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Andrej Grubacic

The Balkanization of Bosnia

By Andrej Grubacic - Z Net, February 16, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Several weeks ago Der Spiegel ran an essay about contemporary Bosnia. This former Yugoslav Republic was not much of a topic in the last few years, but 2014 is different. This year is the centennial anniversary of the “original sin” of the Balkans, the assassination of the Austrian Arch Duke Ferdinand on the Princip Bridge in 1914. The aim of the author of the essay was to “examine the modern-day consequences of World War I,” but also to understand why Bosnia remains a “trouble spot” even today.

So what is today’s Bosnia like, according to Der Spiegel? This unfortunate country, the article reads, is a “wild landscape of forests and cliffs.” As an intersection of ancient ethnic hatreds, where every ethnic community has its own truth, Bosnia is “a landscape of old wounds covered by poorly healed scar tissue.” These ethnic hatreds present, even today, “a threat to stability in the heart of Europe.” This “wild, mountainous Balkan nation” has acquired a “the sad notoriety it has acquired again and again as a scene of bloodshed.”

The author proceeds with a line taken from the story by one of the region’s principal novelists, Ivo Andric: “Yes, Bosnia is a country of hatred… this uniquely Bosnian hatred should be studied and eradicated like some pernicious, deeply-rooted disease. Foreign scholars should come to Bosnia to study hatred, recognized as a separate classified subject of study, as leprosy is.”

Among those who had come to study this uniquely Bosnian hatred is a low level Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko. This Austrian bureaucrat is the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina—the highest-ranking civilian authority in the country.

Although the article concedes that it is “an irony of history that Austrians are in charge in Sarajevo once again, in both military and civilian matters, a century after the assassination,” Inzko offers an explanation why Bosnia needs to remain a European protectorate: “Europe must be judged on how it resolves the Bosnia-Herzegovina problem, because this is our backyard.” According to the High Representative, the colonial presence of the European Union is necessary as Muslims, Croats and Serbs “clearly lack what he calls the basis for a functioning state.” The main problem of Bosnia is lack “of consensus among three ethnic groups.”

In other words, the excess of ethnic hatred and lack of political maturity demands that the Europeans maintain their rule in Bosnia. There could hardly be a more sobering conclusion, the article ends, for “a place that played such a fateful role in European history.” The article neglected to mention widespread corruption, 40% unemployment, hunger, and dissatisfaction with the violent process of privatization — all results of the capitalist economy imposed by the “European community.”

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