Political dynamics within the other countries

                                  in the Balkans

                     . Cases of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia


                                     By. Dr. Lisen BASHKURTI

           Contributions 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 Balkans.

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 & Herzegovina


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 & Herzegovina 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 & Herzegovina 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 the top.

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 & Herzegovina. 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 parties;

-The geopolitical influence and interventions from abroad;

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 and Croatia 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 & Herzegovina 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 Montenegro + Serbian Republic in Bosnia & Herzegovina + 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

The Republic 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.

The Republic of Macedonia is located among Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. Its 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 have been:

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 and electorates.

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 pluralism.  

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.

The Republic of Albania pursued another foreign policy toward Macedonia. Albania was 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. Albania created 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 Western Balkans.

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 in Macedonia 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 for Macedonia. 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.

Bulgaria 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 relations. Bulgaria 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 & Herzegovina 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 toward Macedonia, 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:

Annex A

To make the necessary Constitutional Amendments

Annex B

To undertake Legislative Modifications

Annex C

To implement the Confidence-Building measures

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.

This undesirable 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.