Reuniting Europe

Montgomery of the Balkans

William Montgomery, a former US ambassador to the Western Balkans has said the best solution to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s problems would be for the country to break up into two separate entities. The US authorities distanced themselves from the “politically incorrect” statement, while Bosnian Muslim leaders accused the former diplomat of lobbying for business interests.

I knew William Montgomery from his term as ambassador in Sofia in 1993-1996 and I have followed from a distance his remarkable career as ambassador in Croatia (1998-2000) and then in what was still called Yugoslavia, but consisted in fact of Serbia and Montenegro (2001-2004). Then, I learned that he had left the State Department and decided to stay in the Balkans. On several occasion, I have read with interest his opinion articles on developments in the region. As Laurence of Arabia was familiar with the Sahara desert, Montgomery knows the Balkans well.

As I have left diplomacy myself, deciding to write stories for the wider public instead of my hierarchy, I developed a sympathy for William Montgomery. He by the way was posted in the beginning of his diplomatic career in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, just as me.

When Montgomery spoke about the breakup of a country, I sincerely doubt that he was “lobbying” for anyone or anything. He may be a former diplomat, but he wouldn’t make irresponsible statements. For my part, I take good note of what he said.

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  1. Georgi, interesting views (and diplomatic language of yours by ‘taking note’)

    But wouldn’t a ‘solution’ for these Bosnian communities (not sure) create a dangerous (second) precedent?

    The Yougoslav break-up, perhaps inevitable, has triggered several bloody wars.

    Kosovo is not a success (yet, some people would say). It will keep haunting us for a long time, once it negotiates EU entry. And already now, as it ‘justifies’ other break-ups e.g. around Russia. Without even mentioning the dear country where we live…

    Would a wide(r) autonomy without changing borders be a better solution? Like in that same dear country.


  2. Exactly. The “dangerous precedent” was Kosovo’s independence, encouraged by George W. Bush. With whom I think Montgomery was in disagreement…

  3. The mere perversion of the thoughts of Mr. Montgomery is the fact that he can so freely speak about about multiculturalism, disintegration, break up of countries, so trivially and with no account of the general picture that people live in that society (B&H). That people in that country constitute a living organism and a society which has been derailed from its historic social cohesion due numerous systematic interests (domestic and “western” in their ideas)
    Frustration is evident in the words of this former diplomat who talks about serious issues as they were mere trivia. As if politics is an issue of pen and paper…
    If this character has managed to fall to this level of “easy” solutions (as evidently no such ever exist) we can only make assumptions about the reasons for his immature statements.
    But having in mind his extensive experience in the West Balkan region, its either result of frustration due lack of success (since his career was “thrown” in to the Balkans) or, people just go crazy as they grow old and have been spoiled with benefits of diplomatic “gifts” and status, as they have also been given the chance to speak (in the marginalized Balkan reality)

    I wonder what his ideas would be for the Republic of Macedonia?!

    Personally, i would even consider the idea of stripping him bare naked in public, paining his body (not myself) in two different colors, and using him as an artistic installation tied in the middle of the Mostar bridge to show how a perfect human organism, split into two parts, can freeze his ass off out in the cold, if there is no help by other to come and shield or cover his ass in the cold.

    Not all the problems in the Balkans show self-incurred immaturity, and certainly not all the diplomats have understood their terms of reference when accepted their post. Although This does not give legitimacy to all the regional pressures or problems, it thus present a challenge at least for those who live here…and those who believe in the prospect of their well-being.

  4. Dear Risto, you are Macedonian, right?
    (Montgomery mentioned Kosovo, not Macedonia.)
    But you have a point, your country is a more difficult case.
    In a worst case scenario, if ethnic Albanians and ethnic Slavs in Macedonia decide to live separate lives, there will be no Macedonia. You probably agree.
    My advice is: don’t waste energy blaming diplomats. Just make sure they will prove wrong.

  5. I agree with William Montgomery`s comments. Bosnia`s sovereignty is a farce and and only accomodates the Bosniaks who are just buying time to populate within it`s borders making everyday life extremely difficult for the other ethnic minorities, particularly for Croat and Roma communities.

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