Archive for the ‘Kosovo’ Category

Matt Hobbs – Glenny’s “The Fall of Yugoslavia”

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Trying to conceive of European metropolitan capitals and bucolic rural countryside as the setting for vicious genocide and internecine conflict at the close of the twentieth century can cause cognitive dissidence for those who have seen the Continent in casual tourism. Mental images in collective memory of the world wars leave grainy, black and white images of destruction and physical suffering, safely removed by decades of time. The breakup of the Yugoslav republic in the 1990s, however, challenged these conceptions by throwing stark light onto struggles of incredible violence and ferocity, enacted very publically in a part of the world which, while certainly not Paris is London, was certainly no backwater.

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A History of Kosovo

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Beth Gryczewski

Vickers, Miranda. Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

How timely that in today’s issue of the Washington Post, The Outlook Section, Richard Holbrooke pontificates on the state of affairs in the Balkans, and how Europe, East Europe, the United States and Yugoslavia all contributed to the simmering turmoil that is happening in Kosovo now (“Back to the Brink in the Balkans,” B7). Holbrooke argues that it’s probably long overdue for Kosovo to declare its independence from Serbia, but he also recognizes that when independence is declared, it will probably send the entire region back into bloody chaos (Post B7). As Holbrooke was involved in the original Dayton Peace Accord, he is well informed of the situation in the region. Holbrooke argues that a whole new bloodbath in Bosnia can be avoided (when Kosovo secedes) if the Bush administration puts this issue on the front-burner, and works with Putin to prevent any further bloodshed (Post B7).

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Impending Train Wreck in the Balkans

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Former U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke (the man who brokered the Dayton Accords ending the war in Bosnia), has a column in today’s Washington Post in which he describes the impending train wreck in the Balkans.

According to Holbrooke, the nightmare scenario goes like this: The EU-US-Russia working group on Kosovo announces that it has failed to find a solution to the problem of Kosovo’s status. Following that announcement, the elected government of Kosovo will declare independence and be recognized by the US and the EU, but not by either Serbia or Russia. Egged on by the Russians, the Serbian region of Bosnia would then declare it’s independence, thereby abrogating the Dayton Accords and significantly increasing the likelihood of renewed war in Bosnia. And, just for good measure, the Russians will, Holbrooke asserts, use the situation in the Balkans as a precedent for encouraging two regions of the Republic of Georgia to declare their independence, possibly leading to more conflict there.

The losers in this scenario?

  1. Everyone in Bosnia regardless of nation, because none of the three nations of that state stand to gain from the renewal of the war there;
  2. Serbia, because no government in Belgrade can sit on the sidelines while Kosovo declares its independence and war breaks out again in Bosnia. Serbian military (or even logistical) intervention in any subsequent fighting will derail any hope that Serbs have of joining the EU in the next decade or two, leaving Serbia as the potential permanent pariah of Europe;
  3. The EU and the US, because eight years of peacemaking in Kosovo and twelve in Bosnia will have been derailed and NATO will once again be fighting in a war it wants no part of;
  4. The peoples of Georgia who will have to revisit the wars of the early 1990s that left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands as refugees.

The winners? That’s easier–Russia.

I wonder when the Serbs are going to figure out that Russian policy in the Balkans has never been about what is or isn’t good for the Serbs–not in the 19th century, not in the 20th century, and now not in the 21st century. Russian diplomats, whether in 1878, or in 1914, in 1941, or the 1990s, have blustered on about the kinship between the two “Slav brothers”, but when the rubber hit the road, the Russians have left the Serbs high and dry again and again and again.It’s a virtual guarantee that they will do so again in this case.

The Radical Right

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Ramet, Sabrina P., ed. The Radical Right in Central and Eastern Europe Since 1989. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

Sabrina Ramet has pulled together a collection of essays discussing the variety of radical right political trends and organizations that have emerged in Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of communism.  This is really a collection of case studies on Central and Eastern European politics post 1989; Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, and Ukraine all receive treatment.  Ramet opens this collection with a chapter that attempts to nail down a definition for the radical right, and the characteristics of this movement.  The difficult nature of this task is demonstrated later as the multiple permutations of radical right politics take shape in the variety of different political, economic, and social settings of Central and Eastern Europe.  Essentially, Ramet takes a definition for organized intolerance (born from cultural irrationalism, intolerance for others, and anti-popular rule) and adds the desire for a return to the traditional values of the Nation/community, and the imposition of these values upon the entire Nation/community (Ramet acknowledges debate on the distinction between radical right and organized intolerance, and several contributors remark on the difficulty of using directionally based linear classifications for political movements.  This becomes evident in the case of Serbia and Hungary where the radical right is used to make the ruling parties appear more moderate). (more…)