ROSE-ROTH SEMINAR AT 188
"REGIONAL STABILITY AND RECONSTRUCTION IN SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE"
29 June - 1 July 2000
Ohrid, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
International Secretariat, July 2000
This Secretariat Report is presented for information only and does not necessarily represent the official view of the Assembly.
- The NATO Parliamentary Assembly's 47th Rose-Roth Seminar and the fourth to be jointly organised with the Assembly of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, was held in Ohrid, 29 June-1 July. As in previous years, the seminar focused on the main challenges in restoring stability and security to South-eastern Europe and laying the basis for economic reconstruction and democratisation. The region was well represented at the meeting, in particular through the presence of representatives from the Serb and Albanian communities of Kosovo, and of two members of the Bosnian Parliament. The latter was thus associated for the first time with the Assembly's work.
- Three principal themes emerged over the course of the three-day conference:
- the challenges to democracy both regionally and in each country;
- domestic economic development and reform, regional economic co-operation and the rapidly evolving economic and political relationship with the European Union;
- the overarching security environment in the region, including military and non-military elements.
- As in the previous two years, debates focused largely on Kosovo, causing veiled irritation among some participants from the rest of the Western Balkans who felt that their own problems received insufficient attention.
I. The Challenges to Democracy
- The challenges to building democracy were addressed at various times and under various headings of the seminar. Establishing the background causes for the lack of democracy, many speakers identified a legacy of using repression rather than dialogue to cope with political differences, an under-developed civic culture, persistent ethnic antagonism which had resulted in the use of the gun rather than the ballot box to resolve disputes, the exploitation of the media for propaganda purposes and even genocidal ends, economic collapse, and the initial failure of the Euro-Atlantic community to assist the region in creating a security and economic context which might have supported the development of democratic forces.
- In his keynote address, Antonio PedauyŽeacute;, Spain's Ambassador to Croatia, and a Balkan veteran - Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; became UNPROFOR Chief of Mission in Spring 1995, after spending several years working on the Bosnia conflict in New York - drew a balanced view of the grave difficulties the region confronts and of some embryonic trends which shed a ray of hope on its potential democratic development and stabilisation. He identified the problem of integrating minorities in society as an ongoing challenge for most countries in the area. Two approaches were possible, he contended, a democratic one based on dialogue and the identification of common interests, or a concerted effort to eliminate the other, which not only undermined democracy but also threatened regional security. The government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), he asserted, had chosen the latter course, and the result has been a decade of war.
- By contrast, the presidential and parliamentary elections in Croatia last winter had represented a sea change in that country's orientation and prospects. The new government had accepted the idea that it should construct a multi-ethnic, democratic and open society; it had agreed to make its support for Croats in Herzegovina fully transparent, conveying at the same time the message that the notion of a Greater Croatia should be put to rest. This could encourage the Croatian community there to work more co-operatively within the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This view was echoed by Ibrahim Spahic, an MP from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the President of the Citizen Democratic Party, who said that the change in Croatia at last seemed to open an era when Bosnia would be safe from the greed of its two big neighbours, Croatia and Serbia, who had so often dreamt of tearing it apart. The Ambassador's enthusiasm for Croatia's fast turn toward democracy and reorientation toward Euro-Atlantic institutions was somewhat clouded by Rasim Kadic, another Bosnian MP and President of the Liberal Party, remarking that the new Croatian Government's welcome verbal commitments in the area of refugee return and laws on non-discrimination, remained to be implemented.
- Ambassador PedauyŽeacute;'s assessment of Bosnia and Herzegovina was moderately optimistic, as was that of the two Bosnian MPs present. There continued to be progress in the general political stabilisation. Municipal elections this Spring had seen the emergence of new democratic parties. The burgeoning consensus among all three communities that Bosnia should ultimately join the European Union offered a glimmer of hope that a common political vision could emerge. However, Mr Kadic, a member of the Constitutional Committee in the Bosnian Parliament, pointed to a number of serious obstacles, notably some of the institutional tensions that had arisen from the Constitution crafted in Dayton. In short, the effort to accommodate each ethnic group in terms of representation has led to institutional gridlock. On the national level, each community could veto decisions in the House of Peoples; moreover it would be impossible for a minority representative from one entity to stand as a presidential candidate for the national government. In other words, the Constitution, as engineered in Dayton, had codified racist principles and led to an institutionalised apartheid. Mr Kadic suggested solutions should be sought in the cantonisation of the country. In light of such problems, some participants questioned whether Bosnia and Herzegovina possessed sufficient unity and even the moral foundation to become a viable democratic state in the long run.
- The positive attitude of the two Bosnian leaders present nevertheless left open the possibility of a more optimistic scenario. Both were representative of a small but growing minority of Bosnian politicians who believe that Dayton constitutes a minimum framework within which the people of Bosnia themselves must build a unified and democratic country - even if support from the international community was still necessary. Mr Spahic stressed that the ambition of the democratic politicians was to make of Bosnia a normal country, a conviction Mr Kadic echoed by saying that the priority should be to unify the state. The recent creation of three new ministries at state level was good news in this respect. He signalled the military forces as one area in which integration efforts would be hard but were particularly needed.
- One year after the war, the situation in Kosovo looked much bleaker, as was obvious from the widely diverging perceptions and veiled mutual accusations of the Serb and Albanian participants.
Dr Rada Trajkovic, the Serb member on the Interim Administrative Council of Kosovo, described in detail the plight of the Serb community in the province. She told how thousands of Serbs had been expelled and many had been killed, including children and elderly, since KFOR had entered Kosovo. Murderers could act with impunity as there was absolutely no political will from Albanian leaders to take responsibility for their community and rid it of thugs and criminals, leaving remaining Serbs to survive under siege conditions in an "archipelago" of islands where terrorism was a daily concern. Many did not dare leave their homes without KFOR escorts. Serbs were being targeted simply because of their ethnicity. Moreover, Serbs had also suffered retribution in other ways: many had lost their jobs, children were not sufficiently protected to attend schools and the university had been shut down. Some 1.200 Serbs, who disappeared either during or after the war, were still unaccounted for. Dr. Trajkovic, a member of the "moderate wing" of the Kosovo Serb community, also argued that the NATO intervention had made it all the more difficult for Serbs to replace the Milosevic government in the FRY, as he had used the occasion as a pretext to fasten his control of the country's institutions. This was certainly a disaster for the Serbs in Serbia, but also for those of Kosovo. She hoped that once Milosevic was gone, a large conference would immediately redefine a comprehensive Western strategy toward the Balkans, including Serbia. An indirect response to that query was later provided by Niall Burgess, from the European Union (EU) Policy Unit, who indicated that the Commission had already prepared a detailed programme of economic transition for Serbia.
"Dr. Rada Trajkovic addresses the seminar while British MP Sylvia Heal and Mr. Ylber Hysa look on"
- Both the Kosovo Serb and Albanian participants blamed the international community for not being up to the task in the region, but with quite different ideas in mind, it seems. Dr Trajkovic accused KFOR and UNMIK of not doing enough to protect the Serbs: as the West had created the present situation in Kosovo, it was its responsibility to make sure the Serbs could return and live in peace. Ylber Hysa, an ethnic Albanian and one of the 35 members of the Kosovo Transition Council, criticised Western countries for not carrying through their logic of Balkan stabilisation through their failure to remove President Milosevic last year and having little clue at present on what to do with Kosovo, Montenegro and the FRY. The prevailing feeling in the region that the international community could do no good was graphically illustrated when the party of Hashim ThaŤi, the former KLA leader, decided to suspend their participation in the Interim Administrative Council at the end of June, just as the Serbs were positively responding to reassurances by resuming their participation.
- What was perhaps more striking to the outside observer in Ohrid was that the protagonists, both Serb and Albanian, as well as Mr Berat, the representative of the Roma of Kosovo (see below), seemed to be able to position themselves only as victims, making recognition of that status by the other side and the international community a requirement before they could be expected to make a positive contribution to the reconstruction of the province. Confronted on a daily basis with that attitude, (former) General Nash, UNMIK Administrator for Mitrovica, noticed how stuck in the past all communities were, making it a priority for him to redirect their energies toward the present and the future.
- Dr Trajkovic's tendency to blame the poor situation of the Serbs in Kosovo on the NATO intervention elicited objections from other participants who reminded her that the whole string of events was not sparked by NATO but by a decade of Serb oppression. Shunning a direct response to Dr Trajkovic, Ylber Hysa argued that violence in Kosovo reflected the general desperation of its inhabitants. Some 11.000 had died in the conflict and several thousands were still held in Serb prisons where they could hardly expect fair treatment. The province was in dire need of funds, police, judges and employment prospects. He also blamed Serbian infiltrators operating in Serb enclaves, in particular north of Mitrovica, for making dialogue very difficult between the two communities.
- Commenting on Mr Hysa's presentation, Mr Andras B‡rsony, the Rapporteur of the First General Committee of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, regretted the lack of will of the Albanian leadership to condemn and sanction crime and violence committed against Serbs by members of their community and to take positive steps to create confidence. Several participants expressed support for his judgement.
- Searching for explanations for the difference between the situation in Bosnia and Kosovo other than their respective historical experience - long periods of harmonious inter-ethnic cohabitation in the former, mutual ignorance or hostility in the latter - several participants attributed the contrast to the different prospects given to them by the international community. Unlike Bosnia, whose constitutional make-up was specified in the Dayton Agreement, Kosovo's final status remained uncertain. While local representatives tended to see the ambiguity of UN Resolution 1244 as a negative factor, which they would like to see resolved without delay, General Nash hinted that this was rather an asset. The Resolution's reference to provisional self-governing democratic institutions (par. 10) left room for positive creativity. What the international community should do was to encourage local leaders to make local institutions, public services and the economy work, on the basis of the assumption that if significant improvements could be made in the quality of life, the question of the final status would ultimately become less compelling - a conclusion no different from that reached by participants at the 1999 Ohrid seminar. In a veiled message to the Albanians, Laura Kirkconnell, the DCM at the US Embassy in Skopje, hinted that the final status of Kosovo would heavily depend on how responsible the leaders would be in fostering democracy, inter-ethnic tolerance and stability in the region. Among the positive moves expected from the Kosovo Albanians, General Nash stressed the importance of allowing for the return of Serbs, which he said would:(i) help avoid the eventual partition of Kosovo that Albanians are dreading; (ii) help tip the political balance in the Albanian community in favour of moderates by proving that peaceful coexistence was possible.
- The bottom-up approach adopted in Kosovo implied that efforts would begin at the local level, eventually to be followed by a formula for governing the entire province. The municipal elections due in October would be a critical element in this respect. General Nash argued that they would be a particularly important step in empowering elected representatives to take responsibility for the future of their communities. But others, including Alice Mahon from the UK delegation, former NATO PA President Lo•c Bouvard, and Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; questioned the wisdom of organising elections in the current climate of tension. In their view, the international community had learnt little from its mistakes in Bosnia, where hasty elections had legitimised the hold on power of extremists in 1996. Moreover, as almost no Serb to date had registered, what would be the validity of the outcome? Dr Rada Trajkovic added that in some areas, the Serbs were not in a position to carry out an electoral campaign because of the threats of retributive violence they faced. While not hiding his personal misgivings, Administrator Nash argued that carrying out elections in the large majority of communities that were able to do so would nevertheless have a positive effect, while other, interim solutions might have to be found for the small numbers that could not.
- While the debate on Kosovo tended to focus on the respective positions of the Albanians and Serbs, Mr Bajram Berat, a member of the Council for Inter-Ethnic Relations of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, reminded participants of the plight of the Roma population. Already discriminated against before the conflict, the Roma had suffered from its fall-out because they had been considered as collaborators of the Serbs by the Kosovar Albanian majority. They could therefore no longer live securely in Kosovo; nor were they welcome in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Mr Berat also accused the international community of neglecting the Roma and of having denied them equal treatment in the refugee camps in Spring 1999, a point that was strongly challenged by a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross and by Ambassador PedauyŽeacute;.
- Addressing the situation in Serbia, Bojan Dimitrijevic, a member of the opposition to President Milosevic, drew a particularly bleak picture, pointing to the unchallenged control the regime had established on the country through the police, the army, the secret service, and the dreaded forces of the Ministry of Interior (MUP) . Not only was Serbia a police state, but the ruling elites, the police and security forces, and elements of the military had become heavily criminalised; they had developed high stakes in Serbia's black economy which, in many respects, had all but replaced the real economy. This would gravely complicate the task of democratic transition even once Mr Milosevic had been removed from power. As a representative of the opposition Mr Dimitrijevic pledged the determination of his party (Democratic Party) to reform the army and the police according to democratic norms once they acceded to power, stressing in particular the need to depoliticise the armed forces.
- Unfortunately, he added, the beleaguered and divided opposition held very few cards and was poorly positioned to force early general elections and ensure their transparency. The increasing Government crackdown on the independent media was to be understood as an instrument to blunt the chances of the opposition to win the municipal and federal elections due this Autumn. While most participants agreed that a change of regime in Serbia would be critical to regional stability and democratisation, few had concrete solutions to offer. They were also reminded by one or the other speaker that the attachment of Serbs to Kosovo, whatever their political persuasion, should not lead to draw over-hasty conclusions from a change in the Yugoslav regime in terms of Kosovo's stability.
- In that troubled regional context, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia almost appeared as a model. As national leaders, such as Dr Savo Klimovski, President of the National Assembly, emphasised, and foreign representatives based in the country, such as Ms Laura Kirkconnell, from the US Embassy, confirmed, Skopje had not only weathered the Kosovo conflict without any major domestic crisis, but it had confirmed its commitment over time to building a multi-ethnic society. The durable participation of Albanians in the Macedonian Government and the ongoing efforts to give a legal basis to education in Albanian, were a testimony to that commitment. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia thus not only contributed to regional stability, but could serve as a model for inter-ethnic accommodation to the FRY. This, however, Macedonian officials were keen to impress on foreign participants, could not be done without outside support, given the delicate international environment the country was living in. From the remarks of Slovene delegate Zmago Jelincic - quickly disowned by the rest of his delegation - about the risks of Greater Albanian nationalism, it was clear how one extremism can fuel another in the region. The moderate views expressed by the Albanians present around the table, be they from Albania itself or from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, did not bear out Mr Jelincic's concerns.
- One of the problems the country had to face, and one which was by no means limited to its borders, was the growing influence of groups engaged in drug smuggling, gun running, money laundering, and the trafficking of human beings (prostitution was mentioned as a particular concern). Mr Stevo Pendarovski, Assistant Minister of Interior, encouraged all participants to press their governments to speed up cooperation in the relevant fora (UN, EU, Council of Europe, Stability Pact) to combat this scourge. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he said, was stepping up its own efforts at regional bilateral and multilateral cooperation in this field. It was planning to set up a regional police academy as one of its contributions. Deputy Defence Minister Kadri Kadriu also mentioned that cooperation to stem the smuggling of small weapons was being reinforced between his country, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania. Regional efforts to combat crime, however, were still insufficient, contended Mario Palombo, a Senator from Italy and a former general in the Carabinieri, who described the damaging impact of sprawling Balkan criminality on his country - with an active contribution from the Italian mafia, he conceded. Tellingly, the Assistant Minister, Mr Pendarovski, did not address the problem of the criminalisation of economic structures, which was clearly identified by outside speakers as one of the major obstacles to economic reform (see below).
II. Economic Development
- Discussions on economic development reflected a prevailing sense that the economic situation in the region was rather grave, with most countries experiencing poor living standards (regional per capita GDP is US$ 1700, against some US$ 2000 worldwide), high unemployment, and low levels of domestic savings; and facing the closure of hundreds of obsolete industries. Dr Gligor Bisev, the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, did not seek to hide that such were the difficulties his government was confronting. Positive signs related to potentialities rather than realities, and several negative scenarios were outlined which suggested that the economic environment could worsen before it improved.
- In the same vein, few speakers were prepared to assert that the West had been successful in developing and carrying out a region-wide economic assistance and development strategy. While the ambitions for the region were lofty, implementation was falling short of expectations - at least at this stage.
- Focusing first on the efforts required by the countries of the region, Dr Wolfgang Hager, an expert from the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels argued that macro-economic reform, as well as structural change at the micro- or firm level, was essential but that neither would be easy to achieve. He noted that much of the region's heavy industry was simply unviable and served only to draw resources away from potentially more productive and profitable enterprises. This was also the case of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as recognised by the Speaker of the Assembly himself. These firms, Dr Hager argued, should be closed down without delay, while basic service infrastructure like rail, power, water, waste collection and telecommunications ought to be privatised. Privatisation would significantly improve the quality of the services delivered while saving precious state resources. Dr Hager did concede, however, that streamlining would create more poverty in the short term as it would increase an already severe unemployment level.
- Unfortunately, in the short to medium term, direct foreign investment would be unlikely to compensate for the losses. In this respect, the expectations of many economic analysts and Western governments that South-eastern Europe could follow a path to transformation similar to that of Poland, as well as the hopes expressed by several speakers from the region that foreign investment would flow in and help restore the industrial base, were mistaken. The pattern was more likely to be that of the CIS countries, which have confronted imposing obstacles to economic transition due in part to obsolete production patterns and in part to a political environment dissuasive of foreign investment. In order to break the vicious circle, Dr Hager recommended the creation of a Balkan Treuhand which would make international donors formal owners of the assets to be transformed or privatised. This would allow for good management of these assets while removing the risk of initial investment for the private sector. The chicken and egg problem, by which consumers do not pay and the government has no money to invest in the services, would thus be overcome.
- Still, the region's governments would be walking a tight political and financial rope even with Western support. In that context, the delicate question of the relationship between economic reform and crime was alluded to but not dealt with as such. Referring to his country, Bosnia, Rasim Kadic said that it would be difficult to get out of the dirty privatisation pattern that had become entrenched since the end of the war. Speaking more broadly, Dr Hager talked about the captive managers in many areas of industry who fed a corrupt political system. Elites rob their own populations of their good living, he said. He added, however, somewhat provocatively, that corruption in public work contracts was a universal phenomenon and that Western contractors and donors should not exact standards which they could not enforce at home. Contrasting favourably the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with Albania, Steve Haynes, the USAID representative in Skopje, concluded by saying that slow but steady progress in economic reform was preferable to an economic boom based on dubious economic mechanisms and a lawless environment.
- A large part of the discussion on the form of Western support evolved around the Stability Pact. To some extent, the exchanges helped clarify the ambiguity surrounding the nature of the initiative, which few people clearly understand. As Dr Hager explained, the Stability Pact was largely an instrument to mobilise resources and create political momentum for reform and Western engagement in South-eastern Europe. Contrary to popular perception and some political statements, it was not in itself a major source of new finance. Rather, it was a clearinghouse to make transparent flows of assistance to the region and, as much as possible, stimulate them. Unfortunately, it was burdened by the participation of many organisations and agencies, with the drawback that, in this "pyramid scheme of communities", no single body bore ultimate responsibility for the outcome. Moreover, the Pact did not break from the usual pattern of tied aid, which often links aid disbursements to mandated purchases from donor countries. As a result, the amount of official assistance available to the region was often much smaller than promised and failed to generate indigenous entrepreneurship. Another usual shortcoming to which the Pact was not immune was the practice of limiting bidding processes to enterprises from the recipient countries, thereby excluding those from neighbours (say, in this case, Croatia or Slovenia) in flagrant contradiction with the proclaimed aim of promoting regional economic integration.
- The specific role of the EU in Western Balkan economic stabilisation and reconstruction was addressed in detail by Mr Niall Burgess, a member of the Western Balkan Task Force in the Policy Unit of the European Council, and in the subsequent discussion. Mr Burgess reminded participants that the EU and its member states had played the leading role in providing assistance to the region, having committed Euro 17 billion since 1991. Through the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP), launched in Helsinki in December 1999, the EU was holding out the prospect of a deeper relationship between itself and the countries of the region. Stabilisation and Association Agreements, the negotiation of which had already begun with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and would soon start with Croatia, would help the countries of the Western Balkans transform their economic, legislative and regulatory systems in line with the acquis communautaire, thus paving the way for membership negotiations in the future.
- This being said, Mr Burgess confirmed the admission made in a joint report issued by Commissioner Patten and High Representative Solana in March 2000 that the EU faced serious internal procedural problems in managing assistance programmes. The Commission had frequently found itself mired in red tape and slow policy and project implementation, which had an impact on its ability to assist the region effectively. The EU was now attempting to address these problems by revamping its structures in order to square accountability with efficacy. The creation of a Rapid Reaction Facility proposed by the Commission would hopefully cut through the layers of agencies involved and permit the delivery of assistance quickly. Its new Europe Aid office would streamline procedures for long-term projects. The staff of the Policy Unit would also have to be beefed up in order to enable it to play the important coordinating role with which it had been entrusted.
- One difficulty Mr Burgess pointed to was that the EU's commitment to the region economically and in security terms was not simply an external policy matter. Rather, the EU was transforming itself in the process of helping others reconstruct themselves, the Central Europeans first and the Balkans next. The countries of the region in particular should be aware of the extent to which developments in the former Yugoslavia over the past ten years had been a shaping factor in the EU's decision to beef up its capacity for foreign policy action. In a way, the Balkans were key to the EU's search for a new political identity. But this meant that the challenges of profoundly restructuring its institutions and stabilising its periphery were cast on her simultaneously. While enlargement was the very essence of the endgame, Mr Burgess conceded that an effort of clarity in the dŽeacute;marche and efficiency in its implementation was still required by the EU. However, Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; contended that, given the magnitude of the challenge, the EU's achievements in the region over the past few years were quite remarkable.
- In terms of concrete steps to accelerate the integration of the region's economies with that of the EU, asymmetric trade liberalisation, i.e. easing access for their products to Western markets without initial reciprocity, was recommended by Dr Hager. The Spring 2000 Lisbon Council took some initial steps in that direction. Dr Hager also expressed the view that the EU should encourage its Balkan partners to create a customs union in order to diminish the importance of the region's borders and to eliminate a major source of corruption associated with border controls. Calling upon the example of those countries like Estonia and Bulgaria, which had formed a currency board, he also reminded participants of CEPS recommendation that the region's governments should adopt the Euro, thereby reducing the threat of devaluation and inflation. However, Dr Bisev, the Deputy Governor of the National Bank, argued that such a drastic initiative would be unnecessary and even counterproductive. Currency boards were only useful where weak governments did not have the cohesion needed to maintain monetary stability. Otherwise the formula imposed excessive policy constraints. While both speakers admitted that the region's financial structures were extremely weak and that a lack of confidence had made it very difficult to mobilise investment capital domestically and internationally, little emerged in terms of agreed and realistic solutions to solve the problem.
- The regional cooperation component of the Stability Pact was broached upon, although not thoroughly addressed. Macedonian officials stressed how important it was for their closed, enclaved country to cooperate with neighbours, reminding foreign guests how disruptive the successive Yugoslav wars and international sanctions on Serbia, traditionally their main trading partner, had been. They illustrated Skopje's determination to push forward projects aimed to foster regional integration and tight links with Europe, citing the Corridor 8 road, rail and communication project and indicating that the government had proposed more than 40 multinational projects with Albania, Bulgaria and/or Greece in the context of the Stability Pact. Mr Tihomir Ilievski, the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, also indicated that his country was developing economic links with Montenegro and Kosovo despite the practical and legal obstacles hampering full cooperation. But Mr B‡rsony reflected that all those efforts would certainly be an uphill battle, as so much energy had been invested creating new borders over the past few years.
- At the juncture between economics and politics, participants finally broached the subject of Western sanctions against the FRY, which remain a source of contention. The Serbian opposition has long claimed that those sanctions were counterproductive and many in the West, also looking at examples such as that of Iraq, would tend to agree. The strongest plea in favour of the lifting of the sanctions was delivered by the Macedonian Assembly Speaker, Savo Klimovski, who also stressed the negative impact of sanctions on neighbours. A small majority of participants, however, believed that the line pursued since 1999 to try and reinforce sanctions that hurt the regime (such as visa denial) while supporting democratic municipalities, the independent media and NGOs, was the best way to follow. The success of the Energy for Democracy programme was encouraging the EU to develop further such initiatives, for example through Schools for Democracy or Roads for Democracy programmes.
III. The Security Situation
- The discussion of security in the region focused primarily on two themes: the situation in Kosovo and NATO's contribution to the pacifying of the province; and the lessons to be learnt from a decade of belated or half-hearted interventions in the Balkans.
- A brief session was also devoted to the discussion of the reform of the Armed Forces of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. From the presentation by Mr Kadri Kadriu, the Deputy Minister of Defence, and statements from various Macedonian MPs, it was obvious that the matter was contentious and that neither the budget to be granted to the Armed Forces, nor their future size (a drastic decrease is in the cards) or composition gathered a consensus. The government was nevertheless starting, with the support of NATO, to reform the procedure of the MoD and to reshape its military forces, in accordance with Western standards and norms. According to Dr Klimovski, the Speaker, the North Atlantic Council had responded positively to the MoD's reform agenda. In an open discussion period, however, Dr Klimovski questioned whether NATO's operation against the FRY in Spring 1999 and the continuing presence of thousands of soldiers in the region, making the populations ill-at-ease and sometimes disturbing their normal way of life, was really a positive contribution to stability. Expressing a sentiment generally held, he said: We would be happier if instead of your tanks, we had your capital to protect the security, the democracy and the well-being of our citizens. His view obviously contrasted with the statement of General Kenneth Bowra, Deputy KFOR Commander, that the presence of KFOR contingents in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania was meant as a sign of NATO's commitment to the security of the two countries.
- Turning to crisis management in the region, first-hand testimony on the security situation in Kosovo was offered by General Bowra, who focused on NATO's achievements so far, and General Nash, who described his efforts in the name of the UN to restore normality to life in the divided city of Mitrovica.
"General Bowra discusses the role of KFOR"
- General Bowra focused on the positive achievements of KFOR and the international community as a whole, stressing that they had accomplished much in the few months since they had been despatched to the province, and that it was necessary to see Kosovo's pacification as a slow, step by step process. He pointed to the declining violent crime rate - Pristina now has a comparable crime rate to many Western cities -, the fact that 90% of those who had fled from Kosovo had returned, 90% of children were back at school, shops were now full of goods, houses had been rebuilt, and aid channels had been established and were improving. KFOR had successfully deterred the Serbs from re-entering the province and had made progress - admittedly far from complete - in building a safer and more secure environment. Moreover, there was no sign that Serbia was positioning itself to challenge frontally KFOR's presence, although Belgrade's operatives were certainly at work within the Kosovar Serb community, particularly in Mitrovica.
- General Bowra did not deny that serious security challenges remained: as Dr Trajkovic had described, physical safety and the freedom of movement of the Serbs was far from ensured. Unexploded ordnance, including NATO cluster bombs and mines, also remained a serious problem, requiring extensive efforts both to warn the public of the dangers and to clear mines. While provincial demilitarisation was well advanced, KLA arms caches continued to be unearthed (a large one just a few days before the seminar), suggesting that some Kosovar Albanian leaders had not been complying fully with demilitarisation agreements. Work on retraining KLA soldiers as non-armed guards, fire-fighters, civil protection agents, etc., in the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) was ongoing, but more was to be done, in particular in ensuring that it also served as an instrument for ethnic reconciliation: although there was some ethnic diversity in the KPC, it had yet to incorporate its first Serb member. General Bowra begged for patience, as this was the first time the international community tried to transform a guerrilla organisation into a civilian one.
- Addressing KFOR's own tasks, General Bowra said that they extended much beyond its first priority, i.e. restoring a secure environment. KFOR troops were engaged on a day-to-day basis in many activities undertaken in support of, or in substitution for, civilian organisations. KFOR soldiers were thus working on small-scale reconstruction projects; they were also, perhaps more importantly, substituting for missing civilian police, administrators, and prison guards. Not that all law and order issues could be handed yet to civilian police - be it the UN police or the local police: there remained contingencies where tough law enforcement was still in order and only the military could respond. However, General Bowra confirmed what many have said since the beginning of the KFOR/UNMIK operation in Kosovo: the lack of police is a major impediment to the effectiveness of the international community's efforts. Moreover, as General Nash noted, it forces soldiers to take up duties for which they were not particularly trained. He also stressed that the problem was not only one of numbers, but one of organisation: pre-integrated police unit structures - rather than individual policemen - were essential as they only could be immediately operational. The development by NATO of the MSU (Multinational Specialised Units) concept presumably fits that bill, although General Nash did not allude to it. Neither were the respective roles of the civilian police and the MSU precisely explored.
- Beyond the police issue, the fact that KFOR was often acting as quasi-substitute for UNMIK, General Bowra said, was simply a reflection of the gaps in resources between the two bodies: UNMIK is perennially short of resources and staff, which General Nash confirmed in the specific case of Mitrovica. General Bowra also indicated that the lack of a secure budget was negatively affecting the training and functioning of the KPC; should the problem not be resolved soon, this might jeopardise the whole enterprise of KLA reconversion.
- In a fascinating description of his day-to-day activities, General Nash explained his efforts, step by step, to restore confidence between the communities. He had succeeded in establishing a reasonably good relationship with the mayors of the two parts of Mitrovica, Oliver Ivanovic, for the Serb part, considered as a hard liner, and Bajram Rexhepi for the Albanian one, and was bringing them together on a regular basis to try and address the three main concerns that are common to the two communities: security, returns, and jobs. He was working on improving the coherence of the international community's action in his area of responsibility. He was working on the restoration of the region's economic life by organising a public investment scheme for the Trepca mine complex. He was also trying to address the problem of the lack of judges and other agents of the justice system by exploring the possibility of hiring Macedonian, Croat, or Slovenian personnel who spoke the same language and until recently worked under the same legal system. None of this, of course, would yield immediate and strikingly successful results, but like General Bowra, General Nash suggested that what was important was to maintain a momentum of steady progress. By all accounts, the situation in Mitrovica, which had been characterised by severe outbursts of violence at the beginning of the year, has become much calmer since the arrival of General Nash in April.
- Both General Nash and General Bowra gave positive marks to the institutional efficiency of the international presence in Kosovo. General Bowra reported that KFOR was working successfully with some 46.000 troops from 39 nations. Thanks, among others, to serious advance training, the assumption of command by the Eurocorps had been extremely smooth and headquarters elements from other armies - of which he was a representative as a US officer - had been integrated very easily. The KFOR Eurocorps command enjoyed entirely normal relations with SACEUR. Perhaps even more tellingly, KFOR and UNMIK had an extremely intense and very good working relationship. This was an area in which the international community had learnt a lot from its shortcomings in Bosnia. In Bosnia, co-ordination between the command of IFOR and the office of the High Representative had originally been very poor, leading to numerous problems - although this had now been corrected. Both NATO and the UN had taken the lesson to heart and from day one had established extremely close contacts in Kosovo, granted that UN Resolution 1244 also provided a much better basis for such cooperation than the Dayton agreement. The lines of authority and responsibility were clearly drawn; contacts between UNMIK and KFOR were frequent and took place at all levels. Indeed, General Ortu–o, the KFOR Commander, met daily with the head of UNMIK, Bernard Kouchner. The four pillar structure of UNMIK, bringing under a single roof the OSCE, the European Union, the UNHCR and the various tasks of civil administration, was also a striking improvement over the lack of institutional hierarchy prevailing in Bosnia. There remained the problem of integrating into the whole the myriad of initiatives from NGOs, who play an increasingly important role in post-conflict situations. This, General Nash admitted, would always be an elusive task, but confusion could be mitigated by giving NGOs more precise guidelines before deployment.
- Lessons learned from ten years of international intervention in the Balkans were drawn primarily by Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; and Dr Pierre Hassner, a well-known French security analyst. Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; drew on his personal experience of working on the Bosnian conflict to assert that to be effective, diplomacy must be backed with credible force and the political willingness to use that force and to escalate for well-defined purposes. Moral authority alone, he remarked, was simply not sufficient to resolve acute crises. The disaster that befell UNPROFOR forces (with its apex in Srebrenica), which proved insufficiently armed to defend designated safe areas, sharply contrasted with the later success of NATO hard-nosed peace enforcement through IFOR and SFOR. But NATO's peace enforcement itself only became possible after the chain of events triggered by the West's determination, over the summer 1995, to send in the Rapid Reaction Force to mitigate the vulnerability of the peace-keepers and then to respond to the Serb bombing of the central market in Sarajevo in late August. These actions, coinciding with the Western-supported Croat takeover of the Krajinas at the same period, made possible the Dayton Peace Accord.
- Drawing on his military experience, including in Bosnia as the commander of a 25.000 troop IFOR contingent, General Nash made it clear that in his view, credibility in war fighting is the key to peacekeeping - which also means that no special units should be earmarked to do peacekeeping only. But, on the basis of his more recent experience in Mitrovica, he also added that military forces can only impose an absence of war; they are not positioned to build a peace. This is where the civilian dimension became critical.
- Having spent the best part of the past ten years analysing and commenting on Western attempts to come to grips with conflicts in the Balkans, Pierre Hassner attempted to bring to light the sometimes intractable dilemmas decision-makers are facing. First, he discussed the very concept of crisis management, a term which implies at the same time a certain control over the course of events, and an inability to bring about an end solution. Perhaps, he suggested, it was the inability of Western leaders to have a clear view of the desired outcome that had led to their successive failures. The West had used in turn interdiction, coercion and occupation as strategies to address the Bosnian and Kosovo crises, but very seldom had they controlled the pace and form of the escalation. Rather, Milosevic's actions and reactions had determined the course of the conflict.
- Part of the Western failure to design the political outcome had been due to the fact that Balkan crises had been approached in a piecemeal manner. As a result, Western leaders were bound to quell one foyer of arson just to see another one flare up next door. That Balkan problems, not only in security terms, but also economically and in terms of democratic development, have to be approached comprehensively, is by now well understood and was stressed by Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; and others as one of the most important lessons of Balkan crisis management. The EU and US strategies exposed at the seminar were meant to draw on these lessons, going one step further by placing the future of the Balkans squarely in the context of European and Euro-atlantic integration.
- Beyond the short-sightedness of Western policies, Dr Hassner discussed two main constraints hindering efficient contemporary crisis management: one related to the international environment and one to the domestic political scene.
- Western countries, whether they act as EU or NATO, do not operate in a vacuum. In Bosnia and Kosovo, the necessity to bring Russia and, as much as possible, China on board explained that the Group of Contact and the UN Security Council were more often than not the fora where decisions were made. This resulted in lowest common denominator policies which were perfectly coherent on the grand diplomatic stage but had very little to do with local conditions and objective strategic imperatives. As a consequence, the results achieved were less than optimal. In Kosovo, NATO had achieved only a half-success: the Alliance had held together, and Kosovo was liberated, but Milosevic remained in power. However, Dr Hassner noted that this half-success was perhaps the optimal solution for the Europeans: unmitigated victory would have been interpreted as an American feat while a total failure would have been a blow not only to the Americans, but also to the Europeans, and would have led to much mutual recrimination. While the European military shortcomings had been exposed, the half-success, combined with what was felt as an often heavy-handed American approach, had emboldened the Europeans to seek remedies through the development of a stronger European defence.
- The remarks of Dr Hassner triggered a discussion on the vexed question of humanitarian intervention and the relationship between NATO and the UN in this respect. One speaker voiced the widespread view that, while the NATO intervention in Kosovo may have been technically illegal, it was justified from a moral and strategic perspective, and that these considerations ultimately outweighed the legal ones. Participants, however, obviously had no appetite for yet another lengthy debate on whether NATO was right to intervene last year. Drawing conclusions from conflicting and unorganised remarks on the matter, Dr Hassner voiced the opinion that outlining perfectly clear rules defining legitimate intervention would continue to elude decision-makers. Every crisis was unique in political, strategic and humanitarian terms, and even if there were legal guidelines, intervening or not intervening would be a judgement call to be made by a given group of countries, based on a large combination of factors. Thus, the international community was an elusive entity. At times it could coincide with the UN, at others with NATO, at yet others with the Group of Eight (including Russia), and perhaps in the future, with the EU. The use of that phrase provided a convenient political cover but did not contribute to clarify the stakes. And obviously, the question of the legitimacy of an intervention was linked with the identity of its actors, of the "we" who had taken charge. At the present time, we were confronted with the paradox - at least in the Euro-atlantic area - that only the UN could ensure the full legitimacy of intervention, while only NATO could ensure its effectiveness, and the EU alone could offer a long-term perspective. Somewhat rhetorically, Dr Hassner concluded his analysis by raising the question of whether, in the long run, the EU could combine the three assets. In the meantime, there was no other way than ensuring, always on an ad hoc basis, that the three institutions were able to work together.
- Domestic political constraints were the second factor weighing heavily on policy-makers' margin of manoeuvre in crisis management. Dr Hassner pointed out that it was a rare moment indeed when what was objectively required on the battlefield (as determined by statesmen and military officers) conformed with what was acceptable by the general public in a democratic society. It is a fact of life that the public often conveys highly contradictory messages to national leaders, quickly demanding that something be done to stop a humanitarian catastrophe but insisting that the lives of nationals not be put at risk. Quoting William Shawcross's latest book, Dr. Hassner remarked that "We want to redress more and more wrongs, but we accept less and less sacrifices". This paradox, which has been aggravated in the age of the Internet and CNN, imposes genuine political and strategic constraints on national leaderships. It will generally lead statesmen to take initiatives which will be later exposed as only token or symbolic, and might even have damaging consequences (for example, the safe areas policy in Bosnia). It will inspire military strategies which are less likely to provoke a backlash at home, but at the same time will not measure up to the task at hand - another cause of the half solutions described by Dr Hassner. Such was, in his eyes, the air campaign in Kosovo, which he noted was aimed at stopping the slaughter of Albanians but could not overcome the key source of regional instability - the regime in Belgrade. As both Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; and Dr Hassner argued, reliance on air assets in Kosovo was largely a function of what was politically acceptable to Western publics, rather than what might have been the most strategically efficacious means of intervention. As a consequence, the no casualty doctrine had indelibly marked the strategic climate in the Balkans.
- The various domestic and international constraints faced by political and military decision-makers also show that they do not control two factors that are essential to efficient crisis management: timing, and clarity of purposes. Ambassador PedauyŽeacute;'s experience in Bosnia had led him to the clear conclusion that the failure to intervene early had made later action much more costly politically and militarily. In that case, he clearly blamed Europe for not having been able to act more swiftly and efficiently, a shortcoming that made it even more imperative for Europe to succeed in its current efforts to enhance its peacekeeping and peace-enforcement capabilities in everything from joint intelligence to civil policing. With those capabilities, he argued, Europe would gain the confidence needed to take necessary action in time in future crises.
- Clarity of purpose is, to some extent, the reverse side of the timing factor: it is important to convey to the adversary what one's aims are; it is counter-productive to set arbitrary time limits on their achievement. Recalling the example of Bosnia, both Dr Hassner and General Nash stressed how the initial one year limit on IFOR deployment and the obsessive search for an exit strategy had emboldened the enemies of the peace who had been led to believe that they just had to sit out Western endurance to regain control of the terrain politically and militarily. At the same time, the means enlisted must be sufficiently ambitious to measure up to the goals of restoring peace, security and democracy. General Nash noted that the combination of time restrictions and insufficient initial ambitions inevitably led to "mission creep" in which soldiers or representatives of international organisations were compelled to take on tasks for which they were not prepared. At the same time, he said that he did not like the term "mission creep" as it reflected our inability to think about our goals and was a direct consequence of our frenzied search for an exit strategy. Rather than a way to exit, what was needed, Pierre Hassner, Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; and General Nash said, was what the latter called an "entry rationale", i.e. an answer to the question: Why did we get in there in the first place? What are we trying to achieve?.
- Reflecting on another aspect of the time factor, Pierre Hassner stressed the necessity of including it more broadly in our crisis management strategies. Resolving a crisis was not only a question of "lift and strike", as some, in particular in the US, would have it, but also of dealing with the consequences of the military operation and, above all, addressing the root causes that led to the crisis in the first place but that were overlooked until the abscess burst. The latter point was also strongly pressed by General Nash on the basis of his Bosnia and Kosovo experiences.
- This being said, the long-term engagement that crisis resolution - rather than management - required was not to be taken for granted. Ambassador PedauyŽeacute; noted that donor fatigue was very obvious in Bosnia and could quickly affect Kosovo. Paradoxically, Pierre Hassner remarked that that fatigue coincided with the increasing demand placed on Europeans, not only in Europe, but also in parts of the former colonial world, traditionally hostile to outside interference, for Europeans to come and help re-establish order or rebuild shattered countries. The welcome embrace of British troops by Sierra Leonians this Spring was a case in point. Whether Europeans would be able to sustain such commitments was a question mark. Dutch member Wim van Eekelen concluded the discussion by saying that there was no alternative to a sustained effort by political leaders to convince their citizens that the cause of engagement was worth pursuing and that this was, in the end, in the national interest.