Balkans: The Land of Peacekeepers
September 18, 2006: The Turkish government said it will deploy peacekeeping troops to southern Lebanon by the end of October. The Turkish force will include a naval contingent and what is described as a "limited number" of ground forces. At one time the UN hoped Turkey would provide a brigade of ground troops.
September 17, 2006: Voters in Moldova's separatist Transdniester region "overwhelmingly" approved independence from Moldova. Transdniester's election governance committee said that 97 percent of the voters wanted independence. Nearly 59 percent of Transdniester 389,000 registered voters participated in the election. This could lead to a confrontation between European Union members and Russia. Trandniester is predominantly ethnically Russian. Russia has said that the Transdniester referendum must be respected by the international community. However, US and European policy has favored maintaining Moldovan unity.
September 16, 2006: Bulgaria and Macedonia agreed to a new military cooperation agreement. Bulgaria will provide Macedonia with peacekeeping training. A Bulgarian spokesman made it clear that the training will help Macedonia prepare for NATO membership.
September 7, 2006: The US and Serbia signed a new military training pact. The pact is intended to improve bi-lateral ties between Serbia and the US. The training program will stress "greater civilian control" for the Serbian military. The US will help train Serb military forces, including providing education programs.
Serbia's president that that Kosovo cannot become independent. However, Serbia is prepared to offer Kosovo the "strongest autonomy in the world " (direct quote). Serbia argues that Kosovar independence sets a bad precedent for the rest of Europe.
Serbian radio reported that Al Qaeda has a "Plan 2020" for increasing Islamist terrorism in the Balkans. The Serb source claimed that Al Qaeda plans to operate out of Montenegro's Sandjak area (a predominantly Muslim area), Bosnia, Kosovo, and Croatia.
September 4, 2006: The prime minister of the Republika Srpska (the Serb "entity" within Bosnia) said that it is "inevitable" that Bosnian Serbs will conduct an independence referendum.