Balkans: Trade Bait

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July 11, 2007: One result 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 its weapons.

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.

 

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