Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-135)|
26 OCTOBER 2004
Q120 Chairman: It is the declared aim.
Dr Anastasakis: It seems to me
that the way things are going is not creating a multicultural
or multiethnic society but rather trying to divide them. I definitely
think, particularly in Kosovo, it had to do with the fact that
the international community was not able to deal effectively with
the creation of this kind of multiethnic society. That was a very
different development. In the end, people turned against the international
Q121 Chairman: Should the result of the
election lead to a fundamental re-think by the international community?
Is the plan put forward by the Secretary-General of the UN Special
Representative, Ambassador Kai Eide, now no longer relevant in
the light of these elections?
Dr Whyte: No, I think it is even
more relevant. I think Ambassador Eide identified very skilfully
a number of key problems facing Kosovo at the moment. The fact
is that while the final status question remains unresolved, all
the other issues are going to be held hostage to that, including
particularly the issue of interethnic relations. Basically, any
concession to Serbs as citizens of Kosovo is seen by Albanians
as a concession against their own future independence and vice
versa as well. At the moment it is purely a zero sum game. Until
you have a credible process that is going to resolve the final
status of Kosovo, you cannot expect ethnic tensions to become
Q122 Chairman: The Serbs are just not
going to participate in such a process?
Dr Whyte: Which Serbs?
Q123 Chairman: Only 500 odd people of
the total Serb community bothered to vote. Even with possibly
some intimidation, that does suggest a massive lack of legitimacy
of the institutions in the eyes of the local Serbs?
Dr Whyte: That is absolutely right
but it means, as I read it, that local Serbs have effectively
given the mandate to Belgrade to negotiate on their behalf rather
than to their own locally-elected officials. That is how I see
it. The Serbs will be involved but it will be Belgrade rather
than the local representative.
Dr Anastasakis: What seems clear
is that Belgrade is guiding the whole game here. As far as discussions
on the status are concerned, as you pointed out, the only unhappy
thing is that the policy of standards before status is a failure
because there is going to be a discussion on status without having
made any progress on standards basically. In that respect, I find
this even more pessimistic than anything else.
Q124 Chairman: Before turning to Mr Illsley
and Bosnia, a few questions in respect of Macedonia: I concede
that because the result of the referendum is not now known, it
is very difficult to speculate, but how significant do you believe
is the referendum and the prospect of a "yes" vote,
which some claim would undermine the Ohrid framework agreement?
Dr Whyte: First of all, one lesson
that comes out of this is that when you are writing peace agreements,
look out for loopholes that can be exploited by other people,
and that is what has happened in this case. It was not foreseen
that a referendum could actually overrun minority guarantees that
were inserted into the Ohrid peace agreements, but that nonetheless
is what happened. Yes, the referendum is very significant. It
is effectively a poll on one part of the peace agreement rather
than the entire package, and this of course is very dangerous.
If it is passed, at the very best it will mean a delay of at least
a year in implementing the reform of local government, which was
a key part of the peace agreement. That is the best possible result,
without which further progress into EU and NATO integration for
Macedonia is not possible. It will also, of course, result in
a certain increase of internal tensions within Macedonia. That
goes without saying, whatever the result of the referendum.
Q125 Chairman: How significant is it?
Dr Anastasakis: One aspect is
that there will be a lot of internal tension, which is something
which can go to unpredictable levels. The second is that EU integration
will also be delayed. FYR Macedonia in particular is an interesting
case in that it would act as a model for the other countries where
you do have two different ethnic communities and there is an overall
consensus as far as the EU goal is concerned. In that respect,
I think especially the Macedonian case would be particularly critical
to what happens with other divided societies in the Western Balkans.
Q126 Chairman: The US Ambassador in Skopje
has warned, and perhaps an interesting intervention in the domestic
affairs of Macedonia, that if there were to be a "yes"
vote, that would put back the prospects of Macedonia joining NATO
beyond the next possible opening of the door in 2007, possibly
for many more years. Is that a message which, in your judgment,
is getting through to the electorate in Macedonia?
Dr Whyte: As far as I can tell,
yes. There is still another two weeks to go in this campaign but
it is very interesting to follow the comments in the Macedonian
press. The Ambassador's statement I think is absolutely unchallengeable.
If Macedonia has to wait another year, then they basically miss
the window that is currently opening for them, Albania and Croatia
to join NATO.
Q127 Chairman: In 2007?
Dr Whyte: Precisely, and if they
are not ready to join by the middle of next year, which they will
not be if the referendum passes, then they do miss that opportunity.
It is a straight statement of fact.
Dr Anastasakis: I would say yes
in principle, but in reality I would look differently at this
and to what extent a factor such as NATO or the EU can be a gear,
not just for people voting in a certain direction but also for
reform. I think this is much more complicated, especially when
one is inside this kind of society which is going through unemployment
and poverty. Those issues are really important to the people.
NATO and the EU are there as a long-term goal, and that means
prosperity and strength and all that for them, but I think when
people are in a referendum frame of kind, that kind of blackmail
can have an adverse effect. If you blackmail them and say "you
are not going to get into the EU or into NATO", that can
have the opposite effect, as the case of Cyprus teaches us.
Chairman: I think President Mitterrand
said the French always answer the wrong question in a referendum.
That may be the same.
Q128 Mr Illsley: I have a couple of questions
relating to Bosnia and the hand-over from the NATO stabilisation
force to the European Union force in December. There is a suggestion
that because of the situation in 1992-95 the Bosnian perception
is that the European Union will not act militarily or does not
wish to act militarily. What implications does that have for the
hand-over in December?
Dr Whyte: The clear implication
is that there will be a trial of strength at quite an early date,
I would anticipate. Of course, things are very different in Bosnia
now from 10 years ago. This is no longer a country at war. This
is a country that has at least a sullen peace for the last nine
years. On the other hand, if the EU does come into it, despite
the improvements that we have both referred to earlier, with this
very unfortunate legacy of failure, we can expect that people
will be putting it to the test, so it has to be ready to face
those tests and to pass them.
Q129 Mr Illsley: What exactly does it
have to do to face them?
Dr Whyte: What form it takes we
cannot precisely predict right now but I would have thought that
there will certainly be challenges to the EU military authority
of some kind, whether that is through riotingrioting is
a strong termor through some other form, we cannot quite
Dr Anastasakis: When the EU takes
over militarily it has to do that with a different frame of mind
this time because it is not an immediate post-war situation; the
security threats are different now from what they were in the
1990s. It is not just about the ethnic conflict and trying to
keep those communities apart so that they do not slaughter each
other; there are also issues of organised crime. There are issues
of security but the agenda is much wider and I think that the
EU will have to adjust to this new type of environment. The other
thing that I would also suggest is that it is not just for the
EU to prove that it can act militarily in a similarly satisfactory
way as the United States or to prove to itself that it can do
the job; it also has to know what the situation is on the ground
basically and be able to help and act in synergy with other organisations
involved in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dr Whyte: Can I raise a slight
technical point on this? I do not know whether this committee
has considered this in the past but the EU force will not just
be an EU force; it will include at least I think 11 other countries
that I have seen listed as likely participants. I am a bit concerned
about the lines of command and control in this case when you have
Moroccan or Canadian or Turkish soldiers under EU command in an
operation that is run by the Political and Security Committee
in Brussels on which there are no Canadian, Moroccan or Turkish
representatives, but there are indeed representatives of Denmark
and Luxembourg, two countries which will not be participating.
I think there is an issue of accountability there which I hope
does not become a political crisis point but I can see that is
Q130 Mr Illsley: Are there likely to
be difficulties within the EU as well between EU members and is
there any likelihoodand this all depends on how smooth
the transition isof any conflict between NATO and the EU
in terms of the hand-over?
Dr Whyte: I think people are bending
over backwards to try and prevent any such conflict, and this
is why the two main military officers in charge of it are British.
This is clearly an attempt to finesse the differences between
the EU and NATO. There were problems in Macedonia when a similar
situation was applied, with a much smaller force, specifically
to do with what exactly the role of the NATO AFSOUTHin
Naples was to be within the command structure. I understand that
they are working on that as we speak in Brussels to make sure
it does not happen again. There will always be unforeseen problems.
Q131 Mr Illsley: Given that the two forces
are likely to have different mandates, would that make it easier
for EUFor? Does the fact that the European Union has development
assistance as well as a military force, the carrot and the stick
approach, make it any easier for EUFor or does it not have that
Dr Whyte: Yes, provided that there
is joined-up thinking, and I think the prospects for joined-up
thinking are fairly good in this particular case. As a general
point, I think it is a bit unfortunate to separate civilian and
military lines of command, as has been done in the Bosnian case.
In general for any intervention, I would have thought it would
make more sense to have parallel and converging lines of command
in a particular country.
Q132 Chairman: Dr Anastasakis, you made
the point that we are in a very different security environment
now than we were four years or so ago. Is it therefore important
that the European Union is able to bring together a whole wider
range of instruments to bear on the problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Is it appropriate therefore, in terms of its possibilities of
the instruments, that the EU is there now rather than with a narrower
focus of NATO?
Dr Anastasakis: Yes, and the EU
is involved in a broader way in Bosnia and Herzegovina through
its feasibility report and on all the particular points it has
been advising the government to work on. Of course, the problem
with Bosnia is that because of its protectorate situation, it
is difficult to expect the government to act in a very active
and passionate way on the demands by the European Union. I think
it is high time for the EU to act in a much more broad way and
deal not just with reconstruction or reconciliation, because I
would say that has evolved in quite a satisfactory way, but also
with development issues, which are particularly acute in that
part of the Western Balkans.
Dr Whyte: One specific security
issue that we are facing in Bosnia in the next few months is the
question of police reform. You may be aware that Lord Ashdown
has set up a special commission to look at this. I would not be
surprised, in fact I would welcome it, if his recommendation turns
out to be a kind of nationalising of the Bosnian Police, removing
security responsibilities from the entities; in other words, a
Q133 Chairman: On the precedent of the
Ministry of Defence, on a statement?
Dr Whyte: Precisely, yes. One
does find other countries where the main police force is national
rather than local, particularly if, as there is in Bosnia, there
is a problem with local competence, local corruption of the police
force that happened to be on the ground. I think that could be
a very interesting development and that could well be the crisis
point where we see the EU's courage being put to the test.
Q134 Ms Stuart: I would like to take
you back to Serbia and Montenegro in particular and turn to something
which you started to address in your answer earlier to my colleague
Mr Illsley and also to Mr Mackay and that is around the whole
Stability and Association Agreement and the divergence between
the progress the two countries are making. Do you think the new
twin-track approach will actually help that or is there simply
just such a big gap to be caught up on that it just leaves them
Dr Whyte: That is a really good
question. I think that the twin-track approach recognised the
reality that the attempts to make Serbia and Montenegro integrate
with each other before joining the EU simply was not working and,
in a sense, the EU thus avoided making one of the several Cyprus
mistakes that my colleague referred to earlier. I think you are
quite right to say that the interests of Serbia and Montenegro
remain very divergent. I understand that the Montenegrins now
plan to make the best go they can of proving their European credentials
within the framework of the new proposed feasibility study, and
they hope to be in a position to be able to turn around to their
own voters and say, "Look, Serbia is holding us back from
our European integration", and that will then be used as
an argument for separation. Doubts are sometimes expressed about
the capacity of the Montenegrin Government to deliver on this
strategy but it is certainly an interesting approach for them
Dr Anastasakis: I also think this
is an interesting development because it shows a genuine attempt
by Chris Patten and the Commission to understand what exactly
the problem is. My deep conviction is that the understanding on
Serbia is still a bit underdeveloped. The centrality of Serbia
in the Western Balkans is really crucial. I think one has really
to try and approach this country in the right way in order to
be able to have positive side effects in the other parts also.
In that respect, I think maybe they recognise that this kind of
(Solana) state was a kind of failure and they had to make up for
it. Showing this kind of flexibility will definitely create this
kind of competition between the two and end the antagonism in
trying to approach the standards of the EU. We all know of course
that in Serbia there is still this kind of polarisation and we
do have a more clear distinction between the reform forces on
the one hand and the more nationalistic forces on the other. There
is a real battle going on between those two sides in Serbia.
Q135 Ms Stuart: We have talked a lot
about outside players and whether they have failed or succeeded.
Something which struck me through the whole evidence session was
that you talk about what the US does, what NATO does and what
the EU does. Is there not an argument made that the people on
the ground need to take a bit more responsibility? There is another
outside player, which no-one has mentioned so far in particular
in relation to Serbia, and it strikes me that could play more
of a role and that is actually Russia?
Dr Anastasakis: I agree with you.
The international factor is always the easiest target to which
to address criticism and to attack, but, by being critical towards
local actors, and even sometimes being very critical towards them,
one also shows them respect because that is how they should be
treated. It is definitely the case, and that is why I tried to
indicate this in my previous remark, that there is this kind of
polarisation between the Serbian forces themselves. This is a
country with a background and with human capital and really able
people who can deal with the international environment. If the
international community wants to work with people in Belgrade,
they can find people who are really interesting and who know their
way about. In that sense, the Serbian people, yes, and from my
contact with them, do have a strong victim attitude and it is
sometimes over-emphasised because that explains for them why their
situation is not better. There is definitely a lot of work that
needs to be done within the local actors themselves.
Dr Whyte: I would just like to
make two points in addition. One of them is that engagement by
Western political figures with the local actors on a continued
and sustained basis is the only thing that will work. For instance,
Mr Chairman, it would be great if this Committee's report, when
it is finalised, were to be launched in the Western Balkans as
well as published here. I think it would be very interesting for
the local media to pick up on that. It would certainly be a sign
that you were taking them seriously, and they will take you very
seriously, whatever you say. It will be a sign of respect in the
other direction. My second point on Russia, Ms Stuart: the Russian
attitude, I am afraid, is, frankly, irresponsible at the moment.
On the one hand, they call for the United Nations to crack down
more heavily on Kosovo. On the other hand, they have withdrawn
their own troops, thus fighting to the last drop of somebody else's
blood, in other words. On the one hand, the Russians describe
the Kosovo authorities (dubious as they may be but legitimately
elected under UN mandate and by UN structures) as terrorists and
thugs; on the other hand, Russia continues to support separatist
regimes which have much less legitimacy, in South Ossetia, Abkhazia
and Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. There is a real problem
there. It will take sustained attention from the Kremlin, not
from the Russian Foreign Ministry, and at the moment the Kremlin
has other things to think about.
Dr Anastasakis: It goes further.
Russia is going through an interim period because of its own problems
within its own country. I think the importance of the Balkans
for Russia is decreasing and will now be seen to be decreasing.
Chairman: Gentlemen, you have contributed
much to our own study of this fascinating area. We thank you both
for giving us of your expertise.
2 Allied Forces, Southern Europe (NATO). Back