Balkans: Dodging Another Bullet


February 5, 2008: Europe, and for that matter, the entire world, dodged a bullet. Perhaps that should read Europe dodged a war. Serbia re-elected Boris Tadic president of Serbia, defeating ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic. The margin was narrow, 51 percent to 49 percent. Perhaps the most encouraging post-election event was Nikolic conceding and urging everyone "to stay calm." An early breakdown of election voting patterns gave Nikolic a majority of Serbian votes. Tadic got a substantial number of votes from Serbians but carried ethnic minority groups. He got an overwhelming number of ethnic Hungarian votes.

February 3, 2008: Serbian Radical party presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic said that Russia should send its air force to patrol Serbian air space. He said he would ask Russia to do so if he won. Nikolic added that he stood "for military cooperation with Russia." Nikolic emphasized that he is against a "NATO presence in Serbia in any form." Nikolic considers Kosovo to be part of Serbia; he is saying NATO should leave Kosovo.

January 30, 2008: Turkey again asked that the EU should admit Turkey to full membership, pointing out that this would be one of the greatest contributors to global peace in the 21st century.

The Bosnian government "dismissed" Bosnian Serb demands to secede from Bosnia and join Serbia. Bosnian Serbs claim that if Kosovo secedes from Serbia the Republika Srpska (their "statelet" within Bosnia) can secede from Bosnia and join Serbia.

The Albanian government said that Serbia will try to "destabilize Kosovo" when Kosovo seeks independence. The Albanian statement included a scenario: Serbia would "manipulate" Kosovar Serbs in the Mitrovica region. What the manipulation entailed was not made clear. Albania has made it clear that it does not support ethnic Albanian demands in the Balkans for the creation of a "Greater Albania." The Albanian position is summed up in the phrase "Albanians want to go to Brussels" (ie, join the EU).

January 22, 2008: Kosovo's government claimed that a date has been set for Kosovo's declaration of independence. What is the date? There are two threads. One is the Serbian election. Kosovo will declare independence after the Serbian run-off presidential election. The second thread is that the date is being "coordinated" with the European Union. At least two EU members, Romania and Greece, oppose a unilateral Kosovo declaration of independence.

January 21, 2008: Two Kosovo policemen were arrested and accused of participating in a bombing attack in Pristina, Kosovo. The attack occurred in September 2007. Two people died in the attack and 11 were wounded.

The UN reported that Greece and Macedonia were "making progress" towards an agreement that would resolve their dispute over Macedonia's proper name. The "name war" has been going on for 16 years. Greece insists that Macedonia be called the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

January 20, 2008: Ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic won the first round of Serbia's presidential election. Nikolic belongs to the Serbian Radical Party. Nikolic got 39 percent of the vote. Current Serb president Boris Tadic got 34 percent.

Four people were injured in a bomb attack in Pristina, Kosovo.

January 14, 2008: The Serbian government promised to "retaliate" if Kosovo declared independence. This threat has been made before. Current president Boris Tadic has stated he will not go to war for Kosovo but he firmly opposes independence for Kosovo. So what are the options? Serbia controls most of the electricity grid feeding power to Kosovo, so an electricity cut is a possibility. A trade embargo is another. The bet is that Serbia would agree to a partitioning of Kosovo, with predominantly Serb areas in Kosovo remaining part of Serbia.

January 12, 2008: Eleven Macedonian soldiers serving with peacekeeping forces in Bosnia died in a helicopter accident while returning to Macedonia. The helicopter, an Mi-17, crashed in what reports described as "foggy conditions" near Skopje. Macedonia has 30 soldiers serving with the EUFOR peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close