Balkan

Balkan colosseum

In a colosseum gladiators were forced to fight each other or against some wild beast for the entertainment of the crowd. In Balkan, former-Yugoslavia in particular, different ethnic groups were exactly reenacting the colosseum show after 2000 years, only this time we watch the whole thing through the news program of our TV channel.

Of course there’s one big brother behind the whole show: The Western governments (or Germany in particular). Look at the political burlesque in Bosnia first. What’s the point of maintaining the country if Serbs and Bosnians, presumably share the comparable demographic size living in different regions with little overlapping settlements, never want each other in the first place? As expected, the pseudo-nationhood of Bosnia and Herzegovina never really works. If not for the carrot and the stick of the European Commission, BH wouldn’t exist in the first place (probably the term Bosnian either).

Then the stage shifts southward to Kosovo. It’s hard to convince me that the West is merely stupid and ignorant to interfere in a region that’s already messed up for decades in hope of solving those problems at once. I mean, there must be some other reasons other than a leftist scam. The situation in Kosovo is 10 times more screwed than that of Bosnia. The Albanian gangsterism is not something driven by the atrocity of Serbs in Balkan. It always has been there for years. NATO came, Serbs retreated. The next thing you know Albanian mafia runs the “country” now. If you say it’s a darn leftist scam. Then all right. Based on the principle of self-determinism, Albanians could probably get some kind of leftist legitimacy for the secession. But the implementation of the leftist principle seems to stop there, as apparently the northern Kosovo, which still remains predominantly Serbs demographically, is not allowed to rule by themselves and break away from Albanians Kosovo to join Serbia (They wouldn’t hesitate if they are allowed for a referendum). By leftist standards they are the minorities in Kosovo and therefore should be specially favored. Instead, NATO did everything they could to help the Albanians assert their authority over the Northern Serbs, over and over again. You expect the Serbs would just lay down and let them ravage over?

The most ridiculous part is, while EU find it extremely annoying to deal with the Serbs minorities in Kosovo, they simply turned shitface on Belgrade, blackmailing them if they dare to support their brothers down south they’d be forever banned from the possibility to join the mighty European Union. Well, eurocrats like to use this trick on Serbia. But do the eurocrats themselves really believe that one day Serbia would be part of the impeccable European Union (after their painful eastward expansion and economic crunch)? Unlikely. As far as I concern, they just want to nibble Serbia to the last straw, stripping off their privilege in Balkan after the fall of iron curtain. But then it leads to another question, why is EU so persistent in disintegrating the region just to screw up the Serbs? You don’t expect to tell me they do that just for the sake of many minority groups there so that they could be free from the Serbian despotism? The West never really considered Yugoslavia a major threat back in the days anyway. There must be another explanation about what they are really after in the region.

The good old days?

EU’s Sarajevo

I recently attended an academic colloquia on international development issues. Someone presented an interesting study on the failure of EU development policy on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here is some of the highlights in her research:

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has become an independent country on the 22nd of May 1992. In the first few years of its independency BiH was at war with Serbia and Croatia until the end of 1995. The war ended when the ‘General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ was signed. This agreement is often referred to as the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) for it was signed in the United States nearby the city Dayton. Peace negotiations were initiated and coordinated by the foreign intervening countries that tried to stop the war. In the DPA the structure and organisation of the country was designed and the ad hoc international institution the ‘Office of the High Representative (OHR) has been authorized to monitor and enforce the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA).

In Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided between two Entities and a district. The two Entities are the Republica Srpska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). The district is located in the North-East corner of BiH and is called the Brčko district. In the DPA the governing competences were distributed to the Entities and the central State government. Both Entities were assigned the same competences. The competences of the State government concern justice, law enforcement, foreign affairs, finance, asylum, refugees, immigration, air traffic control, common communication facilities and inter-Entity transportation. The Entities are in possession of the remaining competences like agriculture, education, health services and others. Brčko has become a separate area for the warring parties could not agree on who would get Brčko district, therefore the area was not divided between the Entities but instead was placed under supervision of a Deputy High Representative of the international community. The district has its own local government and the Deputy High Representative oversees the implementation of Dayton in Brčko area. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) is again divided over ten cantons that have their own governments and constitutions.

Present day BiH is two de-facto separated regimes. Multi-culturalism has absolutely no chance to survive in a country where things are working according to the clannish rules. Bribery is a common and widely recognized practice in the BiH politics. Mistrust among different ethnic groups, even among different clans are so evident that the chance of cooperation on a common development goal is virtually equivalent to the chance of reaching absolute zero temperature there. Therefore, in order to revive local society and economic activities, one must devise a unique plan that could well fit into this peculiar condition of BiH society. A total separation that could split different ethnic groups in different territories independently could probably work the best for the local people there. Unfortunately EU failed to recognize this power-war complex emergency situation and holds the black-white wishful thinking – that is, when the war is over there is only development right away. EU’s liberalism ignores the complex reality in BiH and pose a “make-up fantasy” in its development policy towards BiH, that is focusing on the build-up of multi-culturalism and democratic diverse society in BiH. At the same time, EU bureaucrats refer to the corruption and patronage patterns in BiH as a mere reflection of barbarism and ignorantly impose the policy based on the template of the western society. EU’s presence in BiH therefore in some sense is doomed from the very beginning.

In the integration discourse of the EU the complex emergency is not examined nor dealt with. The EU does not look into the causes, functions and roots of the problems in the Bosnia and Herzegovina. Reasons for this neglect are found in the neoliberal assumption in the integration discourse of the EU and in the possible advantages of selectively overlooking information. It could be that the EU does not want to reveal the complex emergency for this information might affect the image of the EU and of Bosnia and Herzegovina. When information about the situation selectively chosen, these consequences might be prevented. Another reason concerns the neoliberal fundaments in the integration discourse of the EU. In the neoliberal thinking development can only occur through economic and political liberalization. In the neoliberal reasoning the situation in which one intervenes is perceived to be a blank slate, because the context does not affect the outcome of the neoliberal interventions. These assumptions lead to the make-over fantasy which is also found in the integration strategies of the EU. The make-over fantasy falsely assumes that external structures and models can be implemented in a different context without addressing complex emergency. Applying the make-over fantasy limits the success of intervention and provides an explanation why the results of the EU integration process are hampered.

Kosovo Pljeskavica

We just can not get enough of it. After talking days and days about whoremonger DSK, starving Marvin, crappy train collision, and lunatic shooting rampage, I am having a directed attention fatigue. Let’s talk about something else.

What about a Kosovo pljeskavica? I am not sure if the Albanians eat giant grilled burgers, but definitely the Serbs love it.

Well, let’s hypothesize that’s the reason why Serbs beef with the Albanians in Kosovo. Pljeskavicaloving Serbs all of sudden were told they could not go to Kosovo to enjoy their favor pljeskavica anymore, for Kosovo used to produce the best quality among all Serbia since they lost Slovenia, Macedonia (oops, THE Macedonia), Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. It was of course, the Albanian’s deliberate plan. After pretending to eat vegetables for years to please the NATO veggie-lovers of carrot sticks and broccoli bullets, Kosovo was finally at the hand of Albanians, for they could once for all finally smash the disgusting pljeskavica and toss them away to the deepest valley of the Šar Mountains. It’s nothing personal, Albanians just thought pljeskavica is an awful invention in the first place.

Of course Serbs were not happy about it. But after tasting NATO’s veggie arms for some years, they knew the herbivores are in fact raging bulls with big balls. So Serbia backed off, tearfully waving bye-bye to the best pljeskavica that would only stays in their memories (and pictures in the Serbian gourmet museum) forever. It was harsh for the Serbs. Can you imagine Americans without cheese burger, Dutch without cheese, and English without fish and chips? The scar never heals. However, there is still a tiny little part up in the Northern Kosovo where people are openly defying the anti-pljeskavica outcry. They thought if the rest of Kosovo doesn’t want to make pljeskavica they will make pljeskavica and sell it to all the pljeskavica loving Serbs and make big bucks! So they took up their Kalashnikov and fought for their rights to make the pljeskavica and transport them to Serbia. Meantime, Albanians were extremely upset by those little dissidents up in the North, so they turned to the NATOs, “Hey divine NATOs, those carnivore Serbs are making that disgusting big meat dish again, by killing animals and eat them!” It is NATOs’ sacred obligation to defend for the animals’right. Of course NATOs responded immediately in their cozy Humvee and intimidated all the barbaric pljeskavica-eater up in the North and made them all stay nicely and firmly at home. Then Albanians seized the opportunity behind the NATOs and handsomely took over the last pljeskavica-making restaurant in all of the Kosovo. There goes the hope to get rich for those remaining Serbs, but they swore they would one day get their pljeskavica back…

There ends the story. Oh, I forgot to mention? It turned out Albanians also happen to be digging the meat-dish pljeskavica very much after all (after I secretly googled on “Albanian pljeskavica“). So they have been planning to take over Kosovo to get the best pljeskavica for ages. As long as the NATOs gets a bit absent minded, they are going to make the best pljeskavica again and sell it to the double headed eagle kingdom of Albania for even bigger bucks. Everyone has the master plan, but Serbs were served first by the vegetarians for their obvious carnivorousness. The Albanians seem to be getting the best pljeskavica after all, or is it? Then how come their polices often got ambushed in the Northern border, every time when NATOs went to take a leak?

Best solution, let’s all switch to veggies, screw the barbaric meat eating habits.

Whose Macedonia?

A few days ago I went to a party of a friend who was celebrating his Master’s study graduation and encountered a very interesting argument between a Bulgarian friend of mine and a Macedonian girl. Basically as soon as my Bulgarian friend knew the girl is from Macedonia, he started to question her about their ethnic identity. “So you are from Macedonia, then you are Bulgarian.” The girl reacted in such a shocking way that she couldn’t even wait and cut off my friend, “No, I am Macedonian.” And the most shocking sentences I heard at the time as an observer is when she started to explain her Macedonian identity, “The Macedonia, you know Alexander the Great? I am not Bulgarian.” The first part was like a thunderbolt, suddenly caught my full attention in their argument. I bet if there were any Greeks heard this at that time, it would be a tornado to them. But the presence of my Bulgarian friend was enough to ignite the tension to a much higher level, “You said you are related to Greeks?!  How dare you betray your roots? What language do you speak, do you use Cyrillic or Greek alphabets?!” My friend was raising his tone to a new level and then started talking in I-assume-Bulgarian in front of her. But that girl is just as stubborn and angry as him, “No, I speak Macedonian and I am from Macedonia, a great nation!” At the same time my friend also couldn’t wait for her to finish, “You are Bulgarian, even if you said you are Macedonian, no way Alexander the Great is related to you. Greeks won’t even call you Macedonia, wake up and face your own roots!” Apparently both sides got provoked all of sudden to a level where you could even smell the outbreak of the Third Balkan war. Luckily more friends started to notice the unwanted tension in the party and pulled apart both sides. Just like any other Balkan identity discussion, this one ended abruptly with both sides got unconvinced and pretty much pissed (luckily this one didn’t escalate into anything physical like many of the similar arguing).

Balkan, Balkan, Balkan. This was not the first time I witnessed such high tension in the middle of a casual conversation about Balkan. I’ve seen friends who got extremely upset and angry on the surge of Montenegrin nationalism, and and I have helped one time to pull my friend from a potential bar fight over Serbian and Kosovo Albanian. I have also overheard very unpleasant conversation regarding Greek Macedonian and Bulgarian Macedonian (between a Greek and a Bulgarian). And now this. Over so many times whenever I (a Chinese, not even remotely related to Balkan) intended to intervene and flaunt my smug dilettantism about the Balkan region to my Balkan friends, a slice political incorrectness would drag me down to the no-man’s-land, SHOOT ON SITE at any time…

And most of the time they are right about their own history. As an outsider I do have little clue about what’s going on in the Balkan peninsula. So I start reading about their history, their struggle, their anger, and their pain. One couldn’t possibly grasp the messiness of Balkan history, but what I could understand from my increasing understanding of that particular region is, the existence of any ethnic, sectarian, and civil conflict could never be simplified as the good vs evil. Most of the times perpetrators and victims could be the same group of people. Having said that, it is simply amazing to see the level of resentment in between different groups of people over the place. I am really interested to see how European Union would unite this part of Europe, where European culture stems from.

By the way, that Macedonian girl was indeed brainwashed by her government propaganda, modern Macedonians are predominately the descendants of Bulgarians from the first Bulgarian Empire and second Bulgarian Empire (or admixture of Bulgarian and Greeks that assimilated into Bulgarian culture), long after the demise of Greek dominance in the region. Bulgarians took the name of Macedonia from Greeks (while Bulgarian in modern Bulgaria abandon the Greek name of Thrace and use Bulgaria instead). Then Ottoman Turk came and screwed all of the Balkan people. Skirmish persisted in the early 1900s between Greeks and Bulgarians in Macedonia. Then in the first Balkan war Serbia took over and engulfed the territory as part of the former Yugoslavia. Bulgarians were not happy about it. Greeks didn’t like it either. Then second Balkan war broke out, and Bulgaria got served by virtually everything from everywhere. So Macedonia stays in Serbia till the dissolution of former Yugoslavia in 1991. It’s interesting to point out that the rise of Macedonian nationalism is actually quite recent. And indeed those people are quite struggling with their own identity themselves (together with Greeks, Serbs, and Bulgarian’s struggle on Macedonia). So at least in this latest heat debate about Balkan I support my friend and pity the ignorance and pathos of this girl’s Macedonian identity (if she is other ethnic background in Macedonia she would definitely claim her ethnic rather than Macedonian, e.g. Albanian, Turk, or Serb). Sentimentally I would support the unification of Bulgaria and Macedonia, but I don’t like that is ever going to be a realistic option on the diplomatic table.