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Military

Updated: 01-Jun-2004
 

SHAPE News Morning Update

28 May 2004

NATO

  • Bulgaria allocates nearly US$1 billion to upgrade army

AFGHANISTAN

  • Afghan violence undermines voter drive, UN warns

IRAQ

  • U.S lowers sights for NATO role in Iraq

BALKANS

  • Germany to keep troops in Kosovo for at least another year
  • Serbia-Montenegro’s military intelligence chief is fired

ICC

  • Opposition growing to U.S. exemption on global court

NATO

  • The Bulgarian government allocated 1.5 billion leva (US$938 million) to upgrade its armed forces in line with NATO standards. “The Cabinet approved eleven projects of utmost importance for the modernization of Bulgaria’s armed forces,” Economy Minister Lidia Shuleva said in Sofia. The Balkan country will also cut its army to 39,000 from 45,000 troops to save money for new western-made hardware. Up to 6 percent of the troops would be prepared for serving in peacekeeping missions abroad. Some of the modernization projects may be completed within a year, Deputy Defence Minister Ilko Dimitrov said, while others may take longer to implement, “perhaps until 2010, as in the case of motor vehicles changeover.” (AP 271616 May 04)

AFGHANISTAN

  • Violence is on the rise in southern Afghanistan, undermining efforts to register voters ahead of the troubled Central Asian nation’s first direct vote due in September. Afghan police and soldiers, relief workers and civilian administrators are increasingly targeted in the region by small bands of extremists, said Jean Arnault, UN special representative for Afghanistan. Remnants of the former Taliban leadership, foreign fighters, drug gangs involved in the opium trade and feuding warlords are all involved in the attacks, Mr. Arnault told the Security Council. He also urged NATO’s 26 member-nations to step up their contributions of troops and equipment to international peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan. (Reuters 272259 GMT May 04)

IRAQ

  • The United States signalled on Thursday that it would not press reluctant NATO partners to agree on a role for the alliance in stabilising Iraq after the handover of sovereignty there on June 30. U.S. ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns said Iraq would be an important subject of discussion at a June 28-29 NATO summit in Istanbul, but acknowledged it was unclear whether the alliance would get involved there and stressed Iraqis should decide. “Maybe NATO will have a role in Iraq, maybe it won’t. It’s not preordained, it’s not a given...it is something we will discuss,” he said, adding the United States would still prefer NATO to have a collective military role in Iraq. (Reuters 271723 GMT May 04)

BALKANS

  • Germany’s parliament voted to keep its peacekeeping troops in Kosovo for at least another year, responding to recent strife in the region that has kept the area unstable. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer further dampened hopes that German troops would come home in the foreseeable future, saying that Kosovo required a “long-term” strategy to keep unrest from destabilizing the region. “It doesn’t avail us to leave . . . if one is for independence and Europeanization” of the region, he told parliament in Berlin. (AP 271546 May 04)
  • Authorities plan to retire a general indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal and have fired the military intelligence chief, who had claimed that the army has re-established its spy network in UN-controlled Kosovo. The Supreme Defence Council, the top command body which met late Wednesday, discussed plans to retire Gen. Vladimir Lazarevic, one of four army generals who were indicted last year by the UN war crimes tribunal, the independent B-92 radio reported. The council said also in a statement that Col. Momir Stojanovic was no longer the head of the Military Intelligence Agency. President Marovic said after the meeting that Col. Stojanovic would be transferred to another military post for giving unauthorized public statements. Col. Stojanovic claimed in an interview with the state Tanjug news agency in February that his agency re-established presence in Kosovo and managed to infiltrate ranks of Kosovo’ ethnic Albanian leaders. He also claimed in the interview that al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations were active in the Balkan region, including parts of Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia populated by Muslims. (AP 271422 May 04)

ICC

  • The United States may not have enough UN votes to exempt American soldiers from prosecution by a new global criminal court, with China now questioning the action in view of the prison scandal in Iraq, diplomats said on Thursday. But some diplomats said the resolution would squeak through because no one wanted to see Washington kill UN peacekeeping missions. China’s position is an unusual one as Beijing has neither ratified nor signed the treaty establishing the court. (Reuters 271700 GMT May 04)

 



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