Reflections on the prospects of peace for Yugoslavia

By Johan Galtung

Yugoslavia Conference, OIFF, Stadtschlaining, 13-17 November 1991

1.  Conflict genesis; conflict processes, conflict perception

To see bombs fall on Dubrovnik and the presidential palace in Zagreb, to see Vukovar and Osijek in ruins, is to see ourselves as the Europeans we are: aggressive, unable to handle conflict in a mature manner, destroying some of the best in ourselves. For one who lived over a period of four years (1973-1977) in Dubrovnik as the first Director-General of the Inter-University Centre this holds no surprise.  The tension was there all the time.  The emotions are centuries deep.  But that in no way diminishes the tragedy, and does not explain why Yugoslavia had a generation of relative peace.

There were many reasons: the function of Italian fascism, and particularly of German Nazism as common enemy strong enough to bridge the many gaps, of which the Serb-Croat gap may be the broadest; the charismatic leadership of Tito the Croat; the myth, and reality, of the partizan movement as all-Yugoslav in spite of the strong Croat leanings toward Italy-Hungary and Austria-Germany. The idea of building a New Man through a Third Way socialism, including samo upravljenje, the self-management which in principle was a gigantic decentralization effort, decreasingly credible, was also used to transcend these gaps.  So was nonalignment as foreign policy, building links to all countries. [Read more…]