Balkanization now !
June 26, 2006
BRUSSELS - An old saying in
Montenegro used to say "Crna Gora i Srbija - to je jedna
familija" ("Montenegro and Serbia - one family"). Today,
pro-independence graffiti in Montenegro read "Crna i Gora
i Baskija - to je jedna familija" ("Montenegro and the
Basque Country - one family").
With Montenegro independent, the
process of the Europe's balkanization of the Balkans will
have scored one more point.
Some say it also paved a chance for
many independence-hopefuls around Europe, be it in
Catalonia, the Basque Country or Scotland, which have
sent their observer missions to Podgorica to monitor the
mechanics of intra-state divorce.
It might be contrary to the logic
of European integration and the equation mark between the
European Union and "borderless Europe", but it is real
and it is happening in 2006, just a few weeks before the
June summit on "the future of Europe".
As far as enlargement is concerned,
EU leaders should answer the question: "Does a European
future imply further balkanization of the Balkans?" or
"Do the Balkans have to choose a nationalistic past in
order to pave their way to their European
If the answer is yes, EU finance
ministers should start planning a budget for more crisis
management and Balkan nations should start digging out
marching songs cds back from the basement.
If not, the "balkanization of the
Balkans" must end. Now!
It must end now, because
Montenegrin independence at least had a legal basis.
Under the findings of the 1991-92 Badinter Commission on
the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, all six
Yugoslav republics - and only republics not provinces --
had the legal right to become independent.
After Slovenia, Croatia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, Montenegro is the last
former Yugoslav republic to seize the
independence for Kosovo may open a Pandora Box of
It means that Kosovo, a province of
Serbia, does not have the right to secession. Indeed, an
independence of Kosovo - against the will of Serbia - can
only be illegal, one-sided and imposed.
As such, an independent Kosovo
would be the real, universal opener of the Pandora box of
According to the UNDP, there are
some 5,000 different ethnic groups living in some 200
countries in the world. According to the figures of the
study "Minorities at risk", some 509 ethnic groups in the
world consider themselves as politically discriminated
and want autonomies or states.
All separatist or
independence-seeking movements in the world already have
their eyes set on the resolution of the Kosovo talks,
especially since most of them have suffered much more
tragic conflicts and have waited for the solution to
their problems much longer than has the southern Serbian
province, populated by an Albanian majority.
Indeed, a Kosovo precedent would
have world ramifications.
It could impact on the tense
relations between two nuclear powers - India and Pakistan
- disputing Kashmir, a region very much like Kosovo in
terms of ethnic proportions, violence or religious
It could have an impact on the
world's largest country - Russia - with Transdniestria in
Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia seeking to
integrate it and Chechnya seeking to separate.
The world's most populous country -
China - could face separatism in Xinjiang, not forgetting
Taiwan and Tibet.
Eternal pragmatists should think
about the impact of imposed independence on some of the
world's most important pipelines - winding their way
through disputed territories around Georgia,
Nagorno-Karabakh or a Kurdistan.
Back to the Balkans, people still
do not know whether they will be part of the next wave of
EU enlargement due to its "absorption capacity", but they
surely are themselves still digesting the last wave of
balkanization from the 1990s.
perhaps we have not seen the end yet?
In the news recently, the High
representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina Christian
Schwarz-Schilling expressed his worry about the slow
progress of reintegration of the southern Bosnian town of
Mostar, divided between Croats and Muslims since a
conflict which ended 12 years ago.
Near Prizren, in Kosovo, an
Albanian mob clashed with UN police after attacking and
injuring Serb lawyers investigating a war crimes case for
the Hague tribunal. A local Albanian leader later
explained it was a mistake: they thought they were
attacking Serb refugees trying to visit their homes seven
years after being brutally expelled.
So, what kinds of signals would the
pursuit of balkanization send to the Muslims in the
Sandzak area, the Albanians in southern Serbia or in
western FYROM, the Hungarians in northern Vojvodina, the
Serbs in eastern Slavonia, eastern Montenegro or eastern
Indeed, if "yes" to an independent
Kosovo, why not a "yes" to an independent Republika
Srpska for example - which also has a 90-percent majority
seeking to break away?
I can almost feel some eyebrows
But can there be any more "taboos"
if there are no more principles?
* Aleksandar Mitic is the Brussels correspondent of
the Tanjug news agency, a Lecturer at the University of
Belgrade and analyst at the Institute 4S,
free articles &
TFF & the author 2006
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