Balkans: And Then Came China


October 20, 2010: Greek officials have been conducting an assessment of the effect on national security wrought by the country's severe financial crisis. Violent left-wing organizations see the crisis as their long sought opportunity to rattle the government. Hence the revival of urban terrorist organizations. Police, however, believe the terrorists also have links to organized crime and illegal arms smugglers. Police also suspect that a number of weapons now in the hands of criminals (and potentially in the hands of terrorists) can be traced to the looting of Albanian arsenals in 1997.

October 19, 2010: The Turkish government said that it had doubts about deploying a European missile defense that is designed to stop an attack from Iran. Specifically, Turkey is arguing that singling out Iran (or Syria) as threats is a mistake. This pubic statement represents a shift from past Turkish military policy which considered Iranian missiles to be a potential threat to Turkey. Turkish objections could kill the missile defense program since one deployment option includes placing several anti-missile radars on Turkish soil.

October 18, 2010: The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has quit the government of Kosovo. This ends the governing coalition that has ruled the country for three years with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). Kosovo is scheduled to have national elections in February 2011, however the government's collapse may force a new election sometime this year. The government's collapse comes at a bad time for European Union and American diplomats. The EU and the US have been urging Serbia and Kosovo to begin a series of reconciliation talks.

October 17, 2010: Israel and Greece have been conducting military helicopter exercises in Greece. The exercises included mountain operations with transport and attack helicopters.

October 15, 2010: Negotiations to resolve Moldova's dispute with Transdniestr (the separatist enclave in Moldova) appear to have failed. The Moldovan government reported that Transdniestr's leaders still want complete independence. Moldova has been offering what it calls a high-degree of autonomy to Transdniestr. A large number of ethnic Russians live in the enclave, which has become something of an outlaw haven.

October 12, 2010: The U.S. government has been encouraging Bosnians to avoid separatism and concentrate on making their nation work. Bosnia wants to join the EU and the U.S. is saying that separatism (code language for a separate Bosnian Serb state) will derail that ambition. The problem is that the tripartite presidency just isn't working well. Bosnia's Serbian president openly advocates separatism. Meanwhile, Kosovar Serbs in northern Kosovo continue to reject rule by the Kosovo government. Diplomats have tentatively explored types of condominium arrangements, perhaps similar to that governing Bosnia's Brcko region. Brcko operates as an autonomous administrative unit under the control of both the Republika Srpska (Bosnia's Serb region) and the national government. However, Bosnians point out that this arrangement has not ended ethnic rivalries.

October 8, 2010: Chinese representatives visiting Turkey discussed China-Turkey trade relations and cooperation on a number of development projects. The projects could include a nuclear power plant. Turkey, which has the world's 17th largest economy, is openly seeking Chinese investment. The diplomatic meetings are also a chance to smooth over relations which were strained in the July 2009 Uighur riots in western China. The Uighurs are a Turkic people and the Turkish government criticized Beijing's handling of the crisis.

October 1, 2010: A former Turkish military officer accused of participating in the Ergenekon conspiracy to overthrow the Turkish government, testified that he had infiltrated a radical Islamist organization in order to protect the secular government. The group, Hizb ut-Tahrir advocates the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate.

September 28, 2010: Serbian media report increasing separatist demands among Muslims living in Serbia's Sandzak region. Many Sandzak Muslims regard themselves as Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims). The Sandzak city of Novi Pazar is around 75 percent Muslim. Many residents trace their family origins to Ottoman Turkey.




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