August 21, 2009: Though Kosovo and Serbia's confrontations get the headlines, Bosnia is the shakiest of the ex-Yugoslav republics. The biggest worry is rising "ethnic nationalism." Bosnian Serbs living in the Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb statelet) are the loudest, but they are not alone. Bosnian Croats and Bosniak Muslims are not getting along well, either. Small things become large issues when the economy is bad, Bosnian Croats can carry Croatian passports (as well as Bosnian passports) , which means it is relatively easy for them to get visas to travel to western Europe. Bosniaks have only can obtain visas Bosnian passports, and travel on a Bosnian passport can be a hassle. Do we live in the same country or don't we, Bosniaks ask. Well, Bosnia is a strange place, and it is certainly a strangely organized country with the little Serb republic and the Bosani-Croat confederation under one tenuous umbrella. Earlier this year the Republika Srpska declared it would start making and enforcing its own immigration and customs rules. The statelet has made similar declarations before, and the result has been, "no you won't." That too happened again when the more or less permanent international mediator assigned to Bosnia, the High Representative, canned the Bosnian Serbs separatist bid. The Bosnian Serbs would like to secede and join Serbia, and many use Kosovo as an example of an ethnic enclave unilaterally declaring independence and leaving. The Bosniak Muslims and many Bosnian Croats would just as soon end the Republika Sprska's limited autonomy and make it fully part of Bosnia. To many ears this sounds a little bit like the early 1990s, not quite as vicious, not quite as belligerent, but laced with the same apparently irreconcilable ethnic differences.
August 20, 2009: Moldovans are wondering if the split between the Moldovan government and the Transdniestr Republic will ever end. The statelet is supported by Russia, but Ukraine separates Transdniestr from Russian territory. The Communist Party's defeat in the recent elections means the pro-European Union faction is now in control. That doesn't please the ethnic Russians in Transdniestr, nor does it please the Russian government. A majority of Moldovans believe Russia likes the current situation just fine, because through Transdniestr, Moscow can disrupt Moldovan politics and also make trouble for neighboring Romania. Russia still does not like the fact Romania joined NATO.
August 18, 2009: Turkey is currently conducting joint military training with both the US and Israel. A military spokesman said that the exercise does not “target” any country. Exercise Reliant Mermaid X is described as a humanitarian-aid and search-and rescue exercise. US and Israeli air forces and naval forces are participating in the joint training maneuvers.
The Serbian government aid that the Serb weapons industry is recovering. In 2008 Serbia exported over $500 million worth of weapons, which makes the arms industry a major source of foreign exchange. Serbia has signed a contract with Iraq to supply it with 20 training aircraft. The planes are scheduled for delivery in 2010. The total air and support deal is worth around $300 million.
August 14, 2009: NATO is discussing its plans to conduct a “phased” withdrawal from Kosovo. At the moment NATO has around 14,000 troops in Kosovo. By early 2010 it expects to have 10,000 troops in the country. The majority of NATO troops would be gone by 2014. NATO plans to leave a small rapid reaction force (RRF) in Kosovo.
August 4, 2009: Moldova's Constitutional Court said that the new elections were valid and did not require a recount. The Democratic Party, which is leading a group of pro-Western parties, is trying to form a coalition government. The pro-Western group has 53 seats. Despite the electoral results, the Communist Party remains the largest single party in Moldova with 48 seats out of 101 in parliament. The trouble that afflicted the old Communist-led government may yet plague the new government. It takes 61 votes to elect a new president. That means at least eight Communist delegates will have to vote for the pro-Western candidate.
August 2, 2009: The European Union is insisting that Slovenia and Croatia reach an agreement that ends their on-going border dispute. This is putting pressure on Croatia, which wants to join the EU. At the moment EU-Croatia membership talks are on hold. Slovenia joined the EU in 2004.
July 20, 2009: Turkey is putting 56 people on trial in the so-called “Ergenekon conspiracy” case. Two former generals are included in the group. The court charges the group with being member of an “ultra-nationalist” (right-wing) organization that intends to overthrow the government. Members of the group claim there is no conspiracy and that they are secular Turks (Kemalists) who oppose the AKP's “Islamist” policies. Another 86 people are already on trial in the case.
July 19, 2009: Greece claimed Turkish air force planes violated Greek air space in the Aegean Sea. The real dispute is oil exploration in the Aegean and near Cyprus. Turkey intends to conduct more oil exploration off Cyprus later this year. According to Turkish officials, a section off Cyprus' northeast coast is a promising prospect. That happens to be a “sea sector” off the Turkish Cypriot-controlled area of Cyprus.