It may be the time for a general conference among the governments in the Balkans, which should be done without the participation of the so called “internationals”, American expert for Balkans Steven Meyer says in his article “Rising Instability”.
“Internationals” would try to satisfy their own interests rather than those of the people of the Balkans, sais Meyer, whose article Srna is publishing entirely:
Strong ethnic identification has been a major part of life in the Balkans for centuries. And, while ethnic identification has led to conflict in the past, it is actually remarkable that the history of the Balkans does not contain more ethnic-based violence.
In recent memory ethnic violence was most prominent during World War II and then again when Yugoslavia was disintegrating during the 1990s. Although the Dayton Accords ended the wars, the various ethnic groups have not embraced each other the way the West had hopedand planned. Instead, there has been mistrust, bickering and an uneasy tolerance of each other that has been punctuated by episodes of violence.
But, the pattern may be changing. There are three major areas.
First, change is especially noticeable in relations between Croatia and Serbia. The deterioration of relations have been much more than disputes between two countries–it has been characterized as Croats against Serbs. The problems increased last year when Croatia—pushed by U.S officials and American defense contractors–decided it needed to upgrade its offensive weapons capability with the purchase of attack helicopters, mobile artillery systems and ballistic missile systems. In response, Russia goaded Serbia opening negotiations with Moscow on the purchase of the S-300 surface to air missile system.
So, in addition to a strong ethnic component, this budding arms buildup reflects “proxy” war between the U.S. and Russia.
Critics scoff at this “mini-arms race” in the Balkans because there is no logical reason for Croatia and Serbia to go to war. However, as is so often true, there does there does not have to be a logical reason to go to war. All too often, wars are started for “illogical” reasons and even by mistakes. And, given the complex situation in the Balkans, war is always possible—even though unlikely.
Behind the weapons issue is a deepening ethnic hostility that was driven initially by irresponsible anti-Serb comments by former Croatian Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, by an attempt in Croatia to glorify and reestablish vestiges of the World War II Ustasha regime and by unveiling a statute of Miro Baresic, the notorious Croatian militant. While the Serbian response to all of this has been relatively subdued, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic summed up the national mood by saying “he has no love for Croats.”
Second, the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo is deteriorating even more than it had been previously.
Pristina increasingly acts like a sovereign, independent state, much to the chagrin and anger of many Serbs. Kosovo police recently tried to force Marko Djuric, Director of the Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo out of Kosovo. Serb citizens who had been forced to leave Kosovo were prevented from reaching Musutiste in Kosovo to visit their formerproperties and the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Hodegetria. In what appears to be a tit-for-tat move Serbian police have arrested Nehat Thaci, the Director of Kosovar Police in the Mitrovica region. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci recently upped the ante by declaring that the current security force will be the core of “Kosovo’s future army” and in the past week floated the idea that Pristina might hold a referendum on unification with Albania.
At the same time, Serb diplomats at the Brussels talks are steadily losing ground to their Kosovar Albanian counterparts. Pristina has been assigned its own international calling code and agreement has been reached on transportation systems. Frustrated Serb leaders know—or should know–that each agreement on “technical issues” is one more defeat for Serbian control of Kosovo and reinforces the likelihood of Kosovar sovereignty. By supporting the Brussels Agreement—all for the sake of satisfying the EU, Serbs have traded away all rights to Kosovo, including the Association of Serb Communities, which the Kosovar Albanians have blocked ever since 2013.
Finally, relations between the Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation in Bosnia have deteriorated more rapidly than anywhere else in the Balkans.
Last month Sefer Halilovic, a former Muslim commander during the wars in the 1990s, angrily predicted that if the RS went ahead with a referendum to make 9 January the national day, the RS “would be attacked and destroyed.”
The Serbs went ahead with the referendum and although Halilovic’s prediction so far has not come true, the episode has increased inter-entity tensions. The Bosnian prosecutor’s office made the situation worse by demanding that RS President Milorad Dodik go to Sarajevo to be “interviewed” about the referendum which the Bosnian Constitutional Court ruled was illegal. Not surprisingly, Dodik refused arguing that it would not be safe for him to appear in Sarajevo. Bakir Izetbegovic followed up by comparing Dodik to Muamar Khadaffi and warned that Dodik could end up like Khaddafi. Milan Ivanic, the Serb member of the Bosnian Presidency optimistically predicted there will be no war.
Each of these events by themselves would not mean much. But taken together they add up to a troubling, potentiallydangerous pattern that needs to be taken seriously. A general war is unlikely, but scattered violence is possible and a deepening lack of cooperation is likely.
It may be time for a general conference among the governments in the area, which should be done without the participation of the so called “internationals” who would try to satisfy their own interests rather than those of the people of the Balkans.