New TPQ - Fresh thoughts on the Balkans

12 April 2005

Today the International Commission on the Balkans, chaired by Guliano Amato and including among its members Carl Bildt, Jean-Luc Dehaene, Kemal Dervis, Mircea Geoana, Kiro Gligorov, Ilir Meta, Janez Potocnik, Goran Svilanovic, Richard von Weizsäcker and others, has issued its report The Balkans in Europe's Future. It is an excellent report that deserves to be read as widely as possible.

The Commission argues that the Western Balkans are today "as close to failure as to success". The whole region needs to be moved "from the stage of protectorates and weak states to the stage of EU accession" or risks turning into the black hole of Europe. This calls for a "bold strategy for accession that could encompass all Balkan countries as new members within the next decade". "The real choice the EU is facing in the Balkans is: Enlargement or Empire", with the latter "a political embarrassment for the European project."

The Commission recommends to develop a 'member-state building' strategy in the Balkans and suggests an EU-Balkan summit in 2006 to "present all Balkan countries with their accession road maps". It calls for dismantling the existing international protectorates: "The talks in Bosnia convinced us that the OHR has outlived its usefulness. What Bosnia needs is an EU accession framework that will drive the constitutional debate in the country." Ten years since the Dayton Accords "the time has come to jettison the Bonn Powers". This would make room for "a domestic process of incremental constitutional change starting from the present reality of Bosnia's federal system of government."

In Kosovo a shift should be made during 2005 and 2006 to a situation where Kosovo would be treated "as independent but not as a sovereign state", and "all functions of a normal government that are currently performed by UNMIK or KFOR should be transferred to the government of Kosovo." The Commission also suggests to exclude the partition of Kosovo.

ESI hopes that this report will contribute to the much needed debate on EU strategies towards the region.

Instrument of Pre-accession

One of the most obvious signs how much the European Union believes in the European future of the Western Balkans will be the shape of the new regulation on EU assistance for the Balkans in the period 2007-2013. Present drafts still suggest to make a sharp distinction between the EU instruments available to candidates and those available to potential candidates, widening rather than closing the gap within the region (for background, see the recent ESI report on IPA and Member State building in South Eastern Europe).

The debate in EU circles over the shape of the IPA regulation continues, with discussions in April in COREPER and COWEB on the issue. A recent article in IWPR provides one perspective on the state of this debate.

Supported by OSI, ESI analysts continue to meet with foreign ministries in EU member states and with politicians in the region to present the case for a change in the IPA regulation and for an accelerated process of EU member state building in the region.

ESI and Turkish Policy Quarterly

We are glad to present to our readers the latest set of articles from Turkish Policy Quarterly, edited by ESI Turkey analyst Nigar Göksel. This Spring 2005 edition of TPQ is sure to provoke debate, looking at the recent downward spiral in relations between the US and Turkey.

It includes an interview with Richard Perle, and articles by Mehmet Dulger, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Turkish Parliament, Mark Parris, the former US ambassador to Turkey, and by numerous other distinguished experts.

The next editions will look at the role of Turkey and the relationship between democratization and security in the Middle East and at policies and instruments to deal with the vast regional disparities inside Turkey as part of its process of pre-accession.

Best regards

Gerald Knaus


Turkish Policy Quarterly Spring 2005 - excerpts


"The enormity of the task facing Turkey in working through the EU's technical and other requirements, combined with the gravitational pull of Europe's geographic, economic and historic ties to Turkey, will inevitably mean Ankara's attention will henceforth be focused more on Brussels than Washington."

Mark Parris; former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 1997 to 2000


"When the strong leadership of the US in world affairs is queried, only 16 percent of respondents found it desirable. The sum of negative answers was 69 percent. This score is the highest among 16 countries and only lower than the French public opinion's score of 73. The percentage of those arguing that the EU should become a superpower like the US is 40 percent."

Emre Erdogan; founding partner of Infakto research


"I think Europe is in fact much more inward looking then the United States. And it is going to be quite a long time before Turkey achieves membership."

Richard Perle; Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute


"It must be taken into account that Turkey now has a public opinion that has reached the point where it affects both civil and military decisions. The priority of the people is progress and development. Today's Turkey does not afford any government the flexibility to move forward without getting the people behind it."

Mehmet Dulger; Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Turkish Parliament


"A very strong argument can be made today that in a period of five years, Turkish-US relations have reached a low point, perhaps the lowest in decades."

Kemal Koprülü; former Chairman of ARI Movement and current Board Member


"The AKP leadership made sure that its deputies voted in favor of the EU reform packages and did not allow any room for opposition within its ranks. Yet, when it came to a resolution concerning relations with the US, the government could not expose the determination of its EU politics and the outcome was justified as being the expression of parliamentary democracy."

Ilhan Kesici; former Undersecretary of the State Planning Organization and former Member of Turkish Parliament


"For more than two years, US-Turkish diplomacy has been a comedy of errors. Mistakes cannot be undone and the relationship will take years to rebuild. Neither side is indispensable to the other, but both Washington and Ankara would lose much should their relationship deteriorate further."

Michael Rubin, Editor of the Middle East Quarterly and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute


Turkish-American relations are still being characterized as being a 'strategic partnership'. In my view, it is not possible to define the relations as being strategic. One cannot claim unwavering togetherness. Furthermore, I do not think there is any need for such unity of action."

Nuzhet Kandemir, Deputy Chairman of True Path Party (Dogru Yol Partisi-DYP) and former Ambassador of Turkey to Washington DC


"Despite the differences that have emerged between Turkey and the US, the terrorist groups point out that Turkey is still a member of NATO, and thus a partner in the 'Crusader Alliance'."

Ibrahim Al-Marashi; post-doctoral fellow at Sabanci University