of the recent US-Russia summit in the US may be a "slow down" on the question
of Kosovo's "final status." The US acknowledged several months ago that
Russia's cooperation in the UN Security Council was key to resolving the Kosovo
issue. After the Bush-Putin meetings, it was announced that Kosovo' status may
not be decided until 2008. The US is also sparring with Russia over the
deployment of an anti-missile system in Europe - one designed to knock out an
Iranian attack. Russia has blustered on the subject but indicated there is room
to negotiate. Russia considers Serbia a fellow Slav state and regards itself as
the traditional protector of the "south Slavs." A "go slow on Kosovo" approach
may be a sop to Russia, in exchange for considerations on other issues the US
deems more important.
July 9, 2007: Kosovo's
Prime Minister Agim Ceku asked the UN to set a definite date for Kosovo's
independence from Serbia. Ceku and other Kosovar officials have said that
Kosovo is considering unilaterally declaring independence. If that were to
occur, the Albanian Kosovars would be seen as snubbing the UN process. That
would harm Kosovo's relationship with Western Europe and the US - and it
depends on that relationship.
July 6, 2007: Bulgaria, Hungary,
Romania and Slovenia are already members of NATO. Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia
have joined the Partnership for Peace - which is a path to NATO membership
Albania, Macedonia, and Croatia are also preparing for NATO membership. The UN
still refers to Macedonia as "the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." That's
a nod to Greece. Greece insists on calling Macedonia the FYROM because it fears
Macedonia will lay claim to Greek Macedonia.
June 30, 2007: The
Serbian military restructuring and
consolidation program is complete. Serbia has reorganized its military, with
the aim of ultimately joining NATO. Serbia will now will focus on modernizing
The U.S. gave the
government of Bosnia its Eagle Base in the Bosnian city of Tuzla. Eagle Base
was at one time the headquarters for almost 20,000 US military forces serving
in Bosnia. The base is a very modern complex and includes a large airfield.
Over 500 Kosovar Albanians
held a demonstration in Prishtina. The Albanians said that Kosovo should be
granted independence from Serbia. A group called "Self-Determination"
(Vetevendosje) organized the demonstrations, and wants a referendum on independence held in
Kosovo. That of would be a sure thing
for the ethnic Albanians, who constitute over 90 percent of the population.
June 28, 2007: A state
investigation in Montenegro has found that the Montenegrin government itself
engaged in cigarette smuggling operations in the 1990s. Charges may eventually
be filed against several former Montenegrin leaders. Smuggling is big business
in the Balkans and corrupt governments were part of the enterprise. As the
Balkans modernize, their governments are becoming more transparent. Expect to
see more revelations like this in the future.