The Russian invasion of Georgia a huge topic in the
Balkans. The "Russian interpretation" (ie, the unilateral declaration of
independence by Kosovo) of the "Kosovo precedent" is the subject. Moscow called
that a "red line" issue. Serbs say "we told you so," but Albanian Kosovars
shrug. Serbs may hope Russia will use South Ossetia and Abkhazia as "bargaining
chips" for returning Kosovo's Mitrovica area to Serbia. Is that likely? At the
moment, no. But that doesn't stop Balkan diehards from being, well, Balkan
September 4, 2008: The UN is once again getting involved in the
Greece-Macedonia Name War. However, there has been no progress in reaching a
solution. The Name War has been going on for 17 years, since Macedonia left
Yugoslavia. Greece insists on calling Macedonia the FYROM (Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia). Greece fears Macedonia will lay claim to Greek
Macedonia (the northern Greek province of Macedonia). The Macedonian government
assures Greece, Europe, and the rest of the world it won't. Greece, being a
member of NATO, has more influence than Macedonia, though many of Greece's
allies are tired of the conflict and see Greece as the "bully."
September 3, 2008: Serbia's parliament has begun a major assessment of
what Serbia must do in order to qualify for membership in the European Union.
The Serbian government wants the EU to "fast track" Serbia. At the same time, a significant number of
representatives want to fight Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.
The Serbs refer to the situation as "secession." Still, EU membership is attractive to many
Serbs. The Serbian government is arguing that Serbia has earned membership by
conducting several successful democratic elections.
August 31, 2008: Macedonia is considering recognizing Kosovo's
independence. At the moment the "reports" themselves are the news - they are
trial balloons. Macedonia is trying to gauge Serbian reaction.
August 28, 2008: Kosovo police reported a riot and rock-fight in Mitrovica (northern Kosovo) between Kosovar
Serbs and Kosovar Albanias injured four people and damaged seven vehicles. UN
police and NATO troops broke up the fight.
August 27, 2008: The Kosovo government is insisting that Kosovo is not a
precedent for the separation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia.
Kosovar President Fatmir Sejdiu said that "�Kosovo has special
characteristics." This is the "one-off" or "special case" argument made by
major Western European countries and the United States.
Kosovo has begun appointing ambassadors. The first four tell a story:
the US, Great Britain, Belgium, and France. All four are NATO countries. The US
led the "NATO invasion" of Kosovo in 1999. France and Great Britain have played
major roles in shaping Western European diplomatic initiatives regarding
August 20, 2008: The Turkish Constitutional Court's July 30th decision
to reject a prosecutor's demand that the Court declare the Justice and
Development Party (AKP) illegal continues to stir the country. It appears the
Court thought the prosecutor was reaching way too far. A ban would have tossed
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his major cabinet members out of
politics for five years. This is why AKP supporters called the case "an
attempted coup." Still, the Court warned the AKP that Turkey must not become an
August 15, 2008: Serbia has asked the International Court of Justice
(ICJ) to rule on the legitimacy of Kosovo's unilateral declaration
independence. The Serbs argue that the world needs a legal "model" to handle