Outcast Europe: The Balkans, 1789-1989, from the Ottomans to Miloeseviac

Outcast Europe: The Balkans, 1789-1989, from the Ottomans to Miloeseviac

Outcast Europe: The Balkans, 1789-1989, from the Ottomans to Miloeseviac

Outcast Europe: The Balkans, 1789-1989, from the Ottomans to Miloeseviac

Synopsis

Examining two centuries of Balkan politics, from the emergence of nationalism to the retreat of Communist power in 1989, this is the first book to systematically argue that many of the region's problems are external in origin. A decade of instability in the Balkan states of southeast Europe has given the region one of the worst images in world politics. The Balkans has become synonymous with chaos and extremism. Balkanization, meaning conflict arising from the fragmentation of political power, is a condition feared across the globe. This new text assesses the key issues of Balkan politics, showing how the development of exclusive nationalism has prevented the region's human and material resources from being harnessed in a constructive way. It argues that the proximity of the Balkans to the great powers is the main reason for instability and decline. Britain, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and finally the USA had conflicting ambitions and interests in the region. Russia had imperial designs before and after the 1917 Revolution. The Western powers sometimes tolerated these or encouraged undemocratic local forces to exercise control in order to block further Soviet expansion. Leading authority Tom Gallagher examines the origins of these Western prejudices towards the Balkans, tracing the damaging effects of policies based on Western lethargy and cynicism, and reassesses the negative image of the region, its citizens, their leadership skills and their potential to overcome crucial problems.

Excerpt

The idea for a book of this kind first occurred to me at the end of November 1992. I was in the audience at a rally of Britain's European movement in Edinburgh. It coincided with the summit of the European Union's Council of Ministers being held in the city during the fateful second half of that year when Britain held the eu Presidency.

With the usa absorbed in its year-long presidential election, Russia grappling with its retreat from communism, Germany fast retreating from Balkan involvements, and France and Italy disinclined to adopt a high profile as war raged in parts of Yugoslavia, Britain had been shaping international policy towards the region. John Major's government had adopted a minimalist policy towards the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, emphasising humanitarian relief but refusing to promote active peace-making measures which could end the tidal flow of refugees. the siege of its capital, Sarajevo, was well into its second year and mixed communities across Bosnia were being broken up by systematic violence as Serbian and then Croatian nationalists tried to create an ethnic monopoly in order to divide the territory between the nationalist regimes installed in Belgrade and Zagreb.

Statements from British government figures, briefed by Foreign Office officials, made it clear that the conflict was seen as based on the 'normal' Balkan pattern of life in which 'ancient ethnic hatreds' predominated. What I did not expect to hear at the Edinburgh rally was this view being endorsed by one of its keynote speakers, Edward Heath, who secured Britain's entry into the European Union in 1973 when he was Prime Minister. Ted Heath, as he is known by voters and fellow politicians alike, has remained true to the idea of creating a politically unified Western Europe. At the age of 85, he retired from parliament where he had long criticised his party, the Conservatives, for moving in an increasingly nationalist and 'Eurosceptic' direction. He began his long political career in the late 1930s as an undergraduate student at Oxford University, where he vigorously opposed the policies of appeasement of Neville Chamberlain towards Hitler in Central Europe.

But it was clear from listening to Ted Heath on that cold and bright Scottish winter afternoon, as he reaffirmed the need for European unity, that there was little place in his vision for the Yugoslav lands and that he did not even regard them as part of the Europe whose unification had become his lifelong ambition. When I protested from the floor about the

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