On July 18, 20 countries, including the United States, wrapped up more than two years of troubled negotiations aimed at bolstering confidence- and security-building measures among states in and around the war-torn Balkans. However, the talks’ final four-page document is modest, consisting mostly of voluntary steps countries may take to build on existing commitments.
Article V of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which ended fighting among Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, called for negotiations “establishing a regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia.” A chairman for these talks was not appointed until December 1997, and it took Article V participants, including all the countries in southeastern Europe and other interested countries, nearly a year to agree on a mandate. They ultimately decided not to negotiate an arms control treaty capping weapons levels.
Instead, the talks’ objective became obliging Yugoslavia to undertake commitments similar to those in the Vienna Document. A product of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Vienna Document aims to foster transparency and cooperation among the now-55 OSCE member states and calls on countries to exchange information on their militaries, provide notice of certain military exercises, and host foreign military visits.
But the Article V negotiations lost their impetus after Yugoslavia joined the OSCE last November, thereby pledging to adhere to the Vienna Document, following the October ouster of long-time Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. As a result, the “Concluding Document” of the Article V process merely includes several references encouraging countries to expand upon or enhance measures outlined in the Vienna Document. A commission will meet at least once a year to review implementation of the Concluding Document, which will become effective January 1, 2002.