“Redraw the map”

by G. G. de Lastic

(“Kathimerini”, English edition, March 21, 2001)

In a blunt and clear-cut fashion, the title of The Wall Street Journal article says it all: “Redraw the map.” The author of the article, Lord Owen, former EU peace envoy to Yugoslavia, may shock with the crudeness of his position but it is very revealing of the true intentions of the powerful EU and US elites as regards the Balkan crisis. “What is needed today is a Balkans-wide solution... with pre-agreed boundary changes endorsed by the major powers” he writes. He goes on to list a series of such changes: Independence for Kosovo, abolition of the Dayton accord and repartition of Bosnia, independence for Montenegro which would have to cede part of its territory to allow Serbia access to the Adriatic and so on.

Details are not important—these ideas are anyway not part of any official platform. It is the mentality which matters. Map games which affect the fate of tens of millions of Balkan citizens. They are indicative of the arrogance with which the West tackles the dramatic problems in the region. An arrogance caught up, with striking sincerity, in a Frankfurter Algemeine front-page article on the first day of the NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia: “The principle of territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders should not be raised to the status of a fetish... The notion of the nation-state is conceptually at odds with the states of Central and Southeastern Europe.”

Therefore, as a natural consequence of this mentality, Balkan peoples, territories and nations can be arbitrarily divided and redivided at any moment. Then some people wonder why 10 years of US and EU political and military involvement in the former Yugoslavia have failed to contribute to the stable and long-term peace in the area.

It makes one sad having to come to terms with this reality. Doing so however, can be useful, as the disintegration of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has raised concerns over a broader Balkan conflagration—a remote prospect until recently. Let’s, at least, avoid the involvement of those “boundary planners” who seem to resurface with devastating enthusiasm.


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