25 March 2017

Macedonia: The Balkan Trap

Albania insists it has a right and obligation to pursue the interests of ethnic Albanians in neighbouring countries. In other words the NATO-proxy says it has the right to meddle.


It's funny how that some kind of argument is not accepted when made by other countries. Turkey is being condemned for it and certainly Putin was compared to Hitler when he made the same argument with regard to Crimea. At least in the latter it could be said the majority of the population has always rejected the Khrushchev move in the 1950s that attached their peninsula to Ukraine. The Russian dominated region has been pushing for ties with Moscow for decades. With the NATO-backed coup in 2014 their cause became common with Putin's. He moved and they ratified his actions.
Macedonia is in great danger of ethnic violence. The Albanians, once the outcasts of Europe have become willing agents of US imperialism. They played a key role in helping to topple and break Serbia under Milosevic and further the dismantling of Yugoslavia. The Serbian ancient heartland of Kosovo was taken from them and formally turned into an Albanian-NATO proxy, not to mention a staging ground for clandestine and illegal activities.
Now the battle has shifted to Macedonia but it's not the 1990s. This time Russia is getting involved. The Western media will eagerly trumpet Putin's every move but they are strangely silent when it comes to contextualising Albania's interference. For the West, the Tirana-proxy card provides a wonderful instance of plausible deniability. Those that pay attention know what is happening but the masses do not. If it goes wrong or moves sideways... it's Albania's fault. Someone from Brussels or Washington may even have to visit Tirana and give them a public scolding.
The situation in Macedonia is complicated as in many ways it's a made-up country and one that is heavily disputed. This dates back to the reconquista of the Balkans in the late 19th and early 20th century.
One need only look to the Second Balkan War of 1913. The First Balkan War was against Turkey and led to the independence of Albania. But the Second War fought a year later was launched over Bulgaria's claims regarding Macedonia.
Bulgaria attacked Serbia and Greece and both of these nations have an interest in Macedonia, its borders and identity. Macedonia is caught between Albania, Greece and Bulgaria. Serbia's influence has waned and yet their bitterness over all these questions has not.
What is perhaps more pertinent if not disturbing as that the Balkan Wars fought in 1912-13 were clearly opening salvos within the larger context of 1914 and what would become World War I.
The setting today is different and the corollary issues are not entirely the same. And yet in some ways the parallels are uncanny. The global stage is more complicated and at present more dangerous than ever. A world war in 2017 will not involve protracted trench warfare. If it occurs now or sometime soon, the costs and consequences are terrible to even consider.
One would think that someone would have learned by now this kind of meddling in the Balkans is akin to playing with fire. There is so much history, much of it dark within the region that it doesn't take much for things to take a very bad turn. The rage is hard for outsiders to even grasp. But then, so is the suffering.

It's a no-win. If they're left alone they'll turn on each other and yet when caught in the middle of Great Power politics, the result is the same but perhaps with even more dire consequences.

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