(“Eleftherotypia”, March 26, 2001)
[ ] The basic threat to stability in the Balkans lies without any doubt in the possible re-drawing of the map through changes in the external borders of the various countries, changes made on the basis of ethnic divisions. It is the prevailing view here in Greece, a view confirmed by what Lord Owen has written, that this is the stance decided on by the West. Yet current developments in the FYROM indicate that such changes are being promoted by simple but highly effective means. All it takes is for a handful of extremists to take up arms in the name of ethnic independence and respect for human and minority rights.
Thus there is not a single country in the Balkans - even Greece, which has the most ethnically homogenous population—which can regard its borders as safe. And the Balkans are left the prey of the appetites and interests of the West. With the Wests tolerance, if not actual support, of the Albanians, they are encouraging the creation of a Greater Albania, and with their weapons, in Bosnia and Kosovo, they have butchered and mangled the former Yugoslavia.
Behind this two-faced policy, the West is propelling the Balkans into chaos and preparing the new map of the region in such a way as to serve its own interests. This is why the view that the peoples of the region should be left to resolve their own differences and reach understanding without outside interference is now beginning to look like the best way forward.
To quote a recent article by Jim Hoagland in the Washington Post: The great and repellent political secret which was cast into the shade by the bombing of the Serbs in 1999 was that the rest of Europe has no trust in, indeed fears, the Albanians and their ethnic cousins in Kosovo and Macedonia.
The rapprochement between NATO and the Serbs sealed by the return of the latter to the demilitarized zone around Kosovo is confirmation of the truth of this statement. [ ]
Therefore there should be no doubt that the international community now supports the retention of the existing borders in the Balkans. [ ]
The indisputably restrained manner in which the West is defending its position, and the hesitancy in its initial stance towards the Albanian extremists must be attributed to an awareness of the appalling consequences of a new bloodshed, which would divide the various peoples of the region even more bitterly and render quite impracticable the Wests plans for the region. Plans which were put forward by the 15 European leaders in November at the Western Balkans conference and which in essence are no other than application to the Balkans of the model of the EU itself—a diminishing in the importance of national frontiers and national sovereignty and the establishment in their stead of cooperation among peoples and the introduction of full democracy.
This will not by any means prove an easy project for the economically backward countries of the Balkans, with no tradition of education in the democratic process, too often disillusioned by false friends to have much faith in genuine cooperation. This is why we are likely to see more outbreaks of violence and more conflicts; we can only hope that they will not be on such a scale and of such frequency that the rest of the world grows disillusioned and indifferent to the Balkans. This would be the very worst of all outcomes. It would confirm once again that the Balkan peoples, like all peoples in fact, are simply getting what they deserve.