(A Background and November 2003 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 55, 2003

Hard copy: ISSN 1311 – 3240


1. Security Threats
2. The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
1. US

The “war on terrorism” entered a new phase in Southeastern Europe after al-Qaida or some other terrorist group attacked the Turkish city of Istanbul on 15 and 20 November. Turkey is the most important US Muslim ally; the targets in Istanbul were Jewish synagogues and British diplomatic and financial institutions. Britain is a major Turkish ally and Turkish Jews are well integrated in Turkish society, while Israel is a key strategic ally of Ankara. The attacks were clearly aimed at destabilizing Turkish society and the state, as well as inciting religious polarization between extremist-fundamentalist and moderate interpretations of Islam. The Turkish secular state and its Euro-Atlantic orientation also made it a target for the terrorists, because they are opposed to the country’s role in the Muslim world. The Istanbul attacks were seen to part of a campaign of terrorist attacks that had previously targeted Riyadh, Afghanistan, and Baghdad. The message is that soft targets of the US and its allies will be attacked, and also that the combat zone has been broadened. US allies in Iraq have been warned that they could also be targets.
A reason of the new wave of terrorist activity is the still missing unwavering political front of the Euro-Atlantic community of nations against the many faces of the terrorist evil. Unless a higher overlapping of the perceptions of the terrorist threat is achieved by the US and its allies and partners around the world terrorists will continue to register more individual ‘successes’ of terrorising democratic and secular societies. The attack on Turkey proved also that concessions to terrorists would not soften their attitudes: Ankara refrained from sending troops to Iraq, but this did not prevent the aggressiveness of Al Qaeda, its ambitions to select more new suicide killers from the Muslim society of Turkey. The fact that Turkish nationals were the ones who detonated the car bombs in the two separate terrorist acts in Istanbul shows that there are Muslims who do get the appeal of the Al Qaeda bosses. This also shows that local recruitment by Al Qaeda has been activated as an operation tool of reaching the political goals of the terrorist network.
In November, important elections were held in Serbia and Montenegro and in Croatia. Bilateral, trilateral, and regional relations in Southeastern Europe contributed to the general stability and integration of the region. The countries in the region are increasingly integrating their EU and NATO membership bids into their daily work. The European Commission reported its views on the preparedness of Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey for membership in the EU. More NATO countries ratified the Bulgarian, Romanian, and Slovenian accession protocols to the Washington Treaty this month. The US decided this month to continue its military support to the countries that had, earlier this year, opposed the US on the issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC), namely Bulgaria and Slovenia, The two states had been deprived of substantial US financial grants to aid preparations for membership in NATO.



1. Security Threats

a) Terrorism and Post-War Reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan

a) Turkey. (1) Turkey decided on 7 November against deploying troops to help the US occupy post-war Iraq. Iraq’s Governing Council and Iraq’s Kurds strongly opposed the notion of Turkish troops entering their country. The decision ended an agonizing debate on this question that had lasted since March this year. (2) On 15 and 20 November, Turkish suicide bombers allegedly operating on behalf of the al-Qaida terrorist network targeted Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city and economic centre, and the symbol of the country’s belonging to Europe. Two synagogues were attacked on 15 November by two car bombs that exploded during the Jewish Shabbat holiday as 300 people gathered to celebrate. Twenty-three Turkish Jews were killed and more than 300 people were wounded. The ‘Brigades of Abu Hafa al Masri’ – an Islamic terrorist group linked to al-Qaida - claimed responsibility for the bloody attacks. The terrorists claimed that five Israeli agents had been among the victims in the synagogues. On 20 November, two buildings associated with the UK - the Consulate-General and the HSBC bank - were attacked with car bombs. Thirty people were killed and 450 –wounded. The two buildings were almost completely destroyed. The same al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility for these attacks. Among the casualties were British, Iranian, and Turkish citizens. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that Turkey, an obvious target of international terrorism, was facing organized terrorist attacks. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, who immediately visited Istanbul, said that the attacks had been organized and carried out by al-Qaida. The attacks on 20 November coincided with a visit by US President George Bush to the United Kingdom, and are considered to be a response to the British policy of full support for the US on Iraq. The terrorist acts are also a message to Turkey, the staunchest Muslim ally of the US. The attacks in Turkey took place in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and five days before the Sheker Bairam feast, which begins on 25 November.
The present wave of terrorism in Turkey is of a new type, and is different from the traditional leftist extremist, Islamic extremist, or Kurdish terrorism. The involvement of al-Qaida in efforts to destabilize the secular Turkish state is a challenge that must lead to important domestic and foreign-political consequences. Some highly probable results include a stronger involvement of Turkey in the international counter-terrorism coalition, a strengthening of the secular elements of the Turkish society and state, a greater role of the military and security forces, and more intensive links with the US, NATO, the EU, and the neighboring NATO states. A very important social consequence for Turkey is the realization of the fact that terrorism is not only anti-Christian, as often perceived, but anti-human and anti-civilization. The UN, the North Atlantic Council (NAC), and the NATO-Russia Council strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on Turkey as outrageous and barbaric. The NAC declared its full and unwavering solidarity with its two allies, Turkey and the UK.

b) Bulgaria. (1) Dr. Akram al-Yaseri, the mayor of Kerbela – an Iraqi city with a Bulgarian military commandant in a sector under Polish control - visited Bulgaria on 3-4 November. He discussed the economic and trade needs of the city with Bulgarian authorities and business leaders. Security in the town is provided by 480 Bulgarian soldiers. Kerbela is a Shi’ite religious centre. (2) The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense on 19 November launched a recruitment campaign for volunteers for the next Bulgarian contingent in Iraq to replace the present one. (3) Bulgarian Ministry of Defense officials said on 19 November that the Bulgarian armed forces were not yet ready to deal with the terrorist threats effectively. They said the country’s armed forces would therefore require further reforms, which will be implemented in the period 2005-2010. Bulgaria will be ready to provide 5’000 troops for the NATO Response Force (NRF) by 2007, as well as 1’300 armored vehicles and tanks, helicopters, airplanes, and navy vessels. (4) The Bulgarian authorities have stepped up counter-terrorist measures after the two terrorist attacks in Istanbul on 15 and 20 November. One of the ways they responded was by raising the level of vigilance to Second Degree. During the second terrorist attack in Istanbul on British targets, a Bulgarian citizen and several Bulgarian Turks living in Turkey were injured. The security measures are aimed to protect traditional terrorist targets such as synagogues, foreign embassies, certain ministerial buildings, the nuclear power plants, etc. Bulgaria has intensified its information exchange with Euro-Atlantic partner intelligence services, and with the corresponding secret services of Russia and Israel. Bulgaria and Turkey stepped up their efforts to stop terrorist acts by improving border control by exchanging information on the topic. Similar measures have been undertaken with Greek partners. The Bulgarian, Turkish, and Romanian institutions dealing with terrorism and organized crime have already been pooling their information and analytic sources for six months. An analysis of the terrorist threat to Bulgaria after the Istanbul blasts could argue that Bulgaria is a potential target, or that it is not: Arguments for the latter case include the tolerant attitude towards the 10 per cent Muslim population, the tolerance and higher education of Bulgarian Muslims, and the generally liberal border regime of the country, all of which militate against deep-rooted antagonisms of the kind that would invite terrorist attacks by al-Qaida; to argue the former case, one might advance Bulgaria’s participation in the occupation of Iraq, its good bilateral relations with Israel, the presence of certain Muslim extremist elements in the country since the beginning of the 1990s, and the alleged presence of al-Qaida members in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Albania. In conclusion, in the present situation tighter measures against the terrorist threat are more than needed.

c) Greece. The US Department of State announced on 6 November that ''the U.S. has offered the expertise and resources of several of its agencies to Greece in order to ensure Olympic security. We are providing equipment and security training toward that end. The Greeks have the will and the resources to hold a secure and successful Olympics, and we have every confidence they will''.
''As part of this cooperation, the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security has been working closely with the Government of Greece to ensure the safety of American athletes participating in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. Discussions are ongoing with the Greek authorities. For security reasons, we will not be providing more specific information,'' it concluded.

d) ISAF. NATO has taken a leadership role in providing security in and around Kabul in Afghanistan, in what is the Alliance’s first mission beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. ISAF consists of 5’537 soldiers, including participants from the following Southeastern European countries: Albania – 23; Bulgaria – 42; Croatia – 36; Greece – 125; Hungary – 11; Macedonia – 10; Romania – 32; and Turkey – 163. NATO on 19 November announced the appointment of former Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin to be NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan with responsibility for carrying forward political-military aspects of NATO’s assistance to the Afghan Transitional Authority in fulfilling the Bonn Agreement commitments. Mr. Cetin will work closely with ISAF, the UN, and other co-ordinating bodies established by the international community, and with the Afghan Transitional Authority in Kabul.

2. The Post-Conflict Issues in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina

a) Macedonia. The US Department of State announced on 14 November that the Albanian National Army (ANA) posed a threat to peace and stability in the Western Balkans, but had not been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). ANA was included in the Annex to the President’s Executive Order 13304 of May this year. The Executive Order blocks ANA assets in the US and ANA assets in possession or control of US persons. It also prohibits US citizens from engaging in transactions or dealings with individuals and entities, including ANA, designated in or pursuant to the Order. “The ANA is a loosely organised criminal extremist group that has claimed responsibility for a handful of acts of violence in Macedonia, and elsewhere in the Western Balkans in the past year”, the US State Department website stated. It said the ANA’s goals were contrary to the true interests of the region’s ethnic Albanians.

b) Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian Serb parliamentary sources on 6 November announced plans to change the entity’s constitution to pave the way for military reforms demanded by the international community. A parliamentary commission will have to prepare draft amendments to Republika Srpska’s constitution to allow the establishment of a unified military command for Bosnia’s two post-war entities’ armies. Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation are linked by weak central institutions. The amendments would transfer the authority of the supreme commander of Republika Srpska’s armed forces from the Bosnian Serb President to Bosnia’s joint tripartite presidency. Lawmakers are to vote on the changes by the end of this year. A central defense and command headquarters in Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered to be a key step toward membership of NATO’s PfP in Sarajevo. The two armed forces will have a common general staff, the same uniform, and the same flag, but will remain ethnically distinct. Bosnia’s central government and parliament will also have to endorse a joint Defense Ministry and Defense Minister.



1. Greece. Greek Defense Minister Yannos Papantoniou announced on 6 November that his country would reduce its armed forces by 20 per cent and slash military spending. He added that neighboring Turkey is still considered a threat to Greek security in view of the claims still upheld by the Turkish side against Greece. The Greek armed forces will rely less on conscription and will modernize their equipment and methods. The number of personnel will decrease to 142’000 from 178’500, and the military budget will be cut from 5 per cent in 2000 to 3 per cent of GDP over the next five years.

2. Serbia and Montenegro. The third consecutive round of presidential elections was held in Serbia on 16 November. Again, due to low voter turnout – this time only 38.6 per cent of the eligible electorate voted, some 12 per cent below the minimum required for a legal outcome – no Serbian president was elected. The candidate of the ruling coalition, Dragoljub Micunovic, lost with 880’000 votes to his direct contender, Tomislav Nikolic (who won 1’170’000 votes) of Vojislav Seselj’s Radical Party. The presidential elections were a last test for the politicians before the parliamentary elections on 28 December. Because of the disbanding of the parliament ahead of the upcoming elections, there are legal problems in determining a new date for the presidential elections in Serbia. An obvious obstacle is the unusual provision allowing for an endless succession of invalid elections. As the OSCE has already recommended to Belgrade, this legislation should be removed from the books.

3. Croatia. Parliamentary elections were held in Croatia on 23 November. The opposition hard-line Christian Democratic Union (HDZ) won the elections and ousted the rival Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Ivica Racan from power. The hesitant policy of reforms and the high unemployment rate of 18 per cent diminished the ruling party’s influence. HDZ leader Ivo Sanader said he would seek the formation of a coalition government. The new government’s designated foreign minister, Croatian ambassador to the US Miomir Zuzul, said the winners would form a moderate centre-right regime. The HDZ has purged from its ranks some extremists who committed crimes during the succession wars of former Yugoslavia. The HDZ leader said his party aimed to bring Croatia into NATO and EU in the next two to three years and to pursue a sharply pro-US foreign policy, including offering to send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. In an about-face, on 24 November Ivo Sanader declared readiness to cooperate with the ICTY in The Hague. Cooperation with the Tribunal is one of the political criteria for membership in EU.



1. Bilateral Relations
a) Greece-Bulgaria. Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov made an official visit to Greece on 5-8 November. He met with President Konstantinos Stefanopoulous and Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The accompanying delegations discussed the energy and infrastructure projects of the two countries and ways in which Greece will support Bulgaria’s accession to the EU. Labor and social issues were also discussed. Bilateral cooperation in preparation for and during the Olympic Games in Greece was also discussed. A Greek-Bulgarian business forum was held during the presidential visit in Greece.
b) Serbia and Montenegro-Bulgaria. Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov paid an official visit to Serbia and Montenegro on 11-13 November – the first visit by a Bulgarian head of state since 1933. It is very difficult to change a hostile bilateral relationship that has already lasted more than 125 years. The similarity of the democratic systems currently being established in the two countries, and the similarity of aims (European and Euro-Atlantic integration) could help put an end to this negative tradition. A convention on border delimitation between the two countries was signed by the minister of the interior of Bulgaria, Georgi Petkanov, and the minister of foreign affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanovic. President Parvanov met with representatives of the Bulgarian national minority in Serbia. The Bulgarian president also met with the president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, and with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic. While Bulgarian media broadly reflected the state visit, Serbian ones placed the visit among the fourth-fifth in importance for Serbia news. In addition, Bulgarian journalists were not facilitated at all by their hosts in their activities to do their job as expected by Bulgarian society.
c) Bosnia and Herzegovina-Serbia and Montenegro. The president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, apologized on 13 November on behalf of his country to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the suffering caused by the 1992-95 war. This step marks Belgrade’s progress towards peace and stability in the Western Balkans.
d) Bulgaria-Romania. On 16 November Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Coburgotski met for a few hours in Sofia with Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase. They agreed to work closely towards a simultaneous signing of the EU accession treaties in early 2005 at the latest.
e) Bulgaria-Albania. On 17-18 November Albanian Prime Minister, Fatos Nano visited Bulgaria and met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Simeon Coburgotski. The two leaders discussed bilateral issues and Euro-Atlantic integration policies. During the visit high representatives of the two Ministries of Justice signed a treaty on legal help.

2. Multilateral Relations: Adriatic Charter Meeting.
The first meeting of the Partnership Commission was held on 14 November in Washington, D.C. under the auspices of the Charter of Partnership (Adriatic Charter) and included the US, Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia. These countries agreed on 2 May 2003 in Tirana to work together to advance their integration into NATO via mutual cooperation in the spirit of the Vilnius Group. The last meeting continued the dialogue occurring through regular bilateral and trilateral meetings in the region.

3. Regional Relations
a) The Fifth Economic Forum for Southeastern Europe. The Fifth Economic Forum for Southeastern Europe was convened on 3-4 November in Sofia. Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov told participants to work for the creation of a free trade area, construct an adequate transport infrastructure, liberalize the energy market, stimulate high technologies and scientific research, and finally to form a respective institutional framework of regional cooperation.
b) SEEDM. The Eighth Annual Meeting of the Ministers of Defense in Southeastern Europe (SEEDM) was held on 19 November in Zagreb. During the meeting, the leader of the US delegation to the meeting, Jan Brzezinsky, shared his idea of providing the Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe (SEEBRIG), presently stationed in Constanta, Romania, with the necessary capabilities and operational capacity to act in compatibility with NATO in the region and elsewhere in the world. The SEEBRIG budget increase was agreed at the meeting. The defense ministers agreed to end the meetings of deputy defense ministers within the SEEDM process with the exception of specific cases when an individual country insists on such a meeting.



1. EU-Southeastern Europe. EC Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy met on 13 November in Rome with trade ministers from Southeastern Europe, mainly from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro. The ministers announced the completion of a network of bilateral free trade agreements among the countries. They also agreed on the next steps to create an effective free trade area encompassing 55 million people from the region, open for business and investment.

2. International Donors’ Conference on Serbia and Montenegro. A Donors’ Coordination Meeting of representatives from 37 countries and 14 international organizations was held on 18 November in Brussels to reaffirm support for the reform agenda in Serbia and Montenegro. The participants agreed to continue efforts to boost growth, reduce poverty, and strengthen the rule of law in the troubled country. The meeting was co-chaired by the EC and the WB and it commended the reduction of the country’s inflation from 115 per cent in 2000 to 8 per cent in 2003. External debt has been cut by Belgrade from 130 per cent GDP to 75 per cent of GDP over the same period.



1. EU
The EC Annual Report on Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. The European Commission on 5 November published its annual report on the preparedness of the accession countries for EU membership.
Bulgaria was praised in the report for its progress in acceding to EU membership, although critical notes were included concerning the fight against corruption, the duration of court cases, and the completion of the privatization of the energy and steel sectors. More work is needed to improve the care of orphans and homeless children too. The report gives the Bulgarian negotiating team the opportunity to complete its job by mid-2004. This will only be possible if Brussels keeps its political pledge and provides the financial framework for completing the last three chapters of the accession negotiations with Bulgaria by January or February next year.
Romania once again failed to receive recognition as a ‘country with a functioning market economy’ from the EU. Thus, Romania remains the only country contending for EU membership that has not received EU recognition on this issue. Romania has closed 20 out of 30 negotiation chapters (for a comparison – Bulgaria has closed 26 out of 30). Romanian officials believe that next year, they will get the status of a ‘functioning market economy’ from the EU.
According to the report, Bulgaria and Romania are expected to sign a joint accession treaty by the end of 2005 and become full members in 2007. However, the issue of completing the negotiation process remains open and very much dependent on the individual countries’ achievements in the next months, and on the ability of the EU to provide the financial framework for finishing the last negotiation chapters on time.
Turkey’s progress has been noticeable, and the issues that remain to be resolved before the country can move beyond ‘candidate’ status are identified in the report without hesitation. Turkey is on the right way to EU membership, but many preparations remain to be undertaken, including resolving the issue of Cyprus. Turkey’s geopolitical and strategic value is highly esteemed by the EU, but the effective functioning of the EU is what matters for Brussels, and this perspective is also in the longer-term interest of Turkey. The EU is not a ‘Christian Club’, but Turkey is expected to embrace the EU’s values and prove that its reforms have passed the point of ‘no return’.

NATO-The Seven Candidate Countries.
(1) The British parliament ratified the accession protocols of the seven candidate countries for NATO on 23 October. The UK became the 11th NATO state to ratify the protocols, including those of Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia. (2) The Turkish parliament finished ratifying the accession protocols of the seven candidate states on 5 November and became the 12th member state to have completed the ratification. (3) The Greek parliament ratified the accession protocols to the Washington Treaty (1949) of the seven candidate countries to NATO on 6 November. Greece was the 13th NATO member to ratify the accession protocols. (4) The Lower House of the Dutch parliament on 19 November approved the NATO accession of the seven candidate countries from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The Netherlands was the 14th NATO member state to ratify the accession protocols of the seven candidate countries.



1. US
1. US - Serbia and Montenegro. “The Secretary of State has determined and certified that Serbia and Montenegro has met the criteria set forth in Public Law 102-420 for restoration of normal trade relations status, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said November 3 during the regular State Department Press Briefing. ‘Serbia and Montenegro has adopted a policy of cooperation and partnership with its neighbors and the international community, as well as beginning to implement tough measures necessary for economic reform after a decade of sanctions; therefore, restoring normal trade relations status underscores our support for these reforms and will help encourage economic growth, a key component to maintaining stability in the region,” according to a US State Department press release dated 3 November 2003.

2. US – Western Balkans. US Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman visited Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina on 3-7 November. He met with the three members of the multiethnic presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and was told how important it was to keep US peacekeepers in the country. Currently, 1’500 US troops are serving in the 12’000-strong SFOR contingent. The EU is considering taking over the NATO mission in 2004. During his visit to Belgrade, Pristina, Skopje, Tirana, and Sarajevo, Grossman discussed the state of implementation of the strategy proposed by the Contact Group on the progress of Kosovo towards democratization and stability. A full evaluation of the strategy will be carried out in 2005. If the standards provided laid out in the strategy are met at the mid-2005 review, a discussion on the final status of Kosovo may begin, Grossman said. The standards that were set in 2002 are: a. functioning democratic institutions; b. the rule of law; c. freedom of movement for all communities; d. safe return and reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees; e. a market economy; f. property rights; g. dialogue with Belgrade; h. an appropriate size of the Kosovo Protection Corps which would include minority participation. The role of UNMIK chief, Harri Holkeri, was to outline measurable steps towards meeting them, the US official said.

3. US – Bulgaria, Slovenia. US President George Bush decided on 21 November to partially lift restrictions on US military aid to Bulgaria, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Slovakia that had earlier this year opposed the US policy on the International Criminal Court (ICC). Washington on 1 July froze military support programs to those states, pursuant to the US law on protection of US citizens. At the time, Bush had not exercised his right to continue military aid. He said the candidate countries needed US help to prepare better for NATO membership, which is in the US interest. That is why he decided to change his mind, although the US does not accept the arguments in support of the ICC advanced by these countries.



After the terrorist acts in Istanbul, Southeastern European states were reminded of the need to fight terrorism while promoting security stabilization, region-building, and EU and NATO integration. There is a growing sense that individual countries require a certain degree of maturity to meet this challenge. It is still unclear to what extent local Turkish terrorist networks have been revived, and whether they have any organizational links to al-Qaida. Regardless of the conclusions, it is clear that al-Qaida’s methods include the direct or indirect use of local terrorist networks. In November, bilateral, multilateral, and regional relations were expanded in a cooperative spirit that has the potential to withstand the terrorists’ pressure.



Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief

ISSN 1311 – 3240

Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova

Address: ISIS, 1618 Sofia,

Mr. Valeri Rachev, M. A.

P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria

Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M. A.

Phone/ Fax: ++(359-2-) 551 828

Dr. Todor Tagarev

E-Mail Address:

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