Balkans: American Troops Reach The Black Sea

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September 26, 2007: There are 17,882 people still listed as "missing" in the various Yugoslav "wars of devolution." This includes the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Most (13, 500) of the missing disappeared in Bosnia. The Serbia-Croatia war (1991-95) has 2,386 listed as missing. Kosovo has 2,047.

September 25, 2007: The U.S. and Romania completed the first month of a three-month long military training exercise. The light infantry training exercise involves approximately 700 troops and support personnel located at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base (on Romania's Black Sea coast). In December 2005 the US and Romania signed a ten-year bilateral agreement that lets the US use the huge airbase and training complex. U.S. forces in Romania, however, cannot exceed a maximum of one brigade (roughly 3,500 troops). Still, the base gives the U.S. a "lily pad" to support potential "deep operations" in Central Asia.

September 24, 2007: A bomb detonated in front of a nightclub in Pristina, Kosovo killed two people and wounded 11. The night club was located on Bill Clinton Boulevard.

Serbia now says that if Kosovo remains part of Serbia, Serbia is willing to give it "the highest level of autonomy" to include a "parallel, self-governing" political system. That would include the right for the Kosovo government to collect taxes and manage its own economic affairs. Nothing was said about police and security arrangements, but past statements implied that the European Union should act as the "guarantor" with a civilian and military presence in Kosovo "to keep the peace." The Serbian term for this status is "loose integration."

September 22, 2007: It is a small diplomatic victory for Macedonia, but a victory nonetheless. Canada announced that it will that recognize Macedonia as "the Republic of Macedonia." This will upset Greece, which insists on calling Macedonia the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

September 19, 2007: Kosovo and Serb police conducted a joint operation that led to the arrest of an arms smuggler, who was shipping weapons to what the police described as "Muslim extremists" operating in southern Serbia near the town of Novi Pazar. The arrest took place inside Kosovo, in the northern town of Mitrovica - a town with a substantial Serbian community.

Kosovar Albanian political leaders said that Kosovo are drafting a "friendship treaty" with Serbia. The treaty will include "a clause forgiving Serbia for all crimes committed in Kosovo." This is a signal by Kosovar Albanian moderates that while they are demanding independence, in the long term they want a stable, peaceful relationship with Serbia.

September 15, 2007: The United States asked Turkey to take "critical political steps." The political moves the US wants Turkey to make include opening the Turkish-Armenia border and "refraining from energy deals" with Iran. The last statement refers to a natural gas deal Turkey signed earlier this year with Iran. The US also congratulated Abdullah Gul on his election as president.

Serbia said that it has no interest in joining NATO and intends to "retain full military neutrality."

 

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