Balkans: Albania Takes on China

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May 9, 2006: Serbian police are making very public efforts to hunt down the last major war criminal in Serbia, Ratko Mladic. Searches were made along the Bosnian border, where Mladic is long thought to be hiding. Mladic is something of a folk hero for many Serbs because of his aggressive tactics during the Yugoslav civil war of the 1990s. But one group's folk hero is another's (usually the opponent's) war criminal. Like that other Balkan folk hero, the medieval warlord Vlad the Impaler (fictionalized in books and movies as Dracula), Mladic was pretty brutal with those he did not agree with.

May 8, 2006: Over the weekend, there were explosions in six military bases in southern Albania. One soldier was killed and four wounded. The cause of the explosions were being investigated.

May 6, 2006: Albania accepted five Guantanamo Bay detainees for resettlement. The five men are Muslim Uighurs from western China. This is sure to displease the Chinese government. China considers the Uighurs to be terrorists. The US still holds another 15 Uighurs. Two of the released men were captured in Pakistan. A US court found that the five men were not enemy combatants. US and Albanian diplomats called Albania's decision to accept the men a "humanitarian gesture."

May 5, 2006: Macedonia and Kosovo said that their border dispute was "technical" and "not political" and that the current border would not change. The diplomatic language is an attempt by both governments to avoid one of the Balkans traditional troubles: war over a border. The border disagreement is over a survey that Kosovo believes erroneously put a small parcel of land in Macedonia.

May 4, 2006: The "final status" talks over Kosovo reopened in Vienna. If Serbia cannot keep Kosovo as an autonomous province, it still intends to try to keep a few of the predominantly ethnic Serb villages and towns close to the Serbian border. Serbia is now proposing that the town of Mitrovica be split between Kosovo and Serbia. The northern half of Mitrovica is predominantly Serb.

 

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