Balkans: The Bulgarian Dilemma


October 27,2008: Macedonia and Kosovo has finished marking, and agreeing on, their mutual border. This is a big deal, because disputes over exactly where the border is often causes much sustained violence in this part of the world.

October 26, 2008: Bulgaria is taking a lot of diplomatic heat from Russia. According to the Russian government and media aligned with the government, Bulgaria is engaged in a "dangerous game" of attempting to balance its membership in NATO, its support for Georgia, and its relationship with Russia. The European Union also factors into the complex balancing act. Bulgaria has told Russia that it "understands" many of Russia's concerns (eg, NATO expansion, Kosovo independence) and wants to act as a go-between for Moscow and the EU. But that doesn't please the Russians. In September Russia complained that Bulgaria had sold Georgia over seventy million dollars worth of military equipment in 2007. The real problem is Bulgaria is in NATO and has signed agreements to let NATO troops (particularly American) use Bulgarian bases as forward bases ("lilly pads") for other operations. The Russians know "other operations" include helping Georgia, or other nations in Central Asia.

October 24, 2008: The "struggle for Turkey's soul" continues in the Turkish courts. The Constitutional Court issued a final ruling on its July 2008 decision to not ban the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The court did say that Erdogan was guilty of "determined" actions that would undermine the Turkish Constitution's Article 68, which establishes Turkey as a secular state. However, the AKP does not promote violence. Earlier in the week the big "coup trial" started once again. This is one of the most divisive issues in Turkey. The government (led by the AKP) claims that the 86 people arrested earlier this year intended to launch a coup in 2009. The trial openly pits Kemalist secularists against AKP which is a moderate-Islamist party.

October 22, 2008: The US signed an agreement with the EU that will allow the US to provide police support to the EU's EULEX mission in Kosovo. The US will send 80 policemen to support EULEX. They could deploy before the end of 2008. The US may also provide a handful of judges and lawyers to serve with the mission.

Several former British and US diplomats called Bosnia's current political situation "fragile." Infighting between the Muslim-Croat alliance and the Bosnian Serbs has increased and according to the diplomats the international community's attention has moved elsewhere. The diplomatic maneuvering is likely a response to the recent EU decision to pull out its peacekeeping force. As yet no date has been set for the pull-out.

October 16, 2008: Peace negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots continue. The Turkish community says that it wants reunification as a "federal state" but also wants guarantees that the two communities will be treated as political equals. That could mean a lot of things, but Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has been focusing on security issues. Mehmet has acknowledged that the Turkish Cypriot community does not trust the EU. The Turkish Cypriots do trust Turkey to act as a "guarantor" for their rights. The Greek Cypriot community, however, wants the Turkish Army to leave the island. Still, the recent negotiations have revealed a lot of common ground. Greek and Turkish Cypriots say they are tired of living on a divided island.

October 15, 2008: Protestors in Montenegro fought with police in the capital. Around 10,000 demonstrators gathered to object to the Montenegrin government's recognition of Kosovo's independence, leaving 20 people injured in the clashes with the police. The Montenegrin police blamed Serb activists and religious leaders for the confrontation.




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