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Brief 34 - Defense Reform and Conversion in Albania, Macedonia and Croatia

1 January, 2006


The translation of the three studies was made possible by the generous support of the Norwegian Government.


List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

Executive Summary



Defense Reform
Defense Conversion

Defense Reform
Defense Conversion

Defense Reform
Defense Conversion

Overall Conclusions

List of Interviewed Persons




The findings of this brief show that the defence reform process in the Western Balkans is complex.

This is because it involves not only the improvement of civilian and democratic oversight and the modernization of the armed forces and the Ministries of Defense, but also the adaptation of the armed forces to the new global, regional and local strategic environment.

Yet public opinion in Albania, Macedonia and Croatia associates defense reforms more with the closure of military sites, loss of employment and a decline in living standards for former military personnel. Despite achievements in the defence reform process, the Western Balkan countries have achieved differing degrees of success regarding the restructuring of their armed forces, the reintegration of redundant military personnel, and the conversion of military sites for civilian purposes. The reintegration of ex-military men into civilian life remains a secondary problem, as it is not an integral part of defense reform.

The issue does not seem to be a priority for NATO or PMC either, leaving it up to weak national institutions that act under huge financial constraints and with limited integration possibilities of national economies and labor markets. An exception to this is the strong, financial and structural involvement of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Croatian reintegration process.