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Russische Balkanpolitik - Mythos in realpolitischer Bewährung? : T. II, Rußland, die NATO und der jugoslawische Machtwechsel

Russian policy in the Balkans - a myth is put to the political test : part II, Russia, NATO and the change of regime in Yugoslavia
[research report]

Oschlies, Wolf

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Corporate Editor Bundesinstitut für ostwissenschaftliche und internationale Studien
Abstract 'For centuries, Russia has been trying to gain a foothold in the Balkans, without ever having been able to record a success with these efforts. All this time, Russia was never interested in the Balkan region for its own sake (only as a transit area for more far-reaching imperial designs or as a manoeuvring field for superpower rivalries); it was never really present in the Balkans and never formulated a consistent Balkan policy. It never really understood nor was it able to take advantage of occasional bouts of romantic exuberance such as pan-Slavism. Time and again, Russia has suffered niggling defeats in the Balkans - and its greatest: Stalin's 'lost battle' against Tito (from 1947 until two years after Stalin's death in 1953). What linked the Slavic people of the Balkans with Russia was a vague sentiment of ethnic kinship with the Russians and Russia - but one which rarely expresses itself, most lastingly perhaps in the recent sympathetic reaction to the tragic death of the 118 sailors on board the Russian submarine Kursk that sank in August 2000. Even then, the numerous commentaries contained a good measure of criticism of Russian politics. On the other hand, Russia had unmistakably succumbed to the notion that it had to keep up some sort of appearance in the Balkans, which ultimately led to Russia being held 'hostage' by the Belgrade dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. These characteristics were elaborated and placed in their historical context in the first part of the present study (Report No. 19-2000). This second part attempts to illustrate them on the basis of concrete examples taken from recent developments, especially the Russian attitude to the NATO mission in Kosovo (March to June 1999) and Moscow's response to the fall of Milosevic (October 2000). All the accounts given in this report are based on generally accessible sources, mainly of Russian and Yugoslav provenance. It makes sense to exemplify and illustrate Russia's Balkan omissions in the political developments and dramatic events of 1998-2000, even if only because there are now signs of Moscow's inevitable bowing-out and possibly making a new start. It appears unthinkable that Moscow could continue to build its relations with the central Balkans, that is to say Yugoslavia and especially Serbia, on ignorance of the region's affairs, on myths and emotions, so to speak. This approach had already relegated the Russians to a second-rate marginal position in the course of the Rambouillet process and the NATO mission in Kosovo and, following the Serbian elections in late September 2000, almost ended with Russia, through its own fault, having to 'say good-bye' to the region, its problems, and a role in international crisis management. Instead, Russia would do much better to concentrate on the rational elements of its attitude, which are by all means present, and on making more progress towards abandoning its retrograde assessment of international politics and politicians, if it is to be welcome in the Balkans (and far beyond) as a co-operative partner and a highly respected contributor of ideas. The two parts of the present study do, of course, form a unit, although they are very different in terms of 'workmanship'. In its historical approach, the first part had to cover a couple of centuries, appraising the most important facts, concepts and persons. The second part, dealing with the last one-and-a-half to two years, is confined to a very short period of time and limits itself to considering a relatively small number of players in Russia and Serbia. The handful of relevant facts - the NATO mission in 1999, the Yugoslav elections and the change of regime in Belgrade in 2000 - are essentially familiar, old concepts have been invalidated overnight, new ones are only just starting to emerge.' (extract)
Keywords foreign policy; developing country; NATO; political change; Russia; Southeastern Europe; USSR successor state; Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; post-socialist country; Serbia
Classification International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Method descriptive study
Free Keywords Russische Föderation; Regionale Außenpolitik einzelner Staaten; Bundesrepublik Jugoslawien (1991/92-2003); Serbien; Balkan; Verhalten in den internationalen Beziehungen; Innerstaatliche Motivation außenpolitischer Maßnahmen; Bilaterale internationale Beziehungen; Internationale Beziehungen; Wahl/Abstimmung; Politische Macht; Milosevic, Slobodan; Reaktion
Document language German
Publication Year 2000
City Köln
Page/Pages 39 p.
Series Berichte / BIOst, 30-2000
Status Published Version; not reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
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