Failure in Former Yugoslavia: Hard Lessons for the European Union
Kostas G. Messas
From the onset of the Yugoslav crisis, it was certain that the European Union (EU), due to its geographic proximity to Yugoslavia, would play an important role in resolving the conflict. 1 The EU sought to negotiate peace primarily through diplomatic means, initially aiming its efforts at preserving Yugoslavia's unity. As Tito's creation started unraveling, the Union's diplomatic efforts shifted from preserving unity to influencing this disintegration and containing its impact. In both endeavors, the EU responded to Yugoslavia's internal dynamics.
When internal developments indicated that preserving Yugoslavia's political stability and integrity was no longer possible, the EU responded by granting diplomatic recognition first to Slovenia and Croatia, then to Bosnia- Herzegovina, and later to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). By insisting on unity, when developments indicated that secession by the republics was irreversible, the EU would become diplomatically ineffective. When Bosnia-Herzegovina showed signs of intercommunal tensions over territory among its Muslim, Serb, and Croat communities, the Union responded by seeking to effect a territorial compromise between the warring parties. As these intercommunal tensions led to intercommunal war, the EU's diplomatic efforts to broker a lasting peace intensified.
The Union, hindered primarily by structural difficulties, did not play a leading military role. NATO and, by implication, the United States, played the