Balkans: Gangsters Just Want To Be Free


November 15, 2009: The government of the Moldovan statelet of Transdniestr insists that Russia keep its peacekeeping force in the breakaway region. The Transdniestrian mini-government has gone “hardline” since the pro-European Union government (a coalition of four pro-Western parties) took power in Moldova in October. The pro-EU Moldovan government won the election on a pledge to integrate Moldova with the EU. However, the new government has said Moldova will not seek membership in NATO. The peacekeeping force in Transdniestr currently has around 1,500 troops, with Russia supplying the largest contingent. Transdniestr's separatists keep their own small military force. Their government wants Russia to beef-up its contingent to 2,700 troops. Transdniestr is basically a small strip of land, populated by Russians and Ukrainians, and run by gangsters, that don't want be ruled by Romanians from Moldova.

November 13, 2009: A bomb went off outside the home of a leading member of the governing Greek Socialist Party (PASOK). The new Socialist government has said that it will crack down on violent anarchist and hard left groups.

November 12, 2009: The Turkish government arrested a Turkish colonel, and charged him with belonging to a terrorist organization. The officer had been linked with the alleged "Ergenekon" coup plot, which pits Turkish secularists against the Islamists in the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP).

November 11, 2009: Montenegro announced that it intends to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo. Montenegro has already recognized Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. The move by Montenegro will likely further strain diplomatic relations between Montenegro and Serbia.

November 9, 2009: The Serbian and Chinese governments announced that they intend to improve ties between their respective military forces. The statement follows several meetings between Serb and Chinese defense officials. A Serbian military delegation visited China in October.

November 4, 2009: Slovenia and Croatia signed a formal agreement that will allow an international committee to resolve their border dispute. The agreement must still be approved by the countries' parliaments. Slovenia wants the final border deal to include a water channel that will give Slovenia direct access to the Adriatic Sea. Croatia has argued that it controls the coastline but will allow Slovenia free access to the sea. Signing the agreement to let the arbitrators decide clears the way for Croatia to become a EU member.

October 28, 2009: The Turkish military is investigating allegations that Turkish military officers were involved in plans to stage a coup against the government. The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) is regarded as a moderate Islamist party. The Turkish military is staunchly secularist.

October 27, 2009: An unidentified militant group launched an attack on Greek police in a suburb of Athens. The attackers opened fire on a police station and wounded six police officers. The attackers escaped on motorcycles. Investigators reported the attackers used “AK type” assault rifles and possibly a submachine gun.




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