Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by the UK Delegation to NATO


  1.  At the request of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the UK Delegation to NATO submits the following memorandum as a contribution to the Committee's inquiry into the situation in the Western Balkans. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has already submitted a memorandum providing a comprehensive overview of UK policy towards the Western Balkans. This memorandum provides more detail on certain aspects of NATO's policy and activities in the region. Attached at Annex A are relevant extracts from the Communiqué issued by Heads of State and Government at the June 2004 Istanbul Summit, which include the most recent high level NATO statement of policy in the region. For the purposes of this Memorandum, "Western Balkans" is defined as Serbia and Montenegro including Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Albania.

  2.  NATO's involvement in the Western Balkans encompasses NATO-led military operations and outreach programmes which promote cooperation and reform in the region. The UK is a strong supporter of and contributor to NATO's activities in both these areas. Through both forms of engagement, NATO's aim is to foster peace, security and stability for the countries of the region, based on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and to assist their integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.


  3.  Since 1995, when NATO military action and the deployment of IFOR helped to secure a peace settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), NATO-led Operations have played a crucial role in safeguarding security and building stability in the Western Balkans, as part of a wider engagement by the International Community. The FCO Memorandum to the Committee gave detailed information about the evolution of NATO's operations in the region.

  4.  In BiH, the progress made since IFOR was deployed in December 1995 has been remarkable. The NATO Spring 2004 Periodic Mission Review (PMR) for the Balkans assessed that SFOR (currently over 850 personnel) should be able to successfully complete its mission by the end of the year, handing over to a new and distinct EU mission based on the Berlin Plus arrangements. NATO's long term political commitment to BiH will continue, in the form of a NATO Headquarters, which will primarily give advice on defence reform, as well as carry out operational tasks such as counter-terrorism, force protection, supporting the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in detaining persons indicted for war crimes, and intelligence sharing with the EU. NATO and the EU have agreed an outline delineation of tasks between the NATO HQ and the future EUFOR. We are confident that the two Commanders will establish a close working relationship.

  5.  This year's Spring PMR was shared with the EU, to ensure full transparency. There are regular staff contacts between NATO and the EU, and BiH is also discussed by senior representatives of the NATO and EU nations in regular joint meetings of the North Atlantic Council and the EU's Political and Security Committee.

  6.  NATO also contributes to the work of the Contact Group on Kosovo, represented by Deputy Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Robert Serry.

  7.  Following the outbreak of violence in Kosovo in March this year, it was decided that further planned reductions in KFOR numbers (currently around 200) and the transition of MNB(C) to a task force structure should be put on hold and that the disposition of forces and structures should be reviewed in the Autumn PMR.

  8.  Although KFOR reacted quickly to the March violence, a "Lessons Learned" exercise carried out by NATO highlighted several areas where changes were needed in order to enhance KFOR's ability to react more effectively in the event of further outbreaks. The UK attaches particular importance to the work currently in hand to reduce restrictive national caveats on the use of forces serving with KFOR, particularly in crowd and riot control and to fill the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements (CJSOR).

  9.  At the Istanbul Summit in June 2004, Heads of State and Government agreed a new NATO policy on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. The UK is actively supporting NATO's implementation of this policy.

  10.  Several Western Balkans countries have themselves contributed to NATO-led Operations. Albania currently has around 70 troops serving in SFOR, and 20 in ISAF. Croatia currently has about 45 troops in ISAF, while Macedonia has around 25 troops in ISAF.


  11.  NATO's mission in the Western Balkans extends beyond military operations. The Alliance is also working to promote longer-term stability, security, and reform through its outreach programmes, particularly the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP).

  12.  Croatia, Albania and Macedonia are all members of PfP and participants in NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP) process. Through the MAP, the Alliance assesses, evaluates and provides feedback on the reforms required to join NATO, including scrutiny of political reforms, democratic development and the rule of law, and defence and security sector reforms.

  13.  Albania joined the PfP in 1994 and has participated in the MAP since 1999. Albania also hosts a NATO Senior Military Representative and NATO Headquarters, whose functions include monitoring lines of Communications for KFOR, advising the Albanian authorities on border security and smuggling interdiction, and contributing to NATO PfP programmes in Albania. Albania has made progress under the MAP, including in carrying out a defence review, beginning defence restructuring and playing a positive role in regional cooperation. Allies continue to urge Albania to accelerate reforms, particularly in building a responsible democratic political culture, fighting organised crime, trafficking and corruption, implementing judicial, electoral and administrative reforms, and maintaining focus and funding for defence reform. The UK's defence cooperation programme with Albania contributes directly to the MAP process, covering issues such as English-language training, staff courses and courses in defence management. We have also supported small arms destruction through bilateral assistance and through a NATO Trust Fund.

  14.  Croatia joined the PfP in 2000 and has participated in the MAP since 2002. Croatia has made progress in a number of areas, including by demonstrating democratic political stability. Through the MAP, Allies have pressed Croatia to maintain full cooperation with the ICTY, including by making greater efforts to apprehend former General Ante Gotovina. Allies have also urged Croatia to make further progress across the reform agenda, including on judicial reform, rights of minorities, returning refugees, and implementing defence restructuring and downsizing. The UK supports Croatia's MAP reforms through the bilateral defence cooperation programme, including through provision of a special defence advisor to the Croatian Ministry of Defence.

  15.  Macedonia joined the PfP in 1995 and the MAP process in 1999. NATO has played a key role in fostering security in Macedonia since the inter-ethnic conflict of 2001, and the subsequent deployment of NATO forces in Macedonia until the end of 2002. The historic handover of NATO's Operation Amber Fox to the EU's Operation Concordia in 2002 marked the first use of the Berlin Plus arrangements. NATO continues actively to work for stability in Macedonia, including through a NATO Headquarters in Skopje. The functions of the Headquarters include advising on defence reform aspects of the MAP, advice on border security reform, support to KFOR and co-ordination with the EU presence in the country. A British Brigadier is the Commander of NATO HQ Skopje and is double hatted as the NATO Senior Military Representative to Macedonia. There is no longer a NATO Civilian Representative in Macedonia, the last having departed in 2004.

  16.  Since embarking on MAP, Macedonia has made encouraging progress on defence reform and restructuring, including a Strategic Defence Review carried out with UK support. Under the MAP, Allies have urged Macedonia to make continued progress and for rapid, effective implementation of reforms, including fully implementing the Ohrid Framework Agreement which ended the 2001 crisis, developing democratic political stability, harmonious relations between ethnic groups, security and rule of law, and implementation of defence reform. The NATO Secretary General gave press interviews on 4 October where he re-iterated that the proposed referendum on the territorial division of local self-government was a matter for Macedonia, highlighted the importance that the International Community place upon the Ohrid agreement and need to respect territorial integrity.

  17.  The three countries' participation in the MAP has created opportunities for additional regional cooperation. For example, on 2 May 2003, Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and the USA signed a Charter for Partnership ("Adriatic Charter"), which set as a shared goal the full integration of the three countries into European and transatlantic political, economic, security and defence institutions. With UK support, this has been followed up with cooperation between the three countries, including an action plan covering exchange of information, consultations and defence cooperation. The three countries are currently considering forming a combined military unit to be deployed in NATO-led operations.

  18.  The NATO Summit in Istanbul kept open the prospect of NATO membership for all three countries, but made clear that this was unlikely in the near future. While underlining Allies' wish to see all three countries succeed, and committing Allies to continue to assist in the Aspirants' reform efforts, the summit also made clear that further efforts were needed and that NATO would continue to assess each country's candidacy based on progress towards reform goals under the MAP.

  19.  Serbia and Montenegro (SaM) and BiH have yet to obtain PfP membership, largely due to their lack of co-operation with ICTY. The UK Government looks forward to welcoming SaM and BiH into PfP once they have met the established conditions. In preparation for their eventual accession to PfP, NATO has undertaken outreach with both countries to support reform and build confidence.

  20.  Since 1996 NATO has conducted a Security Co-operation Programme with BiH to promote cooperation between the armed forces of the entities in BiH, contribute to stability in BiH and the region, and to assist in preparing BiH for eventual integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. The Programme has become a significant contributor to security sector reform in BiH and has contributed to the work of the Defence Reform Commission, through activities such as workshops and expert visits to BiH, and BiH participation in selected PfP activities, mainly NATO courses. The NATO headquarters, which will be established in Sarajevo when SFOR completes its mission, will play a key role in implementing the cooperation programme.

  21.  NATO initiated a tailored co-operation programme with SaM in 2003 covering defence and security sector reform, civil emergency planning, base conversion and social re-integration of redundant officers. Activities under the programme included seminars, expert team missions and SaM officers attending selected PfP activities. The programme has made a valuable contribution to encouraging defence reform and building confidence with the SaM defence establishment. As NATO's designated Contact Point Embassy from 2002 to September 2004, the British Embassy in Belgrade was able to play an active role in helping to develop and implement the NATO programme.

  22.  The UK has been active in wider NATO outreach in the Western Balkans. For example, the UK was instrumental in organising a series of EAPC workshops on border security in the region, the most recent in Tirana in January 2003. The UK has also been an active contributor to NATO's South East Europe Initiative (SEEI), aimed at promoting regional cooperation and long-term stability in the Balkans. Launched at the Alliance's 1999 Washington Summit, SEEI includes countries in the region who are not members of EAPC and PfP—namely BiH and SaM. Examples of projects undertaken under the initiative include a web-based document database for the region, and a UK-sponsored study of the Defence policies of countries in the region.

UK Delegation to NATO

5 October 2004

Annex A

  Relevant extracts from the Istanbul Summit Communiqu

 dealing with the Western Balkans as issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in June 2004

  (. . .)

  Today, we have:

  (. . .)

  agreed to conclude the Alliance's successful SFOR operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and welcomed the readiness of the European Union to deploy a new and distinct UN-mandated Chapter VII mission in the country, based on the Berlin+ arrangements agreed between our two organisations;

  confirmed that a robust KFOR presence remains essential to further enhance security and promote the political process in Kosovo;

  (. . .)

  reaffirmed that NATO's door remains open to new members, and encouraged Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to continue the reforms necessary to progress towards NATO membership;

  (. . .)

  The security environment in the strategically important region of the Balkans is stable but remains fragile. The Alliance remains committed to peace and stability in the Balkans, and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all the countries in the region. We will remain committed until peace and security are firmly established and the progressive integration of all Balkan countries into Euro-Atlantic structures is achieved. All the countries of the region must assume ownership of, and implement, pressing reforms. Closer cooperation in their own region will help to promote stability and prosperity. While welcoming improvement in cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where it has occurred, we stress that all countries concerned must cooperate fully with the ICTY, in particular bringing to justice all those who are indicted by the Tribunal, notably Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, as well as Ante Gotovina, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1503 and 1534.

  As the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has evolved positively, we have decided to conclude the Alliance's successful SFOR operation by the end of this year. We welcome the readiness of the European Union to deploy a new and distinct UN-mandated robust Chapter VII mission in the country, based on the Berlin+ arrangements agreed between our two organisations, and look forward to continued close cooperation. NATO's long-term political commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina remains unchanged and the establishment of a NATO headquarters will constitute NATO's residual military presence in the country. NATO HQ Sarajevo, which has the principal task of providing advice on defence reform, will also undertake certain operational supporting tasks, such as counter-terrorism whilst ensuring force protection; supporting the ICTY, within means and capabilities, with regard to the detention of persons indicted for war crimes; and intelligence sharing with the EU. The Dayton/Paris Accords remain in force as the basis for peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  In Kosovo, a robust KFOR presence remains essential to further enhance security and promote the political process. We reaffirm our commitment to a secure, stable and multi-ethnic Kosovo, on the basis of full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, the agreed Standards before Status Policy and the Standards Review Mechanism. We strongly condemn the outbreak of violence resulting in the loss of lives and the destruction of religious and cultural heritage sites in March 2004, and will not tolerate any such actions intended to undermine the political process. We call on all parties to speed up the reconstruction and to create conditions for the safe return of displaced persons. We urge all communities to work constructively towards meeting the internationally endorsed standards, to engage in dialogue at all levels, and to participate in local civic institutions. We also call on them to conduct, and participate in, the upcoming October elections in a fair and peaceful manner. We welcome the appointment by the UN Secretary General of Mr Soren Jessen-Petersen as his Special Representative in Kosovo. To further progress, NATO will continue to work with the UN, the EU, the OSCE and other international organisations, as well as the Contact Group, including, as appropriate, attendance at its meetings.

  (. . .)

  We celebrate the success of NATO's Open Door policy, and reaffirm today that our seven new members will not be the last. The door to membership remains open. We welcome the progress made by Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in implementing their Annual National Programmes under the Membership Action Plan, and encourage them to continue pursuing the reforms necessary to progress towards NATO membership. We also commend their contribution to regional stability and cooperation. We want all three countries to succeed and will continue to assist them in their reform efforts. NATO will continue to assess each country's candidacy individually, based on the progress made towards reform goals pursued through the Membership Action Plan, which will remain the vehicle to keep the readiness of each aspirant for membership under review. We direct that NATO Foreign Ministers keep the enlargement process, including the implementation of the Membership Action Plan, under continual review and report to us. We will review at the next Summit progress by aspirants towards membership based on that report.

  The recent enlargements of NATO and the European Union are a major step towards a Europe whole and free, and a strong confirmation that our organisations share common values and strategic interests. We are pleased with the progress made in developing the NATO-EU strategic partnership on the basis of and since the conclusion of the Berlin+ arrangements. NATO and the EU continue to cooperate effectively in the Western Balkans, and are committed to assist the countries of the region in their further integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. NATO-EU relations now cover a wide range of issues of common interest relating to security, defence and crisis management, including the fight against terrorism, the development of coherent and mutually reinforcing military capabilities, and civil emergency planning. We are determined to work together to further develop the NATO-EU strategic partnership as agreed by our two organisations, in a spirit of transparency, and respecting the autonomy of our two organisations.

  (. . .)

  We look forward to welcoming Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro into the Partnership for Peace once they have met the established NATO conditions. We want them to succeed in joining the Euro-Atlantic partnership and will assist them in this endeavour. We are prepared to assist the countries by including them in selected PfP activities. Each country will be judged on its own merits on the road to PfP.

  We welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina's significant progress in defence reform, a key condition for PfP membership. We urge continued progress towards achieving a single military force. We have agreed to designate a Contact Point Embassy in Sarajevo to increase understanding of NATO. We are concerned that Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly obstructionist elements in the Republika Srpska entity, has failed to live up to its obligation to cooperate fully with ICTY, including the arrest and transfer to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal of war crimes indictees, a fundamental requirement for the country to join PfP. We also look for systemic changes necessary to develop effective security and law enforcement structures.

  Serbia and Montenegro has also shown progress in defence reform, and the government has played a constructive regional role, improving relations with its neighbours. We look forward to further progress in these areas, in particular in relation to the government's engagement on Kosovo-related issues. At the same time, the International Court of Justice cases against several of the Allies still stand. We call on the government to fulfil its international obligations, in particular to cooperate with ICTY and render all necessary assistance to secure the arrest and transfer to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal of war crimes indictees.

  (. . .)

  Note: The full text of the NATO Istanbul Communique is available on the NATO Website at:

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