February 5, 2008: Europe, and for that
matter, the entire world, dodged a bullet. Perhaps that should read Europe
dodged a war. Serbia re-elected Boris Tadic president of Serbia, defeating
ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic. The margin was narrow, 51 percent to 49
percent. Perhaps the most encouraging post-election event was Nikolic conceding
and urging everyone "to stay calm." An early breakdown of election voting
patterns gave Nikolic a majority of Serbian votes. Tadic got a substantial
number of votes from Serbians but carried ethnic minority groups. He got an
overwhelming number of ethnic Hungarian votes.
February 3, 2008: Serbian Radical party
presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic said that Russia should send its air
force to patrol Serbian air space. He said he would ask Russia to do so if he
won. Nikolic added that he stood "for military cooperation with Russia."
Nikolic emphasized that he is against a "NATO presence in Serbia in any form."
Nikolic considers Kosovo to be part of Serbia; he is saying NATO should leave
January 30, 2008: Turkey again asked that
the EU should admit Turkey to full membership, pointing out that this would be
one of the greatest contributors to global peace in the 21st century.
The Bosnian government "dismissed"
Bosnian Serb demands to secede from Bosnia and join Serbia. Bosnian Serbs claim
that if Kosovo secedes from Serbia the Republika Srpska (their "statelet"
within Bosnia) can secede from Bosnia and join Serbia.
The Albanian government said that
Serbia will try to "destabilize Kosovo" when Kosovo seeks independence. The
Albanian statement included a scenario: Serbia would "manipulate" Kosovar Serbs
in the Mitrovica region. What the manipulation entailed was not made clear.
Albania has made it clear that it does not support ethnic Albanian demands in
the Balkans for the creation of a "Greater Albania." The Albanian position is
summed up in the phrase "Albanians want to go to Brussels" (ie, join the EU).
January 22, 2008: Kosovo's government
claimed that a date has been set for Kosovo's declaration of independence. What
is the date? There are two threads. One is the Serbian election. Kosovo will
declare independence after the Serbian run-off presidential election. The
second thread is that the date is being "coordinated" with the European Union.
At least two EU members, Romania and Greece, oppose a unilateral Kosovo
declaration of independence.
January 21, 2008: Two Kosovo policemen
were arrested and accused of participating in a bombing attack in Pristina,
Kosovo. The attack occurred in September 2007. Two people died in the attack
and 11 were wounded.
The UN reported that Greece and
Macedonia were "making progress" towards an agreement that would resolve their
dispute over Macedonia's proper name. The "name war" has been going on for 16
years. Greece insists that Macedonia be called the FYROM (Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia).
January 20, 2008: Ultra-nationalist
Tomislav Nikolic won the first round of Serbia's presidential election. Nikolic
belongs to the Serbian Radical Party. Nikolic got 39 percent of the vote.
Current Serb president Boris Tadic got 34 percent.
Four people were injured in a bomb
attack in Pristina, Kosovo.
January 14, 2008: The Serbian
government promised to "retaliate" if Kosovo declared independence. This threat
has been made before. Current president Boris Tadic has stated he will not go
to war for Kosovo but he firmly opposes independence for Kosovo. So what are
the options? Serbia controls most of the electricity grid feeding power to
Kosovo, so an electricity cut is a possibility. A trade embargo is another. The
bet is that Serbia would agree to a partitioning of Kosovo, with predominantly
Serb areas in Kosovo remaining part of Serbia.
January 12, 2008: Eleven Macedonian
soldiers serving with peacekeeping forces in
Bosnia died in a helicopter accident while returning to Macedonia. The
helicopter, an Mi-17, crashed in what reports described as "foggy conditions"
near Skopje. Macedonia has 30 soldiers serving with the EUFOR peacekeeping
contingent in Bosnia.