Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Balkanization-- contagious disease in Europe

The Kosovo precedent has been more powerful than it looks on the surface. The map of Europe is in constant flux and shifting. Now we have Belgium on the brink of a break-up into two states. The French-speaking Vallonia and Dutch-speaking Flandria are fighting in Brussels, the center of the European Union and NATO. The history is instructive. Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830, pushed by England who saw it as a perfect buffer state between France and Germany. Even then the southern portion of the population was French-speaking and the northern-- a language close to Dutch. In the 80s of the last century Netherlands and Belgium had an agreement to combine these two languages into one-- Dutch. But the French speakers in Vallonia never liked it. Moreover, now the two portions claim to have nothing in common, culturally and linguistically. Their constant fights in Brussels may lead to another 'Berlin wall.' (For a full story)

Well, when Europe and the US welcomed the Yugoslav break-up and even acted to solidify it, they did not think how contagious this disease would be... Always think ahead!

One may ask what are the dangers of secessionism. Nothing, if it is not accompanied by violence and instability (see on this blog). But that would be too good to be true. No one has forgotten the Yugoslav case. Self-determination of peoples is a political right protected by the international law. But how can we draw lines to thwart violence-- that is the question...

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