Balkans: Greater Albania Gets Put Back in the Closet

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September 4, 2006: Turkey continues to debate whether or not Turkish troops will participate in the UN's peacekeeping effort in southern Lebanon. There has been a lot of jockeying within Turkey between President Ahmet Necdet Sezer (who, along with most Turks, seems to be against it) and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül (who appears to be for it). The number of Turkish troops under consideration has dropped from 5000 to 1000 (a reinforced battalion). A thousand Turkish troops is far fewer than the US wanted, but it would be a significant political statement.
August 30, 2006: Montenegro officially ended its military draft. The last draftee will be released from active duty by the end of September. Montenegro said that its professional army will have 2400 people: 340 officers, 900 non-coms, 900 soldiers, and 260 civilians. An additional 800 to 900 volunteer soldiers will eventually be recruited.
Moldova issued a statement that said Moldova would never form a political union with Romania. The statement may strike some as odd, but Moldova was once part of Romania. Separatists in Moldova's Transdniester region (most of whom are ethnic Russians) have claimed that Transdniester has the right to secede from Moldova because Moldova will eventually become part of Romania.
August 26, 2006: A grenade attack on a cafe in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica wounded a UN British police officer. Seven civilians --six Kosovar Serbs and a Dutch woman-- were also wounded in the attack.
August 24, 2006: Serbia warned that a statement by an adviser to the Albanian government could inflame the entire Balkan region. The statement, in an Albanian-language newspaper, said that Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia were "unnatural creations." The over-the-top statement also said that a "natural Albania" (Greater Albania?) should be formed by 2013. The man making the statement was identified as Koco Danaj. The Albanian government immediately released a statement denying any connection to Danaj. No major Albanian party supports such a policy. Calls for a "Greater Anything" (Serbia, Albania, Greece, etc.) in the Balkans have ignited bloody wars in the past.
August 22, 2006: The US will help Albania build an improved maritime surveillance system to help monitor Albania's coastline. Albania has said it needs an improved system to fight sea-borne smuggling and organized criminals who operate along in the islands of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. The new system will be built by Lockheed-Martin and cost $17 million.
August 17, 2006: Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku said that the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC, the acronym in Albanian is TMK) should eventually become a Kosovar "national army." Serbia immediately called Ceku's statement and the formation of a Kosovar army "destabilizing."

 

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