Memorandum submitted by Misha Glenny
1. The fall of Milosevic has established
substantially new parameters in South Eastern Europe (SEE) that
offer the possibility of future stability in the region. They
are, however, no guarantee of stability and in the short term
accentuate certain problems some of which are now becoming acute.
If these fester beyond certain stage, then the southern Balkans
could once again develop into a major security risk.
2. Western policy (and European Union policy
in particular) will have a crucial role in deciding the outcome.
Milosevic's exit has opened a window of opportunity through which
both the EU and SEE may squeeze if they are pulled in the right
directions. This is made more difficult as the renewed attention
and interest in Serbia has, of course, excited jealousies elsewhere
in the former Yugoslavia. Having faithfully played the West's
game of isolating Serbia, other leaders are disappointed that
Western money and political effort has to a degree switched towards
3. Yet almost all countries and territories
in SEE now boast leaders with democratic mandates and, to an extent,
elites who are committed to pursuing politics through dialoque
and negotiation, and who appreciate the futility of armed conflict.
These people both represent and engineer change, a significant
reminder that Balkan history is not as static as some may believe.
4. SEE has a very poor reputation in the
eyes of the outside world - I would like briefly to reconsider
that image to illuminate the present. The source of the greatest
violence committed in SEE during the 20th century was external
- namely the two world wars. The material devastation here was
proportionally greater than in almost any other part of Europe.
Yet after both wars, the region received little or no assistance
in the form of investment. And following 1945, all Balkan countries
were expected to accommodate themselves to the strategic requirements
of London, Moscow and Washington at the expense of both democratic
and economic development.
5. The effect over a century has been to
exacerbate the socio-economic gap between SEE and its neighbours
to the North and West. Poverty and limited resources have contributed
immeasurably to the continuation of war in the 1990s while in
Western Europe affluence, stable socal systems and less complex
ethnic mixes have rendered armed conflict largely (although not
6. The bloodshed in SEE has hidden a second,
more promising history. The Albanians, who designed and built
large parts of the Ottoman Empire and Titoist Yugoslavia, have
again shown their exceptional ability to reconstruct the physical
foundations of a wrecked social fabric in the past 20 months.
Bulgaria boasts a brilliant class of young software engineers
whose skills are sought after by the most powerful corporations
of Silicon Valley. Croatia has begun to develop a highly promising
7. All countries have a great argricultural
tradition and all peoples in the region are great traders. In
the cities of SEE, there is a highly educated young work force
which listens to the same music as its West European counterpart,
wears the same clothes and increasingly shares its values. It
was this optimistic engergetic youth in Serbia, for example, that
played such a crucial role in toppling Milosevic in the shape
of the revolutionary youth movement, Otpor.
8. SEE does not need an endless supply of
money to develop these resourcesalthough it needs some.
Above all, however, it needs political commitment and support
to assist the reforms of its institutions and to prepare for the
ultimate goal of integration into the EU.
9. The need for political engagement is
made urgent by the presence of three immediate or mid-term crises
facing the region. The first is the Albania insurgency in the
Presevo valley which if unchecked can (a) create substantial headaches
for KFOR/UNMIK and have a negative impact on an already poor situation
in Mitrovica (b) lead to serious conflict between Serbs and Albanians,
placing KFOR in a very difficult position were Serbian forces
to violate the Military/Technical Agreement and (c) spill over
to Macedonia with severe consequences.
10. Secondly there is the relationship between
Montenegro and Serbia. At the moment, the EU and the United States
are actively discouraging the secession of Montenegro that Djukanovic
appears to be promoting. This is a difficult situation to call.
Further fragmentation of the region is unwelcome for a variety
of reasons. I think this is the right policy. At the same time,
however, I would stress that everybody else has been granted and
even encouraged by the EU and the US to hold plebiscitary polls
and it is hard to see why this should be denied to the Montenegrins,
especially as they theoretically enjoy this right under Badinter.
11. The consequences of Montenegro's secession
are not entirely predictable (in the worst case scenario, it could
provoke civil conflict within the republic itself). But it is
safe to say that it would seriously undermine Vojislav Kostunica's
position as federal President and strengthen Zoran Djindjic, Serbian
Prime Minister. It is also safe to say that this would strengthen
Albanian calls for Kosovo's independence. All this, of course,
has implications for Macedonia as well.
12. The third issue is Kosovo's status.
I do not need to outline the difficulties here. I would just say
that the establishment of a territory-wide administration with
democratic credentials is extremely important to avoid glaring
errors committed in Bosnia which has allowed the development of
a debilitating dependency culture in the Dayton state. Needless
to say, consideration of Kosovo's status is watched very closely
in Macedonia whose representatives are generally adamant in refusing
any redrawing of current borders which puts them at odds with
the Kosovo Albanian aspirations.
13. Elsewhere, the situation in Serbia itself
is by no means clear for a number of reasons. The mutual hostility
between the Yugoslav Federal President and the Serbian Prime Minister
is easy to detect. The outside world (bar the Hague) prefers Kostunica
because he is always a man of his word. The new or adapting elite
in Serbia prefers Djindjic because he is an experienced politician
who understands how to get things done. Personally, I think this
state of affairs sometimes muddies the waters but both men are
democrats and their struggle is an integral part of institution
14. Perhaps more worrying is the ability
of either men to persuade the business elite that underwrote Milosevic's
distorted state to accept the new rules. While I think the idea
of a counter-coup is groundless, these people can apply real pressure
on the new political leadershipsince 5 October, murder,
threats and intimidation have remained a central element of Serbia's
economic politics. With a background of collapsing standards of
living, rocketing unemployment, and a massive exhausted, refugee
population, the new leadership feels insecure.
15. Having established that, let me address
the question of the ICTY within a broader framework. The depleted
uranium scandal only assumed serious proportions when Britain
and America's allies feared that their soldiers may have sickened
as a consequence of the deployment of these weapons. The fate
of Albanians and Serbs exposed to the possible harmful effects
of DU has never been an issue. It is not just the Serbs who believe
that their region is the object of arrogant western policies.
This feeling is widespread throughout the region (it has become
especially acute among the Albanians of Kosovo recently).
16. Yugoslavia has made real progress in
its relations with the ICTY since 5 October. However, the Yugoslav
leadership is forced to steer the country out of a decade during
which Serbs have experienced violent dictatorship, war, pariah
status and a massive bombing campaign. A heavy-handed approach
of conditionality on the part of the international community is
unlikely to yield results and could damage regional stability.
Milosevic will be tried within the foreseeable future either in
Belgrade or the Hague. But while ICTY officials have a job and
a clear mandate, I believe they occasionally forget that their
role has a political aspect to it. The refusal to indict the late
Croatian President Tudjman (largely because an indictment would
have depended on the US releasing intelligence material which
it decided against in contrast, later, to its attitude towards
Milosevic), and the refusal to investigate NATO for the possible
commission of war crimes (eg RTSerbia) were bound to consolidate
sentiments among the Serbs that this is not a fair court. But
an increasing number of Serb and Yugoslav government officials
are expressing the need to co-operate fully with the Hague. I
believe a little patience is required.
17. In policy terms, the EU (absolutely
key for regeneration of the region) is found wanting. We have
the familiar situation of national governments pursuing policies
that lack co-ordination even if they are on the same wavelength.
The Stability Pact is seriously flawed and does not have the authority
to establish the necessary strategic vision for SEE. There is
competition at the highest levels of the EU for competency with
regard to Balkan policy and this is damaging. There are so many
mid-term and long-term issues (especially concerning relations
with the EU and intra-regional co-operation, as well as the constitutional
difficulties faced by Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia)
that the EU requires a more focussed effort. I am convinced that
the EU needs to establish a directorate for the design and execution
of long-term policy in SEE. This should override any political
role of the Stability Pact and head off problems before they become
serious. It is depressingly familiar to watch how United States
diplomats have energetically assumed the central role in attempts
to defuse the Presevo situation. This is not a critique of the
Americans, but of EU diplomacy. Why hasn't the EU placed itself
firmly in centre stage in solving this issue? As a caveat, I must
point out that I do not expand much on the idea of the Balkan
directorate as I know it to be non-starter thanks to the bureaucratic
jealousies that characterise the EU's policy-making apparatus.
18. While I appreciate that people are fed
up with the Balkans, I must as a last resort outline why indifference
to the region is a self-defeating approach. The wars of the last
ten years have contributed enormously into transforming much of
the region into a mafia stronghold that regards the EU as its
largest and most lucrative market, especially for the trade in
people, drugs and prostitution. It is also a money-laundering
19. The decision by the Prime Minister and
his Italian counterpart to send police to the region for intelligence
on the trafficking of illegal migrants highlights some of the
problems. While I can understand the motives for so doing, this
is like placing a sticking plaster onto a gaping wound. The Shadow
Home Secretary's response to the idea indicates how short-sighted
political debate has become in this country. All EU countries
have to co-operate in policing the extensive criminal activities
based in SEEa thin blue line on the white cliffs will not
stop racketeering in this country. But neither Britain, nor Italy
nor the entire EU will ever be able to spare sufficient forces
to police the Balkans properly. This problem can only be solved
by economic prosperity taking root in SEE. Failure to do so will
lead, I am sure, to the long-term failure of the European Union.