Balkans: The Name Game


February2, 2007: Russia and China are both saying that they believe permitting Kosovo to separate from Serbia without Serbian consent is a "very negative precedent." Both Russia and China have permanent seats (and thus vetoes) on the UN Security Council. Russian and Chinese senior diplomats advocate a "compromise" but so far have no indicated what a "compromise" might be in political terms. Russia has, for centuries, seen itself as the "big brother" and protector of Slavs (especially the Serbs) in the Balkans.

January 30, 2007: British media are trying to make a case that new American bases in the Balkans are for supporting an attack on Iran. There is, however, no evidence in Romania or Bulgaria to support this. Bases are being moved east because it's cheaper, and the locals are friendlier.

January 29, 2007: Serbia's democratic reform parties have not yet agreed to form a "reform coalition" in the new Serb parliament. However, talks are continuing. One of the reform parties is reportedly urging the other to retain Serbia's current prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, in that position.

January 27, 2007: The UN insists that its plan for Kosovo will respect the rights of minorities. This is code language for protecting the rights of Kosovar Serbs and Gypsies (Romany).

Macedonia renamed the airport in its capital city, Skopje. The new name? Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great was, of course, the greatest Macedonia. A Greek government official expressed outrage. The minister accused Macedonia of "seeking false support from the past." Greeks regard Alexander as a Greek. Many Greek officials still don't refer to Macedonia as Macedonia. They call it the FYROM -- Former Yugoslave Republic of Macedonia. Northern Greece is also called Macedonia. These Greeks fear that the Republic of Macedonia could claim northern Greece.


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