The Heritage Foundation

Backgrounder #820 on Europe

March 21, 1991

March 21, 1991 | Backgrounder on Europe

An American Response to the Balkan Revolutions


(Archived document, may contain errors)

820 March 29,1991 AN AMERICAN RESPONSE TO THE BALKANREVOL UTIONS INTRODUCllON The East European revolutions of 1989 swept away the communist regimes in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, and Poland, and replaced them with democratic governments. But not all the revolutions in Eastern Europe fared as well: As unrest in Yugoslavia now illustrates, democratic revolutions have not succeeded everywhere in Europe. In fact, throughout the southern part of East em Europe known as the Balkans the democratic revolutions are stalled. In Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Y u goslavia remnants of former communist regimes, though renamed and reorganized, remain entrenched. There the democratic forces are embattled and even on the defensive. The United States so far has not yet updated its poliq for dealing with the Balkans, It is time for the Bush Administration to do so.

Troublesome Region. Given the Balkans' lack of resources, relatively small population, and minimal military significance, the U.S. has no vital economic political, or security interests in the region. Historica lly, however, trouble in the Balkans has meant trouble for Europe k a whole. Obviously this was illustrated most dramatically in 1914, when the assassination of Austria's Archduke Fer dinand by a Serbian nationalist sent Europe spiraling toward war. The B a lkans remained unstable in the period between the two world wars, when the so-called 1 The term "Eastern Europe" has been used since the World War I1 to denote that area of Europe under Soviet control. Historically, however, the northern portion of that b loc Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, and Poland has been known as "Central Europe a term which recently has returned to common use in those countries. Geographically, the European republics of the Soviet Union constitute the actual "Eastern" Europe.

In addition to these countries, the geographic area known as the Balkans usually has included Greece and the 2 a European portion of Turkey L Note: Boundaw reDresantations are not neceararlrv authoritatkn HUNGARY Little Entente of Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia was created to resist any attempt by Hungary to recover Hungarian-populated areas in each of these countries taken from it in 19

19. The regions problems simmered just under the surface during the period of Soviet imperial rule after 1945, but now are re emerging as Soviet power collapses.Thus, while the Balkans themselves may not be critical to U.S. interests, stability in the area is important to upholding Americas long-term objective of securing peace and security throughout Europe By wo r king to ensure that democracy and free enterprise triumph in the Balkans the U.S. can help secure Europes future Legacy of Political Repression. The root of the regions many problems is its legacy of political repression. Even before the half-century of c o mmunist rule that is now ending, the Balkan countries had little experience with democratic self-determination or economic opportunity. Rising ethnic tensions add an addi tional element of instability. In Yugoslavia, for instance, rival republics Serbia a n d Croatia threaten to plunge the country into civil war. And in the ethnically Romanian republic of Moldavia in the Soviet Union, seized by Moscow in 1940, a democratically elected government is attempting to break free of Moscows con trol and reunite wit h Romania.

For the West, the path to stability for the Balkans lies not in supporting current regimes, but rather in assisting the stalled democratic revolutions and free market 2 reforms needed to integrate these countries into the West. In the dynamic an d often revolutionary political environment of the Balkans, stability cannot be un derstood narrowly as support for the status quo. Change is coming to the Balkans.

It can come mainly through peaceful and democratic processes, or through violent confronta tion between stubborn authoritarian regimes and the forces of change. Stability in the case of the Balkans entails the peaceful and democratic resolution of the regions many underlying disputes. While spreading democracy may not necessakily be the chief a im of U.S.foreignpolicy, inthe Balkans U.S support for democracy is compatible with U.S. interests.

America can assist in this process, but this is not a job for America alone.

Americas NATO alliesand other European states in fact, should be encouraged by Washington to take the lead in advancing Western interests in the Balkans. In this light, the unfinished revolutions in the Balkans present the U.S. with a chance to further another of its goals: reacquainting Europeans with their responsibility for upho l ding their continents security, and reducing the cost and scope of Americas own involvement in European affairs To achieve these objectives, the Bush Administration should 4 4 Condition U.S. economic assistance to the Balkan countries on their com mitment to democracy, market economies, respect for ethnic and religious minorities, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Each of the Balkan states faces an economic crisis and looks to America and its allies for economic assis tance This gives the U.S. and o ther Western powers considerable leverage to move the Balkan states toward economic and political reform.The Bush Ad ministration is requesting $470 million in assistance for Eastern Europe for fiscal 19

92. As a condition for receiving assistance, the Bal kan states must make progress toward democracy and such free market reforms as the privatization of state-owned companies 4 4 Offer to negotiate free trade agreements with Balkan countries that have elected democratic governments and begun conversion to a free market. Secure unrestricted access to the American market would help Balkan economies far more than would foreign aid loans and grants and would benefit American con sumers rather thp drain the U.S. treasury 4 4 Increase direct assistance to democrat i c forces in the Balkans.The Liberal Party in Romania, the Democratic Party in Albania, the democratic op position in Serbia, and other democratic forces remain under attack from com munist regimes. American. backing for these democrats, through organizati o ns like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED provides valuable psychological and material support. With few critical interests in the region Washington need not court current Balkan regimes. Rather, Washington should put them on notice that it intend s to support the full democratization of their countries Encourage West Europeans to join America and other Europeans in forg ing a front to promote democracy, economic reform, and stability in the Balkans 3 By coordinating economic and political policy to w ard the Balkans, the U.S. and European countries can exercise enormous leverage over the regions develop ment.The U.S. should summon NATO foreign ministers to meet With the foreign ministers of democratic East European countries to construct a common poli c y toward the Balkans 4 4 Make democratization, economic reform, and respect for ethnic and religious minorities preconditions, for lending by the. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD The EBRD, which begins operations next month will be t he Wests principal lending agency to Eastern Europe. Its loans -funded by the U.S. and other Western governments should support Western interests As such, aid should not be granted directly to Balkan govern ments, but to private organizations for training and technical assistance to aid the Balkans transition to free market economies 4 4 Use the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to spotlight the lack of democracy in the Balkans CSCE includes every European country but Albania, plus th e U.S. and Canada. In joining the organization, each country has agreed to have its human rights record examined in regular review conferences.The U.S. should use the CSCE to highlight the lack of democracy in the Balkans, and in so doing, pressure the gov e rnments there toward further reform. ministration and most West European governments oppose the break-up of Yugoslavia out of a fear of instability? This attitude probably is a relic of the Cold War era, when it was assumed, correctly, that a disintegrati n g Yugoslavia would be a tempting target for Moscow.Today, however, Yugoslavias integrity is of little strategic importance to the West. Even if stability inYugoslavia were in Western interests, it would not be achieved by the West backing the present regi m es coer cive attempts to hold the country together. Stability only can be established by the self-determination of Yugoslavias constituent republics, be it through complete independence or a renewed federation of democratic republics. Thus, the Bush Admin i stration should support the self-determination of the Yugoslav republics such as Croatia, so long as they achieve their aims with peaceful methods 4 4 Support self-determination for theYugoslav republics. The Bush Ad THE BALKANS FAILED REVOLUTIONS Althoug h the Balkan peoples can trace their history back thousands of years the regions modem history dates from the late 19th century, when the retreat of the Ottoman Empire led to the reemergence of independent Balkan states.

Having been cut off from the progre ss of European civilization during more than 3 While the Bush Administration publicly has said little about Yugoslavia, Heritage Foundation discussions with high-level State Department officials make clear that Bushs policy is to hold Yugoslavia together 4 three centuries of Ottoman rule, the countries of the Balkans suffered from dic tatorship, economic backwardness, and war. The situation barely improved after gaining independence from the Ottomans In the inter-war period from 1918 to 1939, the region su f fered from rule by home-grown dictators. World War 11 bought German and Italian occupation of Yugoslavia and German domination in Bulgaria and Romania. Driven out by the Red Army, the Nazis were replaced as rulers by the Soviets, who imposed or supported c ommunist regimes in each Balkan couxitry.'With the sudden cdllapse of SoGet conwol ib 1989, democracy and economic freedom for the first time looked real for the Balkans. Yet, in each country, democratic revolutions largely have been thwarted, and remnant s of the old communist regimes remain in power.

I Albania Albania has been one of Europe's most isolated countries since Europe's Great Powers created it from remnants of the Ottoman Empire in 1913.00 cupied by Fascist Italy in 1939, Albania emerged from W orld War II with a Stalinist government headed by Enver Hoxha, who ruled until his death in 19

85. His brutal reign was charac terized by a largely successful effort to sever Albania's contacts with the rest of the world. Hoxha's regime practiced near-tot al diplomatic isolation and banned virtually all foreign trade. Al bania was the only European country that did not join the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE first convened in 1976.

Hoxha's successor, Ramiz Alia, undertook a few mino r political and economic reforms, such as allowing small-scale private commerce in some handicrafts. He also established diplomatic relations with selected countries, the most important being West Germany and the Soviet Union. Albania and the U.S. restore d diplomatic relations on March 15,1991, after a break of 52 years.

Unprecedented Concession. The regime continued to maintain a tight grip on the population right through the East European revolutions of 19

89. But a stag nant economy and rising disconte nt gradually have placed the communist regime on the defensive. Several thousand Albanians occupied foreign embassies in July 1990 in the Albanian capital of Tirana, demanding the right to emigrate. In an un precedented concession by the regime, permissio n to leave the country was granted after weeks of a tense stand-off. Cautious economic reforms followed such as allowing limited private retail trade in agricultural products. Political reforms also were enacted. Under growing pressure, Alia was forced to l egalize opposition political parties on December 11 and to schedule parliamentary elec I 5 ment of the elections to March 31 to allow themselves more time to organize The challenge to the reghe continues to mount.Thousands of students and others in Albani a s major cities took to the streets in February and March to demand the overthrow of Alias government. Statues of Hoxha throughout the countq .were.toppled during these demonstratioq and secfet police officials at tacked. Thousands of Albanians have fled a c ross the borders to Greece and Yugoslavia, while others have seized boats and demanded the right to leave for Italy. The government has responded by arresting hundreds and threatening protestors with prosecution as counter-revolutionaries, but its ability to contain the growing unrest is weakening. Echoing the failed tactics of the embattled East European regimes in 1989, Alia jettisoned some of the prominent hard-liners in his government on February 22 and replaced them with alleged reformers. As in Easte r n Europe in 1989, the tactic has failed to win him a reprieve from popular unrest as the protests have continued Bulgaria In contrast with the popular revolu tions that toppled communist regimes in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Poland in 1989, Bulgari a s communist leadership was ousted in a November 10,1989, coup led by other communist officials, possibly with Moscows knowledge and approval.The new government, led by former Foreign Minister Petar Mladenov, scheduled elections for a new parliament for Ju n e 10 and 17,1990: The com munists, now renamed the Socialist Party, were opposed by a collection of diverse groups ranging from leftist ecologists to American-style conservatives united under the banner of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF).The Socialis t s used their control of the government, all econo& enterprises, and the media to harass and campaign against the UDF.The elections were marred by widespread fraud, ballot box stuffing, and intimidation of UDF supporters, espe cially in the countryside. No t surprisingly, the Socialists won 211 seats in the new parliament to the UDFs 1

44. While the UDF swept the capital, Sofia, and the 4 5 Radio Free EuropeIRadio Liberty Rev on Eastern Europe, Volume 2, No. 6, February 8,1991.

Eledions in Eastern Europe generally take two days, with the second day for run-offs between the fust days leading vote-getters if none received an outright majority 6 other cities, the Socialists won the countryside, where Party control remained in place . The Socialists formed a government under Prime Minister Andrey hkanov, who also had been Prime Minister under the communist regime the Socialists, and instead began a campaign to oust President Mladenov and place former dictatorTodor Zhivkov on trial for c orruption and abuse of authority Increasingly .large and angq.public.demonstrations, centered in Sofia and led by students, protested the Socialists new dictatorship. During a demonstration in Sofia on August 26, the Socialist Party headquarters was storm e d and burned. Mladenov was forced to resign on July 6,1990, and was replaced by UDF leader Zhelyu Zhelev. Lukanov resigned on November 29 and was replaced on December 7 by Dimitur Popov, a former professor whose main qualification was that he had no party affiliation. Popov formed a coalition govern ment of the major parties, including the Socialists and the UDF, and pledged to undertake economic reform.

Popov introduced an economic reform package on January 23,1991, that freed prices on many commodities. Legislation has been introduced to break up collec tive farms and return their land to private farmers. More comprehensive reform such as the privatization of state-owned industries, will have to await new elec tions, probably in June!

Meanwhile, Bulgaria s economic problems have worsened. According to offi cial statistics, industrial production fell over 10 percent in 1990, and continues to plummet. Severe food and fuel shortages abound. Bulgarias foreign debt stands at $11 billion, and repayments have be en halted.

Romania Eastern Europes revolutions.

Romanias revolution began in the western city of Timisoara in Decem ber 19

89. It quickly spread to Bucharest, and by December 20 tens of thousands of Romanians were fighting in the streets. The Romanian se cret police -the Securitate mounted a fierce resistance for several days in support of President Nicolae Ceausescu. Hundreds died.

The fighting ended after Ceausescus execution on December 25,1989 Succession of Presidents. Democratic forces refused to for m a coalition with Romanias was the most violent of 6 Report on Eastern Europe, Volume 2, No. 8, February 22,1991 7 Renamed Communists. As in Bulgaria, the new regime was comprised largely of officials of the old dictatorship.The government scheduled elec t ions for May 20,1989, but simultaneously launched a campaign of intimidation by the secret police against such democratic organizations as the Liberal Party and the Agrarian Union. Stringent limits were placed on opposition activities and access to the me d ia. The regime engaged in vote-buying and outright electoral fraud, in cluding tampering with voting returns. The result: one of Ceausescus former top Micials,Ion ,Iliescu, was-elected President with =percent of the vote. The Na tional Salvation Front emb racing the former Communist Party, now renamed the Socialist Party, and its allies -won 75 percent of the seats in the Romanian parliament. Petre Roman, an engineer with close ties to the old regime, became Prime Minister.

Democratic parties and other refo rm groups, such as university student or ganizations, refused to accept the legitimacy of the elections and took to the streets.The regime reacted harshly. On June 13,1990, faced with continuing defiance, Iliescu trucked thousands of miners to Bucharest t o intimidate and at tack peaceful demonstrators.The next day, miners and Securitate agents pillaged the headquarters of several democratic parties. There were several deaths and hundreds were wounded severely. Iliescu publicly thanked the miners and began a n intense press campaign against democratic forces, labelling them fascists and counter-revolutionaries.d Iliescus actions were condemned by the West. In response to the attacks, the European Community delayed signing a trade agreement with Romania, and W e stern aid packages were halted.The U.S. delivered an important symbolic rebuke to the regime by boycotting Iliescus inauguration on June 25. But it was the only Western country to do so Near-Starvation. Despite victories against its opponents, Iliescus re g ime faces serious problems. By the time of his overthrow, Ceausescus Stalinist policies and mismanagement had reduced the Romanian population to a level of near starva tion. The present governments policies have provided little if any relief. Accord ing t o the regimes own statistics, industrial production fell by 28 percent in 1990 and exports were halved. Although it claims to be committed to the introduction of a free market economy, there has been little movement in this direction?

Despite the Iliescu g overnments intransigence, Western relations with Romania are improving. The European Community on October 22 signed its delayed trade pact with Romania And on January 30,1991, the U.S. and 23 other Western industrialized countries declared Romania eligibl e to participate in their economic development programs. However, the Council of Europe, an organiza 7 8 9 Report on Eastern Europe,Voll, No. 27, July 6,1990.

Report on Eastern Europe, Volume 2, No. 2, January 11,1991.

Report on Eastern Europe, Volume 2, No. 1, January 4,1991 8 tion established in 1948 to promote cooperation among European democracies has held Romania to a higher standard The Council rejected Romanias applica tion for membership on February 7,1990, ruling that the country did not yet meet the Councils standards for democracy, including fair elections and respect for human rights 1 Yugoslavia Yugoslavia was ,created in the aftermath of World War I when por tions of the defeated Austrian em pire were combined with the Kingdom of Serbia. Tens ions be tween the countrys many ethnic groups have been high from the start, especially relations between the dominant Serbs and other such ethnic groups as the Croatians and Slovenians.

Yugoslavia emerged from World War II, following four years of oc cupa tion by Nazi Germany and Fas cist Italy, with a communist government led by Josip BrozTito. When Soviet leader Joseph Stalin attempted unsuccessfully to removeTito from power in 1948 Yugoslavia became the first communist state to break with Moscow. Limite d political and economic reforms, such as greater freedom to travel and allowing small-scale private commercial activity, gave Yugoslavia a reputation as the most open of the East European communist states.The East European revolutions of 1989, however, le f t Yugoslavia far behind, a Communist dinosaur in a democratiz ing Europe Now the country is facing its greatest crisis since its founding as rival republics threaten to pull the country apart. Democratic reforms have been blocked by the hard-line communis t government of the dominant Yugoslav republic of Serbia which exercises considerable control over Yugoslavias weak central government.

Calling the shots is Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who has brought Yugoslavia to the brink of civil war by his attempts to dominate the country. Op posing him are the republics of Croatia and Slovenia, which have elected democratic governments and are determined to achieve greater autonomy and even independence. At present the ability of the central government to maintain control is rapidly waning, and the actions of the Yugoslav army remain unpre dictable The Roots of Yugoslavias Crisis. Yugoslavi a is a complex mosaic of ethnic political, and economic groups. Although 80 percent of the population is ethnical ly Slavic, it is divided into several distinct nationalities, of which the most impor 9 YUGOSLAV NATIONALITIES I Does not include Albanian pop u lation which is largely Muslim I tant are the Croatians, Serbians, and Slovenes. Other ethnic groups include Al banians, Hungarians, and Muslims.1o Reflecting this ethnic diversity, Yugoslavia is a federation of six relatively autonomous republics: Bosnia - Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro Serbia, and Slovenia. Although each major ethnic group is concentrated in its own republic the Serbs in Serbia, and the Slovenes in Slovenia, for example minorities are spread throughout Yugoslavia, and many are a s have mixed popula tions. Serbians, for example, make up 12 percent of the population of Croatia Bosnia-Herzegovina is 32 percent Serbian, 18 percent Croatian, and 40 percent Muslim. Two regions within Serbia Kosovo and Vojvodina have large Al banian and Hungarian populations, respectively.

Added to ethnic divisions among Yugoslav nationalities is a pronounced cul tural, economic, and religious divide between the northern republics of Slovenia and Croatia on the one hand and the republics to the south Bos nia-Her zegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia on the other.This division close ly follows the former boundary between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires which divided the territory of present-day Yugoslavia between them. The north em territories of Sl o venia and Croatia were ruled by Austria. Their development has been heavily influenced by European civilization.The southern provinces ruled by the Ottomans until the late 19th century, largely were isolated from European civilization. Religion also accen t uated these differences: the majority Roman Catholic faith of Slovenia and Croatia further tied these to the West 10 In Yugoslavia, the Muslim population, which is located primarily in the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, is classified as a separate nation a lity, although it is of Slavic origin and is Slavic-speaking.The mostly Muslim Albanian population constitutes its own ethnic group 10 while the Orthodox and Muslim faiths of the southern republics oriented these toward the East There are economic and pol i tical divisions as well. Slovenia and Croatia have the most advanced economies of Yugoslavia and enjoy per capita income levels up to seven times higher than those of the southern republics. While comprising only ten percent of Yugoslavias population, Slo v enias taxes finance twenty per- cent of the fededbudget Although the communist regime remains entrenched in Serbia, northernyugos lavia is moving quickly toward democracy. In Slovenia, the Democratic-United Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS) won 55 percent of the vote in the April 8 and 22,1990, elections and now controls the government. Socialist Party leader Milan Kucan was elected President with an overwhelming majority of the vote. Croatia held democratic elections on April 22 and May 6,1990, that brought to power a government led by former Yugoslav Army General Franjo Tudjman. Communists also were ejected from power in the November elections in the southern republics of Bosnia and Macedonia.

But in Serbia and Montenegro, Communist now Socialist -parties ha ve clung to power, partly through electoral means, partly through coercion. In Mon tenegro, Socialists took 70 percent of the seats in parliament in parliamentary elections on December 9 and

23. The Socialist regime in Serbia was victorious in elections held on December 9 and 23, winning 77 percent of the parliamentary vote and securing Milosevics election as president with 60 percent of the vote.

Milosevics election theme was popular the aggressive assertion of Serbian rights over those of other Yugosla v nationalities. Still, the Socialists were taking no chances.Their victory was ensured by a massive spending campaign, including vote-buying, which was financed by the Serbian government forcing Yugoslavias central bank secretly and illegally to transfer federal funds to it.

The Current Crisis. Yugoslavias internal crisis today is the result of Serbian President Milosevics campaign to assert Serbian and thereby his own dominance within Yugoslavia. Yugoslavias non-Serbian populations under standably feel t hreatened by Milosevics actions. Undeterred, Milosevic has made use of the widespread belief among Serbians that they, and not other ethnic groups, are the true victims of Yugoslavias federal structure.There is a widely held conviction among Serbians that , to eliminate opposition to his rule,Tito deliberately weakened Serbia after World War II by redrawing its borders to separate large numbers of Serbians and traditional Serbian lands from the republic.

Milosevic deftly has used this smoldering Serbian nat ionalism to preserve his hold on power, as well as to extend his influence throughout Yugoslavia. He has 11 New Yonk Zmes, January 16; 1991 11 portrayed himself as the champion of Serbia by reasserting central Serbian con trol over such minority areas as V ojvodina and Kosovo, and by calling for a redrawing of Serbias borders to include the Serbian-populated areas of the other republics, such as portions of Bosnia and Croatia as well as the entire republic of Montenegro This strategy has been demonstrated m o st clearly in Milosevics actions toward the .former autonomous. tepublic?of.Kosovo, which.is .a, region inside Serbian Although Kosovo constitutes the original heartland of the medieval Serbian kingdom, the fast-growing Albanian population there has reduc e d the Serbs to less than 10 percent of the total. Albanians claim persecution by the Serbian government. The Serbian government claims that, left unchecked, the Albanian population would detach Kosovo from Serbia. Milosevic has kept Serbias atten tion riv e ted on Kosovo by placing the region under martial law, sending in troops and inciting conflict between Albanians and Serbs. He eliminated Kosovos autonomous status within Serbia on July 5 Window on the Future. The violence in Kosovo could be a window on Y u goslavias future. In Croatia, Milosevic is backing the claims of the 600,000 strong Serbian minority 12 percent of Croatias population for autonomy or perhaps union with Serbia. This push for autonomy has generated increasing violence over the past year a s Serbs have clashed with Croatian police in the Ser bian areas of Croatia, especially around the city of Knin. Croatian President Tudjman blames the Serbian government for inciting violent incidents. He char ges that these incidents are intended to justif y armed intervention by the Yugoslav army and to force the removal of his government.3 Alarmed by Serbian ambitions and Milosevics intrusion into their affairs Croatia and neighboring Slovenia are trying to move toward greater autonomy and even independenc e. Tudjman declared on October 18 that his government no longer accepts Yugoslavias federal system and that Croatia is prepared to defend its sovereignty by force.

The Slovenian parliament amended the republics constitution on September 28,1990, to give Sl ovenian law precedence over federal law. It also declared con trol over Slovenias territorial defense.The federal government responded on 00 tober 4 by ordering the Yugoslav Army to occupy the headquarters of the Slovenian militia forces in the republics c apital, Ljubljana. Following the takeover, Slovenias parliament called a December 23,1990, plebiscite on inde pendence. In that, Slovenians voted by a nine-to-one margin to proceed toward 12 Formerly, two regions within Serbia Voj& and Kosovo- had the sta tus of autonomous republic which allowed for considerable control over their own affairs, especially in cultural matters. Both areas lost this status last year as part of Serbian President Milosevics campaign to reassert Serbian control.

U Reptt on Eastern Empe, Vol. 1, No. 39, September 28,1990 12 Full independence if Slovenia could not obtain greater autonomy from the federal povernment Militarys Warning. Moves by Slovenia and Croatia toward independence have brought repeated warnings from the Yugoslav a r med forces, 70 percent of whose officers are Serbian, that separation would be forcibly prevented In January, the Yugoslav government ordered Croatia to turn over to Belgrade the weapons of all.fillegal paramilitary. organizations in the republic by Janua r y 21 or face military intervention. Croatia refused to comply; Tudjman has stated that the real aim of the order is disarming the Republic of Croatia The tension of this stand off was further heightened when it was revealed that Croatia had purchased a la r ge number of rifles from Hungary in October 1990 Meanwhile, the governments of Croatia and Slovenia are pursuing a common plan, jointly adopted on October 5,1990, to restructure Yugoslavia into a loose confederation of sovereign states in which each repub l ic would have its own army and foreign policy. All negotiations with the Yugoslav government and the other republics have failed. The Serbian governments position is that any discussions on reforming the federation must lead-to a redrawing of frontiers be tween republics to transfer Serbian-populated areas to Serbia.

Even as Croatia and Slovenia de

Milosevics attempts to coerce them, the Ser bian regimes support within its own republic is crumbling.The largest demonstra tion in Serbias post-war history to ok place this March 9 in Belgrade when tens of thousands of demonstrators demanded the resignation of Milosevic and his government. The regime responded by forcibly dispersing the protestors, killing several and arresting hundreds. Among the detained was V uk Draskovic, leader of the largest opposition party. Faced with continuing massive demonstrations the Serbian government was forced to make several concessions, including releas ing Draskovic and others on March 12 and dismissing several hard-line offici a ls in the state-controlled media Resignation and Turmoil. These dramatic events were quickly overshadowed by other developments. Federal President Borisav Jovic resigned on March 15 reportedly over the refusal of his colleagues to support using the Yugosl a v army to enforce emergency rule. His resignation has severely eroded the already shrink ing authority of the federal government. Milosevic responded the next day by stat ing that Serbia no longer would recognize decisions taken by the central govern ment and by ordering the mobilization of the republics militia On the same day Serbs in Croatia proclaimed the separation of the Serbian Autonomous Region from Croatia and appealed to the Serbian government for support. Croatias 14 The details of this transact i on remain murky, including the size of the purchase, variously estimated between 10,000 and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. See Report on Eatem Eauup, Volume 2, Number 8, February 22 1991 13 President Tudjman declared that the events in Yugoslavia hav e reached a climax and placed the republics militia on alert status to repulse an armed intervention by Serbian or Yugoslav forces.15 President Jovic retracted his resignation on March 20, but this has not ended the crisis THE FRAGILE BALKANS The ethnic te n sions threatening to pill apart Yugoslavia are only the most visible of many disputes throughout the Balkans. Some ethnic problems are primarily internal matters; each of the Balkan countries has ethnic minorities and a history of persecution and intolera n ce. But several of these conflicts cross inter national borders, including those of the Soviet Union and NATO members Greece and Turkey Thus, they may be catalysts for wider turmoil, as they have been in the past. Among those ethnic tensions Greece and Al b ania. Albania has a large Greek minority, variously estimated to be between 60,000 and 300,000.16 Brutally repressed for decades, large numbers of ethnic Greeks have taken advantage of the relaxation of political controls in Al bania to cross illegally in t o Greece. Albania claims that Greece covets southern Albania, along the Greek border, where most of Albanias Greek minority lives Greece denies the charge Bulgaria and Turkey. Bulgarias large and rapidly growingTurkish minority, es timated to be between 6 0 0,000 and 1 million, suffered terribly under Bulgarias communist regime.The Bulgarian communists forbade the use of theTurkish lan guage and required ethnicTurks to take Bulgarian names. When these policies failed to assimilate BulgariasTurks, the communi s t government resorted to mass expulsions in the summer of 1989, pushing over 300,000 out before Turkey closed its border. Overt persecution against theTurkish minority ended with the over throw of the Bulgarian regime in November 1990, but even democratic forces in Bulgaria remain wary of cooperating politically with theTurkish minority Hungary and Romania. Romania is home to a two-million-strong Hungarian population, concentrated in the area of Transylvania on the border with Hungary.

Transylvania belonged to Hungary until 19

19. Hungarians in Romania were sub ject to severe repression by the Ceausescu regime and still face hostility from the present government.The Hungarian minority is likely to increase its demands for cultural autonomy and for closer t ies with Hungary, which the Romanian govern ment is likely to resist.17 15 RFE/RL Daily Re Number 54, March 18,1991 16 The extreme variation in estimates of the Size of minority populations in Albania and elsewhere in the Balkans is due to the lack of rel i able information often a result of government efforts to conceal the true size of their minorities as well as differences over definitions of which ethnic group a given population belongs in 17 Report on Eastern Europe, Volume 1, No. 52, December 28,1990 1 4 Moscow and Romania. A more dangerous dispute involving Romania is with the Soviet Republic of Moldavia, on Romanias northern border. Moldavia belonged to Romania until 1940, when it was seized by the Soviet Union. Some 70 percent of Moldavias population is ethnically Romanian. Moldavias par liamentary elections on March 25,1990, were won by nationalist forces pledged to secession from Moscow and reunion with Romania. Since then, the Moldavian government has adopted the Romanian flag and has expanded cult u ral links with Romania; During a Febniw 1990trip toRoda by Moldavian Prime Minister Mircea Snegur the first by a Moldavian official since the 1940 annexation -he on several occasions referred to Moldavians as Romanians. Romanias leaders repeatedly have ex p ressed their commitment to reunification. Rodan Prime Minister Roman stated on March 8 that Romania expects to regain the Mol davian territory taken from it by the USSR.ls Meanwhile, Moldavia has embarked on a full-fledged drive for independence from Mosc o w. The Moldavian government proclaimed the republics sovereignty on June 24,1990, and announced its intention to join the United Nations. It also has refused to take part in Soviet leaders Mikhail Gorbachevs campaign to negotiate a new UnionTreaty to rema k e the Soviet Union. But Moscow has shown no sign of allowing the republic to go its own way. Gorbachev ordered Mol davia in December 1990 to rescind any of its laws that contravene Soviet law, or face the removal of its government.The Moldavian government complied but refuses to abandon its goal of independence sible as links between Moldavia and Romania strengthen. Pro-Moldavian or ganizations in Romania have threatened to send volunteers to Moldavia to defend it a ainst Moscow, most recently in a demonst ration in Bucharest on March

9. The escalating confrontation between Romania and the Soviet Union has the potential to drag in other European powers and conceivably the U.S. His torically, Romanias strongest ties have been with France and Germany, and France has been attempting to re e stablish this relationship since Ceausescus overthrow. Assistance to Romania by these and other countries in the face of pressure or intervention by Moscow could magnify the conflict from a regional to an all-European one Romanian involvement in the strug g le between Moscow and Moldavia is pos l TOWARD A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF THE BALKAN CRISIS America has few direct interests in the Balkans. Instead, the regions impor tance is its potential impact on the rest of Europe. Such problems as the Romanian-Soviet codict over Moldavia and the Bulgarian-Turkish tensions are 18 RFE/RL Daiiy Rem, No. 49, March 11,1991 19 RFE/RL Duify RepH, No. 49, March 11,1991 15 especially important as they involve NATO and the Soviet Union. Stability in the Balkans therefore is an A merican interest America, too, has an interest in promoting democracy in the region. The strug gle by authoritarian regimes in the Balkans to retain their power is the greatest threat to the regions stability as seen most clearly in Yugoslavia. Support fo r the status quo -which in the Balkans means support for authoritarian regimes -will result infurther unrest and not.the stability the West seeks. Says Bulgarian Presi dent Zhelyu Zhelev: it is in the Wests interests to support democracy in the area and th e reby Europeanize the Balkans, instead of Balkanizing Europe.20 The situation in the Balkans gives the Bush Administration an opportunity to achieve what should be one of its most important goals: encouraging European countries to take more responsibility f or the stability and security of the European continent. The Balkans offer an opportunity for Europeans to par ticipate in a coordinated Western strategy 4 4 4 4 4 Success of the regions democratic revolutions Rapid transition to free market economies Tol e rance for ethnic and religious minorities Peaceful relations among the Balkan states; and Full integration of the Balkan states into the West To achieve these objectives, Washington should Condition U.S. economic assistance to the Balkan countries on thei r com mitment to democracy, market economies, respect for ethnic and religious minorities, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.The economic crises in the Balkan states, and their need for economic assistance from the West, provides the U.S. and other W e stern powers with considerable leverage to push the Balkans toward democratic reform and legal safeguards for their minorities.The Bush Ad ministration is requesting $470 million for U.S. assistance to Eastern Europe in fiscal 1992.This money is to be use d as seed capital for the private sector and for environmental programs 20 Address to the 45th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, October 2,1990 16 The Balkan governments should be warned that the use of force against their in ternal op p onents or neighboring countries will result in a cutoff of all U.S. assis tance. As another condition of aid, the U.S should insist that the Balkans move toward free market economies through such measures as freeing prices, privatiz ing state-owned enterp rises, and introducing convertible currencies U.S economic assistance should not prop up existing centrally-planned economies Washington has an important, if intangible, asset in its moral authority.

Throughout the region, America is recognized as the repr esentative of democracy and freedom, and its actions carry tremendous moral weight. By unambiguously siding with the Balkan democratic forces, the U.S. can give hope and encourage ment to embattled freedom fighters and undercut the ability of authoritaria n regimes to gain international respectability elected democratic governments and begun conversion to a free market. Im poverished by decades of Soviet-style central planning, the Balkans, after democratization, must begin moving towards market economies. Secure and un restricted access to the American market and with it the ability to earn hard cur rency would benefit these economies and speed the transition to free market system far more effectively than foreign aid loans and grants.

Access to the America n market was the key element in the rapid development of the dynamic economies of East Asia, including Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. But the U.S. market remains restricted by quotas and tariffs for many of the products Eastern Europe could export, like agricu ltural goods and textiles. Removing these and other trade barriers through free trade agreements would allow the Balkan states to earn the hard currency they need while also creating new markets for U.S businesses.

Free trade agreements between the U.S. an d the Balkan states, and with the rest of Eastern Europe, also will give the U.S. leverage to counter growing protec tionist sentiment within the European Community. As the EC's economic ties with Eastern Europe increase, U.S. free trade with the Balkans w ould open a back door to the Common Market which would undermine the EC's ability to maintain trade barriers against the rest of the world Increase direct assistance to the democratic forces in the Balkans. Such democratic forces as the Liberal Party in R o mania, the Democratic Party in Al bania, and the democratic opposition in Serbia, remain under attack from hard line regimes. The U.S. should offer assistance financial, material, organizational to these organizations through such means as the National En d owment for Democracy (NED the organization established by the U.S. government to aid democratic forces abroad. Aid amounting to $30 million for fiscal 1992 could be used for supporting the free press, providing organizational training for democratic group s and promoting free enterprise through cooperation with businessmen's organizations. This aid is important for symbolic reasons as well as for the material assistance it offers. With few vital American interests in the Offer to negotiate free trade agreem e nts with Balkan countries that have Balkans, Washington need not court authoritarian regimes. These governments have little to offer the U.S. economically, politically, or diplomatically, and the U.S. should put them on notice that it intends to support t h eir full democratiza tion Encourage West Europeans to join with the America and other European countries in forging a common Western fkont committed to democracy, economic reform, and stability in the Balkans. A.pMcipal U.S. objective toward Europe as a w h ole should be to encourage European states to take greater responsibility for maintaining stability on their own continent, and thereby reduce their depend ence on the U.S.The Balkans are a testing ground for cooperation among the countries of Western Eur o pe. America should press them to use this opportunity to coordinate their separate policies toward the Balkans to secure Western inter ests. America should use its leadership position in NATO to persuade that organizations member countries to craft a poli c y toward the Balkans which had as its goal the stabilization of the area.The U.S for example, could call a meeting of NATO foreign ministers to forge a common policy on the Balkans.The mem ber countries of the European Community most of which also belong t o NATO increasingly are coordinating their foreign policies. Bush should propose that the EC as an organization be involved in the formation of a Western policy. Given their desire to increase their own ties with the West, the foreign ministers of the new l y democratic countries of Eastern Europe also should be invited to par ticipate. U.S. initiation and leadership of such an effort is indispensable, but it should encourage the Europeans to take an increasingly active role Make democratization, economic re f orm, and respect for ethnic and religious minorities preconditions for lending by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development EBRD).The EBRD was established last year by the U.S Western Europe, and Japan, among other countries, to grant loans for economic reconstruction to the public and private sectors in Eastern Europe.

The U.S. is the largest shareholder in the EBRD, having pledged to contribute be tween 8 percent to 10 percent of the banks projected lending capital of $12 bil lion. The Bush Ad ministration is requesting 70 million for fiscal 1992 as the first U.S. installment.The U.S. should insist that the EBRDs loans should be granted only if the recipient country makes progress toward democracy, free market economic reform, and if it respect s the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.

As with its own direct bilateral assistance, the U.S. should insist that assistance given by its taxpayers through the EBRD not be squandered on failed state-sup ported economic enterprises Use the Conferenc e for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to spotlight the lack of democracy in the Balkans. Western attention to the fate of democratic reformers in the Balkan countries often is their only defense against government persecution. By using the 34-na t ion CSCE as a forum to highlight human rights abuses in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia, Washington and its allies can boost the morale of Balkan democratic forces and help protect them, while discrediting the regimes that oppose them. CSCE req u ires regular 18 review conferences to monitor compliance by member states in human rights and other areas. All of the Balkan countries except Albania are members of CSCE Albanias membership is pending. In joining the organization, each of these countries h as given CSCE the right to investigate human rights abuses on its ter Support self-determination for theYugoslav republics. The Bush Ad ministration and several European, governments strondy oppose the break-up of Yugoslavia. This most recently was reiter a ted on March 13 by U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman, who also made clear U.S opposition to the use of force by any group, especially the Yugoslav government. The reason typically cited for supporting Yugoslav unity is the fear of instability should it break up.

The Bush Administrations reasoning is flawed. First, while the U.S. certainly has a humanitarian interest in limiting violence in Yugoslavia, the countrys integrity is of little strategic importance to the U.S unless the break-up invol ves armed conflict spilling over its borders. Second, the source of instability in Yugoslavia is the continuing effort of its central government and the powerful Serbian republic to impose their will forcibly on the other republics. Genuine stability will emerge only when the Yugoslav republics are free to choose their own fate, be it complete independence for some, or a renewed federation of democratic republics.

Instead of supporting the continued unity of Yugoslavia against the will of its people, the Bush Administration should declare that it will support self-deter mination for the republics of Yugoslavia as long as the process is a peaceful one.

This should include a stated willingness to recognize the republics as independent countries if this is th e freely expressed desire of their peoples ritory CONCLUSION By its long and costly involvement in Europe, America has transformed the con tinent. Where once dictatorships reigned, democracy now flourishes; where once there was war, now there is the prosp ect for a long peace. One predator after another, from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union, has been beaten back and its power destroyed.

But this future is not yet secure In the Balkans, as in the Soviet Union itself Europes unfinished democratic revolutions challenge America and its allies In Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia democratic and free market revolu tions have been stalled by remnants of the old communist regimes All the while the Balkan economic and political situation continues to deter iorate, and the prospect of conflict grows particularly in Yugoslavia, where contending republics threaten to tear apart the country.

By exerting their enormous political and economic influence on these countries, the U.S. and Europes democratic powers can push these countries to complete their revolutions peacefully.To do so, they should condition economic assistance to the Balkans on progress toward democratic and economic reform; in 19 crease assistance to democratic forces; use the Conference on Securi t y and Cooperation in Europe to highlight abuses by Balkan regimes; and support self determination for the Yugoslav republics European Responsibilty. The time when the U.S. on its own would shoulder the burden for handling these issues, however is passing. In post-Cold War Europe, the U.S. role will be significantly reduced. Increasingly, Europeans them selves must assume principal responsibility for keepigg order and defending Western values on their continent. Greater European involvement in the Balkans c o uld be a first step toward the day when the Europeans themselves, and not the Americans, have assumed most of the responsibility for the security of the con tinent. The U.S. still has an important role to play in seeing this transition through to completi on before it can consider its task in Europe complete and its ac complishments of the last half-century secure Douglas Seay Policy Analyst 20

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