Archive for the 'Balkans' Category

The Problem with Turkey’s “Zero Problems” – Turkey, Past and Future

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

by Ilias I. Kouskouvelis*

Under the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), Turkey’s foreign policy has been associated with the prescriptions and efforts of three men: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Abdullah Gül, and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Davutoğlu, a former international relations professor, has been the most articulate exponent of the troika’s ideas, penning perhaps the most authoritative summary of its worldview in his 2001 Stratejik Derinlik (Strategic Depth)[1] and coining its foremost article of faith: a “zero-problems policy” with Turkey’s neighbors because Ankara “wants to eliminate all the problems from her relations with neighbors or at least to minimize them as much as possible.”[2]

This might all be well and good if such words were supported by actions. But Davutoğlu has also described Turkey as a “heavyweight wrestler,” hinting that it may use “the maximum of its abilities” when dealing with its neighboring “middleweight wrestlers.”[3] A survey of Ankara’s relations with these “middleweight wrestlers” reveals its “zero problems policy” to be little more than a cover for the AKP’s reasserted “neo-Ottoman” ambitions.


A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

~by E.D. Kain

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

~WInston Churchill

The Russians are tricky. They have suckered the world into thinking that they are a more peaceful, progressive nation than they were during the Soviet era. We have been duped into believing this over the years, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Now, as Georgia burns, and the world wonders whether a ceasefire will hold or whether Putin’s puppet Medvedev will simply (as the Russians so often do) say one thing and do another…


Islamic Imperialism in the Former Yugoslavia

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

By Phyllis Chesler

Folks: I am getting many articles on the Balkan Mess. I am still no expert but what must be admitted is this: The West, including America, has been “had” in terms of signing on to only one acceptable narrative: The Christian Serbs are the evil aggressors and the Muslim separatists and imperialists are the innocent victims. (Where have we heard this before?)

The truth: That all sides committed war crimes but not genocide is apparently too complicated to bear. Anyway, I am reposting an entire article that has just appeared. Once again, dear reader, tell me what you know and what you think about this. … (Continue reading…)


The Balkan Mess Has Just Gotten Messier: Information Versus Disinformation

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

By Phyllis Chesler

Who can understand Balkan history–that cursed region whose fiery nationalisms led to World War One? Not I. East Europeans remember how especially brutal Muslim Nazi- and Arab-empowered soldiers were during World War Two. Yes, there once were some pockets of European-style assimilation and sophistication among Caucasus-based Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the region. Has anyone read the incomparably charming and popular novel, Ali and Nino: A Love Story written by the very Jewish Lev Nuissimbaum whose pen name was Khurbain Said? The romance captured everyone’s longing for operatic harmony between Christians and Muslims. (For the Jews, it was always more complicated). Tom Reiss has written a must-read biography of Nuissembaum titled The Orientalist: Solving The Mystery of A Strange and Dangerous Life. … (Continue reading…)


Dr. Karadzic, I Presume? The Monster As Healer

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

By Phyllis Chesler

The monster was hiding in plain sight–working as a holistic healer, a health guru. I am talking about Dr. Radovan Karadzic of course who has finally been captured by his own people, not because his crimes repulsed them, (he was viewed as a hero), but rather in the hope that his capture and extradition to the Hague might soften their image as a rogue nation and lead to an economically profitable membership in the European Union. … (Continue reading…)


What Is Justice For A Rape Victim?

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

By Phyllis Chesler

In the former Yugoslavia, men were not usually gang-raped. Many were tortured, and many were genocidally slaughtered. This happened on President Clinton’s watch and it took a long time and a great deal of persuasion before Clinton allowed America to become militarily involved. Europe did not come to the aid of its immediate neighbor. No Arab or Muslim country came to the aid of their Muslim brethren trapped in this treacherous war-zone.

The public and repeated gang-rapes of both girls and women had become a weapon of war and was no longer merely a “spoil of war.”


The End of the Serbian Empire

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Montenegrins have spoken: they’re done with being under the thumb of bully on the block, Serbia. They’re free, and can chart their own destiny. Lucky for Montenegro that it did not have to suffer through the Serbian rampages against the other former Yugoslav “republics” whose only crime was to reach for treasured independence. It is ironic that Slobodan Milosevic did not live long enough to see his neo-imperialist, socialist (not an oxymoron) dream of a “Great Serbia” fall into the ash-heap of history. From the Beeb:


Cheney Backs Up the Balts and Balkans

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Dick Cheney made a very important visit this weekend, and reminded Russia to lay off countries that it once persecuted under its old czars, under its second generation czars (the Soviets), and under its new czar, Vladimir Putin. Cheney visited Lithuania, Croatia, and Kazakhstan. In Lithuania’s capital of Vilnius,

…he accused Russia of backsliding on democracy. …

He accused Russia of using its vast energy resources to blackmail its neighbours, and said Moscow had a choice to make between pursuing democratic reforms and reversing the gains of the past decade.

In Croatia, Cheney

…praised the former Communist countries for their willingness to introduce democratic reforms – as well as for their involvement in US-led military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“You who aspire to join these organisations [Nato and the EU] help rejuvenate them and help us re-dedicate ourselves to the basic and fundamental values of freedom and democracy,” Mr Cheney told Ivo Sanader of Croatia, Sali Berisha of Albania and Vlado Buckovski of Macedonia.

“We also believe that it’s very important for both Nato and the EU to take in the new members.”

“Backsliding on democracy” is an understatement, as now, “Under Mr Putin, influence stems from the former Soviet organs of repression.” The last Russian presidential elections “failed to meet democratic standards.” Putin tried and failed to interfere with democratic elections in Ukraine, and is now trying to intimidate the former Soviet “republic” and the rest of Europe by threatening to withhold natural gas deliveries.

Putin is delusional: he thinks he’ll be able to recreate former Soviet “glories.” The U.S. stands squarely in his way. Last year, President Bush visited Riga, the capital of Latvia, and brought to the attention of the world the suffering of the three Baltic nations (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) under Soviet/Russian domination. Now Cheney has visited the Baltic again, reminding Russia to back off.

Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia have all joined NATO. Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, and Ukraine are on track to become new members.

Of course, Russia is crying fowl, as Eastern Europeans are voting with their feet to join NATO and the EU — not forging closer ties with Moscow’s czarist, neo-imperialists.

Russia claims Cheney’s speeches this weekend were “completely incomprehensible.” Cheney has responded, rather comprehensibly:

Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday shrugged off negative Russian reaction to his criticism of President Vladimir Putin, saying he had merely described ”the extent to which they seem to resist the development of strong democracies” in Eastern Europe.

Eastern Europeans remember all too well what is was like to live under Russia’s hammer and sickle. Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga most eloquently explained the differences between the leftist appeasers of dictatorship and the new democracies:

We certainly have seen the results of appeasement… It’s much easier to tolerate a dictator when he’s dictating over somebody else’s life and not your own. We have suffered through half a century because dictators were allowed to proceed unchecked in the faint hope that they would somehow see the light, or reform, or simply by indifference to those who have been affected by their actions.


Mladic Still Hiding in Serbia?

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Serbia had promised to hand over war criminal Ratko Mladic by the end of April. Well, today is April 30, and there’s no sign that Mladic is any nearer to facing justice. Remember that Mladic and his nefarious accomplice, Radovan Karadzic, carried out unspeakable atrocities in Bosnia-Hercegovina from 1992 to 1995, not the least of which was the massacre of Srebrenica, in which 7,000 Muslim men and boys were ruthlessly slaughtered. Serbs murdered 250,000 Bosnian citizens during their “war” against Bosnia. But it seems that some in Serbia consider these two men as heroes. From the BBC:

Ratko Mladic is wanted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

A spokesman for the UN chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said she was given that assurance last week by the Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica.

“We received clear assurances from Kostunica for the delivery of Ratko Mladic by the end of April,” Anton Nikiforov said on Thursday.

The Serbian government has admitted that Mr Mladic was sheltered by the military until 2002, and that his family were drawing a pension on his behalf until December last year.

Along with his civilian counterpart, Radovan Karadzic, he is the most wanted war crimes suspect in Europe.

Today, the Beeb reports:

The EU says it will stop talks on closer ties with Serbia-Montenegro if Gen Mladic is not arrested by 30 April.

On Friday, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said it was time to “locate, arrest and transfer Ratko Mladic to the Hague (tribunal) without delay”.

I don’t have much hope — or respect — for EU deadlines.

I’ve faced a strange political dilemma for being an outspoken critic of Serbian war crimes. On the one hand, the “mainstream” press harps on these war crimes while rationalizing crimes committed by, for example, Islamist extremists. On the other hand, I’ve been berated for reminding people about Serb crimes by those who, because of Muslim terrorism, lump all Muslims as terrorists, and seek to rationalize Srebrenica as some type of payback to be exacted from the Islamic world.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time — nor do I wish to. A war crime is a war crime. A rose by any other name.


Milosevic, Socialist Butcher of Belgrade, Dead

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Slobodan Milosevic, the last “socialist” leader of Yugoslavia, was found dead today in his prison cell in The Hague. Good riddance. I only have 2 regrets: 1) Milosevic’s trial for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide will never be completed with him in attendance; and, 2) The Hague is very selective about who it goes after — we’ll probably never see trials to find justice for all the communist war criminals now hiding safely in and ruling Russia, for Sudanese Muslims slaughtering 180,000 black Africans, or for Kuwaitis ethnically cleansing 400,000 Palestinians.

Let’s not forget Milosevic’s legacy, after he became president of Serbia in 1990:

Serbia, with a population of 10 million, was the big kid on the block in Yugoslavia the bully just as Russians were in the old Soviet Union. Major Serbian bullying got under way in 1991 when the Slovenians declared independence from the Yugoslav federation. Yugoslav forces tried to quell the innate desire for independence, but failed, thank goodness. 100 people were needlessly killed. Slovenia is now free, and a charter member of both NATO and the EU. The Serbs didnt want that. They wanted to dominate the Slovenes and siphon off their wealth and resources. Yugoslavia wanted to drag all the Balkans down to the lowest common denominator of socialism (e.g., centralized power and the enrichment of a chosen few like Slobodan Milosevic and his repulsive wife).

As the Yugoslav/Serbian bullies failed to demolish Slovenia, they turned their attentions to the Croats. Croats arent without sin. Some helped Hitler in WWII. No group is without sin, but Croats still deserve self-determination. Starting in 1991, the Yugoslav/Serb bullies tried to quell Croatias bid for independence. Both Serbs and Croats committed war crimes in the ensuing struggle, and are paying for their sins. But the Croats finally won their independence, thank goodness.

Not satisfied with trying to quell the autonomous urges of two nations, the Serbs turned their wrath against Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, where they kicked their genocidal intentions into high gear. Serbs murdered 250,000 Bosnian citizens. The Serbs killed 7,000 Muslim boys and men in a single incident at Srebrenica. This isnt conjecture. This is fact. A former Bosnian Serb army commander, Dragan Obrenovic, confessed to taking part in the massacre. Serbia-Montenegros president apologized (admitted guilt) to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina for atrocities committed by Serbs during the 1992-1995 war. I admire his integrity for such a step. This proves not all Serbs are guilty of anything.

Failing to quell the free aspirations of a third nation, the Serbs turned their genocidal intentions against Kosovo in 1999. Serbian forces murdered between 5,000 and 12,000 Kosovo Albanians and deported 800,000. Only a sustained NATO bombing campaign, of course led by the U.S. over the objections of the European chicken-hearts, stopped the decade-long Serbian campaign of bullying.

Bye, bye, and good riddance, Slobodan.