States never commits its military forces lightly; the decision to contribute to KFOR was firmly grounded in the assessment that national interests, in particular European security and stability, were at stake. At the same time, compared to IFOR and SFOR, we were able to share more of the burden with our European allies, with U.S. troops comprising only 15% of the NATO-led force.
The international community continues to assist refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes and communities, a critical step to social renewal. To date, more than 898,000 Kosovars from diverse ethnic backgrounds have returned (many with the help of KFOR).
Rebuilding infrastructure and promoting economic growth is critical to the hope that one day Kosovo will have a sustainable free market economy. To this end, more than 36,000 new homes have been constructed and more than 70% of private enterprises have been restarted since the end of the war. Much more remains to be done, but the list of impressive economic achievements continues to grow. Supporting democratic institutions and processes is crucial component of our strategy. In October 2000, free and open municipal elections were held for the first time in Kosovo’s history, a key step in establishing the autonomous institutions necessary for the Kosovars to govern themselves.
Finally, we continue to promote multiethnic reconciliation in recognition that real democracy requires peaceful coexistence among all ethnic groups and credible protection for minority rights. Statistics indicate a dramatic decline in crime over the past year in Kosovo; however, sporadic ethnic violence still challenges the international community and requires our vigilance.
Today, Kosovo is largely an international protectorate focused on rebuilding itself and inculcating respect for the rule of law. As these intermediate goals are attained, however, Kosovo will continue its journey toward becoming a self-administering democratic community within a unified Europe. Kosovo’s final status will ultimately be determined through a political process. The United States will work closely with the EU to ensure that the necessary political and economic environment exists to allow Kosovo’s final status to be resolved eventually.
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) – Promoting Democracy
The prospects for sustained peace, stability, and growth throughout the region have improved with the removal of President Milosevic and the election of FRY President Kostunica. President Kostunica’s victory signaled the end of destructive and isolationist policies of the Milosevic regime. His government has indicated a desire to seek a future with Europe. The United States remains committed to the people of Serbia and we will support the new democratic governments stated aspirations to reintegrate into Europe and the international community, and to use the transition as an opportunity to foster democracy and market reform in the FRY.
In Montenegro, the democratically elected government of President Djukanovic has made significant progress in implementing political and economic reforms. The United States will continue to support Montenegro and encourage dialogue and negotiation between Montenegro and the new democratic government in Belgrade.
In cooperation with our allies and the international community, efforts are underway to reintegrate the FRY into regional and international organizations. For example, in October 2000, the United States supported FRY admission into the Stability Pact and the United Nations. In November 2000, the U.S. supported the FRY’s entry into OSCE. The FRY has also begun discussions with the IMF and World Bank on membership — as one of the successor states to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia — and has asked to join the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). To bolster the FRY’s democratic transition, the United States supported removal of the energy embargo and the travel ban, while maintaining sanctions on financial transactions and trade that could still benefit Milosevic and his cronies. The United States is assessing Serbia’s immediate and long-term assistance and humanitarian needs, and is promoting dialogue and negotiation between Montenegro, Kosovo and a new democratic Serb government. While the success of the Kostunica government’s effort to consolidate power and build democracy is by no means certain, and while peace in the region remains fragile, the United States stands ready to support the Serbian people at this historic moment in their efforts to have the FRY become a productive member of the international community of democracies.
Bosnia – Implementing Dayton
The full implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords is key to developing Bosnia as a stable, peaceful and economically viable state within Southeastern Europe. Dayton implementation will not only foster Bosnia’s integration with Europe, but will also provide the conditions for eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. To that end, we continue to support the return of refugees, implementation of political and economic reforms, the weakening of the nationalist political parties’ grip on political and economic power, the strengthening of state institutions, the reform and integration of the Entity Armed Forces, and the apprehension of remaining war criminals.
While Dayton implementation continues to be measured and incremental, we are making progress. Refugee returns have increased significantly in 2000, in part due to a more secure environment established by NATO-led forces and international financial support. The improved security situation has allowed SFOR to reduce the number of troops in Bosnia from IFOR’s initial commitment of 60,000 soldiers in 1995 to current levels of 20,800 — a reduction by roughly two-thirds. Further progress in implementing Dayton will allow for further reduction in our military presence.
Along with the international community, we continue to press Bosnian officials to accelerate efforts to promote the rule of law, fight corruption, institute economic reforms and create stable state institutions, including those associated with the armed forces. Recent elections have seen growing political pluralism among the electorate and the advancement of moderate, pro-Dayton parties. We seek to support these trends.
Bosnia has benefited from dramatic political change in Croatia, where a reform-oriented government was elected earlier this year. Upon taking power, the new government sent Bosnian Croats the unequivocal message that their future was in Bosnia, not Croatia, and that they should support the full implementation of the Dayton Accords. Croatia’s new political orientation has led to the rise of moderate forces in the dominant Bosnian Croat political party and has resulted in a significant decline in Croatian support for the Bosnian Croat component of the Federation army, a necessary step for full military integration in the Federation.
Unfortunately, in the Republika Srpska (RS) some hard-line nationalists still resist efforts to implement several Dayton objectives, from refugee returns to the arrest of war criminals. While we have had some success in moving the Dayton process forward, genuine and sustainable change in the Republika Srpska will depend in part on the cooperation of the new government in the FRY. President Kostunica’s public support for the Dayton Accords is encouraging, but must be matched by concrete actions to encourage Bosnian Serbs to pursue their future as part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Finally, it is imperative to our objectives that remaining Bosnian war criminals are apprehended and sent to The Hague. Consequently, we strongly support the efforts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In 2000, six additional indicted war criminals were transferred to the ICTY, five of whom were detained by SFOR. The ICTY’s work in the region has also benefited from the enhanced cooperation offered by the new government in Croatia.