NEWS

Greece caught in a Balkan maelstrom

Developments in the Balkans are posing a challenge for Greece’s foreign policy as states that emerged from the dissolution of Yugoslavia continue to break up into smaller entities. The United States and the European Union have gradually begun to accept certain very dangerous principles that could directly or indirectly affect Greece’s interests. The first shot has already been fired in a revealing article in France’s Le Monde newspaper, titled «The Montenegro phenomenon,» which urges the Turkish Cypriots to look to a future in independence. The report attempts to draw parallels with Montenegro (which was a principality and kingdom for half a century before being incorporated into Yugoslavia, and since 2003 has been on an equal footing with Serbia in a loosely linked state entity) and the illegal Turkish-Cypriot regime which resulted from Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus. If indeed putting Montenegro on a par with the Turkish Cypriots is going too far, the imminent independence of Kosovo is much more dangerous for the Republic of Cyprus, and therefore for Greece’s interests. Independence for Kosovo would mean international legitimacy for the secession of part of a country’s territory by military force exercised by foreign powers under the pretext of «humanitarian reasons to protect an endangered minority,» in this case, ethnic Albanians. Yet it was Ankara that cited the protection of threatened Turkish Cypriots as its excuse for its invasion of Cyprus and the occupation for over 30 years of 37 percent of Cypriot territory. If this argument is accepted in the case of Kosovo, where the invader is NATO, Ankara will be in a much stronger position to demand recognition for its own invasion of Cyprus. Naturally, only political expediencies will determine what is actually accepted, if it is used as a means of putting pressure on Nicosia and Athens or whether any attempt to compare the two cases will be ignored. Greece and Cyprus, however, must be prepared for a very tough battle on all levels, using all the weapons at their disposal ? some of them in advance ? so that Ankara does not try to raise the issue without first realizing the heavy political cost it will have to pay, and which could lead to a veto of its accession to the European Union. The fact is that the process of breaking up the Balkans into smaller states is being accompanied by a clear tendency on the part of the EU to delay the accession process of these states into its ranks, since the majority of public opinion in the 15 «older» member states views the latest enlargement as a failure. As a result, the hopes of the newer Balkan states, fueled by visions of prosperity due to an influx of EU funds, are being dashed, and this after they had agreed to instructions by the EU even regarding the formation of their states (such as with Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [FYROM] and Serbia-Montenegro). Naturally, this has seen a revival of nationalist fervor and the further dissolution of these states formed on the basis of instructions from the US, the EU and NATO. Serbia-Montenegro has already broken up. The artificial state of Bosnia-Herzegovina will not be far behind. At the end of April, the Bosnian Parliament rejected the constitutional reforms which the US and European powers (which rule that country as colonialists) tried to impose in an attempt to create a rudimentary unification of the protectorate’s state mechanism. The Balkans dream of becoming part of Europe, but they are gradually becoming Europe’s «black hole.» Now a bizarre situation has emerged in which part of Kosovo is likely to secede even before Kosovo itself becomes independent of Serbia. Last month a commentator in Le Monde suggested that Bosnia be broken up and that the Bosnian-Serb section be annexed to Serbia, along with the northern part of Kosovo inhabited by the some 100,000 Serbs remaining there. It is only the EU’s money and promises that are silencing the Slav-Albanian conflict in FYROM. Let us not forget that this unrest was only brought under control due to the anti-Islamic climate that prevailed after September 11, 2001. However, as soon as the two sides realize that the road to EU membership will be much longer than they first thought, they just might take up arms against each other again. This is highly possible since the expected independence of Kosovo will encourage FYROM’s ethnic Albanians, who would like the same outcome for their own parts of FYROM and who dream of unification with Albania. The worst scenario of all would be if these new states prove to be unviable, accustomed as they are to being criminally dependent on the plentiful funds provided by the EU in order to tempt their deeply corrupt elites into complying with their demands. This process has proved effective until now, but it has spoiled the people and leaders of these countries, where the political situation is likely to deteriorate drastically if the EU cuts off or reduces funding as a result of pressure from public opinion. Such a process is already in motion. Between 2001 and 2006, EU aid to Bosnia was reduced by 50 percent, to Serbia by 35 percent and to FYROM by 30 percent. Aid for the entire Balkans for 2007-09 is expected to be reduced even further. Greece should not depend solely on the fact that it is the richest and most stable country in the Balkans. The longer the states in the region continue to break up into smaller parts, the more unstable the situation will become and the harder it will be to find an equilibrium. Hopes of a universal, European equilibrium in the Balkans are fading into the distant future. For the time being, Greece should take care to avoid any unpleasant surprises.