At the March 29-30 World Bank and European Commission-sponsored Regional Funding Conference for Southeast Europe, participants pledged more than euro 2.4 billion ($2.3 billion at euro 1.05=$1.00) to help the Balkan region recover from the effects of years of turmoil the result of chronic economic mismanagement and episodic military conflict. Donors convened in Brussels for the first meeting to be held this year in support of the Stability Pact, an initiative launched in June 1999 to promote a comprehensive approach to aid programs for Southeast Europe: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Herzegovina, Macedonia and Romania. Participating in the arrangement are 47 countries, including European Union members, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Russia and the countries of the region, plus 36 international organizations.
Although the Balkans traditionally have not been a major focus of Japanese aid policy, Tokyo promised $220 million in 1999 to support Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia (see JEI Report No. 30B, August 6, 1999). Moreover, the government, which will chair the 2000 summit of the leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations plus Russia, has volunteered to host a conference on the Stability Pact later this year. Tokyo, keen to promote its role as a good global citizen, wants to do its part to help rebuild a region that has been in the international spotlight since the 1999 Serbia-Kosovo conflict.