The West and conflicts in and around Yugoslavia: Some axioms

By Johan Galtung

Presumably written in 2000

[1]  Europe is divided since 1054 (forerunner 395) and 1095 into three parts: Roman-Germanic/Catholic-Protestant (+USA = the West); Slavic-Orthodox and Turko-Muslim.  Romania, Greece: ambiguous.

General archetype: Slavic/Orthodox, and Turko/Muslim, are evil.

[2]  Faultlines intersect in Sarajevo/BiH; cut Pristina/Skopje.

[3]  Parties are nations with claims on land with dualism of discourses as bondage versus independence.  Living together only under foreign rule (Habsburg/Ottoman; Nazi; Tito; NATO).  [Read more…]

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Brcko Arbitration Is No Solution

By Jan Oberg

February 7, 1997

TFF PressInfo 20 originally published here

“The future of the Brcko area was the only one not settled in Dayton. Thus, it was either the most difficult of all, or the United States and the parties agreed that it would be better to have their decision concerning that hot spot appear as binding arbitration. The arbitration decision is expected by mid-February.

But any solution will antagonise at least one of the groups in the Brcko area, the entities or neighbouring republics,” says Jan Øberg, director of the TFF who recently returned from the TFF’s 24th mission to ex-Yugoslavia, including a fact-finding visit to Brcko. “The Dayton Agreement created a conflict by not defining the area under arbitration, and it will create more now,” he adds.

“The three options usually mentioned – give it to the Federation, give it to Republika Srpska, or make it an area under international military control – are zero-sum games and care only for the interests of elites. A viable solution must must be based on the needs of people who lived and are living in that area.

Fateful decisions on complex issues in hot spots should come as a result of confidence-building and prior reconciliation, not its prod. Like all other civil, political problems dealt with in Dayton, this one was rushed and its timeframe completely unrealistic. It would have been wiser to have waited 2-3 years so a positive sum game had a chance to emerge in the Brcko area. [Read more…]

From mistakes toward an end of the war in Bosnia?

By Johan Galtung

February 1995

Of the many mistakes made by the EU, the U.S. and the UN (Security Council) a major mistake was the recognition of BH as a country member of the UN within the administrative borders of the Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH) of former Yugoslavia.  As Kissinger said, this was a “country” in which 52%  (the percentage can be discussed) of the inhabitants did not want to live.

But since this mistake was committed by the Holy Trinity of EU/US/SC to admit a mistake is almost impossible.  The doctrine became sacred, like Vatican doctrines.

So when the Contact Group, adding Russia to three EU members and the U.S., came up with its peace plan last July, the only question discussed was the internal division, and in highly unrealistic terms as if there were only two parties in BH, with a 51-49% formula.

In addition there was also the old idea that all problems derive from Serb, meaning Beograd, aggression, seeing the conflict as Beograd against the rest. Serbs were Serbs, socialist or tchetnik, Beograd or Pale; and the same for the Croats. They never understood the old and new tensions between Beograd and Zagreb, and Serbs and Croats in BH.

However, the conflict, and indeed the war in BiH, is over self-determination for the Bosnian Serbs (and, possibly, for the Croats). [Read more…]