The Balkans as seen by the West

by Mihalis Moronis

(“Eleftherotypia”, August 20, 2001)

…The fact that we begin our analyses of the events in the Balkans from the moment of the Western intervention, instead of seeking their underlying causes, which are deeply rooted in place and time, is illustrative of our prejudice and of our inability to anticipate what will come next. We have even failed to include in our reckoning the population make-up of the countries of the region. Yet how much harder it becomes to avert the conflict and strife caused by the demographic factor if we do not take the necessary measures to deal with it in good time – a lesson we should have learned from the experience of South Africa. We have actually reached the point of justifying the oppressive measures taken by governments against their minorities, as in Kosovo, or choose to ignore the refusal of the majorities to settle their countries’ ethnic problems, like the Slavs in the FYROM. It is enough to remind the reader that the legislation on local government sought so insistently by the OSCE, despite being laid before the Parliament in Skopje more than five years ago, has still not been passed. And the direct consequence of this is the dominance of nationalist extremists on both sides. This is the main, indeed the only cause of the Balkan agony, and it will determine the fate, too, of the agreement which has just been signed, given the refusal of NATO to confront the issue in good time.

The fact is, however, that NATO’s refusal has nothing to do with its sympathy for the Albanians, or its imperialist plans for the Balkans, as we tend to believe, but, on the contrary, with its indifference to the Balkans and with the game of redefining US-European relations. Something we see revealed in the active involvement, for the first time, of the General Secretary of NATO and of American officers in the search for a political solution to the problems of the FYROM.

This development serves to strengthen the political role of NATO, something which the US has long wished to see, as a means of balancing, if not actually neutralizing, European plans for a common foreign policy and autonomy in the area of defense. And this is occurring at the very moment when what the Europeans call the European Policy for Security and Defense is taking shape – under the disapproving eye of the Americans, who wish to see it as no more than an initiative under, naturally, their own control.

All these developments, despite the fact that they affect us directly and require the most sensitive handling on our part, we either ignore or regard with indifference. This must be why we absolve the peoples of the region of responsibility for their fate and unite in cursing the West. Yet it is the leaders and the peoples of the Balkans who are themselves responsible for the tragedy of the region, who themselves seek and provoke the West’s intervention in their domestic affairs.


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