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Second Annual International Conference: NATO, EU and the New Risks: A Southeast Europe Perspective
29-30 October, 2004
Sofia, Bulgaria

Amb. Boyko Noev, Director, CSD European Program

Today there is no doubt that the decision to undertake a broader enlargement of the Alliance was a right one. Being almost simultaneous and complementary to the enlargement of the European Union it was a fundamental step towards achieving the strategic objective of having “Europe whole and free”. From a philosophical and political perspective both enlargements are at the heart of a single process, leading to consolidation of democracy and market economy across the wider, and yet undefined boundaries of Europe. A process of homogenization of the security, economic, legal etc. environment, which brings great benefits not only to the peoples of Europe, but also to the peoples of the wider Euro-Atlantic area. The successful development of this process in a historically short period of time is, what I believe- the major strategic consequence.

For the new members, of both NATO and the EU, the perspective for membership was a strong incentive for internal change. And this is among the strongest arguments in favor of the “open door” policy, which, being frank, is the softer and more refined name for the “carrot-and-stick” policy. In the NATO context- for carrying out mostly political and security sector reforms. In the EU- for adopting also the thousands of common rules, which govern life in the common European home.

The broader political approach to the “open door” policy could be very instrumental, for example, for resolving the residual hot issues, which remain after the violent collapse of the Former Yugoslavia, in what is presently referred to as the “Western Balkans”. For this to happen however, we need resizing both the “carrot” and the “stick” to make the ‘open door” policy more effective. If we assume, that the reason for what looks like stalemates and delayed decisions is within the political elites, which have their own, internal agendas in Serbia and Montenegro, in Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania, then one should look at refining the “open door” policy. What is needed in this case are, on the one hand- clear perspectives, achievable in reasonably short time and on the other- specific “conditions” to be met. For instance- a close perspective and date for EU membership to include Serbia and Kosovo in exchange for fast solutions on the so called “final status” would enhance the pressure of the wider public over the political elites for compromise. Ultimately- borders and enclaves matter less and less within the EU framework, don’t they? The feeling for economic prosperity and wellbeing is stronger than ethnic differences. I do believe that a bolder and more assertive approach to finding “final” solutions across the Western Balkans is needed. I have also heard many counter arguments, including the argument of the EU not being ready yet to “digest” yet another big issue. It may be true, but I think that the aggregate cost of a protracted solution, of which military and other peacekeeping efforts are only a small part, would be higher.

In the same context, I think that NATO should also bring in a bigger carrot. Thus, having Serbia and Montenegro in PfP sooner, rather than later would help to bring faster the war criminals to justice and would expedite security sector reform, which would be beneficial for all.
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