(A Background and March-April 1999 Issue in Brief)

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

Research Study 7, 1999

Hard copy: ISBN 954 - 9533 - 10 -7











The launch of the 'Balkan Regional Profile' by ISIS with the support of the ISN stems from the need to monitor, analyse and predict processes and events in South-Eastern Europe. The post-Cold War period dramatically accelerated the existing and potential conflicts but also witnessed the rise of real opportunities to accommodate the Balkans to the Eastern enlargement of the European and the Euroatlantic civic and security zone and to the globalising economy. Two patterns of security and foreign-policy behaviours were basically outlined by the regional actors in the last decade: first, the militant and destructive one, manifested clearly in the policy of the Yugoslav government and the bloody conflicts it provoked or opportunistically escalated. The second is the constructive, stabilising and region-building one. The latter pattern builds on the hopes that have seemed often distant, if not impossible, for the region - for higher living standards, modern economies, technology and infrastructure, peace and prosperity. The interaction of these two models of local political attitude, the dynamics of the security situation and the region-building evolution are in the focus of the Profile.


II Profile Background of the Balkans

1. History

The initial dream of the nineteenth century national liberation movements and freedom fighters when the Balkans were emerging from the remnants of the Hapsburg and the Ottoman Empires was the liberation and the common future of all nations of the region. However, those who were first to be liberated with external support concentrated on their national competitive goals, tacitly or openly renouncing previous regional ideals. The Berlin Treaty of 1878, an international legal framework for the permanent fragmentation or 'Balkanisation' of the region guaranteed this anti-regional behaviour.

The political ideals of the US President Woodrow Wilson and his practical efforts of post-World War I national self-determinism-based settlements in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe did little to overcome this. The USA were not yet a powerful enough diplomatic force to promote the normalisation of ethnicity/nation and state border relationships in the Balkans. In the meantime, European powers exploited as much as they could the possibilities for manipulation of internal regional divisions, conflicts and animosities for their own ends. The result for the Balkans was opportunistic nationalist behaviour under the umbrellas of alliances with external powers. The various inter-war pacts and alignments in the region amply reflected this, as did its further economic retardation. The Second World War did not change fundamentally the situation.

The Cold War period froze and temporarily diverted conflicting attitudes along the axis of East-West polarisation. Ex-Yugoslavia was the principal regional beneficiary of this divide, exploiting its non-alignment status both in the West and in the East. However, ex-Yugoslavia could not adapt to the dramatic systemic transformations at the end of the 1980s. Nor could the economic, transport and communications infrastructure of the subregion change overnight: it had been constructed for decades to serve confronting rather than overlapping attitudes.

The lesson drawn from the horrific Yugoslav conflicts was to prevent the nightmarish prospect of an all-out Balkan war in the early 1990s. It became evident for politicians and societies in the area that seeking nineteenth century solution to twenty-first century problems was counterproductive. Furthermore, the wars in ex-Yugoslavia became a major hindrance to the economic progress of the non-Yugoslav part of the peninsula as well as to most of the new post-Yugoslav states. The opportunity to join the modernising democratic world by a new interpretation of the lessons of history in the region strengthened the positions of those political actors favouring greater tolerance, reconciliation and rapprochement. The 'good' in the 'bad' of the Yugoslav conflicts was they brought in Southeastern Europe major external actors (the USA and the EU) who were interested and demanded peaceful regional cooperation. Another one, Russia, was stimulated to start reconsidering her approaches to this key region.

2. Geoeconomic, Geopolitical and Geostrategic Interests

The area of Southeastern Europe - with the sole exception by now of FRY, has been involved in political, security and economic integration designs within the post-Cold War Euro-Atlantic security community as well as in the Eurasian land mass. Whatever kind of configuration the expected twenty-first century redefinition of the geopolitical zones and geoeconomic conditions and interests would assume in the space between the Adriatic, Black and Caspian Seas and the Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans remain an invariant significant unit of this broader geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic equation with fundamental interests in it of the USA, the EU and Russia. Notwithstanding the crisis in Kosovo, the NATO strike against Yugoslavia and the humanitarian disaster in the region the geoeconomic, geopolitical and geostrategic opportunities outweigh the burden of the conflicts in the peninsula.

Southeastern Europe has a crossroad position for energy transportation and distribution from Russia and the Caspian Sea to Central and Western Europe. The transport and communication opportunities of Southeastern Europe in the context of the larger East-West and North-South corridors raise the economic attractiveness of the area. Its strategic economic outreach to the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Black and the Caspian Seas, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and to the Chinese market opens up private and government investment opportunities. The promising gas, oil, transport and trade future of Turkey focuses a major US economic interest in the Balkans. The potential of creating in the mid- to long-term an open and functioning regional common market thus stems from within the region, the European integration tendency and from the global economy. The importance of the energy and transport routes induces the evolution of a protection system and contributes to the security arrangements in the broader area.

The political challenges in the Balkans are great and the political support of the economic and business activity is one of them indeed. The transition to functioning market economies and pluralistic democracies, the finalisation of the nation-building efforts in the post-Yugoslav space, the battle for a secular and democratic Turkey, the proximity of the biggest European state- Russia, focus the political interest of major external powers as the EU and the USA. Significant issues remain to be further clarified: of the whereabouts of the geopolitical region; of the geopolitical centre and the geopolitical periphery of the region; which will be the active external powers interested in the formation or the prevention of the formation of the region; if and when finally stabilised, will the region belong to one major actor (EU), will it become an independent or just a linking area, or a factor of global antagonism. There exist both positive internal factors to the regional evolution and obstacles. Due to historical reasons the external factors possess a decisive role in stimulating the positive factors and in overcoming the obstacles to the region-building and for the opposite option too. The monitoring of the 'top-down' role of the EU, the USA and Russia is indispensable to reach assessment of the crucial interaction and results of the external and the internal factors. From a 'bottom-up' point of view no people or government in Southeastern Europe would accept the role of a "buffer" zone or a "security belt" as much as would turn over any permanent state of being part of "an arc of conflicts".

A third, geostrategic perspective is linked to the dangerous knot of conflicts in the post-Yugoslavia territory, the link of the region with the Black Sea, its proximity to the borders of Russia, the Middle East and the Gulf. The developments in ex-Yugoslavia since the beginning of the 90s proved that international attention is required to prevent or to end fighting by a concrete military potential. Rebuilding peace and post-conflict rehabilitation, on the other hand, calls for a universe of difficult political, economic and social resources that can be hardly separated from the strategic ones. The Bosnia precedent demonstrated the imperative of an interconnected strategic, social, economic and political international engagement. The Kosovo tragedy adds a new aspect of the humanitarian disaster but 'methodologically' underlines the need for an approach that includes military, economic, political and social instruments for coping with the difficult situation. The local perceptions in Southeastern Europe of these issues are of rising needs to cooperate strategically with NATO, of an improved potential of the Alliance to bridge the security interests of the European countries in the OSCE zone.

3. The Civilisation Aspect

The Balkans comprise seven major national-ethnic groups - Greeks, Bulgarians, Turks, Serbs, Croats and Albanians, and more than twenty smaller ethnic communities - Roma, Hungarians, Armenians, Gagaouz, Jews, Tatars, etc. Except for Slovenia that claims it belongs to Central rather than to Southeastern Europe, none of the Balkan countries is homogeneous in demographic terms.

There are three principal religions in the Balkans: Eastern Orthodox Christianity (mainly in Bulgaria, FRYugoslavia - Serbia and Montenegro, FYROMacedonia, Greece and Romania); Catholicism (mainly in Croatia and Slovenia) and Islam (mostly in Turkey and Albania). Bosnia and Herzegovina is a special case with all three religions confessed on its territory more or less evenly. A large part of the population in the Balkans self-recognises itself as atheistic.

The post-Cold War history of the Balkans proved that even if conflicts erupt along cultural and denominational boundaries they have primarily political and economic roots as well as keys for solution. The Balkans witnessed: a) bloody wars that seemingly stemmed from ethnic and religious differences, rivalries and hatreds in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo - a Serbian province in the FRY; b) an ethno-religious conflict with low intensity in FYROMacedonia, and c) a peaceful settlement of the same conflict in Bulgaria with its Turkish ethnic minority. The Balkan experience of the last decade proved again that any military or violent solution of this kind of conflict may lead just to a temporary halt of the hostilities or a cease-fire but not to a lasting regulation of the conflict. The lack of a democratic experience and institutions in some of the Balkan states is a main reason to let the ethno-religious conflict escalate or an obstacle to prevent the transformation of a cease-fire into a lasting peace agreement. Any attempt to cope with the ethno-religious controversies by displacing big groups of people ('ethnic cleansing') as the experience in Bosnia and in Kosovo showed, only creates time-bombs and explosions of the conflict in bigger proportions in the future. It is only a state structure that prioritises the principles of ethno-pluralist democratic institutions, a sustainable market economic society and a conscientious policy of reconciliation and rapprochement that bear a real potential to prevent or resolve an ethnic or religious conflict.


III Conflicts and Post-Conflict Developments in the Balkans

Different classifications enlist from twenty to more than ninety acting and potential conflicts in the Balkan region with even greater number of eventual interactions, linkages and influences among them. Presently the peninsula is distressed mostly by the Kosovo conflict. The complexity of the Kosovo issue stems from its ethnic, religious and legal aspects as well as from the involvement of the great powers of the Contact Group for former Yugoslavia in this regional problem in an unconcerted way. Though a long preventive effort of major external to the region actors (the USA, the EU, Russia), international organisations (the UN, OSCE, NATO) and neighbouring countries (Albania, Bulgaria, FYROMacedonia, Greece, Romania, Turkey) was exerted, the fragile great-power balance in the Balkans was exploited by a skilful local political manipulator, the President of FRY Slobodan Milosevic. After failing to solve in a legal political way an internal problem of his country he refrained to accept the suggestions of the parties involved in the Rambouillet talks. Then he dared to test the reactions of the international community to a policy of ethnic cleansing thus putting at a great risk the life of all his Albanian and Serbian fellow-citizens in the province of Kosovo. This marked a further heightening of the risk linked to an eventual worsening of the NATO-Russian relations - a development that Milosevic purposefully wanted to happen and try to hide his 'smaller' in magnitude plans of expelling his Albanian population and creating a major Balkan destabilisation with a potential to proliferate in a wider European region. The application of FRY to join the Commonwealth of the Sovereign Republics (Russia and Byelorussia) was part of the political instruments Milosevic exploits for his own purposes. The still unregulated by international law issue of 'humanitarian intervention' and an obvious inefficiency of the Security Council of the UN to allow a mandate for such an intervention was exploited with the hope that this is enough to deter the international community to act and provide President Milosevic with the free way to continue his 'ethnic displacement' designs. The inefficiency, the blocking of international law is not an adequate argument to use violent means against the people of his own country. The consequences of the evolving crisis in Kosovo and after the NATO strikes against Yugoslavia for the broader region are very negative. Though most probably the strategy of the Yugoslav leadership will not succeed for the time-being it supplies all countries from the region with various ranges of difficult to tragic problems. The population of FRY is also suffering dramatically of this policy. However, there are great expectations in the region the end of the Kosovo crisis will mark the beginning of the implementation of a historic programme the Secretary General of NATO called "Partnership for Prosperity" of the Balkans with the engagement to support the political, social and economic integration of this area in Europe.

The second major Balkan issue of this period is the 'Ocelan case'. The arrest of the Kurdish leader created a lot of frustrations - both political and legal, throughout Europe and in the Balkans in particular. Undoubtedly it marked intensification of the Greek-Turkish tensions, both NATO members, on the eve of a major regional crisis. This case highly marked the EU-Turkish relations and the prospects of this major regional power to join the Union. It also created a lot of political controversies in Greece, including the dismissal of Government Ministers, and intensification of the armed operations of the Kurdish resistance organisations, mainly the outlawed in many states PKK.

The formal recognition of the Republic of China (Taiwan) by FYROMacedonia led to the break of the diplomatic relations of this young Balkan state with the People's Republic of China. The involvement of one of the great powers and a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council in a negative way with the region is not a welcome news. There are doubts that the economic and financial motivation of Skopje to undertake this act will be adequately satisfied by Taiwan. Beijing already vetoed the continuation of the presence of UN 'blue helmets' on Macedonian soil.

A post-conflict achievement in the Balkans - the implementation of the Dayton agreement about Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been jeopardised by: a) events in the Serb Republic of this federation, and b) the provocations against Bosnia and Herzegovina after the beginning of the NATO strikes against Yugoslavia - an element of the strategy of Belgrade to destabilise the neighbouring regions of FRY.

After creating problems to Muslim and Croat refugees to get back to their homes in Brcko and to the return of displaced Serbs from Brcko to the Croat-Muslim Confederation (Brcko is a key strategic town in northern Bosnia, linking the Western and the Eastern parts of the Republika Srpska), the High Representative of the international community for civil implementation of the Bosnia peace process, Carlos Westendorp, ordered on 5 March 1999 the removal of Nikola Poplasen - the president of the republic. Later on the same day Brcko was proclaimed by the High Representative a neutral district, a condominium shared by both the Croat-Muslim Confederation and by the Serb Republic. While the parliament of the Serb Republic rejected both the dismissal of the President and the new status of the disputed town, the Prime-Minister of the republic, Milorad Dodik, who resigned after the decision about Brcko, continued to carry on his duties and stayed on, cooperating with the international observers in Bosnia.


IV The National Perspectives of the Balkan Countries: Specific Issues

1. Albania

Albania received a major 'demographic blow' from the deportee flow from Kosovo. The poorest European country is providing support to the rising number of ethnic brethren from the troubled province (more than 300,000 people). Albania is also providing bases for NATO ground forces for coordinating the humanitarian support and for strikes against Yugoslav ground forces in Kosovo. The Albanian-Yugoslav tensions are rising and exchange of fire at the border is reported. The whole air space of Albania is provided to NATO.

2. Bulgaria

Bulgaria has received a heavy blow on its economic reform process from the daily mounting losses from the war in Yugoslavia - transport, trade, investment activity, etc. Practically the country is cut from its main economic orientation - the Western one. The obstacles created by the Romanian Government in constructing a bridge over the Danube river at Vidin-Kalafat with Bulgarian and international funding have inflicted a dangerous stroke on the country's national security. At the same time Bulgaria demonstrated full solidarity with the NATO policy in the Balkans and the Alliance has cared not to carry out its operation through the Bulgarian air space. Excellent relations with FYROMacedonia, Greece, Turkey and Romania (despite the bridge issue) are fundamental for preserving the constructive, the peaceful and humane aspect of the image of the region. Despite the fragile economic state of the country it has taken up to now about 2,300 deportees from FRY on its territory and provides support for 3,800 more deportees to the neighbouring FYROMacedonia.

3. FYRO Macedonia

This young Balkan state is undergoing the harshest trial in its short history - more than 120,000 deportees found shelter from Kosovo. It is on the brink of its economic survival and needs much greater international support. The call of the Prime-Minister for an early integration in NATO is linked with the need to introduce in the state structure a stabilising factor on an expedient basis.

4. Greece

After receiving a heavy blow with long term effect from the Ocelan arrest, Greece was keen to get its government in better shape on the eve of the Kosovo crisis. Some of the biggest demonstrations in support of Yugoslavia and against the NATO strike were organised in Athens. Greece is a traditional friend of Yugoslavia with whom it has fought on the same side as an ally four times during this century.

5. FRY

After declining to find a solution in the terms of the Rambouillet and the start of the strike against Yugoslavia on 24 March 1999, the FRY declared war on NATO. The visit of the Russian Prime-Minister Primakov to Belgrade in an effort to find a practical way out of the intensifying war could not achieve its aim. The situation in the other Yugoslav republic - Montenegro, is becoming more dramatic. The inflow of deportees (about 60,000), the change of top-brass by Belgrade (a direct hint of a possibility to change a democratically elected government and President), a worsening social mood after the strikes against military targets on the Montenegrin territory may lead to a burst of civil disturbances and the imposition of martial law from Belgrade. The economy of FRY has suffered a heavy blow and more than 300 civilians have been killed by the air-strikes.

6. Romania

Romania demonstrated full solidarity with the strikes of NATO. Though the public opinion initially was more favourable of the Yugoslav position it started to change after understanding the level of human suffering by the Kosovo Albanians. Romania underwent itself a dangerous social strife just a month before the start of the Kosovo crisis and police and armed forces clashed with protesting minors. Some were killed and wounded. The Romanian economy is passing a most difficult period in its reformation.

7. Turkey

The Turkish Government was greatly supported by the Turkish population after the arrest of the Kurdish leader Ocelan. It took steps that tried to highlight the Greek policy and portrait it as supportive of international terrorism. Though the two countries are with the most heavily armed military establishments in the Balkans and with open enemy perceptions of each other, being NATO members they closely cooperate during the campaign of the Alliance in Yugoslavia.


V The Bilateral and the Multilateral Relations in the Balkans . The State of the Regional Initiatives

1. Bilateral Relations

A complicated network of bilateral relations in the Balkans was formed in March-April 1999 in preparation and in reaction to the Kosovo conflict. Less attention has been devoted to the constructive efforts to improve the regional economic and social situation through bilateral interactions. A special attention deserve the qualitative improvement of the Bulgarian-Macedonian relations on the eve of the Kosovo crisis; the visit of the President of Turkey in Bulgaria days before the launch of the NATO strike against Yugoslavia; the visits of the Greek Defence Minister in FYROMacedonia, Romania and Bulgaria after the first days of the inflow of refugees and deportees from the troubled Serbian province of Kosovo. The Greek Defence Minister declared his country would insist in Washington at the NATO Summit in the end of April 1999 the three Balkan countries - Bulgaria, FYROMacedonia and Romania to be admitted in the Alliance as a measure to stabilise the general Balkan security situation.

2. Multilateral Relations

a) The Meeting of the Presidents of Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania on 11-12 March 1999 in Sinaya, Romania. They discussed the trilateral political and economic cooperation, mainly in transport and tourism as well as the joint fight against organised criminality. NATO enlargement and the creation of a free trade zone by the three states were in the focus of the talks. The hope of the three leaders that the Kosovo crisis will find a peaceful solution was contradicted later by the events in the field of the conflict.

b) The Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, FYROMacedonia, Greece, Romania and Turkey in Bucharest on 19 March 1999 adopted a Declaration for the Peaceful Solution of the Kosovo Crisis. It did not produce a practical effect on the Government of FRY.

c) The Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROMacedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Hungary - neighbours of FRY, with the EU Troika (Germany, Austria and Finland), the Presidency of the OSCE and the UNHCR in Bonn on 1 April 1999. Aspects of the stabilisation efforts of the region were discussed with a particular accent on the refugees (deportees), the economic consequences of the crisis and the ways of their compensation.

d) The Meeting of Secretary of State M. Olbright with the Foreign Ministers of the 'front-line' countries with FRY on 13 April 1999 in Brussels.

3. Regional Initiatives

The following regional initiatives are influencing the process of shaping of the region of Southeastern Europe as a normal European region:

a) Balkan Conference on Stability, Security and Cooperation in Southeastern Europe - a process that was started in July 1996 in Sofia, Bulgaria by the Foreign Ministers of the Balkan countries, called the 'Sofia process'; a 'bottom-up' effort to develop the region into a compatible part of Europe. It has practically developed a Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and Heads of State and Government formats. A very important product of the defence aspect of the cooperation is the creation of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force of Southeastern Europe (MPFSEE) - a multinational rapid reaction force of Albania, Bulgaria, FYROMacedonia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Turkey. The Headquarters of the unit will be in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for the next four years. The MPFSEE will be operational from December 1999 and will closely cooperate with the PfP and NATO.

b) The Process for Stability and Goodneighbourliness in Southeastern Europe - The Royaumont Process - started on 13 December 1995 by the EU and aims the evolution of the civil societies of the individual Balkan countries, the improvement of the goodneighbourliness and the mutual information of the national developments, the respect of human rights in the region. Apart of the EU and the Balkan countries it includes also Russia, Slovenia, the USA, the CE and the OSCE.

c) The Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) or "The Plan Shifterî- launched on 6 December 1996 by the USA. It aims at improving the transport infrastructure in the border check-points of the Balkan countries, the attraction of private capital interests and the evolution of a regional common market.

d) The Southern Balkans Development Initiative (SBDI) - a US Government sponsored initiative of improving the transport infrastructure between Albania, FYROMacedonia and Bulgaria in 1995. On 22 March 1999 in Washington, D. C. was convened the 12th Meting of the Coordination Group of the SBDI.

e) US-French Initiative to increase cooperation with Southeast Europe's emerging democracies on security matters, regional cooperation and economic development - an initiative spelled out on 19 February 1999 by President Clinton and President Chirac in Washington, D. C. that needs to be clarified further. The conflicts in the Balkans have highlighted the need to strengthen stability across Southeast Europe. The US-French initiative waits to be joined by other NATO allies. The focus will be an increased cooperation with Southeast Europe's emerging democracies on security matters; coordination of security assistance to them from NATO countries; promotion of regional cooperation and economic development.

The period of March-April 1999 did not witness activity of promoting the constructive regional initiatives due to the escalation of the Kosovo conflict.


VI The Economic Situation of the Balkan Countries and the Region

1. A General Evaluation

From mid-1998 the countries of Southeastern Europe meet difficulties in overcoming the economic stagnation and in implementing the structural transformations of their economies. The prolonged economic stagnation and the tense situation caused by the Kosovo crisis narrow the chances for vitalising the general demand. 1999 is expected to end with a diminishing tendency of economic rise in Bulgaria and Slovenia, deepening of the economic recession in Romania, Croatia, FYROMacedonia and FRY. The economic situation in Greece and Turkey is characterised by the policy of disinflation and currency stabilisation at a moderate rate of structure reform, including privatisation. Decreasing the budget deficits - the basic source of the inflation, remains the priority economic policy of the two countries in 1999.

2. Economic Growth

Slovenia, Bulgaria and FYROMacedonia have a positive rate of the rise of the GNP for 1998. Romania, Croatia and FRY slowed down their rate. Positive but comparatively slowed are the rates of economic rise of Greece and Turkey. The imbalance of the economic dynamics and the prerequisites for economic stabilisation between the countries transforming into market economies, on the one side and Greece and Turkey, on the other. Though there exists a need of seeking better opportunities for regional programmes for economic interaction and development there is no real progress in this direction.

The external conditions of progress will expectedly be worsened by the war in FRY, especially by stopping the inflow of new foreign investments in the region, by increasing the losses from the diversion of the flow of goods, services and people and from the general reduction of the economic activity in the region.

The major problem of most of the countries in the region in their relations with the international financial institutions lies in their transition to a non-inflation sustainable economic rise through implementing structure and stabilisation programmes. An eventual worsened internal situation in these countries inevitably leads to a worsening of the issue of the decapitalisation of the transitional economies.

The general economic depression of the region influences negatively the efforts of Greece to improve her macroeconomic indicators and to narrow the distance from the group of 11 EU countries that already implement the third stage of the EMU.

Turkey is under the regime of a three years programme of the IMF that should lead to a structure change and financial stabilisation without financial support.

Bulgaria also implements a three years agreement with the IMF for structure reform with financial support of the payment balance, including with WB funds.

The belonging to a risky region in connection with the Kosovo crisis further worsens the problem of the inadequacy of the capital resources for the transforming economies. The slowed down inflow of foreign direct investments and the diminished chances to reach the international financial markets after the financial crack-down in Russia in August 1998 have a negative effect on the economic development of the region. The debts of the organisations from the production sector in all transforming countries influences in a destabilising way the banking systems and causes a drastic shrinking of the internal credits as well as devaluation of the national currencies. All this leads to greater difficulties in getting out from the economic crisis.

Inflation and unemployment are also major problems of the national economies of the region.


VII The Influence of the External Factors on the Region: National Great Powers and International Institutions

The region of Southeastern Europe is largely dependent on the influences and involvement of the external power factors. Neither overcoming the conflict burden nor the gradual transition of the peninsula into a compatible European region will be possible without the 'benign participation' of NATO, the USA, the EU and Russia (Russia continues to be the main energy supplier for the Balkans).

This is why the 'Balkan Regional Profile' will carefully monitor and assess the comprehensive projects of these centres of world power for their involvement in the region as well as their practical acts of interaction with both the individual countries from the Balkans and the area in general. The effectiveness of these interaction will determine the pace of the emancipation of Southeastern Europe into a functioning European region, free of violent solutions of its problems and part of a working security community in the Euro-Atlantic space.


VIII The Security Situation and the Region-Building Evolution: Conclusions

1. The Kosovo conflict and its escalation to the level of a full-scaled high intensity military crisis is a consequence of the clash of two clearly opposing strategies of behaviour for coping with the issue - of NATO and of FRY. The war reflects also an inefficient regulation impact of the political cooperative effort of the Balkan actors - neighbours of FRY, for de-escalating the tensions. The war and the consequent humanitarian disaster reflects a measured Russian involvement in treating the conflict that is perceived as just an effort to reach a particular Russian interest by utilising a hot conflict for Russia's own ends.

2. The Kosovo tragedy, four years after the drafting of the Dayton agreement about Bosnia demonstrated that the Balkan countries alone cannot decisively drive forward the process of building-up the region as a modern economic and security entity of Europe unless they have coped with a most dangerous and politically fuelled by the regime of Milosevic ethno-religious and territorial conflict - the Kosovo one. Both the overcoming of the most dangerous conflicts in the region and the comprehensive approach to region-building will remain ineffective if NATO and EU do not take the initiative. A constructive Russian engagement has also a chance of realisation.

3. The experience of coping with the refugee (deportee) issue of Kosovo will greatly influence the formation of an international know-how of solving this issue in UN-OSCE-EU-NATO framework in eventual future crises.

4. An encompassing NATO and EU plan, a "Partnership for Prosperity of the Balkans" as declared by the NATO leadership in the beginning of March 1999 will be most appropriate to start at the end of the war in Yugoslavia. This should be a concrete programme of scaled integration of the region of Southeastern Europe in NATO and the EU. In the mean-time a practical support for those in the Balkans that are suffering from the policy of destabilising the neighbouring to FRY countries is indispensable.

Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor-in-Chief ISSN 1311 - 3240
Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova Address:
Mr. Valeri Rachev, M. A. ISIS, 161 8 Sofia, P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria
Dr. Sc. Venelin Tsachevsky Phone/Fax: ++(359 - 2-) 551 828
Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M. A. E-Mail Address:
Dr. Dinko Dinkov
Dr. Todor Tagarev


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