ABSTRACT

The primary purpose of this book was to investigate Yugoslavia’s dissolution and the role of the Badinter Commission in the international community’s attempts to restore peace in the region. Having discussed Yugoslavia’s turbulent history, it was suggested that blaming the SFRY’s dissolution on irrepressible ethnic hatreds amongst the Yugoslav communities ignores the possibility that similar events could occur in other States.1 Nevertheless, the vast bulk of media reporting during the time of the crisis referred in some way to the ‘senselessness’ and ‘irrationality’ of the behaviour of the Yugoslavs and, in doing so, failed to communicate the message that the SFRY’s chief problems were economic and political rather than some historical pre-destiny. This clouds the real issues behind the conflict and creates a feeling, which must have influenced public and political responses to the conflict, that this was a sui generis example of an artificial State’s dissolution in the post-Communist world amidst incomprehensible tribal behaviour which could not seriously be expected to occur in western Europe. Furthermore, it can only have assisted nationalists within Yugoslavia who were attempting to divide communities with reference to long-standing ethnic hatreds and historical injustices perpetuated by the other ethnic groups. The internal political problems which befell Yugoslavia were doubly disruptive because Tito had only recently died and the SFRY’s declining importance on the world stage resulted in it receiving less economic and political attention at the very time it needed it most. The reasons for the relative lack of concentration on Yugoslavia’s crumbling political system are open to interpretation. Those people adopting a ‘tribal ethnic hatreds’ understanding of the brewing conflict presumably saw little value in intervening, since these were not considered political problems and

presumably those involved would eventually come to see sense and desist from fighting. Those governments considering an increased focus on internal domestic affairs to be the main political and financial priorities in the postCold War world would equally have limited their involvement. Neither of these assessments proved accurate, however, and when conflict escalated the major international institutions and their member States were compelled to focus on Yugoslavia, both politically and economically. The outbreak of fighting prompted a series of diplomatic and economic measures from the EC which, although possible of exerting great influence if used pre­ emptively, failed to yield results in the hostile environment which had hitherto developed in the Balkans. The EC’s lack of independent military capacity and inexperience in assuming control of situations such as those it faced in Yugoslavia highlighted the UN’s folly in delaying its involvement in the conflict. Nevertheless the UN per se cannot be blamed, since it is merely an institution directed in its policy by its member States and it is clear that financial concerns amongst those States, combined with the arrears of certain important members, played an important role in postponing UN intervention. It will be interesting to note future developments in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar given the difficulties shown during Yugoslavia’s dissolution surrounding the organisation’s military inadequacies and the ability of political pressure from a few member States to dictate it’s foreign policy agenda. Equally interesting will be whether the UN continues to adopt a cautious approach to intervention in civil strife given its experiences with having delegated initial control of the Yugoslav conflict to the EC.