The volunteer project Balkan Peace Team (BPT) was founded in 1993 by European nonviolence and anti-war activists in response to invitations by NGOs and individuals from Croatia and Kosovo. The Croatian activists before had invited Peace Brigades International (pbi) but their assessment of the situation did not lead to pbi taking up Croatia as a project. The initiative for BPT came from War Resisters’ International and the Federation for Social Defence, who then brought together a platform of mainly European-based peace organisations, among them the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Austrian Peace Services, Dutch Mennonite Ex-Yugoslavia Working Group, Collectif du jumelage (Geneva), Mouvement pour une alternative nonviolente (France), Brethren Service and Peace Brigades International (with a somewhat special status because pbi never became formally a full member). Besides these member organisation, BPT country groups formed in Switzerland and the Netherlands, and later also in France. The member organizations sent a representative into a Coordinating Committee (CC) which met regularly and took an active role in the guidance and implementation of BPT. Its coordinating office was based in Germany, with the Federation for Social Defence, and was staffed with only one person most of the time.
The Balkan Peace Team worked with small teams of two to five people each in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1994 and 2001. In Croatia, its main focus lay on accompaniment of human rights and peace activists. In Serbia-Kosovo the work of BPT was more about facilitating dialogue between activists from Serbia and the nonviolence resistance movement in Kosov@. BPT was also engaged in protective presence when the Croatian army in 1995 retook the so-called Krajina, a part of the country that had been under Serbian control since late 1991.
The following article summarizes the work and achievements and challenges of this project.