Here are my speaking notes for the testimony I
delivered today at the hearing on “The Balkans: Threats to Peace and
Stability” of the Subcommittee on Europe, Asia and Emerging Threats
of the House International Relations Committee.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With permission, I would
like to submit a written statement for the record and use the few
minutes I have for just three key points.
First, the countries of the region made remarkable
progress in the 10 years or so after the NATO intervention in Bosnia
in 1995. But in the last 10 years, the U.S. effort to pass the baton
of leadership to the European Union has allowed slippage. In Bosnia,
Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia there are now risks of instability
that could trigger a regionwide convulsion. That would reflect badly
on America’s global leadership role, unravel three peace agreements,
and cost us far more than conflict prevention.
Second, those who say ethnic partition through
rearrangement of borders would be viable are playing with matches
near a powder keg. Moves in that direction would lead to violence,
including ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and even
genocide. It happened in the 1990s and could again. Monoethnic
states cannot be achieved without a massive and expensive
Ethnic partition would not only be violent, it
would also generate a new flood of refugees and creation of Islamic
mini-states in parts of Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo. This was a main
reason we refused to move borders in the 1990s. Americans should be
even more concerned about it today. The Islamic State and Al Qaeda
have had more success recruiting in the Balkans than many once
thought possible given the pro-Western and pro-American attitudes of
most Muslims there. Reducing Balkan Muslims to rump monoethnic
states would radicalize many more.
Damage would not be limited to the Balkans. Russia
would welcome ethnic partition, because it would validate Moscow’s
destructive irredentist behavior in South Ossetia, Abkhazia,
Transnistria, Crimea, and Donbas as well as give Moscow a stronger
foothold in the region. It would also leave a geographic gap in NATO
and the EU that we have long hoped would be filled with friends and
My third point is this: I see no serious
alternative in the Balkans to the political and economic reforms
required for each of the countries of the region to be eligible for
NATO and EU membership. All want to join the EU, which unfortunately
will not be able to begin admitting them until 2020 at the earliest.
That leaves NATO membership as the vital “carrot” for reform, except
in Serbia. We need to do more to enable Balkan countries that want
to do so to join the Alliance, as Montenegro is doing.
In Macedonia, this means Europe and the U.S. need
to tell Greece “The FYROM” will be invited to join NATO once it
reestablishes transparent and accountable democratic governance. In
Kosovo, it means ensuring Pristina develops an army designed for
international peacekeeping that poses no threat to Serbs. For that,
Serbia will need to accept Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial
integrity, by allowing UN membership. In Bosnia and Herzegovina,
NATO members should tell Republika Srpska secession will gain no
Western recognition or aid for it or any country it joins, including
from the IMF or World Bank.
These and other suggestions in my written
testimony would put the region back on track and prevent the peace
agreements of the 1990s and 2001 from unraveling. So too would
ensuring that all Balkan countries have access to energy supplies
from countries other than Russia: natural gas from Azerbaijan, LNG
from the U.S., or eventually Mediterranean gas from Cyprus or
Mr. Chairman, I’ve just outlined a substantial
list of diplomatic tasks. If the Administration commits to them,
implementation might require an American special envoy. But a policy
should come first: one based on maintaining current borders,
preventing ethnic partition, and pushing harder for NATO and EU
membership. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.