Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe: U.S. Helsinki Commission
“The Western Balkans and the 2012 NATO Summit”
Center for Transatlantic Relations,
European Studies Program,
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
German Marshall Fund
The Hearing Was Held at 2:00 p.m. in Room B-318 Rayburn House Office Building,
Moderated by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Federal News Service
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ): The Commission will come to order. And I
apologize at the outset for the delay. We did have a series of votes on the
floor of the House, which precluded Mr. Turner and I and other members from
being here. But thank you for your patience and welcome to everyone.
Today we will review the aspirations and the preparedness of Bosnia, Macedonia,
Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo to join or deepen engagement with the NATO
alliance, an important step for us and for them and quite timely in the run-up
to the next NATO summit which will take place in Chicago on May 20th to 21st.
In the past, I and many other Commission members, including chairman and
co-chairman, have been very strong supporters of NATO enlargement. It has been
a very good thing for all, for our country and for the new democracies in
East-Central Europe that have joined the alliance since 1998.
Not only did enlargement stabilize Central Europe, but countries that formerly
threatened us with militaries integrated into the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact
have now become some of our closest and most trusted allies. They have
shouldered real responsibilities, and some of their soldiers have paid the
ultimate sacrifice in defending liberty, particularly in Afghanistan and in
Today I believe further NATO enlargement can do likewise – stabilize the
Western Balkans and provide our country with responsible allies. Yet, of
course, countries that seek to join NATO have to meet military standards and
human rights standards. In these respects, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia,
Montenegro and Kosovo will have different challenges, and they will probably
not be ready to join the alliance all at the same time, although they’re all
proceeding in that direction.
With respect to human rights, many countries of the Western Balkans have made
great progress in combating human trafficking, especially given the blatant and
widespread trafficking of young women into the sex trade their region
experienced just a decade ago. In 2011, Bosnia and Macedonia joined a NATO
member, Croatia, on Tier 1 in the State Department’s report on trafficking in
persons. Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia are at Tier 2, as is NATO member
As the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which mandates
the tier rankings, I want to strongly urge all of these countries to take the
action necessary to reach Tier 1 this year. Nothing less should be expected
from friends and possible NATO allies than to protect people from being sold
into modern-day slavery.
Other issues before the alliance – Afghanistan, missile defense, Libya, the
eurozone crisis – should not cause us to forget the long-term imperative of
bringing the countries of the Western Balkans into NATO. American soldiers
have done duty there, including members of my own family – in Bosnia as well as
in Kosovo. And we don’t want that to happen again, of course. The issue of
stability remains, and NATO membership is key to the solution. This means we
have to encourage their NATO aspirations and move their applications forward as
quickly as humanly possible.
I’d like to now yield to my good friend and colleague Mr. Turner for any
comments he might have.
REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER (R-OH): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I
thank you for holding this hearing and certainly picking this as a topic. Both
the issue of the enlargement of NATO and, of course, the issue of the Balkans
are very important, as we all know that the enlargement of NATO has been seen
as a pathway for ensuring the democratization of Eastern Europe, a pathway to
EU and, of course, for a pathway for the strengthening of ties with the United
Looking at this issue with respect to the Balkans I think is very important,
and is a topic that I think at times gets neglected. As we look back from the
’90s when the United States and our NATO allies joined together in trying to
establish peace that was embodied in the Dayton Peace Accords – a treaty that
was negotiated in my home community of Dayton, Ohio – we certainly have seen
stability and peace, but still, I think, difficultly in how to transition the
area to some permanency, both in Bosnia and its ungoverned – ungovernable
constitutional structure and certainly the issues of Kosovo and Macedonia.
I appreciate you taking the focus. I also want to make a particular thank you
to Ivan, the German Marshall Fund, for your focus on the issue of Bosnia.
You’ll be participating in a forum in Dayton, Ohio, on this particular issue in
the beginning part of February with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and
trying, of course, to leverage off of what you’re doing here today, Chairman,
for looking at ways in which we can ensure that this area can transition and
that NATO can be an important instrument in that. So thank you for including
REP. SMITH: Thank you very much. I just note, for the audience, that Mr.
Turner – Chairman Turner -- is the head of the U.S. delegation to the NATO
Parliamentary Assembly and does wonderful work there. And I want to thank him
for his leadership on that very, very important assembly, because we – with our
Parliamentary Assembly for OSCE know how important it is that the delegations
meet and discuss. It’s not just the executive branch; it is the legislative
branch as well. And Mr. Turner heads that delegation.
I’d like to now introduce our very distinguished witnesses, beginning first
with Daniel Serwer, who’s a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic
Relations and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced
International Studies. In the 1990s Dr. Serwer served in the State Department
as U.S. special envoy and coordinator for the Bosnian Federation. In the late
1990s and until recently he also served at the U.S. Institute for Peace,
encouraging the U.S. government to promote democracy in Serbia rather than rely
on Slobodan Milosevic to keep his word as a Dayton signatory.
The Helsinki Commission is pleased to have him return at a hearing as a hearing
witness, and especially today for his willingness to participate through Skype
from Belgrade at a late hour and after a very long flight. I would note
parenthetically that in 1999 I authored a bill that passed the House called the
Serbia Democracy Act. And one of the men who really helped us craft that
legislation was Dr. Serwer. And I want to thank him for that. It
unfortunately failed in the Senate. It was blocked from even coming to a vote,
but it nevertheless articulated what the House really believed ought to happen
in Serbia. And he helped us write it.
Our second witness is Nida Gelazis, a senior associate of the European Studies
Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she
directs the Working Group on the Western Balkans. From 1994 to 1996 she served
as managing editor of the journal, “The East European Constitution Review,” and
in ’09 coedited “Cities after the Fall of Communism: Reshaping Cultural
Landscapes and the European Identity.” Ms. Gelazis has a bachelor’s degree in
political science from the University of Chicago and a master’s in comparative
European international law from the European University Institute in Florence,
Our third witness is Ivan Vejvoda, a vice president at the German Marshall Fund
of the United States. He previously served as executive director of the German
Marshall Fund’s Balkan Trust for Democracy, dedicated to strengthening
democratic institutions in southeastern Europe. Prior to joining the GMF
staff, Mr. Vejvoda was a senior adviser on foreign policy and European
integration to Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic, who was assassinated in 2003,
and his successor Zoran Zivkovic. In the 1990s he was among the ranks of the
democratic opposition to Milosevic. He holds a diploma from the Institute of
Political Studies in Paris.
Dr. Serwer, if you could begin your testimony.
DANIEL SERWER: Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to appear before
you on a subject close to both my heart and brain: NATO and the western
Balkans. NATO entered the Balkans in 1993 with a no-fly zone over Bosnia. It
was an important moment. Until then, Yugoslavia had been considered outside
the NATO area, a concept that lost relevance as the alliance moved from
thinking of itself as a defensive pact against the Soviet Union to an alliance
protecting European and American security from risks anywhere in the world.
Two decades later, the Western Balkans are entering NATO. Slovenia, Croatia
and Albania have already made the strategic choice of aligning their defense
efforts with the alliance. They also contributed to alliance efforts in
Afghanistan and Kosovo, taking on burdens at least proportional to their size
and economic weight. They enable us to devote American personnel to other
priority missions, both NATO and non-NATO. Slovenia, Croatia and Albania have
also benefited from their efforts to reform their security services,
professionalize them and reorganize them to meet NATO standards. These are
countries that made a profound commitment to democratic norms, even if they
still sometimes struggle to meet them.
Five more countries of the Western Balkans remain outside NATO today. It is
time to allow two of them to begin to enter – Macedonia and Montenegro.
Macedonia has done yeomen’s work completing its Membership Action Plan. Just
10 years ago, ethnic war racked the country. The conflict ended with an
agreement to reform its state institutions, including the security services.
The Macedonians took advantage of the opportunity to professionalize their
security services to meet NATO standards.
I spoke Friday with Brigadier General William Roy, whose Vermont National Guard
Brigade deployed for six months in 2010 to Afghanistan, with Macedonian troops
integrated. He reports in an email: “By all accounts they perform their
mission to the desired standard. They were involved in a number of tactical
engagements with enemy forces while integrated with my companies. Most
impressive has been the development of their NCO corps – their noncommissioned
officer corps – a key to having a well-trained and disciplined force.”
While I might wish that Skopje would spend less money on tributes to Alexander
the Great, the only thing keeping Macedonia from NATO membership today is the
dispute with Greece over the country’s name, which prevented it from receiving
an invitation at the Bucharest summit in 2008. Since then, the International
Court of Justice has found that Greece violated its interim accord with the
government in Skopje when it blocked membership at Bucharest.
May is the time to correct this injustice. Chicago is the place. The NATO
summit should issue an invitation for membership to the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia or to Macedonia by whatever name Skopje and Athens may
agree upon before then. The United States should make it clear to Greece that
repeating the mistake of Bucharest is not acceptable, as the ICJ has already
Mr. Chairman, with the door open to NATO open at Chicago, I would also urge
that Montenegro be given a clear signal that it, too, will get an invitation
once it completes its Membership Action Plan. We should not close the door to
a country that has been willing to join us in Afghanistan and contributes to
U.N. operations in Somalia and Liberia.
Three more Western countries would still remain, then, outside NATO: Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo. None is ready for an invitation. Bosnia
has failed to meet the international community requirement that it resolve
defense property issues. It should get that done before Chicago, so it can
embark on the membership process.
Kosovo, which will want to join NATO as quickly as possible, is just beginning
to think about the nature and scope of its future security forces. The United
States should help Kosovo establish forces that can meet its legitimate
security interests within the NATO context, enabling the eventual withdrawal of
NATO’s Kosovo force.
Serbia has not indicated it wishes to join NATO due to popular distaste for an
alliance that bombed the country in 1999 and played a crucial role in removing
Kosovo from Milosevic-regime oppression. Nevertheless, Serbia has participated
in Partnership for Peace and has deployed troops to Afghanistan. The NATO door
should stay open. The choice of joining or not should be Belgrade’s. The odds
of Belgrade joining NATO would be significantly increased if Macedonia, and
especially Montenegro, would make clear progress toward membership in Chicago.
NATO members would then eventually surround Serbia, making the decision to join
geographically and strategically compelling.
With a decision to join NATO, Belgrade would have to make other difficult
decisions about both Bosnia and Kosovo. Good neighborly relations are a
prerequisite for NATO, as they are for the EU. But EU membership is still far
off. Serbia could, if it wanted, join NATO much faster, but it will need to
demonstrate unequivocally respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity
of all its neighbors.
Mr. Chairman, NATO membership is not a panacea. I do not believe allowing
Bosnia early entry, as some advocate, would be wise. But real progress on
membership for Macedonia and Montenegro at Chicago would impart a sense of
momentum to the Western Balkans that is lacking today. With Europe immersed in
a financial crisis, only Croatia can hope for EU membership within the next few
years. The others will have to wait until Europe has its financial house in
Many current members have found NATO provides relief from the historic baggage
of past wars, ethnic conflicts and mass atrocities. It is a good idea to
extend an invitation to Macedonia at Chicago and make welcoming noises to
Montenegro. Joining an alliance to make the world safer for democratic
societies is a noble cause. The door should remain open for others to enter
when they are ready and willing. NATO expansion into the Balkans serves U.S.
interests, not only in that region but wherever NATO or U.S. forces deploy in
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SMITH: Thank you so very much, Dr. Serwer.
We’ve been joined by Robert Aderholt, a member of the Commission. Any opening
REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT ADERHOLT (R-AL): No. Thank you Mr. Chairman. It’s good
to be here, and look forward to hearing the testimonies this afternoon.
REP. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Aderholt.
We’ve also been joined by Eliot Engel, who is a senior member of the Foreign
Affairs Committee, and a man who is tenacious on issues relative to Kosovo and
human rights there. I’d like to yield any time he would like to take.
REPRESENTATIVE ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY): Well, thank you. Thank you very much, Mr.
Chairman. Let me personally thank you for the wonderful work that you have
always done for so many years. I’ve been in Congress now for 23, you came
before me, and even when I came your name was out there as someone who always
stood up for what he believed was right. And I think we’ve got to have more
people who do that. So thank you for your work, and thank you for the
opportunity to sit on the dais here at today’s very important hearing. I’m not
a member of the Commission, but I do appreciate the welcome the Commission has
shown me, you in particular, through the years.
As you know, and you mentioned it Mr. Chairman, I’ve long taken an interest in
the Western Balkans. I have an interest in expanding NATO into the Western
Balkans and this has been a passion of mine ever since the former Yugoslavia
broke up. In 2003, the House passed my resolution commending the U.S.-Adriatic
Charter, which set the stage for Albania, Croatia and Macedonia to join NATO
and, as we all know today, there’s still work to do, as several countries
remain outside of NATO.
Until Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosova and even Serbia enter NATO as their
fellow Balkan countries already have, our job is not done, although I have
taken a particular interest in Kosova and am anxious for Serbia or other
countries not to block Kosova from entering the European Union, as they are
doing in the United Nations. I think that’s counterproductive. All of the
Balkan countries need to enter all of the Euro-Atlantic structures, not only
NATO but the EU as well. And again, I have no objection to Serbia going into
the EU, as long as Kosova goes into the EU at the same time so Serbia cannot
I would just briefly like to talk about one key issue facing Kosova, and that’s
the future of KFOR, the NATO Kosova Force. I’m a strong supporter of KFOR’s
continued presence in Kosova. I reject any talk of KFOR leaving. And until
we’re sure that the security situation is resolved in Kosova, I believe that we
should not remove additional forces. I believe that Camp Bondsteel should stay
open and that we should not pull back.
I realize there’s been a slow drawdown in national contingents in Kosova, but I
think the recent blockades and other events in northern Kosova have shown the
world that now is not the time for countries to remove additional forces from
Kosova. In fact, I believe that as our country removes forces from Iraq and
the rest of Europe, this is a very good time to shift by a moderate amount -- a
few battalions or so – to the U.S. contingent in Kosova.
We’ve got a good base at Camp Bondsteel – I was just there two months ago –
with ample space for our troops and the Kosovars want us to stay. So I think
the choice is simple. And I want to just state very simply, we’re not talking
thousands and thousands of troops, just over 1,000 to guarantee the peace and
to ensure that our worthy investment in Kosovo is not in vain. I can hardly
think of a place in the world which is more pro-U.S. than the people of Kosova.
So it would be a pity if, just to save a few dollars, we’re not present when
this region needs us the most.
So I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back, and I’m interested obviously in
hearing what the distinguished witnesses have to say.
REP. SMITH: Thank you so much, Mr. Engel. I’d like to now yield to our second
witness, Ms. Gelazis. The floor is yours.
NIDA GELAZIS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, members of the Helsinki
Commission. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on NATO and the Western
Balkans. I’ll base my testimony on some of the conclusions from Working Group
meetings organized at the Wilson Center which aimed at finding common ground on
European and American perspectives on the region’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
These discussions were based on three premises: first, that peace and
stability in the Western Balkans can only be achieved by shifting domestic
politics away from ethnonationalist ambitions and toward building open and
democratic institutions that serve the interests of all citizens and will allow
the country to actively participate in European institutions; second, the
process of becoming a member of European Union and NATO is itself
transformative, and that transformation can end abruptly once a country
achieves membership; third, given the region’s legacy of conflict, it will be
more difficult for the Western Balkans to meet the accession criteria for NATO
and the EU than it was during previous enlargements.
Working from these premises, it’s important to recognize that the European
Union’s enlargement process has a much stronger transformative power than NATO
enlargement. NATO’s norms focus squarely on military issues, which are
relatively easier to implement, given the natural hierarchy within defense
institutions. Therefore, though NATO requires that all candidates are
democracies, it relies on outside standards and actors to measure and evaluate
democratic consolidation. As in previous enlargements, ensuring that state
institutions are effective and democratic is driven by the EU.
Therefore, NATO enlargement is not a replacement for EU enlargement. It is
essential, rather, that the United States continue to actively support not only
NATO but also EU enlargement, as well as the countries in the Western Balkans,
to help them achieve the goal of Euro-Atlantic integration.
The distinction between the transformative impact of EU and NATO is made clear
by the difference between the two countries that became NATO members in 2009,
Croatia and Albania. Both countries met the criteria for NATO accession, and
today they have active troops participating in the International Security
Assistance Force in Afghanistan. But where the Croatian government continues
to adopt political and economic reforms that were necessary for EU accession,
Albania’s progress has been stalled by a political impasse, allegations of
government corruption and election irregularities. The transformation in the
former meant that Croatia was invited to join the EU last year, while the
council postponed offering Albania candidate status.
It’s important to keep this limited capacity in mind as we move forward. NATO
membership may soon be granted to several countries that have met, or are
working to meet, the criteria. But we should be aware that those reforms are
limited, compared to the transformation that the EU requires. Moreover, once
countries become members, the opportunity to resolve internal and external
problems diminishes substantially.
Indeed, NATO and the EU have run into the same problems in many of the
countries in the region. And since NATO has fewer tools at its disposal, the
EU is seen as the leader in transforming the region, especially when it comes
to bilateral issues. The events of the last few months highlight the problems
facing the international community.
In Kosovo, NATO returned to its former role as the first responder after
barricades were erected in the north. Although NATO had planned to further
reduce its troops in Kosovo by the end of 2011, this reduction was postponed
due to the violence that broke out. The violent reaction to protests by
Kosovar police that took place last weekend does not inspire confidence that
local police will be able to take over from NATO anytime soon. Meanwhile, the
EU-led delegations between Priština and Belgrade have been slow but relatively
fruitful, especially since the EU has the power to bring Serbia to the table
with the carrot of candidate status.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it took 14 months to form a government, which
stalled the progress towards meeting the final requirement for activating the
Membership Action Plan. During this period, NATO officers could do little
aside from conducting an audit of the defense property. It remains to be seen
how long it will take for the entities to muster the political will to transfer
state and defense property to the government. Even if this is done relatively
quickly, the country’s constitution, as well as the continued presence of the
Office of the High Representative, challenges democratic credentials. NATO
enlargement, therefore, cannot replace EU enlargement, but both must be
elements of a larger, coordinated policy between the American and European
Another observation of the working group is that, because integration into
European institutions is an elite-driven process, it is left to politicians in
the region to explain the accession process to their constituents. In some
cases, politicians have created narratives in which conditionality is seen as
blackmail, or that meeting conditions undermines national interests.
This is most notably the case in Macedonia, where Greece is blamed for the lack
of progress in both EU and NATO accession. The fact that the International
Court of Justice recently ruled in Macedonia’s favor would seem to be further
evidence to support the claim. However, the European Commission’s recent
progress report identifies a series of worrisome political trends in the
country, which require us to question whether the country is moving in the
direction of building a consolidated democracy. Albania’s admission to NATO
might serve as an example here.
If the United States wants to see effective democratic institutions and an
effective cooperation between ethnic groups in Macedonia, there may be good
reason to wait for an agreement with Greece, since an agreement would offer
evidence that Macedonia’s leaders have put their undemocratic, ethnonationalist
aims behind them. At the same time, the United States ought to put more
pressure on Greece to participate in finding a workable solution.
In Serbia, the process of European integration is broadly seen as trading
national interests for economic development. The public is, understandably,
even less sympathetic towards NATO. It is therefore important for the United
States and its partners to engage with civil society organizations in Serbia
and throughout the region, as a way to offer a different narrative about the EU
and NATO accession processes, and in order to support local NGOs that are
making demands on their governments which are in line with EU and NATO
conditions. Direct communication with civil society will help to maintain
support for reforms, even with a protracted accession process.
Direct engagement with the public will also diminish another problem that was
identified by the working group: that the primacy of the EU and NATO accession
policy is seen as evidence that America is pulling out from the region. The
U.S., therefore, should be more visible in public debates about Euro-Atlantic
integration. We ought to show that the EU and NATO integration are linked, and
that we are putting our weight behind this process. Our involvement with civil
society should aim at increasing the authenticity of international conditions,
showing that the conditions are legitimate and necessary, and that they do not
compete with national interests.
With the cooperation of our partners in Europe, we can work on developing
policies similar to the successful visa liberalization strategy, which combined
conditions with clear and immediate rewards. We might consider what more could
be done through the Adriatic Charter or the National Guard State Partnership
Program to create additional engagement between the United States and the
countries of the region. Adding additional programs will reinforce the message
that the transformative process of the integration is the prize, not just
membership. Thank you very much.
REP. SMITH: Thank you for your testimony.
IVAN VEJVODA: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for
your leadership of this Commission, keeping the Balkans on the agenda of the
Commission and of the international agenda. Given the burning issues elsewhere
in the world, and given the progressive stabilization and reinforcement of
peace in the region, it is easy to forget that we have not come to harbor yet.
And thus efforts by both the United States and the European Union are required
to help this region achieve its ultimate goal of full peace and stability in a
Europe whole, free, and at peace and democratic. So it is most timely that,
with the approaching NATO summit in Chicago, you are addressing these issues.
Let me just for a moment go to the wider Balkans, if I can put it that way, and
remind ourselves that the story of NATO begins with the accession of Greece and
Turkey in 1952. And then with a long gap of the Cold War, the accession of
Romania and Bulgaria in 2004 has been very important – important in the sense
that it has encircled positively the region that we’re talking about, the
Western Balkans. And I call this region the “inner courtyard” of both the
European Union and NATO. And that in itself, I think, has been a stabilizing
The fact that Albania and Croatia have joined recently at the Strasbourg-Kehl
summit in 2009 has been very significant for this final part of integration. I
would like to remind us that Croatia, in four days’ time, is voting in a
referendum on its accession to the European Union. This will be an extremely
important signal to all the countries of this region that the merit-based
approach on democratic and market reforms, if accomplished, is rewarded by
joining these institutions.
And that in itself is very significant, both for NATO enlargement, because
there is a system of communicating vessels here. This is a tightly knit region
that used to, most of its part, form the part of former Yugoslavia. There are
strong bonds, irrespective of what happened in the ‘90s, and there is an effect
of the Joneses – what the Joneses do is also followed by the other neighbors.
And so Croatia, being the locomotive of this mini-train moving forward, has a
pulling effect. And I would submit to you, Mr. Chairman, that the fact that
Bosnia has managed to put a government together just a few weeks ago is the
result, in fact, of this accession process moving forward, and of Serbia
possibly getting candidacy to the European Union in March. And so it’s very
important, as we discuss the individual countries, to look at how the region is
progressing as a whole. And I will come back to that a little later.
I would also like to mention that it is important to look at the relations
between the European Union and NATO itself. And I think much can be done to
advocate a closening of the gap between these two organizations, even though
there are contexts – the fact that Turkey does not recognize Cyprus is an
impeding element in the closer relations and the closer joint activities of
these two paramount organizations.
But Euro-Atlantic integration also means the steady integration into other
institutions that we mention less, and I would like to applaud the entry of
Montenegro into the World Trade Organization in December. Serbia has not yet
achieved that – Kosovo neither – and I think that we have to look at those
other parts of that broader Euro-Atlantic framework, of which, of course, NATO
and the EU are the spine.
I would like to mention, along with my colleagues, the importance of civil
society in these activities. The fact that we have a number of think tanks and
NGOs – not only the Atlantic councils or the Atlantic associations – that are
endeavoring to pursue this effort has been important for helping these
countries move forward. The diversity of relations that exist regionally
between the NGOs I think has spurred on also the state military security and
other institutional levels.
And in this regard, the Regional Cooperation Council based in Sarajevo has done
– and particularly in the past two years – very much to bring these
institutions together. Most notably, again, over the past two months, the
intelligence chiefs of the militaries of the region have met. The defense
ministers meet regularly within their cooperation process. And at NATO
Brussels, the Southeast European countries have their organization, which in
fact will be chaired by Serbia’s head of delegation during the year 2012.
This is maybe the granular view, but I think it’s important when we consider
how the movement, often slow and sometimes frustrating for those of us who are
from the region, nonetheless advances. And thus if we look back to 2000 – the
year of the demise of the Miloševi? regime through a peaceful electoral change
– and we look where we are today in January 2012, we see this progressive chart
that we have witnessed over the years, in spite of the slides, ebbs and flows
in some of these developments.
That is to say that the positive incitement – again, on a merit-based approach
– to advance to these countries is extremely important. And thus I would
concur with my esteemed colleagues that to pursue NATO’s membership in NATO,
possibly already at the Chicago summit, would be very important. The fact that
Macedonia didn’t become a member in 2009 was detrimental to the process of
further stabilization of the region. It would have been a very strong signal
to the country itself, but to the rest of us who are in that region.
Montenegro also has made significant advances, and I would also project that,
now that Bosnia has a government – or will have it in a few weeks’ time – will
also move to the resolution of the property issue that has been a major
obstacle to the implementation of the Membership Action Plan. And thus, this
progressive movement indicates the political willingness of the region to move
Serbia, of course, is an outlier, as Dan Serwer said, because of the history of
the conflict between NATO and Serbia, then called the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia. Nonetheless – even though this state of neutrality that was voted
in by the Serbian parliament in 2006 has said, for the moment, no to membership
– on all other fronts there has been significant advance, especially with the
individual plan of Serbia moving forward, and of course of the full mission
that is present there.
The relations – and in particular the situation in Kosovo – I think have been a
wake-up call in July. But I would say that all actors, including Priština and
Belgrade and the international actors, have realized that we were all on a
razor’s edge during the past summer and into the early autumn. And everyone
has taken a much more moderate position and followed the dialogue through, and
the dialogue between the two will be pursued in the coming days. In fact,
Robert Cooper, the EU facilitator, will be in the region in the coming days to
move it to the next step, and hopefully the actors will find it in themselves
to find a compromise on the particular issue of Kosovo’s participation in
I would also mention that the role of women in security is an extremely
important part of this broader NATO integration framework. And the UN Security
Council 1325 has spurred a number of countries in the region to develop nation
– national action plans, which also contribute to the strengthening of regional
I would just like to correct my colleague Dan Serwer; Serbia is not
participating in Afghanistan in the ISAF mission. All other countries of the
region are participating, although there was an offer under the Prime Minster,
Mirko Cvetkovi?, for that participation that never materialized.
I would like to end these brief remarks quoting a renowned social scientist,
Albert Hischman, who in a seminal book entitled “The Passions and the
Interests”, I would say that if we were to summarize, the region has been
moving from ethnonationalist passion to interest without losing passion for
Euro-Atlantic integration. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Vejvoda, thank you very much for your testimony. All three of
you, thank you. Let me just begin the questioning first. Dr. Serwer mentioned
that Macedonia has done yeoman’s work and really should be invited to join
NATO. I wonder if our two distinguished witnesses here in Washington agree
MS. GELAZIS: I think that it should definitely be invited, but I think that
there is a very large hurdle with its relationships with Greece obviously and
that I think after enlargement, the international community will lose some of
its leverage over trying to bring about a workable solution. We should keep
that in mind.
I personally would not block any country from joining NATO, and I think NATO
enlargement is certainly a benefit to everyone. But I think that we should
also consider what our abilities to effect change will be after enlargement is
REP. SMITH: OK.
MR. VEJVODA: I would like to add that here we see the negative results of
keeping a country from moving forward, even in spite of the merits of its
reforms. I would like to remind you that Macedonia was given candidate status
to the European Union in 2005, and that NATO in Bucharest agreed that Macedonia
had met all the requirements. The fact that it not – did not move forward into
negotiations for accession to the European Union, for example in 2006, or did
not get membership, has unfortunately used certain populist politics that have
not helped the democratic reform process.
And thus anything that can be done to encourage our Macedonian and Greek
friends to find that difficult compromise, that difficult middle ground – and
of course we all know how difficult symbolic and identity politics are; they’re
probably the deepest issues – and names in particular – what’s in a name, one
would say – but we see how detrimental that has been to the region. So I would
encourage a decision to move Macedonia forward because it will help the – what
is at heart to all of us, and that is to further stability and peace in the
REP. SMITH: Ms. Gelazis, you indicated – and you just did it again in your
statement – that perhaps after enlargement, after being accepted, the process
of reform slows or comes to a halt. On the economic front that has always been
the case, at least when it regards to human rights, in my opinion. Even when
China was accepted into WTO and we granted MFN, not only did human rights or
any progress towards human rights cease, they went into a very serious
reversal. And the same thing happened most recently with Vietnam. When the
bilateral agreement was agreed to, that very day there was a reversal, and Bloc
8406 -- which was patterned after Charter 77, the great human rights
organization founded by Vaclav Havel and others -- went into immediate reversal
in Vietnam as soon as the economic benefit was gleaned.
But my question is, does that also hold true with the dynamic responsibilities
that are inherent in joining a military organization, like NATO, where the
military needs to increase its conformity, I would think, to doctrine and to
command and control and all the other aspects that is required? Unlike in an
economic situation and the human rights linkage, it would seem that the
military component here, joining NATO, leads to more progress. And I’m
wondering how our other colleagues or witnesses might feel about that.
And I would ask you if you could, in your answer, with Albania and Croatia
having joined in 2009, did the rate of progress continue with them once they
had achieved NATO membership?
MR. SERWER: I think the progress often slows. Nevertheless, I think that,
as Ivan has suggested, to hold people artificially out of the alliance also
causes retrograde political movements, which has certainly happened to some
degree in Macedonia. But as I indicated, I don’t think it’s serious enough to
continue to block them from NATO membership – in fact, quite to the contrary.
I think getting them in now is really very important.
Croatia, as you know, is under pressure to do an enormous array of reforms as
part of its EU membership process. So I don’t think it has slowed much since
membership in NATO. Albania is a very difficult political environment. I’ve
never quite understood what makes it quite as difficult as it is, as it doesn’t
have the kind of ethnic differences that have made for problems in the other
Balkans countries. But it is a fact that Albania has struggled to meet
democratic norms even after membership in NATO.
Mr. Chairman, I should apologize. I trust Ivan is correct, that Serbia did not
deploy in Afghanistan. I’m not sure how that error got into my text, but I’m
sorry for it. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Would you like to respond?
MR. VEJVODA: Yeah, I’d like to add a few words on Albania. I think we must
really acknowledge, in answering this question, that Albania had a much more
difficult starting point than any other country in the post-communist world.
This was, to coin a phrase, a totally totalitarian country, under Enver Hoxha,
And simply the institutional basis from which they began was minus-a-hundred
compared to all other countries. Former Yugoslavia was very much plugged into
the West, had open borders, people working in Europe, constant contacts –
academic, institutional – was a member of the IMF, World Bank, et cetera. And
thus I think what we’re seeing today is in fact part of that negative legacy of
the starting point. And there have been Herculean efforts on the part of
Albanian democrats to move forward, but simply without wanting to be
deterministic or, you know, following Montesquieu-climate and geography, still
I think one has to have strategic patience but also encourage Albanian
colleagues and democrats to overcome the differences that have created
obstacles and actually further developing institutional stability.
Croatia is simply in a different environment, and they have had to address
difficult issues. And in fact, the EU is still monitoring them in this time up
to the actual accession moment, which will be in July 2013, in particular on
the issue of the judiciary.
REP. SMITH: Part of the reason for the question is that things like MFN did
not lead to the reforms that we expected, but can we expect that an early or at
least a timely acceptance into NATO could actually accelerate those reforms,
MS. GELAZIS: I think it’s important to look at the policy options before us
not simply as a switch between whether or not we give or don’t grant NATO
accession. I think there are many policy options that are available to us if
we think creatively about the associations that we already have with these
countries, if we think creatively about the different international
institutions that are active on the ground in countries like Macedonia and
Albania, and we think of ways that we can work with our partners in Europe to
build programs that are parallel towards on the track, towards NATO accession.
I think that gives us more leeway in terms of crafting a specific policy that’s
geared to the very unique issues that each of these countries confronts. So
that’s something I think we should keep in mind. Whether or not progress slows
is, I think, dependent also on how we deal with these countries on a day-to-day
basis and the relationships that we create for the long run.
REP. SMITH: I have some additional questions, but I understand that Chairman
Turner needs to leave, so I’d like to yield to him.
REP. TURNER: Mr. Chairman, thank you so much, and I want to again thank you
for focusing on this issue and this area. The Balkans are, as we look to both
the written testimony and the great participation of the testimony that we have
here, have a number of complex issues that require a very thoughtful approach.
And in that I’d like to address part of that in my question.
You know, my concern as we look to what happened after the Dayton peace accords
with this area and with Bosnia , I think as we look into the structure of the
government in Bosnia, the tri-presidency, the constitution that’s there, we’re
all thankful that they have now been able to form a government after the period
- I think you had indicated 14 months in your testimony - that had been where
people were concerned as to if the parties were going to be able to come
together. We have Croatia and Serbia and perhaps even Montenegro developing
economically and looking elsewhere, with Bosnia at their backyard, but not
really being a top priority for either Croatia, Serbia or other neighbors for
My concern is that Bosnia- Herzegovina is getting neglected in its resolution.
If we look to NATO as an incentive or the EU as an incentive, we still might be
locked in sort of a stasis with Bosnia. I believe that you referenced in your
testimony that the constitution was ungovernable. I believe that even beyond
just using NATO as an incentive or a carrot or even a progressive to-do list to
assess what the parties in the Balkans need to do to transition toward
integration into NATO and Europe, that there needs to be some more active U.S.
efforts to try to resolve what really are the collective disintegration of the
Yugoslavia issues. I think each of the parties look almost to their neighbor
and say, well, when Kosovo’s resolved, we’ll resolve the Republika Srpska; when
Macedonia and its name is resolved, then, you know, perhaps we’ll resolve the
issue of what we’re going to do with other areas of conflict or controversy.
So looking even beyond the issue of Chicago and recognizing in all your
testimony you say Bosnia is not ready to move, what do we need to do? How do
we, the United States, need to be more active to ensure that NATO can be a
realistic goal, ultimately, for Bosnia, recognizing from all of your testimony
that it’s clearly not there now?
I think we begin with Ivan.
MR. VEJVODA: Thank you, Congressman Turner. To put it in a nutshell, I think
Bosnia will move, but it will be the last and the slowest. And that’s a
Again, within the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia has probably the most difficult
legacy, and it is different than all the other former republics of Yugoslavia
in that it was a kind of mini triune country where Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks
have, over the decades, under the previous empires, had a complex arrangement
of power shareholding, consociationalism. And Dayton and the Dayton
constitution of Bosnia was not plucked out of the air. It is based on that
very complex history. And of course, that is what makes it very difficult to
But I think that the example that I mention of the government suddenly being
formed when nobody really expected it after more than 14 months, or the other
example that Bosnia was able to follow the road map to visa-free liberalization
after Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia got it more than two years ago, suddenly
Bosnia realized that it was falling behind, and the politicians had no qualms
about kicking their administrations into gear to do what those previous
countries had done. This is not such a small example of this pulling effect
that the region has on Bosnia. I think it’s very important that Croatia and
Serbia and Montenegro as neighbors of Bosnia and Herzegovina, irrespective what
one may think, but in general are trying to have a constructive approach in
that they all repeat the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Could they do more? Yes, of course they could. And I think with
the new government in Zagreb that has just been inducted, and the good
relations that they have with Serbia, I think more will be done after we come
out of the Serbia, elections.
But the European Union definitely, as the slow-moving juggernaut, should also
be doing more with the support of the United States. And I think that there’s
more than meets the eye. Let me say just one more thing. The trade and the
mutual dependency on trade of each of these countries is much bigger than they
thought. And these countries, and Bosnia in particular, realized this as the
global economic crisis came on. They are completely dependent, and most of
the intraregional trade actually goes between the three of them. So without
each other, they could not economically survive, even in these adverse
MS. GELAZIS: I agree with Ivan, that we should look to the successful examples
in Bosnia for a clue to how to unlock the seemingly impossible political
deadlock there. And visa liberalization and in forming the government
recently, we see that the politicians were motivated by totally rational
motivators. In order to have a budget for this year, they needed to form a
government before December 31st. So, you know, people, politicians in the
region and especially in Bosnia respond to the incentives that are put before
them. So we should think about those incentives as we continue to target
specific sectors for our reforms there.
Even though we want to see progress in the region, we should realize that NGOs
on the ground, grassroots movements that are fully in support of EU and NATO
enlargement, have been using NATO and EU criteria to hold their representatives
to account. So if the international community gives them a free pass, we’re
undermining the work that is being done to create democracy from the grass
roots, and we should keep in that in mind that it’s a trade-off when we give
progress to a country without having them actually fulfilled the criteria. We
should feel a greater responsibility to the people on the ground in the NGO
community, in the grassroots political development, and make sure that those
interests are being met too, and not just in the interests of the political
MR. SERWER: Might I add?
REP. TURNER: Yes, please do.
MR. SERWER: I think the heart of the matter in Bosnia is constitutional
reform. And I don’t think there will be constitutional reform unless the
European Union insists on it. The Americans have conducted initiative after
initiative in this area, and frankly, we failed. But the EU has the leverage
to succeed, and we should be working with them to make sure that they use that
I would add that I think that Serbia in particular could do more to be helpful
inside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Dodik is
part of the problem inside Bosnia. He’s taken a very nationalist tack in which
he is really trying to dismantle the state institutions as much as he is
permitted to do. It really is up to Belgrade to tell him that he has gone too
REP. TURNER: Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this very important
REP. SMITH: I thank you, Chairman Turner. Mr. Aderholt?
REPRESENATIVE ROBERT ADERHOLT (R-AL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to
follow up on Chairman Smith’s question a little bit earlier about Albania and
Croatia and their joining the NATO. And as a follow-up question, has the NATO
membership in Albania and Croatia influenced their subsequent political
MS. GELAZIS: I think that it was seen as evidence that the international
community does want to embrace the Western Balkans, that the idea that the
Western Balkans will be part of Europe and take institutions is not just a
dream, not just sort of on paper but that it – that it really will happen. I
think it was an important signal not only to the Croats and the Croatians and
the Albanians but also to the rest – for the people of the rest of the region,
that this sort of merit-based progress is open to all of them. And in that
sense, there – that certainly helped. I think because of the historical legacy
in Albania, progress was a bit more slow. There – and in Croatia, they were
able to muster support or to make sure that that created a momentum for
adopting EU reforms as well.
But there is certainly a positive impact that simply being a member can make,
but because there aren’t democratic processes that are involved with being in
NATO, there is a sort of limited impact that actually being a NATO member can
make on democratic reforms on a day-to-day basis. But the spirit of it, the
spirit of openness, the spirit of membership is certainly an important factor.
REP. ADERHOLT: Just as a follow-up, can Croatia and Albania have a role in
moving other countries forward?
MS. GELAZIS: They should. I think that through the Adriatic Charter, there is
an opportunity to help. I think Croatia has already taken a role in sharing
documents with the EU and with NATO enlargement, helping its neighbors figure
out the complex legal structures. And they ought to be encouraged, especially
since they are in, to help show the path to their neighbors. This sort of
spirit of cooperation was certainly alive with the Vilnius group in previous
enlargements to NATO, where part of the process of becoming a member state of
NATO was showing that this region was able to cooperate with each other. And
so it wouldn’t be a burden, they wouldn’t just be adding new members that
couldn’t or didn’t know how to cooperate. So that sort of process in the
western Balkans would be very welcome, and I think there are current
institutions that could be used more readily to achieve those goals.
MR. VEJVODA: You know, I would concur with that opinion. Definitely it was a
very positive signal to the whole region. Again, repeating what I said at the
beginning, the European and NATO enlargement truly go hand-in-hand, and NATO
accession – again, with the exception of Serbia – is seen as a very significant
step in the direction of full completion of democratic reforms.
I would add also that having the militaries and their intelligence services at
the table of NATO is a very important stabilizing element not only because it
reinforces the mechanisms of democratic control of the military and of the
intelligence and security services, but also because it imbues the hearts and
minds of those officers who are participating of the ways in which a democratic
political military organization such as NATO goes about its business so that
there’s an osmosis between the international or rather NATO-level and the
domestic level. And I think this in itself is a stabilizing element for the
domestic political arena. Croatia, both its previous and its recent current
government have, as Nida has mentioned, been very vocal in saying that they
will support all the integration processes of those countries south of them who
have not yet joined these institutions.
REP. ADERHOLT: Dr. Serwer. Go ahead.
MR. SERWER: I would just add this, that none of the problems with the, recent
members of NATO have to do with the involvement of the military in politics of
being outside civilian control. It is very important to recognize that there
is a whole category of problems that might have been imagined to exist, which
do not exist for these new NATO members. And I think that’s part of the
osmosis process that Ivan referred to, that these guys are all learning what
the role of the military is in the democratic society, and they are conforming
to that norm. And I think that’s a very, very important achievement.
REP. ADERHOLT: Let me just follow up, if I could, with just one more question.
What impact should the 2011 decision of the International Court of Justice
have on U.S. policy regarding Macedonia’s NATO bid?
MR. VEJVODA: Well, very briefly because we’ve, I think, discussed this: I
think it’s a very significant decision by this highest judicial institution of
the United Nations. And also the convincing vote of the judges, 15 to 1, I
think speaks to the seriousness of the way in which they adjudicated this case.
Simply, Greece was in breach of the agreement from the early 1990s and has
shown that it has been, in political terms, detrimental to what I think we’re
all seeking here, namely, the further stability and peace of this region that
went through a conflict in the 1990s. And thus, any further delay – and this
is for the policy of the United States and the European Union – any further
delay would be additionally detrimental and could be negative to the kind of
political dynamics that we have in the region and in the particular countries
Of course, one recognizes the difficulties that Greece has. It is on the front
pages of all the international media, and I think we can sympathize with the
plight of the Greek people. But nonetheless, leadership is about making
difficult decisions, and this one has been around for close to 20 years. And I
don’t think that in what is, in effect, without disrespecting microregion – and
we are all microcountries – Macedonia, 2 million Serbia the biggest in the
Western Balkans, 7 ½ million – that we need to look at the bigger picture. And
how does one survive in the world, even at the best of stages, but now
especially when there is a lack of foreign direct investments on which all of
these countries depend to have their economies produce jobs. The levels of
unemployment are very high throughout the region. And anything that could
better the image – and, in this case, this would be a very significant signal
to investors, let alone policymakers and governments – would be very positive.
And thus, hopefully, a sign could be given that would hearten Macedonia and the
region to move forward towards membership.
REP. ADERHOLT: Any other comments?
MS. GELAZIS: I think that the initial reaction to the ICJ decision from NATO
was that – I don’t remember exactly the quote – this doesn’t mean that it would
be automatic, Macedonia wouldn’t automatically be granted accession to NATO. I
think there have been many comments from meetings that I participated in that
say that – or people have said that many European countries and the EU
Commission have sort been hiding behind Greece’s blocking the progress of
Macedonia for and – for other reasons, that there are – that there are concerns
about the democratic consolidation in Macedonia. There are concerns about the
handling of the ethnic minorities and vulnerable persons that – and I think
with the ICJ decision, we may see some of these other concerns coming out as
well. This is a good thing because then we can address those concerns head-on.
We can end this idea that there is simply Greece as the only factor blocking
Macedonia. I think there are other things that on NGO community in Macedonia
is aware of, that human rights organizations have been tracking, that democracy
promotion organizations have been looking at that have to do with freedom of
the media, that have to do with judiciary, that have to do with the corruption.
And I think these are issues that need to be addressed. I think that, for the
United States government, this is an – the ICJ decision is an invitation to –
for us to engage even more strongly with Greece to work on a solution, to make
sure that this isn’t seen as the only – you know, the only issue that’s
hampering progress for Macedonia.
MR. SERWER: Mr. Chairman, let me be blunt. If there’s no change at all as a
result of the ICJ decision, you’re going to see bad things happening in
Macedonia. It’s a country in which both ethnic Macedonians and ethnic
Albanians want to see progress towards NATO, in which they have both taken
political risks for that. And they are both going to turn inward to their own
ethnic constituencies and towards more ethnic politics if nothing happens in
Chicago. It would be a big mistake, it seems to me. We’ve already seen the
negative impact of what happened at Bucharest. We shouldn’t repeat the same
mistake in Chicago. The United States has a strong role to play here in urging
Athens and Skopje either to come to a solution of the name before Chicago, or
agree to proceed with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the name of
the country for NATO purposes. Thank you.
REP. ADERHOLT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Engel?
REP. ENGEL: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank all
three witnesses – I – for excellent testimony, and I virtually agree with
everything they’ve said. And it’s very, very important that we focus on this –
on this region.
In my opening statement, I mentioned KFOR, the NATO Kosova force, and I said
that I am opposed to the further reduction of troops because there have been
provocations and some violence in the northern part of Kosova. And I even
think, again, that as our country removes forces from Iraq and the rest of
Europe, this would be a good time for the U.S. to shift to – by a moderate
amount, a few battalions – to the U.S. contingent in Kosova.
The NATO peacekeeping mission, the KFOR, has had to respond to provocations in
violence in north Mitrovica, in the northern part of Kosova. I’m wondering if
our witnesses could assess KFOR’s response. I happen to believe that we cannot
allow these things to fester and keep kicking the can down the road because
violence on both sides is just festering, and until we handle the problem, I
just think we run the risk of more violence. I strongly believe in the
territorial integrity of Kosova. I know there are some in Belgrade that would
like to partition Kosova and have the north be part of Belgrade, of Serbia.
But I don’t think that that’s something you can do or should be doing in the
Balkans. And I think that we need to very forcefully defend the territory of
Kosova and not allow these Serbian parallel institutions or other such things
to happen, or we’re going to continue, I fear, to see more violence as we did
this past weekend. So I’m wondering if our panelists could tell us how they
would assess KFOR’s response so far with the difficulties in the north of
MR. SERWER: I think it’s quite clear, Mr. Engel, that KFOR is close if not
beyond the limits of its capabilities in handling this situation in the north
right now. It appears that the situation south of the Ibar, as well, was not
well-handled over the weekend by the Kosovo police service. There are now
investigations that will be launched of the excessive use of force in that
situation. People use excessive force when they’re not well-trained and when
they’re not well-equipped and when they’re not – when they don’t have adequate
We are at the very limits of what KFOR can be reasonably expected to do. It
should not be drawn down any further. It needs to stay, if not be strengthened
a bit. And we need to work very hard with the European Union – this is I know
what our diplomats are doing – to resolve the question of the north. I believe
it can be resolved within the context of the Ahtisaari Plan, with any further
clarifications of the Ahtisaari Plan that are needed codified into new
implementation agreements. The diplomatic effort has to be a strong and
vigorous one. I know that the State Department and European Union agree with
that. But until it’s over, we have to keep KFOR at least at its present
MS. GELAZIS: In my testimony, I displayed a bit of disappointment that KFOR
wasn’t needed, and that the drawdown for KFOR was halted because of the
violence that we experienced – that we witnessed in the last few months. I’m
disappointed and I think a lot of European member states of NATO and the EU are
disappointed as well because it seems to indicate a trade-off. If we have KFOR
there, there’s a trade-off to our perception of the country’s readiness to
participate or to build institutions that can deal with conflict in a
nonviolent way. If the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo were going better –
if it were more inclusive or if there were institutions on the ground –
judicial institutions on the ground that could handle these differences, we
wouldn’t need a military presence.
And I think that’s the disappointment that I feel. It’s too bad that we still
need a KFOR there. But hopefully, with continued KFOR troops, with continued
engagement with both Serbia and with Kosovo, we can – we can see a day, you
know, not too – not too far in the future when conflicts between ethnic groups
can be resolved in other institutions.
MR. VEJVODA: Yeah, I can add that I think maintaining the level of KFOR
presence at the current number is – I think, is desirable. I think that the
expected drawdown from 5,000 to 2,000 would have been possible had we not had
the unwanted events that occurred in July. And I would say, again, looking at
the longer term, from 2000 onwards, that we have, in fact, progressed and the –
in – if I can put it in European historical terms, the fact that Pristina and
Belgrade have “sat down at a table,” if I can say so in quotations marks, only
three years after the declaration of independence is great European speed, when
you compare it to the Northern Irelands or other places where it took nine
years after the Good Friday Agreement for a provisional government to be
formed. And if you remember well, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness didn’t
even shake hands after nine years.
So I think that the Albanians and Serbs are doing quite well here, in these
European terms. And I think what we need to do and what the European Union is
doing, with the backing of the United States, is to facilitate that dialogue
and to try and move to the margins those who are impatient, on either side, to
see something that is undesirable. So I would say that the dialogue is
extremely important, and that KFOR needs to be there to secure and see that
this is moved forward. KFOR has played an incredibly important role to remind
us of the unfortunate March 2004 events, where it defended the Serbs against
attempts to expel them. It’s important in protecting the monasteries there.
But also, I would say, the fact that, in past six months, President Tadi? has
clearly indicated that partition is not a solution, that he and the Serbian
government understand this and that they are seeking a solution within what are
the recognized boundaries of Kosovo, even though Serbia clearly does not
recognize the independence of Kosovo, are heartening signals. His plan of four
elements of such a solution that was positively remarked on by the British
government just recently – the fact that the President Tadi? has also talked to
other leaders, again, is a sign of the political will, I would say, of both
And the fact that we have avoided major violence, not to say that there hasn’t
been violence, but that something that could have actually turned into
something much bigger is, again, a demonstration of restraint of both sides and
of KFOR itself and of EULEX – and positive because I think there’s been a
realization that all the good work that has brought us to this point, after all
these years, could have rolled back in one day. And I think that awareness,
given the European context, given the fact – and I would like to remind us that
NATO in Bosnia, that came in with thousands of troops, and in Kosovo, KFOR,
compared to in Iraq or in Afghanistan, has suffered next to no casualties or
minimal. And I would say, this mere fact of the positive acceptance of an
interposition force that was asked for in Bosnia or EU for now in Bosnia or
KFOR is an indication that these people and these societies want to move
forward. So KFOR, I think, is an integral element of that facilitation to move
REP. ENGEL: Well, thank you. I want to add that I think the sooner that the
powers that be in Belgrade understand that partition is not a possibility, the
sooner that we’ll have peace. Ultimately, if all countries are in the EU,
borders are not that significant. And I hope that Mr. Tadi? – you know, many
of us had high hopes for him when he first came in, and we’ve been disappointed
that he hasn’t – I realize it’s a difficult position, but that – I think that
the, in my estimation, the Serbian politicians ought to be talking truth to
their people. They do them a disservice by fudging the issue of Kosovo. I
think Kosova’s here to stay. And I – many countries are recognizing them.
And in fact, I just wanted to also mentioned that I helped to secure the
release of James Berisha, who has been flying around in a plane to different
countries to get them to recognize Kosova. He was held in prison in Eritrea,
and we’ve just gotten his release. So I just hope that can be done.
I have – I wanted to ask a Macedonia question, because I wanted to ask our
panelists the assessment of the degree of which the Ohrid Agreement, which
ended the 2001 conflict in Macedonia, is being implemented. In your – in your
opinion, has ethnic Albanians been integrated adequately into the government,
military, and police? Does this also benefit the integration of the Roma and
other minorities or make their situation more challenging? Are ethnic
divisions – Ms. Gelazis, you referred to that – a reason to worry about
Macedonia’s future development? Do we think a Macedonian accession to NATO
might help some progress in this regard?
MS. GELAZIS: I’d like to answer by tying this together with the visa
liberalization reform that the EU instituted. In a recent report, the
commission noted that there were some irregularities in the visas that were
given to – or the use of the visas in – from people coming from Macedonia and
from Serbia. And it was decided by the commission that the proper response
would be to use this opportunity to make sure that vulnerable people in those
countries are adequately protected, that they are integrated into their
societies. So that indicates, to me, that there is – they are not quite
meeting the standard that the EU would like to have, that people who are in
vulnerable groups in that region – in Macedonia feel compelled to seek redress
from the – from outside of the country. And I think that’s a problem.
The European Union and the NATO countries have had a lot of experience with
that. And I think none of the European countries that are in the EU or NATO
have completely homogeneous populations. That’s the place to look for answers.
That’s the place to look for solutions that can accommodate minorities living
in Macedonia. And I think that through the integration process, the Belgrade
Agreement will be implemented over time. But I think we can’t ignore some
problems that are coming up.
MR. VEJVODA: I think, as someone mentioned earlier, the very difficult
decisions of the leaderships of the two communities in Macedonia – ethnic
Macedonians and Albanians – after the 2001 conflict were extremely important as
a signaling to a willingness to not only continue to live together, but to
integrate more firmly – obviously easier said than done. And over the years I
think there’s been a significant accomplishment, especially in the fact that
coalition governments since then have always had parties of both the majority
and the minority ethnic group, and that places in the administration have been
fulfilled by ethnic Albanians. Surely more could have been done but, again,
this is a process and one needs to give time time so this is fully
accomplished. Again, here the fact that Macedonia didn’t begin negotiations
with the European Union, didn’t get membership, hasn’t been helpful to the
implementation of that agreement.
On the Roma, I think it’s a much broader issue. The Roma are probably the most
down-trodden minority throughout Europe. This is also the case in countries
who are members of the European Union further north, whether we’re talking
about the Czech Republic, Slovakia – I mean Serbia, all of these countries have
Roma minorities where much needs to be done. Obviously in dire economic
straits, they are the ones who then suffer most because there’s least
possibilities for a variety of social programs and inclusion.
But again, I think each of these countries, and thus including Macedonia, is
not only aware but realizes that the European Union and the U.S. are looking
very carefully at exactly the treatment of that minority which is suffering the
most. And that’s why it’s important that we always remember and remind
ourselves, as you did, Congressman Engle, of the Roma.
REP. SMITH: Dr. Serwer?
MR. SERWER: Mr. Chairman, I was in Macedonia last summer, and I found an odd
situation with respect to the Ohrid Agreement. I don’t think it would be
correct to say that it has been implemented in every one of its details. There
are shortcomings. And those shortcomings affect the Albanian community a
little bit more obviously than the Macedonian community. Nevertheless, the
Albanian community has enormous enthusiasm for the Ohrid Agreement, and the
Macedonian community has significantly less enthusiasm for it. They see it as
taking something away from them.
That kind of negative nationalist reaction would be greatly amplified if
Macedonia fails to make real progress towards NATO this year. The Macedonians
will feel a profound sense of disappointment and we’ve seen in the past how
they react to that. And then the ethnic Albanians react to the profound sense
of disappointment of the Macedonians by augmenting their ethnic nationalism.
We could head down a very negative spiral here.
The Ohrid Agreement has been a terrific step forward for Macedonia. It’s not
100 percent implemented, but it points in the right direction, and that’s a
direction we should keep Macedonia moving in.
REP. ENGEL: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I have one last question, and it
involves Albania. And I thought Mr. Vejvoda hit the nail on the head when he
said that Albania had the longest way to go given their history of 50 years of
oppression under the Hoxha regime. I was a big supporter of Albania being in
NATO. And I’m wondering if our panelists can comment on – do you think that
Albania’s being in NATO – their NATO membership helped limit the political
difficulties that we – that we saw there?
MR. VEJVODA: Absolutely. I think Dan Serwer mentioned that earlier, that we
sometimes fail to do – ask the “if” question. What if Albania had not been a
member of NATO? And I agree with him that probably we would have seen more
adverse dynamics politically in Albania.
The fact that it came within the NATO framework was extremely important to
limit undesirable political developments. And the fact that the military of
Albania are part of NATO and their security services as well has been a
positive limiting factor to that possible negative dynamics that sometimes
politicians and political parties are prone to when they are confronted with
difficult economic situations, such as this one.
MS. GELAZIS: I agree that NATO – being in NATO has a positive impact.
Clearly, if NATO only accepts democracies and Albania is in NATO, then it has
to be a democracy. If the opposition in Albania – if NGOs are criticizing the
government for being undemocratic, for not – for not holding open and fair
elections, the Albanian government is forced to prove its democratic
credentials. And in that sense it is – it is helpful that it has to have that
I think it also provides an opportunity for NATO and other member states within
NATO to ask those questions to the Albanian leadership as well. So being part
of a community can have that positive impact – as long as we all take advantage
REP. ENGEL: Dr. Serwer?
MR. SERWER: I have nothing to add at this point.
REP. ENGEL: OK. I just – thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think that – my opinion
is that things are moving in the right direction in Albania. And as a member
of NATO, I think that’s been a very positive effect on the country. Thank you,
REP. SMITH: Thank you very much, Mr. Engel.
Let me just ask a few final questions. First, you know, again, following that
same line of reasoning that the NATO framework limits potentially negative
outcomes and a negative future, as you just pointed out with Albania, what is a
way forward for Bosnia? I’m very concerned.
You know, I’ve been working the Bosnia issue, if you will, for most of my time
in Congress, especially during the war there. We went there many times, held
hearings, we heard from people, you know, including the man that did the
translation when Milosevic and the Dutch peacekeepers met. He was there. He
lost his entire family.
You know, I mean, for this Commission, the Balkans has been a very serious and
almost a prime concern for years. And I am concerned that an opportunity could
evaporate or at least diminish with regards to Bosnia. 2006, the Partnership
for Peace was offered. 2010 of April, NATO invited Bosnia to join the
Membership Action Plan. And we know that the one hindrance, according to
Secretary General Rasmussen, is the issue of the military assets.
And maybe you could offer some insights as to how that might be furthered,
especially – and whether or not Republic of Srpska and all the different
entities are really on the same page with regards to joining NATO, publicly as
well as, more importantly, privately. Do they really want this all? And is
there still a way forward? If all of you could speak to that.
MR. VEJVODA: Well, I had a chance, Mr. Chairman –
REP. SMITH: Yes.
MR. VEJVODA: -- to speak to the deputy foreign minister of Bosnia Herzegovina,
Ms. Ana Triši?-Babi?, who is also the chairman of – or chairperson of their
national coordination NATO council, recently at a conference in Berlin in
December. And she – and she is from Republic of Srpska. She reassured me
about the overall intention of the country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of the
two entities, and thus of Republic of Srpska, to move forward because it was in
the interest, along the lines that we have just been mentioning on Albania and
Macedonia, that this would be a factor of stabilization overall of the polity
of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Also, when the early mentions of NATO membership was there, it was endorsed
also by Milorad Dodik from Republic of Srpska. We know that in some
subsequent declarations he has, you know, made his position more vague, but I
go by someone from his political environment, Ms. Triši?, when she says this a
month ago. And I know that there’s a possibility that she remain the deputy
foreign minister. And if that’s anything to go by, I think we will see a
development on this outstanding condition of the military property.
Now, again, it’s easy for us to say. We’ll see how the new government at the
central level will go about this. But if that visa process is anything to go
by, if the formation of this government, as Nida rightly alluded to, based on
rational decision making, in the interests of those politicians who are
incumbents and have been elected, thus possibly this positive move towards the
beginning of implementation of a Membership Action Plan can help them for their
own particular political interests, let alone the public good, which would
benefit from that.
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
MS. GELAZIS: I agree with Ivan. I would also add that the international
community’s work on – in Bosnia is, I hope, slowly cornering the leaders of
this nation to sort of do the right thing and adopt institutions that are truly
democratic, that will truly, you know, fit into Euro-Atlantic structures. For
instance, the European Court of Human Rights has had the ruling on the
Sejdic-Finci case which deems that the constitution is in fact undemocratic,
doesn’t follow human rights to the European standard.
And those – that decision, the Venice Commission assessment of the constitution
and other chapters of the constitution, the EU accession process, the NATO
accession process – all of these institutions and actors, and including the
United States, ought to sort of continue to corner the leaders of this country,
show where their interests are in line with making these – adopting these
And then engaging with civil society is an important factor as well, because I
think you’ll get much more support for international efforts – for
international efforts toward NATO accession to creating a government that
respond to the interest of the citizens. And that’s our – that should be our
partner in this initiative – in this – in this challenge.
MR. SMITH: Thank you.
MR. SERWER: Mr. Chairman, I’m more pessimistic than my colleagues are. I
think that the Milorad Dodik has made very clear his intention not to allow the
government in Sarajevo to have the kind of powers and authority that are
required of a NATO and EU member. He has talked about the possibility of
independence. He has made it absolutely clear that the courts of Republic of
Srpska should not be in any way beholden to the courts of the country as a
whole. He has really put forward a program which is one of maximum autonomy,
and that program is not consistent with NATO and EU membership. Until we solve
that problem – and that problem has to be solved, it seems to me, in revisions
to the constitution – until we solve the basic political framework, I’m afraid
that Bosnia is going to lag farther and farther behind everybody else. Solving
it is going to require a joint EU-U.S. effort, with the EU ready to use serious
leverage in order to get what we need to get for EU and NATO membership. Thank
REP. SMITH: Are we doing that now, the U.S. and the European Union? Are we
using any serious leverage vis-à-vis Bosnia?
MR. SERWER: The short answer is “no.” I don’t think we’re using the kind of
leverage that is needed to get real results. And that’s a result of a very
different attitude in Europe towards the use of leverage than there is in the
United States. You know, it’s very hard to borrow somebody else’s leverage,
but that’s what’s really needed here.
REP. SMITH: Let me ask you just a couple of – again, a couple of final
questions. In 2001, I asked the U.S. Department of Defense inspector general –
his name was Joseph Schmitz at the time – to undertake a global assessment of
the United States military’s complicity in human trafficking.
We had gotten reports – particularly out of South Korea – of U.S. service
members abusing Russian, Moldovan, Philippine and other women who were at
brothels, as well as indigenous South Koreans. And this situation in the
Balkans had manifested itself repeatedly, UN peacekeepers, UNMIK. We held
hearings; I chaired hearings where we talked about DynCorp and some of its
police who were complicit in trafficking.
To make a long story short, the report that the IG put together was
devastating. In response, George Bush issued a zero-tolerance policy. The
next year I traveled to – first to Athens and then to Brussels and met with
NATO leaders, top command leadership, and pushed a zero-tolerance policy. Most
were very open.
One particular admiral said: What will my sailors do when they offload in
Athens and want a good time? And it was a – not only was that very, I think,
foolish of him to say that; I had just been in two trafficking safe houses in
Athens and had met a number of women who had been rescued. And I asked him –
invited him in very strong terms to go visit those shelters and see what it is
that these individuals were doing to these women and exploiting them.
To make a long story short, as we all know, NATO does have a zero-tolerance
policy, just like the United Nations. But I’m wondering, you know – zero
tolerance sounds good but what does it mean in actual training? What does it
mean in terms of integration into NATO?
And my question to all three of you: Are the countries and their militaries
being – is there an effort being made to comport and conform with a very high
standard of zero tolerance for the exploitation, particularly of women and
children, by way of human trafficking? Is that actually happening with this
MR. VEJVODA: I think that, again, here NATO and the EU have very strict
requirements for the visa liberalization road map. This was one of the
requirements that a number of action plans not only be voted in, but that there
was implementation. This is concurrent, I would say, within the larger
framework of fighting organized crime.
And again, without painting a rosy picture, the level of coordination between,
for example, the countries of the region and their police forces, and, for
example, the DEA here on drug abuse, or the British serious organized crime
unit – has produced a number of results over the past two years, with important
capture not only of drugs but also of the criminals who are engaged in this.
And this of course is applied also to human trafficking and to women in
particular. And I know – and this is simply by following the news from the
region – that every now and then you do read about arrests of people who have
been engaged in all of these countries. And I think it’s obvious to say but
needs to be repeated: This can only be tackled at a transborder, regional
level with international institutions involved. Whichever they are, in their –
this is not something that a country by itself – a Montenegro or a Serbia or a
Kosovo – can deal with itself.
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
MS. GELAZIS: I commend you for your efforts on this very important issue. I
think that it’s one thing to have a country adopt a resolution, to have a
military, you know, add to its organization issues that protect vulnerable
people. But it’s a very, very different thing that we make sure people
implement these, and that these rules are being used.
In that regard, we need to make sure that there is adequate judicial reform,
that institutions in these countries offer victims remedies when these rules
get violated, which inevitably they do. In that sense we should continue our
focus on EU accession, which is hoping to push the negotiations on judicial
reform up in all of the – all of the future invitations for EU accession, so
that there’s a longer timespan to view and witness and to experience what the –
what the judiciary is doing in each of these member states. I think that’s a
vital element of any human rights policy, to make sure that the institutions
that provide remedies for victims are there and are used well.
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
MR. SERWER: Mr. Chairman, you asked a very specific question, whether zero
tolerance is being implemented adequately in these countries. And I confess
that I don’t know the answer to that question. So your asking it will prompt
me to be asking it, and I think that’s a good thing, and I hope you continue
asking it. I thank you for the question.
REP. SMITH: Well thank you, and I look forward to your response to it as soon
as you get some information, because it seems to me it’s a matter of
prioritization. If I have tried and failed – as a matter of fact, even when we
did the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, we had a
section that would have established an Assistant-Secretary-level person at the
Department of Defense to work trafficking, and have a real core of people to
work military-to-military, as well as within our own military, to try to
mitigate and hopefully end this barbaric activity known as human trafficking.
And we failed.
I have a bill pending right now that would do it again, because it seems to me,
military-to-military and, you know, that the generals and the colonels and
everybody else – the whole chain of command – will be much more apt to listen
when those best practices are shared among themselves rather than a lawmaker or
politician bringing it.
And again, I’ll never forget that meeting at NATO headquarters when, in a very
dismissive tone, some of the female officers were absolutely angered by this
man saying this. I was amazed that he had the imprudence to say what he was
thinking, but he did. But it showed a level of contempt for the sacredness of
those women’s lives, that they were just seen as someone – people that could be
exploited by his sailors.
Let me just ask you, my friend, a final question – and anything else you would
like to, any of you, add as we go to closure. Slavko ?uruvija, the great
journalist who sat right where both of you sit in the 1990s and testified, in
the opening days of the bombing campaign by the U.S. and by NATO he was gunned
down by Miloševi?’s henchmen – at least we believe that. I know you follow
Serbia very, very closely. Has anybody been brought forward to trial, or may
be brought to trial yet, with regards to his assassination?
MR. VEJVODA: Thank you for asking that question, Mr. Chairman. I had the
honor of knowing Mr. Slavko ?uruvija very well, and, in fact, I was then
working for the Open Society Institute when he went and embarked on the
independent newspaper. And we supported him financially at that moment. I was
in Belgrade also during the bombing – not a pleasant moment to be there, with
my family. And I was there and went to the scene where he was assassinated.
So it’s a very tragic story.
The unfortunate answer to your question is that no one has been brought to
justice, although we practically know the story inside out. It has been leaked
from the police, from security sources, of who the possible assassins were. It
is alleged with great certainty that this was ordered from the tops of the
regime by Miloševi? and his wife, as a kind of revenge for the fact that
?uruvija, who was close to them, then departed from them and embarked on a – on
a more liberal, democratic approach to his newspaper.
I am sorry to say that I do not understand why this is the case, it is – if
everything is more or less known, and the former partner of Mr. ?uruvija, who
lives in Belgrade today, has been alerted to these facts. I’m at a loss to
answer this question, and I’ll be as happy as you to find out when – apparently
the exact assassin has himself been assassined (ph), but it is very important
that this get closure through due process in a trial in Belgrade.
REP. SMITH: I appreciate that so very much. Would any of you like to conclude
or make any final comments before we conclude?
MR. VEJVODA: I would just like to add an obvious addition to your former
question, and that is that the role of civil society, NGOs, women’s
organizations, is extremely important in this combating of human trafficking –
women and children in particular. And I know from a number of examples in the
countries of the region that their cooperation with the police has been
improving over the past 10 years – because, again, the coordination there is
very important for sources of information for tracking individual women and
others as a way to reach those who are actually organizing this despicable
REP. SMITH: Well said.
MR. SERWER: Mr. Chairman, maybe I can just add that, since I sat at that table
with Slavko ?uruvija at the time of that testimony, I think the failure to
resolve that particular case is part of a broader failure of institutional
reform in the secret services in Serbia. I think that reform has progressed
much more in the military than it has in some of the shadowy-er services. And
I’m here in Belgrade today for a conference on dealing with the past, and I
will raise that question about ?uruvija at that conference and try to press the
issue. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Thank you so very much. And again, as on the other question, if
you find anything, please let us know, because this Commission has had two
witnesses over the years killed after testimony, one from Northern Ireland and
one from Belgrade. And, I know all of us, staff and members, feel a great
sense of concern, whether or not we actually put any further spotlight on that
individual that led to their killing. So we, too, want closure, and for the
person or persons who have committed these crimes to be held to account.
So thank you so much, all of you, for your exemplary work on behalf of human
rights and democracy and the rule of law, and for sharing those insights with
us today. The hearing is adjourned.