THE GLOBAL POLITICS

Alternative electronic magazine on globalization of world politics

Dysfunction in the Balkans: Can the post-Yugoslav settlement survive?

The political settlement in the former Yugoslavia is unraveling. In Bosnia, the weakest state in the region, both Serbs and Croats are mounting a concerted challenge to the Dayton peace accords, the delicate set of compromises that hold the country together. In Macedonia, political figures from the large Albanian minority are calling for the federalization of the state along ethnic lines. In Kosovo, the Serb minority is insisting on the creation of a network of self-governing enclaves with effective independence from the central government. In Serbia’s Presevo Valley, Albanians are agitating for greater autonomy. In Montenegro, Albanians have demanded a self-governing entity. And in Kosovo and Albania, where Albanians have their independence, nationalists are pushing for a unified Albanian state.

 It is easy to dismiss all this as simply sound and fury, whipped up by opportunistic politicians. But it would be a mistake to ignore the will of the electorates, which have persistently shown their dissatisfaction with the multiethnic status quo and are demanding change. The choice facing Western policymakers is either to recognize the legitimacy of these demands and radically change their approach or to continue with the current policy and risk renewed conflict.

A beautiful idea

When Yugoslavia collapsed at the start of 1990s, there was nothing predetermined about what followed. One possibility was the emergence of nation-states, comparable to those elsewhere in Europe; another was multiethnic states based on internal administrative boundaries. In the end, the West determined the nature of the post-Yugoslav settlement by recognizing the independence of the old Yugoslav republics within their existing borders. In doing so, they were guided not only by a belief that this would promote justice and security but also by an ideological conviction that nationalism was the source of instability in Europe. Multiethnicity was seen as a viable, even desirable, organizing principle.

Unfortunately, this decision cut across the most basic interests of the emerging minority groups, which saw themselves condemned to second-class status in someone else’s state. In the 1990s, many took up arms to try to secure formal separation. Subsequently, wherever this failed, minorities have struggled to secure as much autonomy as possible within their adoptive states. Given the resistance of majority groups to the fragmentation of their polities, these attempts at separation have built tension into the very nervous system of the region’s various multiethnic states.

As a result, the West has been compelled for the last two decades to enforce the settlement it imposed on the former Yugoslavia, deploying UN-run civilian missions and NATO troops as regional policemen. At first, Washington took the lead, but after the United States downgraded its presence in the Balkans over the last decade, primary responsibility for upholding the post-Yugoslav settlement passed to the European Union. In doing so, the EU substituted the hard power of the U.S. military for the soft power of enlargement. Its assumption was that the very act of preparing for EU membership would transform poor authoritarian states into the kinds of prosperous, democratic, law-bound polities in which disaffected minorities would be content to live.

For a short while toward the end of the last decade, the policy appeared to be working. However, the disquiet of minorities eventually made it clear that the EU’s approach could not resolve the problems created by multiethnicity. Its central misconception was that minorities would give higher priority to political and economic reform than to grievances about territory and security, which would no longer matter after joining the EU. All this made sense to Europeans living in their post-historical paradise but did not hold water for minorities situated in the Hobbesian realm of the Balkans, unable to secure even their most primary needs—their security, rights, and prosperity.

Instead, issues of governance and the economy, and even more peripheral concerns such as education and the environment, were pushed to the margins as political institutions became gridlocked by intractable questions about territory, identity, and the balance between central and regional power. Day-to-day, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia were mired in political dysfunction, economic stagnation, and institutional corruption, even as their more homogenous neighbors, such as Albania, Croatia, and even Serbia, began to prosper.

The policy is further complicated by the Euroskepticism now sweeping across Europe, which threatens any remaining hope that integration could lead to stabilization. A Eurobarometer poll last year suggested that only 39 percent of EU citizens favor enlargement and 49 percent oppose it. Earlier this year, voters in the Netherlands decided in a referendum to block Ukraine’s integration with the EU; it was, in effect, a vote against enlargement. Previous governments in both Austria and France have also pledged to condition future enlargement upon a national referendum.

As a result, the process of enlargement has stalled. Thirteen years after its launch at a summit in Thessaloniki, four of the six non-EU states in the region have yet to open negotiations on EU membership. Serbia has only tentatively begun, and Montenegro, the region’s most advanced state, has only provisionally closed two of the 35 negotiating chapters, four years after starting. (By contrast, the central European countries completed the entire negotiating process within the same time frame.)

To complicate matters, Russia is using its influence to frustrate the process of integration, encouraging unhappy minorities such as the Bosnian Serbs to escalate their demands for separatism and threatening the pro-integration government in Montenegro. Turkey is nurturing the support of disaffected Muslims such as Bosniaks and Macedonian Albanians. And China is enthusiastically providing governments across the region with no-strings funding for investment in infrastructure, undermining the West’s attempts to promote conditions-based internal reform.

The debate on the Balkans has been dominated for far too long by Western diplomats and academics who deny what is obvious to almost everyone on the ground: that multiethnicity in the region is a beautiful idea and a miserable reality.

Almost every state has recently experienced serious unrest as people lose faith in the power of the EU to deliver them from their current state of hopelessness, poverty, and corruption. Adding to these tensions, minorities are trying to take control of their destiny by demanding the right to a separate territory in countries where the central government inevitably prioritizes the interests of the majority group. This combination of factors is already destabilizing the Balkans and, in turn, threatening to undermine the post-Yugoslav settlement.

For the moment, the EU’s ability to preserve the status quo in the Balkans is not completely spent because of its collective veto on border changes in the region. Meanwhile, Brussels is continuing to squeeze every last bit of leverage out of its policy of integration. In the last couple of years, it has pushed all the region’s laggards—Albania, Bosnia, and Kosovo—one step closer to membership.

But the EU is still struggling mightily to impose its authority. European diplomats were unable to resolve a two-year political crisis in Macedonia that began when the governing parties, which just won early elections, were implicated in wiretapped recordings revealing gross corruption and outright criminality. The EU also failed to conclude an agreement to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo. (In fact, relations between the two governments are deteriorating.) Perhaps most serious, Bosnia’s Republika Srpska proceeded with a controversial referendum in October, despite EU protestations, about retaining its national day holiday, which Bosnia’s highest court found discriminatory against non-Serbs and which Western diplomats said violated the Dayton constitution that holds Bosnia together. The EU’s subsequent inability to punish Bosnian Serb leaders through sanctions could embolden them to organize an independence referendum.

A miserable reality

What happens next, of course, is a matter of speculation. In all probability, the post-Yugoslav settlement will continue to hold in law. But separatist groups can easily gain a kind of functional independence by repudiating the authority of the central government and then waiting for more opportune circumstances, such as the collapse of the EU, to formalize this separation. Left unchecked, the situation risks sliding toward renewed conflict as majority populations fight to maintain the integrity of their states.

If this is the danger, then how should policymakers respond? The key consideration is that the existing policy of stabilization through integration, to the extent that it ever worked, has fully run its course, given the effective end of EU enlargement. By laboring onward with an obsolete policy that relies on an elusive reward, and without any sanctions for noncompliance, the West is handing the power of initiative to local revisionists and their external sponsors, Russia and Turkey, which are pursuing self-interested policies that cut across the West’s objectives.

Some argue that the existing policy could be made to work if only Brussels tried a bit harder, backing up its pledge of EU membership with greater efforts to promote regional cooperation, democracy, transparency, economic development, and so on. However, this is wishful thinking. The promise of EU membership is broken, and every one of these initiatives has been tried in spades for the last 20 years.

Others, especially majority groups on the ground, argue that Europe should get tough with politicians who advocate separatism, as Washington did in the past. This might work if Europe were willing to intervene in the region indefinitely. But the political context has changed radically over the last decade. No one wants another civilian mission, and threatening a group such as the Bosnian Serbs would simply drive it into Russia’s open arms.

A radical new approach is therefore required that forges a durable peace by addressing the underlying source of instability in the Balkans: the mismatch of political and national boundaries. The two-decade experiment in multiethnicity has failed. If the West is to stay true to its long-standing goal of preserving peace in the Balkans, then the moment has come to put pragmatism before idealism and plan for a graduated transition to properly constituted nation-states whose populations can satisfy their most basic political interests.

Given the divisions in Europe, the United States needs to step up and take control of the process. In the short term, Washington should support the internal fragmentation of multiethnic states where minorities demand it—for example, by accepting the Albanians’ bid for the federalization of Macedonia and the Croats’ demand for a third entity in Bosnia. In the medium term, the United States should allow these various territories to form close political and economic links with their larger neighbors, such as allowing dual citizenship and establishing shared institutions, while formally remaining a part of their existing state.

In the final phase, these territories could break from their existing states and unite with their mother country, perhaps initially as autonomous regions. A Croat entity in Bosnia would merge with Croatia; Republika Srpska and the north of Kosovo with Serbia; and the Presevo Valley, western Macedonia, and most of Kosovo with Albania. Meanwhile, Montenegro, which may lose its small Albanian enclaves, could either stay independent or coalesce with an expanded Serbia. In pursuing this plan, the United States would not be breaking new ground but simply reviving the Wilsonian vision of a Europe comprising self-governing nations—but for the one part of the continent where this vision has never been applied.

Inevitably, there would be difficulties and risks, although not as serious as those inherent in the existing failed policy approach. Serbia would have to let go of Kosovo, minus the north, but the compensation would be the realization of a Serbian nation-state in the territory where Serbs predominate. Albanians would similarly have to give up northern Kosovo. More problematic, Bosniaks and Macedonians would need to accept the loss of territory to which they are sentimentally attached and without any significant territorial compensation.

In truth, this would simply be a formalization of the existing reality. But the United States and Europe would need to smooth the transition by investing heavily in their economic development and by involving a range of international partners—including Turkey, Russia, and the key regional states of Albania, Croatia, and Serbia—to commit to their security. During a transitional period, Washington and others may also have to deploy peacekeepers to uphold the borders of the expanded Albanian, Croatian, and Serbian states.

But this would be only a temporary commitment, in contrast with the current deployment needed to uphold an illegitimate status quo—4,300 troops in Kosovo, including around 600 from the United States, and another 600 troops in Bosnia. Ultimately, it is easier to enforce a separation than a reluctant cohabitation.

These suggestions may shock those who are heavily invested in the current policy of multiethnicity. But the debate on the Balkans has been dominated for far too long by Western diplomats and academics who deny what is obvious to almost everyone on the ground: that multiethnicity in the region is a beautiful idea and a miserable reality.

There is no question that undoing the existing settlement would be complicated. However, a managed process of separating groups with divergent national interests, rather than forcible coexistence for the sake of an abstract ideological goal, would eliminate the most serious risk facing the region—namely, uncontrolled disintegration and renewed conflict. It would also give places such as Bosnia and Kosovo a better chance of developing in the longer term. This is eminently preferable to the status quo.

After many wasted years, the West must have the confidence to embrace a new approach that cuts through hardened assumptions. For the new administration, there is now an unprecedented opportunity to rethink a policy that has been flawed since its very inception. In a final act of service to the Balkans, the United States should finish the job it started so long ago, this time once and for all.


2016-12-22

By Timothy Less

Source: NSPM

Save 

RELATED POSTS
Kosovo: Key Dates In The Century Long Goal To Create Greater Albania
Key facts about Kosovo’s Islamic Albanian minority of Serbia and the century long drive by Islamic extremists to exterminate Kosovo Serbs from that region: 1389—Muslims defeat Christian Serb defenders in Kosovo, depopulate the area and invite mountain tribe of Albanians, in exchange for converting to Islam, to take over pillaged land from Serbs. 1594—Sinan Pasha, an ethnic Albanian, who was a commander in the Ottoman Turkish Empire, burned the relics of St. Sava at Vracar, Belgrade. St. Sava is the Saint that brought Serbs into Christianity. 1878—Albanian nationalist leaders meet in Prizren, known as the First League of Prizren, to announce the creation ...
READ MORE
The European Union, Moral Hypocrisy, and Stroking Tension in the Balkans
Over the past several years, analysts and commentators have noticed a rising tide of domestic support for the Croatian homegrown Nazi movement of the Second World War, the Ustashe, which actively exterminated Serbs, Jews, and Roma in the territory it controlled from 1941-45. Far from condemning this alarming development, the Croatian government, the European Union, and non-state actors within it have tacitly and actively supported the rising tide of sympathy towards the Ustashe. This disconnect between the ostensible “European values” of human rights and tolerance that the European Union claims to represent, and its tacit support of trends towards extremist politics ...
READ MORE
The Role of the Catholic Church in Yugoslavia’s Holocaust
Adolf Hitler and Ante Pavelić. Not many people know about the Ustaše and its leader, Ante Pavelić. Before 1941, the organization was a radical fascist terrorist group. But when Axis powers invaded, it was given control of Croatia by the Nazis. They shared Hitler’s goal of ethnic cleansing During the Second World War in Yugoslavia, Catholic priests and Muslim clerics were willing accomplices in the genocide of the nation’s Serbian, Jewish and Roma population. From 1941 until 1945, the Nazi-installed regime of Ante Pavelic in Croatia carried out some of the most horrific crimes of the Holocaust (known as the Porajmos ...
READ MORE
Can You Imagine? Readers Оn Еx-Yugoslavia
March Pogrom 2004 Book and Photo Evidence KOSOVSKA GOLGOTA Intervju 1988 20 Principal Misconceptions on Kosovo Issue The Srebrenica Massacre Evidence Context Politics Edward S Herman Phillip Corwin Kosovo Murky Reality Lista Diane Budisavljevic 1941 Do 1945 by Владислав Б. Сотировић/Vladislav B. Sotirović Josip Broz Tito Bez Maske! by Владислав Б. Сотировић/Vladislav B. Sotirović Hayden Mass Killings and Images of Genocide in Bosnia by Sanimideg CAN YOU IMAGINE?/МОЖЕТЕ ЛИ ДА ЗАМИСЛИТЕ? (Ex-Yugoslavia)
READ MORE
Kosovo: Hillary Clinton’s Legacy Of Terror
Kosovo is Clinton Country: a 10-foot-high statue of Bill overlooks “Bill Clinton Boulevard” in the capital city of Pristina. Hillary is also memorialized in what has become the crime capital of Europe: right off the street named for her husband is a store named “Hillary,” featuring women’s clothing modeled after the putative Democratic party nominee for President. Pantsuits figure prominently. As Vice puts it: “While former President Bill Clinton has had a boulevard named after him, it’s without a doubt that his wife’s the real star out here.” Why is that? As Gail Sheehy pointed out in her biography of Hillary, ...
READ MORE
Countries Destroyed By Hillary Clinton
In an email sent to his business partner and Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Leeds, former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote of Hillary Clinton, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State during Barack Obama’s first term was an unmitigated disaster for many nations around the world. Neither the Donald Trump campaign nor the corporate media have adequately described how a number of countries around the world suffered horribly from Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy decisions. Millions of people were adversely harmed by Clinton’s misguided policies and her “play-to-pay” operations involving favors in return for donations ...
READ MORE
The Pan-Slavism and Tsarist Russia’s Balkan policy
The Balkan Peninsula together with the region of the South-East Europe historically have been one of the most important focal points of the Russian foreign policy, cultural influences and attempts to spread ideology of the Orthodox solidarity and the Slavic reciprocity.[1] These ideas are common to almost all trends of the Russian public life in the past and today. After Russia lost the Great Crimean War of 1853–1856 she intensified its cultural influence in the region of the South-East Europe for the purposes of beating the Habsburg (the Roman-Catholic) rivalry and to spread an idea of the Pan-Slavism in this part ...
READ MORE
2791603 02/15/2016 Old Town destruction in Aleppo. This 12th-16th-century set of buildings was included into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986. Michael Alaeddin/Sputnik via AP
Recently, the West and the Middle East pundits and analysts have been trying to analyze the provisions of the new draft constitution proposed by the Russian side as a solution to the Syrian conflict. Naturally, analyzing the provisions, any of the sides involved in the conflict is trying to present itself as the legitimate government. That raises the question of whether to adopt such a draft or not, because a newly appointed government would have to comply with a new constitution. Not surprisingly, not only the moderate opposition and illegal armed groups, but the official Syrian authorities as well subject the ...
READ MORE
The U.S. friendly dictators
Many of the world’s most repressive dictators have been friends of America. Tyrants, torturers, killers, and sundry dictators and corrupt puppet-presidents have been aided, supported, and rewarded handsomely for their loyalty to US interests. Traditional dictators seize control through force, while constitutional dictators hold office through voting fraud or severely restricted elections, and are frequently puppets and apologists for the military juntas which control the ballot boxes. In any case, none have been democratically elected by the majority of their people in fair and open elections. They are democratic America’s undemocratic allies. They may rise to power through bloody ClA-backed coups ...
READ MORE
On target: Ukraine could learn from Kosovo’s troubles
There was an interesting announcement recently that went almost entirely unnoticed in the Canadian media. On June 17, Peter Szijjarto, foreign minister of Hungary’s centre-right government, made the startling declaration that his national security forces will erect a four-metre wall along the entire 175 kilometres of shared border with Serbia. Szijjarto’s rationale for resorting to such a drastic measure results from a months-long flood of asylum seekers pouring into southern Hungary. While tens of thousands of these desperate illegal immigrants have been caught, detained and returned into Serbia, the vast majority have used the processing time for their asylum applications to simply ...
READ MORE
Documentary Movies About Kosovo
Rachak Village in Kosovo 1999- Lies and the truth from Vladislav B. Sotirovic on Vimeo. Лажи и истине о случају села Рачак на Косову и Метохији у јануару 1999. г. 1. Albanian lies on Kosovo truth in 1998-1999: Western TV documentary material from Vladislav B. Sotirovic on Vimeo. 1. Шиптарски лажови/Albanian lies on Kosovo truth. All copyrights reserved. First part 2. Albanian lies on Kosovo truth in 1998-1999: Western TV documentary material from Vladislav B. Sotirovic on Vimeo. Шиптарски лажови/Albanian lies on Kosovo truth. All copyrights reserved. Second part Vladislav B. Sotirovic on Kosovo, Lithuanian national TV (LTV), 2008 from Vladislav B. Sotirovic on Vimeo. Vladislav B. ...
READ MORE
Donald Trump On Kosovo In 1999
When I saw the media in Serbia reporting about Donald Trump’s alleged condemnation of the 1999 NATO attack on then-Yugoslavia, also known as the Kosovo War, I shrugged it off as disinformation. Most of them, I’m sad to say, are almost entirely dedicated to gaslighting the general populace, and as likely to spread confusion and cognitive dissonance as actual news. It turns out that Donald Trump did talk to Larry King about Kosovo – but everyone is leaving out that this took place in October 1999. That is sort of important, though: by that point, the Serbian province had been “liberated” ...
READ MORE
New Strategic Calculus For The Balkans
The Balkans have returned to the forefront of European geopolitics as a result of the New Cold War, with the US and Russia facing off in a proxy war over the planned Balkan Stream pipeline through the region. The geopolitical circumstances have evolved since the 1990s, when all of the former Yugoslavia was lumped together as the Western Balkans. In order to accommodate for the changing strategic reality in the region, it’s necessary to carve the Central Balkans out of the idea of the former, and the new division of the Balkans into Western, Central, and Eastern regions simplifies the ...
READ MORE
Kosovo history – Third part
For the Serbs as Christians, their loss of state independence and fall to the Ottoman Empire’s kind of theocratic state, was a terrible misfortune. With the advent of the Turks and establishment of their rule, the lands of Serbs were forcibly excluded from the circle of progressive European states wherein they occupied a prominent place precisely owing to the Byzantine civilization, which was enhanced by local qualities and strong influences of the neighboring Mediterranean states. Being Christians, the Serbs became second-class citizens in Islamic state. Apart from religious discrimination, which was evident in all spheres of everyday life, this status ...
READ MORE
Why Kosovo is ineligible for membership in UNESCO?
Because the request for its membership is a serious breach of the international law, the Constitution of UNESCO, the legally binding UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the Charter of the UN whose Article 25 says that „The Members of the UN agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter”. Because according to the UN Security Council resolution 1244, which reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of the Republic of Serbia, under the administration of ...
READ MORE
Russia’s Balkan Politics: From the Politics of Pan-Slavic Reciprocity of the Tsarist Russia to the “Realpolitic” of the Republic of Gazprom Russia
Abstract: This article investigates the Russian foreign politics at the region of the Balkan Peninsula after the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the time of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) World Order in relation to the Pan-Slavic ideals of intra-Slavic solidarity, reciprocity and brotherhood. The particular stresses are put on four main research topics: 1. The Pan-Slavism and Russia; 2. Relations between pro-Western and pro-Orthodox approaches of the Russian national interests on Russia’s domestic political scene; 3. Different attitudes towards the Balkans in Russia; and 4. Historical ties and future perspectives between Russia and the Serbs. A research ...
READ MORE
Confession Of A CIA Agent: They Gave Us Millions To Dismember Yugoslavia
Confession of a CIA Agent: They gave us millions to dismember Yugoslavia November 26, 2015 We bribed parties and politicians who have enticed hate between the nations. Our ultimate goal was to enslave you! WebTribune publishes their interview with former CIA agent Robert Baer during his promotion tour in Quebec for upcoming book “Secrets of the White House” last week. My boss, who was formerly a US Senator, stressed repeatedly that some kind of scam would go down in Bosnia. A month before the alleged genocide in Srebrenica, he told me that the town would be headline news around the world and ordered us ...
READ MORE
The Quisling Of Belgrade
Tributes to Zoran Djindjic, the assassinated prime minister of Serbia, have been pouring in. President Bush led the way, praising his “strong leadership”, while the Canadian government’s spokesman extolled a “heralder of democracy” and Tony Blair spoke of the energy Djindjic had devoted to “reforming Serbia”. In western newspaper obituaries Djindjic has been almost universally acclaimed as an ex-student agititator who bravely led a popular uprising against a tyrannical dictator and endeavoured to steer his country into a new democratic era. But beyond the CNN version of world history, the career of Zoran Djindjic looks rather different. Those who rail against the ...
READ MORE
Déjà Vu in the Balkans
An eerily familiar sense of regional unease has crept over all the former republics of Yugoslavia. Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar echoed the Balkan zeitgeist when he warned at a press conference this week that: “If the migrant crisis is not adequately controlled as agreed at the summit in Brussels there is a possibility of conflict situations between the states of the Western Balkans. It is possible that a small conflict would initiate a wider reaction because of the very difficult recent history (of the region), which is why it is very important that we solve this crisis together as no country can solve this problem by itself.” It seems like everybody knows that ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: Key Dates In The Century Long Goal To Create Greater Albania
The European Union, Moral Hypocrisy, and Stroking Tension in the Balkans
The Role of the Catholic Church in Yugoslavia’s Holocaust
Can You Imagine? Readers Оn Еx-Yugoslavia
Kosovo: Hillary Clinton’s Legacy Of Terror
Countries Destroyed By Hillary Clinton
The Pan-Slavism and Tsarist Russia’s Balkan policy
Edward S. Herman (ed.), The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (PDF Book)
The future of Syria is in your hands
The U.S. friendly dictators
On target: Ukraine could learn from Kosovo’s troubles
Documentary Movies About Kosovo
Donald Trump On Kosovo In 1999
New Strategic Calculus For The Balkans
Kosovo history – Third part
Why Kosovo is ineligible for membership in UNESCO?
Russia’s Balkan Politics: From the Politics of Pan-Slavic Reciprocity of the Tsarist Russia to the “Realpolitic” of the Republic of Gazprom Russia
Confession Of A CIA Agent: They Gave Us Millions To Dismember Yugoslavia
The Quisling Of Belgrade
Déjà Vu in the Balkans

Share

Categories: Yugoslavia

Tags: , ,

www.global-politics.eu

  • EMAIL
  • FACEBOOK
  • TWITTER
  • SHARE
  • YOUTUBE
  • PINTEREST
  • LINKEDIN