Milomir Stepić, PhD is the Research Fellow of the Institute for Political Studies, member of the editorial boards of the journals Nacionalni interes (National Interest) and Srpska politička misao (Serbian Political Thought, edition in Serbian). An eminent Serbian geopolitician, he is also on-call lecturer at the Faculty of Political Sciences, Faculty of Economics, Military Academy and Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Author of a series of ethnic maps of the Yugoslav space and one of the initiators of the Research Project: “Serb Ethnic Space”. Member of the Serbian Geographic Society, Committee for Population Studies of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the editorial board of the journal: Kosovsko-metohijski zbornik (Kosovo-Metohija Almanac). In his rich opus as researcher and author, particularly salient are his books: “Srpsko pitanje-geopolitičko pitanje“ (Serbian Question-Geopolitical Question) (Jantar-grupa, 2004); „Kosovo and Metohija: postmoderni geopolitički eksperiment“ (Kosovo and Metohija: postmodern geopolitical experiment) (Institute for Political Studies, 2012) and his capital work „Geopolitika – ideje, teorije, koncepcije“ (Geopolitics - ideas, theories, concepts) (Institute for Political Studies, 2016)
Geopolitical and Geoeconomical Causes of the First World War
Although the whole century has gone since the First World War, the immediate cause and reasons for its beginning has been again in the centre, not so much of scientific objective research, but in the centre of contemporary, political changeable relativized research of those who were challengers and those who were induced. In the order of that aim are the efforts to rename the Sarajevo assassination, which is undoubtedly determined as the direct cause of the War, into its reason, which essence is much more complex. The real reason for the beginning of the First World War should be looked for in the confrontation of the great European and world powers – the process which had lasted at least half century before the War actually began. Basically there is an expansionism of two complementary Central European countries: the Austro Hungarian Empire and Germany. The Austro Hungarian Empire, in which the Slavs were majority, had been trying to strengthen the ethnical-political cohesion within its boundaries, while the foreign political aim was to penetrate to the Aegean port Salonika at the eastern Mediterranean. Serbia had been perceived as “disruptive factor”, especially after the expansion achieved in the Balkan’s wars. Germany, since it had united only in the second half of the XIX century, has been unsatisfied with the established colonial division of the world. It couldn’t be a concurrent to France, Great Britain and Russia such territorially squeezed in the Central Europe. Because of that, Germany had decided to take “Drang nach Osten” as its geopolitical and geoeconomical orientation (“The Bagdad Idea”). The realization of this plan would represent the continental competition to the Great Britain marine “The Big Imperial Way” and the cutting the Britain imperia into two parts. In that context, Serbia was identified as “The Gatekeeper of the Orient” to the British, and to the Germans was the only obstacle on its “strategic diagonal” from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf. Preparing for the War, the great powers, in accordance with their own geopolitical and geoeconomical interests, included small countries in their military alliances, which they formed many years before the 1914.
Belgrade Confluence: Geographical Predispositions and Geopolitical Significance
Geotectonic descent along the Sava fault caused the obliquity of the Pannonian Basin to the southeast, and consequently, the orientation of more river flows towards that zone. At its centre is Belgrade, the place of confluence of the Sava and Danube, and the focal point of a wider area where even more of their important tributaries flow in, the Drina, Kolubara, Morava, Mlava, Tamiš, Tisa, Begej ... Along their river valleys the communications have been routed, linking the Central European Pannonian, Carpatho-Balkan, Vardar-Aegean and the Dinaric-Adriatic entities, and flow into the Belgrade region. The same directions have routed the continuous migration flows, civilization contacts and economic trends. Thus, the area of the Belgrade confluence have become a zone of multidimensional concentration of - population, settlements, roads, economy, trade, education, culture, political power. The Belgrade confluence area is characterized by distinctive geopoliticality because it is located at the contact of large strategic entities and hub of key strategic vectors. Traditionally, the primate had a northwest-southeast direction, which, at the same time, barraged a competitive northeast-southwest direction. The valleys of the Danube, Sava and Velika Morava are the primary „axis“ of these directions and their geopolitical functionis complemented by secondary passages, which also gravitate toward the southeastern of the Pannonian rim and Belgrade (Tisa, Drina, Kolubara ...). It is the geographical basis of forming the Balkan geopolitical hub – the historically continuous crossing of interests of the great powers. Therefore, the area of the Belgrade confluence has always been the subject of struggle for military-political-economic control. Along the Danube-Sava axis, there was a long fluctuation of the imperial transgresion-regression frontier, but there was also formed a central territory with the capital of the restored Serbia. Will the area of the Belgrade confluence remain the centre of the Serbian state and southeast of Europe or will again turn into a postmodern limes-split periphery of refeudalized Europe – this will be a key issue of its geopolitical future.