Political dynamics within the other countries
in the Balkans
. Cases of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia
By. Dr. Lisen BASHKURTI
to the “Symposium on Final Status for Kosovo”
Chicago-Kent College of Low
Chicago, Illinois, USA
April 16-17, 2004
I. The general view on
political dynamics in the Balkans
Political dynamics are some of the most complicated
issues to be analyzed in the Balkans. This is because of the origin, the history,
the political doctrines and the geopolitics, which have determined the region.
The Balkans is a small Peninsula located between the
West and the East of Europe, but with a very complex composition of populations.
Different civilizations, various ethno-cultural identities, many affiliations
with the other peoples and countries in Europe
and the world as well as the contradictory geopolitical orientations are the
main reasons for the rapid rate political dynamics in the Balkans.
The historical trends of the Balkan political
dynamics have had three dimensions: the national, the regional and the geopolitical.
There were a lot of interconnections among national, regional and geopolitical
dynamics in the Balkans. The national political dynamics have influenced the
regional and the regional political dynamics on the other side have been under
the geopolitical influence. And both, the regional and the geopolitical dynamics
have transformed the national dynamics.
The national, regional and geopolitical dynamics
in the Balkans have historically produced mostly the negative results. Within
a century, the region political dynamics has culminated in the three Balkans
wars and has dramatically involved in the two world wars. The national political
dynamics have been provoking these regional wars and have been impacted by them.
And between the national and regional, the geopolitical dynamics just has negatively
complicated this dramatic process.
The national, regional and geopolitical dynamics
in the Balkans during the last century have transformed many times the political
spectrum within the countries, have adopted many forms of regimes and, finally,
have changed three times the political map of the region. Very unfortunately,
these transformations and changes have never been done peacefully through political
and diplomatic means, but mostly through internal socio-political confrontations
and external conflicts and wars. The national, regional and geopolitical dynamics
in the Balkans were characterized by policy of the force and not by force of
the policy. They have also violated systematically the international law and
ignored the diplomatic practices. This is why the Balkans is well- known as
the problematic and conflict region. The term “Balkanization” entered in the
political terminology as the synonym of permanent instability and wars.
As the consequences of the three dimensions of
national, regional and geopolitical dynamics crashed in a very contradictory
ways, the foreign and the security policy in the Balkans have been systematically
failed from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire up to
the end of the Cold War. It is a paradox, but it is true that a small region
in the center of Europe is one of the most destabilized
areas in the world.
Historically, the traditional European Powers
behaved in the Balkans like the elephants in the glass shop. Actually, the European
Union has not yet a clear vision on the region, but mostly is using political
rhetoric and moral recommendations on the European integration prospect for
the future region. But in which way this process is going to be done, as far
as the Balkans has still its unresolved problems, nobody says in the European
Union. This happens because the European Union has not yet its unique foreign
and security policy within itself.
In these European circumstances, most of the
Balkan peoples and countries after the end of the Cold War, especially during
the war in Former Yugoslavia turned their faces to the United States of America
and NATO hoping to resolve better and quicker their own problems. There
were first of all the USA and NATO presence and role which stopped the wars
in Bosnia & Herzegovina, prevented tragedy and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo
and defended the state integrity and democracy in Macedonia. Also, three main
international documents, Dayton Peace Accord for B&H (1995), 1244 Security
Council Resolution for Kosovo (1999) and Ohrid Framework
Agreement for Macedonia
(2001) have been reached with very much support by the USA.
These three documents brought peace, stability and democratic development in
The time has come to review seriously the historical
Balkans experience not simply for research purposes or curiosity, but first
of all to avoid the repeated mistakes and to find some better ways of resolving
definitively the situation as well as to open the clear prospective for the
entire region. In this revision, the political dynamics are among the most important
factors to be analyzed and considered.
II. Political dynamics in Bosnia
Peace, stability and democracy in the Balkans are
still fragile. This is first of all because of the contradictory political dynamics
within the countries in the Balkans. Bosnia
is one of the most typical cases of fragility in the Balkans. Since the Dayton
Peace Accord was singed among the international community and the parties in
the conflict in 1995, Bosnia
is under the foreign administrator and peace- keeping forces.
Main intentions of the Dayton Peace Accord is to
maintain peace and stability, to restore internal integrity of the country,
to build the state institutions and promote democracy, to return refugees and
displaced persons overall the country and to co-operate closely with the International
Court of Justice for the war criminals. To reach this noble goals IC built the
state on two entities, the Bosnian & Croat Federation and the Serbian
Republic. This process started from
At the beginning of the state institutions building
process after the war the moderated democratic parties won the first political
elections. The traditional nationalist political parties who led the war
get lost. This political victory of moderated democratic parties facilitated
the establishment of some federal state institutions. The federal parliament,
government, president and later on the federal court and federal military and
security staff were the main centralized institutions established, led by the
High Representative of the international community.
So far, the Dayton Peace Accord has brought peace
and relative stability in the country. The war is gone. The normality has been
returned. The life is improved. The economy is better. But the country is far
from being a normal one. Within few years the stagnation almost blocked the
further progress. The integrity and functionality of the state institutions
are still is under the threats of disintegration. The democracy is still under
the threats of remained hatreds, hostility and nationalism. The process of returning
refugees and displaced persons from their residential area of origins has already
failed up to now. The war criminals are still hidden in front of the peace-
keeping troops. The political and economic stagnation increased disappointments
among the peoples, and gave advantages to the old nationalist political parties.
It caused a reversible trend in the political
dynamics within the country, bringing at the second general election the victory
of the three main nationalist parties in the political arena: The Party for
Democratic Action (of Bosnians), The Croat Democratic Party (of Croats) and
The Serbian Democratic Party (of Serbs). It was surprise for IC, but quite
reasonable for those who knows what is really going within the Bosnia
What caused this reversible political dynamic in B & H.
There are three main reasons:
-The fails of Dayton Peace Accord to realize all
its goals and in time;
-The separated interests promoted by the nationalist
-The geopolitical influence and interventions from
Concerning the first reason, we have realized
that Dayton Peace
Accord reforms were concentrated mainly at the federal level in order to preserve
the state integrity and to promote some modest democratic developments. So,
the lack of bottom-up reforms let the entities in the spontaneous process for
a long time. This spontaneous process paved way for the most extremist elements,
nationalist parties and old military leaders to return into the active political
life without any serious obstacles. Having free space during the transition, these former contingents
of the war kept the local and entities power again by demagogy, pressure and
money. They started to undermine the further implementation of Dayton
Peace Accord within their entities. So, the reforms envisaged by the Dayton
Peace Accord remains mostly at the federal level and on the half way, not having
the vertical and the horizontal implementation. So far, Dayton Peace Accord
neither restored integrity of the state institutions, nor the democratic society.
Concerning the second reason, we have realized
that the nationalist parties interests have been and
remain in favor of keeping the country separated rather then united. This negative
phenomenon is more typical in the Serbian
Republic. The political
will of these nationalist parties for co-operation in favor of B & H integral
state never exist. The three main entities included in two structures, Bosnia
& Croat Federation in one hand and the Serbian Republic on the other, are
stronger then the federal institutions. This is because the three entities are
still under the most influential nationalist parties and leadership. This leadership
ignores in many cases the political, legal and financial obligations for the
federal institutions. The two federal entities have their own armies, police
forces, some security structures, customs as well as some formal and informal
fiscal institutions. Local nationalist authorities are curbing the process of
returning refugees and displaced persons. It seems that the local nationalist
authorities are more interested to keep their territorial entities ethnically
cleaned. They are also these local nationalist authorities, which are making
very difficult for peace- keeping troops to arrest the hidden war criminals
and to send them in the International Court of Justice.
Concerning the third reasons, we can say that
B & H is still in a very difficult and unfavorable geopolitical situation.
Not as worst as it was during the war, but still in a very complicated one.
Everybody knows that during the war the two main nations, Serbia
led by two extremist nationalist leaders get directly and indirectly into the
conflict. At the very beginning stage of the war the Serbian and Croat leaders
intended to create their own “greater nations” by splitting Bosnia
into two parts. So they were both responsible for the war, the genocides, the
crimes, the ethnic cleansing and the refugees and displaced persons.
Now the war is over, but the consequences are still
alive. The political and moral influence of the two main nations, Croatia
and Serbia are
still present in B & H. They have both political and moral power on their
own ethnic entities and could contribute in the process of reaching the internal
state integrity of B & H. Very unfortunately this political and moral power
has not been used positively as much as it could be by Croatia
and it has been misused in a very negative sense by Serbia.
This geopolitical situation has provoked a reversible
political dynamic in B & H. Using this specific geopolitical situation,
local nationalist leaders of the three entities continue their own way of separated
domestic politics and national geopolitical orientations without big troubles
by the federal institutions. These reversible political dynamics have promoted
two contradictory trends within one state: integration and fragmentarization.
These two contradictory trends are represented by two political mainstreams:
the democratic parties represent the integration, while the nationalist parties
represent the fragmentarization. The future result of these contradictory trends
is not yet clear.
So far, the institutional vacuum in B & H,
the interests of nationalist parties as well as the geopolitical situation have
created favorable conditions for nationalists to consolidate their own political
position by weakening the democratic parties and federal institutions. On the
other side this dangerous political trend is in favor of nationalist forces
in Serbia state
which are deeply interested to use the Serbian
Republic in B & H for their political
prospect overall the region.
Unfortunately, the nationalists in Serbia,
both in government and opposition seem to be inspired by the same old fashion
political doctrines and pursuing the same foreign policy toward B & H. They
want to keep the Serbian Republic
in B & H under their own influence, to dictate the political orientations
to her and to make it ignore the central state institution and internationals.
It is this confidential co-operation between nationalists in Serbian
Republic of B & H and in Serbian
State that has created free operational
conditions for war criminals Karadzic and Mladic.
The Serbian nationalists in Serbia
and around still want the Belgrade
to remain ethno-centrist capital for all the Serbs living out of the Serbian
states. They hope that the old Serbian dream for “Greater Serbia” will come
true. To reach this target Serbian nationalists are pursuing the strategy in
accordance to which Belgrade should try to keep the Serbian Republic in B &
H separated from the federal institutions as long as it can; to make all necessary
manoeuvres for the avoidance of Montenegro independency
from Serbia; and to separate Kosovo into Albanian and Serbian Cantons.
Through this strategy Serbian nationalists want
in Bosnia &
+ Serbian Cantons in Kosovo to be integral parts of their own centralized Serbian
state at the most favorable momentum. Of course this is not unknown because
it is not a new idea. But, this is the most dangerous political phenomenon in
the Balkans. It is direct threat to the integrity of the internationally recognized
state of B & H. It causes serious provocations in Kosova,
which territorial integrity is protected by 1244 Security Council Resolution.
It creates tensions in Montenegro,
whose authorities want to organize referendum for independency from Serbia
in the year 2006.
The old and active Serbian nationalists strategy
intends to be reached by curbing the integration of the Serbian minorities within
the societies and states where they are living in; by making the Serbian political
parties and associations outside the Serbian state to get the political orientations
only from Belgrade; and by provoking ethnic and political instability within
all Balkan states where the Serb minorities and their own nationalist parties
and associations are scattered. Such a continuing old Serbian strategy can provoke
anytime the regional crisis. Bearing in mind that nationalists and ultra-nationalists
in Serbia won
again in the last general election and are supporting the current Serbian minority
government the political situation can be reversible anytime. International
community dealing with the Balkans should never neglect this political reality
if they do not want the history to repeat itself.
III. Political dynamics in Macedonia
of Macedonia represents
another view of political dynamics. It depends by some specifics in its
origin, history, politic as well as by its geopolitics. The Republic
of Macedonia as it seems by the name
pretends to be the continuation of the old Macedonians leaving in the Balkans
since at the beginning of its ancient civilization. By the time this myth of
Macedonian origin promoted the historical way toward national identity. The
myth of origin in one hand and the history on the other were both transformed
into the political national doctrine. It happened about one century ago. So,
the Macedonian nationalism became the first and the strongest political
party within the Macedonians. Its political goal was to establish the independent
state of Macedonia.
The dream of Macedonians to have their own symbols
of identity, integral territory and state institutions came true after the Second
World War, when the communist leader of Yugoslavia,
Joseph Broz Tito established The Republic of Macedonia
quite equal with the other Republics within Yugoslavia.
This achievement encouraged the Macedonian nationalists to declare their independent
state immediate after the dissolution of Yugoslavia
at the beginning of ’90.
of Macedonia is located among Albania,
population is composed by two large ethnic groups, Macedonians and Albanians
and some other minorities. The political dynamics in the Republic
of Macedonia has passed two phases
and has been influenced by three main factors.
The first phase started from the end of 1991
until the end of 1999 dealing mostly with the consolidation of the independent
state of Macedonia
and its international recognition. Independency, peace, stability, territorial
integrity were the main target of the political dynamics in Macedonia
during this phase.
The three main factors to impact the political
dynamics in Macedonia
1.The internal political dynamics;
2.The regional political dynamics;
3.The international political dynamics toward the country.
Concerning the internal political dynamics
the Republic of Macedonia
has its own history during the last decade. Immediately after the dissolution
of Yugoslavia and the collapse of the communist regime, two large ethnic communities,
Macedonians and Albanians found their own large political parties, The Party
for Democratic Prosperity, pursued by its later fraction, Democratic Party (both
of Albanians) and VMRO-DPMN, Social-democratic Party, Liberal Party (of Macedonians).
These political parties were with ethnic origin, composition, leadership, doctrines
There were also found some other political parties
in accordance with European model, not being based purely on ethnic but mostly
on modern political alternatives. Very unfortunately these modern political
alternatives remained small and not influential. So, the political spectrum
in the Republic of Macedonia
since at the beginning took shape as the multiethnic rather then the political
During the continuation of the war in Yugoslavia
the both main political ethnic groups, Macedonians and Albanians, organized
in their own parties, despite of their unresolved problems, were determined
to reach the political compromise and to create the consensual spirit. This
policy created a temporary climate of relaxation between the two main political
ethnic groups. It was reflected all over the country. This phenomenon was extremely
important for the Republic of Macedonia
because it escaped the involvement in the conflict.
Concerning the regional political dynamic the
Republic of Macedonia
faced complicated situations during the last decade. In the south, the Hellenic
Republic of Greece did not recognized immediately the independency of the country
because it had its complains about the name (“Macedonia”)
and the national flag (red field with yellow sunshine in the middle). The Greece
considered itself as the only and unique people originated from the ancient
time of history. They considered the name “Macedonia”
of Greek origin and the flag of its own. As the consequence the temporary name,
“Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
was internationally imposed. The Greece
created a lot of artificial obstacles at the very beginning stage of the independent
state of Macedonia.
of Albania pursued another foreign
policy toward Macedonia.
among the first countries to recognize the independent state of Macedonia.
The two countries established immediately the diplomatic relations. The bilateral
relations were intensively developed, including all fields of co-operations.
free access for Macedonia
to the Adriatic Sea, opening the way for economic zone
so necessarily for her. Both countries supported infrastructure developing projects
between two countries and contributed together in favor of peace, stability
and co-operation in the region. Pursuing such a policy toward Macedonia,
Republic of Albania
played a double role: first, it helped Macedonia
to maintain its independency, sovereignty and territorial integrity and, the
second, it contributed to preserve peace and stability in the
Kosova side boarder remained problematic for Macedonia
during the last decades. Before June 1999, Kosovo was under the increasingly
repressive policy of Miloshevic regime. In these circumstances
the way to Macedonia
as well as to Albania
served for Kosovars as the path toward the region
and Europe. On the other sides the human, relatives and
families relations between Kosovars and Albanians
and overall the region have always been strong. It is characteristic for Albanians
the fact that in cases of crisis they strengthen their ethnic relations no matter
where they are and live. So, during the crisis and the war in Kosovo,
Macedonia felt instability
time to time, despite the measures taken by the states to close cross-borders
or to adopt special security mechanisms.
The case of Macedonia
during the last decade indicated clearly that the instability in Kosovo is problematic
And the contrary, the peaceful, stable and developed Kosovo contributes for
peace, stability and development in Macedonia.
The geopolitical links and Albanian human ties and relations on the two sides
of the borders are the main reasons for such a strong and
direct bilateral impacts on the political dynamics between Kosovo and Macedonia.
didn’t caused any special political impacts to Macedonia
during last decades. Despite the historical debates between two countries the
both sides were able to overcome the history and to look to their own pragmatic
was interested to escape the Balkans problems and to be focused toward domestic
reforms and to the integration in NATO and European Union. Macedonia,
on the other side, needed good relations with the Bulgaria
because of its complicated domestic and geopolitical situation.
The other neighbour of Macedonia,
Serbia at the
first decade after ’90 was fully committed in wars with Croatia,
then with Bosnia
and later on with Kosovo. Serbia
didn’t has time and possibilities to influence directly
the political dynamics in Macedonia
during the last decade. Serbia
impacted the Macedonia
only in terms of regional context for reforms, foreign investments and integration.
Concerning the international political dynamics
it is known that the Republic of Macedonia
enjoyed the necessary intention from the International Community since at the
very beginning. United Nations, European Union, United States of America, NATO,
OSCE, Council of Europe were all present contributing positively to maintain
peace and stability in this newly established independent state located within
the Balkans. It would be very difficult to image how would be the Macedonia
today without International Community presence and contribution. The Macedonia
case indicated that when IC is present and active since at the beginning of
the crisis by using preventive diplomacy and protective measures the peace could
prevail even in the conflict area like the Balkans during the last decade.
The second phase of political dynamics in Macedonia
started from 1999 and continues. The recognition
of its independency by the international community, the internal political compromise
by the two main ethnic political groups, the experienced leadership, moderated
policy pursued by the Republic of Albania and Bulgaria, international community
presence and active role helped the Republic of Macedonia to maintain peace,
stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity. This temporary macro- stability
was very important not only for the country, but also for the entire region.
But this state macro-stability
in Macedonia could not covered for a long
time the cracks which started to erode inside the Macedonian society in terms
of democracy. Immediate after Kosovo war the political situation in Macedonia faced one by one trouble waves. The Albanian community,
the second large community within the Macedonia, represented again its own repeated
requests for human and national rights within the Macedonian states, such as
the rights for education, language, symbols, participation in the army, police
forces and administration, because these rights were systematically violated
or at least neglected by the Macedonian side.
The majority Macedonian
side tried to counter-balance the Albanian requests by reacting in the negative
way. The dialogue was interrupted and replaced by policy of the force. The power
reaction provoked radicalism within Albanian community. The Albanian main political
parties lost the confidence of their people. The situation went out of control.
So the initiative was took by radical military leaders, who established an Albanian
guerillas army, similar to Kosova Liberation Army, but without any interconnections with
each- other. The political goal of the Albanian guerillas army in Macedonia was to impose by force to the Macedonian authorities
the Albanian community repeated demands for the human and national rights. The
political process was replaced by army conflict between the states institutions
and the Albanian army and community. The gap between two large entities threatened
to destroy everything achieved earlier.
It was very quick
international community intervention that stopped the conflict and brought the
parties in the round tables talking. As the consequence an international agreement
were reached known as “The Ohrid Framework Agreement”
(The OFA) in the August, 13, 2001, singed between the parties in the conflict and the
representatives of the International Community.
The Ohrid Framework Agreement is a principal compromise document
that obliged two large ethnic communities to take reforms in the following directions:
To make the necessary
To undertake Legislative
To implement the
These three Annexes
contain the substance of the democratic reforms to preserve independency, sovereignty
and territorial integrity of Macedonian State; to respect the character of multiethnic
and pluralistic democracy within society; to ensure fully respect for the fundamental
freedom and human and national rights; to make reforms in the state institutions
vertically and horizontally for including equally all ethnic groups in the central
institutions; to decentralize local power in accordance with the relevant European
Convention; to return general normality in human and ethnic relations through
the implementation of the necessary measures for Confidence-Building. This program
provided to The Ohrid Framework Agreement if correctly
implemented will reintegrate all ethnic groups, minorities and individuals into
the same democratic society within the Macedonia.
After The OFA the
general election took place in the country. The Former Albanian army was disarmed.
Its leadership found the new political party, named Democratic Party for Integration.
The result of the election changed the political spectrum in the government.
The Democratic Party (of Albanians) and VMRO-DPMN (of Macedonians) lost the
election. The Social-democratic League and Liberal Party (of Macedonians) and
Democratic Party for Integration (of Albanians) won the election and formed
the new coalition government. The government political program was to fully
implement The OFA.
At the very beginning
this process was going up and down. There was a lot of mistrust between the
sides, misinterpretations to conceptualize the principals and very slow actions
to adopt and implement practically The OFA. This happened because some parties
who signed The OFA changed their position later on. VMRO-DPMN opposed later
the document; Democratic Party took the contradictory position; some traditional
Greeks, Bulgarian and Serbian political circles influenced the process of the
reform not in the right way; the old state administrative staff hesitated to
change the structure of state institutions; some conservative people in the
army, police and so-called “lion troops” resisted not to make reforms within
the army and police forces.
situation provoked exactly one year later the repeated crisis. The crisis producers
put in doubt The OFA alluding for the formation of the new purely ethnic states
overall the Balkans. But this time the crisis was managed politically without
any serious negative impact. In contrary, the last crisis brought the positive
reflections to all main actors of states, politics, societies and internationals
for better conception, adoptions, implementations of reforms derived from the
principals of The OFA.
During the second
phase of the political dynamics in Macedonia the process was influenced also by three outside components:
the improved situation in Kosovo, the positive regional co-operation and the
advanced steps toward the integration of Macedonia in NATO and European Union.
The improved situation
in Kosovo brings direct positive political impact to Macedonia. Even the last crisis of March, 16-17, 2004 in Kosovo
didn’t cause any problems in Macedonia. The last Kosovo crisis was domestic and was managed
quickly by the Kosovo leadership and internationals.
The regional co-operation also influence on the Macedonian
political dynamics. It is very positive the fact that Western Balkan Countries,
including Macedonia, Albania and Croatia are very closely co-operating by creating
the triangle diplomacy in the fields of peace, security, stability and integration.
They have also institutionalized this triangle diplomacy by singing The Adriatic
Charter, a document promoting rapid rate actions of these three countries toward
NATO integration under the USA leadership.
In this course the latest Macedonian application for EU membership would promote
further positive political dynamic within the country.
In the times to come the political dynamics
in Macedonia will continue to depend on The OFA fully implementation,
on the regional co-operation and on the process of integration in European and
Euro-Atlantic structures. During this process of transitions and reforms Macedonia
needs to have the presence and active role of the International Community.