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The International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) in May 2003 created the Balkan & Eastern Mediterranean Policy Council (BEMPC) to provide a forum for concentrated information collection, analysis and policy concept formulation on issues connected with the region. BEMPC has begun to develop its own advisory board of regional specialists, and to produce current intelligence and analysis, books, tailored studies, briefings and presentations, and will conduct major seminars on the region. The Council was able to shape related regional issues in the November 13-15, 2003, conference, Strategy2003: The Global Strategic Forum, for example. Given ISSA’s historic rôle in briefing the US Congressional leadership, the BEMPC has already begun to play a decisive part in raising consciousness of policymakers on Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean (and related) issues. 

ISSA's BEMPC has undertaken scores of major reports on such issues as the resolution of the Cyprus crisis, the Greece-Turkey military balance, the security of the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as terrorism in the Balkans, and other regional issues.

The track record of the ISSA group — registered with the US Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit, tax-exempt educational foundation — is such that it is relied on at various levels of government. In the US model, for example, the services of ISSA (specialized briefings, specialized studies, the Defense & Foreign Affairs daily, monthly and annual publications, and the GIS on-line intelligence) are relied on by key areas in the US Congress, the Administration, the Defense Department and Armed Services, and the Intelligence Community. The extent of the dependence on the ISSA group services stems from the absolute impartiality of analysis and reporting for which the organization is known. 

ISSA and its constituent parts have, in the past, focused their efforts on strategically important regions which have been either under-reported or mis-reported by mainstream media and intelligence organizations, resulting in a skewed, or biased, understanding at policy levels. ISSA and the Defense & Foreign Affairs/GIS components have maintained some 200 field collectors, and numerous specialists, worldwide for more than 30 years, giving an unparalleled consistency of human intelligence (HUMINT) capability and understanding at an analytical level. 

ISSA used its resources in the 1990-2004 timeframe to redress some of the extreme bias which distorted policy analysis on the Balkans among Western governments. To a significant extent, the almost lone voice of the ISSA group in intelligence circles gradually brought policy thinking back toward a moderate position. And, although the damage was done by the early failures of Balkan states and Western intelligence services at the beginning of the conflict, the correctness of ISSA group reporting on the Balkan conflicts is now being accepted. But what is critical is the fact that, despite an appreciation of intelligence and policy failures by NATO governments during the 1990-2000 period, the US and UK, in particular, are still operating on the basis of the policies put in place by the Clinton and Blair administrations. In other words, the policies put in place on the basis of flawed, and biased considerations are still governing the US-UK Balkan policies, despite the fact that the current Bush Administration in the US accepts that the former Clinton Administration was in error. 

The reason for the continued implementation of flawed policy is that the Balkans have yet to be restored to policy priority in Washington or London. The same applies to much of the US Eastern Mediterranean policy, which has only been addressed as an aspect of US policies toward Iraq and, to a lesser extent, the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

ISSA has traditionally focused strongly on Eastern Mediterranean issues, greatly assisting in more balanced US and Western policymaking toward the Cyprus question and Greek-Turkish issues. Numerous articles, speeches and presentations have resulted from this activity, providing an independent, non-partisan resource of information and concepts for policymakers worldwide. 

ISSA estimates that the BEMPC requires an annual budget of at least $250,000 to undertake its mission, and to enable it to maintain complete control and impartiality in its collection, analysis and presentations. Some of the funding for BEMPC operations has been provided from the main ISSA budget, some of it from donor funds.

The maintenance of the absolute independence and impartiality of ISSA/BEMPC and Defense & Foreign Affairs work is critical not only because of ISSA’s mandate as an independent educational trust, but also because the interests of sound policy — for all states — are ultimately best-served by having a comprehensive, objective and well-grounded intelligence and analysis capability.

ISSA would be pleased to discuss with any interested individuals or groups the donation to BEMPC of funds which are, in the US, tax-exempt donations.

BEMPC intends to play a strenuous rôle in furthering the interests of the region by having the resources and materials to bring Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean issues to the forefront of policymakers’ consciousness. 


© 2017 International Strategic Studies Association. ISSA does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed.