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“The Balkans, a crossroads under influence”: a hundred questions so as not to ignore anything about this region


Book. The Balkans were long considered, not without reason, as the powder keg of Europe. Thus the assassination in Sarajevo, in June 1914, of the Austrian Archduke François-Ferdinand by a terrorist manipulated by Serbia plunged, through the interplay of alliances, the continent into the First World War. Times have changed, but a quarter of a century after the end of the wars that ravaged the former Yugoslavia, this region of South-Eastern Europe remains a gray zone at the gates of the European Union, fraught with potential instability.

“Balkans taken as pawns in a global strategic game that goes beyond them… The situation of the region, from this point of view, hardly differs today from what it was at the beginning of the XXe century, only the list of “great powers” ​​has undergone some changes”, note Jean-Arnault Dérens and Laurent Geslin, journalists and historians in their work The Balkans, crossroads under influences. Austria-Hungary is no more, but Russia and Turkey are still there. The United States and China are asserting themselves as major players, while the Europeans are dithering.

Twenty years after the Thessaloniki summit where, in June 2003, the Union solemnly consecrated the vocation “European” of the “Western Balkans” – Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo – nothing has really changed with regard to their integration, even if a good number of them are now recognized as candidate countries. This status quo is becoming all the more untenable as Ukraine and Moldova now focus all the attention of the Twenty-Seven.

A relatively recent word

Nourished at the same time by a great experience of the field and a consistent historical baggage, this book is essential for those who want to understand the roots of the potential new conflicts of a region which left the forefront of the news after having been for a long time the ” one” in the 1990s. In a hundred questions, they analyze the issues, recall historical facts too often forgotten in the west of the continent and smash a number of received ideas.

The very name “Balkans”, which refers to the large mountain range in the heart of the region, is relatively recent, taking up an old Turkish designation. As for the notion of “Western Balkans”, it is a neologism barely twenty years old to differentiate the countries of the region still waiting on the threshold of the Union from those which, such as Greece in 1981 or, since then, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia, have already been integrated.

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