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The Balkan Region

This is the Balkan region and this is the mountain range, to which it owes its name.

With the exception of Albania and Bulgaria, the countries of the region from 1945 to 1991 formed a federation, the former Yugoslavia, the country of southern Slavs.


When Yugoslavia broke up in 1991, 5 new countries were created: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia and the rest of Yugoslavia, namely Serbia and Montenegro.


How are these countries doing today? Bosnia Herzegovina is located in the heart of the Balkans and is almost a landlocked country. It has only access to the Adriatic Sea through the port of Neum. The country is 50,000 square kilometers big and has 4 million inhabitants.

Since the Dayton agreement of 1995, it is a confederation of two Entities: the Bosniac-Croat Federation, which occupies 51% of the territory, and the Serb Republic, which occupies the remaining 49%.

Foreign policy and foreign trade are subject to central government, but each unit has its own constitution, its own army, its own police force and determines its relations with its immediate neighbors. Therefore, the Bosniak-Croat Federation has of course a special relationship with Croatia. And the Serb Republic with Serbia and Montenegro.

In addition, both entities tend to neutralize each other by preventing decisions, which would need mutual agreement. And the three ethnic groups in the country turn their back to each other.

The Bosnianpopulation consists of 43% Bosniaks, 31% Serbs and 17% Croats. The three ethnic groups are now going separate ways both socially, economically and politically. This goes so far that in the parliamentary election in October 2002, each group voted for nationalist politicians. The Croatian nationalists declared the Croatian regions of the Bosnian-Croat Federation autonomous. Thus, Bosnia now consists no longer of two, but rather of three parts.

Since the end of the war, the efforts in bringing the communities closer together did not succeed. The unity of the Bosnian territory, and probably also the peace, is ultimately ensured through the presence of a High Representative of the United Nations, who shall exercise the real power in Sarajevo. Furthermore, through 12 000 soldiers of the NATO Stabilisation Force and the EU police forces. Overall, Bosnia is thus monitored, controlled and virtually kept alive artificially. Because public expenditures are financed by international organizations in practice. Bosnia is still the poorest country in Europe. Unemployment stands at 40% and the country suffers from corruption and organized crime. Bosnia's basic problem is the fact that the three ethnic groups no longer want to live in one state. The international community, however, prefers the unsatisfactory status quo even more than a redefinition of the borders.
For by the fragmentation of the region would only increase, with the absurd result that every ethnic group would get their own state, and the carried out ethnic cleansing during the war would be justified in retrospect.

Serbia and Montenegro, with its 8 million inhabitants, is the most populous country in the Balkans. Since the fall of Milosevic in late 2000, reforms have been initiated and Serbia receives international financial assistance and loans from the IMF.

In Serbia there are problems in relations between the capital, Belgrade, Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro.

In the northern province of Vojvodina there live 27 ethnic groups, mainly Serbs, but also Hungarians, Croats, Slovaks and Romanians. The main regional parties, especially the Hungarian demand a return to the autonomous status, which was available to the province before it was abolished in 1989 by Milosevic.
Also in the Serbian province of Kosovo Albanians represent 90% of the population. Since the NATO attacks in 1999 that haulted the massacres of Kosovo Albanians by the Serbian Army, the province is under the administration of the United Nations. Its safety is ensured by the 21,000 soldiers of KFOR. Although Kosovo legally remains part of Serbia, in fact provisional institutions were formed and the management of the budget and taxes was handed over to local authorities. For the Albanian majority, this means that they are moving towards the desired independence of Kosovo. This is feared by the Serbs that make up nearly 10% of the population of Kosovo and who prefer a new definition of the borders.The area populated by a majority of Kosovo Serbs would be annexed to Serbia and the Albanian part of Kosovo would get the Presevo Valley, where the Albanians are the majority, but would remain within Serbia.

In the meantime, the international community takes care of the situation and it becomes clear why they preferred the status quo. In Kosovo there is still no stability, which becomes clear on the regional scale. An independent Kosovo would have serious consequences. For Bosnia, the Serbs could ask the Serb Republic's annexation to Serbia. And for Macedonia with its significant Albanian minority.

Macedonia is 26,000 square kilometers and has 2 million inhabitants. Of these, one quarter are Albanians who live mainly in the north and west. And they might also require to form an independent state to be affiliated with the Kosovo Albanians or with all Albanian people of the region.

2001 Albanian rebels had demanded more rights for Albanians in Macedonia. Only through the swift deployment of 3,500 NATO soldiers the militias could be disarmed and a peace agreement be concluded that granted the Albanians more rights. Especially in the field of language and school education. Besides, the country name of Macedonia has to be changed. Since 1991, people in Greece believe the term "Macedonia" dates back to Alexander the Great, and is part of Greek heritage. It is now clear why the EU has insisted that Montenegro to stay together with Serbia and renounces independence. They wanted to avoid a perpetual dismemberment of Yugoslavia.


Disclaimer: Please note that this text might not reflect latest developments. It is originally in German language and has been automatically translated.