the balkan region and migrations

*Introductory remark:

All the brackets are passing references of the author (who was in kind of bracket-writing-mood) to her own article!

*In the frame of FYEG’s Migration Campaign (which is running in full swing!) we found out that it would be good idea (although not that simple one) to try to present and give (at least) a brief picture of migration events that were and still are happening on the Balkan Peninsula, since they differ in many ways from those happening on the rest of European continent. Therefore it has been planned a kind of small Balkancountries- reunion, where we’ll try to (which also won’t be that easy) gather together and turn upside down our past, present and future situations with the accent on migration issues. In the end we’ll make a (nice) documentary about the same and if everything goes fine it will be (hopefully) presented this spring on the Migration exchange in the Netherlands. Until than this will be my (more or less successful) attempt to give you some overview of this question.

Owing to its quite delicate position Balkan has had pretty tumultuous history throughout the time. Its emphasized transit-linking function had an important impact upon historical events and in accordance with that – lives of people. There appeared quite distinct geopolitical cross with the NW-SE and NE-SW legs. Germanic forces coming from northwest, Islamic on southeastern side, Russia being active from northeast and political forces from Apennine Peninsula on southwest. There were also the so-called maritime powers, Great Britain and France, active from the southern Mediterranean side.

Whole situation ended up with political and geographical fragmentation, quarrels and intolerance among the Balkan peoples and foreign dominations, so as among Balkan peoples themselves. Mixture of cultures and languages, ethnic heterogeneity, three dominant religions (Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic) meeting in one point, it all presented theoretically nice and utopian picture, but practically unsustainable one. Everyone had its own conception of how the political map of Balkan should look like, but unfortunately (and as it usually happens), they did not match each other.

All the above-mentioned reasons greatly contributed to conflicts that arose later on and wars became a reality. Together with them there came to massive migrations of people, inside the peninsula and out of it. Shortly after the disintegration of the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, conflicts erupted and brought to civil war (mostly, but not only) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Convoys of refugees, expulsions, mass exodus, deportations, ethnic cleansing, genocide and destruction of all cultural and religious objects…

it all deprived hundreds of thousands of people of their roofs, civil rights and even the basic existence. Traumas that people on every side outlived and went through are enormous and not easily forgettable. It has left deep wounds and it will take generations to pass in order people to stop blaming each other and making its own concept of guilt and victim.

But still, it wasn’t the only and last misery of this region. This “barrel of gunpowder”, as Balkan was often called, ignited another huge conflict that is still flaming. After Tito’s death (in 1980) the unsolved question of Kosovo was opened again and it is still, up to this time, left with the same status. The leading establishments of the Albanians are declaring for the separation of Kosovo, while Serbian side refuses to recognise it. Recent conflicts on this region brought to another mass exodus and more refugees. Poverty, insecurity, identity crisis and accumulated negative experiences caused massive “brain drain” and departure of many (especially young and also very educated) people to western countries, in search of a lighter future and a better life. This phenomenon, which is arising more and more, makes already difficult and uncertain attempts of solving these problems in the region, even more complicated.

There are also many other issues, which in context of all above written may seem marginal, but they’re still quite important to mention. Question of Roma people (living on the bottom of social scale) so as other minorities still fighting for their rights, Balkan as transit area and foothold for women and children trafficking and many, many more.

Balkan seems to be a big and unresolved Gordian knot and it will take years, centuries, lives, brains, experts, miracles… to penetrate into the crux and understand all its complexity. If and how this knot will be untied, time will show!

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