16 early proposals for peaceful solutions

By Johan Galtung

Written 1992 & 1998

[1] A Conference on Security and Cooperation in Southeast Europe, CSCSEE, UN and OSCE sponsored, UNSC being too remote, EU too partial, in addition to the London-Geneva conference process.  All concerned parties (also sub-state, super-state and non-state) should be invited, with all relevant themes on the agenda; possibly lasting 3-5 years.  Outsiders to the region should be present as observers with right to speak, there being no disinterested outside states. One possible long term goal:
A Southeast European Confederation.

[2] CSCSEE Working Groups on top priority areas to consider:
– Bosnia-Herzegovina as a tripartite confederation;
– Kosovo/a as a republic with the same status as for the Serbs in Krajina (not Knin), and with respect for Serbian history;
– Macedonia: a Macedonian confederation should not be ruled out, but can only emerge within a broader setting ([1]) above.
– ex-Yugoslavia: as long-term goal, a confederation this time.

[3] Increase UNPROFOR 10 times, or more, with 50% women, creating a dense blue carpet to supervise truces and to stabilize the situation.  The soldiers must be adequately briefed with police, nonviolence and conflict facilitation training, working together with civilian peacekeeping components.  Avoid big power participation and powers with a history in the region.

[4] A dense network of municipal solidarity with all parts of ex-Yugoslavia, for refugees, relief work, reconstruction: Gemeinde gemeinsam, Cause commune, Council of Europe.

[5] Let 1,000 local peace conferences blossom, support local groups with communication hardware, and the Verona Forum for Peace and Reconciliation on the Territory of Former Yugoslavia.

[6] International Peace Brigades as Hostages for Peace, unarmed foreigners,  professionals like doctors (WHO-IPPNW-MSF), working in threatened areas, communicating, dampening violence.

[7] Intensify ecumenical peace work, building on nonviolence and peace traditions in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity and Islam.  Challenge hard line religious institutions in the region.

[8] Permanent contact among persons, groups and states working for peace within the state system ([1]-[3]), municipal system ([4]) and civil society system ([5]-[7]); let ideas flow.  Have a “Peace Ladies Conference” parallel to the London-Geneva conference among the war lords in the Palais des Nations.

[9] Demand professionalism from the media, less violence and elitism bias and more focus on common people and peace efforts.

[10] In the spirit of future reconciliation:
– drop the sanctions, they hit the innocent and harden the conflicts;
– drop the War Crimes Tribunal except as moral individual judgment, there is no road to the future through revenge and punishment, adding to all the traumas, creating new martyrs;
– have inside and outside specialists search for understanding of what went wrong and for positive past and present experiences that can inspire a common, even if more separate, future;
– build on the longing of the Yugoslav peoples to come together again, nonetheless, on bratstvo (brotherhood) even if it should be with less jedinstvo (unity). In other words, neither as a unitary state, nor as a federation, nor as a confederation, but as a community.

Let’s move south:

Old historical processes pitting Orthodox Serbs-Macedonians against Muslim Albanians are picking up new energies at the same time as the region seems unable to arrive at its own solutions. The “international community” will probably again postpone intervention till the situation is “ripe”, meaning till the violence has come so far that almost any non-war outcome is preferable so that outside powers can dictate the “peace”.

[11] Starting with Kosovo/a, there seem to be five outcomes:
[a] status quo within Serbia, unacceptable to the Albanians
[b] autonomy (“1974 at a higher level”)
[c] a Third Republic inside the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
[d] as a part of a Yugoslav confederation
[e] independence, unacceptable to the Serbs

[12] One reasonable prognosis is that [a] leads to [b] leads to [c] leads to [d] leads to [e], possibly jumping some steps (like straight to [e], with foreign military assistance to UCK). If that happens a next prognosis might be unification with Albania and absorption of Western Macedonia (“green transversal”), and a major Balkan war between Orthodox and Muslim forces, involving Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, major outside intervention and semi-permanent occupation of Kosovo/a-Macedonia (like in Bosnia at present).

[13]  An alternative to this scenario might look as follows:
–  Kosovo/a gets status as Third Republic inside FRJ, or a very high level of autonomy.  The treaty is made binding for X years (X=20?) after which it is up for review (and a confederation may then be among the options, including Montenegro-Vojvodina?).
–  Protection of Serbian minority rights is ensured also through a Serbian Assembly with veto rights for cultural patrimony (teaching of and in own language, access to sacred sites, etc.).
–  Preventive peacekeeping and international guarantees needed.

[14] For Macedonia a productive peace policy might include:
–  a switch from the present passive neutrality (or “equi-distance”) to active neutrality in the sense of serving as a venue for major conferences on the problems of the region,
–  also like Switzerland de-emphasizing nationality by a higher level of decentralization and local rule (“cantonization”)
–  continuing and stepping up all efforts at cooperation at all levels across the divide between Macedonians and Albanians,
–  if this does not work a federation should not be excluded.

[15]  For the region as a whole: a Balkan Community including Albania, FRJ, Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey (the “European part”?) might be capable of accommodating some of the tensions and help work towards such features found in the Nordic and European communities of the 1980s as a common market, free flow of goods and services, capital and labor, coordinating foreign policies.

Nothing of what is mentioned above is overdue or overtaken by recent events.  But lack of pro-action during the 1990s, heeding the warnings of the 1980s has been highly irresponsible, leading to the current vicious cycles of violent action-reaction.

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