Stop to Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Nato dreams can start the policy of detente again

December 4, 2008

The Foreign Ministers of Nato have decided during their “transatlantic dinner” – 2nd Dec.2008 – that Ukraine and Georgia will not get the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). US, Poland and Baltic States were supporting MAP for both states however “the old” continental Europe was against.

The background is of course recent conflict in Georgia, turmoil in domestic politics in Ukraine. Besides according polling the majority of population in Ukraine is against Nato membership.

Nato’s position to both issues above will determine the outcome of OSCE meeting on 4.-5. Dec. in Helsinki, where some 40-50 Foreign ministers – US and Russia included – will take part. The outcome can be nothing at worst but at at best it can lead through summit at presidential level to new dialogue between great powers with change to even start policy of détente again.  When Nato now has  put “soft” stop for Ukraina’s and Georgia’s Nato dreams it is also possible to find more or less positive answer to Russia’s initiative over new European security proposal.

The decision makes it possible to restart dialogue between USA and Russia. It remains to see whether there will be any common position in EU about cooperation with Russia. However some base for development of international relations has now made and further progress could be achieved during OSCE meeting this week – 4.5.12.2008 – in Helsinki, where some 40-50 Foreign ministers  will take part. The outcome can be nothing at worst but at at best it can lead through summit at presidential level to new dialogue between great powers with change to even start policy of détente again. It remains to see whether there will be any common position in EU about cooperation with Russia.


Th!nk – new forum for free journalism

December 3, 2008

Media is one of the most powerful factors in modern politics. It can help to start wars – like Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq – and it can also help to sop them like in case of Vietnam. Free and investigative journalism is a key element for implementing democratic ideals and for participatory process of social development.As EU Parliament Elections are coming a new campaign called TH!NK ABOUT IT will be launched to improve free journalism in Europe.

 

In January 09 the www.thinkaboutit.eu site will be launch with goal to get Europeans to express their views, reports, critique on Europe.Some 50 bloggers are participating for first Europe-wide blogging competition during first halve of year 2009 with aim to get Europeans to TH!NK ABOUT IT.The idea is to establish a dynamic community of bloggers, journalists and journalism students, a forum and a creative portal.

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) is facilitator of this campaign. EJC is an independent, international, non-profit institute dedicated to the highest standards in journalism, primarily through the further training of journalists and media professionals.

One aim is to inspire youth involvement with the 2009 Parliamentary Elections of EU. In spite of this the campaign will cover issues Europe wide so the campaign, issues and debate is not limited inside EU member-states.EJC has already earlier had training and campaigns outside EU such as “Competition for Investigative Journalists from West Balkans”.I wish all the best for this campaign and hope that as its outcome we can enjoy more critical and multi-sided journalism in future.


Radical Islamists arming their selves in Balkans

December 1, 2008

Radical Islam is again in headlines thanks for recent attack in Mumbai.  Already during battle discussion had started about foreign connections of terrorists.  Besides  Pakistan also British and Bosnian connections were mentioned.  The question is mostly related to Muslim immigrants living in West.  As far as Bosnia or western Balkans is concerned the core problem is created after mid-90s when region started to transform to safe haven for radical Islam.

Background

In my article “Radical islamist network spreading in Balkans” (28/09/2008) I summarized that

Radical Islam has enforced and widened their activities in Balkans last 15 years. During Bosnian war many foreign Islamists came to fight in mujahedeen brigade also many Al Quida figures – including Osama bin Laden – were supporting Bosnian Muslims 1990’s. Later they gave their support to KLA/UCK (Kosovo) which leaders now are leading Kosovo province based on US and EU support. After bombing campaign 1999 radical Islam has been one major donor in Kosovo and Wahhabi schools and former secularized Kosovo Muslims are displaced by radical Islamic movement. During Balkan wars e.g. Bosnia was acting as Europe’s leading training camp for domestic and foreign Islamists and their supporters.  So it is easy to see the real or exaggerated connections between Britain, Bosnia and Afghanistan/Pakistan.

British-Pakistan connection

In an article of one British publication(Telegraph.co.uk 29/11/2008) is a pithy description over Brit-Paki way to Radicalism.

The path from Britain to the terror training camps of Pakistan is a well-trodden one, with dozens of young Muslim extremists from this country travelling abroad to learn their deadly trade. In most cases they make the journey after being radicalised by preachers in Britain, who tell them that Islam is under attack around the world and that they cannot stand by idly or simply raise money for the cause. Some claim they only wanted to fight against the enemy in Kashmir or Afghanistan, or to learn how to defend fellow Muslims in other warzones such as Bosnia or Chechnya.

Radical Islamists arming their selves in Bosnia

Western Balkans is known as junction of different kind of trafficking.  Biggest profits probably are coming from drugs arriving from Afghanistan to be distributed in EU area.  Related to issue of terrorism the arms trafficking is now alarming not only because their selling in EU but because their planned use in Europe by radicals.

Last week an article in Serbianna (24/1/208)  gave more light to topic.  A group of radical Islamists that is ready to engage in terror activities is based in Bosnia, says Bosnia’s police chief Zlatko Miletic. “Wahabis have become the synonym for that sort of terrorism, but here is matter is about salafis as well,” says Miletic. He continues that 4 different groups operate in Bosnia, all of interest, because of their views of the world. Most concerning, says Miletic, is that these groups are buying suicide vests adding that early in 2008, Wahabis and other groups sympathetic to al-Qaeda are moving large quantities of explosives and weapons to Croatia. Islamic terrorists believe that Croatia will soon become a member of the EU which would allow an unimpeded weapons transfer from Croatia and into Europe.

Wahabi trial in Serbia

At the regional conference on security held in October in Slovenia’s city of Kranj, Serbia’s security minister Ivica Dacic stressed that there is evidence of presence of the international and domestic terrorism in Serbia citing Albanian terrorism in the south and the influence of Wahabis in the Raska area, referred to as Sandjak by the Muslims.   End of November 2008, a trial of 15 Wahabis started after Serbia’s police broke up the group involved in a plot to bomb buildings across Serbia and the US Embassy in Belgrade. One of the Wahabis, Ismail Prentic, escaped to Kosovo where local Albanians gave him sanctuary. Prentic was later apprehended but died in a shoot out with the police.  According sources the Wahabis secretly train, mobilize, inspire and train recruits from the converts to be experts in explosives.

The prosecution at the trial of 15 Wahabis charged that they have plotted terrorism has shown Osama bin Laden videos that have been found on the laptop confiscated during a raid on the Wahabi camp earlier this year. Many security analyst note that al Zawahiri’s (probably N:o 2. in al-Qaeda) brother was dispatched to the Balkans to establish al-Qaeda cells in regions dominated by Muslims such as Bosnia and Raska and Kosovo regions in Serbia. (Source Serbianna 29/11/2008) 

Croats in Bosnia under attack

In my article “Islamic terror in Bosnia”  (13/10/2008) I described how a Croatian NGO Libertas made public statement in which it says that Croatians in Bosnia are victims of Bosnian Muslim terror and are asking Bosnian Croat political leadership to initiate a plan that will break up the Bosnian Federation entity and form a Croatian one.

The tensions have continued since October.  E.g. police in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, are still on alert, although eight days have passed since Muslim and Croat students engaged in a fierce clash.Five days ago, local police prevented a mass free-for-all of some 300 students. The date and time for the fight was set in advance via an internet portal, and was to take place between Croat and Muslim youths on the line which divides the town of Mostar to its eastern and western parts. (Source B92 29/11/2008)

Bottom line

The Wahabism is “alien” not only to Bosnia and Kosovo  but in the entire south-eastern Europe, where secularism has been common until last decade.  The issues of Wahabism could quickly disturb the harmony of the Kosovo Albanian patriarchal family structure dominated by honor and vendettas.

The Radical Islam is relatively new phenomenon in Balkans.  It has good connections to other relevant players on scene and motivation enough to die for their case.  Is it now with more arms progressing on new more aggressive stage shall be seen.