Book Reviews
Compilation of Papers and Studies (1997). - Geopolitical Reality of the Serb Nation.
(Volume 1, Number 1, Spring 2000.)
18 tra 2000 06:37:00
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Belgrade: Institute for Geopolitical Studies. pp. 606.
ISBN 86-82985-02-0.

 

"Geopolitical Reality of the Serb Nation" is a compilation of essays and studies presented at the Round Table discussions entitled "The Serb Nation in the New Geopolitical Environment" held in Petrovaradin in January 1997, organized by the Institute for Geopolitical Studies. It contains 66 contributions written and/or presented by Serb philosophers, economists, sociologists, experts in political sciences, geography, demography, law, theology, ethics, and professional military personnel from FRY and Republika Srpska, and other academic institutions. Even though three years have passed since this symposium was held, the views expressed by Serb political and academics draw not only on the spirit of that time but also show the habitual thinking of the Serb political elite.

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These works have been divided into the following four chapters: The influence of great powers on the position of the Serb nation; Positioning the Serb nation in relation to their direct geopolitical surroundings; Assessments relating to the influence of domestic factors on the overall Serb position; Serb responses to their geopolitical challenges.

In his introduction Radovan Radinović touches on the central thesis of these works - the view that Serbia is in its currently unfavourable position as a direct result of America's desire to dominate Europe and the Balkans. Radinović describes another geopolitical theory that the newly united Germany in its attempt to counteract the Turkish expansion towards Europe and the Balkans, is itself trying to expand its influence towards the Middle East. The authors are united in viewing Russia as the only Serb ally, but all agree that in its present form is too weak to resist Western powers. Radinović views the states surrounding Serbia, namely Albania, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as being anti-Serb orientated. For the majority of authors, the break up of the former Yugoslavia has resulted in the loss of "Serb ethnic territory", and has thus reopened the Serb nationalist question. Furthermore, they conclude that the only answer to this question is the creation of a Serb national country. The disintegration of the former Yugoslavia for these authors does not represent the final step in the Balkanisation process, contending that geopolitical tailoring is still ongoing. According to the authors the process has not been completed due to the varying geopolitical concepts in the international community regarding the division of the Balkans. In addition, they note that each change in relations between these powers places the Balkans deeper into their "whirlwind of contradicting interests" (Smilja Avranov p. 49).

The authors also allege that the great powers, in their view had by the United States, are endeavouring to minimalize the geopolitical importance of Serbia. Radinović states that America is the main obstacle in establishing a Serb state and realizing their national interests. He lists the Dayton agreement, Croatia's military operation "Storm" and western support of "Kosovo Albanian separatist ambitions" as arguments supporting this view. Radinović defines Bosnia and Herzegovina in this post-Dayton era as "an American multiethnic fixation" (p.29). Smilja Avranov describes the United States, France and Great Britain as new enemies of the Serb nation emerging from the newly strengthened ties between the United States and the Vatican. The United States and the Vatican, according to Avranov, are together decisively anti-communists coupled with the Vatican's anti-Orthodox stand.

Mihail Marković describes the current global situation after the fall of the USSR as the "New World Order" (NWO), which has allowed the Americans to dominate, shape the world and exploit the world's resources. In establishing the NWO the United States have attempted to create smaller states incapable of fending off political domination and economic exploitation. Drago Kalajić holds that Serb territory will eventually play the key role in determing the success of the NWO, in other words, the ruling of the "Third American Imperial" (p. 63). Text contributors criticise the South European Cooperation Initiative (SECI) as an attempt by the United States to separate South Eastern Europe and bring it closer to the demographically larger Turkey and the Islamic world (pp. 68-69). Marković also maintains that the United States is emphasising a "Hegemony" period due to their "painful losses in Vietnam as a leading world military power making them ill prepared to handle even the smallest loss of human life and thus, if the problem is not settled by bombing they retreat in front of a decisive resistance," (p. 57).

Ratibor Grujić maintains that the "most painful point in Serb history is the resistance by the great powers towards united Serbs and their desire to form a united Serb state" (p. 72). Marko Marković claims that the aim of the NWO is to destroy Yugoslavia, Russia and other Orthodox countries and Orthodoxy as a whole. This NWO would not allow European countries their independence because "American domination does not only mean death to a country's independence but death to its rights and democracy," (p. 86). Following the destabilisation of Russia, Marković predicts that the next stage involves the spread of "Pan-Islamism" to the rest of Europe. Rajko Gnjato believes that Russia is not only disoriented and lacking the power to stop the execution of NWO politics, but is also too weak to secure it's own interest within the NWO.

According to Dragoljub R. Živojinović, the Vatican is high on the list of Serb rivals, who have been striving to regain their dominant religious, political and social power in Europe since the fall of the USSR.

When discussing international relations, the authors often stress the inferiority of the European countries in respect to the United States. Marko Marković deems that Europe no longer exists but is rather a group of nations under American control. Slobodan Samardžić emphasises that the European Union through bad arbitration has disqualified itself as a competent element in the Yugoslavia crisis. Contrary to Europe's strategy, the "American military-political strategy is comprised of a mixture of ideological multiculturalism and real politics fuelling the (Yugoslav) crisis at low intensity." Thus the United States holds state-territorial and international minority disputes in regions such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sandžak, Kosmet and western Macedonia as "principally unresolvable".

Turkey's influence in the Balkans has also significably destabilised Serbia. Miloljub Jevtić describes "Pan-Turkism" as the concept of a Greater Turkey, where Turkey with the support of the United States, enters the Balkans, destabilizes first Serbia and then Europe. In this case Kosovo would serve as the primary foothold for "Pan-Turkism" while Albania would supply the second stepping stone, partly because of their historical ties to Turkey and partly due to the several million Turks of Albanian descent.

Yugoslavia's neighboring countries are habitually seen as threats to the Serb state. Miloš Knežević states that the Serb nation has the historical fate of suffering "stress-generating geography". Knežević further claims that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) has been forced into the only remaining portion of the Serb ethnic area located in the eastern part of the former Yugoslavia. The geopolitical insecurity of Serb territory lies, amongst other factors, in the their neighbor's varied ultranationalist goals of revision, territorial demands and spiritual retaliation. These countries are viewed as Austro-Hungarian and Turkish political proxies.

Miloš Knežević states that the Serb question has not been addressed and that the division of former Yugoslav territory into secessionist new states has not been completed. (Unlike the Badinteur Commission report which concluded that dissolution of former Yugoslavia as succession, the author claims that it is secession.) Knežević believes the emergence of smaller Balkan states is in the face of the two century old Serb geopolitical goal of reclaiming control of the "Serb ethnic area" (SEA). The SEA is wider, as constantly described in their papers, than the currently held territories of Serbia and Montenegro. "Thus today's confused situation is not in accordance with the traditional Serb territories of FRY and Republika Srpska, and in this form geopolitically unnatural and in the long term unviable," (p. 211). Knežević states that the Serb area has been reduced by Croatia (the so called Krajina) by 17,000 km2 and by 10,000 km2 in western Bosnia (p. 211). Knežević states that the SEA is incomplete because the Serb nation lacks political integrity and strength.

The authors see Croatia in an inconvenient geopolitical position with characteristics of "being exposed and attractive for take-overs" (p. 231). In short they view Croatia as being unjustly interested in controlling the Danube right bank. They go on to term the Croatia's Danube Region (which was peacefully integrated in 1996-1997 after the signing of the basic agreement in which the UNTAES aided) as the Srijem-Baranja region and treat it as a temporary neighbour. Drago M. Njegovan stresses the importance of the Danube right bank for the FRY, referring to it as part of the "Serb Danube Region". According to Njegovan, the "Serb Danube Region" is wider by including the Danube bank in both Croatia and Romania (p. 334). The Serbs figured that in the event of Yugoslavia's break up the Croatian Danube region would be included in Serbia, however this plan is temporarily unachievable. "The alternative would be to retain the status quo, which in the right circumstance would allow for the aforementioned plan." The authors conclude that Serb weakness and powerlessness has resulted in Croatia's superiority in the South Slav area.

Albania is defined as an "undesirable Balkan infant", a "Balkan geopolitical neurotic", and most expressively as the "Balkan Banana Republic". The new Serb geopolitical enemy has emerged as a result of the separatist movement by the "unloyal Albanian minority" living on Serb territory. An additional problem is the fact that "Serbia was unable to create a state program that would adapt and include the Kosovar Albanians in the Serb national state" (p. 215). The problem according to the authors is not in international relations but rather highlighting the "Albanian" terroristic, criminal, mafia and political activities.

Macedonia is seen as a markedly weak state incapable of sustaining itself independently. In order to retain it's own state, Macedonia would have to enter into a favorable alliance or succumb to the protection of a stronger state. Milovan Radaković claims that Albania and Macedonia are prospective for the strongest American military bases in Europe. From these bases the United States would have the capability of provoking low intensity conflicts if they assess that political, economic and military integration is not heading in a favourable direction, or if a united Europe starts to jeopardise American interests (p. 350).

The authors allege that Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a foundation outside of Yugoslavia. According to Radinović, Bosnia is the "Balkan black hole" (p. 226) whose solution lies in a new military conflict and not a peaceful agreement where the Serbs would have to defend minimal national and state interests. Bosnian-Muslims are seen as temporary neighbors while Republika Srpska is seen as an apparent neighbor (p. 195). FRY-Republika Srpska relations are termed as an issue of domestic nature rather than foreign affairs. This question must be answered in such a way as to "name and confirm it as a complete national and state unity. The same nation resides in the FRY and Republika Srpska in this continuous Serb territory" (p. 226). From the Serb standpoint, according to Rajko Gnjata, Republika Srpska is the only bright outcome from the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Problems in relations with neighbouring states lie primarily in defining the Serb ethnic area (SEA). Jovan Ilia claims that the SEA is constituted by the following border limits: Drač - Struga - Prilep - Veleška Klisura -Osogovske mountains to the south the existing Bulgaria - Serbian border (Stara Planina) - Đerdap; Černe gorge - Mureš near Arada - Baja - Meček - Drava at Barča - west Bilogora; Čazma - Sava upstream from Sisak - Vukomeričke Gorice - Žumberačka Gora (Gornjaci) - Gornja Kupa - Gorski Kotar - Rijeka - Adriatic Sea. According to the authors, the SEA encompassed over half of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a fourth of Croatia at the beginning of the 90s. During the war they "lost" approximately 12,000 km2 in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a grand total of 25,000 km2 after the reintegration of the Croatian Danube region. Radinović goes on to describe the SEA as including Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska (before NATO bombing around 70 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Republika Srpska Krajina, with the Srem - Baranja region (the entire area in the Republic of Croatia controlled by the JNA and rebel Serbs during 1991-1995). "In the forthcoming period, the Serbian military elite and the entire Serb nation will have to invest an enormos amount of effort to regain this lost area and resettle it with Serbs," (p. 411).

Serbs do not have the strength, state desire, nor the external geopolitical conditions to return the "lost Serb kingdom" to its entirety in the near future. "Regardless of this, no one is allowed, not even the ruling Serb elite, to permanently re-enunciate their right to that area and to view this loss as definite," (p. 286). The Serb nation must continue to regard this area as an inalienable historical right, and this stand must also be pursued by Serb diplomacy in their international political and diplomatic strategies.

Samardžić views the uniting of the FRY and Republika Srpska as a kind of national goal unimplementable today, but which must be projected as a strategic national interest (p. 130). Đorđe B. Popović thinks that Serbia, to change its position, must wait for a change in international relations. Serbs in Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina "have to try to survive" until the FRY regains its strength to the point where they can influence the Serb people in those areas. However, until then, it is important to work on the return of refugees, "without whom all talks of Serb land and demands for it's future are pointless" (p. 139-140).

The most worrisome issues for the author's are Serbia's domestic problems. Popović specifies the 700,000 refugees in Serbia over the Drina and the additional problem of 200,000 military draftees who fled to the West, as further worsening the geopolitical position of the FRY. Milena Spasovski claims that Serbia's natural growth is almost all attributed to Muslim residents (Muslim, Albanians, Gypsies, and Turks). The Serbs who have settled between 1991 - 1995 have only a short-term influence and in the long run they would not significantly improve the currently negative demographic development trends.

Miloš Knežević states that FRY is lacking in political, ideological, national, party and geopolitical consensus regarding important issues for their future. The Serb political pseudoelite, instead of representing Serb integrity, represent "A Serb based Yugoslav integrity" (p.197). Dragoljub Kojeić suppresses that the most important goal is to strengthen their Serb national sovereignty and consequently establish a Serb national state (p. 271). Željko Poznanović stresses the importance of the Serb Orthodox Church as a vital internal-integral Serb leader. Poznanović maintains that their religious belief cannot be separated from the national, and thus the Serb nation receives "Godly dimensions through the national auto cephalic church" (p. 305-306). Petar Stojić holds Kosovo and Sandžak as priceless to the FRY and that they must be maintained at all costs, even if that means war. He suggests that they are threatening war in light of the direct ties between the ever increasing aggressive Islam and "Albanian" terrorism.

The FRY when speaking of Kosovo and Sandžak must not allow itself to succumb to the demands of the international community because that would mark the end of its national and state politics. Kosta Čavoški sees the role of the international community in Kosovo as supporting Albanians in their aim of achieving political autonomy and separation from the FRY, and not as protecting human rights. The Serb political corpus is deeply divided and shattered according to Andrej Miletić (p. 371).

Radovan Radinović sees their goal of defining the SEA as the greatest challenge confronting Serbs. Their aim is to create a unique area of Serb land and then stabilising social development, demographic revitalisation and spiritual renewal. It also improved integral security system whose new doctrine includes the capability of offensive responses against all aggressors, and even against multinational powers with the support of a strong ally. Radinović feels that the first step is to clear up the question of the SEA borders and the Serb state. The mentioned area has external pressures that "refer to it in different terms, but the area has to be seen as a unique ethnic area, with mutual territorial connections, and entirety with clear aspirations that would one day be included in the unique Serb state" (p. 488). Radinović asserts that minorities in this state would not have the right to claim their own national state nor political autonomy. Forcefully taken and abducted, Serb territory must be viewed as a temporary loss and thus Serbs must continue to base their hopes on their historical rights and demand the return of these areas from the international community when the moment becomes visible for favorable Serb strategic moves.

The authors hope that Russia will remain/become a military ally of the FRY and secure a guarantee for their smallest strategic interests (p. 497). "Alliance with Russia is a necessary requisite for avoiding a most unfavorable military situation of a multinational military NATO or WEU intervention" (p. 497). Without this kind of alliance the FRY would be lost in such a military conflict, having to deal with a large number of casualties, material losses and destruction (p. 497). In 1999, FRY leaders obviously did not heed this warning.

Branislav Đorđević summarizes that the Serb state is surrounded by hostile countries, of which the Repulic of Croatia would always play the role of mediator in a war of great powers against the FRY. However, Albania is viewed as the next Serb opponent. Serb countries outside of the FRY must serve the role of vital subsystems for the defence of the FRY and vice versa.

The Yugoslav Army (JA) must be capable of starting and concluding a war, and also be prepared for war activities in neighboring territories who are conducting armed aggression on the FRY (p. 496). The military doctrine should allocate means for devastating attacks to all vital facilities of neighboring countries if the Serb nation is threatened. The JA must be prepared to attack all vital facilities of the aggressor and facilities of neighboring countries involved. The FRY must have a suitable ally derived from perhaps the Balkan Alliance, Partnership for Peace or the Alliance of Orthodox countries in Eastern Europe (p. 571).

Most of this compilation is persuaded dominated by theories of American conspiracy sparsed with German and Vatican activities directed against the Serb people. Their feelings of endangerment are heightened by Russia's weakness. The authors maintain that the Serb people are victims due to their geopolitical, transit and religious uniqueness, which subjects them to the bullying of great powers. Almost all of their neighbors are now controlling at least some section of the SEA, while the national minority in FRY is attempting to divide the remaining areas and annex them to their base states. The Serb political elite is obviously still dealing with the after consequences of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and the fact that this state has shrunk in size. However, their aspirations of constructing a united Serbia using a somewhat smaller area of the former Yugoslavia still exists. Regardless of their embitterment towards a number of member countries of the international community, the Serbs feel that it is important to obtain support from the world's central power because it is the only "just solution to the Serb national question" (p. 430). Even though the actualization of a new Serb state uniting the SEA territory (returning parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Albania, etc.) is not possible right now in their new geopolitical state, this idea must still remain the key geopolitical aim of the Serb political elite and therefore their efforts must be directed towards this objective.

 

Josip Esterajher, Zagreb, Croatia

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