Balkans: Where Ancient History Comes Alive


June 8, 2007: Russia and Serbia repeated their opposition to the creation of an independent Kosovo. Serbia is pleased at the increasingly testy diplomatic exchanges between Russia and the US, though few believe Kosovo's status is a "make or break" issue for US-Russia relations. However, Russian and Serbian leaders are scheduled to meet after the G8 summit. At the minimum Serbia regards Russia's diplomatic language and willingness to publicly back Serbia's position as a bargaining chip in its continuing discussions with the United Nations.

June 5, 2007: The European Union's parliament supports Macedonia's right to be called Macedonia. Many European diplomats hoped the "name war" between Greece and Macedonia would eventually fade, but Greece continues to object. Greece demands that Macedonia be called The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Greece fears that Macedonia will make a claim on the Greek province of Macedonia (the area around Thessalonica). Greece objections became more vociferous in late 2006 when Macedonia named its main airport after Alexander the Great (Alexander of Macedon). The Greeks regard Alexander as a Greek (or at least a Hellene) and Macedonia (the FYROM) is a Slavic nation. The EU backing is a small victory for Macedonia. The actual resolution says that the "name issue" is not an obstacle to Macedonian membership in the EU. Macedonia has said that if Greece tries to block its entry into NATO it will seek admission to NATO as FYROM. The Macedonians say they have no territorial claims.

June 2, 2007: A joint police task force representing Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Croatia arrested 77 people accused of engaging in "human trafficking." This usually means one of two things: moving migrants into the EU or bringing women into Europe to serve as sex slaves.

May 30, 2007: Montenegro's official Muslim group, the Islamic Community, said that it had fired two "radical imams." The Islamic Community statement described the radicals as "Wahhabists" (the ascetic Sunni sect favored by Saudi Arabia). It can also be used to mean "Islamist absolutists" with a political agenda. Montenegro has been concerned about Islamic radicals moving into the country. Essentially, Montenegrin Muslims are saying "take your revolution elsewhere."

May 24, 2007: Serbia has agreed to supply Armenia with weapons. Serbia had been observing a ban on weapons sale to ex-Soviet republics. Armenia is seeking new weapons and military supplies because its rival, Azbaijan, is building up its military. Armenia took the Nagorno-Karabakh region from Azerbaijan in a war fought in the 1990s, and the two nations remain in a state of war, with a de-facto ceasefire in effect.




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