Center for Strategic Decision Research


European Security and Balkan Stability

His Excellency Apostolos Tsohatzopoulos
Minister of Defense of Greece

In the new, unstable, and rapidly changing world order that emerged after the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the need for a new security architecture is more than evident. All of the security institutions that were created during the Cold War are now changing in an effort to successfully deal with the new risks of the post-Cold War era.

With this change has come a security vacuum in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The countries in that region are in an unstable transition period and are trying to adapt to the new political and economic circumstances. Because of this situation we must ask two questions: “Is there a need for new mechanisms and institutions to guarantee European security in the post-Cold War period?” and “Is there a need for a new collective security architecture?”  The answer to both questions is yes.

The prerequisites and principles for the construction of this new security architecture have already been established through the resolutions in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Madrid, and comprise three developmental levels.

The first level is defined by NATO’s evolution to a security organization with a Euro-Atlantic dimension, one that provides a channel for open and equal dialogue between the U.S. and Europe. This new NATO continues to change. Today there is no need for it to defend its member-states from an external enemy. Instead there is the need to create a collective security institution for all of Europe that will enhance security from the Atlantic to the Urals.

Within such a Pan-European security framework, all European countries, especially the so-called Strategic Partners including Russia and the Ukraine, must participate and share the responsibility for European security and stability. Encouraging such participation are the Permanent Joint Council, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the enhanced Partnership for Peace.

The second level on which a new security architecture is being constructed consists of two WEU development tracks: one leads to NATO and the European pillar, and the other to the creation of a Union defense branch. In its position between EU and NATO, the WEU is following the principles of transparency and complementarity.

But what about those countries that have not been included in the first phase of NATO enlargement. The response to this question leads us to the third level on which the new security architecture is being configured—the desire of these countries, including those in the Baltic and Southeastern Europe areas, for peace and stability until they become integrated with EU, WEU, and NATO. During this period, these countries must be covered by regional security institutions that provide them with effective guarantees of peace and stability.

Regarding the Kosovo problem, I would like to express my deep concern about the developments in that region. Europe and the Alliance must do everything possible to avoid a new human tragedy.

Of course, the Alliance could not remain indifferent. A demonstration of active interest and contribution to international community efforts was viewed by NATO as an obligation to which the Alliance responded by setting two clear objectives:

  • Support for the peaceful resolution of the crisis;
  • Stabilization of the regional security and prevention of the crisis’s spillover to neighboring countries.

Toward this end:

  • Talks between Slobodan Milosevic and Ibrahim Rugova should be seen as a positive step despite their initial lack of progress; the “lines of communication and dialogue” should remain open; and NATOshould encourage both sides to keep these lines open while discouraging solutions based on violence.
  • The three levels of measures adopted by NATO and the active implementation of the first level are directly in support of a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
  • The implementation of the second-level measures in order to strengthen the security of Albania and FYROM, as well as arms control and border monitoring, might have positive consequences.
  • Political efforts should continue and be fully exhausted before NATO starts implementing a third military action level.

The recent Brussels decision underscores the Alliance’s determination to avoid a new tragedy in Kosovo, while at the same time stressing the need for a Mandate and a new decision concerning the use of military force.

I would like to point out, however, that the Bosnian crisis was completely different from the one in Kosovo and that different solutions are required as a result:

  • Bosnia was already an independent state and its recognized government invited NATO to intervene; also, internal centrifugal forces were at work there.
  • By contrast, Kosovo is not independent, only an autonomous province/region of a sovereign state (the Former Yugoslavia). Intervention in Kosovo means invading the territory of a sovereign state. Therefore, a decision (Mandate) of the international community (and more specifically the UN Security Council) is required.

A fundamental principle of the new NATO is to cooperate and actively support international organizations. A military intervention without a Mandate violates this fundamental principle. In Kosovo,protagonists to the conflict have two main objectives: Milosevic is seeking an armed confrontation as a way to suspend Kosovo’s autonomous status. The UCK movement is promoting independence (and perhaps union with Albania) through armed confrontation. This objective is unacceptable, however, since it will lead to a change in borders, a highly dangerous and destabilizing development for the whole region.

The only solution is for both sides to become convinced that any attempts at imposing changes will be unacceptable to NATO and that the crisis can only be resolved through dialogue. Let us hope that logic and moderation will prevail. In the meantime, we should keep up our efforts at resolving the crisis and preventing a spillover to neighboring countries. But again, let me stress that respect for internationally recognized borders and for human rights is a “conditio sine qua non” for the successful resolution of the Kosovo problem.

In concluding, I would like to briefly mention the importance of regional cooperation. The recent Istanbul Statement reaffirmed that the cooperation of southeast European countries is a major initiative of countries in the region, and that other states may complement this cooperation on specific issues. Special reference should also be made about the need to create a multinational (Balkan) peacekeeping force which will be ready to participate in NATO or WEU operations, under UN or OSCE mandate.


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