A Tentative List Of Common Interests Of The Balkan Nations


According to our joint perception and to the definitions offered by the best encyclopedias and history-geography books, the Balkans includes now eleven countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. There are a number of interpretations or options as to who belongs or not to the Balkans, but nothing can change a geographical or historical reality, as it is perceived by the world....

According to our joint perception and to the definitions offered by the best encyclopedias and history-geography books, the Balkans includes now eleven countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. There are a number of interpretations or options as to who belongs or not to the Balkans, but nothing can change a geographical or historical reality, as it is perceived by the world.

At the crossroads of European and Asian civilizations, our Peninsula has a long and complicated history. First of all, we should say that our region was one of the most important cradles of human civilization, of the 'logical way of life' and of the European spirit. Even if one cannot completely agree, a popular expression among classical philosophers can be quoted: "The entire Western philosophy can be reduced to a number of footnotes to Plato's writings".

But after centuries and centuries of vigorous contributions to mankind's development, the history of the Balkans became less lucky. It is not the place to dwell on controversial historical issues. The fact is that over a pretty long period of time, the name of 'Balkan' fell in disrepute, mostly in other parts of Europe and later worldwide. The 'disparagement' went on to give reduction­ist and stereotyping meaning to 'Balkan' or 'Balkanization', as synonyms for parcelization, division, prejudice, backwardness, even primitivism. Not long ago, the distinguished American Stanley Foundation of Iowa used to describe 'the world mess', in an original analysis, with the phrase "Global Balkans". Which is not very kind to the Balkan region, as well as many other similar expressions?


504 3. Uluslararasi Balkan Kongresi/3rd International Balkan Congress


Of course, these misconceptions did great damages to Balkan peoples including in the political spheres. But we should not incriminate only others for our misfortune. We have to admit and assume that we had our own part of responsibility, may be even as a group of nations.

Now the situation seems to be changing, new chances appear. As the renowned expert Maria Todorova wrote recently, after a new number of trag­ic or dramatic events, Europe is bringing back the Balkans into its sphere of politics, Eurocrates believe that it is in the interest of the entire Continent to get the Balkans gradually in, instead of ghettoizing them. The results are already evident, a number of countries of 'our group' are full members of NATO and EU, talks are under way for further progress. What should we do, as NGOs, CSOs and Think Tank Institutions associated in the Balkan Communication Network, in order to advance the great project of full integra­tion, to make the region even more attractive to partners in the entire Europe and world-wide?

Besides many ideas generated in the debates, of this attractive "3rd International Balkan Congress" including, The Romanian Association for International Law and International Relations (ADIRI) suggests to elaborate a tentative List of specific common interests of the Balkan nations, to be pro­moted and defended together. Here are a number of ideas (and ideals):

  1. Developing a higher degree of solidarity in the Balkans, at all levels, state, government, citizens as individuals and associated in civic organiza­tions, economic enterprises, denominations and their temples, sports organi­zations etc. A deeper sense of solidarity will create an appropriate environment to assist a neighbour in difficulty, to settle disputes and to avoid violence, to agree on mutual cooperation, to integrate into larger formations etc.
  2. Improving the world perception of our region, showing that Balkan peoples have the capacity, abilities and will to overcome what is negative in their historical heritage, including from the recent history.
  3. Defending the pride and dignity of the peoples of the region. A com­mon strategy of 'rehabilitation' of the name of Balkans can and should be con­ceived.
  4. Peaceful solutions for all the problems of the past, present and future among Balkan nations. Drawing up a 'Code of conduct' for the Balkans.
  5. Preventing long term 'fragmentation' of the region, through division of the Balkans in different categories of countries, members and non-members of NATO, EU etc. By whatever means and influences we may have, the region-


A Tentative List of Common Interests of the Balkan Nations 505


al community should act in solidarity to allow all the Balkan states become, sooner than later, full members of European and Euro-Atlantic organizations.

  1. Agreeing, at least in broad lines, on a consonant model of economic and social development of our countries, on European general standards, but also taking into account the specific needs for a more dynamic growth.
  2. Harmonizing policies, through a joint strategy, in the field of energy. Avoiding 'wild competition', with political inputs, in building new energy transit facilities, finding out solutions based on economic efficiency to the benefit of all the countries in the region.
  3. A better control of organized criminality through intensified coopera­tion among the countries of the region and with international organizations. This is a sensitive field upon which rests a good reputation.
  4. Rehabilitation and conservation of environment, protection of the unique beauties of the Balkans through wise policies and cooperation, not nec­essarily copying out the 'super-chemical' methods of some Western countries.


  1. Promoting together the cultural, spiritual and scientific creations and values of the Balkan peoples, especially those underlining a specific identity. Revitalization of traditional regional organizations (like those in mathematics, medical sciences, sports etc) and creating new ones.
  2. Cultivating harmony among religions, most of them monotheistic and Abrahamic, and their believers.
  3. Streamlining the too numerous initiatives and programs from 'out­side' meant to assist peoples of the Balkans to settle their problems. Most of them are doing a fine job, with very positive intentions. But their multitude can create the impression that Balkan nations have no resources of themselves to resolve the issues without 'imported wisdom'. And this might be discour­aging on a long term basis. The region should be no longer a 'dumping ground' for sometimes unripe ideas.
  4. Development of a stronger network of authentic non-governmental organizations. We should not mislead ourselves. True NGOs and CSOs in most of our countries are few and weak. The 'network' is excessively popu­lated, openly or confusingly, by 'governmental' NGOs; some of them honest and with good intentions, some others, unfortunately, pretty arrogant and con-fiscatory, pushing aside the real ones, weak, with meager resources and mod­estly staffed. We should assert ourselves more vigorously to convince the social partners, and governments too, on the great value of free expression of


506 3. Uluslararası Balkan Kongresi/3" International Balkan Congress


civic societies. The role of NGOs is not strictly to cultivate 'dissent' with gov­ernment policies, but to offer alternative ideas and solutions as result of free, uninhibited judgment and analysis. The most valuable contribution of civic organizations is to promote the ideas of peace, understanding among citizens of different creed and ethnic origin, good neighborliness, solidarity with the victims of fate, as well as proposals for appropriate actions. We may say that with a stronger civic society and an influential network of NGOs, some of the recent dramas and tragedies in the Balkans could have been avoided.

  1. Balkan nations, and the NGOs-CSOs of the region, see their future as fully integrated in EU, NATO and other Euro-Atlantic structures. We greet any kind of cooperation with partners from outside of the region. At the same time, we consider useful to have specific organizations of our own, including non­governmental, to be focused on the Balkan particular context, to avoid 'dilu­tion' of the purposes.
  2. As we stated previously, the name of Balkans is not yet rehabilitated, it still bears a denigrating, pejorative connotation. It will require efforts and perseverance to overcome this prejudice, first of all a dedicated work to improve the state of affairs on the Peninsula. Unfortunately, a number of peo­ple, especially from the margins, try to 'escape the brand' by not admitting easily that they are in the Balkans. 'Running away' from this identity is not glorious, but is a fact. We should not impose the 'brand' on anyone, but let us work in such a way as to make them interested and proud to be back with us.

These are only a few preliminary suggestions. The List can be complet­ed, revised, changed in its order of priorities. We invite the partners from the participating countries, particularly from The Balkan Communication Network, if accept the proposal, to contribute to its improvement. Any con­tributions can be sent to ADIRI's Secretariat, on e-mail: g_lupes@hotmail.com . They will be considered and highly appreciated. A final form of the document will be remitted to you with some thoughts on its promotion to possible beneficiaries. We hope, dear colleagues, you will be diligent and cooperative.

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Continents ( 5 Fields )
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Africa 65 135
Asia 75 208
Europe 13 28
Latin America & Carribean 12 30
North America 7 5
Regions ( 4 Fields )
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Balkans 22 92
Middle East 18 56
Black Sea and Caucasus 2 15
Mediterranean 2 4
Identity Fields ( 2 Fields )
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Islamic World 51 143
Turkish World 15 29
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Turkey 48 196

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