
This has been the first change of the Constitution since it was adopted
in July 1991. The changes are expected to stimulate the fight against
organized crime and to improve Bulgaria’s chances of accession to the
EU. (3) The US warned the Bulgarian government on 26 September that naming
a former communist intelligence officer as an advisor to the prime minister
could jeopardize Bulgaria’s NATO accession. His appointment would diminish
Bulgaria’s credibility among NATO members. From a national perspective,
there was no pressing need to nominate the former national intelligence
chief from 1991-97, General Brigo Asparuhov, to the relatively insignificant
position of ‘advisor to the Prime Minister’. The step was also not logical
in the context of the ongoing broader security sector reform, including
reform of intelligence, of governance of this area, and pooling information
and analysis at the top executive level. The nomination would not be enough
to give an institutional and legislative response to the multitude of
THE STATE OF BILATERAL, MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL RELATIONS IN THE BALKANS
a) Slovenia-Croatia. On 1 September, Slovenian Foreign
Minister Dimitriy Rupel responded to a declaration by the Croatian foreign
minister to the effect that Croatia did not recognize Slovenia’s access
to open seas, and that the bilateral border accord had no legal meaning.
The Slovenian foreign minister said his country would re-consider the
support for Croatia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Dimitriy Rupel called
the declaration of the Croatian Foreign Minister ‘unacceptable’. Slovenia
called its Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Bekes back to Ljubljana for consultations
for an indefinite time.
b) Bulgaria-Romania. On 6 September the Defense Ministers
of the two neighboring countries met in Sofia. They discussed bilateral
issues as well as the two armed forces’ participation in the post-war
reconstruction of Iraq.
c) Serbia and Montenegro-Croatia. On 10 September in
Belgrade the Presidents of the two countries – Svetozar Marovic and Stipe
Mesic – apologized for crimes committed by their countries during the
1991-95 war. The bloody conflict caused 20’000 deaths. The statements
made by the two leaders are considered symbolic and a helpful contribution
towards further normalizing the bilateral relations. In October 2002,
Stipe Mesic became the first head of state to testify against Slobodan
Milosevic at the UN-mandated ICTY in The Hague. There is a long list of
unresolved post-war issues between the two neighboring countries and it
seems premature to think that the exchange of apologies is just a message
to the European Union, as Serbia and Montenegro’s President Svetozar Marovic
put it. Anyway, the mutual gestures are important for the further progress
of bilateral relations.
d) Bulgaria-Serbia and Montenegro. Serbian Prime Minister
Zoran Zivkovic visited Bulgaria on 26 September. He met with Bulgarian
Prime Minister Simeon Coburgotski, Parliament Speaker Ognyan Gerdzhikov
and with the mayor of Sofia, Stefan Sofiansky. The prime ministers of
the two neighboring countries agreed to cooperate within the Pact of Stability
initiative in the creation of a free-trade area in Southeastern Europe.
Bulgaria and Serbia will sign a bilateral agreement for a free-trade area
by the end of this year. Coburgotski and Zivkovic signed a Memorandum
on speeding up the construction of the Sofia-Nis highway– which is part
of the European Corridor No. 10.
THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE REGION
World Bank (WB)-Macedonia. The WB announced a new assistance
strategy for Macedonia on 9 September. The new strategy envisages a lending
program of up to US$165 million in the 2003-2006 period that will focus
on three sets of objectives: First, promoting efficient management of
public resources, tackling corruption, and supporting the decentralization
process; secondly, promoting private sector job creation; and thirdly,
building-up human capital through education, and protecting the most vulnerable
with a carefully designed safety net. Many ordinary citizens, academics,
and union representatives were consulted on the new plan.
2. US-Turkey. The US and Turkey signed a Financial Agreement
on 22 September in Washington, D. C. Under the Agreement the US will make
available US$8.5 billion in loans. Loan disbursements, however, must meet
two conditions set forth in US law: first, Turkey must be implementing
strong economic policies, and, second, Turkey must be cooperating with
the US in Iraq. However, the contribution of Turkish troops for peacekeeping
and stability operations in Iraq is not a necessary condition for determining
Turkish cooperation in Iraq.
THE PROCESS OF DIFFERENTIATED INTEGRATION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE INTO
THE EU AND NATO
EU-Bulgaria. On 16 September the EC Delegation Head
in Sofia, Dimitrios Kourkoulas told the press that Bulgaria would receive
€150-200 million for infrastructure projects from the pre-accession funds
for 2004. Another €50 million for the same projects are expected to come
from the EU’s Phare program.
a) NATO-Bulgaria. (1) NATO Secretary-General Lord George
Robertson came to Bulgaria for a second farewell visit on 4-5 September.
Until then, the only country he had paid two farewell visits to had been
the US. Robertson was decorated with the Highest Order of the Republic
for foreign citizens by the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov. The
NATO secretary-general also received a special award from the non-governmental
expert security sector – the Coalition for Security Sector Reform in Bulgaria.
The NATO chief participated in a conference on security issues in Southeastern
Europe, during which he confirmed NATO’s determination to stay in the
Balkans as long as it was necessary to stabilize the situation. (2) The
NATO/PfP exercise ‘Cooperative Key 2003’ was held from 1-13 September
near Plovdiv, southern Bulgaria. The exercise was commanded by NATOSOUTH
CIN in Naples, General Ellis. The exercise featured elements of counter-terrorism
training. Air Force units of NATO and PfP countries participated in ‘Cooperative
Key 2003’. 69 helicopters and 2’000 foreign troops were stationed at the
Graf Ignatievo Air Force base.
b) NATO-Bulgaria, Romania. SACEUR and US European Forces
Commander General James Jones visited Bulgaria on 17 September. He discussed
NATO military basing policy issues with Bulgarian officials. The country
will become a full NATO member in May 2004. General Jones had earlier
paid a similar visit to Romania and discussed the same problems with Romanian
c) NATO-Albania, Croatia, Macedonia. The defense ministers
of Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia, Pandeli Maiko, Zeljka Antunovic, and
Vlado Buckovski, met in Tirana on 12 September. They reaffirmed their
commitments to the Adriatic Charter signed by the three countries earlier
this year, which provides for cooperation on regional, bilateral, NATO
THE INFLUENCE OF OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS ON THE REGION: NATIONAL GREAT
POWERS AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
a) US-Bulgaria. On 19 September, Bulgaria and the US
celebrated the centennial anniversary of official diplomatic relations
between the two states. In an official statement, the White House remarked
that the US rejoiced at Bulgaria’s return to democracy and freedom after
1989. Since then, bilateral relations have grown ever stronger and deeper.
The statement notes that the two countries stand together in the “war
on terrorism”, and commends Bulgaria for helping the Iraqi people build
a free, peaceful, and democratic state. Six former US ambassadors to Bulgaria
joined the special anniversary celebrations of the in Sofia on 19 September.
b) US-Albania. US Transportation Secretary Norman Y.
Mineta and Albanian Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Luan Hajderaga
signed an Open-Skies Aviation Agreement in Washington, D.C. on 24 September.
It was the first formal transport agreement ever between the two countries.
The agreement established a liberal, market-based aviation regime allowing
both countries’ airlines to operate to, from or beyond the other’s territory.
The US now has 60 bilateral Open-Skies agreements worldwide.
c) US-Southeastern Europe. On 24 September, US Secretary
of State Colin Powell met in New York with the presidents of Albania and
Macedonia and with the foreign ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria,
Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia on the occasion
of the UN General Assembly session. Powell explained the US position on
the new UN General Assembly Resolution on Iraq and promised continuing
support for the stabilization process in Southeastern Europe.
a) Russia-Bulgaria. (1) Russian President Putin on 6-7
September convened an unofficial meeting with Bulgarian President Georgi
Parvanov in the Russian Black Sea coast resort of Sochi. This was their
fourth meeting in 2003. Russia will increase the volume of natural gas
transiting Bulgaria to 18 billion cubic meters annually, and Moscow expects
equal terms of competition in Bulgaria’s ‘Bulgargas’ privatization bid.
(2) On 29 September, Bulgarian President Parvanov inaugurated the Bulgarian
Culture Days in Moscow. The Bulgarian president met for the fifth time
this year with Russian President Vladimir Putin. An official visit by
the Bulgarian president to Russia is planned for the next months.
b) Russia-Southeastern Europe. Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov visited Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Ljubljana on 10-12 September,
marking a diplomatic return of Moscow to the Balkans after its troops
recently left Bosnia and Kosovo. Russia is maintaining a 105-strong police
presence in Kosovo. Days ahead of that visit, Harri Holkeri, the new UNMIK
leader and former Finnish prime minister, visited Moscow to attend a Contact
Group Meeting for the Balkans, hosted by Russia.
c) Russia-Turkey. In mid-September, Russian and Turkish
diplomats and experts completed two days of consultations on cooperation
in the fight against terrorism. The meeting was in the context of the
joint working group established on 16 November 2001. The next working
meeting of the group will be in the first half of 2004 in Ankara.
was proved in September that Southeastern Europe has finally turned from
being a consumer of security into a security provider for other war-ravaged
areas, mainly Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, the region is increasing
local efforts of dealing with the persisting ethnic tensions in Macedonia,
Kosovo, and, to a lesser extent, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These threefold
security tasks require the continuation of security sector reforms in
the countries of Southeastern Europe. Major steps in this direction were
made during September in Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Serbia and Montenegro.
Romania demonstrated a high level of cooperative activity with the US
and Russia in dealing with potential nuclear terrorism threats. This was
a second operation in the Balkans of that type after last year’s cooperation
between Russia, the US, and Serbian authorities on a similar case. NATO
and US leaders this month affirmed their desire to turn the Balkans into
a normal and compatible stable region of Europe. The integration of the
countries of Southeastern Europe into NATO and PfP remains a working and
highly effective political instrument for stabilizing the regional situation.
The EU continued its efforts to prove it has the potential of taking over
the burden of stabilization from NATO and the US. However, additional
capacities are indispensable to make the Union’s effort effective. Finally,
Russia began replacing its military involvement in the Balkans with diplomatic
overtures and gas energy projects. These institutions and external factors
will continue to influence the regional security situation in the months
CONTACT AND REFERENCE
Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief
ISSN 1311 – 3240
Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova
Address: ISIS, 1618
Mr. Valeri Rachev, M.
P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria
Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M.
Phone/ Fax: ++(359-2-)
Dr. Todor Tagarev