WASHINGTON -The Balkans pose the greatest threat of instability in Europe in 2009, according to an annual threat assessment presented Thursday by U.S. intelligence director Dennis Blair.
The report said the principal challenge will come from the unresolved political status of the Serb minority in Kosovo, and the uneasy interethnic power-sharing arrangements in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“Events in the Balkans will again pose the greatest threat of instability in Europe in 2009, despite positive developments in the last year that included Kosovo’s peaceful declaration of independence from Serbia, the election of pro- E.U. leaders in Serbia, and offers of NATO membership to Croatia and Albania,” it said.
The report noted that 22 of 27 European Union countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence since it was unilaterally declared Feb. 17, 2007, but stressed that Serbia hasn’t accepted it.
“Belgrade openly supports parallel Kosov Serb institutions. It has used political and legal means to challenge and undermine Pristina’s sovereignty and to limit the mandate of the E.U.’s Rule of Law mission (EULEX) in Kosovo, which is meant to help Kosovo authorities build multiethnic police, judiciary and customs systems,” the report said.
“This has reinforced the de-facto separation of Kosovo into an Albanian- majority south and a Serb-majority north and frustrated the Kosovo Albanians,” it said.
As for Bosnia, the report said its future as a multiethnic state “remains in doubt, although neither widespread violence nor a formal split is imminent.”
“Threats of secession by Bosnian Serb leaders and calls by some Bosniak leaders to eliminate the Bosnian Serb entity have increased interethnic tensions to perhaps the highest level in years,” it said.