Balkans: Another Greek Crises

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March 2, 2011: NATO has confirmed that the peacekeeping force in Kosovo is being reduced from 10,000 to 5,500, by the end of the year. When NATO troops entered Kosovo in 1999, it was with 50,000 peacekeepers.

February 28, 2011: Turkey and the European Union have been arguing over illegal immigration for several months. It appears a deal is in the works. Turkey will take back the illegal immigrants. In return, the EU will simplify visa requirements for Turkish businesspeople and students visiting or studying in Europe. It may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Turkey now has a G-20 economy.

February 27, 2011: Serbia and Kosovo announced that they have agreed to discuss what they call technical issues. This is a diplomatic step forward on behalf of both countries (or country and outlaw province, if you're a Serb or Russian). Technical issues include cell phones and the electricity grid.

Turkey objected to economic sanctions on Libya, but the UN went ahead and imposed sanctions on Libya's dictatorship, anyway. Turkey has at least 15 billion dollars worth of on-going projects in Libya and several thousand Turkish citizens are stranded in Libya. Libya was once a Turkish vilayet (province), but Italy took control in 1912.

February 26, 2011: A huge riot broke out in Croatia's capital, Zagreb. Several hundred demonstrators protested the arrest of a Croatian soldier for war crimes against Serbs during the Battle of Vukovar in 1991. Croatian police reported that 33 people were injured in the riot and another 58 were arrested.

February 25, 2011: Members of a Tunisian moderate Islamist party said they had scheduled discussions with Turkey's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) in March. The Tunisians say they are seeking advice on how to deal with Tunisia's post-revolutionary issues. The AKP touts itself as a democratic example for democratic Islamists. To many folks this sounds like an oxymoron – the yoking together of two opposites. The AKP has shown, to its credit, that it regards Al Qaeda as a sworn enemy.

February 24, 2011: The European Union urged Bosnia to overcome its ethnic divisions and form a government. Bosnia held national elections in October 2010 and no party has been able to form a majority in parliament. Interestingly enough, one EU official said that Bosnia is not as wealthy as Belgium and it cannot afford to continue to exist without a central government. Belgium is also experiencing an electoral deadlock.

February 23, 2011: Street clashes continue in Greece over the government's austerity budgets. Several fights between demonstrators and security personnel erupted in Athens. The government has stated that it will begin to close or privatize several state-owned industries and will accelerate its programs to catch tax evaders. Greece is in the process of changing its economic culture. That will take a decade, at least, but these things have to be done in order for the Greek economy to survive. The EU's 110 billion euro bail out was a big carrot but also a big stick. Germany and France will not continue to pay for Greece's economic profligacy. Greece has to shape up to avoid being cast out of the Euro zone.

February 20, 2011: Over 300,000 Albanians crowded into the capital of Tirana to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the end of Enver Hoxha's Communist tyranny. Hoxha ran one of the cruelest Communist dictatorships, his only challengers being Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union, the Kims in North Korea and Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

February 17, 2011: Kosovo marked the third anniversary of its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.

The Macedonian government said no outside power can resolve the name controversy (The Name War) between Macedonia and Greece. The government said that the EU and the US could not solve it, only Macedonia and Greece. Greece insists on calling Macedonia the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Greek nationalists fear that Macedonia will make a claim to the Greek province of Macedonia (where the port of Thessalonica is located).

February 14, 2011: The Turkish government charged another 162 former and current military officers with involvement in a coup against the state. The so-called coup leader of the alleged Sledgehammer coup, General Cetin Doganl (a former army senior commander) claimed that the evidence against him was forged by the government (ie, the ruling Justice and Development Party).

February 13, 2011: The Turkish government reported that the Turkish statelet in Cyprus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is on the verge of going bankrupt. The Turkish government said that the Turkish Cypriots must reform their economy and ultimately reach the point where they do not rely on Turkish economic assistance. If this looks like a goad to encourage Turkish Cypriots to reach a permanent settlement with Greek Cypriots, well, it is.

February 4, 2011: Bulgaria is soliciting bids to buy eight new or used fighter aircraft. Bulgaria is considering Sweden's Gripen, France's Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the US F/A-18 Super Hornet. It may also consider used US F-16s.

 

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