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SP216 LECTURE NOTES (2014) Dr. Brendan Flynn. WARNING! Rote ‘ learning-off ’ of my lectures and their verbatim reproduction will earn a student a very low grade in the exam. COPYING AND CITATION of this material for the purposes of essays is prohibited.

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Sp216 lecture notes 2014 dr brendan flynn
SP216 LECTURE NOTES (2014)Dr. Brendan Flynn


Rote ‘learning-off’ of my lectures and their verbatim reproduction will earn a student a very low grade in the exam.

COPYING AND CITATION of this material for the purposes of essays is prohibited.


What states lie within the Balkans?

What is distinctive about a Balkan style of politics?

How should we view the region-a “backwards region”?

Why did Yugoslavia collapse so violently in 1991-1999?


(Sept 15th 2014)

The BALKANs-an introduction

Please note the importance of doing the

basic introductory reading to go with and

make sense of these notes. Moreover, to

master this topic, you will have to do the

more advanced reading that has been

indicated as relevant for the exam. These

readings are itemized in the course outline.

These flags are all from new european states can you name them
These flags are all from new European states-can you name them?

Clockwise montenegro 2006 macedonia 2001 kosovo 2008 serbia 2006 bosnia herzgovina 1996
Clockwise: Montenegro (2006); Macedonia (2001); Kosovo (2008); Serbia (2006): Bosnia & Herzgovina (1996)

The point?

This is a region where very new and quite small states have emerged very recently-and may continue to emerge!

State-making and breaking is a risky and sometimes bloody business.

We can expect the unexpected perhaps from the Balkans...?

Note: relevance here for Scotland?



2013: Croatia joins the EU after some difficulties while BiH in deadlock

2010: German Foreign Minister: "Bosnia-Herzegovina clearly has a future in Europe but the road to Europe is only through internal unity, through internal unification"

2008: EU funds for Bulgaria and Romania

‘suspended due to systematic corruption mismanagement’

2008: Kosovo declares controversial independence

2007: Romania and Bulgaria joined EU in 2007

2006: Montenegro votes to leave Serbia, Croatian

entry to EU delayed till 2010.

2000-2003: Macedonia crisis-not really resolved.

1999: Kosovo crisis-NATO’S only war!

1991-1996: Yugoslav Civil War-massive scale.....

Fast changing region.....matters to us/EU?

2014 balkans not in the news but making progress towards eu membership
2014 Balkans Not in the News (but making progress towards EU membership?)

The Austrian and Serb foreign ministers meet and greet

August 29th Merkel organised a Western Balkans conference in Aug.29th

“"All states in the Western Balkans should have the opportunity to join the European Union if they fulfill the accession requirements," .

The big background issues were the orientation of Serbia (a traditional ally of Russia-would she continue to seek EU membership? Secondly, the fear of Russian ‘action’ in Ukraine is probably creating some incentives to speed up membership of the EU…..but also NATO……

Serbia emerges as a vital state in the Balkans-will it continue on a pro-western EU path or revert to pro-Russian and more adversarial line? Recent elections were won by pro-EU parties…but…. (election poster below reads: Both Kosovo and Russia-and is from the extreme nationalist parties)


1. Defining the Balkans? (A look at the map)

2. Brief history of Balkans

4. Why and how did Yugoslavia break up so violently?

4. A distinctive Balkan style of politics today?

5. Western Views of the Balkans-”Backwards?”

Defining the balkans a look at the map s from http www geographic org maps balkan region maps html
DEFINING THE BALKANS? (A LOOK AT THE MAP(s))From: http://www.geographic.org/maps/balkan_region_maps.html

And a brief note on the political geography from http en wikipedia org wiki file balkan topo en jpg
And a brief note on the political geography....From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Balkan_topo_en.jpg

No real agreement on defining the Balkans”between the Adriatic and black seas and below the Danube” or.... Where Orthodox and Muslim Europe meets western Christian Europe....(see map overleaf of religious areas in Europe)

Note: Balkans includes many ‘new’ states, and at least 1 (mostly) unrecognised state (Transdniestria)

Religions and Regions in Europe today-note the Balkans!From: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Europe_religion_map_en.png

A Map of Transdniestria-a European state (Russian enclave/protectorate) not formally recognized!From: ttp://www.democracyarsenal.org/2008/09/war-over-transd.html


A borderland between the Ottoman/Turkish empire and Western powers from Medieval times.

19th century saw a rapid growth of ethnic nationalism-various ethnic groups seeking independence from empires (Ottoman, Austrian, Russian).

‘Modern’ Balkan nation states emerge 19th century, notably Serbia and Greece, but also Bulgaria, and Romania with western/Russian backing.

Some Historical Maps-Balkans 1914, and in 1920.See: http://www.nytimes.com/specials/bosnia/context/yugo1815.GIF.html1914 1920

Ethnic cleansing 1912?Refugees fleeing during the Balkan wars of 1912-13, most likely Muslims (Turks)From: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4a/With_the_conquered_Turk_(1913)_Initial_phase_of_balkan_wars.png

Balkan wars (1912-13) left a legacy of inter-ethnic/national conflict as did WW1 & WW2.

Cold War (1947-1989) mostly froze ethnic tensions, but, sometimes these were played out by Communists (Bulgaria) or ethnic nationalism became the most authentic opposition to Communism (Yugoslavia)

After 1989, a Post-Communist political class

exploited/stoked ethnic tensions as a means of

keeping power

(Examples here include Romania 1989, but especially Serbia/Yugoslavia 1991)

Milosevic, ex-Yugoslav Communist, “Playing the Nationalist Card”at 600th Anniversary of Battle of Kosovo 1989From: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/03/12/international/milo3.span.jpg

On June 28th, 1989, Milosevic, a senior figure in Communist Yugoslavia of the 1980s, spoke to a large audience to commemorate the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. Although his speech contained statements about respecting other nationalities, clearly, this was a Communist-era leader re-inventing himself as a nationalist. His major theme was that Serbs needed to be united, and had conceded too much in Yugoslavia. More ominously he stated:

“Six centuries later, now, we are being again engaged in battles and are facing battles. They are not armed battles, although such things cannot be excluded yet.”

(Text of his speech can be found at: http://www.swans.com/library/art8/smilos01.html)

The most important political story of the Balkans in recent years has been the Yugoslavian Civil Wars 1991-1996 & 1999An old man sits among the ruins of the City of Vukovar, after it was attacked and destroyed by Serb/Federal Yugoslav army units in force in late summer 1991.From: http://www.everyculture.com/images/ctc_01_img0291.jpg

Yugoslavian wars (1991-1996)-a very complex 3 way conflict between Muslims, Croats and Serbs, mainly in Bosnia

The scale of this war was huge- est. 97,000 fatalities in Bosnia (1991-1995) over 1 million refugees!

But NOT just simply a tribal/ethnic war-more a state collapse/civil war.

For example Muslims enclave at one stage fighting other Muslim troops! Moreover initial Serb-Croatian violence was ‘instigated’ from the top down by Milosevic and related elements in the Serb/Yugoslav Communist party.

between Muslims, Croats and Serbs, mainly in BosniaOur overall impression was that the media were used by the authorities there, and really in all parts of Croatia and Bosnia, to – for propaganda, and that part of the aim of many of the media announcements was to frighten their own people into believing the worst stories about the other side or the other two sides, and to cause a polarisation and to believe, in a sense, that unless you separated from and possibly took up arms against the other side, they would come and kill you first. And it seemed to us that the great majority of people, ordinary people, were quite happy to live alongside each other, and had done so for many years. But within each of the main communities, there was a relatively small group of people who were determined to poison people's minds against the other side or the other two sides and to cause -- to cause this polarisation so that the small core group's political aims could be achieved.”

Testimony of former European Community Monitor in Yugoslavia, James Mayhew (ex British Army), Page 6027-28, available at http://www.un.org/icty/transe24Stakic/020717IT.htm

Satellite photo imagery of possible mass graves after Bosnian-Serb paramilitary takeover of Srebrenica 11th July 1995. NATO and UN forces did little to stop the attack which resulted in thousands of Muslim men and boys executed.http://www.gendercide.org/images/pics/srebair.jpg

Western Response 1991-95 Bosnian-Serb paramilitary takeover of (UN, EU) ineffectual and flawed.

NATO role significant really only after 1995. USA’s role under Clinton-very controversial

(See article by Brendan O’Shea, (2005) ‘Kosovo: the Triumph of Ignorance’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol.28, No.1, pp.61-65.)

1996: Dayton Peace agreement-backed by US/NATO threats of heavy coercion. Bosnia occupied by NATO troops, and an imposed federal power-sharing structure put in place between Serbs, Muslims and Croats.

Why did yugoslavia break up so violently
Why did Bosnian-Serb paramilitary takeover of Yugoslavia break-up so violently?

  • Some argue historical inevitability-’ancient hatreds’ from the bottom up-but this seems crude. Great deal of academic debate and controversy (see Marko, 2010).

  • Others stress ‘top down’ failed transition-division between community party elite over transition to democracy (Gagnon, 2010).

  • Much of the worse violence has precise institutional explanations- the Federal Army was organized partly as a regional militia-which meant these could be converted to ethnic forces very easily and this created an easy perception of a mass ethnic security threat in certain areas (Dulic & Kostic, 2010). Also systematic use of small number of criminal/fanatic elements to kick off the worst violence was a deliberate and uncontrollable feature (Schlicte, 2010).

Albanian victims, among circa 45, murdered by Serb paramilitary units on January 15th, 1999. This was the event which probably triggered NATO’s air war against Serbia a few months later.Source: http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1810000/images/_1812847_racakmassacre300.jpg

1999 (April): NATO decided to be tough with Milosevic after massacres in Kosovo: 76 day ‘air war’ followed

Summer 1999: NATO occupies Kosovo with an uneasy Russia and a UN mandate.

Source: www.guardian.co.uk/gall/0,,460071,00.html

An ethnic Albania fighter in Macedonia, 2001, as fighting flared.

2000-2003 Macedonia crisis erupts: ethnic Albanians fighting (again)...a spillover from Kosovo?

17th February 2008 Kosovo declares independence-Europe’s newest state.


Importance of ex-Communists is not unique, but they have had more success in Balkans.

Depth and complexity of ethnic tensions is more intense-e.g. Bosnia has ethnic and religious problems mixed. In other cases ethnic tensions mix with great power interests (Moldova/Transdnestria).

Economic base is lower-much poorer societies.

“Ireland, GDP per capita: $41,000 (2005); Bulgaria estimated at $11,904 (2008).” (see GDP per capita map of Europe over)

Civil society relatively weak-less of a middle class (who often are state employees rather than classic bourgeoise).

Role of expatriate ethnic nationalist communities abroad important


  • Tendency to explain Balkans in crude historical-cultural terms-”These people always hated each, they will fight again”.

  • Ignores specific political contexts of the 1990s-role of regime type.

  • Nationalism problem today is different from C.19th-non-state nationalist extremists rather than state nationalism, and nationalism used by ex-Communists.

  • Western views of Balkans as exotic-‘orientalism’-unhelpful?

  • West oscillates between indifference and over-reaction.

  • Long history of emotional/moral intervention in Balkans (Gladstone 1876...Blair 1999)

An old photograph of the Batak Massacre victims, Bulgarians massacred by Turkish irregulars April, 1876.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Massaker_In_Batak_Bulgarien_1876_3.jpg

Balkans as backwards orientalism of balkans in western discourses and views

Balkans as Backwards… massacred by Turkish irregulars April, 1876.Orientalism of Balkans in western discourses and views

Orientalism- massacred by Turkish irregulars April, 1876.a mostly elite held frame of mind, a system of representations, or a mode of thought, through which eastern cultures were and areframed, understood. These discourses help ultimately the project of domination/colonization, or at least legitimate such manipulations. These discourses serve to accentuate differences between an imagined Christian/white/rational-modern west and an Islamic/colored /traditional-backward east rather than accept/explore connections and commonalities between east and west or diversity within regions and cultures…..

  • Todorova (1994) massacred by Turkish irregulars April, 1876. argues there has been a longstanding tradition of western elite perceptions of the Balkans as backward..and levantine…not exactly orientalist….these views became pejorative by the late 19th century…also a tradition of western moralizing about the Balkans-a region to be saved/civilized by us…….

  • Fleming (2000) argues against using the Orientalist frame of understanding…because unlike the middle east the old ‘near east’ lacks a similar colonial history or a distinctive academic tradition…instead she argues for a cautions use or the concept of ‘liminality’ of the Balkans…and a plea to understand detail and context. Nonetheless she notes the pejorative framing of the Balkans with tribal violence and with proximate exoticism.

  • Buchowski (2006) gives a wider view beyond the Balkans arguing that orientalising as a general mode of thought that seeks differences and division has now become a generalized social space within the context of post-communist transitions. This invites the view that the collapse of Yugoslavia was allowed and even ‘made sense’ to local and international elites because it fitted within an orientalising pattern that sought out to identify western winners from eastern losers-Slovenian and Croatian elites in 1991 were as determined to break away from a Serb dominated ‘other’ Yugoslavia, as surely as Serb nationalists constructed this as fitting within a nationalist paradigm.

  • Hammond (2007) argues that Balkanism rather than orientalism is a better way of looking at things. Stresses that Balkans is a zone of ambiguity and a zone of chaos…the importance of travel writing as a means of shaping views of the region is emphasized here.

And the point is how we see a european region matters
And the point is? massacred by Turkish irregulars April, 1876.How “we” see a European region matters

  • Orientalism is a complex academic debate which only partly helps understand how the Balkans is ‘constructed’….a Balkanism rather than Orientelism is more evident.

  • The essence of that view is to stress cultural ambiguity, backwardness, the need/futility of ‘saving’ the Balkans from themselves, the predominance of violent ethnic nationalism in contrast to supposedly peaceful civic western nationalism….

  • These views become politically important in shaping elite views during the crisis of Yugoslavia 1991-1999…..the western powers (US + EU) veer between rescuing the Balkans and letting a ‘balance’ of ethnic terror prevail, picking and re-warding pro-western winners (Slovenia, Croatia) and ex-western losers (Serbia).

  • Until such views are confronted western interventions in the Balkans will always risk pre-ordained failure…in part because it is assumed..that this is what the Balkans are (for)…a failed backward region of Europe which reveals our (supposed) superiority?

  • Western motives-mixture of moral, cynical, and a massacred by Turkish irregulars April, 1876.“holding operation”.

  • Balkans as a long term EU protectorate: a neo-Colonial future?

  • Piecemeal entry of some states (Croatia) into EU divisive? EU membership agenda for the rest will not simply go away-but would be hugely challenging.

  • CONCLUSIONS massacred by Turkish irregulars April, 1876.





  • SERBIA and her fortunes are pivotal….

  • Much depends on fortunes of the EU as a a stable regime and the evolution of Russian foreign policy

  • ENDS