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Legacy of Balkanisation


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1. Markko Lehti: Introduction –

Legacy of Balkanisation

First, I would like to thank you again for support. It was very important for me because, thanks to you, now I can take my all credits. Second, I hope that my diaries will be understandable. I will endeavour for write good presentations for the course “Nationalism in the Balkans”, although the diaries are using a little bit in the Romanian education system.

My first diary is about a lesson upon which I missed - “Legacy of Balkanisation”. Nevertheless, I have read some information from PowerPoint presentations uploaded on Alexanteri’s site. I think it is a very “hot” topic to speak about nationalism and Balkans in the same time because into this region the nationalism is a particular way of thinking. It is not a banal concept. I studied before about this and I can say that is not so difficult to see some differences between nationalism of Balkans and nationalism of West-Europe or Asian nationalism.

Into this lesson, the teacher explained the concept of nationalism and the concept of Balkans and he tried to show us the Ottoman influences. After some definitions, some argumentations and quotations about nationalism, the professor said that in the Balkans we can meet ethnic nationalism but with strong elements of civic nationalism (especially in Serbs, Greece and Romania). What does is this ethnic nationalism? Do it is bad one? I think that all nationalisms have some ethnic parts, event the civic nationalism. It is very important for each member of each ethnic group and for his actions. You can see this not in the times of peace, but of conflict.

The teacher did not insist very much upon the “Balkans” concept and boarders because the next lesson will be about this topic. It is difficult because the Balkans is not just a geographical region. It is a sum of social, political, economic, traditional, cultural and religious elements.

It was very interesting for me to improve my knowledge about Ottoman legacy, (folklore, religion, culture, influences which Balkan’s countries.

The diary question was “Think about possibility for righteous and lasting peace that satisfy national dignity!”. I thought about this problem. It is clearly that each people have national values like moral, cultural, social, historical values, the national autonomy and the sovereignty, which put in evidence the national spirit and it offer the national dignity. It is very important to know these values. The problem is that some countries want to perform just personal values  or interests, which are in conflict with the interests of other. We are not the peoples who decide about peace or war in Balkans.

They are the symbol of country credit. More, I would like to say that national dignity is not the same with nationality. Mihai Eminescu, a very popular poet in Romania said, “The nationality must be felt with your heart, not just spoken”. Each people must respect others because the respect and the reciprocity are the premises for a righteous and lasting peace everywhere, even in Balkans.

2. Marko Lehti – Balkanising

 and De-Balkanising

I think that this lesson was amazing because I have seen many information and many maps very suggestive for the evolution of Balkan region. I suppose that, because I’m from Romania, it would be fine to add interested information about Balkans. But I can tell you that Romanian peoples are not so proud about his “balkanization”. We are saying: “Romania isn’t into Balkans!”, but nobody from us can explain why (maybe just geographical because the history attests that Romania is a Balkan’s sister). Generally, when we are saying “Balkans”, we are thinking at a negative region without rules, a place with too many problems. It is important to assume, to accept your identity and to make all possible to be pick, to be better for this world. About this subject, teacher Rada Boric said, <<Why the Balkans people tend to 'escape' from the Balkans? Is it because it has been /and is connected to the violence (the term to balkanise, as put in Oxford dictionary, means to violently divide the land (when it was defined like that in the dictionary, already the whole Balkan region was devided (after Balkan wars), not in a more or less violent way then other European countries has been formed (just some time earlier). And still, only the Balkan has to carry the burden of violent place. Recent war(s) in former Yugoslavia might be the proof for 'violent nature' of the Balkan people, but if we think that some people are more violent then another then we opt for old essencialistic (biological) teories and do not understan geopolitics.>>

Ok, now let’s talk about who, what, and where are situated the Balkans? It is important for me and for all the Balkan’s peoples. The first document where is present this word, was in the 15th century a letter from the Italian writer Filippo Buonacorssi Callimaco to Pope Innocentiu. He used the “Balkan” term for the mountain Haemus. Later, in 16th century, the German priest Solomon Sweiger, who lived 3 years in Istanbul, is the first person who recalls the Occident with “Balkan” term (like a Turkish word naming the mentioned mountain – balk=block …maybe my dictionary is not very good… and the Turkish termination “-an”).  In 1808, the German geographer in his book “Goea” used for the first time the term “Balkan peninsula” (“Balkanhalbeiland”). He delimited the borders of this region: “at North, this region is separated of Europe by the long mountain range of Balkans, which in North-West arrives at Alps and to East it lose itself in the Black Sea”.

But it is very difficult to delimit this region because it must to use many criteria like historical, geographical, political, cultural, ethnical, religious and economical criteria. Maybe geographical, Romania isn’t a Balkan country, but, by the other’s criteria angle, my state is, no doubt, Balkanized.  For this I like this course. It is putting in evidence all characteristic things for give a realistic image about Balkans.

3. Katalin Miklossy – A Romanian Dilemma:

 Eastern Balkans or Central Europe?

When I have heard that I missed this lesson I was sad because for me is very important for me and generally for Romanians to know the opinions about our country from outside. I have read the slides and I have seen the topics about nationalism in Romania. I like the exposition of evolution of Romanian nationalism. It is an image very close to our conception about this subject. I am very happy to see that the image of this country is real. I will talk more and I will have (I hope) more interesting information for the final presentation.

The first leading question for this diary is, “How is contemporary nationalism connected to the problems of transition?”. In the context of transition from communism to democracy is very important to evaluate the role of the nationalism because the nationalism proved many times non-liberal and anti-democratic. It was a very difficult way for all Romanians. No many peoples understood that when a new (occidental, liberal) life, is wanted it is necessary to change many things. The transition from the national communist (characterized by collective rights about race, culture or other commune characteristics) to liberalism (characterized by the human rights to choose) was a very difficult period. The state was not able to make the changes and the problems made the people to suffer. For this, especially the old peoples regretted the times of communism. Upon this background with many economical and political problems, appeared some nationalist extremist parties. At elections from 2000, it was an interesting situation because an extremist party (Partidul Romania Mare) took place in opposition and his leader, Vadim Tudor, was very close to be president. I do not want to think what would happen…

The second question is, “In what sense is nationalism a historical phenomenon?”. For this answer, I will use the Liah Greenfeld’s words. She says, “Nationalism is a historical phenomenon. It appeared in one age and it can disappear in another. But if it does, the world in which we will be more, and another world, as distinct from one we know as was the society of orders that it replaced, will replace it. This post-national world will be truly post-modern, for nationality is the constitutive principle of modernity. It will be a new form of social being and it will change the way we see society; to understand it, we shall have to begin anew.” I would like to add that, in the context of EU, the nationalism is more and more decreasing. Romania tries to orientate himself to Central Europe and to depart from Balkans, from Balkan’s violence and problems. At Berlin, at feast of 50 years form Roma trait, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, told that the future of EU is to have euro currency, a tongue for communication (English), and the sun and the wind than natural energy source. Nobody told about races, religion, ethnicity, etc.

4. Tanja Tamminen: Western Balkans –

Priority Region of the EU Enlargement.

I was very happy to learn about the approaches of the EU in the Balkans. I understood that the key of the most problems into this region is the EU integration desire. EU can stop the ethnic war in Balkans. Not by force like USA, but by negotiations. I am quite sure that this is possible.

It is very important to see the evolution of each Balkan country which adhered at or integrated in EU. I saw and I felt the Romanian’s effort for adhesion. It was very difficult for us to make so many changes into relatively short time, evidently, with EU important support. But nobody out of us could not to make this amazing evolution. The desire to be accepted, like one of the important European country, changed the face of this part of the world. Many states improved their economy, justice, foreign policy, etc. and this effort is colossal without external obligations. So, EU made by the programs of the integration much more than by war. Each non-integrated state wants himself to respect EU criteria to be later a respected state.

For this lesson we have two questions. First, I would like to answer at second question, “What does the Olli Rehn’s program of three C’s mean (consolidation, conditionality, communication)?”. I think it is the framework of the EU integration program a structure which offers security and trust in the relations between European countries. If this “Plan C” will be respected, the future enlargement of the EU will not be in peril.

Olli Rehn told about consolidation “We should consolidate the existing enlargement agenda, which is already stretched to its limits. We must be very cautious about taking on new commitments; but the EU was founded on the principle that ‘pacta sund servanda’, whereby sticking to one’s word is a basic value.” So, for the EU countries it is important to evaluate very well their power to support, to aid a new European country which wants to develop himself.

About consolidation, the Commissioner for Enlargement spoke about conditionality, “How can the candidates and potential candidates ensure fulfillment of the promise of eventually joining the EU? The only way is to meet the conditions for membership to the letter. To help meet them, the Commission has given every country a detailed list of tasks in its ‘Accession Partnership’ or ‘European Partnership’. This document identifies the key priorities which the country’s government must achieve in order to bring the country closer to the EU.” The conditionality is a natural step for integration. A new EU country don’t must generate political, economical, etc. problems or conflicts in the EU space. For this, each country must make all possible to perform the European conditions.

And finally, about communication, “Now we have to engage in a genuine dialogue with the citizens. The EU has to move from the technical to the communicative.” The dialogue with the peoples assures a real image, a real feed-back for EU representatives actions.

Now is easier to answer at the first question “Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn keep on assuring that it is not the case: the doors will stay open. What do you think?”. I think that we can believe him. In 2005 he told that if Romania and Bulgaria will respect the criteria they can adhere. Now Romania and Bulgaria are the EU countries. He told also that EU negotiates with Croatia and Turkey. I trust that they will be the next integrated. Also, I believe that the 1000 years war in Balkans will be stopped with the EU aid. Now, step by step, the nationalism of the country comes to transform in nationalism of the region.

5. Minna Rasku – To Whom Belongs Macedonia

I recognize that I don’t knew so many things about Macedonia and this lesson was interesting for me. All about Macedonia’s history and his elements which confer her nationalism, it was very well related.

I would like to insist upon the problem disputed in the class. I understood, and I hope I understood well, that Macedonia has a Bulgarian tongue and a Grecian history.  It is very strange for a nation because each from the two other countries claims to be recognized like mother-country. The ex-president Stoyanov told that “Macedonia is the most romantic part of Bulgarian history”. This affirmation infuriated Macedonians and made the political dialogue almost impossible. The historians found documents which proof that Macedonia was part of Bulgaria for the last 15 centuries.   

 About language, we can say that Macedonian tongue is a Bulgarian dialect, but they are similar. A big part of Macedonian population is Bulgarian. It is impossible to extract the Bulgarians from Macedonia just for respect political pretensions. This “battle” for language was ended in 1999, when Bulgaria recognized the Macedonian language and, in the same time, his nationality.

On the other hand, the conflict between Greece and Macedonia is a much disputed topic. Important is that the conflict can’t be stopped as long as Greece don’t accept to recognize Macedonian nationality.

6. Juhani Nuorloto – Croatia

At this course I understood that in the case of Croatia the nationalism concept is very flexible. I think the nationalism in Croatia is the result of his nation development and I’m speaking about language, territory, history, religion, culture.

The professor told us about language that this is not like Serbian or Bosnian tongue, it is different. It has two alphabets: one official (Cyrillic) and one unofficial (Latin).

Garth Massey*Department of Sociology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA, Randy Hodson and Duško Sekulić analyzed ethnic nationalism present in the views of Croatians in the aftermath of the 1991–1995 war – a war during which ethnic-nationalist rhetoric played a large role. “Because the war was part of systemic change in the nation, including the adoption of more democratic and capitalist social formation, we anticipated economic and political liberalism to be present among a sizeable portion of the population. We provide an analysis of the structural conditions fostering these sentiments, an analysis potentially applicable to a range of societies presently in transition. The effect of religious fundamentalism, educational attainment and media exposure are as predicted, based on theories of nationalism. Wartime experiences and position in the occupational system have a weaker and more mixed influence than hypothesized. Perhaps most importantly, we find that three out of five Croatians embrace both ethnic-national views and views that are distinctly liberal, suggesting that liberal nationalism is now dominant in Croatia.” This analyze put in evidence that for Croatians, the good nationalism transformed in the nationhood. I think, here we can find the civic nationalism.

The teacher presented us many important Croatian things like elements from each subject that I have told earlier. I liked very much the Croatian anthem – “Our Beautiful Homeland” and his message. It is a lively proof for put in evidence the Croatian nationalism and the pride to be Croatian. After war, the people country tried to affirm their nationality and although they still have some problems, I think they are on the right way.

Just a little question disturbs my mind. Why Croatia does was not accepted to adhere at EU? It doesn’t respected EU criteria? Is it possible just because their history? This country made more economical, political and juridical progress than Romania.

7. Tanja Tamminen – Kosovo and Voivodina,

 Futures of the Autonomies?

Kosovo is a province with very intricate history and present. It is a very “hot” county. In each moment it can bolt a conflict. I liked this lesson because I remembered many things about Kosovo’s history and about Kosovo’s ambitions. The nationalism in Kosovo, I think, is accentuated more than others Balkan’s countries and even than European’s countries. It has peoples who don’t want to make concessions.

Form this multiethnic and multi-religious society in each moment we can wait something to explode. But for me is easy to talk about Kosovo’s nationalism, about ethnic problems, religions, independence and autonomy. I wasn’t there to fill like a people from Kosovo. I don’t know if I may put photos, but I would like to show an image very expressive which shares us a little part from suffering of those citizens. Here is missing the comunication.

Now, I would like respond at second question, “The role and the situation of minorities in Serbia – do you think the elections of 21st January will change something?”. Yes, I think so! The majority in the Government is formed by Albanians. In Kosovo are 2 millions Albanians and close 100 thousand Serbs. The problem is that Albanian population wants autonomy and independence, but Serbian population wants Kosovo with Serbia. Already 200 thousand Serbs moved in Serbia. So, now the Serb minority must accept Albanian conditions. It is not fair.

The second question - “What would (the Belgrade proposal) ‘more than autonomy less than independence’ mean for Kosovo?” This proposal was a middle way for Kosovo citizens. The officials from Belgrade tried to keep this province ‘under their roof’ and in the same time to confer it the freedom of the policy, economy, etc. This region took the autonomy in1974, but after 15 years the leaders from Belgrad cancelled this wright. But now, the EU’s final rapport for the future of Kosovo recommends for this province independence internationally supervised. This solution was very good for the Albanians but the Serbs from Kosovo were not happy. EU and USA agree this document, but Serbia and Russia are against this proposition. It is possible to dare a big war? I don’t think so.

8. Tanja Tamminen: Bulgaria - Bringing Black Sea

 Dimension to the European Agenda

This was one of the lessons which made me very happy to see many elements of the Bulgaria history and to understand well the nationalism in Bulgaria. It is close the same like Romanian nationalism because we have many commune elements of the tradition, history and culture. But, certainly, we have also many things different and for this it was very interesting to participate at this course. I learned into my country that when you don’t know more characteristics about your nationalism and when you are not able to say “look, I am and I have…”, you can find in another part and after you chose something different you can say “look, I am not, I don’t have…”. I am not sure that it is comprehensible.

But let’s talk about Bulgaria’s history and nationalism. The teacher told us many things about irredentism, about religion in this country. Very nice was about the Turks who in the 19th century accepted to Christianize them and to learn Bulgarian language. Actually they loosed their Turkish identity to become Bulgarians. In Romania we have many communities of Bulgarians, but they are keeping their religion (it is simple because they are orthodox like us), their language and their traditions. I’m quite sure that each Bulgarian is very proud of Bulgarian history.

The first leading question is “What will be the major challenges of Bulgaria during its first years of EU membership?”. Yes, we’ll see many changes in the Bulgarian policy and economy because of the support of EU. But a little problem is appearing because now the Bulgarian extremist nationalism increases before EU integration. It is very strange because Bulgaria not met this kind of nationalism after the communism fall. It is a provocation for Bulgarian policy.

The second question is “How can EU profit from its new access to the Black Sea?”. The answer is evident! It is economical interest and relations with the East. First, the trade with EU products will be easier, without taxes and don’t forget, the Danube and the sea are the cheapest way to transport all products. Second, it can be a security issue. Is easier the sea to have like limits. Third, EU, a big empire, wants to be very close to Russia. For what? I don’t know because with Russia everything is possible.

9. Jouni Järvinen:  Serbs – Blackened Nation?

The Serbia’s history and their representing elements which give at this state their particularity, their nationalism are not very unknown for me, it is my neighbor country. Something quite interesting from this course was about the grounding of nationalism and the stste building.  One of the most important leaders was Miroslav Hroch. He was the ‘father’ of this nation and of his nationalism.  He understood that the nationalism must pass three phases: 1st phase, when everybody is interested to explore the culture of his nation, 2nd phase, when is beginning the nationalist agitation of intellectuals and when the national conscience is arousing, and 3rd phase when become visible the nationalist movements. He tried to establish a common language, Serbo-Croat or Croato-Serb.

Another important leader of Serbia was Stevan K. Tito, Croat and Serb in the same time, he was a great dictator in Yugoslavia. He brought for Serbs the nationalist spirit. In his times the communism kept together the Croats and the Serbs. I forgot to say that very much of Serbian history and culture is a Yugoslavian one.

Lather, Slobodan Milosevic was the president of Serbia from 1989 to 1997 and of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, between 1997 and 2000. He wasn’t a nationalist but a pragmatist. He was accused for crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Before Milosevic, in Kosovo everything has been normal, without conflicts.

The issue of human rights in Serbia is a big problem. Here we can recover interethnic crimes. Another subject which put in evidence the racial subject is the prohibited access for gypsies at political life.

Vesna Pesic said, “This analysis of nationalism’s role in Yugoslavia’s crisis will focus on three main factors. The first part examines the contradictory institutional structures of Yugoslavia as a state. The second and perhaps the most salient factor of the Yugoslav crisis is Serbian ressentiment, which ultimately rejected both the second Yugoslavia and a possible “third Yugoslavia” as a confederation of independent states. An aggressive Serbian nationalism broke the thin thread holding together Yugoslavia’s nations in a compromise arrangement, pushing toward an extreme solution of its national question through threats and warmongering. The third factor in this analysis is the collapse of authoritarian rule, which began right after Tito’s death in 1980, and accelerated rapidly during the breakdown of other communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe in 1989.” Just I would like to add that when Yugoslavia and especially Belgrade has been bombed in 1999, I don’t understood why Romanian people do nothing. I saw many Yugoslavian citizens who were clothed in t-shirts with targets drew. But later was clear for me that the guilty peoples aren’t they, but just their leaders, the political elites who used their power to destruct until this situation. I hope that Serbia will change their attitude and it will be as soon possible a respectable EU country.

10. Rada Boric: Is Nationalism Balkan Destiny?

I assisted at the least course. It was amazing, great, and excellent! The professor, who speak a bad but very cultivate English, explained us very well about Balkan crisis. It was a synthesis about all Balkan nationalist elements and especially about Yugoslavia. She told that for understand the nationalism we have to understand the past, to analyze the present and then it is possible to anticipate the future.

The nationalism is not generated by people but by elites. Geopolitical changes are a reaction by elite mobilization of masses to nationalism. The problem is that the nationalism would must including, not excluding. The most of conflicts have a virtual support. The nationalist policy is based especially upon speeches, education, doctrines, propagandas and media.

We can define the nationalism by 2 terms: 1. culturological – “Rational soul” something which is deeply rooted in the motivational structure of the group studied; 2. geopolitical – when the nationalism derives from geopolitical changes and it is the result of these changes.

The integral nationalism or ethnic nationalism is an ideology which all the activities in some societies are submitted to the nation. What does is national destiny? It is the result of geopolitical situation (like mishap to born and to live in a wrong place?). The Balkan region was 500 years under ottoman influence. After this, the communism knew a good development. It is easy to imagine the mix between ottoman elements and communist elements…

Is Nationalism Balkan Destiny? No, it is not! All nations want somebody to compare. It is normal because everybody wants to live better. Yugoslavia was a tampon between East and West. It chooses this!

Very interesting is the comparing between the EU and the Balkans. Rada Boric said “it is like an elephant into the glass store”. It is very difficult to understand, to decide and to action into a region where any subject can generate a conflict.

Thank you so much!

Politica de confidentialitate



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