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  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ten months after the “August war” between Georgia and Russia, violent incidents and the lack of an effective security regime in and around the conflict zones of South Ossetia and Abkhazia create a dangerous atmosphere in which extensive fighting could again erupt. Russia has not complied with key aspects of the cease-fire agreements that President Medvedev reached in August/September 2008 with French President Sarkozy in his then EU presidency role. Its 15 June Security Council veto of an extension of the sixteen-year-old UN observer mission mandate in Georgia and Abkhazia and its apparent intention to require the removal of the mission of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) by the end of the month are blows to regional security that will further fuel tensions. Most of the on-the-ground conflict resolution machinery is thus being dismantled. Moscow should review its counterproductive position and work for a reasonable compromise allowing the UN and OSCE monitors to continue their important work.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, Moscow, Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Southern Serbia's Albanian-majority Presevo Valley is one of the rare conflict resolution success stories in the former Yugoslavia. Outwardly, it is increasingly normal, with no major incidents in over three years. Yet, tensions linger: massive unemployment is still the single largest problem but the shadow of Kosovo's future status darkens the political landscape. How Kosovo's final status is determined in the next months will have a profound impact. If formal partition or large-scale violence accompanies independence, the peace could unravel; in a worst case scenario, ethnic cleansing in southern Serbia would be accompanied by significant, cross-boundary, two-way refugee flows. All parties – local Albanian politicians, the Serbian government and the international community – need to work with greater urgency on developing the region's economy and ensuring that developments in Kosovo do not disrupt its peaceful progress.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There is growing concern that the short postponement UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari announced in November 2006 for presentation of his Kosovo final status proposals to take account of Serbia's 21 January elections may not be the last delay in a process that now could extend into the second half of 2007. Nervous Kosovo Albanian leaders worry they may not be able to contain public pressures beyond March. With Russia's position hardening and Serbia as obstinate as ever, EU unity is vital – but far from assured – to keep the status process on track, first in the small Contact Group that has managed Kosovo affairs since 1999, then in the Security Council where ultimate decisions should be made.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The international community has properly decreed that Kosovo's final status must not involve division of its territory. But this declaration has not been followed by sufficient action. Belgrade's policy of pursuing some form of partition is far advanced in the restive northern city of Mitrovica and its hinterland, and a major security, political and financial effort is required to save the situation. Capacity should be built immediately, and its implementation should begin once the Contact Group has declared its support for Kosovo's future as a functional, conditionally independent state within its present borders.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Recent events require that policymakers revise substantially the conventional assessment that Macedonia is the foremost political “success story” of the Balkans. In fact, it is an underperforming post-conflict country still very much at risk, unable to tackle – operationally or politically -- its security challenges without upsetting an uncertain ethnic balance. Clear-eyed analysis of the dynamics driving unrest, from criminality and weak policing to an equally weak economy and corruption, is needed if a country that narrowly avoided war in 2001 is to secure long-term stability. Specifically, Macedonia cannot yet safely do without the presence of an international security force.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Balkans, Macedonia
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A new Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), former Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri, has taken up his post at the helm of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). While UNMIK is in its fourth year, the current period is one of the most sensitive since the war. The province's elected Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) are gradually gaining more responsibility, and final status discussions are approaching. However, recent security incidents, including the killings of a UN police officer and two Kosovo Serb teenagers in August 2003, are a stark reminder that stability is not yet deep-rooted. Frustration is growing with the poor state of the economy and the delay of the international community in addressing status. In the midst of these challenges, the crucial relationship between UNMIK and the PISG has become dangerously strained. Holkeri will need to come quickly to terms with the legacy of confrontation and tension left by his predecessor, Michael Steiner, and instil in his team a new attitude of respect for PISG and a reflex for consultation rather than unilateral action.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The reformist zeal displayed by the Serbian government following the 12 March 2003 assassination of Premier Zoran Djindjic appears to have dissipated. A number of important and positive steps were taken while the shock of that political murder was still fresh. Increasingly, however, their impact is being counterbalanced by actions that bring into question the government's ability to press decisive political and economic reforms home so as to achieve the goal of integration with wider European institutions.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Macedonia's 15 September 2002 election suggests the country may have turned a corner on the road to stability. Widely anticipated fraud and violence mostly did not materialise. Unlike in neighbouring Kosovo a few weeks later, a cross section of voters from all ethnicities streamed to the polls. They elected a government that has embraced the Framework Agreement brokered by the European Union (EU), the U.S. and NATO at Ohrid in August 2001 to end the incipient civil war and that has pledged to manage inter-ethnic issues through consensus, not simply division of spoils, to overhaul the scandal-plagued “Lions” security unit, and fight massive, endemic corruption.
  • Topic: Security, NATO
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Macedonia
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The law does not yet rule in Bosnia Herzegovina. What prevail instead are nationally defined politics, inconsistency in the application of law, corrupt and incompetent courts, a fragmented judicial space, half-baked or half-implemented reforms, and sheer negligence. Bosnia is, in short, a land where respect for and confidence in the law and its defenders is weak.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since Kosovo became an international protectorate under United Nations administration in June 1999, much has been done to stabilise the province and set up a functioning administration. Yet nothing has been done to address the central question that lay at the heart of the conflict in Kosovo, and which remains the issue of overriding importance for the province's inhabitants: the issue of final status.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 3 August 2001 murder of former State Security (DB) official Momir Gavrilovic acted as a catalyst for the emergence of a long-hidden feud within Serbia's ruling DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia) coalition. Inflamed by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's closest advisers, the 'Gavrilovic Affair' has driven a wedge into DOS that could spell the end of the coalition in its present form. In so doing, Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) has been exposed more clearly than before as a conservative nationalist party intent on preserving certain elements of the Milosevic regime.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The war option has, for the moment, been checked, but Macedonia is very far from being at peace. Neither the agreement signed on 13 August 2001 2 by the four Macedonian governing parties – two ethnic Macedonian, two ethnic Albanian – nor the subsequent limited NATO deployment, nor the first-stage approval of necessary constitutional amendments by the Macedonian parliament on 6 September have yet given anyone confidence that peace is sustainable. The parliamentary vote, for example, came only after an acrimonious debate in which markers were laid down that ultimate approval of the legislative package could not be taken for granted.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Macedonia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 28 June 2001, St Vitus's Day – an anniversary with enormous resonance in Yugoslavia – Serbian government transferred former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague. By this bold political move, the government demonstrated in the clearest way its will to break with the past. With the timing driven by the international donors conference scheduled for 29 June, the transfer also confirmed the effectiveness of conditioning economic assistance to Yugoslavia on concrete political progress.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In the past three months, since mid March 2001, Macedonia has stared into the abyss of inter-ethnic conflict, pulled away from the precipice, squandered opportunities for a political settlement, then returned as if sleepwalking to the brink of civil war. The downward spiral was interrupted on 11 June, when the Macedonian government and the ethnic Albanian rebels agreed to a ceasefire. The following day the government abruptly endorsed a peace plan proposed by President Boris Trajkovski. For their part, the NLA guerrillas expressed a readiness to halt their insurgency but want to see concrete steps towards improving Albanian rights.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Macedonia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: NATO-led troops have played a vital part in securing the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) since their arrival in December 1995. Although authorised by the Dayton Peace Agreement to assist civilian implementation, the military is not obliged to do so. Yet, by evolving in response to developments, the mission has contributed - albeit belatedly and inconsistently - to international civilian efforts to construct a viable state. This shift was reflected in the change of the mission's name in 1996 from Implementation Force (IFOR) to Stabilisation Force (SFOR).
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The removal of Slobodan Milošević's regime, with its poisonous influence on the entire Balkan region, raises hopes that a host of inter-connected problems may now stand a significantly better chance of being resolved, including the future status of Kosovo and of Montenegro, both notionally still a part of the Yugoslav federation.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Balkans, Montenegro
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Five years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, which brought an end to almost four years of bloody war in Bosnia, many of those believed to have carried out some of the war's worst atrocities remain at large. The continued presence in the municipalities of Republika Srpska (RS) of individuals suspected of war crimes—some indicated either publicly or secretly by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)—represents a significant obstacle to the return of ethnic minority refugees. It also undermines seriously Bosnia's chances for building central institutions, generating self-sustainable economic growth, and achieving the political transformation necessary to begin the process of integration with the rest of Europe. Moreover, the continued commitment of most war crimes suspects to the goal of a Greater Serbia, and their willingness to use violence to achieve it, could—in the long term—provoke renewed conflict in Bosnia and continued instability in the Balkans.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Bosnia, Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While the world watched in fascination as mass demonstrations in Belgrade toppled Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from power, Kosovo—where Milosevic had committed some of his worst crimes—had an almost eerie air of normalcy. On the night Milosevic fell, cafés were full and the usual crowd of young people strolled along Pristina's central artery, Mother Theresa Street. But Pristina's surface in difference masked serious unease about events in Serbia and especially about the swelling international welcome for newly elected President Vojislav Kostunica. Kosovo Albania's political circles, opinion leaders, and public, which for long had a head-in-the-sand approach toward the rise of the democratic opposition in Belgrade, are only beginning to come to grips with the changed political landscape in the Balkans caused by Milosevic's fall.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Balkans, Albania
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Local elections in Albania on 1 October 2000 will mark the first test of popular support for the ruling Socialist-led coalition since it came to power following the violent uprising in 1997. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), whose Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will be leading the monitoring effort, deems these elections to be of critical importance. Albania's electoral process has traditionally been bedevilled by the same handicaps encountered in most other institutional areas: namely, inadequate legislation, capacity deficiencies, politicisation of the process, and lack of all round political support. It is vitally important for Albania's democracy and international reputation that this year's elections do not repeat the mistakes of the recent past.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Albania
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The regime in Serbia has recovered its footing after the 1999 war with NATO and remains as hard-line as ever. Learning and gaining experience over the years has enabled the regime to “improve” its performance and become more efficient. Most analysts in Serbia agree that Milosevic will be able to stay in power indefinitely.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Government, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ten Years after independence, Macedonia's two largest ethnic groups continue to lead very separate and distinct lives. The uneasy co-existence between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians has only just withstood the violent breakup of Yugoslavia and the continuing instability in Kosovo. Valid concerns about Macedonia's security are too often being used to justify postponing hard decisions about internal problems. Political leaders on both sides of the ethnic divide, while negotiating privately for piecemeal improvements, publicly cater to the more extreme nationalists in their respective parties, and positions are hardening. There is a continued reluctance to squarely confront the compromises that would legally safeguard Macedonia's multi-ethnic composition: if that reluctance is not soon overcome, Macedonia and the region face renewed instability.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 05-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia began on 24 March 1999, Macedonia has been in an extremely vulnerable frontline position, facing an unmanageable influx of refugees from Kosovo, the prospect of economic collapse and volatile domestic interethnic relations.
  • Topic: Security, Migration, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia, Macedonia
  • Publication Date: 05-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After almost three and a half years working in Bosnia to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement, the international community will soon face the prospect of establishing a presence in Kosovo. The model proposed at Rambouillet was very similar to that set up at Dayton, but the situation now is very different. This report examines the international effort in Bosnia to see whether lessons can be drawn for Kosovo and other possible future international administrations.
  • Topic: Security, Migration, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Eastern Europe, Kosovo
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: NATO's strategy in the war with Yugoslavia over Kosovo isn't working. As the Alliance's bombing campaign enters its fourth week, it is Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic who is still winning the political game.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The early part of 1999 has been turbulent for Republika Srpska. Political life has been unsettled by three separate and hardly-related crises: the decision of the High Representative to remove from office the RS President Nikola Poplasen; the decision of International Arbitrator Roberts Owen to give the municipality of Brcko neither to RS nor to the Federation but to both as a condominium; and the NATO air-strikes on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, NATO, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia
  • Publication Date: 01-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Premier Pandeli Majko's new coalition government is slowly consolidating its hold over the administration, though the overall power of the government remains weak after the country was rocked in September by the worst political violence since the uprising of March 1997. Within the cabinet the deputy premier Ilir Meta has emerged as the key power in most decision-making and policy implementation. The new government consists of representatives of the Socialist Party (PS), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Union of Human Rights Party (PBDNj - this party represents the ethnic Greek minority), Democratic Alliance (AD), and the small Agrarian Party (AP). The largest opposition grouping the Democratic Party (DP), led by former president Sali Berisha, does not recognise the legitimacy of the Socialist-led government, is continuing its boycott of parliament and staging street rallies to push for early elections.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Albania
  • Publication Date: 12-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In the past few weeks the Belgrade authorities have sacked a number of key public officials. The two most prominent were security chief Stanisic and head of the army general staff Perisic. The firings triggered much speculation in the international media about the stability of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's regime. According to one interpretation, the sackings signal a fundamental weakness in government ranks, with Milosevic moving pre-emptively to oust potential rivals to his authority. Alternatively, the sackings may represent an attempt by the Yugoslav President to further consolidate his power base and to effectively rule with the backing of Yugoslavia's military and security establishments. Both Stanisic and Perisic were seen as Milosevic's opponents on several key policies, notably Belgrade's handling of relations with the Kosovo Albanians. Both Perisic and Stanisic, reportedly moderates not favouring the use of severe force against the Kosovars, have been replaced by Milosevic "yes-men" regarded as proponents of a violent resolution of the Kosovo question. If this is even in part the case, Stanisic's and Perisic's sackings do not necessary reflect a weakness in Milosevic's rule. Instead, the sackings may only signal Milosevic's resolve to return to force as a means of regional problem solving.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia
  • Publication Date: 12-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has dominated Croatian political life since multi-party elections in April 1990 brought an end to communist rule. The HDZ has been a broad movement rather than a modern political party, representing a wide range of political views and interests, united behind its leader, President Franjo Tudjman, in the aim of achieving Croatian sovereignty and independence. In 1990-91, large areas of the country were taken over by rebellious Croatian Serbs, with support from Belgrade. Thus for most of the period of HDZ rule in Croatia, large chunks of the country remained outside Zagreb's control, and the overriding priority was to restore Croatia's territorial integrity, a goal which was finally achieved in January 1998. Croatia also became enmeshed in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) as, supported by Croatia, the Bosnian Croats fought their erstwhile Bosniac allies in 1993-94. The obsession of Tudjman and the hard-line Herzegovina lobby in the HDZ with the dream of eventually detaching chunks of Bosnian territory and joining them with Croatia has been a persistent cause of international pressure on Croatia, as well as of division within Croatian politics.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Eastern Europe, Croatia