Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 140-159)

26 OCTOBER 2004


  Q140 Mr Maples: If something like what happened in March flared up again, are you saying that you think that forces from Serbia and Montenegro would intervene and, if so, how far would they go?

  Mr Glenny: No, it would depend on how it would develop, but I am extremely concerned that the international community, both as it is deployed politically and militarily, will find it very hard to deal with a return match of March, and that certainly if you had large numbers of Serbs being killed then in that event there would be tremendous pressure from Serbia and Montenegro to respond militarily.

  Q141 Mr Maples: Might they act militarily themselves? Do they have the capability to do so, and would that just involve the northern and Mitrovica part?

  Mr Glenny: I think it would just involve the northern part. One of the things that the Serbs do not fully understand, have not taken in about Kosovo—and indeed it needs to be stressed—is that a majority of the Serbs in Kosovo live south of the Ibar River, ie south of North Mitrovica, and a majority of those Serbs living south of the Ibar River live in mixed communities with Albanians. They are actually relatively well integrated, and this is something that is little understood; that there are large areas of Kosovo where Serbs and Albanians are integrating rather successfully. The idea of enclaves and also the prospect of the military intervention from Serbia and Montenegro would leave these Serbs, in my opinion, extremely vulnerable to revenge attacks.

  Q142 Chairman: Before I come on to the recent elections, a question about the Russian motives and the Russian background. To what extent do you think Russian authorities are constrained by public opinion in Russia itself and also of the ramifications of any settlement in Kosovo and Chechnya?

  Mr Glenny: The first issue, I do not think that they are constrained at all by this. Really my sense in Russia, talking to politicians, diplomats, journalists and ordinary folk was that Kosovo is a very far away place, of which they know nothing, and in which they are little interested. The same, incidentally, would go for Serbia as well. But in terms of its strategic importance vis-a"-vis Chechnya, I think you may have a more serious point, that it sets a poor precedent for Putin. On the other hand, I do not think that Putin always sees precedents from other parts of the world as necessarily applicable to the Russian Federation. My strong sense is that Kosovo is a chip which they may decide to use, they may play with, they may not, but they are not desperately wedded to it.

  Q143 Andrew Mackinlay: Mr Glenny, with Serbia and Montenegro, it seems to me, it might be more sensible for us at least not to be in any way trying to bolster what I deem to be a wholly artificial federation; that Montenegrin independence not only has some justice but also you could offer advance membership into the European Union for Montenegro—it could be absorbed, it is twice the population of the London borough of Wandsworth, and it also might make it easier to deal with an independent Serbia and also perhaps even the final status of Kosovo if this rump of the Yugoslav Federation was broken and you start from scratch. I really wanted to bounce that off you.

  Mr Glenny: It is difficult for me to reply without looking at the totality of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, but essentially my assessment has been for a long time that there are two regional motors of growth and stability in the entire region, which are Croatia and Serbia, and that the dispute between Serbia and Croatia in the early 90s was what provoked the war. In order to reintroduce stability you have to guarantee the stability of those two territories. For Serbia it is more complicated because Croatia was only involved with Bosnia and Herzegovina as another territory. With Serbia there is the relationship with Montenegro and there is the relationship with Kosovo. I feel very strongly that the key relationship for the European Union in this region now is Serbia; that because Montenegro is so small that absorbing it into the European Union actually would not make much difference. It would probably be very easy to do it, although it is still a pretty highly criminalized state, and so on and so forth, and there are problems in association with it.

  Q144 Andrew Mackinlay: Which I accept.

  Mr Glenny: Rather than concentrating on a swift way to get Montenegro into the EU I would be looking very much at what is the quickest way to get Serbia moving towards the European Union. So it is looking at a different point of view. That may well mean jettisoning the relationship with Montenegro and it might mean jettisoning a relationship with Kosovo—for Serbia, that is. What Serbia needs in order to do that is a system of incentives and at the moment there are no incentives.

  Q145 Andrew Mackinlay: You said that the trajectory which we are now on—and I noticed you said those words—is not going to provide a solution, and you also said, "I think it could be resolved but I do not see any players who can resolve it." It tantalisingly invites me to pick up from where you left off because I think it would be very useful if you did see the present precipice we are heading for—which is probably slightly out of line—but also if you were given a free hand today how you would be steering things?

  Mr Glenny: I will get to the core of the matter and I will address the Kosovo election issues. First of all, you have to look at the social reality of Kosovo. With the exception of Transmistria this is the only territory in Europe at the moment which registers a negative economic growth. The difference between Transmistria and Kosovo is that Transmistria's economic growth is in consequence of the population having halved over the last 10 years. Kosovo has a growing and very young population and every year 50,000 young people come on to a non-existent job market. Another reason why the economic growth is negative is that there is further pressure from refugees from Western Europe being sent back to Kosovo because they no longer want to be maintained by the host country, and that means a reduction in remittances, which are very, very important in Kosovo's economy. What happened in March was that finally people had had enough. With youth unemployment running at 70%, with no movement on the status issue, but also a government (UNMIK) which, frankly, has been lamentable in its failure, its economic record is simply unspeakable. I could go into details but for the moment take that as read. It has alienated the population. The Serbs were the first targets in March because they are very identifiable sitting ducks. KFor and UNMIK police vehicles and personnel were attacked, but also the Albanian political elite, from the PDK and the LVK, were actually frightened by the mob because they knew that they were identified with a government system which had brought the population absolutely nothing. That is at the heart of what we are facing, combined with a political issue of the Albanian elite having absolutely no idea of what is going on in Belgrade—and I can testify to that because as soon as I visit Prishtina the political leaders I meet, all they want to know is what is happening in Belgrade? At the same time in Belgrade there is a complete and utter ignorance of the social reality of Kosovo. So the only political incentive that the elites have is to take a maximalist position because they are frightened. The Foreign Office and Denis MacShane came up with an idea earlier this year that when Harri Holkeri would be replaced that there would be a second post inaugurated of an envoy who is mandated solely to Prishtina and Belgrade so that there is some form of communication. At the moment there is nothing. Given the social reality in Kosovo, given that the Serbs do not feel as though there is an incentive to vote at the moment—although in local elections you will find it is a very different issue—what you are going to have is a further deepening of the crisis which led to an explosion in March. If you want to get a short to mid-term solution you have to find a way of persuading Serbia to give up Kosovo. So what are the ways that one might persuade Serbia to give up Kosovo? Going there now and telling Serbian politicians that they have to support the idea of a final status which is likely to result in independence of Kosovo is turkeys voting for Christmas. It is no good asking Serbian politicians to do that. And do we want to have another situation where a Prime Minister or President of Serbia is pushing through, with the encouragement of Western Europe and the United States, unpopular policies and, eventually, whoever knows which one it was, is shot as a consequence? Because there are very few more Zoran Djindics around. Boris Tadic happens to be one, but Tadic is dealing with a very, very difficult situation domestically and there is a wide recognition privately amongst the Serbian political elite that they will have to come up with some pretty dramatic and radical solutions. What they need vis-a"-vis Kosovo are the tools to sell this to their own population, and at the moment we are asking them to do all sorts of tough things but we are also not giving them the necessary tools.

  Q146 Andrew Mackinlay: The tools being what?

  Mr Glenny: The tools, I would suggest, being a much clearer vision of how Serbia—and not Macedonia, not Kosovo, not Albania—moves towards the European Union. Also, any solution that involves the possibility of independence for Kosovo when it comes to final status, this has to be like the Austrian State Treaty of 1955; there is no way under any circumstances that Kosovo's borders can shift.

  Q147 Chairman: But Tadic urged the minority in Kosovo to vote. Kostunica and the church urged them not to vote. Surely the result of the vote, this massive boycott, was a disavowal of Tadic?

  Mr Glenny: No, it is not a disavowal of Tadic, it means that on certain issues, firstly in Northern Mitrovica—I would refer you to a quote of Reuters in their news report from two days ago, when a Serb was asked whether he was going to vote and his response was, "Are you kidding, they would knee cap me?"—the local Serbs feel as they do not have any purchase within the political process or within the Assembly in Prishtina. Tadic spent a lot of capital asking them to go and vote but essentially they had to make a decision between Tadic and Kostunica, and for the moment they went for Kostunica, but that is partly because they are dependent, remember, economically on Belgrade, Mitrovica in particular. The entire economy is financed by Belgrade.

  Q148 Chairman: I can understand that argument in respect of Mitrovica and the northern border areas, but you said to the Committee earlier that the greater part of the population in the south of that—and indeed you went further and said that they were a community of Serbs who were well integrated and indeed integrating rather successfully. How do you square that with individuals feeling that they would be kneecapped in this vote?

  Mr Glenny: Because they are integrated into the municipalities and the local structures. They serve on the municipalities as deputy mayors, and so on and so forth, depending on where you go. I run a project called GPKT, which brings together municipalities from eastern Kosovo, southern Serbia and northern Macedonia, which all have minority issues that have been resolved through integrating the minorities, whether Albanian, Serb or Macedonian, into the political process. They will come out every time and vote for those local councils because they feel they have a stake, and they feel they have absolutely no stake in the political process in Prishtina as it is currently structured. When Western Europe and the United States come in and say, "You must go out and vote," their response to that is, "Why? What do we get out of this?" because what their immediate memory of the political process inside Kosovo is, is March; that is their immediate memory. They do not see any tangible benefits at the moment through cooperation.

  Q149 Chairman: What would be your advice to the British government and other EU countries in seeking to get over this obstacle?

  Mr Glenny: My first advice would be to accelerate the dismantling of UNMIK, to give—

  Q150 Chairman: A transfer to the EU or local—

  Mr Glenny: No, transfer to the Kosovo Assembly but insisting upon a real transfer of powers from Prishtina to the municipalities and so that there is a primitive system of accountability in that political process. At the same time this would have to be tracked with a vigorous attempt by the international community to establish a proper dialogue and not, frankly, the excuse for a dialogue that we have at the moment, identifying those people in the Serbian and the Kosovo elite who are prepared to talk and deal in terms of compromises and move towards serious solutions. The other thing for the Serbs is to get serious about refugee return; there is a lot of pressure inside southern Serbia to move refugees back. This is one thing that we are doing in Gilan in eastern Kosovo, supporting the local Albanian mayor, who is appealing for Serbs from the Nish area to come back and integrate into Kosovo. The problem we have is not political in many of these areas where the Serbs are considering returning, the problem is economic because what happens is they return to Kosovo and then there are no jobs and they no longer get the support as IDPs[3]that they receive in southern Serbia. So one of the things that the people I am working with, including local mayors, what we are doing is trying to appeal to the international community to set up programmes of economic sustainability and refugee return, so the Serbs can see that something is actually being done to assist their integration.

  Q151 Chairman: But we have the reality of the election result. How serious a blow, in your judgment, was that to prospects of progress in a multi-ethnic direction?

  Mr Glenny: It is a serious blow but I cannot see at the moment how the idea of partition or the idea of creation of enclaves is going to work, and the reason for this emerges from the population distribution that I mentioned early on, and to which you referred again, and that is if you want to do that you have to start this operation by moving up to 40,000, 45,000 Serbs physically from disparate parts of Kosovo into these enclaves. It is a population transfer which began in '23 with the Greek/Turkish Agreement in Geneva, but which I see as a very poor precedent. We went there in order to support multi-cultural solutions in Kosovo and south eastern Europe, and we will be presiding over the transfer of population out of the territory where they live into another territory. The implications for southern Serbia and the Albanian population there are severe and the implications for Macedonia are severe.

  Q152 Mr Chidgey: Mr Glenny, I was rather intrigued by your remarks regarding accelerating Serbia's accession to the European Union in the context of Kosovo—and you also mentioned Croatia, I believe. I rather want to know what you perceive as the outcome of that, why is it such an important issue? Plus, of course, recognising the fact that the acceleration of any applicant state to join the EU is something which is a hostage to fortune. Also bearing in mind that we are already having problems with some of the new applicant countries because of their continuing appalling record on many of the basic principles that any applicant must show to be subscribing to before any application can be properly considered. So there is the problem of meeting the criteria, and are we supposed to drop the criteria, reduce them? Are we supposed to change the process? Is it a situation now in which Serbia and Kosovo are looking for employment opportunities outside of the country through accession to the EU as a way of resolving their economic problems? I do not quite see why it is the panacea.

  Mr Glenny: I am not suggesting that this be done immediately. I would reiterate what you said, that if you look at the current enlargement of 10 that there is barely a country there where we have not lowered the standards of certain criteria. So this is not without precedent, the way that we do this. In terms of political perceptions inside Serbia vis-a"-vis the European Union, the Croatian case is difficult as well because of the Gotovina issues. The fact of the matter is Gotovina is not in the Hague. Croatia was given a clean bill of health by Carla del Ponte, but, as I understood it from the Foreign Office, before the clean bill of health was given the deal was Gotovina in the Hague. Positions were then switched—why, I do not know. Serbia, it is basically down to Mladic and the four generals. But what they do is to look at Croatia and they look at the Gotovina issue and they say, "Can we not do a deal on Mladic and on Gotovina, and maybe we can deal with the Hague?" So you have different messages going through to Serbia and the key thing about Gotovina is that the resolution of that situation allowed EU membership. So Serbia is very sensitive about that. But the real reason is this issue of incentives. At the moment, basically, Serbia is told, "You have to do this, you have to do that, you have to go into a state with Montenegro, despite possessing two economic systems and having real difficulties on trade issues, vis-a"-vis your relationship with the EU. You have to hand over the war criminals and you have to start getting serious about Kosovo and final status. And, by the way, no, you cannot have better visa access into Schengen." The issue of labour movement here is very, very important. One does not have to open the doors of south eastern Europe to the labour markets of the European Union. However, there are schemes which would be welcomed in south eastern Europe, whereby individual workers can go for six to nine months, or something, on a sponsored workplace system whereby we need the labour in western Europe, particularly for seasonal work, and you get remittances back there, you get some level of   training—it is a very, very fruitful area of exploration, in my opinion. But at the moment there is none of that and already Serbs can no longer travel   to Romania and Bulgaria unrestricted. Macedonians can barely travel anywhere. They are told all the time that they have to do this for Europe, that for Europe, and what do they get out of it?—declining living standards, they cannot go anywhere any more and they are seen as an habitual boil on the body politic of Europe. With the best will in the world we have to think of ways of explaining to them that, yes, they are part of Europe and, yes, we do want to assist them, and the CARDS[4]programme and similar, unfortunately, are not things which generally penetrate the minds of ordinary voters and it is ordinary voters that we have to think of in terms of persuading the political actors.

  Q153 Mr Chidgey: It is not just about war criminals though, is it, the deal being done? The most important thing, surely, for EU entrance is that you do not just pass the laws that give you the rule of law, which give you human rights, which give you equality and so forth, you actually implement the laws so that the population does benefit from the same society that we cherish and protect, if I may say so? My concern is that you sign on the dotted line, you exchange war criminals but you do not actually—and you cannot actually—change the type of society of the applicant country, which in this case is Serbia, which actually does not take you any further in improving the lot of people?

  Mr Glenny: Except that if you look at the impact and the accession on the most recent round of enlargement countries, but also on Romania and Bulgaria—and also, I would argue, on Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece—the impact has been phenomenal in terms of how people behave. You have specific problems in Bulgaria and Romania associated with corruption and organised crime. Because of their key position, because of the engagement of people like the Crown Agents in Bulgaria and the MOD in both countries, drug liaison officers and so on and so forth, real progress is being made there. There are no similar programmes of that depth going on in the Western Balkans, where one could argue that they are equally needed. But not only that, once they are on the accession process you start to see an increase in investors' confidence, and this is very, very important, that people feel as though once countries are on the European accession road they are going to shift their behaviour because there is an economic incentive to do it, and you have seen a real change in the behaviour of how Bulgarians and Romanians operate since accession became a reality. I think that is the case with NATO accession as well; I do not think one sees NATO accession—well, the Americans see it as a possibility of getting bases in Romania and Bulgaria—but NATO accession as far as south eastern Europe is concerned and the Western Balkans is a way of engaging with the West and de-politicising their Army; ie it has a real impact on how the societies are structured and behave. The process of accession has an enormous impact, but so long as it remains a vague, unstructured promise then you are going to get situations like Macedonia.

  Q154 Mr Illsley: Turning to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the High Representative of Bosnia, Lord Ashdown, came under strong criticism for his strong-handed approach, although last week in front of this Committee he defended himself reasonably well against allegations of dismissals of certain civil servants and his use of the Bonn powers. Do you think that he is tackling the job appropriately, or do you think the use of those powers is harming the situation in Bosnia or not?

  Mr Glenny: I think that Bosnia represents a similar but not identical problem to that of Kosovo—except it has been going on for longer—where a culture of political dependency emerges. The lack of incentive for Bosnian politicians to act with any accountability or responsibility remains very high, in my opinion. Lord Ashdown has said that his aim is to try to divest himself as soon as he can of the Bonn powers and get out of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I think that is a very laudable aim. I think he is to some extent caught in the straitjacket of the office and the way the office was established and how it has developed, and that the Ad Hominem attacks I do not think are valuable in any respect at all. I also think that Lord Ashdown is under certain pressures from his political seniors, particularly on the issue of security, which are not always taken into account in terms of how he is behaving on the economic and political level. I am concerned when he uses these powers to dismiss either elected officials or civil servants without any requirement to explain why, which in certain positions it is argued that he does not have to explain why he is doing this. I think he should have to explain why he is doing it, and I would encourage everyone to try to ensure that local instances take over powers wherever possible, but at the moment this does not seem to be happening quite fast enough. In terms of security for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the keys as to whether there is going to be another war or not lie in Belgrade and Zagreb. If Belgrade and Zagreb are hands-off Bosnia and Herzegovina there is not going to be a serious instability in that area in the eventuality of troops withdrawing. If Belgrade and Zagreb are not happy then there is a very strong chance of there being instability when troops withdraw. By "happy" I mean whether they have indicated their intentions to interfere or not. Zagreb I think has pulled out and I think one of the reasons why Zagreb has pulled out and will not do that is absolutely because of the EU accession process, and it is another reason why I would argue that Serbia should be seen as slightly different from the others.

  Q155 Mr Illsley: You mentioned incentives on Bosnia's politicians. Can you expand on that? Would that be moving towards European Union accession?

  Mr Glenny: No, it means so that they are accountable to their electorates for what they do. I am talking on that level. At the moment there is a strong element of Bosnian politics which has most successfully got the ear of Lord Ashdown. As long as so much power is concentrated in the centre they are not having to address the concerns of their electorate, and this is a key problem in Bosnia and a key problem in Kosovo, because whatever one says about Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, all the politicians there are actually up for election next time and are held to account for their actions, which is one of the reasons why you see changes in government so dramatically, because there is very little they can do about the economic situation. But it is their responsibility.

  Q156 Mr Illsley: Is there anything more the international community could do to try and get the Bosnian entities to hand over people to the War Crimes Tribunal?

  Mr Glenny: That is regrettably very difficult. No. It is very difficult to see how to do that. Karadzic is very effectively hidden; nobody knows where he is; they have come close to getting him a few times. I cannot see any way of trying to incentivise the local population; there are already large rewards on these people's heads. Serbia and Mladic is a different business. I do not know if the President or the Prime Minister in Serbia know where Mladic is, but I am sure military intelligence knows where he is. I think Mladic is going to be easier to get, paradoxically, because he is more powerful than Karadzic.

  Q157 Mr Illsley: Does there come a time when we have to turn to each other and say, is there any point continuing with this search for these people? Perhaps more Karadzic than Mladic because of the military involvement. Does there come a time when the civilian population do not want to give him up, he has obviously been able to hide, to conceal himself, there are rewards on his head, yet people do not take advantage of that, and is it not time to say, "Let us forget it"?

  Mr Glenny: I observed from an article in the Washington Times that I read this morning, that John Bolton in the United States has made strong indications that it is time to wind-up the ICTY. Under the Bush administration it was fairly obvious earlier on that if the Serbs had handed over Mladic and the Bosnians Karadzic then the Americans would have withdrawn their support from the ICTY as a whole. And it now looks as if they are looking into this again with the transfer of cases to Belgrade and to Zagreb and to the local instances. I think that the ICTY has a function but I think that it has become too politicised and I think it has too negative an impact on local politics. If there is some way of reaching a compromise on this issue in terms of devolving the court's powers into local capitals I think it should certainly be explored. There is a long list of people sitting there waiting to be tried in the Hague. Are people going to continue funding the Hague? I do not know, those are issues for the international community to decide in terms of funding. At the moment there is a huge logjam, there is the whole minor farce around the Milosevic case and it has had a real blocking effect on political development inside the former Yugoslavia. What were to happen if Carla del Ponte finally unveils her choice of indictees for Kosovo, God only knows.

  Q158 Andrew Mackinlay: Some time before the break I want to ask about policing, but when you literally stop there you are saying that we have to anticipate this shopping list of indictees coming up from Kosovo, and you say that is going to be an aggravant?

  Mr Glenny: Yes.

  Q159 Andrew Mackinlay: The other thing I want to ask you about is, Mr Whyte earlier drew attention to the fact that many of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to claim Croatian citizenship and if they did do so of course that would diminish from nation building, they would not feel Bosnian, and then presumably the people who cannot claim Croatian citizenship would say, "You are not Bosnian." Presumably this is something which we need to take into account, both in terms of negotiations in accession of Croatia and, again, going back to this whole business of mobility around Europe. We exaggerate this business, points which both Mr Whyte and you have made, the fact we are not going to let people into Europe, we are going to return them, and visas and so on. Would you flag this up fairly high for us to address this, in the sense we address the Foreign and Commonwealth Office?

  Mr Glenny: When I learnt about Croatian accession I immediately anticipated that when this gets nearer you will see the first voluntary mass conversion of religion inside the Balkans for 150 years or so, as a lot of people become Catholics in a short space of time. I think there will be an element of that; I think there will be an element of selling Croatian passports inside Bosnia and Herzegovina as well, but the dual citizenship for Serbia and for Croatia was laid down in Dayton and that is not going to stop. Whether the EU can come up with a new formulation saying that only Croats not living in Bosnia and Herzegovina can get in, I do not know, but it seems to be unrealistic. As regards access to labour markets and moving around Europe, the other thing that I am doing at the moment is working at a book on trans-national organised crime, and I can tell you quite categorically that keeping people out of the European Union and keeping them in distressed economic areas is manna from heaven for organised crime syndicates. They provide labour, very cheap labour. The one cultural specificity you can level at the Balkans is that people are good at smuggling there. I do not think that they are congenitally genocidal and I do not think that they are congenitally criminal, but they are good at smuggling because they have been doing it for a very long time, and every time the borders of the EU are raised, the walls go higher, and all you are doing is maximising the profits of organised crime syndicates, who have penetrated our capitals 10 years ago. The dam burst on that one a long time ago. So for me, particularly with the issue of the ageing population in Western Europe, the fact that we often cannot fill up the employment places that are there, it seems to me, if I may use the colloquialism, a "no brainer". We have unemployment that leads to instability in south-eastern Europe, we have under-employment. These people have been determined by us as European and candidates for the European Union, and it seems to me an obvious place from where we could consider drawing labour.

3   Internally Displaced Persons. Back

4   Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation programme. Back

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