Balkans: October 21, 1999

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Italy's Prime Minister, in a speech in Tirana, Albania, supported the rebuilding of "Corridor 8," the road from the port of Durres to Tirana to Kosovo. He said economic infrastructure must be in place if real peace is to come to the Balkans. Interestingly enough, you can still find remnants of an 1800 year old Roman road following a similar route into the Balkan hinterland.


Macedonia and Ukraine signed a military cooperation pact. At the moment, a contingent of Ukrainian troops is on duty with NATO's Kosovo peacekeeping force.


Montenegro continues to publicly consider moving to a convertible currency. Many Montenegrins prefer simply adopting the German mark, at least as a "parallel currency" to the Yugoslav dinar. This serves two purposes. First, it makes business dealings throughout the world far easier for the Montenegrin business community. It also increases the political and economic distance between Montenegro and Serbia.


In yet another sign of improving Greek-Turk relations, the Greek government dropped judicial proceedings against 12 members of what had been described as an "illegal group." The 12 Muslim teachers said they belonged to "a union of Turkish teachers in western Thrace." The union was established in 1936 but was declared illegal by Greece in 1987. Greece says it has a Muslim minority of around 100,000, but does not allow the terms "Turk" or "Turkish" to be used to describe the Muslims. The Greek government also said that schools in Thrace who wished to use them could begin using textbooks from Turkish schools. At the same time, Greece announced that the Russian S-300 surface to air missiles, at one time scheduled for deployment in Cyprus, will now be deployed in Crete sometime early next year. Turkey, which objected to the deployment in Cyprus, also opposes placing the missiles in Crete.


 

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