Serbia is counting on its ally China to veto any UN attempt to grant Kosovo independence. Serbia considers Kosovo a part of Serbia, although 90 percent of the people in Kosovo are ethnic Albanians, who want nothing to do with Serbia. The Kosovo population used to be nearly all Serbian. But the Turks, who ruled the Balkans for centuries, until the 19th century, encouraged Albanians to move into Kosovo. That was because the Serbs believed that Kosovo was the soul of Serbian nationalism, and the Turks did not want to encourage that sort of thing.
October 28, 2005: The "Macedonian name game" is back in the news. The name game is a lesson in Balkan tangles. After Yugoslavia collapsed, Greece insisted on calling Macedonia the "FYROM"-- former Yugoslav Republica of Macedonia. Why? Northern Greece is also called Macedonia (Alexander the Great's home of record). Greece claims its Macedonia is the real Macedonia, and the FYROM is a Slavic poseur. Many Greeks fear that Macedonia (the FYROM) would eventually stake a claim to Greek Macedonia. The UN has been trying to resolve the dispute since 1995.
A year ago there were indications Greece might relent and drop its opposition to Macedonia's use of the name Macedonia-- but Greek policy never changed. Macedonia has been lobbying the United States to intercede with Greece. Macedonia has supported the US in the War on Terror and supported the US-led toppling of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi dictatorship. Last year (November 2004) the US began referring to Macedonia as the Republic of Macedonia. The EU and the United Nations still call Macedonia the FYROM. In September 2005 the UN proposed a compromise. By 2008 Macedonia (the FYROM) would be called the Republic of Macedonia (the name Macedonia prefers). Greece rejected the compromise and intimated that it might oppose Macedonia's application to join the European Union because of the name dispute. In the past, Balkan border disputes all too easily turned into nasty little wars (and sometimes larger wars). That won't happen this time, but the name war is another signal that "the past is all too recent in the Balkans." --Austin Bay
October 24, 2005: Bosnian police arrested two men who were planning a car bomb attack on an embassy. The two, aged 18 and 20, were apparently born in Bosnia, but raised in Sweden, where their parents fled as refugees. The men were caught with weapons, explosives and Islamic radical literature. Danish police arrested four men, aged 16-20, and found they were connected to the two picked up in Bosnia. The four young men arrested in Denmark were refugees from the Middle East, and had got caught up in Islamic radicalism.
October 22, 2005: Germany is pulling 300 of its thousand peacekeepers out of Bosnia, and has told the Bosnians that all the Germans will be gone soon. Germany believes Bosnia should be able to police itself now.