|Ethnicity and Power in the Contemporary World (United Nations University, 1996, 298 p.)|
|9. The dissolution of multi-ethnic states: The case of Yugoslavia|
Before considering whether cooperation or integration is possible between states after so violent a split, it is necessary to consider some pertinent questions concerning the organization of future life in the successor states, peace and stability in the region, and the inclusion of this part of Europe in the process of European cooperation and integration. In considering these issues it would be wise also to take into account the following views and assertions:
1. The end of hostilities in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be only the first step towards the real pacification of the Serbian-Croatian confrontations; it will not resolve the basic political problems that have brought the Yugoslav federation into this cataclysm. As I have already suggested, the deployment of UNPROFOR forces in Croatia and probably in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be the only way to oblige the parties involved to stop fighting. If, on the other hand, political solutions concerning the occupied territories of Croatia are not achieved and respect for the borders and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not assured, the explosion of a new war, this time a total war, will be a real danger. I believe Serbian and Croatian - especially the former - territorial pretensions towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, can checked only by direct political and military intervention on the part of the EU and the UN (UNPROFOR, NATO, the WEU?), aimed at introducing some kind of provisional international protectorate over the country.15
It is most likely that particular European states will become more and more involved in the confrontations between the successor states of Yugoslavia, either by giving political support (to their allies or client states) or by supplying them with military equipment.
Ensuring respect for the inviolability of the "external" borders of the successor states on the soil of former Yugoslavia, especially by their neighbours, will be a great challenge for European and world policy. The destruction of the first Yugoslavia at the beginning of World War II, and the division of its territory between Germany (which annexed Austria), Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and "Greater Albania," are still present in the historical memory of the people. Europe is thus, in my opinion, confronted with one of the greatest dangers for peace since World War II. It is to be hoped that the city of Sarajevo will not be mentioned in history as a place where two human disasters have been ignited in one century.
2. The primary challenge for all the new governments will be to show their ability to reform their economies and resolve without delay the large number of social, economic, political, and other problems which represent a nightmare for the great majority of the population of all the successor states. Recent events have shown that ethnic nationalism, ideology, and the insignia of statehood - to mention only few of the political tools of the new elite - are not a sufficient basis for achieving economic and social progress for the emerging societies.
Owing to the level of its economic development and the proximity of Western markets, Slovenia probably has the best chances for recovery and for achieving relatively sound progress in the near future. This could occur if a wise political regime were to come to power with the next elections and if it were able to create the basic political, economic, and other conditions required for the steady development of the country.16
Economic revival also depends on the political stability in the area as a whole. The prospects for achieving stable political solutions do not encourage optimism. The EU Conference on Yugoslavia, for instance, has not yet resolved any of the important issues on its agenda. Unless things change in the near future, there will be few chances for larger foreign economic and financial involvement, especially as regards investments, in this geographical area, and minimal chances for the renewal of the traditional European tourist flows in these directions as well.
3. It is hard to imagine that progress can be achieved without a genuine democratization of the emerging societies. Despite the formal changes of regime, the political methods developed by the communist rulers have remained the favourite tools of the new rulers of the successor states, partly because most of them were important figures during different phases of the former regimes.
Here we must recall how democracy has been widely misused to spread ethnic nationalism, racism, hate, and destruction of all that is different from "us". Mass media have become the most efficient tool for achieving this goal. In some of the emerging post-Yugoslavia nation states, very sophisticated political propaganda has completely overshadowed democracy. However, the nationalist wave that brought the new elite to power is losing the magical attractions it once had when the people, regardless of their ethnic origin, could not see optimistic prospects for their lives. Nevertheless, nationalism is still the main element of the programmes of the political parties in most of the successors of Yugoslavia. The structure of membership of the political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for instance, fully corresponds to the ethnic and religious composition of the population.
The growth of extremist behaviour of a fascist nature, both in Croatia and Serbia and with less significant manifestations in other successor states, is another noxious nuisance. The uncertainties surrounding the fate of the occupied territories of Croatia will open even wider the door for the radicalization of the Croatian political and military bodies, where extremist groups of belligerent orientation already exist. The effect, both in Serbia and Croatia, will be unfettered pretensions to the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina on an ethnic basis. In Serbia and Croatia, distinct signs of authoritarian behaviour on the part of the "national leaders" could be identified. The presidents of the two countries have concentrated in their hands a huge amount of political power which hinders fulfillment of the competencies of parliaments and governments and diminishes the chances for these states and societies to take up other democratic options subsequently.
Looking at the situation from this point of view, one could conclude that the more decisive changes concerning the development of the successors of Yugoslavia will be achieved only if a genuine democratic reconstruction of these societies is undertaken. This is one of the preconditions for the urgently needed recovery of the emerging societies and states. Unfortunately, the possible development of other, non-democratic solutions in this area of Europe cannot be excluded.
Thoroughgoing and large-scale integration of the successor states into the European structures would doubtless contribute to their democratization. But the main issues concerning democracy must be first of all resolved at home.
4. Improving inter-ethnic relations after the cataclysm that has stricken the people of former Yugoslavia will be the main task for future generations in their endeavours to resume normal life, cooperation, and political stability and peace in this part of Europe. The relations between Serbs and Croats will also be a crucial problem, and the future revitalization of former Yugoslavia and its inclusion in the processes of European integration will depend on the regulation of those relations. Further political and military intervention by the UN and the EU will probably be the only way to stop these two nation states from fighting for the redistribution of the territory of former Yugoslavia, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina, along ethnic principles.
Real pacification, however, can be achieved only on the basis of the restoration of the now-broken confidence between the two ethnic groups. Looking at the demographic structure of Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and especially Bosnia and Herzegovina leads one to the conclusion that dividing them politically by means of ethnically "purified" frontiers between nation states is unrealizable even in theory. As in the past, they will also have to live together in the future. Any attempt at other solutions is sure to lead to new wars, even bloodier than the present.
5. Cooperation among the new states is a sine qua non for the formation of any system of security in the area, for healing the terrible consequences of war, for development, and for the region's future integration into European structures. In 70 years of common life many bonds have been established between the peoples of Yugoslavia, and many common economic and other interests developed. However this fact should not be overestimated. For instance, because of the unskillful governance of the country and polycentric ethnic tendencies, the integration of markets, technical systems, and other entities was never achieved. The result of the recent events, as I have said, is the interruption of cooperation between the former republics, including the functioning of transport and communication facilities, financial traffic, and so on. It is self-evident that such a state of affairs could not be the basis either for the renewal of life in this European area nor for its integration with the rest of Europe.
All the emerging states have declared their "European orientation." By this they mean, first of all, membership of the EU and other supranational European organizations. What is less certain is whether the people are fully aware that the first step towards the KU, for instance, must be made at home, by reforming the economy so as to enable it to cope with the standards adopted by the KU. The same applies to the need to develop among the successor states a level of cooperation at least as high as that existing among the other countries of Europe.
No serious analysis or consideration of this problem is known to the public. We have the impression that more or less all governments are of the opinion that cooperation between the successors of Yugoslavia is not important for their development or future incorporation in the EU and other European and international organizations and institutions, especially those dealing with economic and financial matters, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. I am of the opinion, on the contrary, that developing mutual cooperation between the emerging successor states would make it easier to resolve accumulated domestic problems and to work towards integration in international institutions as well.
It is very risky to speculate as to which fields will be most suitable for developing cooperation among Yugoslavia's successors, based on mutual interests. But even a general consideration of this issue reveals the need to try to develop such a cooperation in at least the following areas:
(a) Intercultural exchange and cooperation in the spirit of the various conventions of the Council of Europe.
(b) Economic cooperation concerning the functioning of infrastructure and communication facilities; assurance of minimal conditions for unhampered financial flows, open markets, investment opportunities, and exchange of goods; cooperation in the production and distribution of energy, food, and other goods. However, apparently nobody in former Yugoslavia is taking seriously the proposals put forward in this regard by the Hague Conference on Yugoslavia or by the president of the Conference, Lord Carrington. 17
(c) Free exchange of information;18 a ban of any kind of political propaganda aimed at incitement to racism, racial discrimination, or hate, or making any distinction between people because of their ethnic origin or religious belief.
(d) Free movement of people in the territories of the successor states of Yugoslavia and the elimination of any discrimination concerning the conditions for obtaining passports and other relevant documents.
(e) International guarantees of basic human rights and freedoms for all citizens of the successors of Yugoslavia, including a ban on any kind of discrimination among former Yugoslav citizens because of their ethnic origin.
(f) Guarantees of individual and collective rights for ethnic minorities;19 this should be regulated preferably by international regional treaty or treaties signed also by the neighbouring states of former Yugoslavia. The agreement should regulate the rights of minorities living in successor states and in these neighbouring states. The efforts of the EU Conference on Yugoslavia in this regard have not yet been successful.20
(g) Cooperation concerning succession. In dealing with this issue it is recommended that future common interests, not only the division of the (miserable) heritage of the Yugoslav federation, be addressed.