What Will Refusing to Rebuild Bombed Infrastructure in Serbia Do to Its Neighbors?
By Mary Mostert, Analyst, Original Sources, June 10, 1999
An amendment introduced by Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire to S 1122 a $30 billion Defense appropriations bill and passed Tuesday states that "None of the funds made available in the 1999 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (Public Law 106-31) for emergency support of refugees and displaced persons and the local communities directly affected by the influx of refugees may be made available to implement a long-term, regional program of development or reconstruction in Southeastern Europe except pursuant to specific statutory authorization enacted on or after the date of enactment of this Act."
The purpose of the amendment, according to Sen. Gregg, was to prohibit use of funds in the bill for humanitarian purposes to make sure the funds"will be limited in their application so they cannot be used for long-term structural reform of the economy or the capital needs of Kosovo, without the President coming to Congress and requesting those funds be used in that way and without him putting forward a strategic plan which reflects how much it is going to cost us as a nation to reconstruct the Kosovo infrastructure. Until we receive that plan and it is approved by the Congress, these funds would not be made available for that sort of effort."
Of course, what is not being discussed or even mentioned by the electronic media is that the economy of Kosovo is very dependent upon the economy of Serbia.In fact, the economy of the entire Balkans will not flourish without Serbia's economy flourishing.
The External Affairs Department of the World Bank, (http://www.worldbank.org/news) in a report entitled "Kosovo war devastates trade for Balkan neighbors" observed that the damage done by NATO bombing to vital transportation routes in Yugoslavia were creating a major economic problem for the entire Balkan Peninsula. It noted: "The Kosovo conflict has dramatically limited vital transportation routes in the Balkan peninsula, and the cost of the region's economic recovery is likely to surpass $50 billion, the Journal of Commerce (p.7A) reports. According to estimates by the World Bank, the situation is potentially very serious for Albania, considered by many to be politically fragile.
"The World Bank says the economic impact on Macedonia, a landlocked nation of 2 million, has been severe. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia accounted for 20 percent of Macedonia's exports, and 12 percent of its imports; more than 50 percent of Macedonia's trade traditionally passes through Yugoslavia.
"The World Bank said the conflict has also hurt Romania, which also uses Yugoslavia as a transport conduit, the story adds.
"The news comes as the OECD says in its latest report that the Kosovo crisis is already demonstrating its impact on the economies of Yugoslavia's neighbors, the Wall Street Journal Europe (p.9) reports. In Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Croatia, and Bulgaria, GDP could decrease by as much as five percent this year, the OECD said, citing a recent estimate by the World Bank and the IMF. That estimate said an additional $1.5 billion in foreign funding would be needed this year for those five countries, in addition to Romania."
Today's London Telegraph reports that "Ministers from Europe, America, Russia and Japan were last night finalizing details for what is being called the 'Marshall Plan for the Balkans'. It will be the most ambitious package of reconstruction seen on the continent since America rebuilt it under the European Recovery Programme devised by secretary of state George Marshall in the aftermath of the Second World War. "This afternoon, at an extraordinary congress being held in Cologne, 36 countries and a dozen international institutions come together to launch a stability pact which aims to bring peace, development and democracy to Europe's neglected south-eastern corner, the source of so much bloodshed and instability since 1989.Sums of the order of £5 billion a year are being talked of for the region for many years to come, German sources say."
So, while the World Bank believes that the cost of NATO's cavalier destruction of Yugoslavia's infrastructure - bridges over the Danube, roads, oil refineries needed for gasoline, etc, is about $50 billion, the "ministers" are talking about $5 billion a year, and the Yugoslavs are putting the cost of rebuilding their wrecked nation at $100 billion.However, the World Bank noted: "But critics note that not a penny has actually been pledged." In fact, because of Sen. Judd's amendment to S 1122, none of THAT $30+ Billion will be used to rebuild in the Balkans. "America is reluctant to pay," the report said, "and the European Union, on whom the burden will fall, is strapped for cash, its largest member, Germany already grappling with a spiraling budget deficit. As ever, the nations involved have so far been more interested in setting up committees than in digging into their pockets.
"Under the chairmanship of Germany, which currently leads the G8 group of industrialised nations, a detailed blueprint for the pact will be adopted by the assembled ministers. Britain is a strong supporter of the plan, which was originally proposed in April, while the bombing of Yugoslavia was at its height.
"The pact aims first to redress the economic damage the war has brought to Serbia's neighbours, and secondly to help ensure increased prosperity in the hope that this will reduce the danger of further instability in the region. It will cost billions of pounds, and run for many years, though none of the figures has yet been firmly established.German sources say that the money involved will be of the order of £3-5 billion a year. Beneficiaries of the pact, which senior British ministers admit will have to be largely paid for by the EU, will be all of Yugoslavia's neighbours: Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
"Excluded will be Serbia itself. Senior British officials underline that until Slobodan Milosevic is gone, it is highly unlikely that any significant amount of western money will go to the state he presides over, though Serbia's sister Yugoslav republic, Montenegro, could well be eligible.
America and Britain are thought to be pushing to have this toughened up. However, senior officials recognize that it will probably be necessary to provide a bare minimum of aid to Serbia, for strictly humanitarian reasons."Help will have to be given towards repairing bombed power stations, since otherwise the Yugoslav people, with whom Nato says it has no quarrel, will face a grim Balkan winter. And the Danube will have to be cleared of the obstructions to shipping caused by the bridges that Nato bombs have brought crashing into the river. They affect not only Yugoslavia but Bulgaria and Romania too.
"Also not included in the aid programme is Kosovo itself. Until Nato forces enter the province, it is impossible to assess what its needs will be, and a separate "pledging conference" for Kosovo will have to be held in a few months' time. The immediate needs of returning refugees will be met out of existing humanitarian and emergency budgets.
"The stability pact will be administered by a co-ordinator, likely to be a former leader of Austria's conservative People's Party, Erhard Busek, and will be charged not only with overseeing economic aid to the Balkans, but also with democratization, human rights and security issues."
Democratization?The man that the European Union, NATO and Bill Clinton wants to force out of office, Slobodan Milosevic, was ELECTED, for heavens sake! That's a whole lot more than we can say for Hashim Thaci, leader of the KLA which plans to be the force, the government for Kosovo just as soon as they can get rid of the Serbs and the UN Peacekeeping force.
The last minute agreement among the military indicated that the Serbs refusal to act the part of a conquered army is beginning to grate on the nerves of NATO spokesmen. However, the determined position of the Serbs to bring the United Nations back into the discussions, which was what they wanted in the first place at Rambouillet, and an end to the bombing before they withdrew HAS been agreed to. That is not the way it is being reported by CNN and others whose idea of reporting is parroting official statements of NATO or the White House. However, last night NATO did not bomb for the first time in 77 days. NATO was very upset because the Serbs, they claim, have not started withdrawing. A Serb general in effect told Gen. Jackson to keep his shirt on, that he was moving out at 12:00 local time.
It appears to me that NATO and Clinton are trying desperately to make a defeat look like a victory.Billions of dollars of Western money is going to have to be found to take care of the humanitarian disaster caused by the bombing. Each time NATO intensified the bombing, more refugees found their way out of Kosovo to the Refugee camps, which are being financed by NATO countries.
All the bluster about not helping Serbia is probably just that. Those bridges across the Danube HAVE to be rebuilt because if they aren't, Bulgaria and Romania have some serious problems. The electrical system and communications systems HAVE to be rebuilt in order for the other Balkan nations to rebuild THEIR economy - which is closely intertwined with Yugoslavia's economy.
However, passing legislation in Washington designed to force the Serbs to "get rid" of Milosevic sounds tough and will deceive a lot of people into thinking that somehow Clinton won his war.
Of course, to pay for it, we'll have to spend the Social Security surplus and that will mean that, in the end, probably the baby boomers will find that they aren't going to be able to retire as early as they hoped. They'll have a few more working years to think about the wisdom of having blindly supported Bill Clinton for two elections. I think these last 77 days have cured the Serbs of any support or love for America.
Perhaps the Americans Should INSIST the Serbs KEEP Milosevic, if they Really Want Him Ousted?