I was reading an EU journal today, I think it was the Frankfurter Rundschau, when a curious article attracted my attention. European defense ministers are meeting in German town of
I think that I understand the part about new geography. The label “Western Balkans” is the latest of the attempts to deflect the subversive anti-colonial connotations of this misbehaving peninsula. Renaming the Balkans has a long and fascinating history. From Austro-Hungarian balkanologists to State Department experts of today, from South East Europe to Western Balkans, the idea was always the same: to debalkanise the Balkans, for which purpose a more neutral language is useful. US President Clinton was very clear about the fact that â€œEurope has no other option but to bring the entire area of
One could ask why is this so necessary. Experts seem to be in agreement , it is because of the savage and barbarian ways of the people in the Balkans, ways that need to be tamed and civilized. However, they disagree about the source of â€œinnate savageryâ€. According to Robert Kaplan, author of the Balkan Ghosts, it is the absence of light: “This (the Balkans) was a time-capsule world: a dim stage upon which people raged, spilled blood, experienced visions and ecstasies. Yet their expressions remained fixed and distant, like dusty statuary.”
Others, like one famous British journalist, blame table manners: â€œThe ferocity of the Balkan peoples has at times been so primitive that anthropologists have likened them to the Amazon’s Yanamamo, one of the world’s most savage and primitive tribes. Up until the turn of the present century, when the rest of
Author of a wonderful book Inventing Ruritania, Vesna Goldsworthy, calls this line of argument â€œracism of nuanceâ€. I agree with the racism part, but have to say that I donâ€™t see a nuance. Goldsworthy cites one former UN representative in Kosovo who wrote in The Guardian that governing Kosovo is like “dressing a child: you give it the trousers of economy, the shirt of education, the jacket of democracy, etc. And all the while, the child wants to run out and play outside in its underpants. If we let it, it could hurt itself”. Could the underpants be at the root of the Balkan problem?
Simon Winchester would disagree. He thinks it is something that has to do with the mountains: â€œJust what was it that had marked out this particular peninsula, this particular gyre of mountains and plains, caves and streams, and made it a byword, quite literally, for hostility and hate? What forces were really at work here?…The two (i.e. mountain) chains smashed into one another to create a geological fracture zone that became a template for the fractured behavior of those who would later live upon it.” And just like “these strange and feral Balkans” – is outlandish and unlike the rest of Europe, its inhabitants, “the wild and refractory peoples of the Balkans,” are fundamentally (and anthropologically!) different: “One might say that anyone who inhabited such a place for a long period would probably evolve into something that varied substantially, for good or for ill, from whatever is the human norm.” Sounds convincing.
Although all these opinions of illustrious experts are very illuminating, in my opinion it is George Kennan who came closest to the truth. Kennan was a key figure in the
â€œWhat we are up against is the sad fact that developments of those earlier ages, not only those of the Turkish domination but of earlier ones as well, had the effect of thrusting into the southeastern reaches of the European continent a salient of non-European civilization that has continued to the present day to preserve many of its non-European characteristics, including some that fit even less with the world of today than they did with the world of eighty years ago… â€œ
Kennan is quite right to point out two factors: one is the ethnic and cultural mix of the Balkan peoples, a “Macedonian salade”, a peninsula always much more diverse and tolerant of diversity then the (rest of)
But what is â€œstate-buildingâ€? This appears to be, to me at least, a new concept. In yet another article, in yet another EU journal, I have discovered that the art of state-building is insperable from â€œgood governanceâ€: It involves â€…good governance based on the rule of law, human rights, and civil liberties; a free-market economy; pluralistic democracy; and above all, socio-cultural changes and acceptance of new values and responsibilities across the boardâ€. The essence of state-building is, reads the article, â€œthe concept of good governance and good societyâ€. The essence of good society is â€œfree market and pluralistic democracyâ€. The vehicle to a good society is civil society. The civil society is everyone who agrees to listen to the international community. The civil society must be educated by the international community. The international community is everyone â€œincluding governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, development and aid projects, etcâ€. â€“ who â€œis facing the challenge of transforming itself in accordance with the requirements of different countries’ transformation processes.â€ For these processes to work we need a strong state: â€œ a strong state is essential to the success of the liberal-democratic project in the developing world, as Francis Fukuyama notes in his State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century…â€œ The author of this article, state- architect Pajic, who served as a senior legal adviser to the International Crisis Group’s Bosnia office, is a fan of Tolstoy: â€œthe opening sentence of Anna Karenina may apply to Bosnia: â€œAll happy families are alike, but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.â€ He proceeds to ask: â€œWhat makes
According to Ian Williams from The Guardian, the solution for
If the integration is a state-building project for
Revolution will be televised, independence supervised, and everything will be advertised (in The Guardian!)
One of the reasons for concern and widespread attention of the mainstream media for my troubled region is the recent ruling of the International Court on Justice (ICJ) that Serbia (those savages again!) is not responsible for the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica. This â€œunbelievable rulingâ€ caused quite a bit of consternation among late-sipping western humanists. This is from a recent Chicago Tribune editorial: â€œunder the international court’s ruling,
â€œThe (1999) attack on
In the conclusion of his Guardian musings on desirability of Kosovoâ€™s independence, state architect Timothy Garton Ash, between few sips of latte, expresses an exciting viewpoint:
â€œKosovo is many things to many people….Tell me your Kosovo and I will tell you who you are…Whatever else it is or was, Kosovo is today a small but vital challenge to the international community in general and the EU in particular… The EU now needs to be clear, united, forceful and strategic – four things it usually fails to be beyond its own borders.. If ever there was an issue which brings together European values…The way forward for Kosovo is not nation-building or even state-building, but member-state-building…Because only then will peace be secured in the Balkans and Europe be whole and free. As it approaches its 50th birthday this March, the
If this is your Kosovo, then you are a serious EU-intellectual.
European values are so complicated. I have just learned what state-building is, and now I have to grasp the concepts of nation-building and member-state-building. But, unlike Garton Ash, perhaps because I do not drink latte, but Turkish coffee, I donâ€™t believe that the solution is to get “the Balkans into
â€œEuropean culture is cruel and cannibalistic. That is why Zenitists work on the balkanisation of
It is an ingenious, and typically Balkan cosmopolitan attempt to destroy what probably is the oldest dichotomy inherent to European universalism, the one between civilizers and savages, and to offer an alternative, as old as the Balkans itself, an alternative to nationalism, colonialism and capitalism. It is in this idea that Balkan people need to find the strength and orientation for a new politics for another Balkans. It should be a politics of a Balkan federation. A participatory society, built from the bottom up, through struggles for the creation of an inclusive democratic awareness, participatory social experiments, and an emancipatory practice that would win the political imagination of all people in the region. It is a politics that says unequivocally to the European Union, and itâ€™s state-architects in
* Andrej Grubacic is an unreformed anarchist historian from the