Balkans: Long Memories and Short Tempers


May 11, 2009: Several bomb attacks conducted in late April and early May 1999, among the many conducted during the Kosovo War ten years ago, still loom large in Serbian memory. On April 23, 1999, NATO planes struck the Serb's state television station, RTS, and 16 people died in the raid. The raid put the TV station off the air and the Serbian government was warned that the attack would occur. Serbs argue the attack was callous. On May 2, 1999, NATO planes bombed several electrical generation facilities using "graphite bombs." Power throughout the nation was knocked out. One of the most controversial attacks took place on May 7, 1999, when an errant NATO bomb hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese citizens were killed in the attack.

In Macedonia, Albanian politicians are openly accusing the government (dominated by the non-Albanian majority) of waging an undeclared war against Albanian autonomy. Such autonomy was promised last year as part of a long term peace deal between the Albanians and non-Albanians in Macedonia.

May 7, 2009: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a warning that Kosovo remains southeastern Europe's "main security problem."

May 5, 2009: Germany said it would continue to deploy peacekeepers in Kosovo. The German parliament will extend the mandate for its peacekeeping force later this month. At the moment around 2,200 Germans are deployed in Kosovo.

April 29, 2009: The EU condemned Kosovar Serb protests in northern Kosovo. Rioters exchanged gunfire with EU police officers (part of the EULEX police mission) and threw hand grenades in the city of Mitrovica.

April 28, 2009: The Bosnian government said it would take over control of its own airspace in October 2010.

April 27, 2009: Turkish police in Istanbul shot it out with militants from a suspected left-wing revolutionary organization. The police were raiding a safe house. Nine people were injured in the gunbattle. The police said they seized explosives and weapons. After the gun battle an organization calling itself "The Revolutionary Headquarters" said its members had fought with the police.

April 22, 2009: The Turkish government claimed that "Ergenekom" right wing conspirators had "shared weapons" with several terrorist groups, including the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and Hezbollah. The conduit for the arms transfers is an organization called Jandarma Istihbarat ve Terorle Mucadele (JITEM). The government syas that JITEM is Ergenekom's "military wing."

The government of Kosovo asked the UN to formally end its UNMIK mission (UN Mission in Kosovo). UNMIK has more or less run Kosovo since the end of the Kosovo War in 1999.

An election recount in Moldova confirmed the Communist Party's win on April 5. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) validated the election. However, many Moldovans continue to dispute the results.

April 21, 2009: The Turkish government said counter-terror police force had arrested 34 people within Turkey that have "links to the Al Qaeda network." The counter-terror police conducted a series of simultaneous raids in at least four different provinces. Turkey believes the Al Qaeda "affiliates' were planning a series of bombing attacks during the summer.

April 18, 2009 The Bulgarian government said that it will continue to deploy peacekeeping personnel in Kosovo. Bulgaria provides a small engineer contingent as well as convoy security personnel. The Bulgarian statement followed Spain's announcement that it would reduce its peacekeeping forces in Kosovo. the government of Spain announced that it would withdraw its peacekeepers from Kosovo, which surprised other members of NATO. Spain has always been uneasy about Kosovo-- and Basque separatists are the reason. Spain, like Russia, fear the "Kosovo precedent" for creating separatist statelets.

April 8, 2009: Moldova accused Romania of "stoking" political discontent in Moldova. Violent protests have followed a recent disputed election that gave Molodovan Communists a slight majority of the vote. Romania denied the accusation. The elections took place on April 5.

April 1, 2009: Croatia and Albania became members of NATO (27th and 28th members of the alliance). They are both formerly Communist countries.






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