Balkans: France Goes After Cyprus


August 6, 2006: Turkey and France are engaged in a diplomatic tussle over Cyprus. France has been discussing a new "military cooperation" agreements with Cyprus. The terminology of one of the Turkish reports is shorthand for the problem: Turkey insists that France is talking to Greek Cypriots, not Cyprus. France insists that this is not a "new" agreement. However, France is interested in assuring access to military facilities on Cyprus. Why? Think Lebanon. France is also offering training for the Cypriot national guard. In early August, the Turks claimed that France wanted to build a military base in "southern Cyprus" (ie, the Greek-area of the island). Building a new base strikes many observers as unnecessary. Britain has bases in Cyprus and there is a large airbase at Paphos.
August 1, 2006: Serbia firmly rejected an independent Kosovo. International negotiators have suggested that Serbia can join the European Union if it permits an independent Kosovo. Serbian sources reported that the EU "sweetener" had been dangled in the on-going Kosovo final status talks but that the Serbian government had rejected that diplomatic option. Serbia favors making Kosovo an autonomous province within Serbia.
July 27, 2006: Bosnia reported that another 700 skeletons have been exhumed from a mass gravesite near Kamenica. The Bosnian and international forensic specialists believe the site contains 1000 bodies. Some of the dead were killed in the massacre at Srbrenica (1995).
July 26, 2006: The chief U.S. envoy at the Kosovo "final status" conference urged Kosovar Serbs and Kosovar Albanians to compromise in order to reach a "realistic" solution. What does realistic mean in the US view? The main talking point is at least six years old but still relevant. That main point? Protection of the Kosovar Serb minorities and other minority groups. A second point is the break-up of gangs which function as both organized crime syndicates (day job) and ethnic militias (night job).Rarely stated in public is that these gangs are largely manned by Kosovar Albanians.
Greece's and Turkey's military chiefs of staff met in Turkey. This was the first time Greece's senior military leader had visited Turkey since 1974 (year of the Cyprus intervention by Turkey). The two commanders discussed "confidence building measures," to include joint military exercises.




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