Events

Security and Asymetrical Threats in Southeast Europe

May 22, 2002 // 12:00am

Remarks by Western Policy Center Staff, Harry Dinella and Col. Stephen R. Norton, presented at a conference on:
Stability and Asymmetrical Threats in Southeast Europe
May 22-23, 2002, Thessaloniki, Greece

Colonel Stephen R. Norton, U.S. Army, Ret.
Senior Policy Advisor
Western Policy Center

The "Europeanization" of Balkan Peacekeeping

First, let me thank the organizers of this conference on "Stability and Asymmetrical Threats in Southeast Europe." I especially want to recognize the role of an old friend and colleague in making this event a reality. John Koenig is the U.S. Consul General in Thessaloniki and a highly respected diplomat. The United States could have no finer representatives in northern Greece than John and his wife Natalie.

The "Europeanization" of Balkan peacekeeping is a fascinating topic, opening many avenues of thought, which can lead in several directions. Some of the topics that readily come to mind in this regard are U.S. policy toward peacekeeping in Europe, the European Union's desire to push ahead with the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) and be assigned its first mission in F.Y.R. Macedonia, Turkey's desire to be part of ESDP with respect to issues affecting its national security even though it is not a member of the EU, Greek views on Turkey-ESDP cooperation, and coordination between the EU and NATO.

I will address some of these different avenues and give some predictive analysis, but first let's briefly review the current peacekeeping situation:

• Operation Amber Fox, or Task Force Fox (TFF) – is a NATO operation, comprised of European NATO members, in F.Y.R. Macedonia. TFF was deployed by NATO, at the invitation of the government of F.Y.R. Macedonia, to build on the success of Task Force Harvest (TFH), whose efforts directly contributed to the disarmament of the National Liberation Army (NLA). TFH deployed to F.Y.R. Macedonia on August 15, 2001.

o On September 26, 2001, TFH was replaced by TFF. The stated mission of TFF is to contribute to the protection of international monitors, provided by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who are overseeing the implementation of the peace plan in F.Y.R. Macedonia.

? The unstated mission of TFF, however, is to provide a sense of stability to F.Y.R. Macedonia by showing NATO's commitment to the country's territorial integrity. This subtle mission is being accomplished, not just by the relatively small number of troops involved, about 700, but also by the power and prestige of the alliance as a whole, including that of the United States. So one question that needs to be addressed is how local populations would view EU-led peacekeeping operations in lieu of NATO-led operations?

? Operation Joint Guardian (KFOR) – is a NATO-led operation in Kosovo. This force has over 38,000 soldiers from 30 different nations. Maintaining military forces in the field is always one of the toughest missions of any army, and I would like to highlight the fact that the Greek Army is providing the Force Support Unit for KFOR. With over 1,500 soldiers, it is doing a superb job.
o NATO air operations in Yugoslavia began on March 24, 1999, and ended on June 10, 1999. Just two days later, on June 12, KFOR troops entered Kosovo. Their mission remains threefold:

? To establish and maintain a secure environment in Kosovo, including public safety and order.

? To monitor, verify, and, when necessary, enforce compliance with the conditions of the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and Yugoslavia.

? To provide assistance to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

? Operation Joint Forge (SFOR) – is a NATO-led operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. SFOR has about 19,000 soldiers. It is the follow-on to Operation Joint Endeavor (IFOR) that began operations on December 20, 1995. The role of IFOR was to implement the peace. The role of SFOR is to stabilize the peace. The difference between the tasks of IFOR and SFOR is reflected in their names, i.e., implementation force and stabilization force, respectively.

These three peacekeeping operations are all coordinated at the political level by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The military missions associated with these operations are given to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, who, in turn, assigns them to the Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces South in Naples, Italy.

It looks as if NATO is working the way it was designed to work. It is running three peacekeeping operations in the Balkans with over 57,000 troops from more than 30 countries, and it is coordinating its activities with international bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations as well as with a host of non-governmental organizations. And, thanks to the NATO structure, all of this is being done with unity of command and unity of effort.

So what is wrong with this picture? On the surface, nothing is wrong. In fact, there is a lot that is right with the peacekeeping architecture in the Balkans.

Whatever one thinks about past NATO policies in the Balkans, it is apparent that the alliance is promoting a more secure and stable environment in the region. Just a few weeks ago, NATO announced reductions in troop levels for both KFOR and SFOR based solely on the improvement in the security situation in the Balkans.

Commenting on these reductions, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said, "These changes will help us build on success. Since we first sent forces to the Balkans, much has changed and improved, and we are changing with them. What hasn't changed, though, is our determination to work with the people of the region to build peace and prosperity together -- make no mistake -- these forces will still be robust enough, tough enough, and flexible enough to maintain a safe and secure environment."

But let's go beneath the surface and see how this picture of apparent clarity becomes a little clouded. This new optic brings other issues into play that will certainly impact the future stability of the Balkans and the manner in which the peacekeeping architecture evolves. As I mentioned earlier, the "Europeanization" of Balkan peacekeeping opens several avenues of thought. I would like to address three of these: U.S. objectives in the Balkans, EU military aspirations, and the role of Turkey.

? America's role in Balkan peacekeeping: Is it appropriate for the U.S. to commit its forces for this type of role? Is the Bush administration looking for ways out of the Balkans? I am sure you all remember that, when President Bush took office in January 2001, many European leaders were anxious that he would pull American troops out of the Balkans and declare the region a problem for Europe and not the United States. Then, just about a year ago, President Bush met with other NATO heads of state and assured them, with regard to the Balkans, that "we have gone in together and we will go out together."

o But make no mistake. While the U.S. is committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with its allies in the Balkans, it does not want to remain there in perpetuity. In fact, the Bush administration has outlined a set of strategic objectives for the region, which include:

? Integrating the entire Balkan region into Europe, free and at peace.

? Shifting responsibilities for the Balkans to Europe while helping Europe succeed in carrying out these responsibilities.

? Hastening the day that peace is self-sustaining and NATO can withdraw its military presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

? Ensuring that the region does not become a safe haven or way station for global terrorism.

o Let me point out another consideration. Since the attack on Western and U.S. interests on September 11, 2001, the U.S. armed forces have been stretched to the maximum. Tens of thousands of reserve forces and National Guard members have been activated, and a "stop-loss" policy has been implemented for active duty forces. Stop-loss means that military personnel holding critical skills may be retained on active duty beyond their retirement or separation date.

o The strain on manpower is real, and it must be dealt with. Continued pressure should be expected from the Pentagon to lower U.S. troop strengths in the Balkans and to transfer peacekeeping responsibilities away from NATO.

o In addition to manpower considerations, important U.S. military capabilities, including intelligence assets, are being diverted from the Balkans to higher priority missions related to the war on terrorism.

o What does all of this mean? It seems to me that President Bush has made two points perfectly clear. First, there will be no unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the Balkans. Washington's policy vis-à-vis its peacekeeping responsibilities will be hammered out within the halls of NATO along with its allies. But, second, the U.S. will push NATO to "Europeanize" the peacekeeping forces in the Balkans as quickly as possible so as to hasten the day when "we will all go out together."

o If there is no progress on this latter point and no consensus of the alliance as a whole, there is always the possibility that President Bush could change his mind about reducing the U.S. role in Balkan peacekeeping. Such a move would be a blow to alliance solidarity.

? EU military aspirations: The European Union is growing, and it is a success story unfolding before our eyes. As Europe unites economically, it, quite naturally, also wants to build a common ESDP. At the EU Helsinki summit in December 1999, the EU committed itself to creating a rapid reaction force of 60,000 soldiers, deployable within 60 days of a decision to deploy and sustainable for at least one year. The EU force is supposed to be capable of carrying out humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping, and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking. These are collectively referred to as the "Petersburg tasks" and are at the mid to lower end on the conflict spectrum. The EU force's readiness to carry out these tasks is to be achieved by 2003.

o But things are a bit sluggish concerning ESDP. Let's look at some facts:
? To sustain a force of 60,000 troops, it is necessary to have a total force of 150,000 to 180,000 soldiers to cover normal rotations, training, leaves, and contingencies. But the actual number of troops committed so far is approximately 100,000, leaving a shortfall of 50,000 to 80,000.

• A word about ESDP ground forces in general: As the EU builds its unilateral military capability, there will not necessarily be more European soldiers available for deployment than there are now. Rather, EU members who are also in NATO will chop existing units from NATO for deployment in the ESDP force, leaving NATO with fewer assets whenever the ESDP force is deployed.

? There is general agreement that EU military capabilities need to be improved. The EU force needs adequate airlift, sealift, communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and precision munitions. In other words, a larger defense budget in each EU country. But are these defense budgets going up?

• Secure communications links for passing orders and information are especially critical in an operational environment, and they are also expensive. An independent EU communications system outside of NATO does not exist. Also, collecting and analyzing intelligence is a complex undertaking. Within NATO, much of this is based on extensive U.S. capabilities. Again, the EU would need to expend considerable assets if it were to duplicate NATO capabilities in this area.

? Are EU military and political leaders on the same sheet of music? I recently read a statement by one politician declaring that ESDP was a success and that the rapid reaction corps had been activated. Activated how, where, and with what capabilities? Politicians have the luxury of using words that soldiers do not. It is one thing to declare a force "ready;" it is quite another to actually deploy a force and risk lives, resources, and prestige if all the capabilities, training, and logistics are not in place.

o The shortfalls in military capabilities and manpower problems faced by the EU can be fixed with more money and more research and development.

o If ESDP becomes the catalyst for larger defense expenditures in Europe, resulting in more capable forces, then ESDP should be viewed as a success by the European Union, NATO, and the United States.

o On the policy side, the EU is looking to the Balkans, and more specifically to NATO's Operation Amber Fox in F.Y.R. Macedonia, as a place to move ESDP from the theoretical to the practical level.

o The EU's foreign policy and security chief, Javier Solana, wants to make this happen this fall. In some ways, Operation Amber Fox is tailor-made for the launching of ESDP. It is already in place and is manned 100 percent by European forces from NATO. It is relatively small in size and in close proximity to other NATO operations in the Balkans, especially KFOR.

? Realizing that the chassis for Operation Amber Fox has been built by NATO will probably not put a damper on the positive perceptions of the first ESDP operation among Europeans. Assuming that it takes place, however.

? The role of Turkey: The U.S. wants out of Balkan peacekeeping at the same time that the European Union is looking to begin its first ever deployment there. It sounds as if U.S. and EU policies are converging nicely. NATO can draw down its involvement and turn over more of its responsibilities to the EU. This would be in keeping with President Bush's strategic vision for the Balkans, which includes shifting responsibilities to Europe for keeping the peace.

? But what about Turkey? Turkey is a country with history and interests in the Balkans. The stability of the Balkans is important to Turkey, and Turkey is supporting peacekeeping operations in the region through NATO. If NATO reduces its presence in the Balkans while the EU force expands its presence there, Turkey will need to find a way to retain its active role in the region. Ideally, it will find a mechanism within ESDP that will allow it to be invited to join the new EU force on a case-by-case basis, especially for operations that impact its own national security interests, such as stabilizing the Balkans.

o However, at the December 2001 European Union summit at Laeken, Belgium, Greece blocked the EU's consideration of an unofficial compromise accord, known as the "Ankara text," negotiated by the U.S., Britain, and Turkey. The accord would have ended Ankara's two-year refusal to allow NATO to authorize the use of its assets by the EU rapid reaction force unless a clearly established consultative relationship between NATO member Turkey and the EU on the matter was formulated.

o Greece considers the Ankara text to be detrimental to its own national interests vis-à-vis Turkey. It also maintains that the agreement gives NATO members that are not part of the European Union an inordinate say in the operations of the force.

o Denmark, which assumes the six-month rotating European Union presidency on July 1, 2002, is the only EU nation that has not yet agreed to participate in the bloc's rapid reaction force. It has also opted not to chair the bloc's defense portfolio during its presidency. Greece, which takes over the European Union presidency on January 1, 2003, will, therefore, assume the chairmanship of the defense portfolio on July 1, 2002, and will hold it until June 30, 2003.

Let's recap a little on the future "Europeanization" of Balkan peacekeeping:

? The U.S. wants out of the Balkans in a big way, and it will look for ways to withdraw.

? The EU wants its own military niche in the Balkans, beginning with F.Y.R. Macedonia, but it needs a permanent arrangement with NATO on the use of the alliance's assets and facilities.

? Turkey wants a role in ESDP for deployments affecting its national interests, which include the Balkans, and it will block the use of NATO assets by the EU force if necessary.

? Greece claims that the Ankara text goes against its national interests and will veto it.

Clearly, diplomats in NATO and the EU have their work cut out for them. Now, for some predictive analysis:

? I believe a diplomatic way will be found out of the current stalemate involving Greece, Turkey, NATO, and the European Union over the EU rapid reaction force. The fact that so many important interests are involved will keep all concerned hard at work to find a compromise.

? This compromise will allow the EU to take over Operation Amber Fox sometime later this year, thus marking the first deployment of the EU force.

? The political response among EU states will be extremely positive and will give the countries participating in the EU force an incentive to provide additional funding to build ESDP capabilities.

? This funding will fall short of ESDP's total requirements, however, forcing a permanent working relationship between the EU and NATO.

? The SFOR mission will continue to move away from being a military mission and will become more of a policing mission. As NATO forces are drawn down every year, the EU's role in Bosnia-Herzegovina will increase.

? Kosovo is a bigger security problem, and NATO will lead KFOR for the foreseeable future. As long as it does, a U.S. Army contingent will be there.

? Finally, the threat to world stability and Western interests by terrorists and others is real, and it is dangerous. Europe is not immune, nor is the United States. Both sides of the Atlantic will be drawn closer together to protect our common values, our freedoms, and our economies.

Remarks Harry Dinella
Policy Advisor
Western Policy Center

Peacekeeping and Other Challenges in Kosovo

The future of the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo is alive and well, and will be for the foreseeable future.

The wisdom of the 1999 NATO intervention that separated Kosovo from Serbia -- probably permanently -- will be debated for years to come. What cannot be debated is that, even before 1999, the leadership of the Kosovar Albanian community, both radical and moderate, was as determined to end Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo as Belgrade was to preserve it.

Given the uncompromising positions and tactics of the leadership on both sides of this question in the late 1990s, the escalation of violence and the subsequent NATO intervention was almost inevitable.

In Kosovo, it is fair to say that neither the Albanians, nor the Serbs, nor NATO got what they wanted. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), for its part, succeeded in its goal of getting NATO to act as its air force to separate Kosovo from Serbia and then, later, as its army to keep it that way.

However, the KLA did not succeed in establishing itself and its leaders as the main political force in Kosovo at the end of the 78-day NATO campaign. And that, judging from what we have seen of the KLA before and since 1999, is probably a good thing for everyone concerned.

Belgrade failed in its goal of retaining control over a 4,200-square-mile province that was home to 200,000 Serbians and that holds a special significance for Serbians in terms of history and legend. Most Serbians consider Kosovo, despite the overwhelming predominance of the province's ethnic Albanian majority, to be as much a part of Serbia as Americans consider Texas to be a part of the United States. Today, only a fraction of the pre-1999 Serb population remains in Kosovo, and these Serbs have to be protected on a constant basis from attack by radical Albanian groups that still seek to completely cleanse Serbs from the province.

NATO did not get what it wanted. It did not want the 78-day war; it did not want the expanded violence that occurred in Kosovo against the province's ethnic Albanian population during the war; and it did not want the violence that has occurred against the province's Serb minority and other minorities since the campaign. Also, significantly, NATO did not want to become mired in Kosovo, where it is going to have to stay for some considerable time.

In the Balkans, history has shown that lessons are often as hard to learn as its terrain is to navigate. NATO and the international community, to their credit, did learn from their experience in Kosovo. They applied some of that knowledge to stabilize later challenges in the Presevo Valley and, more recently, the situation in F.Y.R. Macedonia. They prevented, particularly in the Presevo Valley, a scenario that could have led to a NATO intervention if the insurgents had had their way.

For NATO, getting into Kosovo was easy compared to what it is going to take to get out. In 1999, no reasonable alternative for the administration of the province existed other than the one that was established by the United Nations and NATO. Turning the administration of the province over to the KLA was not a viable option, and the participation of Yugoslavia in its administration in any form was, of course, not even a remote consideration.

As Michael Steiner, the head of the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), recently stated, the details for resolving Kosovo's future status in the international community will be arrived at later. In the meantime, NATO and its partners will provide the security umbrella needed to permit the international community, under UNMIK, to work with a democratically elected Kosovo government in a nation-building mission. This mission, in the end, will help Kosovo become a society -- and most probably a state -- that will integrate into the Western family of nations and be independent of Serbia.

In Kosovo, the West has a unique opportunity because the province is run by the United Nations and NATO, and it will be administered this way until Kosovo can run itself in a Western democratic tradition.

As we have heard at this conference, many states in southeastern Europe, some more than others, have a long way to go before they will be able to effectively integrate into the European family of nations and be credible candidates for NATO and the EU.

It is no secret that corruption in the Balkans is rampant. The democratic tradition is a weak one and will take time to become established. The rule of law is proving difficult to institutionalize, organized crime and underground economies prevail, governments lack credibility, and many states suffer from a political extremism that diverts their energy and resources away from the mission of building viable civil societies.

Kosovo suffers from many of the problems that will delay the development of other southeastern European nations. However, Kosovo's greatest hope for the future is the fact that the international community is taking an active role in helping Kosovars to develop democratic institutions, to institutionalize the rule of law, and to create a credible civil society to serve the people rather than powerful cliques.

Transforming Kosovo is not going to be easy for the international community, or even democratic for the people of Kosovo. Indeed, in order to front-load Kosovo for success as a future multi-ethnic democracy with a viable free market economy, the international community will intervene, sometimes in a very undemocratic fashion, in order to insist that things be done a certain way.

The international community, for instance, will insist on the establishment of a multi- ethnic society with security and equal rights for all of Kosovo's citizens, rather than a Kosovo that has been ethnically cleansed of its Serbs, Montenegrins, Roma, and other minorities.

The sub-Balkanization of the Balkans has got to stop. While it may be a pipedream to believe that Kosovo will, in the future, even nominally fall under Serbian (Yugoslav) sovereignty, a line has to be drawn somewhere. NATO has been instrumental in helping to draw that line in the Presevo Valley and in F.Y.R. Macedonia. There has been enough ethnic cleansing and separation of peoples in the region in the last decade. Those who have been ethnically cleansed must have the right to return home to live in security, earn a living, and participate in government.

The concept that "we can all get along in one country" may, despite the best efforts of the international community, ultimately fail in some places in the Balkans. It does not have to fail in Kosovo because the province's dynamics and the international community can guide things in a more direct and effective way than they can be guided in other areas of the Balkans, such as Bosnia.

Security for Kosovo is provided by KFOR's five multi-national brigades and not by the disbanded KLA or the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). Indeed, the KPC comes under the KFOR chain of command. The armed police in Kosovo are international community police, working under UNMIK. The Kosovo Police Service (KPS) works under UNMIK and the international police force. The KPS will gain greater responsibility over time and will eventually be able to act as an organization that the population has faith in to assure the security of all of Kosovo's citizens.

Kosovo is still, by Western standards, a wild place. Crime rates, though decreasing, are still unacceptably high. In addition to the major threat to democracy and a free market economy posed by organized crime, violent crimes and crimes associated with property, and even incidents such as hit-and-run crimes on Kosovo's motorways, need to be more effectively addressed.

The economy remains in dire straits, and the influence of the underground economy is still prevalent and inhibits the growth of the free market. A free market economy will never take hold without the rule of law and the ability to enforce the country's laws fairly. The legal system, like the security and police forces, is closely monitored by the international community.

The objective of the West is to neutralize and remove the elements in Kosovar society that could, without the West's long-term guidance, turn the province into a failed state ruled by more of a kleptocracy than a government.

In Kosovo, the seeds of democracy, as evidenced by the November 2001 elections, are being planted. It is to the credit of the electorate and bodes well for Kosovo's future that the people of the province see the benefit of government by moderates rather than radicals. It is also to the credit of Kosovo's parliament that it was able to select a president. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with small steps, those steps are being taken in Kosovo. And, unlike other states in the region, Kosovo is going forward more than it is going backward.

In the Balkans, the only sure thing is that nothing is a sure thing. Even with all of the effort that is being put into Kosovo, it is not a sure thing that UNMIK and NATO will succeed. The international community has to send the message to the factions in Kosovo who would work against the democratic processes now being established that nothing is going to prevent the international community from carrying out the mission it has set out to accomplish.

The events of September 11, 2001, make it more important than ever to succeed and set an example in a place like Kosovo. Failed states breed organized crime, which, in turn, provides a safe haven from which the enemies of civilization operate. The international community cannot afford to let places such as Kosovo sort themselves out over time.

There are some people and organizations in Kosovo that have a different kind of hope. They hope that UNMIK and NATO will quit before their work is done. They hope that they can turn Kosovo into a failed state that they can feed off of and use to benefit their own narrow purposes. The recent announcement that NATO plans to cut the number of KFOR's multi-national brigades in Kosovo from five to three sends the wrong message to the people of Kosovo who are looking for a better life and to organizations that want to see the UNMIK/NATO mission in the province fail.

There is no doubt that resources are limited and that NATO and its partners in the West and around the world have multiple commitments. But Kosovo, for its own good, as well as for the good of Europe, is a mission that we cannot afford to let fail. Kosovo can be the basis for something that goes right rather than wrong in the Balkans, and the Balkans needs a few examples like that.
 

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