Balkans: The Kosovo Disease Spreads


September 6, 2007: The United States continues to back a "unitary" state in Bosnia. Since 1996 this has been the US position. The problem is the current "unitary" Bosnian state really isn't. The Republika Srpska operates as an autonomous region, as does the Muslim-Croat Federation, the other half of Bosnia. The US has been nudging both halves toward a genuine "one state" solution. The Bosnian Serbs, however, are resisting the nudges. In fact, many Bosnian Serbs see the looming independence of Kosovo as a ratification of their own separatist inclinations. This faction want to leave Bosnia completely and unite with Serbia. These unresolved issues are the reason the European Union wants to maintain peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. In spring 2006, the EUFOR peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia was reduced from 6,000 troops to 2,500 troops. This is about the bare minimum required to monitor Bosnia and retain a "quick reaction force" capability.

September 2, 2007: In Macedonia the special operations force assigned to the Ministry of Interior captured a convicted terrorist who had escaped from prison in August. Xhemail Iseini fought with Macedonian Albanian rebels in 2001. He was arrested in 2003 for bombing a railroad.

August 28, 2007: Turkey's parliament elected Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as president. Gul's election means Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan has decided to challenge Kemal Ataturk's system. The Turkish military is tasked with protecting secular democracy -that's its constitutional role. Republican Turkey's founding father, Kemal Ataturk, designed it that way. Secular is the key word. Erdogan and Gul are now members of the AKP (Justice and Development Party). However, both Erdogan and Gul began their national political careers as members of the moderately-Islamist Welfare Party. The Welfare Party was banned in the late 1990s.

August 27, 2007: Serbian government officials are now saying that Kosovo's "final status" could be resolved if Serbia were promised membership in the European Union. Many Serbs resent EU promises to admit Kosovo if Kosovo is given its independence.

August 23, 2007: The European Union has a "planning team" which is preparing for the EU's eventual takeover of UN operations in Kosovo. The EU would provide political and security advice, and economic development.

August 18, 2007: The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reported seven prisoners escaped from prison in Kosovo. Two of the escapees were members of the Albanian National Army (ANA), a violent separatist guerrilla group operating in Kosovo and Macedonia. Another escapee was described as a "suspected international terrorist." The terrorist suspect was identified as Ramadan Shiti, a Saudi Arabian. Shiti was convicted of murder in Macedonia and escaped from his Macedonian jail. Kosovo police arrested Shiti on an international warrant.

August 15, 2007: Montenegro announced that it will ship Afghanistan 1500 military surplus rifles and 100 machineguns. Montenegro has reduced the size of its security forces.

August 13, 2007: Serbia's Vojvodina region is once again agitating for increased autonomy. The Vojvodina Union of Socialists issued a statement that "demanded" that Vojvodina (currently a province of Serbia) be given equal status in a "federal Serbia." If Kosovo remains part of Serbia it will given a high degree of autonomy. Vojvodina wants the same deal. Many ethnic Hungarians live in Vojvodina.




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