In the past few days, a certain non-paper was the cause of somewhat of an uproar in Slovenija and in the Balkans. Slovenian and Bosnian media reported that the government of Janez Janša sent a non-paper to Brussels, in which a change of borders was considered for countries of Western Balkans.
There are a few things to consider here. The truth is, Bosnia and Herzegovina suffers from severe governance problems and some reforms are needed. It is also in a bad place economically. On top of it, there is the fact that there are still some that want a change of borders. Serbs would join Serbia, Croats Croatia, and what would remain would be a minuscule state. The situation is similar in Kosovo, where there is a large Serbian minority in the north. That part could go to Serbia, while some parts of Serbia populated by Albanians could go to Kosovo. Kosovo could join up with Albania. Macedonia is also in danger of disintegration because a large Albanian minority in the west could also join up with Albania. We see, that there are nationalistic and religious factors that contribute to the instability of the region. It is only a matter of time before they explode in another orgy of violence.
It is not in Slovenia’s interest to stir up troubles in the Balkans, so we can be quite certain that this idea, this non-paper isn’t a product of the Slovenian government. It could be, that the Slovenian government just put forward ideas of some other country, most likely Croatia or Serbia, although there could be some other outside power, that is interested in the rearranging of borders in the area.
Such interests exist, of course. Turkey and Russia come to mind first, but we should not discard European countries that would wish to play a bigger role in the region and help their friends or insert themselves more forcefully. But that is all just speculation.
The brunt of criticism for this non-paper will be felt by the government of Mr. Janša. An important reason is, that Slovenian media will run with this story to paint him in the worst light possible and so put more pressure on his government, now that the Presidency over the Council of the European Union is around the corner. There is a very tense standoff between the government of Mr. Janša and most of the Slovenian media. Other media in Europe will gladly blast Janša as well, as he is considered to be an ally of the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.
Truth to be told, the Western Balkan has been virtually abandoned by the EU, no matter all the proclamations to the contrary. Changes are necessary, to lift the region out of poverty and to give it a viable perspective. But, it is easier to maintain the status quo, warning of the dangers of nationalism and at the same time do nothing, while masses of people languish in poverty and in larger and larger numbers leave for work in some Northern European country.
There is also some hypocrisy here. The proposal to change the borders is met with outrage, but the borders have already been changed when Yugoslavia collapsed. Why is it acceptable that republics could be independent, while people of a certain nationality are denied the right to live in a country of their choosing? Why does the desire of Catalans to live in their own country find approval, but Serbs should not have the temerity to ask to change the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to include them in the common Serbian state? Often the same people hold these two positions, pretending that there is no contradiction.