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My family camped in Yugoslavia in the late 1960's and it seemed to me, as a teenager, to be not all that different from neigbouring Austria, although I suppose we did concentrate on the more touristy coastal regions.  Tito always got a bad press in "the west", but in retrospect seems to have done a pretty good job in keeping ethnic tensions at bay, if not resolving them.  The rapid collapse of Yugoslavia afterwards seems to have been an unmitigated disaster.

I'm not sure it was in anyone's interest for this to occur, although typically, the IMF free market ideologues would have been pretty incompetent in terms of gauging the political consequences of their actions.  I also don't know anything about how the German secret service might have seen Germany's interest's in the region.

But what I find most difficult to understand, of all the machinations that were going on, is why the EU as a whole would want the region to be anything other than stable, prosperous, and at peace.  I fail to see how anyone's national interest is served by the collapse into ethnic war and the splintering into smaller states and enclaves.

I appreciate there may still be some WW2 baggage, some old religious alliances and all sorts of family and business ties, but it all doesn't seem to amount to a hill of beans from a larger strategic perspective.  If some intelligence services, some arms industries, or some commercial interests were engaged in nefarious activities then they really need to be called to account, because the present situation serves no ones long term interest, as far as I can see, bar the national/ethnic political elites who now have their own little states to play around with.

Perhaps it is my relative ignorance of the region, or perhaps it was a lot of people behaving very stupidly, but I recall a time with Yugoslavia was regarded as a pretty enlightened bridge between East and West even at the height of cold war tensions.  What happened is an object lesson in how a carefully crafted political edifice can be seriously screwed up by people who don't know what they are doing, or who don't care what they are doing provided it it maintains them in a position of power in their own back yard.  Sad.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 9th, 2009 at 08:17:19 PM EST
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It's just that Communist Milosevic controlled the major highway and the Danube.
by Upstate NY on Mon Mar 9th, 2009 at 08:52:20 PM EST
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I can see how that would have mattered in the 19th. and first half of the 20th. centuries, but now?  What % of anyone's GDP is traded along the Danube or the highway, and aren't there many alternative routes?..  This sounds like Generals fighting the war before the last one.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:31:13 AM EST
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It's mountainous territory. Power and infrastructure moves through Serbia. The only way around is to get from Hungary to Romania and down to Bulgaria. The roads there are not optimal, however.

I'm just guessing. I don't know. Others have mentioned oil and gas pipelines which need to scoot up into Austria or empty into the Adriatic.

This still doesn't explain why Germany was so quick to recognize when all the other countries were warning them not to, including the USA.

by Upstate NY on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 11:00:31 AM EST
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