Mile Bjelajac

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Institute for Recent History of Serbia



This paper within its limited length encompasses only basic framework for the understanding of this historically and currently well-known region. Writing and rewriting of its history is daily on agenda not only for the scholars, but think-tanks and politicians alike. Western approaches to the Balkans are not often scholarly. As some pointed out, we usually cope rather with the perceptions than profound, complex and above all comparative analyses. The latter ones would suggest that Balkan and its misfortunes are not something unique in the Europe or in the global history. The fragmentation, civil wars and violence have been part of the history of many other countries. Certainly, the Empires that dominated the region, were not only factor of stability, coexistence of different peoples, religions and customs but also factor of decline in economic prosperity, modernization, education, security at the time of their demise. The Balkans as we demonstrate in brief historical survey was the border land of the Empires but also of the religions. In spite of its local centers, small capitals, the area never had its own big center, actually the Balkans have had three, or nowadays more external capitals: Constantinople (Istanbul), Vienna, Venezia, Rome, Paris, Washington, Berlin, Moscow. They succeeded each other from the past to the present, and usually overlapped. These overlapping have caused frictions on the ground, even war crisis and mistrust among small Balkan states in modern times. From the experience of not only Serbian 19th century politicians, they confront interference of the Great Powers in the Balkans by slogan “Balkans to the Balkan nations”. That is to say to find common ground of basic interests for peace and prosperity and whereby the union enough strong for deterrence. Yugoslavia as the legacy of the Serbian victory in 1918 and as the part of antifascist coalition at the end of WW II, embraced policy of peaceful coexistence and stability in the region for the almost seventy years. The dissolution or destruction of Yugoslavia, renewed “Eastern Question”, that is to say combat for the legacy of valuable region in terms of geopolitical importance and natural sources. All those emerging, greedy interests were carefully wrapped into sound, humanitarian and democratic seeking slogans. Not only extremely superior military power and doctrine demonstrated in Iraq 1991, but also exploit of the new phenomena- global (controlled) media, enabled pressure on small countries or different parties in conflict to obey what powers wanted. Those who created new world order after collapse of Soviet Union wanted firm dominance and control of the region, as well as boot on the ground. New emerging powers like Germany and Turkey, wanted they share to prove themselves as the great powers too. Both strongly interfered in the different phases of Yugoslav crisis and wars for succession. Russia and China became new players after the years of absences from the region. European Union did not show consistency and applied rather partial approach. It was due to disagreements within Union itself but also due to interference of U.S.A. EU has its own problems in economic transition, refugee and protracted economic crisis. EU countries felt boomerang impact from the sanctions imposed to Russia. All that could not contribute positively to further integration of the whole the Balkans into the Union. By applying recommended double standards, tricks and military force (see Robert Francis Cooper, The Breaking of Nations) against failed (or even rogue) states, there would be no permanent stability in this region but insecurity, corruption, quasi-democracy, oligarchs on one side and poverty on the other.