No end in sight

Syria is the most rapid and widespread displacement of people since the Rwandan civil war of the 1990s, according to State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelley Clements of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.  Last Friday’s  Brookings Institution/Mercy Corps panel focused on “No End in Sight: Syria’s Refugees and Regional Repercussions,” drawing on humanitarian and diplomatic expertise from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the United States.

Ambassador Antoine Chedid said Lebanon honors its international commitments to meeting the needs of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers, who are straining the country’s public services and the economy. Lebanon’s population has increase by about one-third. This population bulge has distorted the economy, increasing the unemployment rate and driving the cost of rent upward. Conditions in the refugee camps are exacerbating poor health and insecurity as well as breeding terrorism and radicalization. The Lebanese government favors creation of safe zones within Syria, but these are controversial, because their civilian population can become a target of the warring parties. Read more…

Wait and see

Secretary of State Kerry today urged Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to accept the Ukrainian parliament’s dismissal of President Yanukovich and its appointment of an acting president and prime minister.  This follows on Susan Rice’s warning yesterday against Russian military intervention.  There is a great deal riding on Moscow’s responses.

Judging from past performance–something our stock brokers warn us not to do–Russia will be deaf to American pleas.  When and where pro-Russian populations have managed to carve out an area of territorial autonomy in former Soviet republics, Moscow has been unwavering in its support:  witness Trans-Dniester in Moldova as well as Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.  If some of the eastern provinces of Ukraine were to resist the new authorities in Kiev and declare themselves autonomous or even independent, Moscow would be tempted to provide what support they require, including troops.  They wouldn’t invade.  That’s so twentieth century.  They could respond to a request for assistance to prevent atrocities. Read more…

Peace Picks February 24 – 28

1. Twitter Evolutions: The Changing Role of Social Media in War and Protest

Monday, February 24 | 9am – 1pm

U.S. Institute of Peace; 2301 Constitution Ave NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

In the early days of the Arab Spring, many hailed digital media as revolutionary tools for democracy and peace building. Three years later, as the region still struggles with authoritarian retrenchment and civil war, social media continues to play an important, if far more complex, role in ongoing events. Meanwhile, protest movements in parts of Europe – especially Turkey and Ukraine – are providing intriguing, and complicated, examples of digitally active protest movements and recalcitrant governments.

Join the U.S. Institute of Peace on February 24th for two panel discussions on social media’s role in political protest and civil war across the Middle East and Europe.

The first panel will discuss the recently released Blogs & Bullets report, which examined mainstream media coverage, YouTube videos, and more than 40 million tweets over a two-year period to show the changing use and impact of media in the Syrian crisis. The second panel will explore the relationship between social media and the political crises in Egypt, Turkey, and Ukraine. This event is part of the ongoing Blogs & Bullets project, a partnership between USIP’s PeaceTech Initiative and George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.

Online viewers will be able to engage panelists and each other via a live Twitter discussion (#usipblogs).

Agenda:
9:00am to 9:10am | Introduction

Sheldon Himelfarb

Director of Media, Technology, and Peace building, U.S. Institute of Peace

9:10am to 10:30am | Panel I: Syria’s Socially Mediated Civil War

P.J. Crowley, Moderator
Professor of Practice, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Marc Lynch
Director, Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University

Sean Aday
Director, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University

Deen Freelon
Assistant Professor of Communications Studies, American University

10:30am to 10:45am | Break

10:45am to 12:30pm | Panel II: New Media and Contentious Politics in Egypt, Ukraine and Turkey

P.J. Crowley, Moderator
Professor of Practice, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Adel Iskandar
Adjunct Instructor, Communication, Culture & Technology, Georgetown University

Joshua Tucker
Professor of Politics, New York University

Zeynep Tufecki
Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

2. Corruption and Business in Russia: National Problem, Regional Solutions

Monday, February 24 | 9:15am – 12:00pm

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

There is a perception that it is not possible to do business in Russia without engaging in corruption. While corruption in Russia is a fact of life, individual businesses are employing a range of strategies to reduce their exposure and give them access to international partners. The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Kennan Institute present expert findings on this timely issue.

Jordan Gans-Morse, an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University, will present his research on how non-oligarchic firms are surviving in an atmosphere of endemic corruption. The firms’ coping mechanisms and the means they use to settle business disputes shed light on the course of Russia’s future economic development. Based on extensive field research, Gans-Morse is at work on a book about law, property rights, and corruption in Russia. CIPE Moscow Program Officer Natalya L. Titova will speak on a CIPE initiative in Russia that is helping regional business to meet international anti-corruption standards in order to join international value chains.

During the discussion, the speakers will be joined on a panel by CIPE partners from St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk and Kaliningrad where corruption is a significant barrier to attracting investment.

SPEAKERS

Marina Fitsak
Vice President, Kaliningrad Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Jordan Gans-Morse
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University

Ludmila Karelina
Director General, International Institute of Organization Management, St. Petersburg

Oleg Moskovsky
Chelyabinsk business owner, expert on commercial risk and debt management

Natalya L. Titova
Program Officer, Moscow, Center for International Private Enterprise

3. Women in the New Arab Politics: A Conversation with Members of Parliament from Jordan, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia

Tuesday, February 25 | 10am – 11:30am

8th floor, National Democratic Institute; 455 Massachusetts Ave NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Please join the National Democratic Institute and the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution for a discussion with members of parliament from Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. The MPs will discuss the evolving role of women in politics in the Middle East and North Africa, and the potential means of enhancing the participation and leadership of women on the issues of economic development and inclusive growth in times of political transition.

The discussion will be moderated by Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and a senior fellow at Brookings. NDI director of women’s political participation Susan Markham will provide opening remarks.

4. US diplomacy with adversaries: Dancing with the devil, or how enemies become friends

Tuesday, February 25 | 12:00pm – 1:30pm

10th floor, Center for American Progress; 1333 H St NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Please join the Center for American Progress and AEI for a discussion marking the release of “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes,” a new book by Michael Rubin. In the book, Rubin argues that US diplomacy with countries such as Iran and North Korea and groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hezbollah has significant risks.

The discussion will feature Charles Kupchan, author of the 2012 book “How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace.” In his book, Kupchan argues that diplomatic engagement with adversaries is essential for enhancing global stability and order.

The discussion is the continuation of a series of joint conversations between the Center for American Progress and AEI examining major national security issues in the coming years.

SPEAKERS
Panelists:
Charles Kupchan, Council on Foreign Relations
Michael Rubin, AEI

Moderator:
Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress
 

5. Civil Society in Afghanistan: Spark or Stumbling Block for Stability?

Tuesday, February 25 | 3 – 5pm

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

With international troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, Afghan efforts to promote security will increasingly be taking center stage. This event examines the extent to which Afghan nongovernment organizations (NGOs) can help achieve stability. Speakers will discuss the appropriate balance between state, market, and civil society in fostering stability in Afghanistan; assess the U.S. military’s civil society outreach and engagement efforts in Afghanistan; present findings on how Afghan NGOs are working to counter violent extremism and build peace; and examine how Afghan civil society is preparing for 2015, and how the United States can help. 

There will be a live webcast of this event.

SPEAKERS
Clare Lockhart
Co-founder and director, Institute for State Effectiveness

David Sedney
Former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia

Mehreen Farooq
Senior fellow, World Organization for Resource Development and Education

Waleed Ziad
Director of South and Central Asia Programs, World Organization for Resource Development and Education

6. Surveillance Costs: The NSA’s Impact on the Economy, Information Security, and Internet Freedom

Tuesday, February 25 | 4 – 6:30pm

New America Foundation, 1899 L St NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

There’s a debate raging in DC and around the world about the extensive National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs that were first revealed this past summer–not only about whether the surveillance is consistent with constitutional and human rights, but also about the costs and the benefits of such mass surveillance. New America’s National Security Studies Program recently addressed the “benefits” question by releasing an in-depth research report demonstrating that the NSA programs have done little to prevent terrorism.

This event from New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) will look at the other side of the coin and examine the costs of the NSA programs. Such costs include not only the direct cost to the American taxpayer, but also the cost to the American Internet industry (by some estimates over $180 billion within the next few years), the cost to America’s foreign relations and its work to promote “Internet Freedom” globally, and finally, the cost to Internet security itself.

Join us for a lively discussion on these and other costs of surveillance, with representatives from the Internet industry and the Internet security community along with security policy experts from the left and right, moderated by a longtime legal advocate in the surveillance and privacy world and with an introduction from the US State Department’s former Director of Policy Planning, New America’s President & CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter.

SPEAKERS
Introduction:

Anne-Marie Slaughter
President & CEO, New America Foundation

Featured Speakers:
Daniel Castro
Senior Analyst, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

Mieke Eoyang
National Security Program Director, Third Way

Richard Fontaine
President, The Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Ross Schulman
Public Policy and Regulatory Counsel,
The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)

Micah Sherr
Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Georgetown University

Moderator:
Kevin Bankston
Policy Director, New America Foundation, Open Technology Institute

7. Ongoing Political Unrest in Bosnia: Drivers of Change and Future Implications
Sponsored by the George Washington University Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) and the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tuesday, February 25 | 4 – 5pm

Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412; 1957 E St NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Recent public protests have once again turned international attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the site of the 1992-1995 war that left 2 million people displaced and more than 100,000 killed. Almost twenty years after the war, Bosnians across the country have taken to the streets to demand an end to corruption and the ineffective system of governance that have paralyzed the state and robbed its citizens of economic prosperity and a brighter future. The panel will examine the path that led to this crisis, what lies ahead for the postwar state, including its prospects for EU and NATO membership, and broader implications for the region.

SPEAKERS
Nidžara Ahmetašević, Slobodna Bosna (via Skype)

Janusz Bugajski, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Jasmin Mujanović, Harriman Institute, Columbia University

Moderated by:
Sarah Wagner, George Washington University Deptartment of Anthropology

8. Modern Africa: A Symposium on Opportunities for Women in Energy and Water Access

Wednesday, February 26 | 8:30am – 1:30pm

Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW

To register for this event, please email africa@csis.org

Please join us for a conference on women’s access to water and clean energy in Africa. Practitioners, thought leaders, experts, entrepreneurs, and policy makers will discuss and explore the opportunities in water-energy access in Africa, and give examples of successful policies and entrepreneurial ventures that are helping to increase women’s participation in, and contribution to, the water and energy sectors in Africa. The panel sessions will focus on removing barriers to women’s access to energy and water, and on harnessing opportunities at the water-energy access nexus through innovative social, impact, and for-profit investment models, and diaspora networks and platforms to establish business ventures and relationships that catalyze more investments.

Panel discussions will cover:
Women’s Access to Energy
Women’s Access to Water
Harnessing Opportunities to Increase Access to Energy and Water through Partnerships and Innovative Investment Models

The event will be webcast.

SPEAKERS

Pepukaye Bardouille, International Finance Corporation

Tim Boersma, The Brookings Institution

Jennifer Cooke, Africa Program, CSIS

Agnes Dasewicz, USAID, Power Africa

Alexander Dixon, The Aspen Institute

M. Eric V. Guichard, Homestrings Ltd

Maya Harris, U.S. Department of Energy

Rachel Ishofsky, InnoAfrica

Paula Jackson, American Association of Blacks in Energy

Dr. Lawrence Jones, Center for Sustainable Development in Africa

Richenda Van Leeuwen, U.N. Foundation

Katherine Lucey, Solar Sister

Radha Muthiah, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Dr. Jacques Sebisaho, Amani Global Works

Frank Verrastro, Energy and National Security Program, CSIS

9. Rached Ghannouchi on Tunisia’s Democratic Transition

Wednesday, February 26 | 12pm – 1:30pm

Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND 

Amid a series of setbacks for pluralism and citizen rights in the Middle East, Tunisia has again provided a positive example for the region. In a landmark step, the country’s Islamic and secular political forces reached agreement on a constitution that embraces equal rights and provides a foundation for Tunisia’s transition to democracy. But while progress has been made, the country still faces serious economic and political challenges, as well as simmering ideological tensions and the rise of radical Salafism.

Rached Ghannouchi, co-founder and president of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, will give an address on what lies ahead for his country. Carnegie’s Marwan Muasher will moderate the discussion.

SPEAKERS
Rached Ghannouchi
Rached Ghannouchi co-founded the Ennahda Movement, an Islamist group that is currently Tunisia’s largest political party and the dominant participant in a coalition that has governed the country since the October 2011 elections. After spending more than two decades in exile for his political activism, Ghannouchi returned to Tunisia in January 2011 to participate in the country’s democratic transition. Widely recognized as one of the world’s most influential Islamic thinkers, he was named one of TIME’s one hundred most influential people in the world in 2012.

Marwan Muasher
Marwan Muasher is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He previously served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Jordan.

10. Egypt’s Economy: Addressing the Challenges Ahead

Wednesday, February 26 | 12 – 1:30pm

SEIU Conference Center, 1800 Massachusetts Ave NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Three years after Egypt’s January 25 revolution, triggered in part by a demand for greater economic opportunity, Egypt’s economy remains fragile, with slowing GDP growth, declining foreign investment, and youth unemployment at levels that threaten ongoing social unrest. With presidential elections expected this spring, The Middle East Institute will host a discussion about the economic challenges and opportunities faced by Egypt’s future leadership and what more the international community can do to help encourage growth. The discussion will feature Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist of the Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank, Ahmed Ghoneim, professor of economics at Cairo University, Zubair Iqbal, adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute, and Steve Lutes, director of Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. MEI vice president for policy and research Paul Salem will moderate the event.

11. Getting Beyond 2014 in Afghanistan

Friday, February 28 | 9am – 12:30pm

U.S. Institute of Peace 2301 Constitution Ave NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Please join the U.S. Institute of Peace, Voice of America, and Alliance in Support of the Afghan People for this two panel public event that will examine the U.S.-Afghan relationship, both its history and its future potential.

Agenda:
9:00am to 9:15am | Welcome & Introduction

9:15am to 9:35am | Keynote Address

Ambassador James F. Dobbins (TBC)
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State

9:35am to 10:50am | Afghanistan and the United States: The Long View

Clare Lockhart
Director and Founder, Institute for State Effectiveness

David Sedney
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, U.S. Department of Defense

Alex Thier
Assistant to the Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development

Dr. Andrew Wilder, Moderator
Vice President, Center for South and Central Asia, U.S. Institute of Peace

10:50am to 11:05am | Coffee Break

11:05am to 12:30pm | The Future of Media in Afghanistan

(This session will be introduced by a short film produced by VOA)

Peter Bergen
Director, National Security Program, New America Foundation

Danish Karokhel
Director, Pajhwok Afghan News

Najib Sharifi
Director, Afghan Journalists Safety Committee/Afghan Voices

David Ensor
Director, Voice of America

12. North Korea after Jang Sung Taek and the Outlook for Inter-Korean Relations

Friday, February 28 | 3:30 – 5pm

6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

REGISTER TO ATTEND

The purge and execution of Jang Sung Taek was caused by the combination of a struggle over economic interests and political power as well as shortcomings of the Military-first System. While it is too early to determine what the consequences of Jang’s execution are in terms of the political stability and future policy directions of the Kim Jong Un regime, this panel will explore some possibilities, particularly in terms of inter-Korean relations.

SPEAKERS
Jinwook Choi is a senior fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), which he joined in 1993. He was formerly KINU’s acting President and President of the Korea Association for North Korean Studies (KANKS). Dr. Choi is currently a member of various policy advisory committees of the ROK government: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Unification, Korea Communications Commission, and the National Unification Advisory Group. His research interests include North Korean politics and unification policy. Dr. Choi received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Cincinnati in 1992.

Hazel Smith is Professor and Director of Korean Studies at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. She was previously a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Professor of Humanitarianism and Security at Cranfield University, UK, a member of the Research Committee of the UK Economic and Social Research Council and an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her core area of research is on the economics, society, politics and international relations of North Korea. She has researched the country for over twenty years and lived and worked in North Korea for nearly two years, on secondment to UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

James F. Person is the Senior Program Associate for the History and Public Policy Program and coordinator of the North Korea International Documentation Project. Person is co-editor of the NKIDP Working Paper Series and the History and Public Policy Program Critical Oral History Conference Series and has worked as a consultant on historical documentaries. He received his Ph.D. in Modern Korean History from The George Washington University

Next up

Caracas yesterday, via @MiguelMarSan:

February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014

 

Buzzfeed offers this explanatory video:

Venezuela is more evenly divided than Ukraine, and President Maduro’s abuses have been less flagrant.  Many previous opposition demonstrations have failed, as the Chavez/Maduro administration retains a good deal of popularity.  But even the poor are now joining the protests.  Unclear how this is going to pan out.

Mapping the conflict in Aleppo

Caerus's map of Aleppo detailing its 56 neighborhoods

Caerus’s map of Aleppo detailing its 56 neighborhoods

From September 2013 to January 2014, Caerus Associates worked with local research teams in Aleppo to conduct an assessment of the conflict in the city using First Mile Geo, a cloud-based map and data analytics platform. Thursday morning the American Security Project hosted a briefing in which Dr. David Kilcullen and Nathan Rosenblatt of Caerus reported their findings.  The full report can be downloaded here.

Dr. Kilcullen (CEO, Caerus) explained that the report is not a policy prescriptive exercise. Above all else, Syria is a humanitarian tragedy. When working in a conflict zone, it is extraordinarily difficult to approach a civilian community to find out what is happening without jeopardizing or endangering them. Caerus has successfully done so in Aleppo.

Matt McNabb (CEO, First Mile Geo) described how over the last 3.5 years Caerus has been trying to understand how to enable local communities and NGOs to collect, share, and make visible insights that are apparent to people living on the ground but that are not obvious to outsiders. How can we make visible that which is hyper local in places of crisis? Through the report they were able to acquire information and drive local data-driven decision-making. Now the report is widely available to any interested parties.

Nathan Rosenblatt (MENA Analyst, Caerus) answered the question, why study Aleppo? In addition to being Syria’s largest and most diverse city, it is heavily divided and contested. With barrel bombs being regularly dropped by the Syrian government, thousands of people have fled the city. Conflict in Aleppo is relevant to and a microcosm of what is happening in Syria. Furthermore it has both urban/rural and ethnic/sectarian dynamics. Aleppo’s fate be similar  to that of Mosul or Benghazi. The situation is difficult to control. This creates opportunities for non-state armed groups and terrorist networks to find safe havens and to thrive. One of the things that most motivates Caerus is how to identify armed groups that are exerting control over Aleppo. This helps to understand how groups take hold in the future and how they got there. This is important for future studies of the city and more generally Syria.

The findings of the report were the following:
1) The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has grown and evolved. Al Qaeda-affiliated ISIS actively imposes its ideology on residents in Syria. It is growing in the poorest parts of Aleppo and the newest areas of urban growth. ISIS directs its efforts towards “soft targets” – places away from the front-lines. These areas are less threatened by the regime and are not well protected by other opposition groups closer to the fighting. ISIS still controls more neighborhoods (10) than any other armed opposition group, despite their efforts to drive it out of Aleppo.

2) There has been a rise in “franchise” brigades. The total number of armed groups has been decreasing every month. The strongest brigades in each neighborhood are franchising the smaller brigades and becoming larger. Through this consolidation of brigades, they became larger, but fewer in number.

3) At the beginning of the research, regime-held bakeries charged 3-5 times more than those in opposition-held neighborhoods in Aleppo. In October 2013, regime-held area bakeries returned to pre-war bread prices and were cheaper than the opposition bakers. This is because the Syrian government only has one land supply route into Aleppo. When cut, the price of basic necessities rises. It wasn’t until October that the regime regained access to this route.

4) Opposition-held Aleppo’s most vulnerable neighborhoods receive some of the least assistance.

5) In four months of surveying 561 residents, Caerus learned that almost 40% of Aleppo residents – across all districts – believe no one is a legitimate representative of the Syrian people. In comparison, 21.3% of those surveyed believed the Free Syrian Army was the most representative and 12.1% believed the Assad regime was. As these two groups are the ones participating in the Geneva talks, these results suggest that neither has much legitimacy on the ground in Syria.

6) Regime support is not monolithic.

7) The regime deploys its Air Force Intelligence, the strongest agency in its security apparatus, to crush dissent. It now controls 10 out of 22 regime-held neighborhoods.

8) Armed groups from both sides set up checkpoints, restricting citizens’ movement and cutting off travel to and from Aleppo.

9) About 40% of bakeries in opposition-held Aleppo are closed or destroyed. The regime deliberately targets and drops bombs on bread lines. This causes residents to organize and work with neighborhood councils to distribute bread. Now about 90% of bakeries are not open to the public. Instead, bread is distributed by local neighborhood councils. While there is little variability in price, it is generally higher in opposition-held neighborhoods.

10) Caerus identified three municipal institutions that predated the uprising. All three were present in nearly every regime-held neighborhood. None existed in opposition-held areas. Residents in regime-held neighborhoods reported receiving more than 12 hours of electricity from the government grid. In contrast, residents in opposition-held neighborhoods have 6 or fewer hours of grid electricity. The Syrian government provides basic necessities to regime-held neighborhoods and sabotages opposition-held neighborhoods.

More information and interactive maps from the report can also be found here.

Happy and dull

I did this hangout with RFE’s Gordana Knezevic and Dzenana Halimovic, moderated by Brian Whitmore, Wednesday and forgot to post it: 

I also forgot to post this interview with Elton Trota of the Pristina-based Independent Balkans News Agency:

IBNA: How do you assess the negotiation process between Kosovo-Serbia? What are the negative and positive aspects of the talks between Prime Minister Thaci and his Serbian Counterpart, Ivica Daciq?

Serwer: I think the dialogue process has been successful in limited but important ways. I’d like to see it move faster towards what ultimately has to happen: diplomatic recognition and exchange of ambassadors. But Serbia has now accepted the territorial integrity of Kosovo and the applicability of the Kosovo constitution on that whole territory. It has also exchanged liaison officers, under a thin EU cover. Those are steps in the right direction.

IBNA: Is it possible for reconciliation to happen between Balkan nations in the near future, taking into account that it’s a demand that comes from Brussels for good neighboring relations in the region?

Serwer: Reconciliation is different from good neighborly relations. Reconciliation will take a generation, or two. Good neighborly relations are a question of political will. The governing institutions can make that happen whenever they decide to do it.

IBNA: How is Kosovo moving toward the Euro-Atlantic integration? Is this going to be a long journey for the new state?

Serwer: It will be a long journey to the EU, whose requirements are much more elaborate and demanding than NATO’s. Kosovo has the advantage of being able to build its security forces from the ground up to meet NATO requirements. It has already done that for the Kosovo Security Force that exists. It will need to continue in that direction as that is converted into an armed force. Once it has real armed forces, entry into NATO should be quick if Kosovo meets the requirements. The only political obstacle is the non-recognizers, who will need to be convinced that Kosovo in the Alliance is a much better idea than Kosovo outside the Alliance.

IBNA: How is FYR  Macedonia moving toward the Euro-Atlantic integration?  Will the disputes of this country with its neighboring country make the journey of this country toward EU and NATO accession any longer?

Serwer: The only real hindrance for Macedonia is the “name” dispute with Greece, which is really about Greek and Macedonian identity, not the name. Macedonia’s armed forces have served with distinction in Afghanistan and its governing structures meet NATO requirements, if I understand correctly. I would like to see Macedonia enter NATO sooner rather than later under the interim agreement as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. That won’t be possible for the EU, which is still a long way off in any event.

IBNA: Riots and protests took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina against the government and the current political class, is the same is expected to happen in Kosovo and FYR Macedonia?

Serwer: I’m not in the riot/protest prediction business, but neither Kosovo nor Macedonia has suffered the stagnation that Bosnia and Herzegovina has suffered for the past eight years or so. Kosovo’s agreement on the north with Belgrade removes one possible source of instability. In Macedonia, I think NATO membership would contribute a good deal to the sense that the country is moving in the right direction. The normal political process in both Kosovo and Macedonia is in much better shape than it is in Bosnia, which is handicapped with a constitution that enshrines nationalists in power and leaves little room for issue-based politics. But the citizens of Kosovo and Macedonia should watch Bosnia with interest, because it is certainly a model to avoid.

IBNA: What will be the fate of northern Kosovo?

Serwer: Northern Kosovo consists of four Serb-majority municipalities that will now govern themselves in many respects, under the overall constitutional framework of the Republic of Kosovo. Its courts and police will be integrated with the system in the rest of Kosovo, and its municipal authorities will participate in an association of Serb municipalities formed under Pristina’s aegis. With any luck, it will prosper a bit more than in the past and become a happy and dull place.




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