Balkans: Dealing With Russia

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October 13,2008: Russia continues to argue that Kosovo's situation is "not unique" and should not be treated by the international community as a unique circumstance. Russia continues to insist that the "Kosovo precedent" will encourage armed separatist movements around the world. A senior member of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, was quoted as saying: "…the Kosovo experience is already having a significant impact on international politics. It is creating a threat for poly-ethnic countries, in which the question of national identity is a poignant issue." Russian diplomats claim that the Kosovo precedent affects over current 200 conflicts.

October 10, 2008: Serbia expelled Macedonia's ambassador because, on October 9, Macedonia recognized Kosovo as an independent state.

October 9, 2008: The Turkish government, led by the ruling AK Party, has decided to limit the Turkish military's emergency powers. The recent Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) attack on a Turkish gendarme post in southeastern Turkey increased the pressure to expand military authority. However, the AKP has been wrestling with its rivals over the issue for years. The AKP fears a military coup by Kemalists in the Turkish military.

October 8, 2008: This looks like a small diplomatic victory for Serbia. At Serbia's insistence, the UN General Assembly has voted to let the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rule on the "legitimacy" of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. Serbia pitched the vote as a test of "judicial recourse" in the "UN system"—meaning that denying the request for a judgment would set a terrible precedent for handling complaints and disagreements. Then 77 nations voted in favor, six against, and 74 abstained. One reason for the big margin is that many nations confront separatist movements. So why is victory a small one? The ICJ is a slow moving bureaucracy and it could take over two years to get a ruling. In the mean time, Kosovo will operate like an independent country, establishing a "fact on the ground."

October 6, 2008: Ukraine continues to participate in the Kosovo peacekeeping force, KFOR. The Ukrainian Army rotated a company of soldiers into Kosovo during the first week of October. Ukraine and Poland form a joint Polish-Ukrainian battalion within KFOR. Though this is small-scale cooperation, it does send a message to both Serbia and Russia.

October 2, 2008: Two bomb blasts went off in Mirtrovica, Kosovo.

The Moldovan government said that it will not try to join NATO. Moldova will maintain "permanent neutrality," which is required by the Moldovan constitution. Still, the Moldovan statement does a couple of things. It is designed to placate Moscow. Moldova is also trying to convince Russia that reuniting Transdneistr with Moldova will insure Moldova remains neutral.

October 1, 2008: European Union defense ministers voted to withdraw the EU peacekeeping contingent ("Althea force") from Bosnia. However, the defense ministers decided to set no specific date for the removal of the troops. At some point the EU intends to establish a rapid reaction force for Bosnia. It is likely the force will be stationed outside of Bosnia. The EU force replaced NATO's SFOR in December 2004.

Germany rejected an appeal by Serbia that Kosovo be divided into separate ethnic enclaves.

September 30, 2008: The Greek president of Cyprus has asked that Cyprus' capital, Nicosia, be "demilitarized." President Dimitris Christofias also wants an end to annual "military exercises" (ie, Greek military exercises with Greek Cypriots, and Turkish exercises on the island) Christofias is working closely with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to end the division of Cyprus.

September 25, 2008: Several hundred Serbia Kosovo War veterans staged a rally in Belgrade. They demanded back pay for fighting in the war.

September 18, 2008: Macedonia, Croatia, and Albania participated in a military exercise held in Macedonia. The exercise focused on special operations units.

 

 

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