December 9, 2002— After a decade of extensive involvement and peacemaking in the Balkans, the United States and its allies are winding down their commitment to the region. At this critical juncture, the Balkan states are still besieged with problems which, if left unresolved, will lead to serious social and economic instability for southeast Europe, warns the Council-Sponsored Independent Task Force: Balkans 2010.
The Task Force, chaired by General Edward C. Meyer, USA (Ret.), a former Chief of Staff of the United States Army, makes concrete and practical recommendations to put the Balkan states irreversibly and safely on the path toward integration with Europe and to reduce the international community’s presence in the region by 2010. It specifically encourages the EU to take primary responsibility for ensuring the security and success of the region.
Despite years of involvement by the United States and its allies, the region is suffering from economic stagnation and high unemployment; hundreds of thousands of refugees still await resettlement; prominent war criminals remain at large; and political and legal reform is impeded by endemic corruption, organized crime, and in some cases, a lack of political will.
Furthermore, abandoning the Muslim populations of Bosnia and Kosovo will further reduce America’s standing in the Muslim world and may encourage Balkan Muslims to turn to religious militants, rather than to Europe, for protection.
Neglecting these problems will lead to growing poverty, an increase in illegal economic activity, further human displacement, and a greater likelihood of political extremism, all in the heart of Europe. It is essential that the stakeholders in the Balkans, particularly the United States and the EU, make clear the economic, political, and security benefits of reform and cooperation with European standards and institutions; and be equally explicit about the penalties— including the withholding of financial aid and international isolation— for regression, obstructionism, or the use of violence, the Task Force concludes.
To help the Balkans achieve stability and integration in Europe, the Task Force makes the following key recommendations:
- Reorganize the international community’s involvement in the Balkans around the European Union’s Stabilization and Association Process and NATO’s Membership Action Plan and Partnership for Peace program, with the goal of an orderly reduction of the overall international presence in the region by 2010.
- Use “carrots”--such as access to privileged political and economic relations and favorable trade terms with Europe— and "sticks"— such as linking financial assistance to specific performance goals— to reward or compel political, economic, social, and security reform.
- Implement internationally-led law enforcement campaigns, initially in Bosnia and Kosovo, to cripple the politico-criminal syndicates that threaten internal and regional security.
- Establish the rule of law and develop transparent and accountable systems of criminal and civil justice that are fair to all citizens: eliminate discriminatory provisions from constitutions and statutes; increase law enforcement training programs with the help of international organizations and NGOs; arrest and extradite war criminals; and enact legislation to restore and respect property rights.
- Restructure economies by reforming the banking, taxation, trade, and pension systems; accelerating privatization; restoring physical infrastructure; and developing the private sector through training programs and lending vehicles to small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Return or resettle refugees and displaced persons in a way that respects individual choice.
- Reform education and establish a vigorous civil society— including a free and responsible press.
Balkans 2010, which included senior experts on the Balkans and U.S. foreign policy from a cross-section of think tanks, government, the military, international organizations, academia, and the business community, was formed by the Center for Preventive Action, a conflict prevention initiative of the Council on Foreign Relations.
A full list of Task Force members is below.
Members of the Task Force
GENERAL EDWARD C. MEYER, USA (Ret.), Chairman of the Balkans 2010 Independent Task Force, served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1979 to 1983.
KENNETH H. BACON is the President of Refugees International. Between 1994 and 2001, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and Pentagon spokesman.
GEORGE C. BIDDLE is the Senior Vice President of the International Rescue Committee. Previously, he was Vice President of the International Crisis Group.
ALEXANDER BORAINE is the founding President of the International Center for Transitional Justice. From 1995 to 1998, Dr. Boraine was the deputy chair of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, serving under chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
GUILLERMO CHRISTENSEN was the 2001-2002 Intelligence Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
JONATHAN DAVIDSON, an Observer to the Task Force, is Senior Adviser for Political and Academic Affairs at the EC Delegation in Washington, DC, and an adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University and The American University.
HANI K. FINDAKLY is CEO of Potomac Capital Inc. He has been the Director of Investments and Chief Investment Officer at the World Bank.
JOHN G. HEIMANN is Senior Adviser to both Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and the Financial Stability Institute of the Bank for International Settlements.
ARTHUR C. HELTON is Senior Fellow for Refugee Studies and Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is an expert on international refugee law and policy, and is the author, most recently, of The Price of Indifference: Refugees and Humanitarian Action in the New Century (2002).
KATHLEEN M. JENNINGS is a Research Associate at the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.
JONATHAN E. LEVITSKY is an attorney with the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. He previously served as Counselor to Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke at the U.S. Mission to the UN.
THOMAS LIPPMAN is a former diplomatic correspondent of The Washington Post and was the Post’s principal reporter during the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999.
ROBERT L. McCLURE is a Colonel in the United States Army and was the 2001-2002 U.S. Army Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
MARGARET F. MUDD is Senior Adviser at the Financial Services Volunteer Corps, a nongovernmental organization. Formerly, she was a banker with long experience providing financial services to banks in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe.
JANICE L. MURRAY is Senior Vice President and Treasurer of the Council on Foreign Relations.
WILLIAM L. NASH is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.
JAMES C. O’BRIEN is a principal of The Albright Group, LLC, and served as special presidential envoy for the Balkans and senior adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during the Clinton administration.
SADAKO OGATA, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, serves as Co-Chair of the Commission on Human Security and as Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, and is Scholar-in-Residence at The Ford Foundation.
DAVID L. PHILLIPS is a senior fellow and deputy director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.
COLETTE RAUSCH specializes in rule of law issues in peace operations at the United States Institute of Peace.
STEPHEN SAIDEMAN is an Associate Professor of Political Science at McGill University.
MARK SCHNEIDER is the Senior Vice President of the International Crisis
Group. Previously he served as Director of the Peace Corps.
DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN is a founding Partner and a Principal Strategist at the market research firm Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.
DANIEL SERWER is the director of the Balkans Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace.
LAURA SILBER is Senior Policy Adviser at the Open Society Institute. From 1990 to 1997 she was the Financial Times Balkans correspondent, and is the co-author of the critically acclaimed book, Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation.
JULIA VADALA TAFT, an Observer to the Task Force, is the Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. Previously she served as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.
PAUL WILLIAMS is the Rebecca Grazier Professor of Law and International Relations at American University and directs the Public International Law & Policy Group, which provides pro bono legal assistance to states in transition.