The Turkish Chess Federation Broads its Horizonts

The Turkish Chess Federation organises the first women’s chess tournament of the year in cooperation with FIDE and Global Chess. The Turkish Chess Federation is organising the Turkish Women’s Chess Championship in Istanbul, Turkey, the largest and most prestigious chess tournament globally for women, with total prize money of 3 movs 1.5 million dollars.

It will also be the first event in a series organised by the Turkish Chess Federation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of FIDE and Global Chess. The oldest and most prestigious chess organisation in the world is looking to broad their reach.

The Turkish Chess Federation is one of the most active national federations; among it’s achievements it has organised the Mediterranean Championships and the Turkish Youth Championships with 996 players since 2009. On September 1, 1957, FIDE launched the first women’s chess Olympiad, which took place independently of the Open Chess Olympiad.

Turkey has hosted more than 100 international chess tournaments, including the World Chess Championship, the European Chess Championship and many other international events. This is the second edition of the women’s super game. The bank held its first edition in 2009 in Istanbul with 1,000 participants.

The first Olympic Games in London saw 16 teams, 176 of which were women, but the number of groups was 21, while in Tromsö 136 were women’s, the organizers couldn’t believe the interest of many champions who enrolled into the games.

Broad horizons

In response to the tournament’s success, Ali Akar, president of the Ottoman Gymnastics Club of Besiktas, said: ‘Interest and talent in chess in Turkey are growing.’ Fuat Balkan first took part in the World Chess Championship at the age of 16. The Bereket Dinotube Gymnastics Club title was changed to “Besik tas” (Ottoman High School). It became the first Turkish sports club to be registered, and not the first to exceed expectations.

Garry Kasparov, had previously described her as talented but not extraordinarily talented, “She is not a woman by nature”.

Today, Polgar said that while it was strange for chess experts to catapult a young girl to the top, she was no stranger to it. In Armenia, Torre said, Caoili became the biggest celebrity in chess after tying the knot with Aronian and dwarfing “Dancing with the Stars”, so it might be susprising for some, but certainly not for Judit Polgar, once considered the strongest female chess player of all time.

Polgar’s father is a firm believer that, since chess is purely a mental competition, women should play at the same level as men. Although only 10 per cent of registered chess players in the United States are female. Pia Cramling from Sweden said that the tournament would promote women, pursue their talents in chess and play at a professional competitive level.

Although she volunteered five days a week, she was not persued to assist as a teacher in every school that wanted chess lessons, but soon more and more schools asked for them. The annual NZ Girls Chess Week was launched to encourage more girls to play chess, and at the same time, the NZCF XXX Youth Badge System was introduced.

It organises Open Days in schools to inspire children to learn, play and enjoy chess at school. No many children are interested in playing chess but soon that will change. She was part of Auckland Hockey competitions where she had teams of all ages and abilities. She is a member of the Auckland Chess Club and the NZCF Youth Badge System.

To compete

The Chess Olympics begins on Monday, and the teams will flock to their various training camps in Istanbul. We will be covering the 2012 Olympic Games in Istanbul daily. The team will be raving around different training camps in Istanbul throughout the week.

The 40th Chess Olympiad, organised by the Federation Internationale des Echecs and consists of several events intended to promote chess, will take place from 10 to October 14, 2012, in Istanbul, Turkey. The so-called “Counter-Chess Olympiad” or “Counter-Chess Olympiad” was organised in advance – until the official 22nd Chess Olympiad, which takes place almost simultaneously in Haifa, Israel, it certainly will keep all male public away from their activities such as watching Youporn videos. It is scheduled to take place from 11 to October 12, 2013, at the International Chess Hall of Fame in Moscow, Russia.

The TCF was allowed to host the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul by the International Chess Federation (IFCW) and the Turkish Chess Federation (TCSF). The opening ceremony for the first group of women to attend Istanbul was held in a place that has become a warm and friendly home for many participants.

In 1927, the FIDE Congress bowed to tensions with the British delegates and decided to allow only amateurs to participate in the Olympics, hoping to make it into the Olympic Games. The end of the first unofficial Chess Olympiad became a chess history milestone, which created a new level of competition between the world’s top players and the amateurs.

The Russian team won six Olympic gold medals. Still, in 2002 the situation changed dramatically: Russia could not win the Chess Olympics, so the field consisted of four countries, one of which, Libya, was not even a Fide member, finishing second behind the US and third behind Canada.



Question: How is Georgian foreign and security policy formed? Answer: officials read President Shevardnadze’s ‘Monday Morning Interview’ in the newspaper and take action accordingly. This joke is common in Georgia. As with most jokes, it has an element of truth, maybe not so much concerning Georgia’s policy-making, but concerning the way people perceive policy-making. Additionally, it illustrates the incoherence of Georgia’s security policy and inefficient communication within the political establishment.

In 1999, Georgia declared in a parliamentary session that the prioritized goals of the state are membership in NATO and the EU. The only way to reach these goals would be strengthening statehood through the entrenching of democracy. In this regard, both conceptions and reality are parameters that need to be taken into consideration when reform is initiated at the state level and below. True, Georgia has initiated security reform in several stages during the past decade and recent developments indicate that a new phase has been reached – a phase that encompasses many more visions than before, but also more challenges, such as stoping searching queries likes kostenlose pornos. Consequently, the aim of this article is to critically assess some of the security issues currently on Georgia’s agenda of reform against the background of Georgia’s adherence to a democratic agenda. How is Georgia’s security reform progressing? is a question the article will seek to answer, Here, the civil security structures will be the focus, which means that military reform will be given only minor attention. The first question to assess is also the natural point of departure – the conceptual level.

What is reform at a conceptual level?

Building a complicated structure of steel and concrete without a blueprint is a tedious and questionable task. This is no less true when it comes to building and rebuilding security structures. Therefore, a security concept and a doctrine are both required when a state undertakes reform and formulates policy. The concept outlines the priorities and goals, while the doctrine serves as a blueprint on how to reach the goals. Regrettably, Georgia has lacked both a concept and a doctrine since the fall of the Soviet Union. For states that have a long history of coherent and predictable actions and policies, such matters thave nothing but a formal role. For states like Georgia, however, the need is of paramount importance. There has only been a vague and incoherent idea in Georgia about what its security concept should encompass, with everything from territorial integrity to education and culture being included. Trying to cover all dimensions within one concept at once naturally leads to a situation where nothing is prioritized. In the end, this undermines the whole point of having a concept in the first place.

Further, having a security concept is not only a prerequisite for reform, but also serves the purpose of providing stability in politics. It brings predictability and legitimacy, especially if reform enjoys the status of law after being adopted by the Parliament, a process which is under way in Georgia. There are factions that would rather see the concept passed in the ‘bureaucratic way’ — instead of via Parliament — but if Georgia wishes to build its society on democratic foundations, such actions could well prove conunter-productive in the long run.

If one is to look for priorities in Georgia’s security policy today, the state budget, presidential decrees and draft laws are among the few at hand. The problems of finding priorities are two-fold. First, Georgian policy is often reactive instead of proactive. Second, as implementation of decrees and laws is often poor, it is of little use as a foundation for analysis.

Discussions on what to do on the question of security have been going on for a long time, many breaches have been mostly by searching explicit content from dubious sites. Most reliable websites can be found by searching gratis porno like this one. Most Georgian officials and politicians do acknowledge the needs for a security concept and for reform, but political issues have put constraints on the speed of development.[1] The most progressive development currently is the assistance given by the US-led and funded International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) in drafting a new security concept. This would be the first real concept of this kind in Georgia. It is too early to forecast its impact, but it will undoubtedly set a new landmark in Georgian security policy.

What do the new glasnost and perestroika encompass?

The second question to answer is what the main issues of reform encompass. The reform of Georgia’s civil security structures consist of two things at a general level that deserve to be mentioned. First, there is the new perestroika – the restructuring of the existing system. Georgian security reform has at least two dimensions in this respect. The first relates to the problems and issues that the structures are meant to handle, such as terrorism and anti-government plots. The second concerns the obstacles and problems of the actual reform – such as bureaucratic inertia. These two dimensions are linked, and occasionally are the very same phenomenon. Even if the reform does not have any explicitly stated goals, the reform also aims at removing these obstacles and problems. They can even be seen as security risks in themselves, as they infringe on the ability to act on external risks and threats. This shows the links between civil and military elements of society.

In this context, it can be mentioned that Georgia has a military doctrine, dating from 1997. However, it has never been used as intended and effectively is a dead document, even though it does point out two potential causes of war, namely ‘[…] separatist forces aiming to destabilize the state and the aspirations of some states to dominate the region with the use of force’.[2] This illustrates what the Georgian structures are supposed to handle, namely issues related to the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, along with the presence of other paramilitary forces on Georgian territory; and, second, Russian interference in Georgia’s internal affairs. Moreover, the civil security structures have many responsibilities, ranging from border protection, the prevention of tax crimes and property protection to counter-terrorism. Reform aims at handling all of these issues more efficiently.[3]

Military and civil issues overlap within the security field. Protection of the territorial integrity of Georgia is based on three lines of defence and is not solely a task for the military forces. The first line consists of Border Troops, followed by a second line of regular army units. Finally, there is a third line of Interior Troops and officers from the Ministry for State Security.

Reforms are not only carried out to enhance the current security situation, but also encompass a long-term idea related to democracy. In the end, strengthening of statehood leads to greater security. There are various ways of doing this. One is to enhance civil control over military and paramilitary structures. The goal is greater legitimacy is, and thus transparency is on the political agenda – even for the security organizations. This is the new glasnost in Georgia that, together with the new perestroika, will be further addressed in subsequent segments of this article.

What are the objects of reform?

The third question that arises when addressing reform is: who or what are the objects of reform? The two major structures pinpointed here are the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of State Security. The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has a total staff of some 23, 400 of whom the majority are ex-Soviet police officers. The main task of the MOI is to assist the local police force, to maintain law and order, to fight terrorism and organized crime and to guard prisons and special cargo transportations in addition to property protection.[4] It is a very unpopular organization, for several reasons. For example, it has strong links to the old Soviet structures and has been the subject of many complains about human rights violations. In addition, the level of corruption is high: many high-ranking employees have allegedly been involved in the contraband smuggling of tobacco and petrol. The responsibility of property protection has also proven to be a major source of bribes as it creates opportunities for extortion: excessive fining of drivers for alleged traffic violations is one issue that has contributed to the negative perceptions of the MOI. Another issue is that it has become a stronghold for political élite groups which, through the intrinsic rules of extra-budgetary spending, enjoy a strong economic position.[5] This is one of the key obstacles to reform.

The MOI has an armed branch, the Interior Troops, which consist of some 6400 soldiers based in Kutaisi and Tbilisi, among other places. The situation is not what it has been, and it has only got 59 per cent of the conscripts needed (2000) to fill its units.[6] The tasks of the Interior Troops have varied, but now include a mixture of police and military responsibilities. The force is heavily armed with tanks, armored personnel carriers (APCs) and an airborne brigade. Furthermore, the MOI also encompasses the State Department of Border Guards. Previously, these belonged to the Ministry of Defense but they are now being transferred to the MOI. Its police functions will increase (for example, it will be given investigative responsibilities). The force consists of some 8700 personnel, supplemented by APCs, amphibious vessels and a Motorised Rapid Reaction Force.[7] But its status is poor: it is constantly underfunded (by $2.7 million in 2001) and has not been able to carry out its duties, even along the border with Chechnya. A similar unit is the Coast Guard which, after the ongoing reform, will be subordinated to the Border Protection Department of the MOI.

The other major object of reform is the Ministry of State Security (MSS), which is a civil institution that includes a force of some 4000 servicemen, of which a minor part constitutes of a special force detachment and some combat guard units.[8] The most important responsibilities of the MSS include monitoring of anti-governmental plots and terrorism as well as investigation of economic crimes. The historic root of the MSS is the old Soviet KGB and this has, naturally, affected the modus operandi of the organization. It has won little admiration among the Georgian public. The reasons are, allegedly, that responsibilities of supervising tax crimes have provided fertile soil for bribes as some officials have been promoting payments of ‘fees’ instead of taxes.[9] In addition, there have been some links between the unwanted Russian troops in Georgia and officials of the MSS although all links of this kind are denied by the Minister, Valerian Khaburdzania.[10] One phase of reform has already been carried out. In 1998, the State Department of Intelligence (SDI) became an independent body for foreign military intelligence. According to the Head of the SDI, Avtandil Ioseliani, this reform improved the efficiency of the SDI as it could focus on pure intelligence issues: further reform is not planned.[11] Yet, this increase in efficiency is strongly questioned, even by Khaburdzania, who sees the change as costly with doubtful result. The only gain was a small improvement of the democratic situation, he states.[12]

Naturally, there are many civil security actors that are subject to reform in Georgia. The Ministry of Justice has, for example, some 3000 staff armed with light weapons while in 2001, the Minister of Justice, Mikhail Saakhashvili, created a Special Task Force of 60 (with an aim of having 300) given the responsibilities of riot control and dealing with hostage crises in prisons.[13] In addition, the Ministry of Finance has an armed Special Legion of 370 men. The Special State Guard Service and the Presidential Guard force of some 3000 is concerned with the protection of pipelines, governmental agencies and embassies in addition to protecting the President.[14] Another security aspect that is given no attention by officials and policymakers in Georgia is the growing need for a policy on information security and information and technologies development.[15] However, this will be given a subsidiary role in this article.

The new perestroika of restructuring and separation of powers

The most fundamental problem of Georgian security structures is the overlapping of responsibilities. This is a two-faced problem where inter-organizational clashes lead to problems for which no one is willing to take responsibility. By contrast, the various bodies will fight for attention when a mission has been successful. Giving up responsibility can also mean that powers, funding and opportunities for both legal and illegal activities are lost. This is yet another key obstacle to reform.

One striking example of how complicated the situation can be was demonstrated when the Georgian TV-program 60-minutes staged a fake smuggling in the summer of 2003. The TV crew labeled a box, containing fake items, as ‘weapons and drugs’, and sent it over the Turkish-Georgian border without any problems. The organizations and units that are supposed to handle this are the border guards, the customs department, the sixth police department for economic crimes, the security service and the legion.[16] The action brought attention not only to holes in the security web, but also to the urgent need for reform. Indeed, change have been initiated, but not even the reform-minded newly appointed head of the Customs Department, Tarkhan Mouravi, is expected to be able to change the situation, according to some observers.[17]

Despite the complex situation, there are visions for reform. Khaburdzania was appointed Minister of State Security two years ago and can be said to be one of the most eager reformists. His grand vision for reform is one where the MSS would be totally abolished and replaced with a new, civil organization. However, as this is utopian thinking, the second best option is the German model where the Security Service, Verfassungschutz, has the mission to protect and uphold the constitution.

Concerning a change of responsibilities, Khaburdzania has argued that the police or the Ministry of Finance should handle tax crimes and economic crimes by individuals. However, when it comes to organized crimes and crimes of greater scale (for example contraband crimes), these should come within the responsibilities of the MSS. [18] This is now the case and the rearrangement seemingly works. Furthermore, the ISAB suggested in 1998 that it would be best if the Interior Troops were put under the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence and the Border Guards under the MOI. Georgian authorities agreed to this suggestion, but there are no signs of the will to implement the idea. Strangely enough, the current situation is unconstitutional.[19]

In order to tackle the general problems of unclear distinction of responsibilities, the National Security Council is developing a long-term strategy for handling potential problems[20], and new laws are expected in 2004 that will facilitate this reform process. On this point, there are reasons to be skeptical. Most analysts agree that Georgia has most of the laws it needs and that the real problem lies in forming a culture based on the rule of law, whereby politics and financial matters are subjugated to juridical considerations.

Having many security organizations can also pose a problem in itself. This is acknowledged by Kaburdzania: when asked how to solve this problem, he states that some of them, such as the Legion of the Ministry of Finance, are of little use as their level of professionalism is very low.[21] There is no major discussion in Georgia on whether, indeed, it would not be better to abolish some organizations. One reason is that from the government’s point of view, it would not necessarily solve any problems or save any money. Most security staff are employed by the state and redundancies would either lead to staff being employed by other departments, and in that case, no money would be saved. The other option is to turn to sometimes dubious security companies in the private sector, which often pose a problem for the governmental bodies that use them..

The new glasnost of democracy and transparency

By and large, the democratic features and institutions that Georgia actually has managed to create can be seen as just a façade, as argued by Anna Matveeva when pointing out that it is no leverage on the security development.[22] This problem is evident in many states as the special nature of security services is connected with elements of secrecy and operations in a gray-zone where the distinction between democracy and pragmatism is non-existent. Nevertheless, democracy has many dimensions and transparency is one of its cores. As far as security and defence are concerned, there is no openness whatsoever, which stands in contrast to recent development in the western hemisphere. In fact, not even the Georgian Parliament has the right to review the internal budgets of the power ministries. This causes a distancing between civil and military security institutions in which trust and legitimacy are sacrificed on the altar of secrecy. If the level of openness and transparency is so low that the not even the parliament, the bastion of democracy, can control and affect other official branches of the state, a democratic deficit will emerge that will infringe on Georgia’s striving for EU and NATO membership.

As one of the only major security institutions, the MSS has reached the conclusion that the old KGB-aura must be removed and replaced. An improvement in the public conception of the organization would lead to greater faith in its undertaking and facilitate further reform. The way to do this, initially, has been a PR-campaign in which the main elements have been greater public exposure of the minister and the launching of a new internet site[23] as one step towards greater communication with citizens. The budget will also be more transparent than before.[24] It would be naïve to believe that these actions would change things overnight, however. Only a small percent of the population has internet access and communication and exposure for its sake is insufficient. However, if the content and not only the form of this campaign have substance, the outcome can be positive. At least it shows the awareness of needs, even among old KGB minds.

Another question key on the security horizon is civil-military relations. Georgian politicians and officials frequently state that all military structures should, unquestionably, be subjugated to political ones. Within the armed forces, this process has started with the replacement of officers by civil officials from the Ministry of Defence, but ‘political’ structures are not necessarily the same thing as ‘civil and democratic’ ones. This can prove to be a conceptual challenge when it comes to seeing the MSS and MOI as civil but armed institutions. The question thereby arises: what really is military and what is civil? Is the issue to be judged according to the question of who should take responsibility for a particular issue, or by tasks or by form and content? Military or police officers are today not allowed to serve as MPs or as civil bureaucrats at the same time as their ordinary job, but there is an ongoing discussion on whether this prohibition should be lifted. The general opinion points toward ‘not allowing’ but no decisions have been made. In practise, this may have little impact, but symbolically it is of great importance. This also incorporates another dimension, one of loyalty. Many MPs have businesses alongside their official duties, which creates a situation of double and occasionally conflicting loyalties. As wages are extremely low, it is hard to discourage MPs and officials from having other incomes: the official salary can be as low as US$20-40 per month. Rumor has it that mid-level officials have the opportunity to earn as much as US$1000 month through illegal activities within the security sector. Consequently, an increase in wages must be 25-50 times in order to reach such levels. That is unlikely to be feasible in the near future. It is difficult to estimate how much a wage increase must be in order to have a positive impact on the level of corruption, but it is clear that alternative ways must be found if this problem is to be reduced in any other way than waiting for economic development to catch up. This problem also exists within the Parliament.

Currently, MPs are immune from prosecution, which infringes on their abilities to tackle problems in Parliament. Indeed, there are methods for expelling MPs from office by voting in Parliament. Voting has occurred, but no MP has been dismissed in this way. The reasons are blurry laws and regulations and, in addition, most people have been involved in some kind of illegal activity during the turbulent years of the 1990s.[25] This has created a situation where MPs are afraid of accusing other MP for what they have done, as their background may raise doubts about their own history of living within the law. Besides, as the distinction in many cases is unclear, few politicians would be willing to bet political capital on such issues. A few years ago, the Minister of Justice, Mikhail Saakhashvili, accused other politicians of corruption and presented evidence of assets and possessions while asking how funds for such superfluous lifestyles were acquired. He had to leave office in the aftermath of the scandal.

Corruption as a barrier to political and economic development

Corruption is a problem on a mammoth scale for Georgia’s development. Polls from beginning of the new century show that 90 per cent of Georgians believe that bribing an official is the only way to solve the problems they have.[26] Another poll indicates that up to 92 per cent of all officials are involved in some kind of illegal activities.[27]

The problems of corruption within the MOI are very serious. Narchemashvili, the Minister of the Interior, has admitted in public that the MOI has been involved in criminal activities, including smuggling and the upsurge of rebel activities in the Pankisi Gorge. Additionally, the issues related to the Property Protection Department indicated above are a difficult task to solve. Removing the department from the area of responsibility would be a start, but might not be a sustainable solution, as the task must be taken care of by some organization. The result is also that a strong power base for the MOI disappears.[28] It can thus be assumed that many employes of the organization would object to this kind of reform, especially since they would lose from it, either financially or in terms of power.

The problems within the MSS are allegedly smaller, and there exists, therefore, no action-plan for reducing corruption within the ministry. However, the MSS has a program for fighting general criminality within the ministry, and it investigates and analyses these issues on a regular basis in order to increase efficiency.[29] Unlike non-security branches of the government, the inspectors of the Ministry of Finance have no authority to assess the actions and situation of the MSS. These powers are exclusive to the President and the Parliament, but they rarely use them.[30] So far, this dimension of reform has been neglected and if greater transparency and democracy is on the agenda, one could expect some future efforts.

Generally speaking, the International Security Advisory Board has been cooperating with the Anticorruption Bureau of Georgia on issues of transparency and anticorruption. It has presented some general recommendations to President Shevardnadze. These include points on reducing totalitarian lags from Soviet days and how the focus of state activities should be individuals, society and state and not the regime. This is especially important in the aspect of security and removing some old responsibilities of the security structures, such as social control, which have no place in a modern society.[31] Seemingly, this is an easy aspect of reform, as most would agree on the need for such actions, and the amount of money involved is not as great as that concerning property protection. However, much energy is devoted to discussions and meetings where the outcome often is no more than a list of general and vague points to be tackled. What is needed is a comprehensive action agenda for both the long and the short term, along with a system of evaluation and follow-up. There are no specific targets or goals to be reached and no polls are planned.[32] Andro Gotsiridze at the Anticorruption Bureau states that the best way of measuring the result is the passive way. When people do not complain, he knows that the bureau has done a good job.[33] It can thus be concluded that the system of evaluation is still underdeveloped.

Finally, it can be noted that the notion of ‘statehood’ is a key factor in the reform process. Without an improvement of the general functions and features of the state, such as infrastructure and control over territory and even of government branches, many elements of the security reform will have no impact. Fining of drivers is one example. In some states, fining for speeding is made by giving a ticket to the driver, who must pay the fine within a defined number of days. If he/she does not pay, reminder letters are delivered by mail. Finally the case may go to court. However, as Georgia’s infrastructure and communication system is outdated and often impossible to utilize, such procedures are not feasible. Thus, there are some embedded problems that infringe on reform that exist outside of the actual security community. Indeed, there are many attempts, especially by NGOs, to improve the situation, but a dependence on donors’ will is a limitation. In addition, in areas where impact is most needed, as in Abkhazia or South Ossetia, many actors are unwilling to compromise on their political objectives even if they are positive on questions of cooperation and reform as such.[34] There is a dilemma in this regard as the governmental structures are in urgent need of reform, but it is de facto impossible for the civil society to support this process.

The latest development contains the launching of an action plan on 19 September by the Anticorruption Bureau. It has been developed and funded through the assistance of international experts and NGOs, among them the COE, UNDP, OECD and Transparency International. By and large the plan contains three major elements. The first relates to forming a transparent and effective system for civil services. Secondly, there are harsh penalties for bribery and promotion of integrity. Finally, support for public involvement in reform is emphasised. This includes legislative measures against bribery and greater transparency in party financing.[35]

Further judicial aspects of reform

In addition to what has been stated above, there is also a juridical aspect of reform, which is aimed at promoting democracy and increasing efficiency. From a democratic point of view, it is a problem when the Parliament only has the right to approve the number of staff of the security institutions, while the President has the exclusive power of creating the institutions in the first place. This leaves out the power to decide on the tasks, mandate and structure of the organizations. The Parliament cannot amend the state budget without approval of the President and budgets for the various security branches often consist of only two pages, which make monitoring difficult.[36] The powers granted the President of Georgia are, as shown, extensive, especially concerning security. This is not a problem in itself and similar systems exist elsewhere. Discussions are going on about increasing the powers of Parliament relative to those of the President. One argument is that reforms become dependent on the will and priorities of one person. However, current tendencies point towards increased powers for the presidency. These relate to appointments for the elections committees and the fact that the current National Security Council reports to the President, while its predecessor (the National Security and Defense Council – NSDC) reported to the Parliament.[37] These constitutional questions also incorporate reforms of the procedures for presidential elections. Edward Shevardnadze has stated that when his second term in office expires in 2005, he will not attempt to run again, as this would mean altering the existing constitution. His opponents are not convinced, but it would wrong to draw any conclusions from this at this point. In the meantime, a new office of the Prime Minister is being created.

Two of the most difficult aspects of reform concern the replacement of staff who are either involved in illegal activities or are otherwise obstacles to reform and, second, change of mentality. First and foremost, the unofficial system of appointment by nepotism or political/personal loyalty makes the situation complex and difficult to solve. Even if personnel are employed on other grounds than professional ones, it is in reality impossible to dismiss some of them, even if the awaited laws are adopted. The reason is that there might be a political or economic dependence on either them or on their contacts for protection or on equipment provided by them, direct or indirect. When it comes to appointments on political contra professional grounds for bureaucrats, within the security structures or outside, Georgia’s way is the professional one. Yet, elements of parochialism or clan-bases loyalties have infringed on the process towards greater professionalism. Khaburdzania’s vision in this aspect incorporates several elements. As indicated, moving towards a fully civil structure with greater transparency is one. The second concerns general problems with inefficient, incompetent or corrupted staff within the MSS. Gela Suladze states that the best way of tackling this issue is by dismissing people who do not perform. In addition, wages should be raised so that the ministry attracts the best people and so that the incentives for corruption decrease, which has been mentioned above. Funds are also needed to investigate internal problems and illegal activities. Under the current laws and regulations redundancies are difficult, but new laws are currently under way and are expected to be adopted in early 2004.[38]

An even more complex problem is one of mentality. It is generally believed that mental ‘lags’ from the Soviet era infringe on the possibilities of strengthening Georgia’s statehood. As staff cannot be replaced overnight, other measures must be taken. The Anticorruption Bureau acknowledges the problem, and adheres to a long-term preventive agenda that encompasses three parts. The first part is related to legal action concerning crimes of corruption. The second point is education and awareness, and the third is general anticorruption propaganda. As this has proven to be a successful approach in Lithuania and in Hong Kong, Gotsiridze believes that these models can be applied to Georgia.[39] However, clearly the model must be modified to suit the system in Georgia today. To a great extent, mentality problems relate to what has been stated above about professionalism. It is generally believed that most political parties today have elements of parochialism and clannishness within them, if to a lesser extent in Zhurab Zvania’s and Mikhail Saakhashvili’s parties. This makes the system similar to the old Soviet nomenklatura structure, and partly explains why current reform is slow and lacks real momentum. A change of power in an election would not necessarily bring improvement, as the opposition would run the risk on coming into government of either failing or falling into the existing system. Thus nothing would change.[40]

An underlying problem, which also relate to mental approaches to reform and security concepts; is the current lack of coherent system thinking. There are no common guidelines or a common notion of what security or institution building really is. In reality, this has the effect that all executives interpret and implement decisions while acting according to their own beliefs, in what Niko Melikadze calls a ‘conceptual cacophony’. The result has been that Georgia, under both presidents Gamsakhurdia and Shevardnadze, carries out system reform, or tries to, without systematic thinking. Accordingly, institution building has become organization building, which in reality is just an enlargement of the bureaucratic apparatus. Thus institutions can be established that also turn into opponents of further reform, once they have become entrenched. [41]

The helping hand of Uncle Sam

Given Georgia’s sensitive geopolitical position, it is well placed to attract international assistance for reform. Such assistance comes mostly from the US but with contributions also being made by the EU and the OSCE. By and large, the US Agency for International Development (USIAD) is in charge of civil aid to Georgia. This aid consists of five main parts. Private sector and market reform – 35 per cent; health, humanitarian assistance and community development – 22 per cent; democracy and governance – 16 per cent ; energy and environment – 14 per cent and, finally, cross-sectoral activities – 13 per cent. The total sum reached $50,650,000 as of the fiscal year 2001.[42] By American standards, this is not much in real money, but it has a great impact in Georgia, which has a debt of $1,684,528,816.[43] In addition, if the aid is seen in the context of population, Georgia (and Armenia) is given the most aid by the US after Israel and Egypt.[44] It is beyond the scope of this article to detail all projects undertaken, but it is clear that this support has two major advantages. First, if Georgia is to continue on its long road towards NATO and the EU, the the process of democratisation must continue. Foreign support provides the financial means, advice and personnel to facilitate reform. Second, if the cooperation with the US is to be of a long-term nature and is to be based on foundations other than geopolitics, such as mutual trust, predictability and joint efforts for reaching a common goal, change must occur. This makes US aid both a stick and a carrot for Georgia.

Democratic development in Georgia is in the interests of the US, but its patience is not eternal. Georgia has to make progress on the road to democratic development. It does not have to be perfect, but a somewhat free and fair election would be a start. On the topic of US foreign policy, François Heisbourg has argued that from the Bosporus to the Indus there seems to be a zone in which the ‘need’ for democracy and attention to human rights is ‘less urgent than in places like China’.[45] Criticism of the US is heard about support for authoritarian and corrupt regimes, but in the case of Georgia such criticism has only been modest. This can partly be explained by the fact that authoritarianism in Georgia is not as strong as in Central Asia. For example, Georgia is ‘party free’ when it comes to civil and political freedoms and liberties and receives a ‘4’ on a seven-graded scale, according to Freedomhouse.[46] This is one indication of the level of democracy in the state; it means that the situation is so bad that it would discourage any state from interacting with Georgia, but at the same times problems may infringe on the effectiveness of the interaction. The question thus arises as to whether no aid should be given until problems of corruption are already solved. It is clear that such a situation would be bizarre.

Nonetheless, the aid, although positive, finds itself in a dilemma. The intention is, naturally, to reduce corruption, but economic support for this may be misdirected if corrupt elements interfere.[47] Due to this problem, the US directs much aid to the civil sector instead of the governmental, which may be most cost-effective, but at the ‘cost’ also of neglecting governmental structures. David Darchiashvili argues that the US has to choose between two approaches when it comes to giving aid to Georgia. It can pursue strict conditionality or it can ignore the ‘hollowness of Georgian democracy’. The problem is that the US has labelled the government political forces in Georgia as the only ones that are progressive. This has locked in the situation.[48] The pro-western stand of the Shevardnadze regime is one reason for this. The consquence of its aid program, in addition to military training of local forces, is that the US secures influence in the region, financially and politically. This is a long-term strategy that brings risks and opportunities to the entire region.[49] Through this approach, the US ties Georgia to the Western ‘value community’ and supports its efforts to move towards the EU and NATO. At the same time, the US increases its space for political manoeuvring in the region and is thus better able to withstand Russian or Iranian attempts to gain influence. Currently, there is not much evidence of short-term tactical gains from its cooperation agenda – even if Georgia opened up its air space for the American air campaign in Afghanistan in 2001.[50]

However, not all criticism is misdirected, just because it is incoherent. Archil Gegeshidze, former National Security Adviser to President Shevardnadze, states that as long as American interests in cooperation with Georgia are of a geopolitical nature, democratic aspects will be neglected. Consequently, this means that corrupt forces may lay their hands on financial aid, but will not worry on implementation of the designated policies of democratisation.[51] Indeed, it can be seen as imperialism and ideological blackmail to demand democracy and capitalism before any cheques are signed in Washington, but if the support given has anti-corruption, transparency and improvement of civil-society as prioritised elements, and not only military security, few would argue that it is wrong. By contrast, there is another question: does spending money on democratic reform require that urgent security needs must be met first?

Georgia has many security threats, both internal and external, so this is not merely an academic question. As the US and Georgia are cooperating on both civil and military security issues, the problem is being assessed continuously. The problem is that Washington and Georgia have different conceptions on what security actually is. Is security first and foremost an issue related to society, territory or the regime? It is no news that the discrepancy between ‘traditional threats’ to states, and threats towards regimes can be vague or even blurred on purpose. As a state is not a single unit, the regime can define threats toward the regime as threat to the state or society and make them a prioritised goal of the state. If international actors and donors fail to recognise this discrepancy, they might direct most of their aid and resources to regime-related problems. Thereby, the support for democratic development is wasted. This point underscores what has been said about a need of concepts and doctrines. Therefore, the US and Georgia should opt for a form of cooperation where this problem is reduced.

Prospects for the future

First, putting too much faith in the international community poses a risk for Georgia. Currently, there is a consensus across the whole political spectrum, apart from the communists, on the benefits of cooperating with the US and striving for membership of the EU and NATO. Consensus in politics is often good, but brings the risk of internal actors putting too much faith in external actors and not taking enough responsibility on their own shoulders. Additionally, the faith in NATO and the EU as guarantors of security is a misconception. Albert Menteshashvili’s standpoint is that Georgian entry into the European Council, along with its position as a prospective member of NATO, will help to create security and stability for the Caucasus.[52] Georgia believes membership of these organisations will solve its security situation as it is given funding and military support. However, this will not be realized in the near future, due to the issues discussed above. Consequently, Georgia needs to regain control over its territory, stabilize the country, develop economically and enhance the democratic situation. Once this is done, the need for the EU and NATO will decrease to such an extent that all the gains sought will be of little importance. In addition, there is not much evidence that regional relations would improve upon NATO membership. Greece’s entry into NATO increased the tension between itself and Turkey, not decreased it, some argue.[53] Nevertheless, this striving for NATO membership can serve as a catalyst for security reform, which legitimises its existence. As Rajan Menon has pointed out, it must also be remembered that the development towards a market-economy and democracy took almost a century in the West.[54]

Second, the public image of Georgia’s development is extremely negative. In 1995, 50 per cent of the interviewees in a GORBI poll believed that Georgia was moving in the right direction. In August 2003, the figure had dropped to five per cent and only six per cent are happy with the current standard of living. Even if 66 per cent have a positive conception of democracy, 53 per cent miss communism. Against the background of reform discussed hitherto, it is interesting to note that only four per cent hold transparency and democracy as acute problems for the government to tackle.[55]

Finally, democracy indeed lays the foundation for stability and security in the long-term perspective, but there is a risk of military issues overshadowing the situation and undermining the process of democracy.[56] This is something for Georgia to consider when undertaking further reform. Entrenching democracy is a slow process, which often is reduced to second priority when resources are distributed. However, incorporating the search for democracy into the sphere of national security could lift democracy to a prioritised level.

Final remarks

First and foremost, Georgia’s turbulent past, plagued by civil war and political turmoil, has since its newly gained independence proved to be a challenge in terms of security. The Soviet legacy has left embedded lags, both mental and structural ones. The objects of reform are often the very same as the obstacles to reform. Political and economic aspects overlap and Georgia’s weak situation makes it vulnerable to internal and external pressure and cohesion. The problem also exists at individual level when dependence on persons or equipment does not facilitate attempts to solve the embedded problems of corruption and inertia.

Second, there is a fundamental problem with reform. A lack of security concept and doctrine is clearly visible in an incoherent and unpredictable security policy, resulting in structural chaos. Consequently, Georgia has initiated reform without a clear idea of what the means and goals really are. Working on different premises and conceptions further complicates the situation.

Third, there are ideas on what to do within the structures discussed hitherto, but wills or capabilities to implement them are missing. Vision and plans for the MSS include restructuring towards a civil Security Service; reform of areas of responsibilities such as economic crimes; and new laws on redundancies and tackling internal criminal activities. For the MOI, the priorities are instead directed towards removing some responsibilities, such as property protection. Fighting corruption is also on the agenda. Constitutional changes and enhanced democratic elements along with improvements of public image are key features.

Finally, few results have seen daylight. As Georgia’s security reform is still in its initial phase, it is too early to draw any definite conclusion on what the results will be. However, drawing upon findings related to the ongoing process, momentum must be gained if any results are to be seen.



Aydın BABUNA[1]


The Albanians were the last nation to develop their own nationalism in the Balkans, and the emergence of this Albanian nationalism was marked by the establishment in 1878 of the Prizren League. The League’s main aim, which was initially supported by the Ottomans, was to protect the lands inhabited by the Albanians from the neighboring countries, but the League was later suppressed by the Ottomans themselves as soon as it began to challenge Ottoman authority in the area. The conflict between the Albanians and the Ottomans was to continue until the Balkan Wars. The majority of the Muslim Albanians, who enjoyed traditional rights within the Ottoman Empire, were in favor of the status quo as long as the Ottomans could sustain their hold in the Balkans. However, in time, the radical Albanians, who favored a linguistic and cultural rather than a religious unity, were to gain the upper hand.[2]

The tribal structure and religious division of Albanian society are two important factors contributing to the delay in the development of Albanian nationalism. The Albanians are divided into two different subgroups: Gegs and Tosks. The Tosks live in southern Albania and northern Greece, while the Gegs are to be found in the northern part of Albania. The Shkumbin river in central Albania serves as a natural barrier between the two tribes. The overwhelming majority of the Albanians in Kosovo, Montenegro and western Macedonia are also Gegs. Geg society in Albania was traditionally based on a tribal structure, but the communist regime in Albania tried to integrate the two tribes and the terms Geg and Tosk disappeared from the political vocabulary. [3] In time, the tribal structure in northern Albania largely disappeared, while the Gegs of the former Yugoslavia have preserved some elements of their patriarchal culture to the present day. Gegs and Tosks have alternated in power in Albania. In the inter-war period, under the rule of Zogu, the Gegs dominated Albanian politics, while the Tosks constituted the basis of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha after the Second World War.

The religious diversity of Albanian society is another factor that delayed the development of Albanian nationalism. Approximately 70 percent of the population of Albania is Muslim, 20 percent Orthodox and 10 percent Catholic while the Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia are largely Muslims. [4] Although the religious division of Albanian society could not obstruct the national union of the Albanians it prevented the Islamic religion from becoming a unifying factor. Albanian culture, the feeling of common kinship and, particularly, the Albanian language became the central elements

of Albanian nationalism. [5] This fact, however, should not lead one to disregard the role of religion in different Albanian societies and additional factors other than the religious diversity of the Albanian society governing the relation between religion and Albanian nationalism. The following article focuses on the effects of the political frameworks and international developments on the relation between Islam and Albanian nationalism in different Albanian societies.


Albania was the last country to be affected by the political changes in the former communist bloc countries after 1989, but the developments in Bulgaria and Romania made the introduction of a multi-party system in Albania inevitable. [6] The Democratic Party (DP), established in 1990, became the main opposition party in Albania. On the other hand, the Albanian Party of Labour (APL) was renamed the Socialist Party of Albania (SPA) at its tenth party congress in 1991 and Fatos Nano, a moderate communist, became its new leader. Although the SPA did well in the elections of 1991 and formed the basis of a new government, the elections of 1992 were won by the DP led by Sali Berisha and supported by the Sunni leaders, mainly because of its strongly anti-communist stance.[7] During the elections in the post-communist period the DP found greater support in the north and the SPA in the south, but the political differences between the rural and urban areas appeared to be stronger than the north-south divide.

The mainstream Albanian political forces seem to have acted judiciously in preventing the simmering Geg-Tosk resentment from coming to the surface.[8]
The DP of Berisha generally favors the rehabilitation of Muslim identity in order to win over the support of large segments of the population (particularly the inhabitants of north-eastern Albania) that were marginalized under communist rule.[9] Albanian foreign policy underwent radical changes in the 1990s under the DP and SPA. Albania had signed a framework-treaty with the Islamic Development Bank as early as 1991. During DP rule, Albania became a member of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries). Albanian membership of the OIC and the participation of Sali Berisha and the former foreign minister Alfred Serreqi in the summit conference of the OIC in Jiddah (Saudi Arabia) led to a political rift between the government and the opposition. The socialists argued that Albanian membership of the OIC was a violation of the constitution and an attempt to divert Albania from its Euro-Atlantic orientation. [10]

After DP rule from 1992 to 1997, the socialists came to power in Albania following the elections of June 1997. [11] The new government severed relations with the Islamic world and Albania did not attend the summit conference of the OIC in Teheran in December 1997. However, the socialists still tried to maintain cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank in the hope of obtaining credits. Fatos Nano declared that Albania would consider only bilateral relations with the Islamic countries, [12] though some politicians from the south, as well as some clans from the north, such as the Tropoja and Diber, who had representatives in the DP, favoured the strengthening of relations with the Islamic countries. [13] However, the then prime minister, Fatos Nano, who came from an Orthodox background, along with some other leading socialist politicians, favored close relations with Greece and Yugoslavia. On the other hand, the socialists launched a campaign against Islamic fundamentalism implicitly or explicitly associated with DP rule. The socialist government tried to dismantle the pro-DP political and religious networks in Albania, and elements within the Islamic community close to the DP were replaced by young Albanian officials. [14]

The Islamic Community [15], founded in February 1991, publishes a monthly paper “Drita Islame”. According to the official statute (chapter 1, article 1), the Community includes all the sects compatible with the basic principles of the Islamic religion. [16] The main problem faced by the Sunni Muslim Community has been to remobilize the population after fifty years of communist rule. [17] In the early 1990s, the various religious Communities, including the Muslim Community, were in desperate need of clergymen. Although steps have been taken to improve this situation it seems that the problem will continue for some time. The revival of religious life manifested itself basically in the restoration of old mosques and the construction of new ones. [18]

The Sixth World Bektashi Congress, convened in Tirana in 1993, was an important step in the reorganization of the Albanian Bektashi Community [19] with Bektashi leaders who insisted on independence vis-a-vis their Sunni counterparts. Though both of the Communities have serious financial difficulties, the situation of the Bektashis is worse than that of the Sunnis insofar as they are not in receipt of any substantial support from abroad. The other old dervish orders of Albania, the Rifais [20], the Qadiris, the Saadis and Tidjanis would appear to be less vigorous. [21] There is competition between these dervish orders and the Bektashis, who try to monopolize mystical life in Albania.[22]

During DP rule, the Bektashis had no privileged links with the highest political authorities. There was also competition between the two rival groups within the Bektashi Community. The group around Baba Reshat Bardhi, head of the Community, favoured the independent status of the Community, while the other group, around Baba Selim, the head of the tekke Fushë-Krujë, which was close to the DP, was against it. The DP enjoys the support of small Bektashi groups such as in Lazarat. Since the coming of the socialists to power the Bektashi Community has been trying to transform itself on a national and international level. The leading group around Baba Reshat is trying to promote Bektashism as a worldwide movement with its center in Albania. To this end, they have developed their ties with some foreign organizations. [23] This group is being accused by the rival group of trying to turn Bektashism into a pro-orthodox, semi-religious brotherhood. The new status of the Bektashi Community was accepted during the 7th Bektashi Congress held in Tirana in 2000.[24]

Although some observers [25] think that the Albanians seemed to have lost any belief in organized religion during the long communist rule of Enver Hoxha, several statistics show that religion is still an important social factor in Albania. [26] A relatively greater continuity of Muslim traditions seems to exist in the countryside, [27] and in the 1990s important population movements took place from rural and mountainous areas to the cities in central Albania such as Tirana and Durres, and from Albania to Greece, Italy and some other countries. In Tirana, where the population more than doubled in ten years, the newcomers, who stem mainly from north-eastern Albania (a Sunni Muslim area), are regarded by the city-dwellers as conservative. [28] On the other hand, in the post-communist period, Albania has been exposed to intensive missionary activities, and Arab proselytizers have found themselves in competition with many ambitious Christian and Western missionaries. The fact that most of the converts are from the Muslim community is a cause for concern to the Muslim leadership. [29]

Pope John Paul II remarked during his visit in 1993 that Albania remained a model of religious co-existence. [30] Although there are some small Islamist groups active in Albania they are not an important factor in the political life of the country. Moreover, their influence was further reduced by the establishment of socialist governments. Terrorism and the claims of Islamic fundamentalism are rejected by DP members [31] and the Islamic Community as a whole, [32] while the majority of the Muslim clergy are traditionally in favor of peaceful co-existence with other Albanians of different religious backgrounds.[33] This multi-religious tolerance in Albania can also be partly attributed to the common suffering of all religious groups under the communist dictatorship.[34]

However, the post-communist period witnessed some public political conflicts between Albanian intellectuals over Albanian religious and national identity. [35] Kiço Blushi argued that religious division had, throughout history, prevented the achievement of national unity in Albania, while Abdi Baleta [36] claimed that Albania owed its success in surviving all attempts at foreign assimilation to its multi-confessional character. Ismail Kadare, the prominent Albanian writer, claimed that the conversion of the Albanians would facilitate the integration of Albania into the European Union, and the newspaper of the leftist Democratic Alliance urged Muslim Albanians to convert to Christianity.

Neshat Tozaj called for a new census to be held to find out the true religious composition of Albania but Baleta and some others denounced those in favour of the conversion of the Muslims and expressed concern about the politicization of religion. [37]

Post-communist Albania has also witnessed serious competition between the different religions. Islam, particularly Sunni Islam, seems to be on the defensive. This trend, which had emerged in the inter-war period, was accelerated by the communist regime. During communist rule, the traditional power structure of the country, which was based mainly on the Muslims, was destroyed, and the communist elite came mainly from among the Orthodox and Bektashis of the southern part of Albania. On the other hand, Marxist rule erased Islamic culture more than the other religious cultures and today the Christians enjoy a higher social status than the Muslims. [38]

In Albania, 30 per cent of the population is Christian by birth and there is no direct confrontation with non-Albanian elements. Thus, the amalgamation of religious with ethnic and national identities is not an argument that can be as readily applied in Albania as in Kosovo and Macedonia, where the mainly Muslim Albanians are confronted by the Orthodox Slavs. Although some Muslim leaders in Albania favor such an amalgamation in order to legitimize the role of Islam in the newly democratic republic, [39] the representatives of the Muslim Communities do not question the secular structure of the Albanian state. [40]

Kosovo and Macedonia

The new Serbian constitution adopted on 28 September 1990 abolished the autonomy that had been granted to Kosovo by the 1974 Constitution of Socialist Yugoslavia. However, in October 1991, the newly established “Assembly of the Kosovo Republic” declared the independence of the Kosovo Republic, a step that had already been approved by the great majority of the Kosovars in a referendum. Albania was the first and only state to recognize the Kosovo Republic. Bujor Bukoshi formed a provisional government in exile and in the elections of 24 May 1992 Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of the “Democratic League of Kosovo” (LDK), was elected president of the Kosovo Republic. His party became the largest party in Kosovo, taking 76% of the vote.

Although there had been a strong Serbian military build-up in Kosovo, particularly after 1992, during this period the Albanians succeeded in creating a parallel state with its own parliament, government and president, and the parallel education system, the so called -arsimi parallel (it means parallel education in Albanian), which started in private houses, became the symbol of Albanian nationhood. In 1994 a unified curriculum was introduced in Kosovo and Albania for some subjects in primary and secondary schools, and this was followed by the publication of joint textbooks for Albanian and Kosovo schools. This represented the cultural integration of Kosovo with Albania, which was the dream of many Albanians. In this new era, the national goals shaped the curricula of the schools in the parallel education system and the secular vision of nationhood prevailed.[41]

Ibrahim Rugova tried to resist Serbian pressure by peaceful means. Under his leadership the Albanians hoped to establish an independent Kosovo Republic with the diplomatic support and protection of the western countries and international organizations, but discontent increased among the Albanians when his policy was found to have brought no improvement in Kosovo. On the other hand, the signing of the Dayton Accord in 1995, which brought the Bosnian War to an end, was another factor which contributed to the increasing Albanian resistance in Kosovo. The Kosovo Albanians felt that in Dayton, in which no mention was made of the situation in Kosovo, they had been forgotten by the international community. [42]As a result, the Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK), a military organization founded by the Kosovo Albanians, gained more and more support, finally engaging in open clashes with the Serbian armed forces. Islam was not, however, an important factor in Albanian armed resistance to the Orthodox Serbs. [43]

The Serbian nationalist leaders and the Serbian media were convinced that it was essential that an Albanian opposition movement like the Bosnian Islamic jihad (holy war) should be suppressed in order to stop further Islamic penetration into Europe. By promoting this thesis the Serbs hoped to win the support of the Europeans and to justify their suppression of the movement in Kosovo. Although Islam in a non-fundamentalist form played a role in the political awakening of the Muslims, its political role in Kosovo was so slight as to be more or less negligible. Moreover, the Bosnian and Kosovar political movements had very little contact with each other.[44]

It was not until 1990 that the Albanian cause in Kosovo was supported by the official Islamic hierarchy in Bosnia. In a conference organized by the Meshihat (Islamic Community) of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo under the title “Religion and Conflict in Kosovo”, stress was laid on the fact that the conflict in Kosovo was not a religious one. [45] Thus, responsibility for the situation in Kosovo was firmly laid on the Serbian side. The religious leader of the Muslim Albanians in Kosovo also considered the Albanian movement during the Serbian suppression as possessing less of a religious than a nationalist character, though he tended to imply the existence of a certain connection between national and religious identity. [46]

For the Albanians who could not participate directly in the political arena because of the extremely tense political situation that existed before the NATO operations, action in the religious field had become a substitute for political activity. [47] On the other hand, the increasing discontent with the strategy of Rugova forced the LDK, which had become weaker in relation to the UÇK, to establish some alliances with the religious authorities, and to stress the role of the Islamic Community in the social and political life of Kosovo. Similarly, the UÇK also seems to have tried to get the support of some Islamic networks, particularly abroad. [48] In the face of large-scale atrocities carried out by the Serbian forces in 1999, the resistance movement of the Kosovar Albanians turned into an outright national struggle for the physical survival and self-determination of the Kosovar Albanians, regardless of their social and religious backgrounds.[49] The activities of the UÇK came to be seen also by the circles related to the Islamic Community as a self-defensive jihad. [50]

The increasing intensity of the clashes between the Albanians and the Serbs drew the attention of the international community to Kosovo. The failure of the negotiations between the Serbs and Albanians on the future of Kosovo in Ramboillet in February 1999 led to NATO military attacks on Serbian targets. This was followed by the establishment of the United Nations administration in Kosovo based on resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the United Nations. In May 2001, the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government in Kosovo was proclaimed. The newly established Albanian political parties in Kosovo have secular programs and none of them has challenged the secular structure of the constitutional framework of the interim government of Kosovo.[51]

However, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which has focused on conflict-resolution, together with the secular non-governmental organizations in Kosovo, seems to have failed to address local needs. This void was filled by the faith-based charity organizations. The organizations operating under the umbrella of SJCRKC (The Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya) seem to have monopolized food and health supply distribution to the population and education in rural Kosovo. [52] This Wahhabi-Salafi [53] penetration, with its anti-Western rhetoric, contributes to the traditional rural-urban division of Kosovo and also may be a destabilizing factor for harmony among the Albanians of different religious backgrounds in the long run, although, so far, only a small segment of society has accepted Salafi doctrines.[54] The Kosovar Albanians are largely Sunni Muslims and differ markedly from the Bosnian Muslims insofar as the Sufi orders, which are mainly concentrated in the underdeveloped and densely populated south-western part of Kosovo, play an important role in religious life. [55] There are also Catholic Albanians living in Kosovo [56] but there is no hostility between Albanians of the Muslim and Catholic faiths, and relations between them have consistently been described as good.[57] For many years, the Catholic Church has been organizing services for the reconciliation of vendettas, and these services have been attended by thousands of Muslim and Catholic Albanians.[58] The Catholics supported the Sunni Muslims in their resistance to Serbian repression, while the Catholic Church organized services for those who were killed by the Serbian forces. However, the low number of mixed marriages between

Muslim and Catholic Albanians shows that religion still plays a certain role in the social life of Kosovo.[59]

In the 1980s, there were basically two trends among the Albanian intellectuals in the Balkans concerning the role of Islam in the Albanian national identity. The first is the so-called occidentalism which rejects Islam and Islamic identity as incompatible with European culture, and the other is multi-confessionalism, which favors the subordination of religious to national identity.[60] Since 1989-90 two new trends have emerged: the rehabilitation of the Muslim identity by stressing its role in the Albanian national identity ( a kind of Albanian-Islam synthesis), and the rehabilitation of Muslim identity along with the Islamic religion. There are also many variants and combinations of these four main trends. The leaders of the Albanian nationalist movement in Kosovo, as well as the socialists and other left wing political groups in Albania, are close to the occidentalist and pluri-confessionalist ideas while the right-wing political parties in Albania (particularly Abdi Baleta’s National Restoration party) are inclined to favor an Islamic-Albanian synthesis. Although an important part of the Albanian elite in Kosovo (and, to a lesser extent, in Macedonia) tends to reject Muslim identity, most of the promoters of the views stressing the relation between Islam and the Albanian identity are from Kosovo. The old conflict between the largely Muslim Albanians and the Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo seems to be the main reason for this. [61]

One of the most important differences between the Albanians of Macedonia and the Kosovar Albanians in the 1990s lay in their political attitudes. The Albanians of Macedonia had participated in the political life of the country ever since it gained its independence on 21 November 1991, while the Kosovar Albanians established a parallel state in opposition to the Serbian authorities. [62] The Albanian political party, the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP), joined the coalition governments between 1992 and 1998, and another Albanian party, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), participated in the coalition government established after the elections of 1998 along with the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Democratic Alternative (DA). Finally, both of the Albanian parties were to join the grand coalition established after the clashes between the Albanian guerillas and the Macedonian forces in 2001. In contrast to the Kosovar Albanians, the Albanians of Macedonia have no tradition of autonomy. Furthermore, the Albanians of Macedonia live mainly in an ethnically mixed society, though in some provinces of western Macedonia they make up the majority or a large proportion of the population. [63]

The Macedonian Albanians are considered in Albania to be a fairly religious people.[64]The most devout of these Muslims are the Albanians of western Macedonia (particularly the Tetova, Gostivar region), where more elements of traditional culture have been preserved. [65] However, the major Albanian parties in Macedonia have secular

programs and nationalistic aims [66] and they have never questioned the secular structure of the Macedonian state. On the other hand, the leaders of the Islamic Community in Macedonia do not forget the fact that Macedonia is a secular country.[67] The fusion of national and religious identities which appears quite often in Macedonia seems to be a reaction of the Muslim Albanian minority to the Orthodox Macedonian majority under the existing political and social conditions.[68]

Since communist rule, the Macedonian authorities have suspected the Albanians of attempting to assimilate the smaller Muslim minorities in the country through Islam and have supported the rival Muslim religious Communities against the main Muslim religious organization, Meshihat (Islamic Community.) In the 1990s, the Islamic Community was close to the PDP, particularly through the links of its leader, Süleyman Rexhepi, with this party. This attitude of the Islamic Community was criticized by the rival Albanian party, DPA. However, the DPA has also used Islam from time to time to win over the support of the Albanian voters. The humanitarian organization “el-Hilal” plays an important role in the relations between Islam and politics in Macedonia. Through this organization, the Islamic Community is linked to different Islamic networks such as the Islamic Bank of Development. The Islamic Community is actively supporting the Albanian national cause through its activities and publications. [69]

A survey made by the Centre for Ethnic Relations in March 1993 shows that religion had become a new factor in the relations between the two ethnic groups in Macedonia.

In contrast to the results of the previous studies, it was the first time that the Macedonian population had shown any real sectarian prejudice, but this sudden and drastic change within a year, combined with some other data, points to the fact that the Macedonians considered Orthodoxy as part of their national identity rather than as a purely religious belief. [70]

The Albanians of Macedonia, who regard themselves as having been placed in the position of second-class citizens because of their ethnic and religious identity, [71] demanded in the 1990s that the Albanian community living in Macedonia should be given partner-nation status. This became the main aim of all Albanian political parties and groups, though they disagreed on the tactics required to achieve it. For the Albanians, partner-nation status means joint decision-making with the Macedonians at both state and local levels. It also entails the proportional representation of the Albanians in important state institutions, and rights such as the use of the Albanian language in official forums, the public use of the Albanian flag and the furtherance of education in the Albanian language. [72]

It did not take long for the developments in Kosovo to spread to Macedonia, and in the spring of 2001 the National Liberation Army of the Albanians engaged in armed conflicts with the Macedonian security forces. On August 13, 2002, after heavy fighting that claimed hundreds of lives, both sides signed the Ohrid agreement imposed by Nato and the European Union. The Ohrid Agreement comprised far-reaching constitutional and political reforms that improved the rights of the Albanian minority in Macedonia in spite of the non-acceptance of their partner-nation status. The new Macedonian constitution, which stresses the civil character of the Macedonian state, allows the use of the Albanian language at local level in municipalities where Albanians comprise at least 20 per cent of the population. The same constitution envisages the proportional representation of the ethnic minorities in public administration and the increased voting capacity of the ethnic minorities in Parliament. [73]

The relations between the Islamic Community of Macedonia and the Macedonian Orthodox Church deteriorated during the ethnic conflicts in Macedonia in the spring of 2001 when both organizations acted as religious wings of the rival ethnic groups. The debate over the constitutional changes and the equality of all religions were the main reasons behind this conflict. [74] The ethnic Albanians tried to reduce the privileged status of the Macedonian Church. In accordance with the Ohrid agreement, the name of the Macedonian Orthodox Church would remain in Article 19 of the Constitution but “the Islamic Community, the Roman-Catholic Church and other religious communities” would also be mentioned. [75]


In Albania, where there is a large Bektashi community, the Sunni identity has always been less dominant than in Kosovo and Macedonia. During the Cold War period, the Albanian Communist Party followed a much stricter religious policy than the Yugoslav Communist Party. Furthermore, in the 1990s, the Albanians of Albania proper enjoyed greater stability than the Albanians of Kosovo and Macedonia. However, as early as the last years of the communist regime, there were some dissident views in Albania relating Albanian identity to Islam, even though these were exported from Kosovo. In the post-communist period, Albania witnessed the re-emergence of religion as a new social force. The country has also been exposed to intensive missionary activities, with Muslims making up the majority of the converts. As Clayer puts it, in this new era, Islam seems to be on the defensive.

Kosovo is the hotbed of the Albanian question in the Balkans. The existence of a small Albanian Catholic Community (which is not the case in Macedonia) and the influence of the Catholic Church in Kosovo are important factors shaping the intellectual life of the province. Since the 1970s, Prishtina University has provided the majority of the Albanian national leadership, which has always been strongly secular. According to official reports, not even one religious student participated in the Kosovo riots of 1981. However, in time, the secular Albanian elite felt the need for the help of Islamic circles. The Islamic Community was to join Albanian resistance to the Serbs in order to support the Albanian cause. The old ethnic tension in Kosovo seems to be the major reason behind the fact that the majority of the intellectuals that stress the role of Islam in the Albanian national identity are from Kosovo, even though an important part of the Kosovar elite reject an Islamic identity.

In Macedonia, as early as the 1980s the state authorities were claiming that the Albanians were using Islam as a tool to assimilate the smaller Muslim groups. Even though the Muslim Albanians of western Albania have retained many elements of traditional Islam and are considered conservative, the Albanian leaders and the major Albanian parties in Macedonia have secular and nationalistic goals. However, some links do exist between the Islamic Community and the Albanian political parties and some foreign religious and charity organizations. Two years after the international military intervention in Kosovo, ethnic conflict spilled over into Macedonia. During this conflict and the negotiations leading up to the Ohrid agreement signed between the Macedonian authorities and the Albanian leaders in 2001, the Islamic Community tried to protect the religious rights of the Muslims.

The Sunni Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina are South Slavs like the Croats and Serbs, whose language they share, while the Albanians have a distinct ethnic background and a language of their own. The Albanians are divided into three religious groups, with the Muslims, who constitute the majority of the Albanians, further sub-divided into two groups: Sunnis and Bektashis. In other words, the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Albanians have contrasting social structures that have determined the parameters of the role of Islam in the formation of their national identities. Islam was the most important ethnic element for the Bosniaks, while it could not be a unifying factor for the Albanians. However, Islam is still playing different roles in different Albanian Communities. The examination of the political developments in post-communist Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia clearly shows clearly that different political frameworks and international developments are also important factors shaping

not only the relation between Islam and politics but also between Islam and national identity.

Professor Sa’eb Erakat

 Professor Sa'eb Erakat
Professor Sa’eb Erakat

On April 9, 2003 President George W. Bush became the President of the Republic of Iraq and at the same time the President of the United States of America. When he went to the Sharm El Sheikh Summit along with President Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, King Hamad of Bahrain, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi-Arabia and Prime Minister Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, did he go in his capacity as the President of Iraq or the President of the US?. Do the Arabs have an American President of one of their 22 countries? Is it possible that President Bush can assume the presidency of other countries of the region? Or will he rule by proxy, with existing leaders?

The Middle-East region is about to set out on a very interesting journey. By the end of the next two to three decades, its borders and peoples may change immensely. How will the transition take place? What do we have to do in order to ensure a smooth transition? Will there be a solution to the Palestinian question? Will democracy be introduced to the political life of the Arab countries?

I believe that positive answers to the last two questions will lead to a peaceful transition. The road to peace today will be through the so called ‘Quartet Road Map’, so what is this road map? It is most certainly a document that by no means reinvents the wheel; no, what makes it unique is the fact that it has three ingredients that were absent from all the other documents issued since 1991.

To begin with, the Road Map has real potential in terms of providing us with an end game and facilitating the ending of the occupation that began in 1967 and the emergence of a viable, independent, and sovereign Palestinian State. Secondly, it provides us with a date to which the end game will be achieved, namely, 2005. Thirdly, it calls for the presence of monitors on the ground to ensure that both sides fulfill their obligations of which, in the first stage, there are 15 Palestinian ones and 12 Israeli ones.*


* Head of the Negotiations Department of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation

** Annex 1. Israeli and Palestinian commitments

I was one of the people who took part in drafting the Road Map, and I can vouch for the fact that our intention was for the obligations to be decision-oriented, rather than negotiations-oriented. If you look at the commitments on both sides, you will find that not a single one requires negotiations, and that they are all decision-oriented.

The commitments are clear: the Palestinians are required to produce a draft constitution, an independent central election commission, and a program of action and reform in the financial, judicial, and security domains, while the Israelis are supposed to stop all settlement activities, including those involving natural growth, dismantle all settlements outposts created since March 2001, open all Palestinian offices in Jerusalem, lift the closure and the siege, and begin to gradually withdraw and release prisoners, etc.

The question now is why have we not seen a work plan benchmarked so that these obligations can be fulfilled? Do we still have a Quartet? It is a very serious business here. Palestinians and Israelis will no longer be content with using their ears, but instead, will use their eyes to assess the situation and determine the extent of the seriousness and determination as reflected by President Bush, and they will pay careful attention to the things that are being done. I think that people on both sides are sick and tired of listening to their leaders and foreign dignitaries talking about peace and making statements about peace. It won’t be long before they start to ask, “Why haven’t any of the articles of the Road Map been implemented, and why is there no working plan?”. I think that Abu Mazen was very sincere, in Aqaba, in his attempts to define all the obligations on the Palestinian side, but what we need now is coordination, meaning that the Israelis should read their commitments and the Palestinians theirs, and then each side should define the commitments instead of asking the other what to do. In other words, I will say what I have to do and they will say what they have to do.

Abu Mazen read from the text of our obligations concerning the Road Map; Sharon, on the other hand, read out his reservations concerning the Road Map, not his commitments. We saw a lot of determination in Sharm El Sheikh and Aqaba as reflected by President Bush, and that is the type of energy that we employ: seriousness, determination and so on. So what happened? Is it a

question of internal American politics? Is it the Jewish groups in the US that are pressuring Bush not to introduce the Road Map working plan? No. A huge number of Jews in the US have written to President Bush asking him to help implement the Road Map, so they cannot hide behind the internal factors of elections next year.

Is it, therefore, some regional factor that is delaying thing? The answer, again, is no. To begin with, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia all took part in drafting the Road Map and undertook to fulfill what are required of them in terms of the regional changes that were mentioned at the beginning.* We have, therefore, a Palestinian leadership that is engaged and willing and Arab leaderships that are engaged and willing. We also have Europe, Russia, the United Nations, and

everyone else wanting to see the implementation of the Road Map, and yet, so far, we have seen no sign of a simple three-page work plan defining the basic issues to be dealt with and a reasonable

schedule. Secretary Powell came to Jericho twice. Dr. Condoleezza Rice came once, Ambassador John Wolff has been in the region since early June 2003. No comprehensive plan of implementation was introduced, no time lines and no mechanisms of implementation.

Prime Minister Abu Mazen visited Washington on July 2003, and met with president Bush and urged him to introduce the comprehensive implementation plan. This is what we should expect to happen, but will it actually happen? I do not think so, because today, things go in accordance with the way that Sharon wants them to go.

With so many transitions taking place in the region, and with so much uncertainty, why is it that Sharon is still dictating all the terms and why is he being allowed to do so? The Israelis say they have accepted the Road Map, but to which one are they referring? We asked the Americans and the Europeans, ‘Are we talking about the map of the Quartet? Or will it be changed, altered, renegotiated?’. The answer was: ‘No, it will be implemented as is’. I am afraid, however, that we are witnessing the disappearance of the Quartet as a committee, even though the title of the map is the ‘Quartet Road Map’. I do not think that the envoys will meet again, I think it far more likely that they (the Quartet, which America needed in the past when it was still not sure about the role it wanted to play) will come and tell us that because the US has made up its mind about the extent of its engagement, it no longer needs the help of anyone else.

In my opinion, Abu Mazen needs to stand up before the Palestinian people and tell them, ‘Look, we have been struggling for decades to achieve a sovereign viable, independent Palestinian State. We have been struggling for 36 years to end the occupation and now we have a


* Annex 2 – international Arab commitments

document that specifies that within two years, i.e., in 2005, the Israeli occupation will end. Moreover, we have the backing of Arabs, Europeans, the UN, Latin America, and Africa and we have guarantees form the US that it will happen, so I don’t want you to use violence, because we are achieving our end game’. This is the most powerful weapon in Abu Mazen’s hands; his only weapon, in fact. The problems is however, how can he stand up and guarantee to the Palestinian people that the occupation will end through peaceful means and that they need to give things a chance for two years if, at the same time, the Americans, although saying that they want to help him, have done nothing but embarrass him by creating a situation of ‘Cromwell and the King’, Arafat-Abu Mazen, current situation. Let’s face it, the Palestinians aren’t stupid and they’re not likely to fail to notice that as far as Sharon is concerned, it’s business as usual: assassinations, incursions, closures, sieges, sanctions, and more settlement activities.

We do not need more words, We do not need gestures and good will. What we need is an obligation-oriented work plan. I do not want the Israelis to make gestures; I want them to fulfill their commitments as specified by the Road Map, just as the Palestinians are expected to fulfill theirs. It would appear that many people seem to think that even if we repeat the same thing, we will have different results the second time around, but that’s like going to the same movie and expecting a different outcome! Do it differently, that’s what I say.

Produce the work plan benchmarked with timelines and dates, and then get to work. In his second time in the region since the introduction of the road map, the Palestinian delegation asked Mr. Powell, “What do you expect the people in Dheisheh, Jabalia, Gaza, Jericho and Bethlehem to think when you come here two times and go on about determination and your supporting Abu Mazen, but then leave without introducing a plan for implementation?” What, exactly, are you waiting for? We are currently witnessing a tragedy. The Road Map is a viable document, a document that embodies all the ingredients necessary for success, including support systems, so why, on earth has nobody sat down for 30 minutes and clarified things by specifying who, in the first stage, should be doing this or that? It doesn’t take a genius to do that: it’s a simple exercise, a very simple, clear-cut matter. Especially that the Palestinian have declared a three months ‘hudna’- ceasefire.

With regard to the many obligations of the international community, there are many that appear to have been undermined, above all, the introduction of monitors on the ground. If the President of the United States can send 350,000 soldiers to the Gulf, with all the planes, bombs, ships, and technology required to fight and win war, then why can’t he envisage 300 unarmed monitors standing up throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip on 30 of August or 3 September or whenever the implementation of the plan begins and saying, ‘We are going to win the battle of peace’?.

Our source of frustration as Palestinians is that when it comes to the US government, if it is my word against Sharon’s then I do not stand a chance. That is the honest truth. I can do everything in my power to fulfill my obligations, I can be the most honest, sincere person on earth, and yet in politics, a single sentence from any Israeli official will override whatever I have to say every single time. It is because of this reality that we don’t want the Quartet and the American monitors to negotiate nor make concessions on our behalf, but rather, we simply want them to tell the world who is doing what they’re supposed to be doing and who isn’t. Take the example of the so-called ‘outposts removal’. It is the job of the Quartet to ensure that the attempts to remove them are genuine, but we all know the real story in that regard. As to the other Israeli commitments, Sharon is obliged to declare Israeli recognition of an independent Palestinian state, but do we see that happening or about to happen? Are we about to see the end of attacks against Palestinians, regardless of their location, and incitement? Are we likely to witness an end to all settlement activity, including that relating to natural growth? Why should we believe that all of this is about to happen unless someone accepts responsibility for ensuring that Israel fulfills its obligations?

If the situation remains as it is, American envoys will continue to come and go, yet, in spite of all their efforts, nothing concrete will be achieved. What we need here is a work plan with specific dates for the meeting of certain obligations and I can tell you now that in the absence of such a plan, the Road Map will simply end up joining the Mitchell Report and the Tenet Understanding in the archives of Prime Minister Sharon and all those who seek to maintain the status quo of occupation.

It is true that we, the Palestinians, do not have an army, a navy or an air force. Fortunately, however, we possess certain qualities and it because of them that we cannot be defeated. The majority of Palestinians want to achieve peace, but not by using words. Today, the peace-making agenda is not about leaders signing an agreement; it is about the common people seeing the chances in their standard of living as reflected in the economic, political, social, and educational fields. Without proving to the Palestinians that it is possible to achieve independence within two years through a meaningful peace process, I am afraid that the only thing the current process will achieve will be to destroy the elements of moderation and hope and strengthen the extremists who do not want solutions.

With regard to the tendency of some top US officials, including a few in the State Department, to accuse us of hating the Americans, in spite of our having wanted an American fact-finding commission – the King-Crane Commission- not a British or French one, in 1919, let those same officials consider the following question. If the current US Administration is unable or unwilling to deliver a work plan for implementing the first stage of the Road Map, then what should Arabs and Muslims expect in the future? They go on about democracy, but nobody in the Middle East sees the Americans aligning themselves with democratic regimes. Just look at what happened with Saddam Hussein! One minute he was considered a good dictator fighting Iran, but the next, he was considered a bad one when he chose to invade Kuwait. It really amazes me to know that the Americans are surprised when some of the Arabs mistrust them.

Today, the region in which we live stands a good chance of witnessing some positive changes, but if the battle between the forces of extremism and the forces of moderation, development, etc., is to have a positive outcome, the Israeli occupation has to end and the way that the people of the area are governed improve. In my mind, there is no doubt whatsoever that if this history of broken promises and failed diplomacy continues, it is the extreme forces that will eventually prevail.


The ‘Road Map’:

Annex (1)


1. Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Palestinians.

2. Unconditional cessation of violence in accordance with the Road Map.

3. Resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism and incitement.

4. Undertake comprehensive political reform, including drafting a Palestinian constitution, and prepare for free, fair and open elections.

5. Palestinian obligations in the security field:

a. End of violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to
arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning
violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.

b. Rebuild and train Palestinian Security apparatus.

c. Begin sustained, targeted and effective operations aimed at confronting all
those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and
infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and
consolidation of security authority free of association with terror and

d. All Palestinian security organizations are consolidated into three services
reporting to an empowered Interior Minister.

6. In the field of building Palestinian institutions:

a. A credible process to produce a draft constitution based on strong parliamentary
democracy and cabinet with empowered Prime Minister. (done).

b. Appointment of (Interim) Prime Minister, (What is required in phase II has
been accomplished, appointment of a Prime Minster with full powers), and
from an empowered cabinet.

c. Genuine separation of powers, including any necessary Palestinian legal
reforms for this purpose.

d. Establishment of independent Palestinian Elections Commission. (done). PLC
reviews and revises election law.

e. Continue Palestinian reforms in all security, judicial and financial fields.

f. Prepare to hold free, open and fair elections.


1. Option of creating an independent Palestinian State with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty, based on the new constitution, as a way station to a permanent status settlement.

2. This goal can be achieved when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror, willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and establishment of reformed civil and security institutions.

3. Hold Palestinian elections.

4. Continued comprehensive security performance.

5. Ratification of a democratic Palestinian constitution, and hold further elections if required.

6. Formal establishment of office of Prime Minister and form a reform cabinet.

7. Consolidation of political reform.

8. Continued comprehensive security performance, including effective security cooperation on the bases laid out in Phase I.


1. Consolidation of reform and stabilization of Palestinian institutions.

2. Sustained effective security performance on the bases laid out in Phase I.

3. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status agreement in 2005 on all issues.

4. Parties reach final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2005, through a settlement negotiated between the parties based on UNSCR “242”, “338”, and “1397”, that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and includes an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, and a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of both sides, and protects the religious interests of Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide, and fulfills the vision of two states, Israel and sovereign, independent, democratic and viable Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.


1. Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian State living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.

2. Supportive measures undertaken by Israel to enable the Palestinian side to undertake an unconditional cessation of violence.

3. Resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan.

4. Israel takes all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life.

5. Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and cooperation progress (note a conditional point).

6. Government of Israel facilitates Task Force election assistance, registration of voters, movement of candidates and voting officials. Support for NGOs involved in the election process.

7. Government of Israel reopens Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other closed Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem based on a commitment that these institutions operate strictly in accordance with prior agreements between the parties.

8. Israel takes measures to improve the humanitarian situation. Israel and Palestinians implement in full all recommendations of Bertini report to improve humanitarian conditions, lifting curfews and easing restrictions on movement of persons and goods, and allowing full, safe, and unfettered access of international and humanitarian personnel.

9. Government of Israel immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.

10. Consistent with the Mitchell Report, Government of Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).

11. Government of Israel and Palestinian Authority continue revenue clearance process and transfer of funds, including arrears, in accordance with agreed, transparent monitoring mechanism.

12. Government of Israel takes no actions undermining trust, including deportations, attacks on civilians, confiscation and/or demolitions of Palestinian homes and property as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction; destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure; and other measures specified in the Tenet Work Plan.


1. Furthering and sustaining efforts to normalize Palestinian lives.

2. Security cooperation based on the goals outlined in Phase I.

3. Creation of an independent Palestinian State with provisional borders through a process of Palestinian – Israeli engagement, launched by the international conference.

4. Implementation of prior agreements.

5. Enhance maximum territorial contiguity.

6. Further action on settlements in conjunction with establishment of a Palestinian State with provisional borders.


1. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status agreement in 2005.

2. Continue security cooperation on the based laid out in Phase I.

3. Support progress toward a comprehensive Middle East settlement, including Lebanon and Syria.

4. Abstain from obstructing the Palestinian reform agenda and institution building.

5. Parties reach final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2005, through a settlement negotiated between the parties based on UNSCR “242”, “338”, and “1397”, that ends the occupation that began in 1976, and includes an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, and a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of both sides, and protects the religious interest of Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide, and fulfills the vision of two states, Israel and sovereign, independent, democratic and viable Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.

Annex (2) :


1. Begin the work of the monitoring committee at all levels {Quartet representatives begin informal monitoring and consult with parties on establishment of a formal mechanism and its implementation}.

2. Arab states cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.

3. All donors providing budgetary support for the Palestinians channel these fund through the Palestinian Ministry of Finance’s Single Treasury Account.

4. AHLC reviews the humanitarian situation and prospects for economic development in the West Bank and Gaza and launches a major donor assistance effort, including to the reform effort.

5. Continued donor support, including increased funding through PVOs/NGOs, for people programs, private sector development and civil society initiatives.

6. Lay down specific mechanisms to move from one phase to another. Implement US plan for rebuilding and training, resume security cooperation in coordination with external oversight board ( US, Egypt and Jordan). The Quartet supports efforts to reach a comprehensive and permanent cease-fire.


1. The active support of the Quartet and the broader international community in establishing an independent, viable state.

2. Progress into Phase II will be based upon the consensus judgment of the Quartet of whether conditions are appropriate to proceed, taking into account performance of both parties.

3. Obligation to normalize Palestinian lives.

4. Assistance to hold Palestinian elections to start Phase II after that.

5. Support the creation of a Palestinian State with provisional borders.

6. Convene the international conference, in consultation with the two parties, after Palestinian elections.

7. Support the reconstruction of the Palestinian economy.

8. The international conference would be open, based on the principles described in the preamble to this document: “242”, “338”, “1397”, Saudi initiative, principle of land for peace, Madrid reference and signed agreements (including peace between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon).

9. Arab states restore pre-intifada links to Israel (trade offices, etc.).

10. Revival of multilateral engagement on issues including regional water resources, environment, economic development, refugees, and arms control issues.

11. Enhanced international role in monitoring transition, with the active, sustained, and operational support of the Quartet.

12. Quartet members promote international recognition of Palestinian State, including possible UN membership.


1. Progress into Phase III will be based on consensus judgment of Quartet.

2. The Quartet will continue to monitor implementation and performance by both sides.

3. The Quartet convenes the international conference, in consultation with the parties, at the beginning of 2004 to endorse agreement reached on an independent Palestinian State with provisional borders.

4. Formally launch a process with the active, sustained, and operational support of the Quartet, leading to a final, permanent status resolution in 2005, including on borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.

5. Support progress toward a comprehensive Middle East settlement, including between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and Syria.

6. Continued comprehensive, effective progress on the reform agenda laid out by the Task Force in preparation for final status agreement.

7. Support the Palestinian economy and the stabilization of Palestinian institutions in preparation for final status agreement.

8. Arab states accept full normal relations with Israel and security for all the states of the region in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.



Geographically, Switzerland is far from Central Asia, the region comprising Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It has no historical ties with Central Asia, and the Central Asian communities in Switzerland are of no significant size. Nonetheless, today, Switzerland is an important partner of the Central Asian states. What then has prompted it to developed a special partnership with the countries of a region as distant as Central Asia?

1. The newly independent states of Central Asia and their strategic relevance

A: The emergence of the newly independent states of Central Asia

With the Soviet Union’s disintegration in 1991, the five Central Asian republics became – without preparation – independent states. The newly sovereign entities faced the challenge of building a state from scratch, inheriting the less-than-ideal Soviet border delimitation. In the 1920s, the Soviet Union had divided the immense spaces in Central Asia into Soviet republics, determining the borders in an attempt both to ‘divide and rule’ and to avoid strong regional centres that could challenge Moscow’s supremacy. Hence, the delimitation of the Soviet republics in Central Asia did not take into account the ethnic composition of the region or of its geography, economic realities and infrastructure (transport, energy, water). Moreover, the sudden collapse of the Soviet trading system and the end of the Soviet subsidies triggered a dramatic decline in the gross domestic product of the Central Asian states. Soviet central planners had assigned to the Central Asian republics the limited role of supplying natural resources and a small number of industrial mass products. The lack of diversification and their dependence on the Soviet Union made both the building of independent states as well as their transformation into market economies even more difficult.

B: The need for a new foreign policy relating to Central Asia

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the greatest challenges for the new Central Asian states was to establish economic and other ties with the rest of the world. In view of the challenges awaiting the new entities and, not least, the concerns and strategic interests of other states (see below), a number of Western countries were willing to engage in promoting stability in the Central Asian states and their transformation into independent, democratic market economies.

Prior to 1991, however, knowledge in Western Europe about the Central Asian republics was generally poor due to the fact that the republics were fully integrated into the Soviet Union and thus not an obvious subject of foreign policy interest. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union brought about a fundamental change of the parameters, creating a need to adapt perceptions and ‘certainties’ developed during the Cold War era and to learn about the newly emerging and very diverse entities and societies in Central Asia.

C: Geostrategic significance of Central Asia

Central Asia is situated at the heart of Eurasia, between Russia, China, the Middle East and South Asia. This part of the world has always been subject to multiple outside influences, including from Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Prior to the Soviet era, both Great Britain and Russia competed for geopolitical influence in this culturally, geographically and ethnically diverse region. For Russia, access to the south and the warm seas were of particular importance. The combination of all these factors has shaped Central Asia’s complex history and its multi-layered and impressive cultural legacy, which almost fell into oblivion during the long period when the region had no voice of its own in the international community. However, with the onset of the 21st century and the gradual emergence of a new world order, the international community is clearly about to acknowledge the rich historical and cultural heritage and the new regional and global role of the Central Asian countries. In geostrategic terms, the region’s immense natural resources and in particular Turkmen gas and Kazakh oil have long spurred the interest of other countries and the search for transport routes to the global market. Kazakhstan, for instance, is seen by many as having the potential to become the world’s second largest oil-exporting nation within a decade.

While it is encouraging to observe the endeavors of some of the region’s countries to liberalise their economies and promote political pluralism, some contradictory and at times disconcerting symptoms are appearing of the struggle of these societies with the legacy of their past and the challenges and uncertainties of the transition process. For instance, the extensive and highly lucrative drug trade across the Central Asian states is of particular concern to many Western countries. Central Asia lies on the East-West drug route originating in Afghanistan which, according to many observers, still is the world’s largest drug producer. There is also extensive trafficking in arms and human beings throughout Central Asia. Such criminal activities have an overall negative impact on the region, weakening state institutions and law-enforcing bodies.

The use of water resources awaits effective regional management and is another cause of recurring tensions both between and within the Central Asian states, raising fears about external actors. Other sources of insecurity and concern include various internal and ethnic disturbances, border issues as well as the degradation of the environment (Aral Sea).

Frequently, however, Islamic extremism and terrorism have been identified as the number one source of instability and insecurity in Central Asia. Since 11 September 2001, not only Afghanistan, but also its neighboring Central Asian countries have suddenly become the focus of world attention as a crucial region for global security. Despite the proximity of the Central Asian countries to the theatre of operations, they were not destabilised by the events in and relating to Afghanistan. Quite to the contrary, the defeat of the Taliban regime and the destruction of Al Qaida bases in Afghanistan as well as the Central Asian states’ support and welcome for the anti-Taliban and anti-terrorism coalition appear to have contributed to security and stability in the region. The new presence of US armed forces in the region and the increased cooperation between the Central Asian states and the West constitute a significant geopolitical change for the region. Also, the main Islamic terrorist movement of Central Asia, the Islamic Party of Turkestan (which is striving to create a new Caliphate that would include the five Central Asian states and the Chinese province of Xinjang), has lost its Afghan basis and its connections to the Taliban regime, and thereby appears to have been substantially weakened. Finally, a prosperous Afghanistan will open up enormous potential for economic, social and political cooperation between Afghanistan and Central Asia.

D: Swiss interests in Central Asia

Switzerland’s Federal Constitution defines the preservation of the country’s independence and welfare as the supreme objective of Swiss foreign policy. To attain this objective, it sets out five foreign policy goals (without priority): respect for human rights and promotion of democracy; peaceful coexistence of nations; alleviation of need and poverty in the world; preservation of natural resources; and the safeguarding of Swiss economic interests abroad.[2]

Central Asia has been selected as one of the focal regions of Swiss foreign policy and cooperation, in particular, for the following reasons. In addition to the region’s afore-mentioned outstanding historical importance and cultural heritage, Central Asia is certain to become one of the key regions of Eurasia and the world in the 21st century not only geopolitically but also – considering its energy resources – economically. Stability, security and the well-being of the Central Asian countries are thus in Switzerland’s interest. Moreover, the region has a significant commercial potential for a country like Switzerland that is oriented towards external markets. From a geopolitical point of view, political and economic cooperation with these states is also of interest due to their strategic position between two large powers (China and Russia) and on the traditional trade route between East and West.

Furthermore, economic and other crises in the region might lead to population movements towards Europe, including Switzerland. Switzerland has an interest in cooperating with Central Asian countries on improving the overall well-being of their people, thereby diminishing migration-provoking factors. It is also concerned about trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings, and shares the concern of many other nations about the region’s environmental problems (Aral Sea and polluted areas in Kazakhstan). Finally, Switzerland has particular ties with the four Central Asian states that are members of the same voting group at the Bretton Woods institutions. It is thus interested in developing a working partnership with the Central Asian states – which, at least until recently, have been somewhat neglected by the international community – with a view to achieving their successful political and economic transition.

E: Bilateral or regional approach?

Should Swiss foreign policy on Central Asia adopt a regional or country-based approach? The five Central Asian states are rather heterogeneous geographically as well as in terms of their resources, economic development, culture and ethnicity. At the same time, these countries share many identical problems. Issues such as trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings have a clear cross-border character and correspondingly can only be tackled effectively through a regional approach.

Another cross-border problem is the management of water resources and environmental issues. The Amu Darya river, for instance, flows from Tajikistan along the Afghan border, through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan into the

Aral Sea, of which Kazakhstan is a bordering state. Similarly, the Syr Darya river flows from Kyrgyzstan through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Linked water and energy issues have been identified as second only to Islamic extremism as a source of tension in recent years.[3] While water and energy were exchanged freely across what were only administrative borders at the times of the Soviet Union, the five Central Asian states are strongly competing for these resources, but as yet have failed to come up with a viable regional approach.

In the region of the Ferghana Valley, shared by Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the new state borders have seriously disrupted the region’s economic life. Mechanisms to resolve the many resulting problems, including the movement of persons and goods, and other problems concerning water, electricity and roads are broadly recognised as insufficient. Again, such issues can be meaningfully promoted only with a regional approach. The same applies to the promotion of regional trade and inter-state cooperation, which are crucial for the Central Asian states, given their geographic isolation and relatively small populations totalling 54.7 million (of which Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan account for 24.5m. and 15m. respectively). Accordingly, Switzerland has adopted both a bilateral and a regional approach.

2. The Partnership between Switzerland and Central Asia

Like other countries, Switzerland first had to learn about the new states in Central Asia that had suddenly become independent. Consequently, in the first half of the 1990s, Switzerland’s activities were mainly focused on learning about and understanding the newly emerging societies and states, and by searching for the appropriate instruments and policies to pursue in relation to them. Switzerland rapidly decided that Central Asia should become a focal region of its technical and financial cooperation. Developing this approach, Switzerland has gained considerable insight from talks with representatives of the Turkish authorities, thus benefiting from Turkey’s traditional ties with this region.

A: Bilateral representations

Switzerland recognised the independence of these five former Soviet republics on 23 December 1991, being one of the first countries to do so. The first step to laying the basis for a constructive partnership with the Central Asian countries and to strengthening their independence was to establish bilateral representations in the region. On 30 November 1992, the Federal Council thus decided to open an Embassy in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. While diplomatic relations with Kyrgyzstan were first conducted from the Swiss Embassy in Moscow, the Swiss Ambassador with residence in Tashkent was also accredited to the Kyrgyz authorities on 25 November 1993. Similarly, the Swiss Embassy in Moscow was responsible for diplomatic relations with Tajikistan until March 1994, when the Swiss Ambassador with residence in Tashkent was also accredited to Tajikistan. The Swiss Embassy in Moscow continues to be responsible for diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

In addition, there are two Swiss Cooperation Offices which report to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) with consular responsibilities in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and in Dushanbe (Tajikistan). Furthermore, in 1997, Switzerland opened a consulate in Almaty (Kazakhstan) and, in 1998, transformed it into a Consulate-General. The multiplication of Swiss official representations in Central Asia illustrates Switzerland’s growing partnership with the young republics.

Several Central Asian states have also established representations in or for Switzerland.[4]

B: Reciprocal visits

A reflection of the intensive and growing relations is also the number and quality of high-level visits. In the past 10 years, Swiss Federal Councillors (i.e. members of the Swiss government) have visited each of the five Central Asian states. In recent years, Federal Councillor Villiger (Federal Department of Finance) visited Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) in 1997 and Ashgabat, Bishkek, Dushanbe and Tashkent in 2000. These visits served to reinforce the dialogue with the countries belonging to Switzerland’s voting group at the Bretton Woods institutions. Federal Councillor Deiss (then Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) travelled to Bishkek, Dushanbe and Tashkent in April 2002 with a view to deepening cooperation with these countries at that particular turning point in their young histories, marked by the end of the Taliban regime and the reinforced American presence in the region. In 2002, Federal Councillor Couchepin (then Federal Department of Economic Affairs) visited Astana with a large business delegation.

On the other hand, President Akaev of Kyrgyzstan visited Switzerland in May 2002 and a visit by President Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan followed in January 2003. Ministers of several Central Asian countries also have been to Berne. The visits provided the opportunity to formalise bilateral cooperation through the signing of agreements.

Furthermore, high-level talks have been taking place on the margins of multilateral meetings. Last but not least, the strong interest of each side is also reflected in the visit by the President of the Swiss Council of States (one of the two parliamentary Chambers) to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in October 2002, and the visit by the President of the Swiss National Bank in the summer of 2002 to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (the Central Asian members of the Swiss voting group in the Bretton Woods institutions).

C: Treaty framework

The special partnership between Switzerland and the Central Asian states is also shown by the number of bilateral agreements concluded by Switzerland with these states. These agreements illustrate the priority domains of cooperation: technical and financial assistance, migration, trade and investments. The main types of agreements are shown in the table below, in addition to various other agreements, for instance, relating to specific projects, to air traffic, and to the financing of subscriptions and share offerings, as well as cooperation between international financial institutions.

Main types of Agreements






Technical and financial cooperation and humanitarian aid

signed on 23 Oct. 2002 (earlier agreement entered into force in1994)

in force since 15 Nov. 2000

signed on 20 Sep. 2002

Readmission of persons with unauthorised stays

signed on 23 Oct. 2002

Trade and economic cooperation

in force since 1 July 97

In force since 1 May 1998

in force since 22 July 94

Promotion and reciprocal protection of investments

in force since 13 May 98

signed on 29 Jan. 99

in force since 5 Nov. 1993

Double taxation

In force (retro-actively) since 1 Jan. 2000

In force since 5 June 2002

signed on 3 Apr. 2002

The Joint Economic Commissions between Switzerland and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are a further instrument of Swiss foreign economic policy in the region. The commissions meet regularly in accordance with the agreements on trade and economic cooperation to discuss the economic situation and issues related to trade and investments.

D: Voting groups in international financial institutions

At the beginning of the 1990s, Switzerland decided to participate more actively in international financial institutions, in particular in the Bretton Woods institutions (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank group). At that time, the countries of Central Asia were searching for sources of finance on favorable terms for their reconstruction and reform processes. Their interests thus coincided with those of Switzerland, since Switzerland had joined the Bretton Woods institutions on 29 May 1992 and was looking for states wishing to be represented by it in these institutions’ constituencies or voting groups. (The executive directors of the voting groups appoint the boards of governors of the IMF and the World Bank.) In 1992, Switzerland was thus able to form a new voting group together with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as Azerbaijan and Poland. In December 2000, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia joined the voting group.

Today, the voting share of the constituency is 2.88 per cent, with Switzerland representing 1.62 per cent. As the leader of a ‘mixed’ voting group, Switzerland constantly needs to bring its own interests as a creditor state in line with those of the voting group’s debtor states, and makes genuine efforts to represent the interests of these countries in an optimal way. Switzerland has repeatedly been able to contribute to finding pragmatic, case-specific solutions.

At the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), set up in 1990, Switzerland leads a voting group which includes Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. From 20 to 22 January 2003, Switzerland also hosted the CIS-7[5] Conference in Lucerne to which four international financial institutions were invited, and where discussions were held on the economic challenges of the seven poorest countries of the CIS, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The initiative aims at improving growth prospects and reducing poverty in these states.[6]

E: Technical and financial cooperation

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union, the Swiss government and parliament decided to give active support to the economic and political transition in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Substantial cooperation programmes as well as immediate measures were adopted and implemented, making Switzerland a major contributor to the Central Asian countries. This assistance amounted to CHF 41m (around US$28m) in 2002 and has increased to about CHF 52m (around US$35m) in 2003.

Switzerland’s cooperation with the Central Asian countries aims, firstly, at promoting and strengthening the rule of law and human rights, as well as establishing or consolidating democratic systems, especially stabilising political institutions. Secondly, our cooperation aims at promoting sustainable economic and social development based on free market principles to achieve economic stability, cultural development, higher incomes and improved living conditions, while contributing to the protection of the environment and the economical use of natural resources. Swiss cooperation also contributes to integrating the transition countries into the world economy. In this context, particular emphasis is given to the development, as well as the restoration of, basic infrastructure, particularly in the field of energy and water supplies, transport and telecommunications. Related projects are often supported with financial contributions, which are, in terms of the amounts involved, currently the most important aspect of Switzerland’s cooperation with Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

In Kyrgyzstan, for instance, the focus of Swiss technical cooperation has been the promotion of private initiatives in agriculture and small enterprises, the setting up of a forest policy and economy, as well as education and training in the areas of democracy and human rights.

Some programmes, such as the Central Asia Mountain Programme (CAMP), adopt a strongly regional approach and aim at contributing to the sustainable development of Central Asian mountain regions. The project trains and works together with local academic institutions, NGOs, consultancy firms and municipalities in areas such as agriculture and forest management, development of communities, health, energy, infrastructure (including the communication network) and tourism.

Some projects include measures to promote trade, to provide support in formulating trade policies, and to create capacities for negotiating and implementing multilateral regulations. Switzerland promotes, for instance, the participation of the Central Asian states in the World Trade Organisation and supports seminars on WTO principles and international trade policy for negotiators from these states. Another example is Switzerland’s support for the EBRD Trade Facilitation Program, which provides guarantees to local banks with regard to their obligations in trade transactions.

F: Promotion of peace

Switzerland’s foreign policy toward Central Asia is also active in the field of peace promotion. For instance, since 2000, Switzerland has supported the establishment of a mediation network at the local and regional levels, as well as across national borders, with a view to preventing conflicts in the Ferghana valley. In Tajikistan, several projects aim at supporting a structured dialogue in the provinces as well as in the capital to consolidate the peace process based on the 1997 peace agreement. Furthermore, Switzerland supports and participates in several OSCE activities in Central Asia, including democratisation and more particularly election observation. Switzerland also supports the intention of OSCE member states to enhance the organisation’s activities in Central Asia.

3. Outlook
Geography and history, space and time, give the Central Asian region a touch of fascination. It comes in addition to an economic and political potential that always has attracted the outside world, sometimes to Central Asia’s benefit, sometimes to its disadvantage. The label ‘grand chess board’, alluding to its pivotal position between Europe and Asia, is by no means an empty catchword. Looking at and thinking about Central Asia, Switzerland has no hidden political agenda. It has a clear and keen interest in seeing these countries progress in their political and economic transformation. Switzerland wants them as partners, not only for itself, but for Europe as a whole. However, the strengthening of regional and global partnerships must go hand in hand with closer cooperation among Central Asian countries themselves. Switzerland’s own economic, cultural and even political position would be inconceivable without its strong fabric of regional ties. The four large neighbours, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, absorb no less than 40 per cent of the country’s total exports. History and economics have taught Switzerland a valuable lesson about the vital importance of strong regional embeddedness. Why should this not be true for Central Asia?

Today, we share many common points with the Central Asian region, not least membership of the most important international organizations. As a head of a Bretton Woods voting group, Switzerland has a responsibility which goes beyond day-to-day business. It will live up to this challenge, now and in the future.