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the September 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48,
(independent weekly), Belgrade, Yugoslavia, June 14, 2001.
to speculation that a new division of the Balkans is underway,
U.S. ambassador to Croatia William Montgomery said that he
has had to deny it every six months since being stationed
in the Balkans. The information about the planned division
was linked this time to some kind of conference at the Balkans
Institute in Washington, D.C. According to reports, the gathering
was held in March, and the participants included Henry Kissinger
and [Lord] David Owen [former British foreign secretary and
assistant to Cyrus Vance in mediating among the parties in
Bosnia] who presented a new plan for the division of the Balkans.
Some of the newspapers in Belgrade published maps of the division
plans, claiming that they got them from participants in the
soldier monitors Kosovo's northeastern border (Photo: AFP).
Such a conference never took place nor is there any indication
that any similar gathering attended by Henry Kissinger and
Lord Owen was held in the past two or three months.
This strange report caused a mild tremor in the Bush administration.
First, officials were perplexed that such a conference could
have been held without anyone knowing about it. After discovering
that it was a hoax, they started thinking about the concept
of dividing the territories. The Bush administration was intrigued
by the reactions from Europe: With the exception of Lord Owen,
who has for some time been speaking of the need for a new
Berlin congress that would establish new borders in the Balkans,
the American administration was faced with negative reactions
from its allies.
It is interesting that Washington is drawn to this kind of
solution, all the more since several people in key positions
in the new administration favor it and a majority support
the withdrawal of American troops from the Balkans. John Bolton,
the undersecretary of state, is among the most influential
advocates of a new division of the Balkans. Since 1994 he
has publicly supported this plan, which says that Bosnia would
be divided between Serbia, Croatia, and a narrow Muslim region.
Before he was appointed to his new post, he supported the
plan for the division of Kosovo under which Serbia would have
kept northern Kosovo and the rest of the region would have
become independent or part of Albania. Since becoming undersecretary,
Bolton has made no public statements about the Balkans.
It is widely known that the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld,
fully supports the withdrawal of American troops from the
Balkans. It is less known that his attitude is widely accepted
among the leaders of the Bush administration. At the very
start of the new administration, Rumsfeld and the majority
of his assistants in the Pentagon supported the withdrawal
of troops from the Balkans as a shock therapy for Europe and
the Balkans. There is a consensus among Rumsfeld, [Secretary
of State Colin] Powell, and [National Security Adviser] Condoleezza
Rice that a withdrawal should be gradual and take two to three
A month ago, when one of Bushs foreign policy advisers
on Europe was asked to describe American foreign policy toward
the Balkans, he stated clearly: Currently we have two
orphans in the region, Bosnia and Kosovo. These orphans are
dependent on the United States and Europe. Without our help,
they would not be able to survive. Our wish is that soon these
orphans become dependent only on Europe. Some people in Congress
now want the United States to take responsibility for Macedonia
and Montenegro. We have had enough of the dependent states,
and we do not want additional headaches.
The key foreign policy toward the Balkans is based on eliminating
these headaches and responsibilities for the security of the
region as soon as possible. In order for that to happen, the
members of the entire Bush administration understand that
they need to persuade Europe to take full responsibility for
the region. This means that the United States cannot make
any extreme or abrupt move and needs to be patient to achieve
the wanted results. Once it is understood that this is the
only important goal of American foreign policy toward the
Balkans, it becomes clear that the Bush administration is
ready to consider and take into serious account every option
that would facilitate and speed up a U.S. withdrawal from
the Balkans. This means that all options are on the table,
from the division of the territory up to the recognition of
new independent states. The only unacceptable thing for this
administration is a status quo.
It is clear that President Bush and especially Powell do not
intend to continue with the nation building started
by the Clinton administration. Powells statements in
the past few weeks have sent a clear message with regard to
American foreign policy and the ambitions of the Bush administration
to break with the old policy of the United States as global
police. This could be concluded when Powell said that the
United States needs to be a much more modest power and, in
relation to the Middle East, that it does not want to
put pressure on any side in the conflict to accept a solution
that is unacceptable to it, which would have to be implemented
by force and which would bind America to be that force. America
can only help in establishing peace if the conflicting parties
want this; and it is up to them to agree how they will live
with each other.
America is still defining its foreign policy, particularly
regarding the Balkans. The Bush administration has only recently
filled positions on Europe and the Balkans in the State Department
and the Pentagon. These people will need another four to six
months to get acquainted with the problems in the former Yugoslavia.
When we add to this that the Democrats took over the Senate
and that Sen. [Joseph R.] Biden, the chairman of the Senates
Foreign Relations Committee, has already announced that he
would organize a hearing on U.S. policy in the Balkans, it
becomes clear that we cannot expect major changes.
Only after four to six months will we see the real intentions
of President Bush and his administration.