NATO Plays a Quiet Role in Balkan Arms Buildup

Article excerpt

ALREADY riven by ethnic warfare, the Balkans are bulking up on arms, causing concern among some experts.

Independent analyses done by experts in Washington, Berlin, and London show that Greece and Turkey - historic enemies although nominal NATO allies - have been accumulating large stockpiles of heavy weapons from other NATO nations. The weapons include combat aircraft, tanks, and artillery.

Other countries in the region are also making efforts to upgrade their arsenals. In May, Bulgaria signed agreements with its historic ally, Russia, to begin a series of arms-production projects. And Romania won a contract from Bell Helicopter to assemble 96 Cobra attack helicopters to be used by the nation's military.

"It's the last thing the region needs - an arms race," says Tasos Kokkinides, an arms-control expert at the British-American Security Information Council in London.

"I'm afraid the region is becoming an arms dumping ground," adds Mr. Kokkinides, one of the experts who compiled the information on the Greek and Turkish buildup.

A worrying aspect of both nations' weapons procurement is the wide discrepancies in acquisition figures. …