Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Efforts in the Balkans

The Balkans is the region of a permanent conflict in Europe. Historically, the confrontation in the Balkans affected the entire Europe. In this respect, it is worth reminding the beginning of World War I, which started from the notorious assassination in the Balkans.

Unfortunately, today, the Balkans still remain a very unstable region, where ethnic conflicts and military confrontation have persisted for years. At the present moment, the situation in the Balkans is not much better than it used to be a few years ago. The specter of war is wondering around Balkans. In such a context, the problem of prevention of military conflicts and building peace in the region becomes of the paramount importance because directly or indirectly military conflicts and confrontation in the Balkans affect the EU and the entire world.

The efforts of the international community to establish a stable relationships between different ethnic communities in the region has not been very successful since even after the ruin of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after the downfall of the communist regime, the Balkans still remain the region of tension between representatives of different ethnic groups and enclaves. In this respect, the example of Kosovo is particularly noteworthy since Kosovo is inhabited by Albanians who constitute a predominant ethnic group in the region. Recently, Kosovo proclaimed its independence, which was recognized by many countries, but which is still not recognized by Serbian authorities, who still consider the territory of Kosovo their own territory.

In fact, the conflict in Kosovo reveals the extent to which the conflict in the Balkans as well as in any other multinational region can be complex. In this respect, in order to prevent conflict and build peace in the region, it is necessary to eliminate major causes of the confrontation and help peoples inhabiting the region to become more tolerant to each other.

First of all, it is necessary to start with the demilitarization of the region. In fact, the efforts international forces were insufficient to totally demilitarize the region, but still large-scale military conflicts can be prevented if there will be no large military formations. In this respect, the presence of international police or military forces can be effective enough to prevent local communities from serious confrontation. At any rate, international forces can control the circulation of weapon and prevent the beginning of military conflicts.

On the other hand, it is obvious that it is impossible to prevent a military conflict, if the tension between different ethnic groups, for instance, Albanians and Serbs, constantly increases. The presence of international military forces can be only a provisional measure which can maintain peace in a short-run. In order to prevent conflicts and build peace in the region, it is necessary to start policies and implement changes which can have a long-lasting effect.

In this respect, it is possible to recommend implementing reforms in all spheres of life, including social, political and economic. To put it more precisely, the democratization of the region is an effective way to prevent conflicts in the region. The democratization implies consistent administrative and political reforms which will enhance the sovereignty of communities. What is meant here is the fact that each community should have as much authority as it needs to govern autonomously from the central, national government. The autonomy of communities is very important because the Balkans mainly consist of ethnic enclaves, where people representing particular ethnic groups live together. Hence, there is Albanian enclave in Kosovo, which used to be a part of Serbia and there are a lot of similar examples in the Balkans. The autonomy of communities should be maintained with the help of international military forces to prevent conflicts.

At the same time, to develop their social and cultural life, communities need to raise their economy. Otherwise, conflicts are inevitable. This is why international community should support the region financially and by means of foreign direct investments or international loans, the world community should help local authorities to raise their economy. The economic stability and growth will lay the foundation for the social stability and peace in the region. In fact, the cause of conflicts is often economic and if communities or ethnic enclaves will be able to get international financial help or investments and if they can use their own financial resources they are more likely to live in peace. At any rate, it is impossible to redistribute a large part of national wealth through the federal or national budget. Therefore, ethnic enclaves should accumulate revenues from taxes and other revenues of their budgets on the local level, while a smaller part of local state revenues, for instance 10-15% should be redirect to the national or federal budget, which would serve as a kind of reserve fund maintaining the normal development of all ethnic enclaves and supporting those enclaves which do need financial support on the federal level.

Thus, the demilitarization of the region, democratization, autonomy of ethnic enclaves, economy reforms can lead to the stabilization of the Balkans region. However, in a long-run perspective, it is necessary to develop educational programs aiming at the teaching children of different ethnic groups to be tolerant to representatives of other ethnic groups. Moreover, it is necessary to develop interaction between different ethnic groups on the casual level, when ordinary people from different ethnic enclaves can work together and entertain together.

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