admin1 – February 6, 2006 – 11:18am

Dr. Stojan Slaveski

Abstract: The dilemma occurs, if in the past coalitions of states were formed, collective actions were taken and common approaches for resolving problems were sought for in order to meet the requirements of the “hard security”, maintaining territorial integrity and sovereignty of the states, would the cooperation between the states be again the resolution of the problems concerning the current challenges of the “soft security” related to the extreme nationalism, economic development and building of civil society. Over a longer period of time, the countries of the Western Balkans have been facing numerous challenges, starting from resolving some constitutional issues to problems related to reinforcement of their state institutions. This year the process should start for establishing the final status of Kosovo, and during the first half of the next year the referendum in Montenegro on the future of the joint state with Serbia should take place. Restructuring of the federation awaits Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia is expected to cooperate more closely with the Tribunal in The Hague, while Brussels is recommending to Macedonia to strengthen the reforms if it wants to get the date for the initiation of the negotiation talks with EU. The future of the Western Balkans will depend on that, how much the states in the region will be successful in the overcoming of these challenges.

Security is a phenomenon expressed with many mutual relations. Because of that, anyone who wants to do a research on the national security of a state cannot do that without having understood the peculiarities of the security relations on which it is based. Hence, the reality of the mutual correlation is inevitable. The only hope to define a certain subject that could be subject to a research is to get to the heart of the hierarchy of the analytical levels within the international system as a whole.

It is clear that the defining of the term “region” is not a simple issue of geography, but it is also linked to the politics, economy, society, culture and, the last but not the least, security. From the security aspect, “region” is understood as a separate and important subsystem of security relations existing among a complex of states whose destiny is to be situated geographically close to each other. This paper will analyze the security of the region defined as the Western Balkans (Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro). For more comprehensive analysis of the regional security, an analytical framework of the security complex is used, which, according to Barry Buzan “is defined as a group of states whose primary security concerns are correlated closely enough so their national security cannot really be analyzed one without the other.”1 Such analysis also requires the research of the national security of a certain state to take into account the interrelation of the region with the international system as a whole. The security complex enables a systematic approach to the security analyses which require the necessary attention to the macro level, the influence of the global actors on the system, to the medium level, the relations among the states in the region, and, to the micro level, the situation in the security sphere of the states themselves. Paying attention to all three levels, the security complex underlines their interdependence. Firstly, the external influence in the resolution of the internal problems of the states, secondly, the mutual local influence among the states, and thirdly, the limitations that the domestic problems in the states have on the external influence. In our analysis we will use the analytic approach to the security complex in order to highlight the key moments of all the three levels of interaction in the search for the answer to the perspectives of the regional security of the Western Balkan countries.

1. The influence of the global external actors on the resolution of the problems of the states in the region

If we analyze the situation at macro level, the external influence of the global actors, NATO and EU, in the resolution of the internal problems of the states in the region of the Western Balkans, we can conclude the following.

With the disappearance of the bipolar world, the Balkan states found themselves in a security vacuum. The Eastern alliance did not exist anymore, i.e. the security framework that made the countries in region feel secure lost its importance. The privileged position that Albania had in the relations with China and later its complete isolation ended, the Warsaw Pact dispersed leaving Bulgaria and Romania outside its domination, but also with concern of resurrection of the Russian nationalism, while the leading role that Yugoslavia had in the movement of the non-aligned countries lost its importance in the new monopolar world.

The external engagement in the region had two dimensions. First, a short-term dimension, as the military involvement of NATO was in the attempt to stop the war actions and establish a stabile security environment, then, a long-term dimension, through the EU stabilization and association process to offer to the countries a road sign to a stabile and prosperous future that can be strengthened with EU membership. These two mechanisms have acted together as an incubator and have provided a climate that has enabled the region to move forward.

After the Dayton Peace Accords was signed, the awareness that the main international organizations should do more in order to encourage the multilateral cooperation in the Balkans has grown constantly. NATO has attempted to encourage the regional activities within the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). EU has encouraged the multilateral activities among its partners and has supported the existing regional initiatives. The international organizations have become aware that such cooperation is contributing to reinforcing of the security and progress and therefore they have supported the existing and promoted new regional initiatives.

1.1. NATO as a creator of a stable security environment

The violent disintegration of former Yugoslavia has changed the political framework and the guidelines of the global strategy of NATO for this part of the world. In order to meet the aspirations of the states in the Eastern Europe for NATO membership, at the Brussels Summit in 1994, NATO launched the Partnership for Peace. Along with the preparations of the countries for membership in the Alliance, it should have taken the advantage of the security cooperation as a catalyst for political and economic reforms and to create new zones of security and stability. It was designed as a means for prevention, namely efficient fight against threats, such as terrorism for example, thus ensuring common security.

The Dayton Peace Accords signed in Paris in 1995, which was reached under the auspices of the USA, gave to the international organizations, particularly to NATO, an engaging role in the Balkans, with an enlarged regional dimension. Within the PfP, NATO has increased its activities and it has cooperated in “16+1” format with Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Macedonia and Albania. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a PfP member yet, the involvement of NATO is evident in the support to the reforms and cooperation among the armed forces in different parts of the federation. NATO has tried to minimize the bilateral character of the PfP by encouraging the multilateral PfP activities in the Balkans as a means for building confidence and cooperation in the region. This understood organizing military exercises that included different Balkan countries and NATO members, other types of multilateral training, defence education and similar activities. The regional cooperation in the Balkans has been one of the main areas of discussion within EAPC ever since it was created.

Several years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords at the margins of the Washington Summit in April 1999, the NATO South East European Initiative (SEEI) was launched with the intention to promote the regional cooperation and lasting security and stability in the region. This initiative is founded on the establishing of the SEE Security Consultative Forum,2 promoting regional cooperation in SEE through activities under the auspices of EAPC, use of PfP mechanisms and programs for security cooperation among the countries in the region. The objective of the initiative is to ensure transparency in defence planning, crisis management and defence management.3 This objective is being accomplished through holding workshops on topics of interest for the countries in the region and with aim to promote stability through regional cooperation and integration. A South East Europe Security Coordination Group (SEEGROUP) has been established to coordinate the regional projects. At the foreign ministerial of the initiative member countries4 held on 29-30 May 2001 in Budapest, the South East Europe Common Assessment Paper on Regional Challenges and Opportunities (SEECAP) was approved. The paper is significant because the participants in the process agreed that “there wasn’t a direct danger from military aggression against the national sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independency” among the SEE countries.5 This paper may serve as a basis for the preparation of the individual threat assessments of the countries in the region.

Another instrument used by the countries of the Western Balkans, the aspirants for NATO membership (Albania, Croatia and Macedonia) is the Membership Action Plan (MAP). When in 1997 at the Summit in Madrid NATO invited the three aspirant countries (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic) to join the Alliance in the first post-Cold War enlargement, it faced major difficulties in their adaptation to the procedures of the new organization. That was the reason why at the next summit held in Washington in 1999, when the invitees formally became members of the organization, the Alliance declared this Plan. Although at the time when this Plan was promoted it was not intended only for the Western Balkan countries, with the accession to the Alliance of the seven Vilnius countries, it remained to be “a practical manifestation of the open door policy” and an instrument for evaluating the progress of the rest of the aspirant countries on their way to NATO membership. At the Istanbul Summit it was confirmed that the Action Plan remained to be an instrument through which the Alliance would verify the progress of the applicants.

Having in mind the problems that the Balkan countries have been facing and the unsolved problems still existing among them, there is enough space for NATO to intensify and expand its activities in this region. Primarily, to include the countries from the Adriatic group, Croatia, Albania and Macedonia, in its family. Furthermore, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro should get involved in the PfP program as soon as possible. Next, the Alliance needs to provide bigger financial support to the PfP/EAPC activities and to encourage the dialogue about the non-military security aspects (such as the economic and cross border cooperation, thus contributing to decreasing of ethnic tensions). Also, the Alliance may contribute more to enabling bigger practical support in the establishing and implementing of the bilateral and multilateral confidence building measures.

1.2. European Union, a road sign to a stabile and prosperous future

Since it failed to intervene successfully in the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia in the beginning of the 90-ties, the European Union has gradually taken over the principal role in the Balkans. EU and its members are among the biggest donors of assistance in the post-conflict peace building in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia. Through the stabilization and association agreements concluded with Macedonia and Croatia, i.e. the trade agreements signed with the rest of the countries in the Balkans, EU has also got engaged in enhanced bilateral cooperation with the states in the region.

The first EU initiative, which was aimed at stabilization of the South Eastern Europe, was the Royaumount Process, launched in December 1996 during the French presidency with EU with a primary goal to support the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. It was focused on the promotion of the regional projects related to the civil society, culture and human rights.6

In April 1997, the Union adopted the “regional approach”, thus establishing political and economic conditions for the development of the bilateral relations with the Western Balkan countries. The conditions included respect of democratic principles, human rights, rule of law, protection of the minorities, reforms of the market economy and the regional cooperation. For the first time in 1999, the European Council announced the perspective of the Balkans for integration in the EU. Then, at the Fiera Summit in June 2000 the European Council encouraged the cooperation among the states in the region. Thus, the region as a whole should reach bigger economic and political stability and overcome the conflicts that have been burdening it for a long time. Encouraging the regional cooperation is a significant dimension of the Union policy towards the region. It was supported both politically and financially, through donations and long-term strategies such as the Stability Pact (SP), the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) and the Community Assistance for Regional Development strategy (CARDS).

The SAP process has established a new form of contractual relations, Stabilization and Association Agreements, for the countries of the so called Western Balkans. The principal elements of this process were suggested by the Commission in May 1999.7  At the summit in Zagreb, held on November 24, 2000 the Final Declaration included a spectrum of conditions and objectives of the Process. It supports the Western Balkan countries in their development and preparation for future EU membership in a combination of three key instruments: stabilization and association agreements, commerce measures and significant financial assistance. The regional cooperation remains in the core of the Process.

In May 2003, the Commission’s paper on “Western Balkans and the European Integration”8  suggested to reinforce the policy of the Union towards the region with elements taken from the enlargement process with emphasized aim of the countries in the Western Balkans for EU membership. The Summit between EU (including the candidate countries) and the countries of the Western Balkans, which was held in the vicinity of Thessalonica in June 2003, gave hope to the Western Balkan countries for their European perspective.9 The Summit promoted the European Partnership for the countries of the Western Balkans, which indicates the short-term and middle-term priorities for each country individually. In return, the countries have committed themselves to increased mutual cooperation on the key issues, including the fight against organized crime and corruption, development of more robust regional infrastructural network and liberalization of the trade regimes.

After the Union received the message for the unsuccessful referenda on the Constitution in the Netherlands and France, when a partial blame for the rejection was tossed on the enlargement achieved so far, the EU Commission prepared a new enlargement strategy.10 The too fast enlargement with ten new countries and the promise for membership negotiations given to Turkey, combined with insufficient information of the EU citizens, led to a fall in the support for further enlargement. The new strategy of the Commission is based on three elements: consolidation of the EU commitment to enlargement; application of fair, but strict limitations for the aspirant countries and an explanation of the enlargement to the citizens. The Strategy includes the promise that the enlargement process that has always been a part of the European project, will continue, but that in the future the Union will be careful during the accession of new members.

The European Union provides a significant financial and technical assistance for the countries of the Western Balkans. In the period between 1991 and 1999 the Union provided over 4.5 billion Euros as assistance for the five countries, including the macro financial assistance. If the humanitarian aid and the contribution of the member states are taken into account, the amount spent on the wider region is over 17 billion Euros. In order to simplify the procedure for the assistance intended for these countries, on 10 May 2000 the European Commission replaced the existing assistance programs (such as PHARE and Reconstruction) with the CARDS program as the unique instrument intended for assistance, reconstruction, development and stabilization. The principal goal of this program is to support the participation of the five countries in the Stabilization and Association Process. The respect of democratic principles, rule of law, human and minority rights and the fundamental freedoms are the preconditions for using the funds from this program.11

Most of the activities initiated from the outside come from the Stability Pact. Created in 1999 after the NATO intervention in Kosovo, the Stability Pact was designed to be complementary with the SAP process and to give a transatlantic dimension of the regional cooperation. The main priority of the Stability Pact Special Coordinator was to encourage the regional discussions and cooperation in each of the three priority areas: democratization, economic development and security. Success, though difficult to be quantified, is evident in the wider dimension of the areas subject to discussion, as well as in the agreements already signed. In the areas, such as free trade in the region, freedom of the media and fight against organized crime, the Stability Pact has assisted with aim to increase the cooperation among the states in the Balkans.12 However, the Stability Pact has, primarily, an international context, which is not enough to develop a culture of cooperation with a regional character. Such cooperation must come from the region itself.

Initiation of the regional cooperation process is not so easy task and it is still a challenge. The last fifteen years full of wars, disintegration of states and embargoes had a great effect on the internal economies of the Balkan states, the cross border trade and, in certain cases, the social and political cooperation among the states. The lack of economic cohesion, high rate of “grey economy”, delayed democratic transition and ethnic nationalism were identified as obstacles for the regional cooperation. Furthermore, the situation was deteriorated with the lack of sincere political will for cooperation and not acknowledged necessity for joint action. Or, said in other words, the cooperation existed in the areas that had been clearly defined by EU as areas requiring regional response (such as the fight against the organized crime, illegal immigration, other forms of illicit trade, visa policy, border management and infrastructural projects) and only because of the perspective for possible integration in the Union. Finally, the EU itself and its member states also contributed to complicating certain situations in the nineties of the past century. Often lack of coordination of the national policies was evident, as well as difficulties in the definition of an appropriate and coherent regional strategy. The policy of the Union for fulfilling certain conditions by the countries in the region sometimes appeared to be problematic. Namely, it was due to the difference in instruments, association agreements (with Bulgaria and Romania) and stabilization and association agreements (with Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro), that the EU applied to the countries in the region. Moreover, while on one hand the SAP process functioned on bilateral basis, the Stability Pact, on the other hand, promoted regional cooperation.13

The EU attempts to promote stability and regional cooperation have had only a limited success. EU has only had a partial success in the use of its economic and political capacities in the intention to encourage the domestic reforms. Thus, EU has probably made smaller progress than NATO in the overcoming of the bilateral character of its relations with the countries of the Western Balkans and the encouragement of the multilateral, regional form of cooperation. One of the ways to promote such cooperation may be the use of the channels opened with the bilateral agreements and the assistance program, aiming to promote the multilateral and cross border cooperation in the economic development, infrastructure, transportation, ecology and crime prevention. At military and political level, bigger significance should be given to the ways in which the new “common European defence” may promote the regional cooperation in the Western Balkans through involvement of the aspirant countries in different educational programs of the Union.

2. Regional cooperation among the states in the region

In order to reach a sustainable security level that would enable prosperity and development of the states in the Western Balkans, the international community imposed on them the requirement to comply with the Dayton Peace Accords, the Ohrid Agreement and the UN Resolutions on Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, it was also assessed that, to reach a long-lasting peace that will allow prosperity and development of the region, it was necessary for the region to get integrated in the transatlantic security architecture and the European security community. In order to get integrated in these security communities, the states from the region were instructed first to resolve their mutual problems and to cooperate regionally.

EU emphasizes the importance of the regional cooperation in the Balkans, underlining that “the initiative for that must come from the region”.14  The European Union tried to dissuade the skeptics, most of them coming from the Balkans, who saw the insisting for a bigger regional cooperation as an alternative for EU membership. That was also highlighted by the European Commission Enlargement Commissioner, Gunther Verheugen, who said that “if the states (from the Balkans) want to join EU, they need to demonstrate the ability to develop a regional cooperation and to resolve their problems together with their neighbours”.15

It was very important for the Balkan countries, NATO and EU, the local actors to demonstrate preparedness and ability to work together to resolve the mutual problems. Hence, at middle level of interaction, feeling the need for shared cooperation as a prerequisite for membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures, the Western Balkan countries started joining the regional initiatives promoted by the global international actors, but also, to declare their own initiatives in the attempt to join their efforts for reaching the wished objective.

The steps taken by the states in the Balkans show that they are in full accordance with this approach. Since 2000 there has been “an explosion” of regional activities, designed to create foundations for practical cooperation in the key priority areas. Some of them were initiated from outside, while most of them had a regional stamp. In some cases the cooperation is aimed at specific areas for resolving certain problems, while in others, it tries to cover a wider area and is accomplished more on a political level.

The promising forum that promotes the quality of the political leadership for regional cooperation is the South East Cooperation Process (SEECP). It started as a framework for dialogue, but in the last several years it has grown into something else and it has shown potentials for resolving local regional problems. This positive development was welcomed by the EU foreign ministers and while encouraging the states to move in that direction, they pointed out that “SEECP is gradually becoming the voice of the region”.16

SEECP members are five countries from the EU Stability and Association process (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and Macedonia) of which one started the accession negotiations (Croatia); three candidate countries (Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey) and one member country (Greece). The SEECP presidency is rotating. An annual summit is held in spring and a number of regular foreign ministerials throughout the year.

The beginnings of the Process go back to 1996 when the foreign ministers of the countries from the region had been meeting under the Process for Good Neighbourhood, Stability and Security of the Southeast European Countries, in order to build confidence, good-neighbourly relations and stability. At the Bucharest Summit in 2000 the heads of states changed the name of the Process into SEECP and signed the Charter for good-neighbourly relations. In the Charter, the signatories committed themselves that “their future lies in the peace, democracy, economic prosperity and complete integrations in the European and Euro-Atlantic structures”.17

In the security sphere, the countries committed themselves to respect the international borders and resolve disputes with peaceful means. Furthermore, they committed themselves to intensive diplomatic dialogue on the priority issues and supported the enhanced dialogue between the parliamentarians and the representatives of the civilian society. They also encouraged further dialogue on other security related issues, but did not specify them.

SEECP has been playing and still continues to play a central role in the development of the regional cooperation that needs to express the regional requirements and aspirations. At the same time, SEECP enables the region to promote itself as a subject in front of the international actors, particularly in front of the EU, that it is serious in the search of new ways for resolving the existing problems. Its evolution in the last several years and the actions it has been taking envisage better days for this region, particularly when it will be integrated in a wider EU.

However, in order to be fully successful, the SEECP needs to impose itself as a dominant process in the region. It must not only set the regional priorities, as it has been doing in the last couple of years, but, also, it has to take energetic actions for their realization. That understands the necessity for developing mechanisms that will enable it to accomplish the given objectives and to establish new ones according to the requirements of the region. Only in that way the SEECP will be an authentic voice of the region and will fulfill the international and regional expectations.18

Another form of cooperation with a regional trademark is the Adriatic Group – A3. The “Vilnius group” countries, which were not invited to join the Alliance at the Prague Summit, formed another group. The Republic of Macedonia launched the initiative to establish the so called “Ohrid-Adriatic group” that should make use of the experience gained from the “Vilnius group” and enable the member countries from the Western Balkans to get an invitation for membership at the next Summit of the Alliance. After a number of consulting meetings, the countries signed the Adriatic Charter in Tirana, thus establishing the Adriatic Group, popularly known as “A-3”. The cooperation within the Charter is accomplished at a number of levels and areas of cooperation. Many institutions are involved in this process, meetings are held at the level of heads of states, defence and foreign ministers, deputy defence ministers, deputy chiefs of the General Staffs, parliamentarians, directors of the services for security of classified information and at expert level.19 Along with the state institutions, the non-governmental sector, which needs to assist the support of the public opinion on the integration of the region in the Euro-Atlantic structures, is also involved.

The Charter is important not only with regards to the future NATO membership of the three signatory countries, but also in relation to enhancing the mutual cooperation aimed at resolving the regional security problems such as the corruption, organized crime, illegal trade and border security. On the other hand, the process of the comprehensive internal reforms, finalization of the defence reforms, modernization of the armed forces and other things need to be accomplished concurrently with the regional cooperation. The USA has expressed its interest to support this group and do the lobbying for the aspirant countries. Having in mind the role of the USA in the enlargement process, this support should be considered significant. What the results from this trilateral cooperation will be like, the next Summit of the Alliance will show.

The Western Balkan countries will have to turn more to themselves. In the past period the regional cooperation has not been developed enough, primarily because the regional clashes have been more important and because the countries have believed that they would gain bigger benefit from the cooperation with the external subject than with their neighbours, unstable, and poor states.20

3. Security in the countries from the region

Over a longer period of time, the countries of the Western Balkans have been facing numerous challenges, starting from resolving some constitutional issues to problems related to reinforcement of their state institutions. This year the process should start for determining the final status of Kosovo, and during the first half of the next year the referendum in Montenegro should take place on the future of the joint state with Serbia. Restructuring of the federation awaits Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia is expected to cooperate more closely with the Tribunal in The Hague, while Brussels is recommending to Macedonia to strengthen the reforms if it wants to start the negotiation talks. Hence, at micro level, the countries of the Western Balkan are facing internal problems that are an obstacle for a bigger foreign support and its Euro-Atlantic integration.

It all influences the different relations of the countries from the region with NATO and EU. Namely, Albania, Macedonia and Croatia are members of the Partnership for Peace, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the MAP process, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro are not.

Regarding the EU membership, two countries, Macedonia and Croatia, have signed the stabilization and association agreements and gained the status of “member cadidates”, of which the latter and has started the negotiations for accession, while Albania and Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina are still in the negotiation phase for signing a stabilization and association agreement.

After the elections in 2000, Croatia has clearly announced its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and has started the reforms in the defence and security sector with accelerated pace. Croatia joined the Partnership for Peace and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in May 2000. Immediately afterwards, at the next NATO summit it joined the MAP process with ambitions to become a part of the Alliance. The condition for Croatia to get integrated into NATO is its cooperation with the Hague Tribunal. With regards to the European Union, Croatia has signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, it has successfully answered the European Questionnaire, which has enabled it to gain the “membership candidate status” and has started the negotiations for accession. For the Croatian ambitions to become an EU member in 2009, the director of the General Directorate of the European Commission on Enlargement and the chief negotiator with Croatia, Fabrizio Barbaso, says, “If it goes well, optimistic assessment is that 2009 may be the year of finalizing the negotiations”.21

Albania is a PfP and EAPC member and a part of the MAP process since its very beginning; however it does not show good results in the reforms of the Army. With regards to EU, Albania is a PHARE beneficiary since 1992 when it signed the Agreement on Trade and Cooperation with EU. Albania has been negotiating the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement since 2003 and it is expected that it will be finalized soon. The new Government, established after the latest elections, is expected to accelerate this process and to show better results in the reforms concerning the fight against organized crime, freedom of the media, exercising the property rights and independence of the courts.

The Dayton Peace Accords envisaged the security architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be composed of three armies, which were rivals to each other, and did not ensure long-term security, stability and prosperity of the state. However, NATO and the other international organizations have been working together with the Bosnian authorities on the reforms in the security structures of the state. As a condition for PfP membership Bosnia and Herzegovina has to implement the defence reforms and to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal. With the beginning of the ALTEA operation at the end of 2004, EU took over the responsibility from NATO for the security of the state. Bosnia and Herzegovina has received the assessment by the European Commission showing that it has identified 16 priority areas concerning the initiation of the negotiations for entering into Stabilization and Association Agreement. After reaching the necessary progress in the reforms, the negotiations were started in November 2005 and it is expected to have them finalized in a year.

Serbia and Montenegro has made some progress in the defence reforms. It is participating in specifically tailored programs for cooperation with NATO, which include workshops sponsored by NATO and designed to inform the experts of Serbia and Montenegro about the Euro-Atlantic security structures and the Partnership for Peace. The cooperation with the Tribunal in The Hague has been established, but the remark remains that several other persons indicted of war crimes need to be delivered to the Tribunal, and this particularly refers to Ratko Mladic. Meeting of these two conditions is compulsory before Serbia and Montenegro joins the Partnership. The EAPC membership for Belgrade will be the first step towards its future Euro-Atlantic integration. Both NATO and Serbia and Montenegro will benefit from that, but also the region whose long-lasting stability and security is suspended without constructive participation of Belgrade.22 On October 10, 2006 Serbia and Montenegro started the negotiations for signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement with EU. Serbia and Montenegro is expected to improve the judiciary system, to take measures for fight against corruption and ensure democratic control of the armed forces. It is also expected to have a constructive approach to the resolution of the future status of Kosovo. It is sure that the results from the referendum to be held in Montenegro in spring this year, which are going to influence the future of the joint state, will, also, have an effect on the negotiations. These negotiations are expected to end within a year.

The European Union has been present in Kosovo since the very beginning of the international efforts for building Kosovo. The Union and its members are playing a significant role in the reconstruction of Kosovo. The EU presence in Kosovo is manifested in three principal forms: through the Office for Humanitarian Aid, the European Agency for Reconstruction and as part of the UNMIK mission, responsible for revitalization of the economic activities of Kosovo and for creating conditions for free trade. The initiation of the negotiations for the final status of the protectorate Kosovo this year is yet another test for the international community and the region. Until the final status of the former Serbian province is resolved, the NATO mission KFOR will have to sustain a bigger contingent that needs to be capable of neutralizing possible violent activities.

As a consequence of such internal condition, there is a different level in the approach of the Western Balkan countries to the institutions of EU and NATO, i.e. to the economic and military assistance that they can provide for them. This causes difficulties for EU and NATO in their efforts to attract all the countries in the region equally in the activities concerning the regional cooperation. Furthermore, their differences will get even deeper if some of the Western Balkan countries become full-fledged NATO and EU members.23

The reasons for the different levels in the relations lie in the progress these countries have achieved in the field of the human rights, economic reforms, respect of minority rights and developing friendly relations with the neighbouring countries. This trend will most probably continue in the following couple of years. That inevitably leads to different level of involvement of the countries when regional activities of cooperation are concerned. In long-term, however, the regional cooperation in the Western Balkans will have a limited effect if the countries, which, in fact, are the biggest source of instability and conflicts in the region, are excluded. Hence, EU and NATO face the necessity of delicate balancing, on the one hand, between the ways of gradual approaching of these countries in the regional cooperation and the meeting of criteria for their inclusion in the PfP and SAP process, on the other hand.

4. Republic of Macedonia – from an extra to a role player

It is interesting that during the first years of its independence, the Republic of Macedonia was a place where the global actors at the international scene tested their capacities for preventive diplomacy and crisis management, while later it grew into a leader of the regional cooperation and a contributor to peace maintaining.

There has been an emphasized interest at macro level of all the actors at the international scene (UN, NATO, EU, OSCE and USA) in the security in the Republic of Macedonia since its very independence and it still goes on. That interest has been manifested through the UN preventive mission and the engagement of NATO, EU, OSCE and the USA in the resolution of the 2001 conflict.24 In the post-conflict period and the implementation of the Framework Agreement, the EU has a particular role through the Stabilization and Association Agreement and the advisory mission PROXIMA in the police reforms. NATO presence and its interest in the security sector reforms have been manifested through the NATO Advisory Team and the liaisons with KFOR on issues concerning border security. On the other hand, the USA has been actively involved through the “Booz-Alen-Hamilton” advisory team in the army reforms.

On the other hand, after the stabilization of its security situation because of the 2001 conflict, the Republic of Macedonia has steadily transformed itself from a security consumer to its creator. By participating in the NATO-led mission ISAF, it is acquiring the experience required for participation in crisis management operations that will be our responsibility as a future NATO member. On the other hand, the strategic partnership with NATO is building and confirming through our participation in the mission in Iraq. The mosaic will be completed with our participation in the mission ALTEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is announced for this year, and our becoming part of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. Thus we will enhance our status as a “candidate country” in the Union.

At middle level, after the initial skepticism that followed the independence, the Republic of Macedonia has realized the importance of the cooperation with the countries in the region on increasing security and achieving the objective for its Euro-Atlantic integration. Thus, it has intensified the regional cooperation as one of the three pillars of its foreign policy that is complementary to its strategic objective for integration in the European Union and NATO. The activities that are taken not only at national level, but at the both regional and international levels, make the Republic of Macedonia a promoter for improving the regional peace and stability.

During the Macedonian presidency with the SEE Cooperation process in 2001, the focus was on the efforts for economic development of the region. In the Summit Declaration it was highlighted that this “regional initiative is anticipated to have its place in the international framework”.25

Within the Adriatic Group and the implementation of the Charter, the Republic of Macedonia is, also, showing a leading role at a number of levels. Besides the intensive efforts and numerous meetings of the foreign and defence ministries, the Parliament and other state organs have also been involved. The crown of this cooperation was the conference on the implementation of the Adriatic. The most important message from the conference was the joint statement of the foreign ministers of the signatory countries of the Charter in which they committed themselves to strong regional cooperation, but also expressed their hope and support to Serbia and Montenegro and to Bosnia and Herzegovina for their forthcoming accession to the Charter, the Partnership for Peace and the process for integration of these countries in NATO through the Membership Action Plan.

In May 2003 Macedonia hosted the Border Security Conference that was organized by NATO, EU, the Stability Pact and OSCE and included participants from all the countries in the region. The objective of this conference was to intensify the cross border cooperation among the countries as a measure for building long-lasting stability and security.

At the micro level, in order to get integrated in the Euro-Atlantic structures the Republic of Macedonia takes the reforms required for fulfilling the political, economic and legal criteria of EU and for meeting the NATO standards.

The journey to NATO started in December 2003 when the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia brought a Decision for joining NATO. As an aspirant country for NATO membership, the Republic of Macedonia joined the Partnership for Peace initiative on December 15, 1995 thus officially becoming the 27th member of the initiative. Furthermore, Macedonia is a member of the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) since its establishing in 1997 and a part of the MAP process since 1999. So far, the Republic of Macedonia has prepared seven annual national programs for NARO membership and has received six progress reports related to the reforms made on the way to achieving membership in the Alliance. Macedonia expects to be invited to join the Alliance at the next NATO summit when the enlargement will be discussed.

In order to accelerate its integration in EU, the Republic of Macedonia applied for EU membership on March 22, 2004 thus expressing its readiness to cross over from the stabilization process into the association process. Subsequently, the Republic of Macedonia answered the Questionnaire of the Commission and on November 9, 2005 received a positive response with a recommendation of the Commission to the EU Council at its next summit to grant the country the “candidate status”. In the early hours of December 17, 2005, following an intense debate over budgetary and enlargement issues, the heads of state and government of EU member nations made the decision in Brussels and granted the “candidate status” to the Republic of Macedonia. The date for the accession negotiations has not been defined yet and that is related to the achieving sufficient progress in line with the membership criteria. Along with the Opinion, our country also received a new European Partnership where the priorities are identified that the country is required to meet before the procedure is opened for the initiation of the negotiations. The Council will assess the progress in the political reforms that obliges the Commission to submit a report by the end of 2006. The accession negotiations usually last three to four years and after that a decision is made on extending an invitation for accession, i.e. the accession date is defined, which practically means two additional years until reaching the full-fledged membership status. This period may be longer or shorter, which depends on the candidate’s capacities.

The reforms that have been taken so far in relation to the Euro Atlantic integration of the Republic of Macedonia have been considered as an obligation towards NATO and EU, and not as something that we need in order to improve the society that we live in. In order to continue the reforms more efficiently and not to experience new disappointments, it is necessary to get free of some NATO and EU membership related prejudices that are still present in the wider and even in a part of the expert public. We have the Progress Report on the reforms aimed at NATO membership26 and the Opinion of the EU Commission on our application for membership. We have the recommendations, now we only need to implement them, and that will be much easier if we experience it as something that we need.

The thing that the Republic of Macedonia lacks to complete the mosaic of the national security observed through the analytical approach to the security complex is the situation in the field of the reforms in the country as a precondition for our integration in the Euro-Atlantic institutions. By stabilizing the situation in the country and accelerated reforms we will eliminate the obstacles for closer relations with the European Union and NATO and consequently we will improve not only the regional security but we will also become a part of the Euro-Atlantic family as the ultimate goal of our foreign and security policy.

Instead of conclusion

The strategy of the international community was NATO to contribute to security, and Europe to constitutional solutions and the economy development of the Western Balkans. The first meant extended presence of NATO in the region, and the latter asked for the Union to assist in the transformation in the region with a promise that it will become a member. Thus the Euro-Atlantic integrations should have contributed to the stability and development of the whole region.

NATO and EU are involved in the Western Balkans as a result of their activities related to enlargement, through the NATO MAP process and the EU Stabilization and Association Agreements. Also, their involvement is manifested through the crisis management in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. The political, economic and military power of NATO and EU gives significant influence to these organizations, which comes as a result of the wish of most of the countries in this region to join them.

Besides the strong presence of the principal European and international organizations in this area we cannot speak about achievement of some impressive results. The enlargement policies are based on the premise that the countries can be accepted in a group; however the decisions on the membership will be based on the readiness of each applicant country individually. This approach has not encouraged the regional cooperation among the partner countries, and it has even, sometimes, increased the competing among them in relation to developing closer relations with the West.

While NATO and EU can and need to do more in order to improve the regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, the progress of the regional cooperation cannot be separated from the wider political and security development in the region. It will not be possible for the regional cooperation to develop or play a significant role if the Western Balkans is characterized with continuant violence and deterioration of the inter-ethnic and mutual relations. In this context, the West has not succeeded in developing an effective strategy for meeting the mentioned reasons for regional problems caused by the defects in the democratization process and the violent nationalism. In a long run, the resolution of these problems in the Western Balkan countries and the increase of stability throughout the Southeastern Europe will depend on the development of the democracies that will respect the human and minority rights in all states and the principle of non-changing the international borders. In order to achieve this goal, the key NATO and EU member countries will need to remain deeply engaged in the Western Balkans in the years to come. One element of this engagement needs to be the reinforced support to the regional cooperation. A challenge to the principal European and international organizations will be the finding of a political space in which the regional organizations will be able to develop and provide political and material support for maximizing this cooperation.

In general, the international cooperation has shown readiness to get engaged with political and military means and to assist the region financially. However, both NATO and EU were careful in undertaking commitments when it was necessary to integrate the region. At the Summit in Thessalonica, between the European Union and the countries of the Western Balkans a resolution was adopted in which the Union promised European perspectives to the countries, but the instruments that were offered to achieve that, indicated a relatively long process. And more than that, during this process the countries in the region need to show bigger interest for the Union than the Union for them. This asymmetry did not encourage the regional cooperation.

Though this fragmented integration approach may not result in further separation of the Western Balkans countries, it does not promote the integration, that is, it does not lead to increased cooperation in the region. However, as mentioned before, the political and economy integration of the countries in the region of the Western Balkans is one of the conditions for long-lasting regional stability and integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures.

After the last crisis in the Union and when the interest of NATO for this region is decreasing, it is necessary for the countries to show a bigger interest in the regional cooperation. It is very possible Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro not to fulfill the requirements for NATO membership in foreseeable future, and NATO and the Americans as its driving force to continue withdrawing from the region, because they have enough problems in other regions. Having in mind this situation, there are already some warnings that the region could again be destabilized if there is a standstill in the integration process as a consequence to the new challenges for NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq and the crisis in EU.27

The plan was the Union to take the commitments of the Balkans. However, after the French and Dutch “no” to the EU Constitution, it seems that it is not so certain. Moreover, the enthusiasm for the achieved enlargement has deflated, and not to speak about any new ones.28  There are also requests in some other countries to take a break with the enlargement process.

If the Western Balkan countries do not get integrated they will become engaged, i.e., under a strong control and influence of the West. Examples for this are the protectorates in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo and the strong presence of the European Union in Macedonia and in Serbia and Montenegro.

The problem is that up to now, most of the regional cooperation has been based on the idea that it will be accomplished through mediation from outside. As a result many initiatives have been launched, such as the NATO SEE Initiative and the Stability Pact that should have assisted the Balkan countries in achieving easier cooperation with each other. However, it has led to dependency on the “third party”.29  Thus, for some of the problems that need to be resolved in the bilateral cooperation, mediation by the international community is waited for.

The necessity is felt for joining the efforts of the Western Balkan countries in their attempt to become a part of the Euro-Atlantic family. On the contrary, the whole region is threatened to be left out of NATO and EU for a longer period of time. There are even considerations in some European countries that the countries of the Western Balkans need to stay out of the Euro-Atlantic integrations. These views may become even more influential if the crisis in the Union and the debates on the future of NATO get deeper. Because of that, the Western Balkan countries need to act together, regardless of the fact that each of them will get integrated according to its own progress.

It is necessary most urgently to determine the “final outcome” in the region in order to direct the attention completely to the economy. The states in the region must have a precise agenda on what needs to be done in order to get invited to join NATO and EU, i.e. to know when that will happen. On the contrary, holding them in uncertainty for a longer period of time and changing constantly the conditions that need to be met may lead to disappointment and the states could turn to some other values, and instead of cooperation and prosperity, to open the old animosities. Very easily, the search of bigger security may lead to smaller security for all the actors involved in the process. Differences among the countries in the region on certain issues will continue to exist, but a common agenda needs to be developed on increasing the business and attracting foreign investments, which will expedite the integration of the region in NATO and EU. The region is facing complex challenges such as the resolution of the final status of Kosovo, the survival of Serbia and Montenegro as one state, the redesigning of the Dayton-like Bosnia and Herzegovina, the acceleration of the reforms in Albania and Macedonia. If more variants remain opened for too long, the feeling of uncertainty may be fatal. It is crucial to prevent the economic and social gap because on the contrary, the region will be destabilized and instead of coming closer to NATO and EU, it will collapse. Neither strategically nor morally, the region should not be left aside of the Euro-Atlantic flows.

1. Barry Buzan, People, states and fear: an agenda for international security studies in the post-cold era, Second Edition, Lynne Riener Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 1991, p. 190.

2. The Consultative Forum includes: NATO members, SEE Partner countries (Albania, Croatia and Macedonia) and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

3. NATO Initiative for South East Europe, Washington, 23-25 April 1999.

4. Though it is not participating in the Initiative, Serbia and Montenegro (at the time SR Yugoslavia) attended the meeting as a member to the Stability Pact and the SEE Cooperation Initiative.

5. South East Europe Common Assessment Paper on Regional Challenges and Opportunities (SEECAP), Budapest, 29-30 May 2001.

6. Currently the Royaumount Process is responsible for inter-parliamentarian relations within the Stability Pact.

7. A Commission Communication (COM (99)) 235 of 26 May 1999.

8. COM (2003) 285 final of 21 May 2003.

9. Declaration of EU-Western Balkans Summit, Thessalonica, 21 June 2003.

10. Communication from the Commission – 2005 Enlargement Strategy Paper, COM (2005) 561, Brussels, 9 November 2005.

11. EU considers introducing a new financing mechanism called Instrument for Pre-Accession – IPA. This instrument will be intended for the countries of the Stabilization and Association Process, but it will make a difference between “the potential candidates” and “the membership candidates”. Anyhow, the countries involved in the Process will have to learn how to use the mechanisms of this new instrument.

12. According to the Stability Pact coordinator, Erchard Busek, in a foreseeable future it will not be necessary for the countries in the region, but it would be essential for the West Balkan countries to create a regional forum, according to the Visegrad group, on their way to the EU. According to him, a realistic date for putting an end to the Stability Pact is 2009 and for establishing the necessary regional forum it should be discussed at the next regional meeting, in May 2006 in Belgrade (Dnevnik, November 17, 2005).

13. Ruby Graopas, Functional Borders, Sustainable Security and EU-Balkan Relations, in Southeast European and Black Seas Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (January 2004), pp. 49-76.

14. EU General Affairs Council, 19 November 2001.

15. Quoted by the Stability Pact Special Coordinator Bodo Hombach, Opening statement, Second Regional Conference for Southeast Europe, 25 October 2001, Bucharest, Romania.

16. EU General Affairs Council, 19 November 2001.

17. Bucharest Declaration of the Third Meeting of Heads of State and Government of Southeast European Countries, 14 February 2000.

18. Andrew G. Hyde, Seizing the Initiative: The Importance of Regional Cooperation in Southeast Europe and the Prominent Role of the Southeast European Cooperation Process, in Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (January 2004), pp.1-22.

19. With regards to the areas of cooperation, consultations and exchange of experiences are ongoing on security and defence issues, prevention of proliferation, arms control, confidence building measures, legal issues, exchange of strategic documents, etc. Furthermore, activities are taken for holding joint exercises, joint training and education, joint meetings during multilateral fora (SEDM, EAPC etc.), exchange of liaison officers, signing agreements on exchange and protection of classified information, exchange of information between the intelligence services, meetings of the Public Relation offices of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc. Also, activities are taken for expanding the cooperation with the Partnership for Peace potential candidates (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro) and the NATO member countries in the region (Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Greece and Turkey).

20. Interesting for analysis are the data taken from the International Monetary Fund for 2001-02 which show that, for example, 91,8% of the export of Albania is towards the EU, while only 2,8% towards the other countries from the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina exports 46,3% towards the EU versus 31,2% towards the Balkans, Croatia 55% versus 17,4%, Serbia and Montenegro 47% versus 28,7% and Macedonia 21,4% versus 38,3%.

21. Dnevnik, November 14, 2005.

22. Robert Serry, NATO’s Balkan Odyssey, NATO Review, winter 2003.

23. International Commission on the Balkans, The Balkans in Europe’s Future, Sudosteuropa, 53. Jg., 2/2005.

24. For more details see: Slaveski Stojan, The National Security of the Republic of Macedonia and the Euro Atlantic Integrations, Digiprint, Skopje 2003, p. 206-226.

25. Summit Declaration of the Heads of State and Government of South East European Countries – Skopje, 23 February 2001.

26. For more details see: Slaveski Stojan, The Way Ahead, Odbrana, no. 112, August 2005.

27. Vladimir Gligorov, Mutual cooperation can save the Balkans, Utrinski vesnik (daily newspaper),    25-26 June 2005.

28. More on this see in: Elizabeth pound, Kosovo and Serbia after the French Non, The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 2005, pp.19-36.

29. More on the role of the “third party” see in: David Carment and Dane Rowlands, Vengeance and Intervention: Can Third Parties Bring Peace Without Separation?, Security Studies 13, No.4, 2005, pp. 366-393.