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Italy’s economic crisis and the OECD warnings

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At the Columbia University in New York I have recently met many young, skilful and well-trained Italians, who are very worried about the future of their country.

 Currently the Italian Statistics Institute (ISTAT) tells us that the cost of training multiplied by the number of Italian researchers abroad amounts to over one billion euros a year.

 Every year approximately 3,000 researchers leave Italy for other countries – the well-known “brain drain”. We lose 16.2% of researchers trained in Italy, but we succeed in attracting only 3% of scientists from other countries.

 The reasons which underlie this situation are the following: old-fashioned universities, exam-rigging, corruption and nepotism, never-ending public competitions and ridiculous salaries.

 The “brain drain reversal scheme” started by the  government back in 2001, has convinced only 488 researchers to come back to Italy, of whom less than a quarter decided to prolong their stay in Italy for the following four years.

 A student at the Columbia University told me “we need to start a revolution”. It is true, but we need to agree on the meaning of this remark.

 No other country in the West is undergoing a structural crisis like Italy – and recession is looming large. The current Purchasing Managers Index, which measures the manufacturing activity, is at its lowest level over the last four years, in Italy as in the rest of the world.

 Hence a very severe crisis of the whole Euro area is  expected, while Italy will distribute an ever decreasing  GDP that will be reduced to nothing in the near future.

 Hence obviously the redundancy Fund shall be increased significantly and the public debt, which is already under pressure, will immediately sky-rocket.

  The VAT cannot but increase by 12.5 billion euros – a “safeguard clause” that cannot be met otherwise.

 According to the estimates made by some research centres, the VAT increases – 23.1 billion euros for 2020 and 28.7 billion euros for 2021 – will naturally entail a 1,200 euro annual extra-cost per each household.

 Young people will be the most penalized, considering the low wages and salaries they normally earn – if any.

 It is self-evident that if the VAT increases, the propensity to buy decreases – and this would happen precisely in a recessionary phase.

  Economic masochism, but probably inevitable when you are wrong in defining the public budget composition, as is currently the case.

 Furthermore, within a framework of fully negative forecasts for Italy’s economy, the OECD report of April 2019 has been made public.

 The topics are well-known, given the wide media coverage,  but it is good to examine them analytically.

 In particular, the OECD recommends to work on institutional, economic and social reforms, which have been debated in recent years.

This means and immediate and strict simplification of the government system – probably including a one-chamber parliamentary system, but not in the regional devolution sense envisaged by former Prime Minister Renzi’s proposal –  tax reform and regional simplification with only two or three macro-regions.

 Nevertheless reducing the Regions’ spending powers is an essential issue, currently still capable of redressing public budgets.

 The OECD also recommends a medium-term budget plan within the framework of the EU Growth Pact.

  This means that a program is proposed to correct the annual imbalances with respect to the Maastricht rules and to the other European financial treaties.

 Said program, however, envisages budget cuts that no one knows whether they are possible.

 It is equally true, however, that – according to the current government’s rhetoric and storytelling – these are Draconian rules and measures for Italy.

 Nevertheless we need to refinance a huge public debt and  at the best rates – hence we can only follow the rule of the great football coach, Nereo Rocco: “kick and run”.

 Control of debt securities sale, reduction of public spending and analysis of its effectiveness.

 The sooner we enter the Euro comfort zone and safety area – without ridiculous pseudo-economic theories – the better.

 Furthermore, the OECD asks Italy to implement measures designed to foster productivity. It is an excellent proposal but, from 2010 to 2016, productivity in Italy increased only by 0.14% a year – which means virtually nothing.

  Here we go back to the issue of science and innovation, which Italy is unable to retain in the country, thus forcing the young researchers who produce them to leave.

 The main reason for it is the excessive fragmentation of companies which, due to their small size, cannot invest in innovation, but rather focus on the gradual specialization of low-tech traditional productions, which will soon be swept away by international competition.

 It should be recalled that in Germany the graduates’ unemployment rate is 2-4%, as against the Italian one which ranges between 8% and 13%.

 Moreover, in Italy the number of humanities graduates is twice as much as in Germany.

 Once again, quantity does not favour quality. Quite the reverse.

 Another OECD request is to fully implement the reform of cooperative banks (BCC), also known as banche popolari.

 It is really a thorny issue. Certainly cooperative banks (BCC) must be placed in a position to face and withstand the other types of banks.

 There is the widespread feeling, however, that much of the cooperative banks’ capital (currently the number of members in Italy is equal to as many as 1.3 million) is strongly desired by larger and currently less capitalized banks.

 Italian banks had the Supervisory Authority of the Bank of Italy when their  European competitors resorted to the  usual consulting firms.

  Hence there should be a good reason why the network of cooperative banks is successful, while the network of ordinary banks has a smaller capital allocation ability.

 Hence obviously the OECD basically wants the recapitalization of Italian banks “by other means”, i.e. with the cooperative banks’ liquidity, which is on average higher.

It is by no mere coincidence that 63% of Italian high-risk banks are in favour of the cooperative banks’ reform.

 Another key aspect of the OECD recommendations is the abolition of the so-called “quota 100″early-retirement scheme intended for employees aged at least 62 and having accrued at least 38 years of social security contributions..

Certainly, from Mario Monti’s government onwards, the Fornero pension reform has been the State’s way to “swell its coffers”.

 The impact of “quota 100”, however, is significant on public accounts, if we consider the expected deficit of 17 billion euros. Furthermore, with this schemethere is the risk of an early retirement of civil servants that the Public Administration can partly replace, but the Municipalities cannot replace at all.

 Without changing the Fornero pension reform, over the next two years 500, 000 civil servants would retire from the Public Administration. Currently, however, the “quota 100″early-retirement scheme costs one billion euros for SMEs alone, in terms of severance pay. Nevertheless, with  “quota 100”, the State shall pay 335,000 pensions more than expected.

 Hence spending will rise to 4.7 billion euros and we do  not know yet where this money can be found.

 Moreover, the OECD considers “quota 100” a generational injustice, given the different economic treatment granted to the various pensioners.

 Nor does it seem credible that any job vacated by a pensioner is ipso facto filled by a young person.

 This is tantamount to applying to pensions the “voodoo economics” with which George Bush senior referred to  Ronald Reagan’s economic and tax policies.

 Certainly the “quota 100” early-retirement scheme will reduce staff in hospitals, schools, courts and municipalities significantly.

 And there are no real and cheap alternative options to solve the issue.

 Moreover, as natural, the OECD recommends to reduce tax amnesties, but also asks for a very interesting measure, i.e.  to improve the coordination of the bodies dealing with taxation.

 This is a dual problem certainly requiring to organize the bodies, but also to simplify and streamline rules and regulations.

 For example, a standard tax system for each activity can be defined and the taxpayers’ data in relation to this tax benchmark can be later checked.

 Without tax simplification, there will never be tax fairness and equity. Currently the tax rate on limited liability companies increases by 14%, while the flat-rate regime decreases and the minimum tax bases increase. Everything is fine but, if we do not deal with taxation on natural persons, there will always be a big problem of tax injustice.

 With specific reference to the public investment that the OECD requires, reference must be made to my old friend Paolo Savona and his plan to set aside 50 billion of savings from treasury bonds (BTP) and other securities to be invested in infrastructure.

 That plan on which he had been working, was immediately shelved because the Five Star Movement members cringe whenever they hear people talking about infrastructure to be built.

 Savona was also thinking of introducing the so-called  mini-BOT, named after Italy’s short-term treasury bills -the quasi-parallel currency also permitted by the EU regulations, which leads to investment and growth.

 It was not possible to implement that plan and this already bears witness to the conceptual and practical narrowness of the current government.

 Once again, no imagination and above all no technical knowledge of problems.

 What about the so-called “reddito di cittadinanza” – a citizen basic income which is conditional upon undertaking “unpaid work” in community-based services? It can be implemented, although it is an expensive and probably useless measure.

I share the OECD view according to which it is an artificial increase in the minimum labour income which, however, many small companies will not accept.

 They will prefer not to hire rather than paying wages and salaries competing with the “reddito di cittadinanza”.

 Hence we will easily reach a situation of massive support for long-term unemployment, which will discourage many individuals from undertaking productive work since they would earn less than the “reddito di cittadinanza”.

 Mass poverty, however, does exist, and it mainly results from the fact that, since 1999, 25% of Italy’s production system has moved abroad.

 The OECD also wants to reduce the “tax wedge”.

 It is an excellent idea that is partly already envisaged by the current tax legislation.

 However, what about workers having a good share of their wages and salaries without tax wedge, in exchange for a normal tax return?

 Certainly there are obvious dangers, but entrepreneurs would gain a good share of tax-insurance costs and  employees would pay their taxes independently.

 Another problem to be discussed is the OECD proposal to gradually lower the “reddito di cittadinanza” and, at the same time, introduce a subsidy for low-income workers.

 It is a good, albeit abstract idea: in principle, those having low labour incomes cannot invest in their training.

  Furthermore the subsidy to workers favours the employers’ tendency to lower wages and hence produces  adverse and costly effects.

 It is better to make investment in the education and training sector open to workers or even to provide tax support to have access to the refresher courses organized by the trade unions.

 Finally, the OECD confronts Italy with its long-standing  problems: the per capita GDP is at the same level of 2000,  when we introduced the Euro, but it is anyway clearly below the pre-crisis level.

 Therefore each negative cycle leaves us poorer and less industrialized.

 And hence less able to face our social needs: poverty; the aging of population and the increase in the number of elderly people; the young researchers who leave the country.

 The OECD recommends to provide subsidies to workers.

 Nevertheless, we need to be careful: if entrepreneurs get used to paying a “political” price for wages and salaries, the whole system will collapse.

 The OECD envisages a living wage that is worth 70% of the average wage.

 Will it be enough? However, it shall be linked to a salary already active in companies or also in the Public Administration which – as university researchers know all too well – currently lives on unpaid work.

 But certainly the State must tackle the wage crisis and supplement wages and salaries with the reduction of the tax wedge – with the aforementioned mechanisms and also with ad hoc funds for the most crisis-stricken sectors.

 Certainly an aggressive operation – like the one designed and planned by Hitler’s banker, Hjalmar Schacht, with the “MEFA” securities, which were “private” bills payable by banks – would not be a bad idea.

 A great deal of imagination will be needed here, because currently all the old theories of economic “balance” do no longer apply.

 The OECD also thinks that the regional development funds must be added to those inside ordinary expenses. Currently, however, they are both lacking. Where are the funds to make them effective?

 In short, if we abandon the current policy based on “all power to the imagination” and study problems more carefully, we will probably make a few steps forward.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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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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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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