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Spectacolul ideilor pe hartă

06/febr/2010 „The Economist”: O viitoare bază militară rusă în Serbia – plan secret sau teoria conspiraţiei?

Russia and Serbia. Base camps

Rumours of a Russian base in Serbia reflect Balkan hysteria, not reality
Feb 4th 2010 | BELGRADE | From The Economist print edition

EVERYONE in the Balkans loves a good conspiracy theory, especially one that involves energy pipelines and military bases. According to some people with a bent against Serbia and Russia, the Russians are plotting to create a thinly-disguised military base in Serbia. That would be the Kremlin’s first new European base since the end of the Warsaw Pact, and could seem a response to NATO’s expansion in the region. Every country around Serbia is either in NATO or wants to be.

The story of the Russian base started in October when Dmitry Medvedev was visiting Belgrade. It was announced then that a new joint centre for emergency co-ordination would be created in the Serbian town of Nis. The site was an all-but-unused airport, named after Constantine the Great (the Roman emperor who was born there). The Russian partner will be the emergency ministry, a powerful semi-military outfit whose activities include disaster relief but also errand-running for Russia’s security services. The ministry has long played a role in Serbia, for example in mine-clearing.

But speculation has mounted that the Nis facilities could be used for spying or even turned to military use, should the need arise. What has most excited the conspiracy theorists is that Nis is close to the point where a controversial planned gas pipeline, South Stream, will cross Serbian territory. The pipeline is a joint venture between Russia’s gas giant, Gazprom, and Italy’s energy company, Eni. The route crosses the Black Sea, enabling Russia to bypass Ukraine, seen as a troublesome transit country, and deliver gas direct to the Balkans, central Europe and Italy.

Serbia’s emergency-planning chief in the interior ministry, Predrag Maric, firmly denies any notion that Russia is opening a military facility by stealth. Nis will not be a military base, he insists, pointing out that his ministry and the Russians have invited no fewer than 11 countries from the region to a conference in Belgrade this month to discuss their part in the establishment of the logistics and training facility in Nis.

The theories circulating among bloggers and others about Russian intentions echo earlier ones about outsiders’ geopolitical goals in the region. Many believe that it was oil, not worries about Serbian brutality in Kosovo, that lay behind NATO’s bombing of Serbia (including Nis airport) in 1999. After the war the Americans built Camp Bondsteel, a base capable of housing 7,000 men, in Kosovo. Conspiracy theorists said the real purpose of the camp was to safeguard the planned AMBO oil pipeline that aimed to pump Russian and Caspian oil from across Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania.

Yet more than 16 years after it was first mooted, the AMBO pipeline remains only a line on the map. Bondsteel has no runway. And there are only 1,400 American troops left in Kosovo. When the total number of NATO-led troops in Kosovo drops from its current 10,000 to the planned 2,300 Camp Bondsteel may close for good.

Nis airport and Bondsteel are easy to spot on Google Earth. Harder to find is a real military base, opened last November by the Serb authorities and often dubbed the Serbian Bondsteel. It lies close to Kosovo in the Bujanovac area of south Serbia, home to many ethnic Albanians. Their leaders complain loudly about the militarisation of the region. Yet the Serbian base can house only 1,000 men. “I’m not losing any sleep over it,” says a senior NATO official. He says he is aware of the possible Russian presence in Nis but is unworried by its implications. Meanwhile Windjet, an Italian low-cost airline, has just started flights to Constantine the Great airport.

Anunțuri

6 Februarie 2010 - Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , ,

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