The Stability Pact was the first serious attempt by the international community to replace the previous, reactive crisis intervention policy in South Eastern Europe with a comprehensive, long-term conflict prevention strategy. The idea for the Stability Pact arose in late 1998 and thus predates the Kosovo war. The 1999 NATO intervention acted as a catalyst in strengthening international political will for co-ordinated and preventive action in the region.
On 10 June 1999, at the EU's initiative, the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe was adopted in Cologne. In the founding document, more than 40 partner countries and organisations undertook to strengthen the countries of South Eastern Europe "in their efforts to foster peace, democracy, respect for human rights and economic prosperity in order to achieve stability in the whole region". Euro-Atlantic integration was promised to all the countries in the region. At a summit meeting in Sarajevo on 30 July 1999, the Pact was reaffirmed.
The Stability Pact Partners
- The countries of the region: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- The European Union Member States and the European Commission
- Other countries: Canada, Japan, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, USA
- International organisations: UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, UNHCR, NATO, OECD
- International financial institutions: World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB)
- Regional initiatives: Black Sea Economic Co-operation (BSEC), Central European Initiative (CEI), South East European Co-operative Initiative (SECI) and South East Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP)
The idea for the Stability Pact arose in late 1998 and thus predates the Kosovo
The Stability Pact was based on experiences and lessons from worldwide international crisis management. Conflict prevention and peace building can be successful only if they start in parallel in three key sectors: the creation of a secure environment, the promotion of sustainable democratic systems, and the promotion of economic and social well being. Progress in all three sectors is necessary for sustainable peace and democracy.
Special Co-ordinator, Regional Tables and Working Tables
The Stability Pact was a political declaration of commitment and a framework agreement on international co-operation to develop a shared strategy among all partners for stability and growth in South Eastern Europe. The Stability Pact is not a new international organisation nor does it have any independent financial resources or implementing structures.
Organisationally, the Stability Pact relied on the Special Co-ordinator, Erhard Busek, and his some 30-member team. His most important task is to bring the participants' political strategies in line with one another, to co-ordinate existing and new initiatives in the region and, thereby, to help avoid unnecessary duplication of work. The offices of the Special Co-ordinator were based in Brussels.
The Special Co-ordinator chaired the most important political instrument of the Stability Pact, the Regional Table. There were three Working Tables, which operated under the Regional Table:
Working Table I: Democratisation and Human Rights;
Working Table II: Economic Reconstruction, Co-operation and Development;
Working Table III: Security Issues (with two Sub-Tables: Security and Defence, and Justice and Home Affairs).
The structure and working methods of the Stability Pact were modelled on the CSCE process. A special feature is that at Regional and Working Tables, representatives of South Eastern European countries were, for the first time, on an equal footing with those of international organisations and financial institutions in advising on the future of their region and in setting priorities concerning the content of all three working areas.
What does the European Perspective mean?
In the founding document of the Stability Pact, the EU, which assumed a leading role in the Pact, undertook to draw South Eastern Europe "closer to the perspective of full integration ... into its structures", including eventual full membership. Moving toward European structures includes the possibility of full membership of the EU. Countries wishing to be admitted must, however, first meet the conditions defined by the EU Council in 1993 concerning democratic, economic and institutional reforms (Copenhagen criteria).
As a contribution to the Stability Pact and an interim step towards membership, the European Union set up a new generation of Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs), aimed at the South Eastern European countries which so far had no contractual relationship with the EU, i.e. Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro. The SAAs are the centrepiece of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP), which remains the main framework for relations between the EU and the Western Balkan countries.
The EU-Western Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki, June 2003, reaffirmed a clear EU-membership perspective for the Western Balkans. The Stability Pact has been, over the years, complementary to the SAP and the accession process, providing a bridge between potential candidates and candidate countries in SEE, and the Republic of Moldova. The European perspective has been the key motivator for countries to engage in reforms and in regional co-operation exercises and has been a crucial tool of leverage for the Stability Pact.
Core objectives were introduced in 2002 as a tool to focus the Stability Pact work. They represented representing priority areas where the work of the Stability Pact was mainly directed, and were the basis of action for each of the Working Tables and initiatives.
At the Belgrade Regional Table, in May 2006, the new core objective Fostering and Building Human Capital was introduced and gradually replaced, during the second half of 2006, the core objective Local democracy and Cross border co-operation.