War and Peace

The Balkans 100 Years after World War I

“When the wars in Yugoslavia ended, we had the sense that the cycle of violence that began with the Balkan Wars had ended and that the legacy of the collapse of the communist states had somehow reached its conclusion. However, in our region the situation is very fluid: in other words, the landscape that we saw before the Balkan Wars, where different identities were seeking statehood or non-state expression, through a kind of fragmentation of identities, as we could say, still applies today. There is a tendency towards ‘Balkanisation’. ‘Balkanisation’ means the creation of small, weak states: in 2006 Montenegro became independent; in 2008 Kosovo declared its independence (whether you recognise it or not), and we do not know when this process of the creation of small states will stop.

In the nineteenth century there was an idea that there was a threshold for being a nation, in other words a minimal size, and we see that today somehow this threshold has been completely removed. There is the tendency of small groups, which can hardly be distinguished from one another (with the nations of Kosovo and Albania as a prime example), to create nations in the region. This means multiplying borders and fracturing identities. This does not necessarily mean violence; it can happen peacefully. Nothing, however, guarantees that there won’t be another flare-up as new ethnic national identities continue to be created in the region: nations are still being born here.”

 

 

© Christina Koulouri
Christina Koulouri
Christina Koulouri is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in Athens, and Chair of the History Education Committee of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe. She is the author of several books and articles on the teaching of history; the history of historiography; school textbooks; national identity; and the history of sports. She is also the editor of four workbooks (alternative educational materials) for the teaching of modern and contemporary history in Southeast Europe.