Center for Strategic Decision Research


Applying Confidence and Security-Building Measures in Southeastern Europe

Mr. Mihnea Motoc
State Secretary for European Integration and Multilateral Affairs,
Foreign Ministry of Romania

This Workshop is providing us with an opportunity to bring into focus several issues related to stability and security in Southeastern Europe. Refocusing the debate on Southeastern Europe may seem a little strange in this beautiful, sunny Nordic setting. But it is not, for at least two reasons. First, Nordic countries have selflessly engaged in peacekeeping and reconstruction in the conflict areas of Southeastern Europe; they are providing an outstanding contribution to ongoing political and diplomatic efforts for consolidating stability and prosperity in what the EU terms the Western Balkans. Second, NATO enlargement, the advent of an ESDP, the forging of a relationship based on a NATO/EU partnership and complementarity when it comes to security issues and concerns, and addressing the need for developing capabilities, are all immediately connected with the major present source of concern to the security environment in Europe, namely, Southeastern Europe.


We in Romania do not intend to force Balkans issues to the forefront of the Euro-Atlantic security agenda at any cost. However, given our close proximity to the Balkans and the responsibilities attached to this position, we have been and still are hard hit by the actual instability in the region and by the negative labeling the situation there has produced. Therefore, it is with a deep-felt feeling of responsibility that Romania wishes to see Southeastern European issues on Europe's security agenda.

As a Southeastern European country, a country acceding to the EU, and a credible candidate for NATO enlargement, Romania offers countries in the Balkans a credible alternative: a nation that has protected at high costs its aspirations for democracy and prosperity and has finally been rewarded and recognized as a full participant in mainstream European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.

Though a neighboring country, Romania acquired greater in-depth knowledge of the multifaceted risks and opportunities in Southeastern Europe when it took over the Chairmanship in Office of the OSCE in 2001. We also stepped up our involvement in international sub-regional and bilateral efforts to bring about lasting stability in the area. The Balkans are an area where the OSCE must still engage in the full range of operations, from conflict prevention through crisis management to post-conflict rehabilitation. The Chairmanship must live up to the high expectations of both the people in the region and the international community. As the Chair of the OSCE, we have had many responsibilities: visiting all the countries in the region several times, opening the OSCE mission in Belgrade, appointing a Personal Representative in FYROM and deciding on the expansion of the OSCE Spillover Mission there, appointing a Personal Representative for the Stability Pact in Southeastern Europe, and engaging in the orchestration of several OSCE missions to scrutinize the many electoral processes in the region. But we have also tried to increase awareness of region-wide problems and the need to find comprehensive solutions to them. Here are some thoughts on a few of them.

  • First, problems in the Balkans are closely intertwined. That means that, on the one hand, stabilization and development in one area can have multiple positive effects on the whole area. On the other hand, destabilization in one part of the region will almost inevitably generate a chain reaction throughout the entire region.
  • It is almost impossible to think of political stability in the Balkans without considering the economic progress that is needed to support it. And both stability and economic advancement depend heavily on the existence of public safety, security, and order. We therefore must work hard to reform public administration and combat organized crime and corruption.
  • We also must strongly encourage solidarity and discourage competition in the region. Without solidarity and cooperation, prospects for integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions will be seriously damaged. Among the many ideas and initiatives we have developed is the SEECAP (Southeastern European Common Assessment Paper) exercise, an evaluation by all the countries in the region of what they perceive to be the major challenges and opportunities that can be addressed jointly. This exercise encourages discussion of regional policies and activities among NATO, the EU, the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe, as well as the Romanian initiative to have representatives from these organizations come together to reflect on the lessons learned from a decade of managing instability in the Balkans. This initiative aims to take stock of specific root causes for conflict and instability in the Balkans, such as separatist tendencies, failure to provide concrete answers and solutions to security claims, and failure to effectively tackle organized crime and corruption. Such a study of the past could provide insight into a better and more structured approach to future efforts in the Balkans by the international community. We also encourage the doubling of efforts to prevent the Balkans from becoming riddled with "black holes" of crime and corruption, which could become permanent sources of regional instability with potential negative implications for all of Europe.


Although still facing tensions and small-scale violence, Southeastern Europe today is generally perceived as having good prospects for real stabilization. The fragile situation is an invitation to reflect on what more we can do not only to manage the open crisis but to turn it into an opportunity to enhance stability and promote transparency in an area in which instability and economic uncertainty have been a permanent threat.

It is encouraging that all the countries in Southeastern Europe are led now by democratically elected governments. But the challenges are still there, and we must consider how to strengthen the democratic course in the region.

The overall picture is less optimistic than one would hope. The multiple intense crises that have developed throughout the former Yugoslavia during the last decade have generated persistent problems. Violent conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and the current, though smaller, incidents in Southern Serbia and Kosovo, have been contained only at the cost of military intervention and a continuing international presence. There is no prospect that this presence will be reduced or withdrawn soon.

Beyond its commitment to, and its formidable capabilities for, supporting peace and enhancing stability and prosperity in Southeastern Europe, the international community faces the need to promote self-sustainable cooperation patterns in an area in which cooperation has not always been the way to solve differences. Solidarity versus competition, and regional ownership versus artificial solutions, should be the framework for approaching security in Southeastern Europe.


There are tremendous challenges for Southeastern Europe as a region-challenges that all Eastern European countries have had to cope with since 1990. The more evident of these security challenges should be assessed, with the understanding that the security concept has new dimensions. Beyond military risks, the more pressing challenges relate to criminal activities, political instability, environmental disasters, and social and economic mismanagement. That is the conclusion of a project undertaken by all the countries in the region, including the Former Yugoslavia, that was aimed at finding a common understanding on security issues in Southeastern Europe. This exercise is to be finalized by a formal endorsement of SEECAP at the May 2001 EAPC ministerial meeting in Budapest. Allow me to underline some of the main conclusions of this paper.

  • Politically, Southeastern Europe as a whole is more stable than we expected after 10 years of dramatic changes. However, as we can see today in Kosovo and Southern Serbia, extremism and/or nationalistic tendencies are still present and must be closely observed and contained. Efforts in this direction have been carried out and are still underway, with partial results.
  • A common perception is that no country in the region faces an imminent military threat. From the military point of view, difficulties are envisaged in modernizing and downsizing the armed forces. There is also resistance to the need to change defense doctrines and ensure proper civilian and democratic control over the armed forces.
  • Soft security has become a top priority for all Southeastern European countries. In addition, capabilities must be created to provide an adequate response to environmental and natural disasters, and prevent and contain technological disasters. At the same time, economic and social problems stemming from governmental mismanagement have had significant consequences, including stagnated economic development, disruption of banking systems, and a decrease in state resources for social protection. All of these developments relate to security, since they create conditions that result in outbursts of violence as protests against structural changes in society.
  •  Last but not least, emerging unconventional risks related to criminal activities, such as trafficking in drugs, arms, or human beings, illegal immigration, organized crime, and terrorism, have been acknowledged as having wide security implications too. This spectrum of risks unfortunately exists in most Southeastern European countries and is associated with the region as a whole. In the last several years, the lack of effective measures has paved the way for dangerous evolutions. Too often, security challenges became security concerns, and finally turn into crises.


The Southeastern European countries are not coping alone with their diverse, multiple challenges. We are encouraged by the multitude of mechanisms and initiatives driven by international, European, and Euro-Atlantic organizations, especially NATO and the European Union, which are aimed at finding solutions to the problems with which this region is confronted.

One of these initiatives is comprised of the NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina (SFOR) and another in Kosovo (KFOR). The tens of thousands of military personnel who make up these missions are proof of the international community's commitment to maintaining peace and security in Southeastern Europe.

Other programs designed to develop regional mechanisms to increase confidence-building and regional cooperation are also underway. Apart from similarly focused EAPC/PFP activities, NATO's SEE initiative, a special mechanism of cooperation, has launched several concrete projects, including the reconversion of military personnel from the armed forces of Romania and Bulgaria. Because of their potential effectiveness and openness, these projects should be granted special attention in the near future.

With the support of their Western partners, the countries of the Southeastern European region have also started a process to build up regional structures of cooperation that could be used to cope with current risks. These cooperative structures include the Southeastern European Defense Ministerial (SEEDM), the Southeastern European Cooperation Process (SEECP), and the Southeastern European Cooperative Initiative and Multinational Peace Force in Southeastern Europe (SEEBRIG). A particular achievement in this framework is the Regional SECI Center for Combating Trans-Border Criminality, hosted by Romania in Bucharest. This is perhaps the most significant initiative from the region aimed at fighting drugs, arms, human trafficking, and illegal immigration.

The most inclusive international community involvement in the region may be the establishment of the Stability Pact, a comprehensive set of initiatives in the most critical fields of stability and security. Though there has been criticism of the rhythm of activities as well as the total amount of resources involved in the process, and perhaps no more should be done in this area, these resources should be managed directly by the countries in the area, in accordance with the concept of "regional ownership." No one can deny the value of the process as a whole, which encourages regional cooperation.


In summing up the impressive number of Southeastern Europe-related international and regional activities, one could say that these efforts should not be in vain. But, more than that, as a representative of a country from this region, I would like to say that we must make this process irreversible. We must accept the challenge to change the pattern of violence, extremism, and intolerance and to encourage and support democratization, tolerance, and cooperation.

To achieve a democratic, stable, and prosperous Southeastern Europe, I believe that we must prepare ourselves for a different approach to security issues, one focused on prevention and on dealing with civilian-related issues. For example, our experience in Kosovo illustrated the need for better capabilities in the post-conflict environment, particularly in the fields of law enforcement, providing support for a viable administrative and judicial system, and consolidating democratic institutions.

It is therefore time to concentrate our common efforts on creating a system of confidence-building measures designed to protect and increase cooperation not only among countries but also among the local communities and individuals. It will be possible to complement the new measures mentioned here only if a climate of trust and cooperation is established at the local level, among communities and different ethnic/political groups.

In conclusion, I would like to invite all of you to begin a common process of reflection to identify the best ways to shape a system for local cooperation. This system of "micro-CSBM measures" could be promoted as a complement to the actions currently underway on the ground in different areas of Southeastern Europe.


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