OPINION

Dangerous map games in the Balkans

dangerous-map-games-in-the-balkans

A “ghost” of a non-paper that is said to outline changes to the borders of the Western Balkans has come along to revive nightmare scenarios at a time of heavy geopolitical turbulence in the broader region of Southeast Europe, the Black Sea and, of course, the Eastern Mediterranean.

No one has officially seen this document – brought to light by a Slovenian website with the claim that the government in Ljubljana was among its authors – which is said to contain territorial shifts that will radically change the current map by dissolving Bosnia-Herzegovina and creating a “Greater Albania,” “Greater Serbia” and “Greater Croatia.”

The Slovenian government has denied the existence of such a document and informed Sarajevo as much, though Albania’s Edi Rama was quoted by Serbian television as claiming that he had spoken to the Slovenian prime minister some time ago to present various ideas and had actually seen this non-paper.

The government of North Macedonia went further, saying that the plan outlined in the rumored document would have a dangerous destabilizing effect.

This was not, of course, the first time that scenarios foreseeing border changes and territorial exchanges have been floated by all the different “cooks” in the “Balkan kitchen,” mainly with a focus on Kosovo and settling its regime, which would also be recognized by Serbia. But these are tricky times and those countries (meaning Greece) that may in one way or another find themselves in the vortex of such radical changes and the creation of new power centers in the immediate neighborhood had best pay attention to such indications of intent, especially when broader geopolitical shifts loom on the horizon.

Any new changes to the map of the Western Balkans means the abolition of the status quo – basically the Dayton Agreement, forged by “fire and ax” through the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, and later in the Kumanovo Agreement, which paved the way for Kosovo’s independence.

Such a change would inevitably embroil every Balkan state, as it would affect everyone’s security and interests – leading to more bloodshed.

The presence of a “Greater Albania” on our northern border could not be accepted by Greece, which would then be justified in seeking the annexation of “Northern Epirus,” nor would Bulgaria tolerate a “Greater Serbia” without seeking to also expand by claiming the remaining part of North Macedonia, not to mention the Turks, who would see an opportunity to attempt an entry into Thrace. It would, in short, be a mill that would grind us all.