Balkan integration process in a global framework

By Johan Galtung

Keynote, European Center for Peace and Development, Beograd, 11 Oct 2013

The Balkan integration process within, and the global framework without, are both parts of the story of empires that come, leave deep and bloody faultlines within and without, and then decline and fall.

Thus, the Balkans were doubly divided in the 11th century by the schism between the Catholics and the Orthodox in 1054, following the 395 split between the Western and Eastern Roman empires, Rome vs Constantinople; and the declaration of war on Islam by Pope Urban II on 27 Nov 1095.

The two dividing lines intersect in Sarajevo, the Bosnia and Herzegovina-BiH Ground Zero for Euro-quakes. The Hapsburgs from Northwest annexed BiH in 1908, and a shot followed in 1914. The Ottomans from Southeast defeated the Serbs in 1397 and were defeated in the 1912 Balkan war, leaving Slavic and Albanian Muslims. A little later, 1918, the Hapsburgs also went the way of Roman and Ottoman empires: Decline and Fall; over and out.

The Soviets came, and went the same way in 1991; the US Empire is following – by 30 years? – meeting their fates, not in the Balkans but in Afghanistan where empires are said to come to die. Today the Balkans are run from Brussels; by the deeply troubled European Union with “high” representatives, and by NATO, led by a bankrupt country, right now ridden by government shutdown and the threat of default.

A four factor formula for positive peace indicates four tasks:


PEACE = —————-


Cooperation for mutual and equal benefit, deep empathy for harmony, conciliation to reduce violence from trauma, and solution processes to reduce violence from conflicts. This points in the direction of a Balkan Community–with a West Balkan Yugoslav Community–in Southeast Europe like the Nordic Community in the Northwest. Denmark-Copenhagen ruled many centuries over Norway-Faroe-Iceland-Greenland; Sweden over Finland and Norway; Sweden and Denmark fought horrible wars; and yet:

The Nordic Community is meticulously equitable with much empathy with each other, past traumas show up as jokes, a rolling agenda of conflict with solutions: open borders without passport and duties, a Nordic labor market (more Swedes in Norway now than during the union), etc. All that is needed to start is a Balkan Commission with an Assembly, one chamber for the states, one for the many nations. The Nordic experience is that the community survives even with three states inside and two outside the EU. Give the nations a veto in matters of vital importance to their identity, like in the Swiss magic formula 3-2-1-1 for the four nations in a 7-member cabinet. Something for Kosovo/a?

Geographical proximity and shared history for good and for bad will bring the peoples between the Adriatic, the Aegean and the Black Sea ever closer. More problematic are Euro-Atlantic relations to US-NATO and the European Union, Eurasian relations to Russia-China-Islam and Europe-Latin American/African relations. To the world.

It so happens that I spent two days, before the two days here, in Bucharest as a consultant on Education for Peace to the International Confederation for Reserve Officers, mainly generals, from all 28 NATO countries. I found them highly demoralized: budgets, also pensions, being cut, the standing army reduced from 200,000 to 14,000 in a short period, and not believing in much of what they were doing. My message was the formula above, with examples of successful mediation to solve underlying conflicts, rather than wars and R2P for victory. Complex dentistry rather than the sledgehammer approach to deep inflammations.

It also happens that I spent two days before that as a consultant to the top of the EEAS, the EU External Action Service, the foreign office including military operations, from all 28 member countries. I found them highly demoralized, paralyzed by a bureaucracy incompatible with the creativity needed for good mediation. And the little they did was almost identical with US foreign policy; no European touch.

It so happens, too, that I spent the two days before that in Rhodos-Greece, for a keynote at the Russian-organized Dialogue of Civilizations, with Russians, Chinese, Central Asian Muslims, and all others. There was an SCO-Shanghai Cooperation Organization touch beaming with optimism; Chinese talking perfect US-English and Russian; civilizations in mutual learning processes. Eurasian cooperation: an infra-structure of Chinese-built trains bringing all of Asia to the European doorsteps, Russian gas likewise, conversion to Islam with closeness and sharing rather than a Western individualism that may spell egoism-loneliness. They want to relate, peacefully.

And, it so happens that I spent the two days before that in Toluca, Estado de México, in México, where the Ministry of Education has made Education for Peace and Nonviolence a major subject from Kindergarten to university, and found myself addressing 1,500 teachers on our experience in some schools in Norway with children searching for good solutions–also to bullying–on the UN Nonviolence Day, 2 October (Gandhi’s birthday). The children love it and learn quickly; the problem is often the adults: too concerned with being-having right.

The Balkans face the Black Sea, not the Atlantic; Orthodox Russia and Muslim Turkomans, with Daoist-Confucian-Buddhist China bordering on both, not evangelical Protestants. Among empires Ottomans were the better; and the Russian armies moved West basically after Napoleon and Hitler’s effort to beat Napoleon. Build down your paranoia, do not fall for European yellow peril racism, and search for the good Islam, not only some terrorism dwarfed by Western state terrorism.[i]

México lost more than half of its territory to the USA in the 1846-48 war and yet see themselves as a bridge between Latin and Anglo America; how about the Balkans between Euro and Asia? Euro and Africa?

My late friend Leo Mates – to whom this lecture is dedicated – some 50 years ago linked Beograd to New Delhi and Cairo, cooperating North and South, East and West. Put yourself in the center, and you grow.[ii]


[i]. Even a majestic looking hotel in Beograd does not offer key TV channels as Russia Today, China TV-English, AlJazaeera, but certainly CNN, BBC, TV5, ARD-ZDF, RAI and so on.

[ii]. Gamble only on the West of those 3 directions and you may wake up as a satellite, a little dinghy tied to something big that may turn out to be the Titanic. A long rope or an axe are useful; but much better are good relations to all four. And, if you are a friend of the USA and the EU: help them!

Originally published by Transcend Media Service, TMS, here.

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