THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Lisbon, Portugal) ___________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 31, 2000
Working for Greater Stability in Southeast Europe
The United States and the European Union are working closely together to support the transformation of Southeast Europe into a more stable region. The U.S. and the EU are fully engaged in both the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe and the peacekeeping missions there. While the U.S. contribution to these efforts is substantial and critical to their success, Europe has properly assumed its role as the largest provider of resources in these efforts.
--Stability Pact for Southeast Europe
Since the Stability Pact's launch last summer, it has forged a strong partnership between the international community and the states of Southeast Europe to advance our shared commitment to political and economic reform, accelerate the region's integration with the rest of Europe and promote greater stability throughout the area.
--Regional Reforms. The Pact has developed a number of initiatives to strengthen democracy, economic development and security, including specific commitments and actions by the states of the region to improve their investment climate and combat corruption. In each country, the government has formed teams with representatives of major donors and multilateral institutions to support these reforms.
--Donor Assistance. At the Regional Funding Conference for Southeast Europe in Brussels on March 29-30, the international community committed $2.3 billion to fund a wide range of "Quick Start" projects, including one to improve the region's infrastructure and strengthen the rule of law. The European Union has shouldered the lion's share of funding for these projects, with the combined contribution of the European Commission, EU Member States, the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank equaling approximately two-thirds of the total. The U.S. pledged $77.65 million in assistance, just over three percent of the total. Other bilateral donors, multilateral institutions and organizations contributed the balance.
Work on several important "Quick Start" projects has already begun, including on 26 of the 53 projects involving U.S. funding. Among those projects underway are the Milot River bridge project in Albania, the Blace border crossing in Macedonia, the power grid upgrade project in Romania, the World Bank's regional Trade and Transport Facilitation program, and the regional Teaching of History project. Others are planned to start soon, including a transportation infrastructure upgrade and expansion project in Montenegro and the Danube bridge construction project between Bulgaria and Romania.
Integrating Southeast Europe into the rest of Europe. Since the Stability Pact began last summer, Croatia has joined NATO's Partnership for Peace, the European Union has opened accession negotiations with Romania and Bulgaria, and the EU has expressed its intention to negotiate Stabilization and Association Agreements with several other countries of the region.
--Winning the Peace in Kosovo
The combined efforts of KFOR, the United Nations and donors such as the United States and the European Union have made a critical difference on the ground in Kosovo. Over 900,000 refugees forced out during the conflict have returned home. Serb security forces and the KLA have either withdrawn or disbanded. The level of violence has dropped sharply since last summer. International assistance including 75,000 shelter kits helped local residents repair and construct adequate shelter, averting a humanitarian crisis this past winter. UNMIK has rebuilt nearly 3,000 houses, primarily with European funding, and aims to build far more by the end of this year. Reconstruction of the power system means that, for the first time since the fighting ended, internally generated power is adequate for demand. The food situation is improving. Over one million square meters of land has been cleared of 15,000 mines.
Both the United States and Europe have made significant contributions to the success of KFOR and UNMIK. EU member states have contributed 63 percent of the troops in KFOR, with contributions from other European countries (including Russia) bringing that proportion up to 80 percent. The United States provides under 15 percent of total KFOR troops. Similarly, the EU has provided nearly three-quarters of international funding for UNMIK's local budget, from which UNMIK covers the costs of running the local administration in Kosovo, while the United States has provided just over 13 percent. At the two World Bank-led donors' conferences held in 1999 to respond to needs in Kosovo, the United States pledged about one-fifth of the total contribution, with the European Union pledging approximately three-fifths, and other donors providing the remainder.