|Ethnicity and Power in the Contemporary World (United Nations University, 1996, 298 p.)|
|9. The dissolution of multi-ethnic states: The case of Yugoslavia|
Each of the successor states of the former Yugoslav federation has its own political, socio-economic, ethnic, and other circumstances. However, the following features could be a common denominator of the situation. (Slovenia has particular features which I shall mention when considering specific issues.)
1. There is terrible economic depression (in some cases even chaos). This is manifested, among other things, by a great diminution of industrial production, a fall in foreign trade and investments, and an enormous growth in unemployment. This situation is a logical continuation of the previous circumstances, which have rapidly worsened during the unmanageable process of Yugoslavia's dissolution which began in the seventies and continued apace in the eighties.
Generally speaking, the emerging states have similar economic, monetary, financial, and technological problems to the old Yugoslavia: an outdated industrial structure, low productivity, irrational and inefficient management of the economy and public affairs, foreign debt, unemployment, and declining standards of living. The social and economic situation in all the successor states has deteriorated tremendously in the last two years. The war in Croatia has worsened the social and economic situation in that country even more. Increasing misery and starvation of the population were the first "results" of the "democratic" changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991, when the three parties representing the three nations (Muslims, Serbs, and Croats) won the elections. With the beginning of the civil war in this republic the situation deteriorated rapidly overnight.
The main deficiency of all the regimes in power is their lack of global concepts of how to handle the economy, and of wisdom about how to develop the most-needed economic, technological, and other reforms or how to conduct the restructuring of industries, ownership, management of the economy, public services, and so forth.
2. One of the most sensitive results of a steady fall in the standard of living, the immense unemployment, uncontrolled price rises, and so on is the fostering of social tensions in the new emerging societies.4 In these economic circumstances a tiny class of "haves" and a permanently increasing class of "have-nots" have been created in a short time. The gap between the two classes is larger every day. Such sociopolitical circumstances constitute a fertile ground for the spread of extremist ideas and activities.
Competition could be an effective impulse for development. But, according to many observations, the growing social differences are not always based on competition and law. Besides, in such circumstances the shortest way to enter the club of "haves" does not necessarily lead through the organization of new production but more often through "unproductive" activities, such as speculation of all kinds. This could work only in circumstances where capitalist economic methods are being introduced into the "socially-owned" economy, i.e., in a situation where nobody knows yet who owns the means of production.
3. The new nation states are being created as copies of the old state. Their common characteristics are thus the strengthening and growth of different kinds of administration and of the state apparatus of repression (national army, different branches of the regular and secret - civil and military - police forces, etc.). Looking at these developments, one could conclude that the primary goal of the "new ethnic tes" has been to replace the old "non-ethnic tes" in power, and not to reform the new societies and states in accordance with the democratic demands which were invoked in the endeavours to mobilize the masses against the old regimes.
It is hard to believe that the vanishing economies would be able to cover the increasing cost of these apparatus and services. On the other hand, less and less money is available for culture, science, research, health, or other social services. It is hardly necessary to explain what long-term consequences of such a division of the GNP might be expected.
4. Unreasonable ethnic nationalism and hatred of "the others" has become a cornerstone of the political mobilization of each group's own masses and of the creation of the new political regimes. After the atrocities of the Serbian Croatian war, the ethnic animosity between these two nations has attained immeasurable dimensions. Since the beginning of the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina the same could be said for Serb-Muslim relations.
5. The isolation of the emerging states on the territory of former Yugoslavia at the beginning of 1992 was twofold. Some of the emerging states (Slovenia and Croatia) were included in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) or were given the status of observers in European institutions such as the Council of Europe; but all of them, for the time being, have been left out of the process of European economic and financial integration.
Furthermore, there has been an immense fall in, or even interruption of, their political, economic, commercial, technological, scientific, and other bonds with foreign countries, especially Western Europe. The whole territory of former Yugoslavia is still treated as a war zone or at least as a zone of political turmoil. And it is well known that capital and economic activities in general avoid such risks.
Among the first consequences of the dramatic events in former Yugoslavia was a quick increase in the already existing trend towards developing the road, railway, and other communications from central and south Europe towards the Balkans via Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria, or via Italy and across the Otranto straits. However, the creation of new state borders between the former republics of Yugoslavia, with strict border and customs controls, and the adoption of many other measures of control of the new nation states over their territories, citizens, and the exchange of goods (and ideas), have contributed additionally to the reduction or interruption of European traffic through this territory. With the continuation of this trend, the physical isolation especially of Slovenia and Croatia will increase. Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a land-locked country, encircled by Croatia and Serbia, the two nation states which are potential claimants of "their ethnic parts" of its territory.
It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to redirect these new communication flows back to the previous routes. Nor are the successor states showing interest in this. For instance, in proposals for the construction of new international road connections, only those roads - if they should ever be constructed - that would "link" the successor states with "Europe" have been taken into consideration, and not the traditional communication routes that connected Central
Europe, via the territory of former Yugoslavia, with the Balkans and the Middle East.5 On the other hand, all kinds of cooperation between the former republics of Yugoslavia have fallen drastically. In the case of Croatia and Serbia we can speak of the severance of all contacts. Restrictions on economic cooperation between the emerging states, bans on the export of various "strategic" goods (food, raw materials, etc.), transformation of the financial, commercial, and other bonds between them into inter-state (and as yet unregulated) relations - all these have further contributed to the disappearance of cooperation between the previous republics.
The new independent states of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of "united" Serbia and Montenegro, are strictly "defending" their "state interests." On the territory of former Yugoslavia, closed, politically controlled, and regulated markets have been created. The wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have destroyed chances for the beginning of genuine recovery for their economies and for the resolution of the most urgent social problems of the population.