ICG's Balkans program presently spans projects in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. A team of policy analysts are stationed in the region, with the overall Program Director based at ICG's headquarters in Brussels. Since beginning work in Bosnia in February 1996, ICG has built up a sound track record in the Balkans, being seen as an independent voice and source of influential new policy ideas.
The Balkans remains an area of critical strategic interest to Western governments and a potential flash point for further conflicts in the post-Milosevic era. The region's problems are complex, deeply rooted and unlikely to be resolved without sustained attention and involvement on the part of the international community. For these reasons, ICG will maintain a sizeable presence in the Balkans for the foreseeable future.
Within the region, ICG will continue to focus on the evolution of events in the individual entities, assessing their significance, inter-relationship and wider impact, but will also explore a number of thematic issues going to the structure and future stability of the whole region.
In particular, the Group has singled out the following issues for special focus in 2000/2001:
- Albania: The continuing problems of poor security, public disorder, organised crime and corruption and chronically weak state institutions.
- Bosnia: The Dayton framework; refugee return; the economy and the need for accelerated economic and structural reform; foreign aid; political change in Republika Srpska; organised crime and corruption.
- Kosovo: The evolution of the peace process and Kosovo's legal status; shifts in the ethnic Albanian political scene; the security situation; reconstruction; the efforts of the UN administration in the province to establish local self-government; and elections at the provincial level.
- Macedonia: Ethnic tensions; governance; and changing socio-economic conditions.
- Montenegro: Montenegro's future status and its relationship with Serbia; and the need for progress in democratic, institutional and economic reform;
- Serbia: The challenges facing the Serbian authorities; the development of independent media and civil society; institutional and economic reform and tackling corruption.