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An introduction to the strategic geography of near east the balkans

Andre Leibch, Minorities in Eastern Europe. Obstacles to a Reliable Count. The data on the national structure of the population of Albania, Bulgaria and Romania are given in Tables 1, 2 and 3. The three states are ethnically heterogeneous. In Albania and Bulgaria the shares of national minorities are minimized. In 1975, in Albania a decree was passed on Albanizing personal and geographical names.

The state authorities in that country have had a bivalent position towards the national minorities. They have been striving for ample rights for the Albanians in the neighbouring countries but, at the same time, they have denied any rights to the minorities in their own country. In Bulgaria there are no officially recognized national minorities, only ethnic groups.

The Macedonians are not even mentioned as an ethnic group although there were about 235,000 of them in Pirin Macedonia before World War I and 179,000 in the 1956 population census.

It was particularly difficult during Ceausescu's dictatorship. The position of the Serbs was also grave after the conflict between Yugoslavia and the Eastern countries in 1948. Many Serbs were resettled and murdered. Today the Serbs in Romania enjoy all rights of a minority. Officially, there are no national minorities in Greece. The Macedonians are not recognized as a separate people and the Turks have the status of Greek citizens of Islamic faith.

They are given certain ethnic rights which directly depend on the rights enjoyed by the Greek minority in Turkey by the principle of reciprocity. The probable count of the Turks is about 120,000 in the northeast of Greece. In the European part of Turkey the national structure of the population is homogeneous Turks. In its eastern part, there are numerous minorities of Armenians and Kurds. It should be noted that the Turkish authorities have been very cruel towards these minorities for decades.

Regions of Conflict in the Balkans Regions, ethnic and legal-political problems present matters of dispute among the Balkan states and peoples.

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Disputes emerge from the agitated and unfortunate history, high ethnic non-homogeneity, insufficient political culture of the majority of the Balkan peoples, particularly of their leading establishments, and from a greater involvement of the Great Powers in social and political circumstances and relations in the Balkans.

We will list them in the SE-NW direction. Intolerance between these two countries started back in the mid 14th century. The Turks have been mostly aggressive and the Greeks defensive. They come into conflict now over the Greek portion of the East Aegean area aspired to by Turkey.

Tension exists because of Cyprus, too. Intolerance stems from the unsatisfactory status of the Turkish national minority in Bulgaria. Supporters of "Greater" Bulgaria keep these facts in mind. The Greeks are aware of that. There may be a dispute over the area of South Dobruja. In 1940 it was returned to Bulgaria Treaty of Craiova. Now the Romanians wish to bring this area back to "homeland".

Bulgaria - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The problem is very acute since in Bulgaria the Macedonians are considered to be a portion of the Bulgarian people.

Macedonia is the most important territory in the Balkans which Bulgaria claims. It is true that the present official rule in Bulgaria acknowledges the Macedonian state, but it still claims that it is the Bulgarian ethnic area. The planners of "Greater" Bulgaria deem that a pan of Southeast and Eastern Serbia should belong to the eastern neighbour.

In the optimum variant, "Greater" Bulgaria should reach the Velika Morava river. Until now the relations between Bulgaria and Serbia have been rather poor. In 1915, as an ally to the Central Powers, Bulgaria invaded Serbia treacherously, "from the back". In both world wars the Bulgarian occupiers were guilty of many atrocities towards the Serbian people. The Bulgarians and the Serbs have mostly argued over the Vardar river valley since 1330.

This means that in the forthcoming period they should optimize their cooperation as neighbours.

  • There is a tendency to gather one's "own" nation into one's "own" state, mostly because there have never been historical prerequisites in the Balkans that would enable the implementation of a civil - political model in nation shaping;
  • In 1940 it was returned to Bulgaria Treaty of Craiova;
  • Albania - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia;
  • The southwest connection means deepening the relations between Serbia and Montenegro and the egress of Serbia to the sea, and the southern one interconnects the three Orthodox states -- Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Greece and gives Serbia an egress to the Aegean sea;
  • It is true that the present official rule in Bulgaria acknowledges the Macedonian state, but it still claims that it is the Bulgarian ethnic area;
  • Then the Socialist Republic of Macedonia set on the route of separation and independence on November 17, 1991, the Constitution of the Macedonian state was adopted as well as the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina March, April 1992.

Greece - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Macedonians of the F. Then they became subjected to a process of extensive assimilation. On the other hand, the Greek administration did not recognize the Macedonian national minority on its territory and contested the name of the Macedonian state. Though the official administration in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia confirmed their wish for a status quo in the state boundaries, a large number of Macedonians wish to unite the whole Macedonian ethnic area "Greater" Macedonia.

Disputes are due to unsatisfactory position of the Greek national minority in Albania. On the other hand, the planners of "Greater" Albania are of the opinion that the northwest Greece should belong to the Albanian stare.

  • FYR of Macedonia - F;
  • The same Commission qualified the republic boundaries as state boundaries and proclaimed the Serbs in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be national minority.

Albania - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There is a dispute because of the unsatisfactory position of the Macedonian national minority in Albania. Another threat is the Albanian separatist movement which is supported by a numerous highly biovital and well-organized Albanian minority in Macedonia. The planners of "Greater" Albania claim the whole western, northern and northeast Macedonia.

Since 1912, the relations between Albania and the First, Second, and Third Yugoslavia have been poor most of the time. The reason for this has been that Albania claims a large portion of Serbia Kosmet and the neighbouring districts and Montenegro, wishing to annex them to "Greater" Albania.

Albania is a small state in the Balkans. However, it is "great" because of its political and geographical position on the Strait of Otrantobiodynamics of its population, and aggression towards the neighbouring states.

The relations between the Serbs and Albanians and between Serbia and Albania rank among the most serious social and political problems in the Balkans. FYR of Macedonia - F. The relations between Serbia and the F. A lot of Serbs look upon a large part of Macedonia as the Serbian historical homeland, and with a good reason.

Several hundreds of thousands of the Serbs are reckoned to have lived there in the time of the Turkish rule. Skopje was an important spiritual and economic centre of the Serbian people. There are many Serbian cultural and historical monuments in Macedonia. The Serbian army liberated the Vardar Macedonia from the Turks in 1912.

  1. An immense political mistake was made by acknowledging the independence of the former SR of Croatia and SR -of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the national and political question in these countries was comprehensively resolved. It is true that the present official rule in Bulgaria acknowledges the Macedonian state, but it still claims that it is the Bulgarian ethnic area.
  2. If numerous unresolved social and political issues between the Serbs and Muslims, Serbs and Croats, and Muslims and Croats are thought of, then, there are more than twenty conflict-prone regions. In the former Balkan socialist countries the post-communist reconstruction of the society and policies should be completed as soon as possible, i.
  3. It was very difficult for the Serbian people to learn that their traditional allies forsook them, particularly France, Great Britain and the United States.

It is today's Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The matters of dispute between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the F. The main reason for such a situation on the border is the danger of a possible conflict in Kosmet.

The Balkan Geopolitical Knot and the Serbian Question

In spite of that, this state treats the F. It should not be so, as the F. All the issues of dispute between Belgrade, Skopje, and Athens should-be smoothed out as soon as possible and a fruitful cooperation incepted.

Such a cooperation would be beneficial for all three parties, primarily for the F. If all issues are worked out with Bulgaria, a regional community can be formed in this part of the Balkans.

The main objective would be to promote cooperation, but not to close themselves from the rest of the world. These two countries have neither border nor territorial or any other problem. For over 1000 years the Hungarians oppressed some of the Yugoslav peoples. After the retreat of the Turks from Pannonia the Hungarians spread extensively beyond the boundaries of their homeland. The Hungarian leading establishment is dreaming about a reestablishment of "Greater" Hungary for the third time which would encapsule parts of Serbia, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

The relations between the F. Republic of Croatia - Republic of Slovenia. These two Catholic and secessionist republics used to be the most developed and rather privileged parts of the former S.

There are no major disputable issues between them. In the forthcoming period, a problem of the political and economic status of the Littoral and Istria may arise.

Italy - Republic of Croatia - Republic of Slovenia. The relations between Italy, Croatia and Slovenia have been correct so far. However, some political parties and movements in Italy are of the opinion that the Osim Agreement should be revised, and an issue raised to change the state border towards Slovenia. There is some tension between Italy and Croatia over the issue of the Italian national minority in Croatia. If numerous unresolved social and political issues between the Serbs and Muslims, Serbs and Croats, and Muslims and Croats are thought of, then, there are more than twenty conflict-prone regions.

Almost each stare has at least one unsatisfactorily resolved issue with its neighbours. Almost each state "is in war" with its neighbours. Such political relations hardly exist anywhere in the world. The second big problem is the wish of almost all the Balkan peoples and countries to form their "greater" states, that is, to unite all the so called national territories but also take possession of the territories that belong to them according to the so-called "historical" law, and, sometimes, according to an arbitrary interpretation of ethnic and historical facts.

They also want to improve their own economic position.

  1. This means that the Serbs as a people and as individuals shall observe ethnic and other features and interests of other peoples. Prosveta, 1978 , II, 346.
  2. The problem is very acute since in Bulgaria the Macedonians are considered to be a portion of the Bulgarian people. All the issues of dispute between Belgrade, Skopje, and Athens should-be smoothed out as soon as possible and a fruitful cooperation incepted.
  3. The Serbs must have equal rights as other peoples in the former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, these lies are adopted as truth in the immense part of the world public.
  4. In spite of this the interests of outside powers are still confronted here. Special attention should be paid to the reinforcement of the relations between Serbs, Croats, Muslims and Albanians.
  5. The Hungarian leading establishment is dreaming about a reestablishment of "Greater" Hungary for the third time which would encapsule parts of Serbia, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine. The term "Balkanization" should fundamentally change its meaning - instead of conflicts between the Balkan states and their subordination to foreign powers, the term should mean fruitful cooperation and active, equitable participation in international relations.

Aspirations and projects of "Greater" Balkan states are based on ethnic, historical, and functional-economic principles of state delineation. An ethnic approach, instead of a civil and political approach modelis applied to nation shaping and national issues resolving.

There is a tendency to gather one's "own" nation into one's "own" state, mostly because there have never been historical prerequisites in the Balkans that would enable the implementation of a civil - political model in nation shaping.