BALKAN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING EVOLUTION OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
(A Background and June 2000 Issue in Brief)
Research Study 6, 2000
Hard copy: ISSN 1311 - 3240
AN I S N-SPONSORED MONTHLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
A year ago in June the military campaign of NATO against the Former Yugoslav Republic (FRY) came to an end. Much has been done since then, and still more needs to be accomplished.
Despite the triumphant cries of official Belgrade that Serbia is now a greater nation than it was ten years ago, and despite the “historic rebuilding” of the ruined country, it is clear that reconstruction is limited and inadequately funded. The living standards of the Serbian people continue to drop with a dictator still in charge. The struggle of the international community to achieve peace in Kosovo continues, despite the obstacles created by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and the past, deeply rooted hatreds between Albanians and Serbs. It has become obvious during the past year that the future of South-Eastern Europe means more than simply overcoming the conflicting relations in former Yugoslavia. The Pact for Stability was launched as a qualitatively new strategic instrument of external "intervention" in the region. Bulgaria and Romania started their accession negotiations with the European Union (EU), and Croatia joined NATO's Parnternship for Peace program. The EU will soon start stabilisation and association talks with other countries from the region. Clearly these trends are the way of the future for the Balkans – not the continuing mafiotisation of the Serbian statehood, not the assassination attempts against opposition leaders like Vuk Draskovic in Serbia, and not the concerns of how the Yugoslav armed forces would react if thrown against their own people. Many soldiers would defect from the army, others would ruin their lives if they joined the repression of their people. Serbian society can see easily that the Serbs are not a hated people – the EU, the Stability Pact, and FRY's neighbours are doing their best to give support in the environment of a dictatorial regime. National and international attention is focusing more and more on the best and most fair way of getting rid of Milosevic and his clique that introduced legislation for criminal punishment of "intentions" rather than of proven acts of terrorism. The greatest challenge today for the Serbian opposition and society, for FRY's neighbours and for the international community is to prevent civil war in the country. A united opposition and flexible treatment of the individual Milosevic case are the two prerequisites for averting the next war in the Balkans.
At present the Kosovo Force (KFOR) is still needed to secure a liveable environment in Kosovo and to provide support to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The postal service in Kosovo is once again operational, thanks to UNMIK administrator Bernard Kouchner.
In June a tragic incident in Greece brought back memories of the still active terrorist organisation “17th of November”: the killing of the British military attaché in Athens. The murderers made a link between this act and the British support of the “Allied Force” operation in Kosovo one year ago.
Several senseless and destructive acts of violence and vengeance by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, including a land mine explosion under a car, shootings and grenade attacks, took the lives of several Serbs and injured many more. Bringing to justice the killers, however, as in most similar cases, remains difficult. Meanwhile, KFOR troops discovered several arms depots. Most commentators believe the huge arsenals belong to the otherwise disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA or UÇK). A journalist with clear KFOR accreditation was seriously wounded in down-town Pristina, most probably because she had uttered words in a Slavic, maybe in Serbo-Croat. Powerful mines exploded, and others were secured in time in Presevo, Southern Serbia, at the border with Kosovo, several times this month. An illegal Kosovar Albanian organisation, the “Alliance for the Future of Kosovo”, declared at the beginning of June that it was going to treat the Russian KFOR soldiers as "enemies" until they left the province. Russian soldiers were fired at several times this month.
At the beginning of June the UNMIK administration ordered an Albanian newspaper to stop publication for eight days for hate content that led to the murder of a Serb UN staff member, 25-year-old Petar Topoljski. As a result, the Serb National Council of Kosovo boycotted meetings of the UN-led interim government as a protest against the upsurge of violence. Moderate Serb leaders of Gracanica were accused by their compatriots of betraying their own people by continuing to work under such circumstances, another adverse effect of the violence.
The list of significant challenges ahead in Kosovo, a year after the end of the war, is considerable: 1) UNMIK is short-staffed by 40 per cent; 2) the justice system is inadequate; 3) because of Albanian acts of terror and obstructions by the Milosevic regime, Serbs who remain in Kosovo feel insecure and are reluctant partners in the efforts to establish democracy in Kosovo; 4) violence against the Serbs and Roma, the isolation of their communities and the appearance of provocative “vigilante journalism” are undermining the international effort in Kosovo and are setting back the process of creating a tolerant and democratic society; 5) Milosevic has retained power in Belgrade, and progress in the province and in other parts of the region are being obstructed; 6) the KLA continues its existence through clandestine police, intelligence and counter-intelligence, mostly masked by the legal Kosovo Protection Corpse (KPC); 7) a more intensive search of weapons’ depots, mostly belonging to the Kosovar Albanians, is needed; 8) the border regions of Kosovo, where Albanians who never lived in this region are settling (in many cases as trafficers of weapons, drugs and illegal migrants), are neglected; 9) a special case exists on the border between Kosovo and the Presevo area in Southern Serbia, from where dangerous provocations against KFOR troops may be started; 10) contacts with official Belgrade for dealing with practical problems are difficult; 11) the future of the Pristina airport is a contentious issue between KFOR and its Russian component, as well as with FRY, the sovereign of the territory.
A former commander of Serbian para-military formation The Panthers, 42-year-old Ljubisa Savic, was killed on 9 June in Bielina. The assassins are unknown. Savic was close to the Bosnian Serbian leader Karadzic in 1992-95.
SFOR soldiers arrested 26-year-old indicted war criminal Dusko Sickiriza on 24 June in Priedor. He is accused of killing 140 Bosnian Muslims and Croats.
The first unit of the Bosnia and Herzegovina State Border Service (SBS) was inaugurated in a ceremony at Sarajevo Airport on 6 June. This is an important step in fighting the trafficking of women, illegal immigration in general and cross-border trade in illegal goods.. The SBS is expected to take control of three other entry points in July, and expansion will continue until all entry points along the border are staffed. Once the service is complete, some 3'000 police will be present at more than 240 border crossings across the country.
There is progress in police training and judicial reform. However, despite five sets of internationally-run elections in five years, no local election has yet been fought on non-ethnic and non-ideological grounds. Social reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina has to overcome seven significant challenges: 1) it needs to develop a National University; 2) to restore ethnic and religious tolerance; 3) to give up separatist ambitions and aims; 4) Bosnian political leaders need to accept the concept of Bosnia as a state, embracing democracy and a market-oriented economy; 5) the Dayton Agreement needs to be fully implemented; 6) good coordination of the national components of the SFOR and their fighting readiness need to be preserved; 7) military support from FRY for the Bosnian Serbs needs to be cut by a fundamental change in Belgrade.
Brigadier Stephen Saunders, the British military attaché to Greece, was brutally killed in Athens in the morning of 8 June. The illegal left-extremist organisation “17th November” declared on 9 June its responsibility for the killing. The reason the terrorists point to is the key role Saunders played during the Kosovo crisis.
The group “17th November” was formed in 1975, and since then it has been responsible for the killings of 22 Greeks and foreigners. No member of the organisation has ever been arrested.
The Greek Government prepared on 12 June a draft agreement on cooperation with the US and the EU to counter terrorism. The Greek Government also promised an award of US$2.83 million for information that may lead to the arrest of the assassins of the British military attaché in Athens.
The adviser to the President of Montenegro on security issues, Goran Zugic, was assassinated on 1 June in Pogdorica, Montenegro. He was 38 years old. This was the first killing of a high-level Montenegrin politician. The killing took place a few days before the municipal elections in two major cities – Podgorica and Herzeg Novi. The climate of fear and violence in Montenegro, as well as in Serbia, is constantly perpetrated by Milosevic's regime in Belgrade. In an interview with a Bulgarian daily newspaper on 5 June the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Philip Vujanovic, said relations with Serbia had never been worse. The leadership of Montenegro was unable to negotiate an agreement with the political regime in Belgrade, the latter was neglecting all proposals from Podgorica, and only the Serbian democratic opposition could be the partner, Vujanovic said. He also said that after the failure of the economic blockade, Milosevic was beginning to pressure Podgorica through the armed forces. The municipal elections in Podgorica and Herzeg Novi (comprising one third of the 600'000 population of the country) of 11 June were a reflection of the balance of pro-Jukanovic and pro-Milosevic supporters: Jukanovic's party won in the capital, and the party of FRY Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic won in the Adriatic coastal town of Herzeg Novi. The fears of a crackdown in Montenegro led the president to a tactic of easing the tensions on the eve of the elections after the killing of Zugic. The once-promised referendum was never mentioned during the campaign, notwithstanding the unwillingness of Podgorica to be represented by Belgrade in the UN. As a result the elections were free and fair and were conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.
The armed forces of FRY, including its air forces, conducted on 3 June the biggest tactical exercise for several years. On the last weekend of June, the Yugoslav army began exercises in Montenegro near the border with Albania.
Serbia’s best-known opposition figure, Vuk Draskovic, survived a second assassination attempt on 16 June, after gunmen fired automatic-weapons through a window at his holiday home as he watched television. Draskovic accused Milosevic's secret police of trying to kill him, but he was not seriously injured in the attack: the bullets merely grazed his left ear and his right temple.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) issued on 21 June a warning that international punishment and sanctions would follow against any country that provided shelter to Milosevic.
The Yugoslav Parliament is processing a draft bill of the government for fighting terrorism. The opposition forces in FRY are worried that the law will be used to persecute the enemies of Milosevic's regime. The draft law is to be voted on on 30 June by the two chambers of the parliament in an extraordinary session.
A restructuring of the FYROM Government will lead to the dismissal of eight ministers due to the cut of eight former ministries. Completion of the reorganisation is planned for mid-July. The ratio of coalition party representation, including that of the ethnic Albanian party, will not change.
The FYROM Parliament adopted a law on 23 June that gives regulated access to the individual files of the secret police. Initial data show there are about 14'000 files. A text in the draft law providing for declarations of civil servants about their formal links with the secret services was dismissed during the discussions.
(1) The FRY Foreign Ministry accused the Bulgarian Government of violating United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1244 with its decision to open a liaison bureau in Pristina. The opening of the bureau had been encouraged earlier by UNMIK administrator Bernard Kouchner. It will be organised in a similar way to the Greek liaison bureau. Bulgaria needs this bureau to support the activity of 60 international police from Bulgaria, whose number will soon rise to 100, and of the 40 Bulgarian KFOR peacekeepers. Greece, the US, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey already have representation bureaus in Pristina. Such bureaus are fully consistent with UNSC Resolution 1244 and the peacekeeping role of the UN. (2) The Mayor of Sofia, Stefan Sofianski, visited Serbia and Montenegro on 10-14 June. He had been invited by Serbian opposition leader Zoran Djindjic and the mayor of Podgorica. Sofianski discussed self-government of the municipalities with Serbian mayors elected by the votes of the opposition.
After a six-month halt negotiations between the two countries about the name of FYROMacedonia were continued at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York on 18 June. The ambassadors of the two states in the UN are conducting the negotiations. A compromise on the name “Republic of Macedonia” is imminent and would distinguish the present FRYOM from the geographic region "Macedonia" in northern Greece.
Bulgarian Minister of the Interior Emanuil Yordanov and FYROM Minister of the Interior Dosta Dimovska met in Sofia on 18-20 June. They concluded an agreement to tighten border controls and to take joint measures against illegal migration. This is the third document on border cooperation, following previous protocols for maintaining border installations and for preventing cross-border incidents. Dimovska also met with the Bulgarian president and the prime minister.
Bulgarian Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Evgeni Chachev and Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Cumhur Ersumer agreed in Istanbul on 28 June to double the Bulgarian export of electricity to four billion kilowatts a year in exchange for transport infrastructure construction by Turkey on Bulgarian territory.
Bulgarian National Coordinator of the Pact Nikola Karadimov proposed on 8 June in Thessaloniki to host an annual forum “Mini-Davos” within the context of the Pact for Stability in South-Eastern Europe. At a working table meeting, ideas of cooperation on national investment projects within the existing network of donors were discussed. Karadimov suggested opening a bureau of the special representative of the Pact for Stability, Bodo Hombach, in Sofia.
The gross national product (GNP) of Bulgaria has risen by 4.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the previous one. The rise of industrial production by 6.2 per cent and of construction by 16.5 per cent are the main reasons for the improved macroeconomic situation. Investments in the same period have increased by 18 per cent. Labour productivity in Bulgaria and in all Eastern European countries is between one and four decades away from the same indicator in the EU.
The 2001 budget forecast was presented on 12 June to the prime minister. Economic growth is expected to be 5 per cent, annual inflation 3.5 per cent and the budget deficit between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent. Tax relief is also planned for 2001.
The average salary in May in FRY covered less than half the cost of living for a family of four. The prices in May have risen by 11.2 per cent, compared to the previous month. The budget income for the last year was 25 per cent less than planned. According to economic experts in Belgrade, Serbia is in no position to return the US$300 million loan from China and the US$400 million debt to Russia for natural gas in the past two years.
VI The Influence of External Factors on the Region: National Great Powers and International Institutions
A report of the UN Secretary General of 1 June states that contacts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots have increased in recent months. Turkish Cypriot authorities have lifted unnecessary and onerous measures affecting visits to the Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north. The third round of proximity talks on Cyprus will be held on 5 July in Geneva. The report recommended a six-month extension, to 15 December, of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
(1) On 20-21 June General Joseph Ralston, SACEUR, visited Sofia and met with the president, the prime minister, the minister of defence and the chief of general staff of the Bulgarian armed forces. (2) A round table meeting of the political leaders of the parliamentary parties on 20 June, organised by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, confirmed their support and the national consensus on the future membership of Bulgaria in the Alliance. Now 70 per cent of Bulgarians support the country’s membership in NATO. (3) Defence Minister Boiko Noev said on 27 June in Washington, DC, that Bulgaria expected to be invited to join the Alliance with the second wave of new members. (4) For the period of June 1999 to June 2000 KFOR troops and equipment from 17 countries have passed through Bulgaria on their way to Kosovo.
(1) The European Community (EC) decided on 7 June to abolish remaining tariff ceilings for certain industrial products from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. It also decided to improve market access for agricultural products, to extend these preferences to Kosovo, to grant tariff quotas for Montenegrin aluminium products and to streamline all trade preferences in a single new regulation. The extended autonomous trade preferences of the EC for the Western Balkans is one of the core elements of EU policy in the region. (2) The International Crisis Group of the EU recommended to Bulgaria that it refrain from importing wheat from FRY as a measure for tightening sanctions against Milosevic's regime. FRY assures 25 per cent of its hard currency income through export of cereals. (3) The EU summit Feira meeting in Portugal of 19-20 June decided to stimulate cooperation with Serbian companies that cooperate with the EU and are able to prove that their profits do not go to the regime. (4) Turkish and EC officials began a two-day "analytical examination" on 22 June in Brussels of agriculture and fisheries, two areas that account for nearly half the acquis communautaire (the body of EU legislation) to which Turkey will have to adapt as a future EU member state. (5) EC President Romano Prodi announced on 23 June the EU's readiness to invest in Serbia, if the country is democratised. Prodi recommended to the Serbian opposition to unite for the autumn election. According to Prodi, Milosevic's regime is an obstacle to the integration of FRY into Europe.
US-Bulgaria. (1) Three US senators from the Senate Intelligence Commission, including its chairman Richard Shelby, visited Sofia on 4-6 June and met with the president, the prime minister, the interior minister and the director of the Bulgarian National Intelligence Service. Before visiting Bulgaria they went to Russia, the Ukraine and Turkey. (2) The US Army expressed an interest on 8 June in renting the Bulgarian armed forces exercise ground at Shabla for its own field exercises. (3) Bulgarian Defence Minister Noev began a visit to the US on 26 June. The technical equipment of the Bulgarian armed forces was a major topic of discussion of the Bulgarian military delegation in Washington, DC.
US-Albania. The US State Department issued a travel warning on 12 June in response to Albania's unstable security situation.
US-FRY. The US Senate unanimously decided on 24 June to cut economic aid to Russia proportionate to the loans, financial support and energy deliveries Moscow gives to Belgrade.
The prime minister of China and a delegation of 116 started an extended European visit in Sofia on 27-29 June. The choice for the start of the visit was not coincidental: 50 years ago Bulgaria was the first Eastern European country to recognise the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China and is persistent in not recognising the sovereignty of the Republic of China. The Chinese prime minister met with the president, the prime minister and the speaker of the parliament, signed five cooperation agreements with his Bulgarian hosts and increased by US$10 million the Chinese credit in support of Bulgaria's payment balance. China declared it would support Bulgaria's application for non-permanent UNSC membership.
Internal actors and the international community in Kosovo are facing a long list of important tasks, one year after the end of the “Allied Force” operation against FRY. Much has been done, but much needs to be further elaborated. Among the priorities are returning confidence to the Serbian community and erasing a creeping Albanian ethnic purity drive in Kosovo. The local ethnic entities and the international community face similar post-conflict rehabilitation tasks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Preventing a civil war, uniting the opposition, and its success in eventual democratic elections in FRY despite repressive anti-terrorism law are the issues that need to be solved. Preserving the democratic option in Montenegro in defiance of pressure from the federal military is another crucial factor in improving the fate of South-Eastern Europe.
A brutal terrorist act in June in Greece reminds us of how internal terrorist pressure may be linked with broader regional and international developments.
Bulgaria is at a crucial period of its adaptation to the requirements of NATO membership. Purposeful US support of this process may stimulate national efforts. The EU has intensified its activity in turning South-Eastern Europe into a European region. A great power like China has demonstrated a special interest in a country from the region as a stepping-stone to its European relations.