Reuniting Europe

I was quite impressed by the statement made by Hido Biščević, secretary-general of the Regional Cooperation Council for South Eastern Europe (RCC) in an interview, that the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is “extremely worrisome” and now appears to be turning into a “dormant frozen conflict”.

“To be very honest, I think the political situation in BiH at the moment is very worrisome, extremely worrisome. It appears to be a dormant, frozen conflict,” said Biščević, implicitly comparing the situation in the former Yugoslav country with unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, such as Transnistria or Nagorno-Karabakh.

I asked Mr. Biščević if Moscow was not involved, as whenever we speak of a frozen conflict, Russia is not very far.

“I would not say that anyone is interfering, but there are obviously very different positions throughout the international community”, he answered, adding that the Russians for example, who do not recognise Kosovo, “have an outlook based on their own foreign policy issues”.

Another thing that stuck me from this intsrview was the comparison between Serbia and its former province Kosovo, now independent, with Germany in the recent past.

Maybe some remember that from 1949 until the 1970s the Federal Republic of Germany considered East Germany, or the German Democtratic Republic, as an illegaly constituted state. FRG at that time even severed diplomatic relations with all countries which recognised GDR, except the USSR. Only with chancellor Willy Brandt and his Ostpolitik in the 1970s normal diplomatic relations were established, allowing the two Germanies to obtain UN membership.

History apparently shows us that in worse circumstances, more difficult issues have been solved.

You can see Mr. Biščević speaking to EurActiv below:
[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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  1. Armenian Fiction supports the notion that “Armenians have… slain more Turks than Turks have Armenians.”
    “…Armenians were like that.”

    On occasion, even works of fiction can be a useful means of gaining some insight into history. This is particularly true when one attempts to sort out the conflicting versions of events which typify Turco-Armenian history of the era of the First World War. A case in point is found in a short-story published by the British author Michael Arlen (born: Dikran Kuyumjian) in 1924. Specifically, his collection of short stories entitled, These Charming People, includes a story called “The Man With The Broken Nose.” The “man” in question, an Armenian, engages in the following conversation with the unnamed narrator and his friend, Tarlyon:

    ‘You see sir,’ he said gravely, ‘I know all about killing. I have killed many men…. ‘

    ‘Army Service Corps?’ inquired Tarylon.

    ‘No sir,’ snapped the stranger. ‘I know nothing of your Corps. I am a Zeytounli.’

    ‘Please have patience with me, I begged the stranger. ‘What is a Zeytounli?’

    He regarded me with those smoldering dark eyes; and I realized vividly that his nose had been broken in some argument which had cost the other man more than a broken nose.

    ‘Zeytoun,* he said, ‘is a fortress in Armenia. For five hundred years Zeytoun has not laid down her arms, but now she is burnt stones on the ground. The Zeytounlis, sir, are the hillmen of Armenia. I am an Armenian.’

    ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ Tarlyon murmured.

    ‘Why?’ snapped the Armenian.

    ‘Well, you’ve been treated pretty badly, haven’t you?’ said Tarlyon. ‘All those massacres and things….’

    The stranger glared at him, and then he laughed at him. I shall remember that laugh. So will Tarlyon.

    Then the stranger raised a finger and, very gently, he tapped Tarlyon’s shoulder.

    ‘Listen,’ said he. ‘Your manner of speaking bores me. Turks have slain many Armenians. Wherefore Armenians have slain many Turks. You may take it from me that, by sticking to it year in and year out for five hundred years, Armenians have in a tactful way slain more Turks than Turks have Armenians. That is why I am proud of being an Armenian. And you would oblige me, gentlemen, by informing your countrymen that we have no use for their discarded trousers, which are anyway not so good in quality as they were, but would be grateful for some guns.’

    He left us.

    ‘I didn’t know,’ I murmured, ‘that Armenians were like that. I have been misled about Armenians. And he speaks English very well.. . ‘

    ‘Hum,’ said Tarylon thoughtfully. ‘But no one would say he was Armenian if he wasn’t, would he?’*

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