The Fake And Ridiculous Nationalists Of The Balkans

The Fake And Ridiculous Nationalists Of The Balkans 
 Tirana Times - 

By Albert Rakipi 

Those who have portrayed the leaders of the Balkans as nationalists have been mistaken. That is perhaps a mistake everybody makes initially. At least the last one hundred years of Balkan history have seen leaders carrying nationalist gowns most of the time. Essentially, nationalists is the last thing they have been though. They have worn the gown of nationalism. And they have used it to deceive and manipulate the societies of the Balkans, mostly backward societies, in order to serve their power interests, at any price. 

A commonly upheld belief among international relations or history students, for instance, is that Milosevic was a nationalist. And this is far from the truth. Milosevic, a distinguished criminal of the Balkans, was simply a dictator that employed a nationalist platform to extend his power. He was responsible for genocide and massacres very similar to those of the Nazi during the Second World War. And apart from genocides and massacres of other peoples, Milosevic has wreaked much damage to the Serbian people too. Just imagine what Serbia would have been like today without Milosevic, this fake nationalist and infamous criminal. Milosevic, a fake nationalist and barbarous leader, is history. Though, those nostalgic of his leadership are considerable and current elites hardly refrain from the nationalist gown.

The difference is that while contemporary Balkans elites, these fake nationalists and at times ridiculous too, cannot afford themselves Milosevic’s behaviour, they still flirt with light nationalist gowns, to serve their power interests. The difference is that contemporary Balkans elites visit Brussels also, and since turning up in nationalist gown is not ‘in’ there, they adopt modern, western gowns. 

Once back home though, a home that they want for themselves and their own power, they run back to the faux nationalist gowns. 

For the fake nationalists of the Balkans, this is a rather long or abstract note, so let’s make it more tangible. Let’s illustrate, by referring to the attitudes of these leaders towards national minorities. An old slogan, going back to the harsh regimes of the Balkans, says that ethnic minorities should serve as bridges between countries. Careful. Every time leaders of the Balkans, speak of minorities as bridges, they are practically asking for the status quo to be preserved in relations between the countries concerned. These leaders do not speak of substance, issues, the breach or respect of minority rights. They speak of statuses or use of national flags. They are simply uninterested in what actually happens to the minorities beyond their borders but through a very simplistic rhetoric they seek to garner populist support back home, to keep them in power as long as possible. 

This week, the honourable President of Romania (the Balkans’ northern neighbour) visited Albania. The Romanian leader asked for the status of ‘national minority’ for the Aromanian/Vlach community in Albania. 

First of all, the ‘national minority’ status entails the existence of a Romanian minority here. Albania, in fact, is the only country of the Balkans to have an excellent record when it comes to minorities and respect for them. There are no facts to the contrary. However, Albania cannot fabricate national minorities when they do not exist. The Romanian high official, though, raised only this issue, the issue of the status, and kindly saved us of the building of bridges between Albania and Romania through the Aromanian minority here. Imagine the bridges that would need to cross various countries to thus reach Romania. 
Albania’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Belgrade and while there, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia raised the issue of the Serbian minority in Albania. Everybody was stunned. There has hardly ever been a Serbian minority in Albania, not even during our honeymoon with former Yugoslavia. Even then, Tito did not deem it beneficial to fabricate a Serbian minority presence in Albania. That would have made Tito quite ridiculous. And even though an authoritarian leader, he at least was never ridiculous. 

In 1994-1995, the Greek government generated a huge diplomatic storm, stating that Albania was violating the rights of the Greek minority, when even the Greeks know that Albania is an example in the region for respect of minorities, starting from the Greek one. The Albanian administration of the time offered full and incontestable evidence proving the opposite. 

In 1995, a high ranking Bulgarian official, during a high level regional meeting in Sofia, raised the issue of the status of the Bulgarian minority in Albania, causing much laughter. An Italian official also did not manage to hold his laughter. “When I asked the Bulgarian official”, recalls a high raking member of Albania’s foreign service, “could you, Your Excellency, tell us the geographical location of the Bulgarian minority in Albania?”. Without the slightest hesitation, the Bulgarian official responded: Mirdita.” 

The Albanians there present laughed, hearing such an idiocy, but the assistants of the Bulgarian official, Balkans folk, felt embarrassed that their leader had been so unbelievably wrong, as he would have been with any other answer. 

We laugh at the Balkans leaders, these fake and ridiculous nationalists. But laughing is not enough, as the Balkans leaders, these fake and ridiculous nationalists, continue to manipulate and deceive their people in the name of their own, personal power interests.