The guns have fallen silent in the former Yugoslavia. But the Dayton truce has yet to become a lasting peace. Peace in the Balkans remain threatened not only by the possibility of a new war in Bosnia, but also by unresolved conflict in Kosova and Macedonia. At the end of the twentieth century, as at its beginning, the Balkans stand at a crossroads, facing the choice of being marginalized, or overcoming their problems and creating the conditions for their integration into the European mainstream.
The stakes for the West are also high. Another war in the region might not threaten the West directly, but it would have a corrosive effect on Western unity. Stopping a new conflagration would require a large-scale Western intervention; another failure to intervene would raise more questions about what values the Western democracies are willing to defend. The International Commission on the Balkans was established in July 1995 by the Aspen Institute Berlin and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to provide an independent perspective on the region's continuing problems and to propose a concerted Western approach to long-term stability. The Commission - drawing on its extensive, high-level, and politically comprehensive discussions throughout the region - investigates the causes of the recent Balkan conflicts and provides an independent assessment of the European, American, and U.N. responses to them. It calls for a wide range of stabilizing measures - including proposals for the treatment of minorities, the promotion of democracy, and Balkan cooperation. To be effective, the Commission warns, such efforts must be reinforced by NATO's continuing and coherent military engagement.
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