Balkans: Dying For The Past


May 2, 2007: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus announced they will hold a joint operations exercise May 7-19. The exercise will take place in northern Greece and will focus on crisis response and humanitarian aid. The exercise is associated with European Union goals of establishing joint brigade teams. Since the end of the Cold War, Greece has been particularly interested in responding to humanitarian crises. At one time Greece feared an "end of Communism" refugee spillover (or worse) from Albania and once-upon-a-time Yugoslavia.

May 1, 2007: Turkey's Constitutional Court "annulled" last week's first-round parliamentary election for president. Current Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, the winning candidate, was rejected because of his "Islamist past." The Court was acting on classic Kemalist (after Kemal Ataturk) precepts. That has not deterred the moderate-Islamist Welfare and Reform Party (AKP) which is in power in parliament. The AKP said it will have another election

The Bulgarian Army said that approximately 1600 spaces remain for full-time positions in its new professional military force. Around 300 slots remain in the Bulgarian Air Force. Bulgaria has been eliminating conscription and moving towards an all-volunteer force.

April 29, 2007: Over one million demonstrators assembled in Istanbul to support "Kemalist secularism" and a democratic Turkey. The demonstrators opposed the election of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as president. Turkish media said the crowd had people from all over Turkey. The government, run by the moderate-Islamist Welfare and Reform Party (AKP) is concerned that the Turkish military could launch a coup. The Kemalist system tasks the military with protecting Turkey's secular political system. The Kemalist (Turkish secularists) are concerned that Gul's election will encourage an Islamic revival that will put Turkey's secular state in peril.

April 30, 2007: A UN delegation returning from Kosovo said that it is "too early" to set a deadline for determining "Kosovo's final status." The UN delegation, composed of 15 ambassadors, are essentially advocating a temporary "roll forward."

April 28, 2007: A radical, but previously unknown, Serb nationalist group (National Serbian Movement) said it will "wage war" if the UN gives Kosovo independence from Serbia. The group claimed it has 5000 "volunteers", and that its military wing is the St. Tsar Lazar Guard. Serb Prince Stefan Lazar died at the Battle of Kosovo on June 28, 1389. In this part of the world, the past is not forgotten, and often still fought over.


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