Turkeys national parliamentary elections, scheduled for June, look to be increasingly messy. Turkeys national election board decided to remove 12 candidates from the voting list. Seven candidates happen to be members of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). This has led to accusations by Kurds that the government intends to crack down further on Kurdish political parties and politicians. Several violent demonstrations broke out in southeastern Turkey, which is a predominantly Kurdish region. More trouble could erupt. A spokesman for the BDP said that the party is considering boycotting the elections.
April 19, 2011: Serbias government has decided it will ask the UN Security Council to investigate charges that members of Kosovos government engaged in the illegal sale of human organs during the late 1990s. The gruesome allegations have had media and political traction. Kosovos government denies the charges. However, Serbia has discovered it can use the issue as a political tool to pressure the Albanian Kosovar-led government. Serbia wants the UN and EU to permit predominantly Serb areas in northern Kosovo to unite with Serbia.
Turkey is discussing ways to meet Syrian and Iraqi demands for more water from the Euphrates River. Water rights have been a divisive issue among the nations. For years Iraq and Syria called Turkey Southeast Anatolia Project (a reservoir and hydroelectric program) an attempt to exert complete control over the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Twenty years ago, when Saddam was in power, there was some talk of a Mesopotamian water war. That was bluster. Now Syria has internal problems and Iraq and Turkey are seeking a rapprochement. Iraq recently indicated that Turkey will agree to increase water flow on the Euphrates.
Bosnian police arrested a man suspected of murdering a Bosnian Croat politician (Ante Malic) on April 17. The victim was a senior member of the Croat Peasant Party-New Croatian Initiative (HSS-NHI). Bosnian officials are increasingly worried that ethnic friction will lead to renewed violence in the country. As it is, on April 18 a group of Bosnian Croat separatists demanded that Bosnia divide into three semi-autonomous ethnic regions one for Croats, one for Serbs, and one for Bosniak Muslims. The Croat separatists believe the current federal arrangement is unfair. Mostar would be the capital of the Croat region.
Istanbul is Europes biggest city, with over 17 million people. The Turkish government said that it may divide Istanbul into two separate cities, in order to improve administration. The Bosporus Strait would be the dividing line. One half of the split Istanbul would be in Europe, the other half in Asia (Anatolia).
April 16, 2011: Kosovos national census has not been completed. Many commentators thought this would be the case when the Kosovo government began the project. Kosovar Serbs said they would participate in the census only if the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) ran it. UNMIK did not. The government has extended census completion dates until later in the month.
April 13, 2011: Greek police arrested three people who allegedly participated in the theft of explosives from two Greek Navy minesweepers. One of the arrested was a naval officer. Greece has confronted several waves of terror bombings in the past three years. However, the Greek Navy said that so far there is no evidence that the theft of the explosives was related to potential terrorist activity.
April 12, 2011: Turkish police launched several counter-terror raids throughout the country. In eastern Turkey (Van province) police arrested ten suspected terrorists. Istanbul police arrested 42 Al Qaeda suspects. In December 2010 Turkish police arrested ten members of Al Qaeda that the government claimed intended to launch attacks. These recent raids are on an even larger scale. After Al Qaeda terrorists killed 57 people in two attacks in Istanbul in 2003, the government vowed that it would take aggressive action against Al Qaeda. It has.
April 11, 2011: Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece cut their military budgets in 2010. Bulgaria cut its defense budget by 28 percent. Albania and Greece cut their budgets by around ten percent. Montenegro and Cyprus raised their defense budgets very slightly.
April 6, 2011: The Turkish military issued a statement that a lot of Turks have been expecting for quite some time. The military said in an official statement that it finds the continuing charges of conspiracy against 163 current and former military officers to be puzzling. The statement comes a day after a Turkish court ruled that approximately 100 of those under arrest will have to face court trials in the so-called Sledgehammer coup plot. Though the statement does not sound harsh, it is a public indication that the military is getting fed up with the accusations and arrests. Kemalists in Turkey claim that the plot is highly exaggerated and is an attempt by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to defang the military.
April 2, 2011: Greek citizens continue to grumble about their governments austerity budget. The government had to cut the budget severely in order to meet loan requirements from other European members (Germany in particular). But Greek public sector workers object to the agreement. Labor unions are considering launching another wave of strikes. Greek leftists and anarchists have said the austerity budget could lead to an armed revolt, but then Greek leftists and anarchists always say that. Still, if Greece fails to stick to the budget cuts, Germany and other northern European nations could pull the funding plug. If they do, Greece may leave the euro-zone. Euro-pessimists say that could lead to a breakup of the European Union.
April 1, 2011: Greece and Macedonia are now fighting The Name War in the UNs International Court of Justice. A Greek representative said that Greece would continue to block Macedonian membership in NATO and the EU as long as Macedonia continues to call itself Macedonia. Greece insists that Macedonia call itself The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
March 31, 2011: Turns out there may have been some illegal smuggling after all. The Turkish government has given the UN a report on the Iranian airplane Turkey stopped on March 21. The plane was en route to Syria. Turkey forced the plane to land in Diyarbakir. Turkey said it had confiscated weapons it found on board the plane that violated a UN arms embargo. Turkey reported seizing 60 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 14 other machine guns, 8000 rounds of AK-47 ammo, 560 60 millimeter mortar shells and 1288 120 millimeter mortar shells.
Greek police located a letter bomb that had been sent to a Korydallos Prison in Athens. Korydallos is a maximum security prison. It is also the site of the on-going trial of nine members of an anarchist terror group, the Revolutionary Fire Cells (also called the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and the Revolutionary Nuclei of Fire you cant make this stuff up). The Revolutionary Fire Cells have launched bombing and arson attacks in Greece.