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Building stability in the Balkans
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Building stability in the Balkans
Our challenge in the Balkans, as an international community, is simple: to build a new southeastern Europe, where each and every country shares peace and democracy, and plays a part in Euro-Atlantic institutions. Given recent history, that may seem a daunting challenge indeed, but since I took up my position as Secretary General almost a year ago, I have seen major progress. The transformation which has taken place this year in Croatia, the steady progress of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the stabilisation of Kosovo, and the renewed international commitment to the region give cause for optimism.
Focus on NATO activities, September 2000
To mark the visit of Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi to NATO, Ambassador Amedeo de Franchis examines Italys policy towards the Balkans.
Ivica Racan describes the revolution that has taken place in Croatian policy this year and his aspirations for the future.
Kristan J. Wheaton describes how NATO countries helped prepare the Croatian military for the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule.
Chris Patten examines the challenges facing the European Union in southeastern Europe and analyses current policies to meet them.
General Klaus Reinhardt reflects on KFORs contribution to the Kosovo peace process and highlights difficulties that lie ahead.
Christopher Bennett assesses the prospects for democratic change and self-sustaining peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia.
Radu Bogdan considers Romanias aspirations to join the European Union and NATO and the reform programme currently underway in his country.
Richard Williams describes how a NATO-led team is helping Albania deal with unexploded munitions and explosives, which have killed scores of people.
Chris Donnelly examines the difficulties all European militaries face to meet the challenge of the 21st century, focusing on the armies of central and eastern Europe, where the need for reform is most urgent.
Joseph J. Eash III explains how the rapid integration of advanced technologies into war-fighting systems helped the Allies during the Kosovo campaign.

To fulfil this promise, we must continue to promote integration. The clearest lesson of the past half-century in Europe is that integration breeds trust, stability and prosperity. As a result, all of southeastern Europe must be given the opportunity to join Euro-Atlantic structures and become part of the European mainstream. Put differently, integration is the ultimate way to prevent further conflict and build stability. Together with the countries of the region, therefore, we have to work towards comprehensive solutions to the problems of southeastern Europe.

Serving together in the NATO-led forces in Bosnia and Kosovo are soldiers from countries, which during the Cold War just ten years ago prepared for war against each other. Today, these former antagonists are working together towards common goals. Croatias entry into the Partnership for Peace is only further evidence of change. This new spirit of cooperation demonstrates that progress is possible, that former enemies can be reconciled, and that the benefits of freedom and democracy can be shared.

The European Unions Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and NATOs own South East Europe Initiative together aim to create the conditions for economic growth, democratic government and security throughout the Balkans. The logic which underpins these programmes is similar to that which inspired both the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in the 1940s, which together helped Western Europe get back on its feet and become an area of stability and prosperity.

No one should harbour any illusions that reconciliation between ethnic groups or economic prosperity can be achieved overnight in the Balkans. But we must remember that both the Marshall Plan and NATO were long-term projects whose success only became apparent with the years. The key is that we stay the course, that we devote the time and resources to southeastern Europe that the region merits, and that we provide the security framework so that the various peace processes become self-sustaining and democracy is able to take root. It will then be up to a new generation of local leaders to take their countries forward with confidence into the 21st century.

Lord Robertson