Balkans: Turks Won't Take on Hizbollah
October 6, 2006: Turkey has begun deploying peacekeeping troops, 260 combat engineers, in south Lebanon. No more than a thousand Turkish troops will go to Lebanon. This is a major disappointment for the United States, which had hoped for at least a brigade of soldiers (approximately 4000 to 5000 troops) from Turkey. The Turkish government has also said that the Turkish troops will be withdrawn from Lebanon if they are asked to disarm Hezbollah fighters.
October 4, 2006: KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo said that they had found a large stockpile of explosives in central Kosovo. The peacekeepers said that the cache included grenades, ammunition, and over 90 land mines.
A Turkish man hijacked a Turkish airliner flying over Greek air space. The flight originated in Tirana, Albania, and was headed for Istanbul. Four Greek F-16s escorted the plane back to the Albanian border, where two Italian fighters picked up the escort mission. The hijacked plane landed in Italy. The hijacker surrendered to authorities. The man claimed he was protesting Pope Benedict XVI's impending visit to Turkey. Turkish authorities described the man as an army deserter who fled Turkey for Albania to escape military duty.
October 3, 3006: Macedonia and Bulgaria conducted a joint military training exercise in Bulgaria. The exercise was named Balkan Wolf. Bulgaria is helping the Macedonian military prepare for peacekeeping and stabilization missions.
October 2, 2006: The U.S. said that Serbia had received a presidential waiver so that it could participate in U.S. military training programs. 20 other countries also received waivers.
The EU (European Union) announced that it will deploy up to 1,000 "law-enforcement personnel" to Kosovo one the region's final status is determined. The EU law enforcement contingent will primarily consist of police officers.
September 28, 2006: A Serbian defense official said that NATO will open a liaison
office in Serbia. The NATO office will help coordinate movement of NATO troops through Serbia.
September 27, 2006: The defense ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania and Macedonia met in Tirana, Albania to discuss Balkan regional security.
September 22, 2006: The U.S. said that it now has 150 American troops serving with NATO peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. This last contingent will be withdrawn from Bosnia by December 31. Some US staff personnel will remain in Bosnia after December 2006. They will serve with the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo.
The UN believes that if Kosovo is granted independence from Serbia it will not set a precedent for separatists in the rest of Europe. The Serbian government has argued that an independent Kosovo will lead to demands across Europe for independent ethnic enclaves.
September 20, 2006: The UN said that Kosovo's final status will be resolved by the end of 2006. The six-member Contact Group (originally formed to deal with the Yugoslavian wars) endorsed the date. The Contact Group consists of the US, France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, and Italy.