Is Slovenia culturally a Balkan country?
25 years of the Bosnian War : How are the states in the Balkans?
A first generation of the states of Southeast Europe grew up in peace. But most post-war societies are still convalescents. Josip Broz Tito's non-aligned Yugoslavia was a relatively liberal, socialist state. There was freedom of travel, the level of education was high, many of the workers' self-government businesses were economically successful and millions of western tourists flocked to the beaches on the Adriatic.
After Tito's death in 1980, nationalists penetrated the power vacuum, most notably in Serbia and Croatia. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, there was also a loss of interest in economic cooperation in both East and West. Obsolete industry and political disagreements helped prepare the ground for the wars of disintegration, led by Serbia's ruler Slobodan Milosevic. In its wars of disintegration there were “ethnic cleansing” and war crimes, as evidenced a thousand times over by the UN tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague. The Dayton Peace Agreement of December 1995 ended the Bosnian War that began 25 years ago on April 6. Finally, UN resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999 ended the last of the wars of disintegration, the war that Serbia began in 1998 against its constituent republic of Kosovo.
Parts of the former Yugoslavia are now experiencing a modest economic upswing, but both economic and democratic progress are at risk. With an unemployment rate of up to 70 percent among young people, according to surveys, the majority longs for emigration. School books reproduce pre-war nationalist myths almost everywhere. Poverty, corruption, kleptocracy, nepotism, ethnically instrumentalized nationalisms and, increasingly, Islamist fundamentalism threaten the social peace of the Western Balkans.
In the long term, there is only the prospect of accession to the European Union, to which Slovenia and Croatia already belong. The EU concluded Stabilization and Association Agreements with six countries: with Macedonia (2004), Albania (2009), Montenegro (2010), Serbia (2013), Bosnia-Herzegovina (2015) and Kosovo (2016). Like Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina is now de facto under EU-led international administration, which costs billions without the people receiving the blessing of money. Sluggish progress and the current crisis in the EU are likely to prolong the candidate phase of the Balkan states. An overview of the current situation in the Balkans.
Slovenia - model country in the region?
Slavic, but culturally with a touch of Italy, administratively equipped with a portion of Austria, this is how Slovenia introduces itself. Back then, in the Yugoslav financial equalization scheme, wealthy Slovenia saw itself plundered and broke out of the federation in the summer of 1991. After ten days of war, the Yugoslav People's Army gave up, Slovenia gained independence and, in 2004, became a member of both the EU and NATO.
Even if the pop formation “Laibach” and the wild intellectual Slavoj Zizek (and Melania Trump, the ex of the president) come from here, the majority thinks pragmatically and democratically. At 1020 euros net, the monthly per capita income is the highest in the former Yugoslavia. Slovenia could provide a model for the others.
Croatia - More Yesterday or More Today?
With the luck of the last-minute booker, the country became the 28th member of the EU in 2013, shortly before the Brussels gates were closed for the time being. Croatia joined NATO in 2009. Parts of the tourism sector and industry have recovered, but the pre-war economic standard of 1989 has only recently been achieved. Just under a third of the 15 percent unemployed are between 15 and 24 years old.
Reforms drag on, while conflicting coalitions like the current one from the right-wing nationalist HDZ and the center-right party MOST block each other. Complaints about old clergy and nepotism are as endemic as confidence in the EU as a panacea has diminished since membership. A country between displacement, political folklore and the hope of modernization.
Bosnia-Herzegovina - Who threatens cohesion?
No other country in the region is causing more worries. In 1995 momentous compromises were made to get the parties to the conflict to sign the Agreement on Peace. A Bosnian-Croatian federation and the Republika Srpska, the Serbian republic, which increasingly speaks of secession, emerged along “ethnic” lines. Bosniaks (Muslims), Croats (mostly Catholics) and Serbs (mostly Serbian Orthodox) founded “ethnic” parties, and 13 parliaments have 150 ministerial posts. Anyone who does not belong to any of the “ethnic groups”, i.e. power cliques, has no political chance.
Around half of all young people would prefer to emigrate. A failed strategy of privatization turned the already ailing economy into wasteland. Islamist actors from Turkey and the Middle East are on the move here. The international administration in Sarajevo, which has nominal veto rights, does not even intervene, where Muslim and Catholic school children now have separate entrances and classrooms in almost 60 schools.
Serbia - where is the train going?
In mid-January 2017, Serbia staged a provocation symbolizing its condition. A train made in Russia, on which "Kosovo is Serbia" was written in giant letters, was supposed to roll from Belgrade to northern Kosovo, where the majority of Serbs live. It could still be stopped at the border. Opposite Brussels, Serbia dresses democratically, but in reality the country wears a different robe.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, once Milosevic's propaganda minister, is courting Moscow and wants to impress Croatia with Serbian-Russian military maneuvers. Populists and nationalists are poisoning the political climate. The EU turns a blind eye: Serbia should keep refugees away from us. A new president was elected on Sunday. The huge favorite Vucic lived up to expectations: According to initial projections, 58 percent of the voters voted for him. This means that the EU-friendly politician is guaranteed the office of president after the first round.
Kosovo - Expensive Standstill?
The small state of Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, is also full of extremes and contradictions. Officially managed by 2000 deployed by the EU's "Eulex" mission, which is worth millions and provides prosecutors and judges, it is ruled corruptly by a former commander of the KLA liberation army. In the center of the capital Prishtina, a Bill Clinton sculpture rises three meters high on the boulevard of his name.
The country's plus point is a free, critical press with newspapers such as “Koha Ditore” and “Zeri”. Poverty and enormous unemployment are causing migratory pressure. 111 of the 193 UN members have so far recognized the statehood of Kosovo - five EU states are still missing: economic stagnation, political waiting.
Macedonia - When does the power-political tug-of-war end?
“Urgently need new government for reforms. No time to lose. ”This is how EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn summed up his impressions in a tweet when he visited the capital Skopje on Tuesday. 50,000 protesters took to the streets against the social democratic plan to make Albanian, spoken by around a third of the population, the second official language.
Since the Social Democrats under Zoran Zaev formed a majority in parliament with 67 seats in December 2016, President Gjorge Ivanov has refused to entrust them with the formation of a government. He accuses Zaev of undermining "Macedonia's sovereignty". A war of nerves and a political tug-of-war determine the picture. The EU is interested in stability, not least because it wants to use Macedonia as a buffer zone with Greece during the refugee crisis.
Montenegro - Looking to Moscow or Brussels?
Euros have been used here since 2002. At that time, the smallest Balkan state, still part of "Serbia and Montenegro", decided to adopt the new currency at the same time as EU members. A jumbo jet full to the brim with coins and bills is said to have flown from Frankfurt am Main to Podgorica. Such audacity is typical of the state that stayed out of the wars of disintegration and voted for independence from Serbia in 2006.
From 1991, most of the time, facing the EU, was ruled by the social democrat Milo Djukanovic. The dominant elite around the statesman is said to be corrupt. In the elections at the end of 2016, Moscow is said to have massively interfered on the side of pro-Russian Serbs. There was talk of coup and murder attempts. Djukanovic's party colleague Dusko Markovic became the new prime minister, with a narrow majority. Joining NATO is expected in 2017.
Albania - What does the pro-western Adriatic state want?
Albania, long known in Western Europe as Karl May's “Land of the Skipetars”, adopted a democratic constitution after the isolated dictatorship of Enver Hodschas (1944-1985). The country did not belong to Yugoslavia, but the impoverished Adriatic state took in around 435,000 refugees from Kosovo in 1999 - and at that time got on the map of the West. Economic aid and an EU perspective followed, and 95 percent of the population welcomed joining NATO in 2009.
Brussels is calling for further judicial reform and the fight against corruption. When the charismatic Prime Minister Edi Rama was a guest in Berlin at the beginning of March 2017, he called for the EU perspective to be maintained. "Otherwise people would see themselves cheated." This carries the risk of turning to others, for example in the direction of Moscow. (with Reuters)
Further links on the topic:
International / basic material
Dayton Peace Accords to End the Bosnian War 1995:
UN Resolution 1244 to End the Kosovo War 1999:
UN tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague. Comprehensive documentation of all processes. Live stream of current procedures.
Legal Reports and Commentaries on War Crimes Trials:
Balkan Investigative Network (BIRN). Excellent, independent source on current and historical developments.
Central and Eastern Europe Department of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation
Berlin Balkans, cultural programs
Southeast Europe Culture e. V. Discussions, readings, art and music from all parts of the former Yugoslavia
South East European Film Festival (May 25-28, 2017 in Berlin)
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