Balkans: Islamic Radicals Storm The Courts

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June 12,2008: The Serbian government continues to take the position that eventually Serbia will gain internationally recognized rights to administer predominantly ethnic Serb areas in Kosovo. Serbia argues that the Kosovar government cannot protect Serbia cultural sites within Kosovo, sites like Serbian Orthodox churches. The Serb diplomatic position has changed somewhat. Serbia now indicates it is willing to "partner" with UN police to protect ethnic Serb areas.

June 6, 2008: Kosovo security guards, at Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's home, fired upon and stopped an intruder. The incident occurred late at night. The security guards said one of the intruders was wounded. Thaci has a lot of enemies and not just Serbs. He led the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the late 1990s.

Turkey has rejected a NATO-developed plan to train Kosovo's security forces. The Kosovo security forces (armed paramilitary police) are expected to assume police and security duties at some point in the future. When will that be? After the UN leaves and when the European Union determines that Kosovo can survive on its own.

June 5, 2008: Turkey's highest court, the Constitutional Court, ruled that the government's new rule that allows Muslim women to wear headscarves in colleges is not constitutional. The government is run by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is regarded as a "moderately" Islamist party. The AKP also promotes liberal economics. That said, the Republic of Turkey is a "Kemalist" state (named for Kemal Ataturk, the republic's founder). Ataturk was very suspicious of Islamic revivalists. The ruling was not unexpected. In fact, there is still a chance that the Constitutional Court will ban the AKP. The AKP (June 6) responded and said that the court was legislating from the bench and usurping parliament's role.

June 2, 2008: Macedonia's VMRO-DPMNE party won a major election victory. There is still wrangling going on over VMRO's total number of parliamentary seats, but it is guaranteed a majority in the 120 seat parliament. The two main ethnic Albanian parties, the DPA (Democratic Party of Albanians) and DUI (Democratic Union for Integration), remain divided. In fact, the lingering worry in Macedonia is that the two rival Albanian political groups. The "name war" with Greece played a prominent role in the campaign. Many Macedonians (both Slav and Albanian) are angry at Greece's insistence that Macedonia be called the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

May 26, 2008: Greece's military chief of staff met with the chief of staff of the Turkish military in Ankara. The two generals issued a joint statement that the two nations need to work together to insure peace. This may not seem like a big deal, but both the Greek and Turkish militaries remain very suspicious of one another. Both militaries are in the process of modernizing their respective forces. The Turkish Air Force intends to buy 100 F-35s by 2020. Since the end of World War Two the US has served as a "political buffer" between Greece and Turkey. It has also encouraged closer defense cooperation between the two nations. Despite their status as NATO allies, old enmity frequently divided them. A resolution of the division of Cyprus would go a long way to increasing military cooperation between Greece and Turkey.

 

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