Understanding Balkan Geopolitics

Hits: 572

In his latest interview for Serbia’s National Public Service Radio, Srdja Trifkovic discusses the geopolitical significance of the Balkan Peninsula, through the centuries, in the context of today’s complex strategic equation in Southeastern Europe.

Q: The Balkan Peninsula is an area where empires, cultures and religions have clashed for centuries. For starters, can we define the geostrategic significance of the Balkans, or at least to outline some of its permanent features?

ST: Those permanent features are primarily geographic. The peninsula is the land bridge between Central Europe and the Middle East. At the same time, it is the point of encounter and conflict between various cultures, civilizations and religions. This had been a constant feature of the region even before the division of the Roman Empire [into its eastern and western domains] in the fourth century AD, which was an event of meta-historical importance.

A key feature of the Balkans is that for the greatest part of their history the peoples inhabiting the peninsula have not been the masters of their destinies. The matrix of geopolitical vectors: the Byzantines’ attempt to protect the border on the Danube from the incursions of Goths, Bulgars, Avars, Slavs, and others in the early medieval era, which ended in the late medieval times the fall of Constantinople, Bulgaria and Serbia to the Ottomans. This was followed by the creation of the Hungarian line of defense against the Turks. After the fall of Hungary [in 1526], it was immediately followed by the Habsburgs’ establishment of the Military Frontier in the western heartland of the peninsula in the 16th century.

This has always been an area of chronic conflict and instability. In the modern times it was manifested—as we can say now, 99 years later—in the failed Yugoslav experiment. Yugoslavia was the heartland of what is today known as the “Western Balkans,” in reality the core of the region as a whole. Had unification come about half a century earlier, when Cavour unified Italy in 1859, or when Bismarck unified Germany in 1871, the prognosis could have been more favorable and the outcome less catastrophic. Unfortunately, in the final stages of the Great War, unification based on the linguistic and allegedly racial-ethnic kinship was obsolete. Divergent national identities had been well established. The potential for new conflicts, new destruction and bloodshed, remains undiminished. It is far greater than the potential for cooperation and a happy joint path to some “European” future . . . [ST segment continues at 8 minutes 30 seconds]

A defining moment came with the Crimean War 1853-1856, when Great Britain and France joined the Ottomans against Russia. This was a major development: Russia had been Britain’s ally against Napoleon and had the potential to become Europe’s hegemon after the Congress of Vienna. She had lagged behind [the West European powers]. This war was chiefly a British project. The entire second half of the 19th century was marked by the so-called great game between Britain and Russia, primarily in Central Asia, where the primary British concern was to prevent Russia’s access to the Indian Ocean, potentially through Persia or Baluchistan. Russia’s access to the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus was London’s secondary obsession. Its primary concern was to deny Russia access to a warm ocean. Even if the Russians had succeeded in their long-term design to demolish the four minarets and return the cross to the dome of the Hagia Sophia, they would still be imprisoned in a continental sea controlled by the British at its western entry, Gibraltar, and at its southeastern passage, at Suez.

This “great game” was partially resolved in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish war in 1878. Tzar Alexander II, following Serbia’s underwhelming performance in its own war against the Turks, decided to create a Greater Bulgaria. The peace of San Stefano [between Russia and Turkey, March 1878] envisaged the creation of a huge Bulgarian state, from the walls of Constantinople, across the shores of Thrace which are now part of Greece, to the entire Macedonia, and even the newly liberated parts of Serbia in Leskovac, Vranje and Pirot. This was overturned at the Congress of Berlin [13 June-13 July 1878]. From that moment on, Serbia’s Prince Milan, later King, adopts an austrophile position, having been disappointed in Russia. With the May coup in 1903, however [when the last king of the Obrenovic dynasty was deposed and killed], Serbia was not explicitly “pro-Russian,” but her policy started leaning to St. Petersburg. Even though Serbia was left high and dry [by Russia] during the Annexation Crisis in 1908, she was eager to join the Balkan coalition put together under the Russian patronage in 1912 which resulted in the successful war against the Turks in the First Balkan War.

The alliance fell apart in the second Balkan war, catastrophic for Bulgaria, and a year later came the July crisis of 1914. Here I need to stress that the key actor in that crisis was Germany, not Austria-Hungary. The Dual Monarchy would not have been able to present Serbia with an unacceptable ultimatum, had she not received a cheque blanche from the Wilhelmine Germany. The Germans wanted to use the Austro-Serbian clash as the cause for a preventive war against Russia. They were greatly concerned that Russia, after the war with Japan and the 1905 revolution, embarked on the path of intense modernization under Chancellor Pyotr Stolypin. Her subsequent growth rates were comparable to those of China after Deng Xiaopig. The Balkan dispute between Austria and Serbia was very niftily converted by the Berlin decision-makers into an all-European war, in which Germany would first destroy France in six weeks—in accordance with the Schlieffen Plan—and then turn to the slower-mobilizing Russia. All along, the Balkans were an object of the games played by the outsiders,

Let me recall some pertinent statements by the greatest statesman of the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck, political genius par excellence. At the time of the Congress of Berlin he warned that Germany should not tie her lively frigate to the old Habsburg barge He also said that the whole of the Balkans was not worth the bones of a healthy Pommern Grenadier. Some years after the Kaiser removed him from chancellorship in 1890, he said that he did not know when the new war would come about, but he knew where: “some damn stupidity in the Balkans.” . . . [ST segment continues at 31 minutes 45 seconds]

Q: Russia’s influence in the Balkans appears to be more strongly felt that before, including the projection of her soft power manifested in the presence of Russian-sponsored media and NGOs. How significant is this?

ST: After three trips to Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Crimea this year, and twelve visits to Russia over the past three years, I can say with some certainty that Moscow does not have a coherent strategy in the Balkan region. There are many divergent policies at play. There’s the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is staffed by many people appointed during the tenure of Andrei Kozyrev in the 1990’s, who now occupy senior positions. They are reluctant to make any proactive moves which would further aggravate—as they see it—Russia’s relations with her “Western partners.” On the other side, you have a circle close to the defense minister Sergey Shoygu and Dmitry Rogozin, who advocate a more active role. You also have the oligarchs, who don’t give a hoot for the Serbs as Russia’s “Slavic, Orthodox brothers” but only care where’s the loot. In any event, they feel more at home in Greenwich Village, or London’s Chelsea, than in Moscow or St. Petersburg.

And of course we have Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who is not a superior chess master who plans his five or six moves ahead. He has allowed the “Orange Revolution” to hit him in Ukraine under Yushchenko in 2004, and—a decade later—the sequel, with far more significant geostrategic consequences, at the Maidan. The return of the Crimea, and the possibility of some form of autonomy for the Donbass, is scant comfort for the loss of the strategic depth which Ukraine had provided to Russia’s vulnerable southwestern flank . . .

The potential for further bloody conflicts in the Balkans still remains. I greatly fear that nothing has qualitatively changed in the region, that all of the salient features of the conflict in the 1990’s are still present.


Originally published on 2017-12-11

Source: Chronicles Magazine

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
Islamic State Top Dog from Kosovo Returns to Europe with 400 Jihadis
What could possibly go wrong? Refugees welcome! Not to allow these enemy combatants to return would be “Islamophobic”! “Disguised as refugees and able to cross borders without being identified: ISIS general who blew up a hostage with a rocket and decapitated another prisoner is ‘back in Europe with 400 soldiers’ after fleeing Syria,” by Julian Robinson, MailOnline, December 29, 2016: An ISIS general once pictured decapitating a prisoner is back in Europe with up to 400 of his most trusted soldiers after fleeing the war zone in Syria, it has been claimed. Ex-NATO soldier Lavdrim Muhaxheri and his men are among thousands who ...
READ MORE
Overthrowing Other People’s Governments: The Master List
Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government) China 1949 to early 1960s Albania 1949-53 East Germany 1950s Iran 1953 * Guatemala 1954 * Costa Rica mid-1950s Syria 1956-7 Egypt 1957 Indonesia 1957-8 British Guiana 1953-64 * Iraq 1963 * North Vietnam 1945-73 Cambodia 1955-70 * Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 * Ecuador 1960-63 * Congo 1960 * France 1965 Brazil 1962-64 * Dominican Republic 1963 * Cuba 1959 to present Bolivia 1964 * Indonesia 1965 * Ghana 1966 * Chile 1964-73 * ...
READ MORE
The USA – The Real Reason Why They Are Never Winning Their Wars
This essay is inspired by Professor James Petras’s article, describing that the US never wins wars despite trillions of investments in her war budget and obvious military superiority. Professor Petras is of course right, the United States is currently engaged in seven bloody wars around the globe (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya) and has not been winning one, including WWII. The question is: Why is that? To these wars, you may want to add the totally destructive and human rights adverse war that literally slaughters unarmed civilians, including thousands of children, in an open-air prison, Gaza, the US proxy war ...
READ MORE
The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal Nobody Speaks about!
The negotiations on Brexit are attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the possible erosion of the rights of around three million EU-27 citizens living in Britain is a major cause for concern.The European Parliament resolution adopted on 3 October states that “the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position”.The main author of this text, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the EP Brexit Coordinator, argues that such an approach – not to lower the level of citizens’ rights – is “the goal of democracy”. But why was ...
READ MORE
A Contribution to Biography (C.V.) of Philanthropist George Soros
Many conspiracy theories have been created about Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist George Soros since his rise to economic wealth. Many of them deal with the intersection between his political beliefs and his financial wealth. However, here we present a real truth on who was and is George Soros. What is missing from official George Soros' C.V. by © “Free Media Group” 2017. © “Free Media Group” 2017   Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, ...
READ MORE
Kosovo is not Serbia’s Kurdistan, but Balkan’s IS/Daesh
In the article “Kurdistan – Turkey’s Kosovo” Prof. Sotirović compared different aspects of Turkish Kurdistan case to the Kosovo one, found some parallels and pointed out Turkey’s hypocrisy.While Prof. Sotirović is right in his assessment that Turkey is hypocritical to say at least, he failed to expose the fundamental differences between Kurdistan and Kosovo. His article contains some inaccuracies, misinterpretations and lacks in detail. Such an imprecise comparison may lead a reader who is not familiar with Balkans to acquire a false impression. A reader might come to conclusion that Kosovo Albanians had experienced the same level of suffering and ...
READ MORE
The Real Story of Zbigniew Brzezinski that the Media isn’t Telling
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, died Friday at a hospital in Virginia at the age of 89. Though the New York Times acknowledged that the former government advisor was a “hawkish strategic theorist,” misrepresenting his legacy as one of otherwise infinite positivity may not be as easy as the establishment might like to think.As the United Kingdom plays around with levels of the so-called “terror threat” following a devastating attack by an ISIS-inspired individual — and as the Philippines goes into an almost complete state of martial law following ISIS-inspired destruction — Brzezinski’s timely death ...
READ MORE
Kosovo and the Jihadist Green Corridor in the Balkans
The Green Corridor[1] is a geopolitical concept with two meanings: (a) The Islamists’ goal of creating a contiguous chain of Muslim-dominated polities from Istanbul in the southeast to northwestern Bosnia, a mere 120 miles from Austria [2]; and (b) The process of increasing ethno-religious assertiveness among the Muslim communities along that route. The process entails four key elements: Expanding the area of those communities’ demographic dominance; Establishing and/or expanding various entities under Muslim political control with actual or potential claim to sovereign statehood; Enhancing the dominant community’s Islamic character and identity within those entities, with the parallel decrease of presence and power of non-Muslim groups; and Prompting Muslim communities’ ambitions for ever bolder ...
READ MORE
America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars
I spoke recently at a conference on America’s war party where afterward an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked, “Why doesn’t anyone ever speak honestly about the six-hundred-pound gorilla in the room? Nobody has mentioned Israel in this conference and we all know it’s American Jews with all their money and power who are supporting every war in the Middle East for Netanyahu? Shouldn’t we start calling them out and not letting them get away with it?”It was a question combined with a comment that I have heard many times before and my answer is always the same: ...
READ MORE
How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, ...
READ MORE
Article in Saudi Daily: U.S. Planned, Carried Out 9/11 Attacks – But Blames Others for Them
On the eve of President Obama's April 2016 visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Congress began debating the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), that would, inter alia, allow the families of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue the Saudi government for damages. Also in April 2016, the New York Times published that a 2002 congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks had found that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. The commission's conclusions, said the paper, were specified in a report that has not been released publicly.[1] ...
READ MORE
Stepan Bandera's monument in Buchach, Ukraine with the flag (right) of a neo-Nazi Ukrainian political organization
A Father of NationUkraine is an East European territory which was originally forming a western part of the Russian Empire from the mid-17th century. That is a present-day independent state and the separate ethnolinguistic nation as a typical example of Benedict Anderson’s theory-model of the “imagined community” – a self-constructed idea of the artificial ethnic and linguistic-cultural identity. According to Anderson, the nation is an abstract and firstly subjective social construction that defy simple, objective definition yet has been for the last two centuries the crucial basis of conflict in world politics and international relations, through the assertion of their ...
READ MORE
The Anti-Russian Warmongering
I graduated from the exact same PHD Program at Harvard that produced Kissinger and Brzezinski before me. They gave me Kissinger’s old office at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. I also went through the exact same Soviet/Russian Studies Program at Harvard that produced Brzezinski before me, and passed my PHD Oral/General Examinations in Soviet Politics and Russian History under Adam Ulam and Ned Keenan, respectively. R.I.P. Obama was behind me at Harvard Law School. Brzezinski has been Obama’s mentor and foreign policy guru since Obama’s student days at Columbia. Zbig ran Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign on foreign affairs and defense, and ...
READ MORE
The Untold History of U.S. War Crimes
In this exclusive interview, Prof Peter Kuznick speaks of: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagazaki; US crimes and lies behind the Vietnam war, and what was really behind that inhumane invasion; why the US engaged a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and how that war and the mainstream media influences the world today; the interests behind the assassinations of President Kennedy; US imperialism towards Latin America, during the Cold War and today, under the false premise of War on Terror and War on Drugs.Edu Montesanti: Professor Peter Kuznick, thank you so very much for granting me this interview. In ...
READ MORE
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTER
“Fool me once, shame on you; but fool me twice, shame on me.”Ancient proverb, (sometimes attributed to an Italian, Russian or Chinese proverb) “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Ernst F. Schumacher (1911-1977) (in ‘Small is Beautiful’, an essay, in The Radical Humanist, Aug. 1973, p. 22). “The powers-that-be understand that to create the appropriate atmosphere for war, it’s necessary to create within the general populace a hatred, fear or mistrust of others regardless of whether those others belong ...
READ MORE
The Criminal Actions of the Kiev Regime in East Ukraine
More than 6,400 civilians have been killed and nearly 16,000 injured as result of criminal actions of Kiev regime during the conflict in Donbass, Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin said on Thursday. Also, more than 10,000 residential infrastructure facilities have been fully or partially destroyed and burnt. Since last April, more than 1 million Russian-speaking residents of Lugansk and Donetsk regions had to flee their homes, and more than 110,000 people having a refugee status have applied for the Russian citizenship. The war has been continuing. Ukrainian capital being wrapped in smoke due to a spate of regional ...
READ MORE
100th Anniversary of Australian Beersheba Charge, UK Balfour Declaration & Palestinian Genocide Commencement
There are 3 Apartheid Israel-related centenaries this week, namely (1) the victorious 31 October 1917 charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba that led to conquest of Palestine by Britain and massive famine, (2) the nefarious and racist UK Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917  that gave Palestine to Zionists as a Jewish Homeland as an inducement to help keep Russia in WW1, and (3) commencement of the Palestine Genocide (2 million Palestinian deaths from violence, 0.1 million, or imposed deprivation, 1.9 million, since WW1). History ignored yields history repeated and genocide ignored yields genocide repeated [1]. Anniversaries are useful ...
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
Jamala’s 1944: Song for Nazi Tatars
In April-May of 1944, the Crimean Tatar battalions took part in battles against the Red Army in the Crimea. The units that were evacuated from the Crimea in June 1944, were compiled into the Tatar mountain-Jaeger three-battalion SS Regiment. A month later, the group became the first Tatar-mountain-Jaeger SS Brigade (2,500 troops) under the command of SS Standartenführer Fortenbah. On 31 December 1944, the unit was disbanded to become a part of the East Turkic branch of SS as the Crimea battle group: two infantry battalions and one hundred horses.German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein testified: "Most of the Crimean ...
READ MORE
Bosnia-Herzegovina ISIS in the 1990s
Video documentary movie on the first ISIS in Europe in Islamic Caliphate of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992-1995. This movie is made by the British SKY NEWS after the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Similar documentary movies on the ISIS Bosnia-Herzegovina made by the Bosnian Serbs were never shown to the western audience. Duration of the movie is 8 min. and 17 sec. In the movie are presented and future Al-Qaeda Mujahedeen holy fighters. From the movie is clear what was a real nature of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s. All copyrights reserved by the SKY NEWS. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask ...
READ MORE
Islamic State Top Dog from Kosovo Returns to Europe with 400 Jihadis
Overthrowing Other People’s Governments: The Master List
The USA – The Real Reason Why They Are Never Winning Their Wars
The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal Nobody Speaks about!
A Contribution to Biography (C.V.) of Philanthropist George Soros
Kosovo is not Serbia’s Kurdistan, but Balkan’s IS/Daesh
The Real Story of Zbigniew Brzezinski that the Media isn’t Telling
Kosovo and the Jihadist Green Corridor in the Balkans
America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars
How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen
Article in Saudi Daily: U.S. Planned, Carried Out 9/11 Attacks – But Blames Others for Them
Who are the Ukrainians?
The Anti-Russian Warmongering
The Untold History of U.S. War Crimes
False Flags and the Trump Administration
The Criminal Actions of the Kiev Regime in East Ukraine
100th Anniversary of Australian Beersheba Charge, UK Balfour Declaration & Palestinian Genocide Commencement
Déjà Vu in the Balkans
Jamala’s 1944: Song for Nazi Tatars
Bosnia-Herzegovina ISIS in the 1990s
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu