The US and Germany, which fuelled the Wars of the Yugoslav succession in the 1990s, are planning to fan the embers to a flame again.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – The United States and Germany have agreed to recognize Kosovo and get the rest of Europe to follow suit after the province declares independence following the Serbian elections next month, according to senior European Union diplomats close to negotiations over the future of Kosovo.
In a recent conversation about the future of Kosovo, EU officials said President Bush and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had agreed it was imperative to secure the stability of the western Balkans by coordinating the recognition of Kosovo after the second round of Serbian elections planned for Feb. 3.
They said Washington was aggressively pressing the EU to ensure that the recognition of Kosovo was not delayed by even a week.
Remember how it started?
As Samuel Huntington (1998:282) described it in his book The clash of civilizations:
The breakup of Yugoslavia began in 1991 when Slovenia and Croatia moved toward independence and pleaded with Western European powers for support. The response of the West was defined by Germany, and the response of Germany was in large part defined by the Catholic connection. The Bonn government
came under pressure to act from the German Catholic hierarchy, its coalition partner the Christian Social Union Party in Bavaria, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other media. The Bavarian media, in particular, played a crucial
role in developing German public sentiment for recognition. ‘Bavarian TV’, Flora Lewis noted, ‘much weighed upon by the very conservative Bavarian government and the strong, assertive Bavarian Catholic Church which had close connections with the church in Croatia, provided the television reports for all of Germany when the war began in earnest. The coverage was very one-sided’… Germany pressured the European Union to recognise the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, and then, having secured that, pushed forward on its own to recognize them before the Union did in December 1991.
Austria and Italy promptly moved to recognize the two new states, and very quickly other Western countries, including the United States, followed. The Vatican also played a central role. The Pope declared Croatia to be the “rampart of Christianity,” and rushed to extend diplomatic recognition to the two states before the European Union did. The Vatican thus became a partisan in the conflict, which had its
consequences in 1994 when the Pope planned visits to the three republics. Opposition by the Serbian Orthodox Church prevented his going to Belgrade, and Serb unwillingness to guarantee his security led to the cancellation of his visit to Sarajevo. He did go to Zagreb, however, where he honored Cardinal Alojzieje Stepinac, who was associated with the fascist Croatian regime in World War II that persecuted and slaughtered Serbs, Gypsies and Jews.
The focus then moved to Bosnia, where John Major agreed to recognise Bosnia’s independence in return for German support for Britain’s position on the Maastricht Treaty, thus condemning Bosnia-Herzegovina to a bloody civil war. And what was the result?
As Brendan O’Neill (Comment is free: The Bosnian connection) notes:
Far from being radicalised by the failure of the west to act, large numbers of Muslims were radicalised by western intervention in the Balkans. Their movement to Bosnia was facilitated by Washington’s support for a military gateway between the Islamic world and Bosnia, and inside Bosnia they fought with a military outfit that Washington armed. They were also inspired to take up arms against the Serbs by western media depictions of the Serbs as sub-human savages who deserved ‘punishment’. The mujahideen meted out such punishment, in the form of stabbings, beheadings and forced circumcisions, as well as ordinary warfare.
Many of the mujahideen who fought in Bosnia went on to become al-Qaida operatives. They learned their trade of simplistic moral fury and brutal violence on the battlefields of Bosnia, where they were enticed and inflamed to execute holy war against the Serbs by western meddling and western media coverage.
And now it’s Kosovo — deja vu all over again!