The Balkans have always seemed far away and part of an era of thirty years or so ago when world's geopolitcs appeared more (metaphorically speaking)
black and white than they do today.
The post WWII cold war main participants were to
my then adolescent eyes, politicians from 'The West'
who were the good guys led by the USA; the bad guys were the USSR's politicians
and their presumed followers such as Yogoslavia's Tito. Then there were those
bogeymen-like politicans from the far away East such as Mao and his red book
The late Pope JP II and the Polish Solidarity shipyard trade unions, cataylised
huge changes; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the USSR and Tito died.
Yugoslavia then moved up my consciousness as a consequence of making
a private pilgrimage to Medjugore via Mostar, Sarevo and Zagreb in
the early 1980s. I still
wonder about JPII's apparent lack of enthusiasm for Medjugore but shortly
after returning from a brief but momentus, few days there, the break up
of Yugoslavia began. Sareavo in particular became a byeword for internecine
bloodshed. Mostar's famous bridge was demolished.
My Balkan consiousness moved up again when upon making my way to the
start of the Flora London Marathon at the turn of the millennium,
runners were asked to wear black ribbons as signs of solidarity with
Kosovogans who were being slain in the civil wars that were
still plaguing that region post-Tito.
Now on 17th February 2008 Kosovo is apparently looking
for a show of independence accompanied with the usual ££s of
fireworks. The independence is to be supported by the EU
but not by Russia or Serbia. Is it a good thing or not will be
the key question? The answer to that question will doubtless
take some years to emerge but my view fwiw at present is that
it has been rushed through too quickly and against UN resolutions.
The UN is flawed but it is the main forum for trying to deal with problems that
span countries and continents. Acting against its resolutions
however politically loaded such resolutions might have been,
is fraught with risks. European politicians may well be found to
have taken such a risk with a consequence being that of more bloodshed
than would have been the case had patience prevailed.