Balkans: Keeping Troops in Kosovo


January11, 2007: The German government said that Kosovo remains high on the European Union's list of foreign policy problems, and that settling Kosovo's "final status" was essential to long term Balkan stability. A UN review of Kosovo's status will be presented after Serbia's elections on January 21, 2007. All of the diplomatic "body language" suggests the EU will recommend Kosovar independence - but perhaps an independence with limitations. What that might entail politically and organizationally remains undecided. There is also talk of "autonomy" within a "democratic Serbia." NATO, which at one time had considered troop cuts, now indicates it will maintain its current troop levels in Kosovo. There are approximately 16,500 NATO troops in Kosovo.

Azerbaijan is reportedly considering appointing a Turkish Army general as a deputy secretary of defense. The reason? The Azeris want to upgrade their military to a "NATO standard." This won't please the Azeris chief enemy, Armenia. The Azerbaijan report included a reminder that Lithuania had hired a former US Army colonel as its chief of staff, in order to upgrade its forces to "NATO standard."

January 10, 2007: In Bosnia, Moslems from Sweden, Turkey and Bosnia were convicted of planning suicide bomb attacks in Bosnia and elsewhere in Europe.

January 8, 2007: Macedonia said its police had seized a shipment of 880 pounds of cocaine on the Serbia-Macedonia border. The Macedonian report said that the shipment crossed the Adriatic from Bari, Italy, to Montenegro (the Montenegrin port of Bar). It was then trucked through Serbia. The cocaine was supposed to be delivered to buyers in Greece. This looks like an international police effort, involving several European police agencies, and is precisely the kind of anti-smuggling operation the US and EU have been encouraging in the Balkans. In light of the Serb seizure of heroin (January 4) it looks like Macedonia and Serbia are both taking the anti-drug smuggling initiatives seriously.

January 4, 2007: Montenegro announced that it had "credentialed" its ambassador to Serbia. Montenegro formally separated from Serbia-Montenegro in 2006.

Serbia reported that its police and border security personnel had seized over 50 pounds of heroin in two busts at the end of December 2006 and in early January 2007. The heroin was seized at the Serbia-Croatia border.


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