Friday, November 17, 2017

The fear for democracy in former Yugoslavia

As I have defended before, the falling apart of Yugoslavia was a crime of the "international community", quasi legalized by the Badinter Commission that claimed that Yugoslavia was "falling apart". Under this pretext the Western countries interfered in the internal affairs of the Yugoslav state and encouraged its republics to secede. The following chaos was the perfect illustration why we have international laws that forbid interference in the internal affairs of other states and that give countries near absolute power to prevent parts of their territory to secede.

To summarize: civilized society is based on laws that can only be changed according to strict rules. Once you quit that principle arbitrariness appears. In that light it was no coincidence that after they illegally had seceded we saw the excesses of the "erased" in Slovenia and the efforts by Croatian nationalists to make life so hard for the Serbs that they would leave. With the secession changes in the law had become arbitrary and some people immediately exploited the opening to impose their rather unpleasant visions.

Of course around 1990 Yugoslavia was in a state of flux anyway with the disappearance of communism. The structure of Yugoslavia (and the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia) had always been that on paper the constituting republics had a lot of freedom, but that at the same you had the Communist Party that was quite centralized and formed a kind of counterbalance. When the Party fell away that structure no longer existed and you got some juggling for power. On the one hand you saw Slovenia and Croatia that wanted their quasi-independence to be permanent and on the other side you saw the central government and many of the other republics that had to conclude that the country was almost ungovernable and that something had to be done to replace the centralizing influence of the Party. As Slovenia and Croatia resisted national direct elections for the central government you saw in the end that Milosevic took the initiative by taking over the governments of some of the republics. I think it was the closest thing to lawful change that was possible at that moment in Yugoslavia. Unfortunately it was grabbed as an opportunity for sowing chaos.

Anyway, this is stuff for historians. What we now are facing is a deadlock in Kosovo and a situation in Bosnia where all the ethnic groups contest the present constitution. The question is how to solve this.

As I see it both are cases of a kind of colonialism. In both cases the present situation was imposed with a lot of violence by the countries that call themselves the "international community". That is not a solid basis. We need to go to a situation where the local actors feel and are responsible.

We know all the excuses. Border changes in Kosovo are unacceptable because that would set a precedent for elsewhere in former Yugoslavia - particularly Bosnia. And the only change that seems acceptable to the "internationals" in Bosnia is more centralization - what is fiercely resisted by the Serbs and Croats. I consider this an unstable situation. Sooner or later the international situation will change: other countries with other insights will become more influential and even the countries who created the present situation may change their vision.

The only thing what can bring a permanent solution is when the local powers work out some compromise. Of course violence is not acceptable and the present situation will be the starting point. But from there they should be free to work out the solution that they like the best.

No comments: