The Shadow of Munich Conference Over Europe

During the past several weeks, the public’s attention has been focused on various recent geopolitical developments, and the expiration of Slovenia’s Presidency over the Council of the EU on July 1 is going to remain almost unnoticed against the background. Yet this was the first time in the EU history when such a prominent role was played by a Slavic Balkan country, and high expectations were associated with the fact in the Balkan region.

The Slovenians did everything to foster the expectations. At the start of the term of Slovenia’s Presidency last January, its Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel made no secret of his optimism about the resolution of Balkan problems and, in particular, about the chances of signing an agreement with Serbia. At that time he even opined that the agreement would possibly be signed within a month.

The Stabilization and Association Agreement was signed only by the end of April amidst the elections campaign in Serbia. The signing helped to tilt the balance in favor of B. Tadic’s pro-Western coalition. The undisguised intervention into the domestic politics of a sovereign country seems to be Slovenia’s sole achievement during the EU Presidency. It failed to help other former Yugoslavian republics and Albania gain admission to the EU or to do anything to alleviate the Kosovo problem in a legitimate framework. Instead, new conflicts erupted in the Balkan region, for example, in Macedonia. Mr. Rupel does not seem upset – a few days ago he declared proudly that the Balkan crisis was nearing the end and that the situation in the region was on the verge of improving despite all the challenges that Slovenia had faced during the Presidency.

What positive developments could he have had in mind? The unilateral proclamation of independence by Kosovo on February 17 which left the EU and the rest of the world divided? Or, perhaps, the unprecedented tensions in Macedonia, where the population once so convinced of the advantages of independence now rushed to obtain Bulgarian passports? In the early XX century, Albanian nationalist leaders offered Bulgaria to jointly rout Serbia and to have the border between Bulgaria an Albania pass across Macedonia. These days, one gets the impression that Macedonians are deciding on which side of the border to remain.

The June 1 snap parliamentary elections in Macedonia took place amid unprecedented outbursts of Albanian extremists‘ violence. Even Brussels had to express its “disappointment”, though a EU police mission has been deployed in Macedonia already for several years.

As for Serbia, the political situation in it is unstable. Dimitrij Rupel says that “the progressive forces” are leading in Serbia and its population regards the EU as a friend, but this is not what public opinion surveys actually indicate. Over 2/3 of Serbs do not agree to sacrifice Kosovo for a EU membership. The country has been unable to form a viable government for the two months after the elections, and the political crisis is bound to continue. The newly born coalition of Tadic’s democrats and socialists led by Ivica Dačić is a ridiculous undertaking – the party of S. Milosevic forged an alliance with the democrats who overthrew its leader in 2000. Socialists hope to thus return to power, though this time as a minor partner in a coalition. Such a coalition is not going to last long even by Serbian standards.

One has to be totally unaware of what is actually going on in the Balkan region to project a resolution of the Yugoslavian crisis in a foreseeable future. Since this is clearly not true of Dimitrij Rupel, he must be simply following the political instructions issued by Brussels bureaucrats.

What can the instructions be? The strange connivance at the activity of Albanian extremists in Kosovo and the Muslim paramilitary formations in Macedonia, which is quite unnatural from the standpoint of Europe’s own interests, invokes certain historical parallels. When Nazism was rising in Germany in the mid-1930ies and starting to demand greater territories for the ”Aryan race”, European countries attempted to resolve the problem by appeasing the aggressor. On September 30, 1938 British PM Arthur Neville Chamberlain and French PM Édouard Daladier greenlighted Germany’s annexation of the Sudetes, the areas of Czechoslovakia with large German populations, hoping that this would satisfy Hitler’s appetite for aggression. It is a noteworthy circumstance that, having visited Hitler in his retreat at Berchtesgaden on September 15, 1938, Chamberlain agreed that the transfer of the Sudetes had to take place after a plebiscite, that is, on the basis of the right of nations to self-determination. He elaborated further on the concept in London on September 18 during the consultations with his French counterpart. Great Britain and France concluded that the territories had to be allocated to Germany since their population was more than 50% German.

Poland actively joined the process of partitioning Czechoslovakia. Already on October 1, 1938 it claimed Teschen Silesia, but in less than a year Poland itself fell victim to Germany which was getting increasingly bold due to the inaction of the West…

Hearing how these days European capitals call for “meeting the legitimate demands of the Albanians” of Kosovo, Macedonia, and the southern regions of Serbia and listening how the US puppeteers and their Balkan puppets promise that the independence of Kosovo will make it possible to turn the last page of the Yugoslavian crisis, one simply can’t help recalling the 1939 Munich Conference which legitimized the partition of Czechoslovakia.

A countryman of Daladier, President of the French Senate’s Commission for Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Armed Forces Josselin de Rohan-Chabot said in a recent interview that since 90% of the Kosovo population are ethnic Albanians it is impossible to keep this territory under the UN protectorate. And a countryman of Chamberlain former Ambassador of Great Britain to Moscow Tony Brenton sent a clear message to Albanian separatists before the Kosovo independence was proclaimed by saying that as Kosovo had been under the auspices of the UN already for eight years, this could not go on indefinitely and if the people wanted independence, it had to be given to them.

Roughly at the same time Nenad Popovic, deputy head of Serbian government’s Coordination Center for South-Serbian Presevo, Medveda, and Bujanova told me that there existed a center coordinating the Albanian extremist activity in Kosovo, Macedonia, South Serbia, and Montenegro. He says that the campaigns launched by Albanian extremists and terrorists in various parts of the Balkan region are synchronous and well-organized, but, unfortunately, the West ignores the peril. In 1938, the West also ignored various perils. Later a great price was paid for this…

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