Redrawing the borders: Why the threat of a new war looms over Balkans

Author : Dmitriy Dobrov

Source : 112 Ukraine

The situation is dangerously reminiscent of 1914, when the Balkans has been called the tinderbox of Europe
12:53, 6 April 2017

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Religious and ethnic contradictions have once again intensified in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and interethnic conflicts tend to erupt more and more often. According to the German Institute for the Study of International Conflicts in Heidelberg, 18 large and small conflicts were noted in the Balkan region, which include:

- The dispute between Slovenia and Croatia over the sea border in the Piran Bay, as well as the mountain range of Sveta Gera.

- The dispute between Croatia and Serbia over the islands of Šarengrad and Vukovar on the Danube.

- Attempts of the Serbian Republic in Bosnia-Herzegovina to join Serbia.

- Demands of Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina (about 14% of the population) to join Croatia.

- Movement of Serbian irredentism in northern Kosovo.

- Requirements of Albanians in southern Serbia to join Kosovo.

- Attempts of the Serbs of Montenegro to return Serbia (about half the population of the republic).

- The dispute between Croatia and Montenegro around the Prevlaka Peninsula, etc.

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Experts state that the relations between the republics of the former Yugoslavia are worse than ever since the last Balkan wars of 1991-2001. More and more republics and national-ethnic entities in the Balkans require the redrawing of borders and the federalization of already existing states. Many observers draw an analogy with the situation in 1912 (the Balkan wars), in 1914 (the beginning of the First World War), as well as the beginning of the 90s of the last century (the break-up of Yugoslavia). It is quite obvious that formulated in the 1990s policies of Washington and Brussels of violent reconciliation of the parties and the creation of multiethnic states in the Balkans have collapsed. A number of Western analysts suggest in this regard to draw a map of the region before it is too late.

It is, in particular, about the accession of the southern regions of Serbia to the Albanian Kosovo, where 100,000 Albanians live, and of northern Kosovo to Serbia, where 50,000 Serbs live. The accession to Serbia is also required by the one and a half million inhabitants of Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the most explosive potential is the movement of the Albanian minority in Macedonia, where the situation has sharply escalated in recent times: the country is on the brink of a civil war.

Another ethnic conflict in this former Yugoslav republic has been erupting with the direct intervention of Albania and Western countries. According to official statistics, 64% of the population are Macedonians and over 25% are Albanians there. There are also alternative data, according to which Albanians constitute already 40% of the population.

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Tension reached its climax after the parliamentary elections that took place in December, after which President Georgi Ivanov refused to recognize the right of this coalition to form a new government, despite the slight advantage of the bloc of the Social Democrats and the Albanian minority. Ivanov claimed that the Social Democrats, who won the second place in the elections from the Macedonian party of SDSM, "have lost" the country to the Albanians, agreeing to accept the "Albanian platform." In particular, the coalition pretending to power promises to make the Albanian the second state language, which means the transformation of Macedonia into a bi-national state. In addition, the "Albanian platform" assumes federalization, and de facto - the Albanization of Macedonia and as a result - the possible inclusion of its separate parts in the "great Albania". According to Georgy Ivanov, this would mean the end of Macedonia as a Slavic state in the Balkans.

The West is actively interfering in the internal politics of Macedonia and demands to transfer the power to the government of the Social Democrats with the participation of the Albanian minority. To this end, the head of European diplomacy Mogerini has already arrived in Skopje. Russia in this conflict has acted on the side of the Slavic majority of Macedonia, while the EU, NATO, and the US have openly supported Albanian nationalists (as did the Italian and German invaders during World War II). At one time, the Germans formed the Albanian Waffen Division of the SS Skanderbeg, and today the Americans keep in Kosovo the largest in the Balkans NATO base, and are the allies of Albanian nationalists.

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The internal Macedonian conflict threatens to degenerate into a pan-Balkan conflict, since Albanians living in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro coordinate their actions with ultranationalists in Tirana who dream of creating a "great Albania." The total number of Albanians in the Balkans is over 8 million people, including 3 million in Albania itself, 1.5 million in Kosovo and Serbia and over half a million in Macedonia.

According to the ideologues of "panalbanism," the "north of Macedonia, the south of Serbia, including Kosovo and the valley of Presevo, as well as the southern regions of Montenegro, should be added to the "great Albania." The clashes between the Slavs and Albanians in Macedonia will inevitably spread to Kosovo and southern Serbia, where the prerequisites for an armed conflict have already ripened. The leader of the Serbian Albanians, Jonuz Musliu, insistently requires southern Serb communities of Medvedja, Bujanovac, and Presevo join Kosovo. In case of disagreement of Serbian authorities, Albanian radicals threaten to launch protests that could develop into guerrilla warfare, and then into a regional conflict involving foreign powers.

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German expert on the Balkans, Norbert Mappes-Niediek notes that in terms of the current situation, when the world becomes unstable, when the West loses control over the regions, and appears to be ideologically divided, various players of the Balkan conflict are trying to use it, and they are looking for new patrons. The situation is dangerously reminiscent of 1914, when the Balkans were called the tinderbox of Europe. Indeed, the growing isolationism of the United States and the weakening of the European Union create a favorable background for separatist movements in the Balkans. In these conditions, the criminal Albanian clans and the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA), subordinated to them, are on the offensive along the entire perimeter of Albanian compact living.

They have the corresponding experience: in 2001, Albanian militants launched an armed uprising against the Macedonian government, which was hardly neutralized. In May 2015, in the town of Kumanovo, near the Macedonian-Serbian border, inhabited by a large Albanian diaspora, the KLA militants who sneaked into Macedonia made a sortie. At the same time, 14 militants and 8 policemen were killed. The detachments of the Albanian militants, formed under the wing of the Kosovo Liberation Army, are ready to quickly set off from the separatist centers.

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