Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2005

Forgotten Intervention? What the United States Needs to Do in the Western Balkans

Amelia Branczik, William L. Nash

June 2005

Council on Foreign Relations


In 2002, the Center for Preventive Action published Balkans 2010, a Task Force report that laid out a vision for a stable, peaceful western Balkans (comprising Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Albania) and identified the requisite objectives and milestones to achieve that vision. Many of the report's recommendations remain valid today, particularly the need to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, dismantle politico-criminal syndicates, and promote economic reform and development.

Since 2002, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia have all seen encouraging progress in many areas; elsewhere and in other respects, the situation has stagnated or deteriorated. The ongoing uncertainty over final status has increased tensions in Kosovo, fueling Serbia's political turmoil and threatening to destabilize the entire region. The momentum for reform in Serbia, at its zenith in early 2003, has flagged since the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Despite progress on reforming and unifying its military and intelligence services, Bosnia faces a situation of mounting urgency to tackle its ineffective and inefficient governance system.