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Orphan Europe

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap] fter Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections (which was, by the way, a surprise only to those indoctrinated, seduced or simply bought), Europe, or to be more precise: the European Union is behaving like an orphan, abandoned by its strong father, whose hand it held and whom he(she) followed wherever he went.

Europe does not know. Europe is asking. Europe has to know. Europe is warning. All this is addressed to the new leader who will take over the White House in mid-January next year. When we say “Europe” we think, it should be repeated, on the European Union, although the countries, just a few of them remaining, who are not already members of the EU are equally puzzled, they don’t know what to do and who will give them instructions for their behavior in the future.

This total disorientation and – let us put it frankly – the fear from a situation in which they will have to think for themselves and to take over the responsibility for what they are doing, this is the main characteristic of European countries after Trump’s victory. If we believe him “nothing will be as it was”, but let us be aware of the fact that Europe got accustomed to the role of a US “lackey” from the first days after victory in WW 2 and especially in the days of the cold war and extremely tense relations between East and West. The only exemption was France in the years of President Charles de Gaulle. The general even took his country out of the military structure of NATO, because –as he saw it – the US dominance in the Atlantic Pact did not correspond with the role he wanted his country to play on the international scene. But the rest followed, although the public opinion in these countries would from time to time openly rebel against the American policy (just two examples: demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and against deploying the Pershing missiles in Germany). What is however important, is the fact that, despite these vigorous protests, the ruling elites in Europe accepted the role of followers of the US, without asking any unpleasant questions.

Even in recent years, when it became known that the US National Security Agency is spying world-wide whomever it wants, including leading politicians of the allied countries, not a single one of these allies dared to do, what any country with a sound self-respect would have done: send a protest note, sharply demand the spying to be stopped and recall its ambassador from Washington for consultations for an undefined period. No, the Old continent whose history gives him in many senses the right to think of itself as superior to the US (not economically and militarily, of course) choose to continue playing in the front row in a game it did not either plan or execute.

Such a position could have to a certain point been understood in the times when Europe was divided between the West (democratic) and the East (authoritarian, socialist). At that time “big brother” from the other side of the Atlantic was seen as a necessity in the West – as counterweight to the hegemony that threatened from the East. Although even then it was quite clear to anybody who was willing to see things as they were, that in Europe it is possible to wage a policy aimed in the first place on the benefit of Europe. The most evident proof of this is the period of the West German chancellor Willy Brand. To accept the German (East) – Polish border and to find a common language with the “other” Germany (although Bonn never officially recognized Berlin-Pankow), these were things unthinkable of in the – until then – practiced scenario of cold war. But, they were doable, because at that time Nixon and Kissinger forged in Washington the détente strategy, trying (and they will succeed!) in calming down US – Soviet relations and putting them on the normal track.

“In Europe, the continent of the sharpest ideological divide, with practically two halves militarily confronting each other all over the core sectors of the continent (where Atlantic Europe was behind some of the gravest atrocities of the 20th century, from French Indochina, Falklands/Malvinas, Indonesia, Congo, Rhodesia to Algeria and Egypt), and with its southern flank of Portugal, Spain and Greece (and Turkey sporadically) run by the US-backed murderous military Juntas, Yugoslavia was remarkably mild island of stability, moderation and wisdom.” – accurately notes on irresponsibility of superpowers and its satellites prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic.

Indeed, another example of an independent policy in Europe was without any doubt Yugoslavia. And even the movement called “Euro-communism” based on the experience of the Yugoslav independent policy (in regard to Moscow) proved that in Europe there were ideas, there was knowledge and there was courage to emerge on a path that will be nobody’s, but European. And – that there were politicians who were ready to enter this path.

While all this was happening the European project was taking shape. It started as the Coal and Steel community (the first obstacle to possible new wars erected by those who experienced WW2) to become in our days the European Union. But, although the Union (at that time still: Community) experienced its first big wave of enlargement after the collapse of socialism and disintegration of the Soviet Union, thus growing into a truly all-European project, it made at the same time a giant step backwards. For the sake of never totally subdued nationalism in the West and a fast emerging new nationalism in the East it abandoned for good, even as a distant goal, the idea of the United States of Europe. Washington did verbally always support the EU, but objectively speaking, for the strategists there a strong European Union was never seen as their interest. What they wanted was a strong NATO, which they transformed from an exclusively European defense alliance into a mighty tool of its own policy on the global scene. This was, among other things, demonstrated by the unwritten rule that every country aspiring to become EU member had to join NATO first. The membership in NATO was thus treated as some sort of preliminary examination (and qualification at the same time) for the membership in the European Union.

After the attacks of 9.11. (2001.) American policy inaugurated the division of the Old continent to the “old” and “new” Europe. From Washington’s point of view countries of “new” Europe were those ready to obey and do what they were told to do from the other side of the Atlantic. This “new Europe” free finally from the Soviet supremacy and so eager to accept a new one from another part of the world, applauded without hesitating for even a moment the so called Arab spring and supported the confrontation policy towards Russia (a renewed form of the “containment” from the cold war days). Nobody even mentioned that what happened in Ukraine would have most probably taken another course without the active involvement of the West, including the US. Today both the old and new Europe have lost the “father” who guided them by the hand and told them what to do, when and how, regardless of what was in question. And there are no new instructions!

One might judge Donald Trump this or that way – as the devil himself, or as a man with some new ideas, some of them encouraging (rejection of the policy of imposing regimes), some – worrying (non-acceptance of the fact of global warming). But, we are not discussing Trump, we are speaking about Europe. And neither this continent, nor the European Union showed that they deserve to be treated as being mature. The Union, not only yesterday, didn’t use the unique chance to become an equal partner to the US, Russia or China, by being unable to formulate its own, common foreign or security policy, yesterday – a tragic lack of orientation in confronting the refugee wave (that would not be as it is now without the US policy, as it was) and it is demonstrating – today – a total lack of orientation in a situation when it is clear that a candidate (now President-elect) who is not the favorite of mighty either financial, or political circles is preparing to enter the White House.

And this is why Europe is standing lost on the global scene – as an orphan.

Europe

The Leaders of the Western World Meet

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The annual meeting of the G7 comprising the largest western economies plus Japan is being hosted this year by the United Kingdom.  Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister has also invited Australia, South Korea, South Africa and India.  There has been talk of including Russia again but Britain threatened a veto.  Russia, which had been a member from 1997, was suspended in 2014 following the Crimea annexation.  

Cornwall in the extreme southwest of England has a rugged beauty enjoyed by tourists, and is a contrast to the green undulating softness of its neighbor Devon.  St. Ives is on Cornwall’s sheltered northern coast and it is the venue for the G7 meeting (August 11-13) this year.  It offers beautiful beaches and ice-cold seas.

France, Germany. Italy, UK, US, Japan and Canada.  What do the rich talk about?  Items on the agenda this year including pandemics (fear thereof) and in particular zoonotic diseases where infection spreads from non-human animals to humans.  Johnson has proposed a network of research labs to deal with the problem.  As a worldwide network it will include the design of a global early-warning system and will also establish protocols to deal with future health emergencies.

The important topic of climate change is of particular interest to Boris Johnson because Britain is hosting COP26  in Glasgow later this year in November.  Coal, one of the worst pollutants, has to be phased out and poorer countries will need help to step up and tackle not just the use of cheap coal but climate change and pollution in general.  The G7 countries’ GDP taken together comprises about half of total world output, and climate change has the potential of becoming an existential problem for all on earth.  And help from them to poorer countries is essential for these to be able to increase climate action efforts.

The G7 members are also concerned about large multinationals taking advantage of differing tax laws in the member countries.  Thus the proposal for a uniform 15 percent minimum tax.  There is some dispute as to whether the rate is too low.

America is back according to Joe Biden signalling a shift away from Donald Trump’s unilateralism.  But America is also not the sole driver of the world economy:  China is a real competitor and the European Union in toto is larger.  In a multilateral world, Trump charging ahead on his own made the US risible.  He also got nowhere as the world’s powers one by one distanced themselves.

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen is also endorsing close coordination in economic policies plus continued support as the world struggles to recover after the corona epidemic.  India for example, has over 27 million confirmed cases, the largest number in Asia.  A dying first wave shattered hopes when a second much larger one hit — its devastation worsened by a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and other medicines in the severely hit regions.  On April 30, 2021, India became the first country to report over 400,000 new cases in a single 24 hour period.

It is an interdependent world where atavistic self-interest is no longer a solution to its problems.

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Europe

Revisiting the Bosnian War

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Genocide is not an alien concept to the world nowadays. However, while the reality (and the culprit) is not hard to profile today, history is ridden with massacres that were draped and concealed from the world beyond. Genocides that rivaled the great warfares and were so gruesome that the ring of brutality still pulsates in the historical narrative of humanity. We journey back to one such genocide that was named the most brutish mass slaughter after World War II. We revisit the Bosnian War (1992-95) which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 100,000 innocent Bosnian citizens and displaced millions. The savage nature of the war was such that the war crimes committed constituted a whole new definition to how we describe genocide.

The historical backdrop helps us gauge the complex relations and motivations which resulted in such chaotic warfare to follow suit. Post World War II, the then People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the then Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. Bosnia-Herzegovina became one of the constituent republics of Yugoslavia in 1946 along with other Balkan states including Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. As communism pervaded all over Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina began losing its religion-cultural identity. Since Bosnia-Herzegovina mainly comprised of a Muslim population, later known as the Bosniaks, the spread of socialism resulted in the abolition of many Muslim institutions and traditions. And while the transition to the reformed Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963 did ease the ethnic pressure, the underlying radical ideology and sentiments never fully subsided.

The Bosniaks started to emerge as the majority demographic of Bosnia and by 1971, the Bosniaks constituted as the single largest component of the entire Bosnia-Herzegovina population. However, the trend of emigration picked up later in the decades; the Serbs and the Croats adding up to their tally throughout most of the 70s and mid-80s. The Bosnian population was characterized as a tripartite society, that is, comprised of three core ethnicities: Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. Till  1991, the ethnic majority of the Bosniaks was heavily diluted down to just 44% while the Serbian emigrants concentrated the Serbian influence; making up 31% of the total Bosnian population.

While on one side of the coin, Bosnia-Herzegovina was being flooded with Serbs inching a way to gain dominance, the Yugoslavian economy was consistently perishing on the other side. While the signs of instability were apparent in the early 80s, the decade was not enough for the economy to revive. In the late 80s, therefore, political dissatisfaction started to take over and multiple nationalist parties began setting camps. The sentiments diffused throughout the expanse of Yugoslavia and nationalists sensed an imminent partition. Bosnia-Herzegovina, like Croatia, followed through with an election in 1990 which resulted in an expected tripartite poll roughly similar to the demographic of Bosnia. The representatives resorted to form a coalition government comprising of Bosniak-Serb-Craot regime sharing turns at the premiership. While the ethnic majority Bosniaks enjoyed the first go at the office, the tensions soon erupted around Bosnia-Herzegovina as Serbs turned increasingly hostile.

The lava erupted in 1991 as the coalition government of Bosnia withered and the Serbian Democratic Party established its separate assembly in Bosnia known as ‘Serbian National Assembly’.  The move was in line with a growing sentiment of independence that was paving the dismantling of Yugoslavia. The Serbian Democratic Party long envisioned a dominant Serbian state in the Balkans and was not ready to participate in a rotational government when fighting was erupting in the neighboring states. When Croatia started witnessing violence and the rise of rebels in 1992, the separatist vision of the Serbs was further nourished as the Serbian Democratic Party, under the leadership of Serb Leader Radovan Karadžić, established an autonomous government in the Serb Majority areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The vision and the actions remained docile until the ring of independence was echoed throughout the region. When the European Commission (EC), now known as the European Union (EU), and the United States recognized the independence of both Croatia and Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina found itself in a precarious position. While a safe bet would have been to undergo talks and diplomatic routes to engage the Serbian Democratic Party, the Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović failed to realize the early warnings of an uprising. Instead of forging negotiations with the Bosnian Serbs, the Bosniak President resorted to mirror Croatia by organizing a referendum of independence bolstered by both the EC and the US. Even as the referendum was blocked in the Serb autonomous regions of Bosnia, Izetbegović chose to pass through and announced the results. As soon as the Bosnian Independence from Yugoslavia was announced and recognized, fighting erupted throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Bosnian Serbs feared that their long-envisioned plan of establishing the ‘Great Serbia’ in the Balkans was interred which resulted in chaos overtaking most of Bosnia. The blame of the decision, however, was placed largely on the Bosniak president and, by extension, the entire ethnic majority of the Bosniaks. The Bosnian Serbs started to launch attacks in the east of Bosnia; majorly targeting the Bosniak-dominated towns like Foča, Višegrad, and Zvornik. Soon the Bosnian Serb forces were joined by the local paramilitary rebels as well as the Yugoslavian army as the attacks ravaged the towns with large Bosniak populations; swathing the land in the process. The towns were pillaged and pressed into control whilst the local Bosniaks and their Croat counterparts were either displaced, incarcerated, or massacred.

While the frail Bosnian government managed to join hands with the Croatian forces across the border, the resulting offense was not nearly enough as the combination of Serb forces, rebel groups, and the Yugoslavian army took control of almost two-thirds of the Bosnian territory. The Karadžić regime refused to hand over the captured land in the rounds of negotiations. And while the war stagnated, the Bosniak locals left behind in small pockets of war-ravaged areas faced the brunt in the name of revenge and ethnic cleansing.

As Bosniaks and Croats formed a joint federation as the last resort, the Serbian Democratic Party established the Republic Srpska in the captured East, and the military units were given under the command of the Bosnian-Serb General, Ratko Mladic. The notorious general, known as the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, committed horrifying war crimes including slaughtering the Bosniak locals captured in violence, raping the Bosniak women, and violating the minors in the name of ethnic cleansing exercises. While the United Nations refused to intervene in the war, the plea of the helpless Bosniaks forced the UN to at least deliver humanitarian aid to the oppressed. The most gruesome of all incidents were marked in July 1995, when an UN-declared safe zone, known as Srebrenica, was penetrated by the forces led by Mladic whilst some innocent Bosniaks took refuge. The forces brutally slaughtered the men while raped the women and children. An estimated 7000-8000 Bosniak men were slaughtered in the most grotesque campaign of ethnic cleansing intended to wipe off any trace of Bosniaks from the Serb-controlled territory.

In the aftermath of the barbaric war crimes, NATO undertook airstrikes to target the Bosnian-Serb targets while the Bosniak-Croat offense was launched from the ground. In late 1995, the Bosnian-Serb forces conceded defeat and accepted US-brokered talks. The accords, also known as the ‘Dayton Accords’, resulted in a conclusion to the Bosnian War as international forces were established in the region to enforce compliance. The newly negotiated federalized Bosnia and Herzegovina constituted 51% of the Croat-Bosniak Federation and 49% of the Serb Republic.

The accord, however, was not the end of the unfortunate tale as the trials and international action were soon followed to investigate the crimes against humanity committed during the three-year warfare. While many Serb leaders either died in imprisonment or committed suicide, the malefactor of the Srebrenica Massacre, Ratko Mladic, went into hiding in 2001. However, Mladic was arrested after a decade in 2011 by the Serbian authorities and was tried in the UN-established International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). The investigation revisited the malicious actions of the former general and in 2017, the ICTY found Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide and war crimes and sentenced him to life in prison. While Mladic appealed for acquittal on the inane grounds of innocence since not he but his subordinates committed the crimes, the UN court recently upheld the decision in finality; closing doors on any further appeals. After 26-years, the world saw despair in the eyes of the 78-year-old Mladic as he joined the fate of his bedfellows while the progeny of the victims gained some closure as the last Bosnian trail was cased on a note of justice.

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Greece And Yugoslavia: A Brief History Of Lasting Partitions

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Prior to the 1992-1995 Balkan war, the European Community delegated the British and Portugese diplomats, Lord Carrington and Jose Cutileiro, to design a suitable scheme for ethno-religious partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in February 1992 they launched the Lisbon Conference, with the aim of separating Bosnian ethno-religious communities and isolating them into distinct territories. This was the initiation of the process of partition, adopted in all subsequent plans to end the war in Bosnia. However, such a concept was stipulated by Carrington and Cutileiro as the only available when there was no war to end, indeed, no war in sight; and, curiously, it has remained the only concept that the European Community, and then the European Union, has ever tried to apply to Bosnia.

Contrary to the foundations of political theory, sovereignty of the Bosnian state was thus divided, and its parts were transferred to the three ethno-religious communities. The Carrington-Cutileiro maps were tailored to determine the territorial reach of each of these communities. What remained to be done afterwards was their actual physical separation, and that could only be performed by ethnic cleansing, that is, by war and genocide. For, ethno-religiously homogenous territories, as envisaged by Carrington and Cutileiro, could only be created by a mass slaughter and mass expulsion of those who did not fit the prescribed model of ethno-religious homogeneity. The European Community thus created a recipe for the war in Bosnia and for the perpetual post-war instability in the Balkans. Yet, ever since the war broke out, the European diplomatic circles have never ceased claiming that this ‘chaos’ was created by ‘the wild Balkan tribes’, who ‘had always slaughtered each other’. There was also an alternative narrative, disseminated from the same sources, that Russia promoted the programme of ‘Greater Serbia’, which eventually produced the bloodshed in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Facts on the ground, however, do not support either of these narratives. All these ‘tribes’ had peacefully lived for centuries under the Ottoman and Habsburg empires, until nationalist ideas were imported into Serbia and Greece at the beginning of the 19th century. On the other hand, Russia’s influence in the Balkans could never compete with the influence of the Anglo-French axis. The latter’s influence was originally implemented through the channels of Serbian and Greek nationalisms, constructed on the anti-Ottoman/anti-Islamic and anti-Habsburg/anti-Catholic grounds, in accordance with strategic interests of the two West European powers to dismantle the declining empires and transform them into a number of puppet nation-states. In these geopolitical shifts, nationalist ideologies in the Balkans utilized religious identities as the most efficient tool for mobilization of the targeted populations and creation of mutually exclusive and implacable national identities.

The pivotal among these nationalist ideologies has been the Serb one,  built on the grounds of Orthodox Christianity, with its permanent anti-Islamic and anti-Catholic agenda. The existence and expansion of Serbia was always explicitly backed by London and Paris – from a semi-autonomous principality within the Ottoman territory in the 1830s and the creation of the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882, through the 1912-13 Balkan wars and World War I, to its expansion into other South Slavic territories in the form of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), promoted at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919.

Eventually, the Serbian elites – supported by the Anglo-French axis, again – used the dissolution of the communist Yugoslavia as an opportunity for implementation of the 19th-century ‘Greater Serbia’ programme, that is, Serbia’s expansion in all the Yugoslav territories populated by the Orthodox Christians. However, this time ‘Greater Serbia’ was used as a catalyst in a bigger geopolicial reshuffling advocated by the UK and France – the simultaneous implementation of four ethnnically homogenous greater-state projects, including ‘Greater Serbia’ (transferring the Orthodox-populated parts of Bosnia, plus Montenegro and the northern part of Kosovo, to Serbia), ‘Greater Croatia’ (transferring the Catholic-populated parts of Bosnia to Croatia), ‘Greater Albania’ (transferring the Albanian-populated parts of Kosovo and Macedonia to Albania) and ‘Greater Bulgaria’ (transferring the Slavic parts of Macedonia to Bulgaria).

Since 1990s, ethno-religious nationalisms in the Balkans have served only  this geopolitical purpose – creation of ethno-religiously homogenous ‘greater’ states, including the disappearance of Bosnia and Macedonia, whose multi-religious and multi-ethnic structure has been labelled by the British foreign policy elites as “the last remnant of the Ottoman Empire“ that needs to be eliminated for good. The only major foreign power that has opposed these geopolitical redesigns is the US, which has advocated the policy of inviolability of the former Yugoslav republics’ borders. Yet, the US has never adopted a consistent policy of nation-building for Bosnia and Macedonia, which would be the only one that could efficiently counter the doctrine of ethno-religious homogeneity promoted by the UK and France and supported by most EU countries.   

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