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Nationalism and its effects on peace in Europe

Teja Palko

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With global crisis, unemployment, dissatisfaction, poverty and intolerance has increased and with it also nationalism. Political parties with nationalist platforms are rising and gaining more support around the world and Europe is no exception.

In Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom and across Europe we can see the rise of the right. The financial crisis in the Eurozone and beyond has triggered rising of nationalists and far-right political parties. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on 9th of July released a report about the dramatic increase in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, online hate speech and xenophobic political discourse as the main trends in 2014.

Nationalism can be positive with legitimacy, promotion of nations and inspiration for citizens or negative by creating tensions between different ethnicity and groups in or outside the country. Some negative aspects of ideology or political movement can be seen in the latest football matches in the Balkans, where supporters of team groups have burned many national flags and hooliganism that is the result of long lasting hatred and nationalism on the ground. Every country has its own history and different positions, but still similarities could be found.

The country all news is regarding to in recent times is Greece. A known slogan “Greece for Greeks” is well known in its anti-austerity party. Attacks against minorities and immigrants with racism are seen in one of the European Union (EU) members. Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party is linked to hundreds of violent attacks against minorities. It is known for anti-immigration, racist-nationalist worldview. With elections being held this year in January the party captured 6.3% of the vote and 17 senate seats in Hellenic parliament and become the country’s third largest party. In 2014 the party won 9.4% of votes in European parliamentary election and with it 3 seats out of 21. The party has been put on a trial this year for its criminal activity. Nationalism in Greece has divided citizens and noncitizens to us and them and created the gap between both. With the economic crisis, Greeks debt, overall economic meltdown, unemployment and increasing number of refugees from different countries, the party led by Nikos Michaloliakos has gained more support and caused even greater intolerance to foreign people in need. Unfortunately, they are not the only one spreading intolerance. Many politicians have a stance against immigrants, which shapes the Greeks’ attitude towards nationalism.

Also in neighboring country FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) “Macedonia” who wants to join the EU and the North Atlantic Organization (NATO), but Greece suggests that this will not happen until they resolve the name issue, right wing party has a lot of influence. A symbolic dispute over the name and heritage of Macedonia is blocking country to joint Euro-Atlantic integration. The country is officially recognized by 120 countries, but it is faced with continued denial of Macedonian identity by its neighbors, Bulgarians, Serbians and Greeks. The leading right political party VMRO-DMNE with more support from public from latest elections is involved in political tensions with opposition that those not approve election results. Fear of nationalism and ethnic suppression is widespread because of the past in a country where 25% of the population are Albanian Muslims, 65% Macedonian Slav and Turks, Roma, Serbs, Vlach and Bosnian minorities. Dissatisfactions have been raised by minority groups, despite Ohrid agreement which should provide equality among different groups. Questions are rising like this one: is Macedonia because of overall situation heading towards extreme nationalism?

Strong nationalism could also be found in Serbia. In the past was support for The Serbian Radical’s leader Vojislav Šešelj, that was accused and indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICT) for Crimes against Humanity and War crimes of former Yugoslavia in the 1990 wars for whom UN prosecutors demanded a 28-year prison sentence and been provisionally released after 11 years based on health problems, a lot stronger than today. The party won in 1992 22.58% of the popular vote and after that in parliamentary elections saw four higher results in 1997, 2003, 2007 and 2008, but in the last two elections did not get into the National Assembly of Serbia. Core ideology was the goal of creating a greater Serbia, opposing to European integration and globalization and regarding Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić as Serbian heroes. The Serbian far-right leader was welcomed as a Serb Hero by hundreds of supporters, which was in neighboring countries seen as a defeat of the judicial system and injustice. With Serbs seeking EU integration nationalism seems to have taken a second place even though the football match with Albania has shown us that Serbian nationalism is still much alive. Slogan Kosovo is Serbia is another point of nationalism since after seven years no concrete answer towards solution has been achieved.

A Kosovo report by Council of Europe in 2013 revealed a negative trend towards nationalism. Social cohesion was endangered with limited tolerance for minority languages, cultures, traditions and identities. Authorities do not support platforms for interaction and dialog between communities, minorities do not participate in decision making. In 2014 Kosovo parliament elections, Democratic Party of Kosovo with Hashim Thaci as a leader won the most of the popular vote. Party got 32.1% and 37 seats out of 120. Nationalism is strong in the country that has unilaterally declared independence in 2008 and has so far support and recognition of 108 United Nations members and 4 other states and entities.

In many other countries that were not exposed similar situation with rising nationalism and right wing parties exists. What those parties have in common is nationalism, many of them anti-migration politics, conservatism, Euroscepticism but on the other side they have different goals. Nationalist parties in Europe are rising and with it also nationalism in Europe. The continent that wants to look like a whole from the outside is drifting apart from its goal to work and present itself as one. Is nationalist wave going to hurt Europe or EU integration? Should we be worried? Is nationalism causing even more conflicts in recent so unrest region in Europe? Is nationalism the last brick in the wall that is going to promote anger and blame without understanding and respect with a hostile public opinion which will lead to the further insecurity or tensions?

Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.

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Europe

Merkel’s projection regarding nationalist movements in Europe

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In recent years, we have repeatedly spoken about the blows that hit the United Europe hard, and resulted in constant and overwhelming crises in this block. The European authorities now refer to “returning to nationalism” as a potential danger (and in some cases, the actual danger!) In this block, and warn against it without mentioning the origin of this danger.

The German Chancellor has once again warned about the rise of nationalism in Europe. The warning comes at a time when other European officials, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have directly or indirectly, acknowledged the weakening of Europe’s common values. This indicates that the EU authorities don’t see the danger of extensive nationalism far from reality.

“Nationalism and a winner-take-all attitude are undermining the cohesion of Europe”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “Perhaps the most threatening development for me is that multilateralism has come under such pressure,” Merkel said. “Europe is facing attacks from the outside and from the inside.”

A simple contemplation on the issue of “return of the United Europe to nationalism” suggests that the current European authorities have played an active role in the desire of their citizens to return to the time before the formation of the European Union. In the 2014 general election, we saw more than 100 right-wing extremist candidates finding way to the European Parliament.

This could be the starting point for making fundamental changes in macroeconomic policies and creating a different relationship between the European leaders and the citizens of this block. But this did not happen in practice.

Although the failure of European leaders to manage the immigration crisis and, most importantly, the continuation of the economic crisis in some of the Eurozone countries has contributed to the formation of the current situation, but it should not be forgotten that the growth of radical and nationalist parties in Europe has largely been due to the block’s officials incapability in convincing European citizens about the major policies in Europe. In this regard, those like Angela Merkel and Macron don’t actually feel any responsibility.

Undoubtedly, if this process doesn’t stop, the tendency to nationalism will spread across the Europe, and especially in the Eurozone. European officials are now deeply concerned about next year’s parliamentary elections in Europe. If this time the extreme right parties can raise their total votes and thus gain more seats in the European Parliament, there will be a critical situation in the Green Continent.

The fact is that far-right extremists in countries such as France, Sweden, Austria and Germany have been able to increase their votes, and while strengthening their position in their country’s political equations, they have many supporters in the social atmosphere.
Finally, the German Chancellor remarks, shouldn’t be regarded as a kind of self-criticism, but rather are a new projection of the European leaders. Merkel, Macron and other European officials who are now warning about the emergence of nationalism in Europe should accept their role in this equation.

This is the main prerequisite for reforming the foundations in Europe. If they refuse to feel responsible, the collapse of the European Union will be inevitable, an issue that Merkel and Macron are well aware of.

First published in our partner MNA

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Europe

Dayton Peace Accord 23 Years On: Ensured Peace and Stability in Former Yugoslavia

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For the past twenty-three years life has been comparatively peaceful in the breakaway republics of the former Yugoslavia. The complicated civil war that began in Yugoslavia in 1991 had numerous causes and began to break up along the ethnic lines. The touching stories and the aftermath effects of the breakaway republics of Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia and in Kosovo are still unfolding. Though the numbers of deaths in the Bosnia- Herzegovina conflict in former Yugoslavia are not known precisely, most sources agree that the estimates of deaths vary between 150,000 to 200,000 and displaced more than two million people. During the conflict a Srebrenica a North-eastern enclave of Bosnia once declared as a United  Nations  (UN ) safe area” saw one of the worst atrocity since second world war.

It has been estimated that more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks were massacred in Srebrenica and it was one of the most brutal ethnic cleansing operations of its kind in modern warfare. The US brokered peace talks revived the a peace process between the three warring factions in Bosnia- Herzegovina. For Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina a United States (US ) -brokered peace deal reached in Dayton on 21st November 1995. In a historic reconciliation bid on 14 December 1995 , the Dayton Peace Accord was signed in Paris, France, between Franjo Tudjman president of the Republic of Croatia and Slobodan Milosevic president of the Federal Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), Alija Izetbegovic, president of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

When conflict in Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia ended, the reconciliation began between ethnically divided region. The US played a crucial role in defining the direction of the Peace process. In 1996, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) -led 60,000 multinational peace enforcement force known as the Implementation Force (IFOR)) was deployed to help preserve the cease-fire and enforce the treaty provisions. Thereafter, the Court was established by Resolution 808 and later, Resolution 827 of the United Nations Security Council, which endorsed to proceed with setting up of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to try crimes against humanity . International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was the first United Nations (UN) war crimes tribunal of its kind since the post-second world war Nuremberg tribunal.

In the late 1990’s, as the political crisis deepened a spiral of violence fuelled the Kosovo crisis between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Yugoslav forces. Unlike the Bosnia- Herzegovina, Kosovo was a province of Serbia, of former Yugoslavia that dates back to 1946, when Kosovo gained autonomy as a province within Serbia. It is estimated that more than 800,000. Kosovos were forced out of Kosovo in search of refuge and as many as 500,000 more were displaced within Kosovo.

Subsequent t hostilities in Kosovo the eleven week air campaign led by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) against Yugoslavia in 1999 the Yugoslavian forces pulled troops out of Kosovo NATO. After the war was over, the United Nations Security Council, under the resolution 1244 (1999) approved to establish an international civil presence in Kosovo, known as the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Nevertheless UNMIK regulation No 1999/24 provided that the Law in Force in Kosovo prior to March 22, 1989 would serve as the applicable law for the duration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

In this  context reconciliation is a key to national healing of wounds after ending a violent conflict. Healing the wounds of the past and redressing past wrongs is a process through which a society moves from a divided past to a shared future. Over the years in Serbia, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia and in Kosovo the successful peace building processes had happened. The success of the peace building process was possible because of participation of those concerned, and since appropriate strategies to effectively approach was applied with all relevant actors. The strengthening of institutions for the benefit of all citizens has many important benefits for the peace and stability of former Yugoslavia. Hence, the future looks bright for the Balkan states of Serbia, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo.

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Hungarian Interest, Ukraine and European Values

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Diplomatic conflicts that have recently arisen between Hungary and its neighboring countries and the European Union as a whole most clearly show the new trend in European politics. This trend is committing to national and  state values of a specific  European country, doubting  the priority of supranational  interests within the European Union. Political analyst Timofey Bordachev believes that “the era of stale politics and the same stale politicians, who make backstage decisions based on the“ lowest common denominator,” are finally coming to an end. Politicians with a new vision of the world order come to power, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz, or the new head of the Italian Interior Ministry, leader of the right-wing League of the North Party, Matteo Salvini ”.

It is not the first year that Hungary is trying to protect the interests of its citizens and the state from external influence, to protect the Hungarians in the territory of neighbouring states  by establishing for this  a special position (Commissioner  for the development of the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine), to determine relations with other countries on the basis of their attitude to the rights of Hungarians. This is how conflicts with the European Union arose, after Hungary refused to let migrants into the country, in the same manner, a conflict  arose with Ukraine, which is trying to build a state ideology, based on nationalism, which a priori does not provide for the proper level of realization and protection of the rights of non-titular nations.

In relation to Hungary, Ukraine follows the same policy as in relation to Russia – to initiate various accusations, to call for punishment, to talk about the inconsistency with European values of the Hungarian policy under the leadership of  Orban. Doing so Kiev has its multifaceted interest: cooperation with NATO and the EU, support  for any decisions of Brussels, the anti-Russian course, domestic policy based on the nationalist  ideology. And in all these areas  Hungary poses  a problem for Ukraine. In the description of relations with Hungary  Kiev even  uses the word “annexation“.

Hungary is hardly planning to seize any Ukrainian territory, but on what  grounds Ukraine falsely accuses Hungary of its annexation intentions in relation to Transcarpathia?  The Ukrainian side highlights several positions:

Issuing Hungarian passports  to Ukrainian citizens (ethnic Hungerians)

This  is an old story, it has come to light again recently due to the growth of Ukrainian nationalism. Moreover,  there are concerns about the implementation by Hungary of the “Crimean scenario” in relation to Transcarpathia.

The Hungarian government has created the position of  “Commissioner  for the development of Ukraine’s Transcarpathian region and the program for the development of kindergartens in the Carpathian region”.

Ukraine demanded an explanation. A note of protest was delivered to the Hungarian Charge d’Affaires in Ukraine, and the Foreign ministers of Ukraine and Hungary had a telephone conversation on the problem. Hungary continues to ignore the requirements of Kiev.

Ukraine fears further disintegration processes

At the same time, in Kiev there is no understanding  of the fact that combining the ideology of nationalism with the country’s national diversity and European integration is hardly possible.

Ukrainian experts note the growth of separatism in the Transcarpathian region, as well as the “strange behavior” of the governor, who plays on the side of Hungary. They also complain that “pro-Ukrainian ideology”(?) is not being сonsolidated in Transcarpathia, and this region is not controlled and monitored by  the Ministry of information. In a word, the state is losing control over the territory, which it neither develops nor controls. Such behavior of the governor and the region’s residents may indicate that the state is not sufficiently present in the lives of residents of Transcarpathia, and this a financial and humanitarian drawback they compensate with the help of Hungary, – experts believe.

Apparently, Ukraine is unable to reach an agreement with Hungary as relations are tense. In response to the Ukrainian law on education, adopted in the fall of 2017, which infringes the rights of national minorities, Budapest blocked another, the third, Ukraine-NATO meeting. Ukraine witnessed this embarrassing  situation  in April 2018.  At the same time elections were held in Hungary, in  which Viktor Orban’s party won a majority in the parliament. Such a tough stance of Budapest in relation to the Ukrainian educational policy Kiev considered to be just a sign of electoral populism. However, this was a mistake.

Viktor Orban’s victory in spring 2018 was convincing, and a convincing victory means obvious support of his migration policies as well as his support  for compatriots abroad. The party of Orban – Fides – not only won a majority but a constitutional majority – 133 of the 199 seats  in the National Assembly of Hungary.

There is no doubt  that Hungary has become Ukraine’s another serious opponent in the process of its European integration. And it is unlikely that either  country  will take a step back: there will be presidential elections in Ukraine soon, and in Hungary, the victory won by Orban, apparently, confirms the  approval of his independent  foreign  policy  by  the citizens.  So the conflict is likely to develop.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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