June 9, 2012: Turkey announced that it will give the Tunisian government $100 million. The money is for economic and social development projects but will probably be spent very quickly since Tunisia is experiencing a severe economic crunch. Turkey will also loan Tunisia $400 million at a low interest rate. Tunisia’s Ennadha Party is a moderate Islamist party which models its political program on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Several Tunisian politicians are warning that the country could face another political explosion unless it can revive the stalled economy and put people back to work. The AKP has told the Tunisian government that it strongly favors a secular democracy and that Turkey will try to help the Tunisian people manage the transition from dictatorship to democracy. At the moment that means providing economic aid.
June 8, 2012: Maps stir passions in the Balkans. Bulgaria’s foreign minister and Turkey’s Bulgarian ambassador met to discuss a map that appeared with educational materials published for schools in Istanbul three years ago. The map showed a Greater Turkey of a sort, with parts of Bulgaria (including Sofia) and Greece’s Thessalonica (Salonika) included as Turkish territory. All of Armenia, part of northern Iraq, and part of Georgia were also labeled as Turkish territory. Cyprus was also included as Turkish territory. The government of Turkey has assured Bulgaria that it does not have any territorial claims on any neighboring nations. Turkey has disavowed the map and said the maps, which appeared on a compact disk, were withdrawn from the schools when they were discovered and publicized.
Greece acknowledged that it now faces an energy crisis because it cannot pay its electricity, gas, and oil bills. The government and Greek energy corporations are looking for up to $400 million in emergency bridge loans in order to avoid power cuts during the summer tourist season. Though overall demand for energy has been declining, due to the economic crisis, Greece imports most of its power, including electrical power. Tourism is a major industry in Greece and despite numerous travel and tourist bargains, tourists have been reluctant to visit Greece because of the riots and other social turmoil accompanying the economic crisis.
June 6, 2012: The Turkish foreign ministry said that no Turkish governmental ministries will have any contact with the European Union’s office of the president during the time that Cyprus (as in Greek Cyprus) has the presidency. Cyprus assumes the office on July 1. Turkey will continue to have normal relations with the European Commission. Turkey refuses to recognize Greek Cyprus as a separate state.
June 4, 2012: Turkey continues to serve as the gathering place and organizational base for Syrian rebels. A new group, the Syrian Revolutionist Council, has appeared. It claims to represent a collection of Islamist political factions and Moslem tribes. The group is not connected to the Syrian National Council, which was created in 2011, to function as an umbrella political organization for all Syrian rebel groups. The Syrian National Council is headquartered in Istanbul.
The EU accused Serbia of attempting to rewrite history by denying that the 1995, Srebrenica massacre of Bosniak Muslim men did not constitute genocide. Serbia’s newly elected president Tomislav Nikolic was quoted as saying that the murder of almost 8,000 Bosniak men and boys constituted a war crime but was not genocide.
NATO’s Secretary General said that KFOR peacekeeping troops would continue to dismantle illegal roadblocks erected by Kosovar Serbs. KFOR soldiers and Serb activists clashed on June 1, when the KFOR peacekeepers removed a Serb roadblock. Two soldiers and four Serb civilians were injured in the incident, which involved gunfire. NATO maintains its soldiers acted in self-defense.
June 1, 2012: Serbia's newly elected president, Tomislav Nikolic, told a Montenegrin television audience that the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, was a grave war crime but was not genocide.
KFOR reported that a confrontation with Kosovar Serbs, near the villages of Rudare and Dudin Krs, turned violent. Peacekeepers arrived in armored personnel carriers to dismantle several illegal roadblocks and several hundred protestors gathered and began throwing rocks. KFOR replied with tear gas and a handful of protestors began firing pistols. Four civilians and two soldiers were wounded.
May 31, 2012: The U.S. indicated that it will support Macedonia’s request to join NATO and that Macedonia should become a member of the alliance prior to the next NATO summit because it has met all membership requirements. This put the U.S. at odds with Greece, which rejects Macedonia’s NATO bid because Greece insists that Macedonia refer to itself as the FYROM, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Greeks contend that the Greek province of Macedonia is the only rightful Macedonia. The U.S. has been trying to get Greece and Macedonia to settle The Name War. It appears that the U.S. is going to force the issue. Greece’s economic crisis thus has diplomatic consequences.
May 29, 2012: A European police agency believes that Montenegro is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. The report puts in doubt Montenegro’s bid to join the EU. One of the more corrupt institutions is the country’s biggest bank, Prva Banka. The report is rather dire, alleging that financial and political corruption is so prevalent in Montenegro that it is almost a mob-run state.
May 28, 2012: Four major Greek banks today received almost $23 billion in bailout money from the European Financial Stability Fund. EU lenders are threatening to terminate the bailout if the Greek government reneges on its austerity agreement. New Greek elections are scheduled for June 17.
A Turkish court said it will try four Israeli military commanders in absentia on charges related to the deaths of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists in the 2010, Mavi Marmara Gaza sea convoy fiasco. The ship was trying to run an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. Israel refuses to cooperate in the investigation and of course will not cooperate in the trial.
May 21, 2012: Could this happen to the Eurozone? Two scenarios are making the rounds. The first is the Eurozone's governments to agree more political integration, including a Europe-wide election of a president. This is called a comprehensive solution. The other scenario? It is also comprehensive: the end of the Eurozone itself.
May 20, 2012: Serb ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic was elected president of Serbia, defeating Boris Tadic, the incumbent. Tadic is considered to be a pro-EU moderate. The vote was close. Nikolic received 49.8 percent of the vote. Tadic received 47.5 percent. Despite his nationalist politics, Nikolic insists that he still favors EU membership.
May 18, 2012: Turkey urged international oil companies to not engage in natural gas exploration and drilling in waters off the island of Cyprus.
May 17, 2012: The Turkish Air Force said that Turkish F-16 jet fighters scrambled to intercept an Israeli airplane that violated the air space of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC is the acronym). The Turkish F-16s were based at Incirlik. The Israeli government said that it was investigating the report.
May 16, 2012: The trial of General Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian-Serb military commander (Bosnian War), began in The Hague, Holland. Mladic faces several criminal charges, among them genocide. Mladic is accused of ordering the murder of some 8,000 Bosniak (Muslim) men and boys outside of Srebrenica in 1995. The UN indicted him in 1995. Mladic managed to evade arrest for almost 16 years until he was finally captured in May 2011. Mladic had been an officer in the Yugoslav Peoples Army (Yugoslav National Army, JNA) prior to the break-up of Yugoslavia.