The end of the Warsaw Pact and the break-up of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991 rang in sweeping economic and political changes in Central and Eastern Europe. The downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave independence to 15 new countries. For arm brokers, securing weapons has never been easier. Most of the former Communist states are in dire economic straits and desperate for hard currency; they see arms sales, covert or overt, as a means of generating it.
The illegal arms trade is further driven by rampant corruption in military bureaucracies in Eastern Europe, where plenty of insiders have grown rich on bribes and kickbacks. This has paved way for easy availability of arms within Europe rather than on smuggling of arms into Europe. The logistics of terrorist activities in Europe have hence become simplified. Also with the collapse of Soviet Union the birth and consolidation of European Union has got accelerated. The poor cousins in the post-Soviet Union scenario had been making a bee line to join European Union as they are economically less well off and have fledging democracies.
The United States and Europe remain confronted by the twin challenges of enlarging both NATO and the EU without drawing new lines of division within Europe and alienating or undermining those not admitted particularly the fragile, conflict-ridden countries of Southeast Europe.
With NATO’s expansion in 1999 to include Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic, its direct involvement in peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia, and its evolving role in the wake of the disastrous terrorist bombings in New York and Washington D. C. on September 11, the Alliance’s traditional mission has shifted from collective defense towards a new emphasis on collective security. The continuing political and economic instability in Central and Eastern Europe has fueled and been exacerbated by a rise in organized crime and terrorism in the region. The two have gone hand in hand as the proceeds of organized crime have been used to fund terrorist activities in the region.
The months since September 11, 2001, have revealed that Al Qaeda and other extremist/ terrorist organizations have been active in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in Kosovo and Bosnia. U. S. and allied diplomatic and military facilities in these areas have been targeted by terrorists.
Current ethnic strife and terrorist activities in the Balkans – retrieved on February 10, 2007: http://www. phoenixcommand. com/hell5.