Balkans: I'll Raise You Three German Spies


December 1,2008: Germany is threatening to cut over $100 million in foreign aid if Kosovo does not release three German BND intelligence agents, who were arrested as they examined the site of a recent bombing. The Kosovo police blamed the Germans for the bombing, even through the BND guys showed up after the explosion. The Germans are not happy with the newly independent Kosovo, which appears to be run by gangsters. The arrest of the BND men smacks of official kidnapping, and the Germans are letting Kosovo know they will not play that game. Not yet, anyway.

November 28, 2008: Serbian nationalists are arguing that "more war is inevitable" because no one can guarantee the safety of Kosovar Serbs. Leaders in the Serbian Orthodox Church are particularly vocal about the plight of Kosovo's Serb minority. Most factions in the former Yugoslavia have been predicting a resumption of fighting, ever since the peace deals were made 10-15 years ago.

November 27, 2008: Greek Cyprus accuses Turkey of "harassing" a ship conducting oil exploration in Cypriot waters. In the past Turkey has claimed that oil exploration off Cyprus "infringes" on Turkey's (Mediterranean) continental shelf. Greece and Turkey have sparred over oil and mineral exploration rights in the Aegean Sea.

The November 14 bombing in Pristina continues to vex the Kosovo government and UNMIK. Now a previously unknown ethnic Albanian militia named "The Army of the Republic of Kosovo" has claimed responsibility for the attack. Kosovo also announced that it would turn over the three Germans who were arrested after the bomb attack to a UN-appointed judge working with the UN office in Kosovo.

November 24, 2008: Three Germans have been arrested on suspicion of being involved with the November 14 bombing attack on the EU office in Kosovo. Sound odd? Several reports have tied the Germans to organized crime.

November 21, 2008: The European Union announced that it intends to have its EULEX mission in Kosovo deployed by December 2008. Both Kosovar Albanians and Serbs have objections to the way the EU's EULEX (European Union law enforcement mission) operation is being organized. The Albanians object to the fact that in ethnic-Serb dominated portions of Kosovo EULEX will report to the UN. That smacks of "Serb separatism" (the code phrase is "de facto separatism" or de facto partition). The Serbs don't like the fact Kosovo is separated from Serbia and see the European Union as being one of the organizations that brought Kosovo independence about.

November 17, 2008: The series of negotiations that began September 11 continues between the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias. Talat and Christofias are trying to hammer out a "common" Cypriot approach to ending the confrontation on the island and ultimately creating some type of "federal" Cypriot state. Huge issues remain, like control of a federal police force.

November 14, 2008: A bomb blew up outside an EU office in Pristina, Kosovo. No injuries were reported,

November 11, 2008: There's some backtracking going on. In October the European Union decided that it would withdraw its peacekeeping force from Bosnia (though it did not set a withdrawal date). Now that is being reconsidered. Germany has qualified its position by saying that the peacekeeping force should remain as long as Bosnia has an international administrator.

November 10, 2008: The Romanian military continues its modernization program. A senior Romanian defense ministry official said that Romania will acquire "new armored transport vehicles" and drones. Romania committed itself to a long-term military modernization process when it joined NATO. Romania is also talking to China about expanding "defense-related" contacts. Earlier this year China expressed an interest in improving "defense cooperation" with Romania. Remember, both Romania and China are concerned about Russia's new militancy.

November 1, 2008: Serbia complained that the European EULEX Kosovo mission "in order to be acceptable to Serbia" requires UN Security Council approval. Serbia maintains that EULEX is "not neutral." Serbia's right. EULEX is designed to help Kosovo become fully independent.

October 30, 2008: NATO's Secretary-General asked Russia to fulfill its commitment to withdraw Russian forces from Transdniestr, the "separatist state-let" in eastern Moldova. Russia said in 1999 that it would withdraw its forces and equipment. They are still there.

Kosovar Serbs fought with Kosovar Albanians in the city of Mitrovica. Five ethnic Serbs were reportedly injured. A police report claimed that the fight started when "ethnic Albanians" entered the Serbian half (the northern half) of Mitrovica.




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