Social Courts in Theory and Practice: Yugoslav Workers' Courts in Comparative Perspective

By Robert M. Hayden | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Yugoslav Self-Management and Law

The Uncommon State 1

Geopolitical Position: "Something in Between"

All countries are different, of course, but Yugoslavia is a most unusual state. For more than fifteen hundred years, the territory of modern Yugoslavia contained one of the basic cultural borders of Europe. The original division of the Roman Empire into eastern and western administrative areas, which met in the center of what is now Yugoslavia, led to an enduring political and cultural division between the Roman world and the Byzantine, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, Latin script and Cyrillic, the (Islamic) Ottoman Empire and the (Christian) West. We may recall that while the term "the Near East" has become obsolete in American English, at least, it used to be seen as beginning in the Balkans with some of the lands now part of Yugoslavia, including Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro.2

The cultural, religious, and orthographic divisions from these earlier times are still apparent in Yugoslavia,3 but the country no longer contains a political border between East and West. Rather, Yugoslavia as a nation has come to occupy a geopolitical position between the Western Europe of NATO and the Common Market, and the Eastern Europe of the Warsaw Pact and COMECON. It is bordered by two NATO countries ( Italy and Greece), three members of the Warsaw Pact ( Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria), one Western-oriented neutral country ( Austria), and perhaps the most xenophobic country on earth, the totally unaligned Albania. Rather than joining the competing European military, political, and economic alliances, Yugoslavia has become one of the only European members of a third-world club, the

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