Balkans: The New Cold War


December 26, 2007: European Union diplomats expect Kosovo to issue a declaration of independence sometime in the first two to three months of 2008. Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain have informally agreed to recognize Kosovo's independence. If they do that, other European countries will recognize Kosovo, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Ultimately, other former Yugoslav states like Slovenia will do so, as will Turkey. The "order of recognition" is designed to create a political fait accompli so that Serbia and Russia cannot accuse former Yugoslav republics like Croatia and Bosnia, the Balkan state of Albania, and the former colonial power, Turkey, of "dismembering Serbia." Presumably they would first have to accuse Britain and France of dismembering Serbia. Of course the Russians could simply ignore the diplomats' plan and say it doesn't matter what everyone else thinks, Russia and Serbia are against Kosovar independence. Russia and Serbia would not recognize it. It is doubtful that the Russians would start a shooting war over Kosovo, but a "colder peace" throughout Europe could well be the result. In a "colder peace" situation, Russian cooperation on other European economic and security projects would either be impossible or very difficult to obtain. At worst, it might trigger a resumption of the Cold War, with Serbia becoming a client state of the new Russian empire.

December 22, 2007: Russia would only permit European Union peacekeepers in Kosovo if Serbia and the UN Security Council permitted them. What this means in diplomatic terms is not clear – Serbia is against an EU force. Russia has a UN Security Council veto, and is likely the only Security Council member who would veto an EU peacekeeping contingent.

December 19, 2007: The separatist statelet, Transdniester, will try to become a sovereign nation and member of the UN, if Kosovo becomes independent. Transdniester is a predominantly Russian region of Moldova.

December 18, 2007: In Bosnia, two mine-disposal workers died while clearing mines outside the town of Trebinje. So far, 34 people have died in mine clearing operations since the end of the Bosnian war.

December 15, 2007: The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) said that Serbia should ask Russia to post troops in Serbia, and this suggested a permanent Russian troop presence in Serbia. The politics behind this request are complex, but the general idea is that Russian troops would give other European nations real pause if they recognized Kosovo's independence.

December 14, 2007: Albania said it would aid Kosovo if Serbia imposed economic sanctions on the region. Albanian pointed out that it is building a new, improved highway that will reduce the travel time from Albania's main port, Durres, to the Kosovo border. At the moment the trip takes at least six hours (if you're lucky). The new highway will reduce travel time to two hours.

The Bosnian government expelled an Algerian Islamist militant who had acquired a Bosnian passport. The Algerian had fought in the Bosnian civil war and had married a Bosnian woman. Bosnia is cracking down on "foreign Muslims" that are determined to be security risks. This is a euphemism for "potential Islamist terrorist."

December 11, 2007: The leader of Kosovo's Democratic Party of Kosova (PDK), Hashim Thaci, was directed by Kosovo's president to form a new government. Thaci is a former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander. Thaci needs to assemble a coalition to actually form a government in parliament. The PDK controls 37 seats in the parliament. The second largest bloc belongs to the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which is regarded as a moderate democratic party.

Romania said that it does not agree with the "claims by EU foreign ministers" that the European Union supports Kosovo's independence. Romania has indicated that it would not support a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. Greece has also indicated that it would not support unilateral Kosovar independence.


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