Balkans: How Kosovo Is Ripping Europe Apart


September 3, 2010: Bosnian Serbs in the Republika Srpska are glad that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled the Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence was legal. The Bosnian Serbs have wanted to exit Bosnia and join Serbia for quite some time. The Bosnian government officially says its borders are fixed, but then, Serbia's are not. One Bosnian Serb official made the interesting argument that the ICJ's ruling supersedes the Dayton Accords which ended the Bosnian War and established Bosnia's current government. In August several other Balkan countries also indicated they are very interested in the ICJ's July 22 decision. The court declared that it was ruling on Serbia's petition about Kosovo – implying it was a unique case. Other nations aren't sure. There are many observers who regard it as an indication that the time is approaching when European borders will be allowed to shift. Moldova has been worried that Transdniestr will secede and use the ICJ ruling as a pretext. Though Georgia is not in the Balkans, it is another instructive example. The separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia could use the ICJ ruling to promote independence. Russian forces are still in those enclaves. As for Western Europe, Spain remains concerned about Catalan and Basque separatism.

September 1, 2010: The Bosnian parliament agreed to send a small military contingent to Afghanistan. Thus 45 Bosnian soldiers will serve with a Danish force in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

August 30, 2010: Bulgaria announced it intends to go through with a significant reduction in its already small military forces. Currently Bulgaria's army has an authorized strength of 32,000. That may fall to 28,000. The cuts would take place over a four to five year period.

August 26, 2010: Two Greek F-16 fighter jets collided on a mission over the Aegean Sea (near Crete). One pilot died in the crash.

August 18, 2010: Greece and Israel have begun discussions that may lead to expanded military cooperation. The discussions are a direct result of Israel and Turkey's recent confrontations, particularly the Gaza Flotilla earlier this summer. Greece sees expanded ties with Israel as a political victory over Turkey. Israel needs airspace to train its air force. Greece may provide it. 

August 15, 2010: Serbia wants the UN Security Council to issue a ruling that says it will prevent other separatist movements from using the ICJ July 22 ruling as a pretext for declaring independence. The ICJ ruling was clearly a political victory for Kosovo.

August 14, 2010: Serbia announced that it intends to increase military exports to Iraq, which recently ordered 20 training aircraft from Serbia. Serbia wants to sell Iraq ammunition and some weapons. Serbia manufactures what is regarded as quality ammunition for Soviet-type weapons like the AK-47 assault rifle.

August 12, 2010: Greece remains in economic trouble. New data indicate that Greece's economy has continued to shrink. Second quarter GDP may have shrunk by 1.5% to 2 %. These are not just numbers. The shrinking economy has led to voter disenchantment. It has also led to violent demonstrations and riots. Government workers are trying to fight a pay freeze imposed in an attempt to balance the budget. Terrorist and anarchist violence has increased. At the moment Greeks are particularly worried about the emergence of a group calling itself the Revolutionary Sect (also called the Sect of Revolutionaries and the rebel Sect). The outfit has the look of a classic Balkan anarchist faction. The Revolutionary Sect has indicated that it wants to damage Greece's economy so badly that an all-out revolution will erupt. The Revolutionary Sect means, of course, a leftist, anti-capitalist revolution. In July a Greek newspaper published an alleged Revolutionary Sect manifesto that said it intends to conduct widespread arson, sabotage, bombings and assassinations supported by violent demonstrations.

August 9, 2010: The Turkish government selected General Isik Kosaner as overall chief of its military. Kosaner is a compromise candidate. Relations between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the military have ranged from awkward to tense. The AKP styles itself as a moderate Islamist party. The military is pro-secularist and believes it is charged with defending Turkey's secular republic. Scores of officers and retired officers have been charged with plotting to overthrow the government. Recently the government and military reached an agreement. If the military did not promote officers suspected of being involved in a 2003 coup plot (code named Sledgehammer) then the government would drop charges against the 102 officers it claimed were involved in the plot. The military agreed to this condition and the charges were subsequently dropped. Turkey has NATO's second largest military.

August 7, 2010: A high level Turkish court annulled the arrest warrants of 102 officers and retired officers implicated in an alleged 2003 coup plot against the government.

August 5, 2010: Croatian government officials held ceremonies to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the attack that ended the Serbo-Croat War: Operation Storm. That battle effectively ended the Bosnian War as well. In the attack Croat troops drove Serbian forces out of southern Croatia. The attack began on August 4, 1995 and lasted some 84 hours. Between 150,000 and 200,000 ethnic Serbs fled Croatia after the attack. Serbians charge that the attack was an act of ethnic cleansing.




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