2008: Macedonia and Kosovo has finished marking, and agreeing on, their mutual
border. This is a big deal, because disputes over exactly where the border is
often causes much sustained violence in this part of the world.
2008: Bulgaria is taking a lot of diplomatic heat from Russia. According to the
Russian government and media aligned with the government, Bulgaria is engaged
in a "dangerous game" of attempting to balance its membership in NATO, its
support for Georgia, and its relationship with Russia. The European Union also
factors into the complex balancing act. Bulgaria has told Russia that it "understands" many of Russia's concerns
(eg, NATO expansion, Kosovo independence) and wants to act as a go-between for
Moscow and the EU. But that doesn't please the Russians. In September Russia
complained that Bulgaria had sold Georgia over seventy million dollars worth of
military equipment in 2007. The real problem is Bulgaria is in NATO and has
signed agreements to let NATO troops (particularly American) use Bulgarian
bases as forward bases ("lilly pads") for other operations. The Russians know
"other operations" include helping Georgia, or other nations in Central Asia.
2008: The "struggle for Turkey's soul" continues in the Turkish courts. The Constitutional
Court issued a final ruling on its July 2008 decision to not ban the Justice
and Development Party (AKP), which is headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan. The court did say that Erdogan was guilty of "determined" actions that
would undermine the Turkish Constitution's Article 68, which establishes Turkey
as a secular state. However, the AKP does not promote violence. Earlier in the
week the big "coup trial" started once again. This is one of the most divisive
issues in Turkey. The government (led by the AKP) claims that the 86 people
arrested earlier this year intended to launch a coup in 2009. The trial openly
pits Kemalist secularists against AKP which is a moderate-Islamist party.
2008: The US signed an agreement with the EU that will allow the US to provide
police support to the EU's EULEX mission in Kosovo. The US will send 80
policemen to support EULEX. They could deploy before the end of 2008. The US
may also provide a handful of judges and lawyers to serve with the mission.
former British and US diplomats called Bosnia's current political situation
"fragile." Infighting between the Muslim-Croat alliance and the Bosnian Serbs
has increased and according to the diplomats the international community's
attention has moved elsewhere. The diplomatic maneuvering is likely a response
to the recent EU decision to pull out its peacekeeping force. As yet no date
has been set for the pull-out.
2008: Peace negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots continue. The
Turkish community says that it wants reunification as a "federal state" but
also wants guarantees that the two communities will be treated as political
equals. That could mean a lot of things, but Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali
Talat has been focusing on security issues. Mehmet has acknowledged that the
Turkish Cypriot community does not trust the EU. The Turkish Cypriots do trust
Turkey to act as a "guarantor" for their rights. The Greek Cypriot community,
however, wants the Turkish Army to leave
the island. Still, the recent negotiations have revealed a lot of common
ground. Greek and Turkish Cypriots say they are tired of living on a divided
2008: Protestors in Montenegro fought with police in the capital. Around 10,000
demonstrators gathered to object to the Montenegrin government's recognition of
Kosovo's independence, leaving 20 people injured in the clashes with the police.
The Montenegrin police blamed Serb activists and religious leaders for the