A recognized political expert on Central and Eastern Europe, Jacques Rupnik, professor emeritus at the Center for International Research at Science Po, was notably one of the members, in 1999 and 2000, of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, responsible for reflecting on the future of this province, then under the trusteeship of the UN.
What is your assessment of international interventions in the former Yugoslavia, in particular in Bosnia and Kosovo, which mark the height of the right to interfere?
We have imposed an end to hostilities there by force and established what must be called international semi-protectorates, under the supervision of the UN and the European Union (EU), with the help of NATO. . It was a necessity to end the bloodshed – 100,000 dead and more than half of the population displaced by the Bosnian conflict alone – but it is not the ideal framework for creating democratic institutions.
The question of the State is central in the Balkans to guarantee the coexistence of communities, as was the case for centuries with the empires – Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman -, then with Yugoslavia. When this common roof collapses, everyone falls back on their community of origin. As long as international forces remain in place to remind people of the limits that must not be crossed, this balance holds, but it is fragile.
The case of Bosnia is the most worrying. Why ?
We gladly accuse the Dayton accords [en 1995], who ended the war, for having institutionalized the ethnic division between Muslims, Serbs and Croats. It was a question of stopping the war by separation, but it was nowhere said that it should be lasting as a model of democratic governance. Far from creating a viable State, these agreements and the resulting Constitution institutionalize the absurd by increasing the levels of cantonal, regional and national powers, which mutually paralyze each other.
It must be recognized that Bosnia is a semi-failure compared to the initial ambitions of the international community, despite the efforts of its representatives on the ground. The conditions for a partition are always there. The leader of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia, Milorad Dodik is now talking about rebuilding his own army and openly evokes secession.
What about Kosovo?
Pass grade. If we want to do nation building, it is not the same thing if there was in the past a national state, even if it failed, that one tries to rebuild, and if this one never existed as such. In addition, you have to know what type of state and what type of sovereignty you want to build. A sovereign nation-state on the model of the XIXe century or with “shared sovereignty” in 21st century Europee ?
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“The real mission of a protectorate is to work to create the conditions for its disappearance”