Balkans: For A Few Kidneys More


December 31, 2010: It has become a Balkan policy with a different wrinkle. Israel is continuing to develop stronger military and political ties with Balkan nations. The Israeli policy definitely irks Turkey, which is the point of it. Turkey and Israel were close allies but Turkey's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) has broadened its relations with other Muslim countries at Israel's expense. Now Israel is conducting small-scale military training exercises with Greece. It is also working with Bulgaria and Romania. The Israelis once used Turkish air space to train its air force. Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece have air space that Israel now uses for training. Israel is also talking with the Greek Cypriot government on Cyprus.

December 30, 2010: Greek police reported a large bomb exploded near a court building in Athens. No one was killed. However, authorities labeled the incident a terrorist attack. Anarchist and left-wing militant groups are continuing to exploit Greece's fragile economic situation in hopes of igniting a larger revolution. Union members and government pensioners continue to protest the government's economic austerity program.

December 29, 2010: Finland is completing the withdrawal of its peacekeeping contingent in Kosovo. Since 1999 Finland has rotated some 7,000 troops through Kosovo. Finland's Camp Ville was located in the town of Lipljan, Kosovo.

December 25, 2010: Turkey and Macedonia have agreed to a new military assistance program. Turkey will provide financial support to Macedonian defense forces. Over the last decade Turkey has donated equipment to Macedonian forces and provided some training assistance. Balkan politics are of course involved. Greece and Macedonia remain at odds over Macedonia's name. Greece insists on calling Macedonia the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Macedonia calls itself the Republic of Macedonia. Greece does not want Macedonia to claim Greek Macedonia.

December 24, 2010: The Turkish government announced that it will conduct military exercises with Afghanistan and Pakistan in March 2011.

A Turkish court ruled against the government's decision to deny promotion to three senior military officers the government claims were involved in a coup plot.

Turkish media reported that Greece will send a representative to a ceremony recognizing the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Air Force. The ceremony will be held in June 2011.

December 22, 2010: The strangest Balkan story of the month have been accusations that Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, belongs to an organized crime syndicate that traffics in human organs. Thaci denies the allegations and says he will sue his accusers. Former UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte is one of them. The accusations are ugly, in some ways Dracula-esque. The crime syndicate allegedly murdered prisoners then sold their kidneys. Some of the victims may have been Kosovar Serbs who were killed in 1999 at Kosovo Liberation Army camps in Albania.

December 17, 2010: Albanian weapons continue to crop up everywhere in the Balkans. Greek police report that weapons taken from Albanian military depots in the 1990s are now in the hands of Greek criminal gangs and terrorist groups such as the Revolutionary sect. The weapons include AK-47s and Skorpion submachine guns.

December 16, 2010: Turkey has begun to prosecute 196 active-duty and retired military officers accused of participating in planning a coup. The accused include Turkish Air Force, Navy, and Army officers, and some paramilitary gendarme officers as well. The charges center around Operation Sledgehammer, which the military claims was an exercise. The AKP-led government said it was a plan designed to destabilize Turkey so that the military could remove the AKP (a moderate Islamist party) from power. Turkish secularists claim that the AKP intends to turn Turkey from a secular state into an Islamic republic like Iran.

December 14, 2010: The Serbian government said that it is interested in participating in U.S.-Bulgarian military training exercises. The U.S. and Bulgaria conduct regular training exercises in Bulgaria.

December 13, 2010: The final results are in from Moldova's November election and it confirms initial results. The Moldovan parliament remains split. The Communists have 42 sears, the Liberal Democratic Party 32 seats, the Democratic Party 15 seats, and the Liberal party 12 seats. It takes a 61 seat supermajority to elect a president. Count them up: the pro-Europe parties have 59 seats among them. That means the Communists must be included in a coalition government.

December 5, 2010: The Turkish government insists that Israel must apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish people who were killed in May when Israeli commandos intercepted their ship. The ship was attempting to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Israel refuses to apologize because it says the passengers on the ship assaulted its soldiers.

Greek security forces conducted a series of raids on suspected guerrilla and terrorist safe houses. Police arrested two people suspected of belonging to the Conspiracy of Fire Cells (a left wing guerrilla-terrorist group, sometimes called The Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire). Police also seized a weapons cache.





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