The 10-year conflict in the former Yugoslavia has confirmed the gap between the rhetoric of political correctness of the post-Cold War era and reality: All the settlements imposed by the international community are based on a de facto recognition of violent ethnic homogenization. When looking back on recent European history, the oversensitivity to ethnic cleansing seems paradoxical. The zones of stability in Central and Eastern Europe during the post-Cold War period were the same regions where the victors in the Second World War had imposed an unprecedented and violent ethnic homogenization. Nine million Germans were driven out of the territories which had been given to Poland by the Potsdam agreement while Czechoslovakia simultaneously commenced the expulsion of another 3 million Germans… The problem of the coexistence between dominant ethnic groups and minorities within the same borders surfaced after the end of the First World War. The disintegration of Austria-Hungary, unresolved issues arising from the end of the Ottoman presence in the Balkans and the former Russian territories which were not included in the Soviet Union made up a challenge to the regional stability which the Versailles treaty in 1919 attempted to establish… Where do minority rights end and the defense of state integrity and sovereignty begin? During the Cold War the question was overshadowed by the grinding logic of bipolar confrontation. In the decade which followed the years of 1989-1990, the gap between the rhetoric and the actions of the international community actually aggravated the problem. Let’s hope that sense will finally prevail and that the Durban Conference will not prove a lost opportunity to provide a comprehensive action plan against racism. Humanity has to prove it is able to formulate common positions on the issue of human equality, independent of race.

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