Serbia

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves a polling station in Budapest after voting on April 3. Orban, a right-wing nationalist, was reelected. (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)

When Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, a wide variety of commentators believed there was at least one silver lining in this catastrophic cloud. Vladimir Putin’s assault on the liberal order, they hoped, would expose and delegitimize the illiberal, populist forces that have been surging for years. One speculated that the war in Ukraine could end the age of populism. Another, the scholar Francis Fukuyama, saw it as an opportunity for people to finally reject right-wing nationalism. Alas, six weeks into this conflict, such notions look like wishful thinking.

In Europe, two pivotal elections — in Hungary and France — tell the tale.…  Seguir leyendo »

A boy wears Russian insignia on his hat as Bosnian Serb nationalists demonstrated in Banja Luka in support of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Photograph: Armin Durgut/AP

The recent European summit in Versailles missed a great opportunity: to launch, in a symbolic place, a new postwar order for Europe. We are not dreamers; we know that joining the European Union is no walk in the park and thatthe same procedures apply, in principle, to Ukraine as to the candidate countries in the Balkans. But there was an opportunity to establish a political union that would bridge the gap between a looser association and full membership. Instead, European leaders proceeded as if regular peacetime EU procedures are still appropriate in the extreme case of war in Europe. The freedom and peace project gave way to the EU of bureaucrats and officials.…  Seguir leyendo »

He appeasement of autocrats today only emboldens them tomorrow. Concessions to tyrants are never temporary, and they certainly never bring lasting peace.

The European continent is in crisis because Vladimir Putin has chipped away at Ukraine’s sovereignty to the extent that today he denies its territorial integrity and its right to exist. Russia’s president pursues a dangerous imperialist policy that permits one country to choose the fate of another simply because it has the military might.

This war is Mr Putin’s way of testing the democratic world and it is an attempt to break our democratic spirit. Instead the war has brought the democratic world together in a way not witnessed for decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin (left) with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Kremlin's Security Council, in Moscow on Dec. 3. (AP)

While the world’s attention is understandably focused on the Kremlin’s growing threats against Ukraine, a less-noticed political scandal brewing in the Balkans has served as a reminder that Vladimir Putin already has at least one client regime in Central Europe. Last week, Serbia’s independent media revealed that the country’s security agencies are effectively running errands for Russia’s Federal Security Service — and assisting the Kremlin in going after its political opponents.

Last May, a group of Russian municipal lawmakers and democracy activists attended an educational seminar in Belgrade. The meeting, co-chaired by prominent opposition leader Andrei Pivovarov and me, was intended as a (less eventful) sequel to our earlier conference in Moscow, at which all the participants were arrested.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europa contempló las guerras de la antigua Yugoslavia desde el estupor, la impotencia y cierta irresponsabilidad. Cuando terminaron surgió la necesidad de marcar un camino de integración europea para la región, a fin de anclarla en la estabilidad. Ya en el año 2000, se le ofreció, por vez primera, una “clara perspectiva europea”. En 2003 el “apoyo inequívoco” a dicha perspectiva. Y en 2018 “una perspectiva creíble de ampliación”. Si la reiteración abusiva del substantivo evoca la imagen difusa de una tierra atisbada, pero inalcanzable, los adjetivos empleados parecen admitir cierto fracaso en el empeño. Transcurridos 20 años desde el fin de las beligerancias, solo Croacia - Eslovenia nunca se consideró parte de la región – se ha incorporado a la UE.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bandera de Eslovenia. Foto Juliet Earth

Tema

¿Cuál es el futuro de la ampliación de la UE en los Balcanes Occidentales?

Resumen

El proceso de adhesión a la UE de los Balcanes Occidentales está atascado por la “fatiga de la ampliación”, por la “fatiga balcánica” (desilusión) y por la presencia de Rusia y de China, que cada día cobran mayor influencia en la región. La asunción de la Presidencia europea por Eslovenia podría ser una oportunidad para reinventar el proceso de adhesión, sin renunciar a la estrategia de “palo y zanahoria”, pero incluyendo mayores incentivos a los países balcánicos.

Análisis Introducción: la fatiga europea

El próximo 1 de julio Portugal cederá la Presidencia de la UE a Eslovenia, que la ejercerá por segunda vez desde su adhesión a la Unión en 2004.…  Seguir leyendo »

An elderly Bosnian woman mourns at the grave of her relative on July 11, 2015 at the Potocari memorial center, near the eastern town of Srebrenica. © Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP

It’s a quarter of a century—and half of my lifetime—since the 1995 Srebrenica genocide happened. Or, more accurately, since it was planned and committed by an army and a police force trained, equipped and sponsored by Bosnia’s neighbour, the state of Serbia. This genocide was also allowed to happen by important actors within the international community who chose to play the role of passive bystanders, even though that was not only morally wrong but also against international law and the 1951 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

This was the first act of genocide in Europe after the Holocaust.…  Seguir leyendo »

In August 1992, the magnificent Austro-Hungarian building housing the Bosnia Library in Sarajevo was targeted by Serb shelling. More than three-quarters of the collections were destroyed by fire.

Even 25 years after the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) is a divided society, in which each of three major ethnic groups (Bosnian Serbs, Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats) cherish their own “version of truth” about war. The problem with this is that there is no “Serbian”, or “Bosniak”, or “Croatian” side of the story and there cannot be three “truths”.

Historical truth is only one river, regardless of how many influents it has. In every war, you can find only two sides of unequal positions – victim and war criminal, victims and organizers of genocide, defenders and attackers, conqueror and a threatened population, aggressor state and a threatened community.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nunca más”. Esta expresión, emblemática cuando se habla de los crímenes contra la humanidad, siempre me ha repugnado y me ha parecido una promesa hipócrita, incluso por parte de los mayores intelectuales jurídicos. La realidad es que, desde el Holocausto, no solo la humanidad sigue matándose (igual que lo hacía antes), sino que a la hora de prevenir o detener esos conflictos y esos crímenes, la comunidad internacional —todos y cada uno de nosotros— sigue siendo tan incapaz como siempre de reaccionar.

En Bosnia, Ruanda, Congo, en Siria, Libia, Sudán, en Myanmar (Birmania) y muchos otros lugares, dejamos que aniquilaran a nuestros congéneres, actuamos como si lo que les estaba sucediendo no fuera previsible y, sobre todo, escondimos la cabeza bajo el ala, con la actitud del que no tiene culpa ni responsabilidad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace hoy 25 años, en la ciudad bosnia de Srebrenica, se cometió la mayor masacre ocurrida en Europa desde el fin de la Segunda Guerra mundial. También el mayor encubrimiento orquestado por la Secretaría General de las Naciones Unidas, con la colaboración de los principales países miembros de su Consejo de Seguridad.

Me explico. Por aquellos días, mientras las Naciones Unidas celebraba con legítimo orgullo el desmantelamiento del abominable régimen del apartheid en Suráfrica, Lord Peter Carrington y el canciller portugués José Cutileiro, en representación de la Comunidad Europea, proponía un plan de paz para Bosnia y Herzegovina, cuyo punto central era la partición del país en tres distritos autónomos delimitados exclusivamente por razones étnicas y religiosas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Serbia finally held its parliamentary and local elections on June 21 — they were supposed to take place on April 26 but were postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. After convincingly winning the 2016 legislative and 2017 presidential elections, President Aleksander Vučić’s SNS party scored an even more impressive victory with more than 63 percent of the votes. This was one of Europe’s biggest landslides, with a 53-point difference with the party that came in second, its coalition partner SPS.

With the opposition boycotting the elections, the only other list to make it into parliament is the right-wing Patriotic Alliance.…  Seguir leyendo »

El Bob Dylan de los apologetas del genocidio

Cuando vivía en Sarajevo, en Bosnia y Herzegovina, leí los libros del escritor austriaco Peter Handke, me quedé agradablemente desconcertado por sus obras de teatro y vi las películas que escribía. Me encantó el brillante vacío de su novela El miedo del portero al penalti. Me fascinó la belleza de la obra maestra de Wim Wenders Cielo sobre Berlín, en cuyo guion trabajó él.

A finales de los años ochenta, yo era joven y me obsesionaba la búsqueda de la inteligencia y la modernidad. Handke no solo parecía inteligente y moderno sino que además, como autor, estaba ampliando las fronteras de la literatura.…  Seguir leyendo »

In April 2018, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party won their third parliamentary supermajority, securing 49 percent of the vote and trouncing the fragmented opposition. A year earlier, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won an outright victory in his bid for the presidency, taking 55 percent of the vote and preempting the need for a presidential runoff for the first time in Serbia’s history.

Orban and Vucic have both moved to dismantle institutional checks and balances and centralize power in their own hands; they have also benefited from European Union support and ineffectual domestic opposition. But it is their domination of the media that has underwritten their success.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mediados de agosto de 2018, los presidentes de Serbia y Kosovo lanzaron la idea de afrontar una corrección de fronteras que pudiera aportar una solución beneficiosa para las dos partes. Una idea tan insólita como arriesgada, que ha congregado tanto duras críticas como entusiastas admiradores. Desde entonces, Aleksandar Vučić ha ido alternando la negociación con la retórica y los golpes de efecto políticos, mientras la población serbia muestra en las calles, cada vez con más insistencia, su descontento con el Gobierno y con los niveles de corrupción en el país. ¿Podría un futuro acuerdo con Kosovo convertirse en la clave de la última transformación política del presidente serbio?…  Seguir leyendo »

Kosovo Albanians block roads on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s planned route to the village of Banje on Sept. 9. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

My country, Kosovo, is being asked to make an impossible choice that would cheapen the sacrifice made by U.S. soldiers, undermine the stability of the region and threaten America’s allies. In the face of sustained attack from Serbia meant to undermine our sovereignty, security and prosperity, there are some who would like Kosovo to engage in so-called “peaceful” ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. This is a shortsighted attempt to give in to a bully in the hope that the bullying will stop. We will not do this — we will instead stand up against those who would seek to take advantage of us, while simultaneously working toward a long-lasting and comprehensive peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

Para estados jóvenes sin reconocimiento universal como Kosovo, participar en organizaciones, conferencias o competiciones deportivas internacionales mostrando al mundo sus enseñas nacionales es vital para su consolidación como actores soberanos. Aunque oficialmente el olimpismo pretenda "hacer un mundo mejor y más pacífico educando a los jóvenes con el deporte sin discriminación de ningún tipo en un espíritu de amistad y juego limpio", siempre ha sido la pasarela ideal para exhibir orgullo nacional y patriotismo, con frecuencia incompatibles con la proclamada solidaridad sin fronteras.

Sin llegar al extremo de George Orwell, que veía en el deporte internacional "guerras sin tiros", la obsesión por conquistar medallas y enarbolar banderas lo aproxima mucho al mundo bélico por la obsesiva búsqueda de unidad contra el enemigo hasta la victoria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children ride bicycles next to a wall painted with the European Union flag last month in the southern Serbian town of Presevo. (Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images)

Serbia and Kosovo have been talking about a grand bargain to defuse lingering ethnic conflicts. Critics have been quick to weigh in. Some argue that the risks are simply too substantial for the international community to entertain the idea of “border adjustments,” or territorial exchanges, involving Serb-populated territories in northern Kosovo and Albanian-populated territories in southern Serbia, which is being subtly pushed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovar counterpart, Hashim Thaci.

The crux of the critics’ argument rests on the potential for spillover throughout the Balkans. If Belgrade and Pristina exchange territory, this will show Croats and Serbs in Bosnia that they, too, can find a way to secede and join their ethnic kin in Croatia and Serbia, breaking up Bosnia in the process.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man sits at a roadblock in Vojtesh, Kosovo, on Sept. 9. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are planning to swap territory. They say it will ease ethnic tensions and contribute to stability in the western Balkans. Some commentators and politicians think it is a great idea.

Don’t bet on it. The proposals present enormous risks — not only for the countries themselves but also for the broader region. Indeed, they could set an ominous precedent for leaders who harbor separatist ambitions.

What Kosovo President Hashim Thaci refers to as a “border adjustment” could easily prompt nationalists in this part of Europe to demand similar changes. It could offer destructive inspiration to Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia, where nationalist movements and some of the leaders yearn to have their own ethnically homogeneous countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

1. Una ventana de oportunidad

Veinte años después del final de la guerra, cuarenta años después del comienzo del conflicto, serbios y albaneses kosovares están por fin negociando. Y parece que esta vez las negociaciones van por buena vía y que existen esperanzas fundadas de que las partes lleguen a un acuerdo basado en el reconocimiento serbio de la independencia de Kósovo, acompañado, quizá, por una corrección de fronteras en busca la máxima homogeneidad étnica de los dos estados.

Y no es tan raro como a primera vista parece. Hay, desde luego, conflictos que terminan con la victoria total de una parte y el aplastamiento de la otra, pero es mucho más frecuente que los conflictos concluyan con algún tipo de negociación.…  Seguir leyendo »

Discussions between Serbia and Kosovo about the possibility of agreeing on border adjustments to settle a solution to the current frozen situation will be ephemeral, a short-lived romance. Not because the presidents of both countries could not finally agree on a deal, but because Europeans suspect the return of ‘Balkan ghosts’. The proposal discomforts the European Union and its member states. International leaders and analysts have already demonised this option, condemned their consequences and warned that another tragedy might befall Balkan people.

The weekend of September 8 and 9, Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, made a trip to Kosovo. On Saturday, he visited the Gazivode Lake – located in the majority-Serb northwest region, which is strategic for the supply of water and electricity.…  Seguir leyendo »