Mediation in the post-conflict period in the countries of former Yugoslavia

( Note on how to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight )

Perennial peace in the Western Balkans in the countries of the former Yugoslavia is a period when every state seeks to organize internal politics, economy, education, as well as other segments of everyday life. The mutual relations of countries that formed a, Yugoslavia have changed. a state that can be described by words such as slight indifference, effort to forget the ugly past. There is no lack of anger, an evocation of painful memories in the days when all of us in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia are following media reports from The Hague on convictions of war criminals

Interesting is the phenomenon of a specific social occurrence called Yugonostalgia. Evoking ancient memories at a time when the country was one and had a great leader of Tito. Emotions are undoubtedly a mixed. Recollection in the near past being negative, while the evocation of memories from the distant past arouses collective positive emotions. The fact is that the time of the wars behind us, create the unstable emotional states of the people who once lived together are the field in which mediation can contribute to a faster healing process.

In this work, we will point out the critical tactics that initiate the conflicts of individuals and groups that are at the root of the conflict.  We will present the significance of mediation in the post-conflict environment as the segments of action as well as the approaches that need to be adapted to guarantee peace and stability in this part of the world. We will give answers to questions what discourse to apply in the process of establishing lasting peace and mutual cooperation. We will present examples of similar conflicts in the world in order to highlight the importance of mediation in the various degrees of conflict as well as the perspective that this discipline has.

One of the questions we ask is who should be the initiator of the mediation process in the former Yugoslavia, and to what extent and how the media can contribute to the spreading of a culture of peace, dialogue and tolerance. Although the war in the former Yugoslavia ended in 1995, the relations of former Yugoslavia are still fragile. Every state, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia which became a member of the European Union last year, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Montenegro are trying to stabilize the economy, internal politics, education efforts are invested in international politics, which is primarily directed towards EU member states and other countries of the world.

When we talk about international politics of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, the first steps were taken to establish economic cooperation. The key to establishing lasting good neighborly relations is in economic cooperation. For the first time, representatives of the countries of the former Yugoslavia gathered in 2013 with the aim of improving the common strategy in terms of economic cooperation. The fact that the EU does not plan for enlargement by 2020, significantly affect the economic stability of the countries of the Western Balkans. Knowing that the EU enlargement plan was far-reaching, there was a significant meeting of high representatives of the countries of the former Yugoslavia in order to find an effective model of economic cooperation. 

First International Economic Agreement CEFTA (Central European Free Trade Agreement)  It was signed in 2006 between Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and UMNIK / Kosovo with the aim of improving the inter-trade exchange of the signatory countries. CEFTA presents an agreement mediated by the relevant institutions of the signatory countries. Although more than a decade has passed since the signing of the CEFTA agreement, it gives very modest results. It is clearly in the countries of the former Yugoslavia in the post-conflict phase and the healing process, which is still officially not implemented by anyone. Unlike the conflict that is ongoing when it is necessary to map the core of the problem, in the case of ex Yugoslavia, instead of the core of the problem, it is necessary to map the motivators for positive changes. In each process of mediation, it is important to map common interests as motivators for establishing positive, constructive relationships.

Dusan Janjic, president of the Center for Ethnic Relations, agrees that the driver of good relations between countries that were once in a conflict is of economic nature. A non-governmental organization that has been void by Dusan Janjic has implemented several projects aimed at mitigating the conflict in Kosovo by promoting a discourse of peace and mutual cooperation. A decade later, it is clear that the occasional methods of establishing a culture of dialogue, tolerance, and peace did not contribute to resolving the Kosovo issue (which is a special and highly sensitive topic that seeks special attention and analysis in the context of mediation). The common interest of all sides of the former conflict is the establishment of good relations with the countries of the European Union. Each country is working on improving international policy for itself, establishing good relations with EU member states. It is clear to all countries that one of the conditions for establishing lasting peace is entering the family of European countries. We consider it as not only an individual but also a common goal – a motivator for establishing good mutual relations.

It is clear that all ex-Yugoslavia countries are seeking to establish economic and political stability. Striving towards EU membership implies the adoption of EU standards, which is another potential motivator of mutual cooperation. As we pointed out CEFTA agreement does not include all ex-Yugoslavia countries. It is clear that a new economic agreement that would unite the interests of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia is one of the ways to strengthen good neighborly relations. Neutral catalysts such as cultural and artistic care are just one way to cultivate the relationship of mutual cooperation. Let’s recall the recently held music festival organized by Sky Music from Belgrade. On that occasion, performers from all ex-Yugoslavia countries were gathered, which gave very positive results.

In addition to art, culture and education are also neutral areas in which the discourse of peace, tolerance, rights to diversity, familiarity and respect for culture and traditions of countries in the region should be nurtured. We pay special attention to an economic sector that would be an excellent catalyst for establishing lasting peace, and that is tourism. By cooperating with tourist organizations in the countries of former Yugoslavia it is possible to organize tourist arrangements that would, for example, visit the sights in the countries of the region, recognizing the tradition and culture. In this way, the effect of a mutual identity construct would be achieved because culture and traditions represent the most important elements of the collective identity of each country. Wisdom question is who would implement the mediation process in a post-conflict environment? The initiator should not be any party that was in conflict. It is advisable to be a neutral side. The non-governmental sector, the United Nations, the European Commission or, firstly, an international organization dealing with conflict resolution and a healing process such as WMO (World Mediation Organization).

Analyzing the organizational structure of the United Nations, I came to considerable knowledge. Individual programs of mediation and advocacy are realized in the form of programs or projects. However, with the exception of the UN Peacekeepers, there is no organization that would precede this, and to deal with a peaceful resolution of disputes. Practically, until the outbreak of conflict reaching the peak where the UN Peacekeepers engagement is inevitable, there is no organization that would prevent the spread and escalation of the conflict. Let’s imagine the existence of an organization that would deal with the establishment of peace in the crisis areas, as well as in the areas that were ex-Yugoslavia during the post-conflict period. We list examples of countries that are in various degrees of conflict and which help mediators would be of great importance. Scotland is preparing a referendum to vote for the independence of this area in 2021. Catalonia is seeking independence. We recall that last year there was a civil protest demanding the independence of this region from the rest of Spain.

The separation of the Crime from Ukraine are just some of the examples of different levels of conflict in which mediation would contribute to resolving problems favorably across all sides of the conflict. Although we pay special attention to the motivators in the post-conflict period, we also mention the critical points that at the same time represent the foreground, but also the chance for a successful mediation. One critical point that reminds us of the ugly past is the court proceedings in The Hague against war criminals who occasionally initiate conflicts of individuals and groups. Conflicts of this type come to the fore in social networks by exchanging messages of hatred and intolerance. Fortunately, the situation as time passes is less and they are not a threat to the spread of the conflict. Let us not forget the ongoing wars, and whose resolution from the battlefield could be moved to a negotiating table where, through mediation, a peaceful resolution of the conflict could be achieved, which would save thousands of lives.

The question is what is the role of the media in a post-conflict environment in ex-Yugoslavia? The media is a communication channel for the transmission of information. Bearing in mind the fact that mediation is a completely new and unknown area, not only in Serbia but also in the Western Balkan countries, it is desirable to establish an independent media network that would produce programs of specialized content in the field of mediation. In the first pre-accession phase of Serbia’s entry into the European Union, the practice of independent production of programs was promoted that promotes European values ​​as well as the benefits of the country’s entry into the European Union. This program is operated by an independent media organization Network creating broadcast Evronet. Bearing in mind the fact that this program gave very positive results for the creation of content that would promote the basic values ​​in the process of mediation in the territory of Ex Yugoslavia, it would give very positive results.

Mediation, apart from being significant during the conflict, is also useful in the post-conflict period as it is on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Her role is clear, strengthening the stability of the Western Balkans through spreading a message of peace, tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding. The points of common participation of all countries of the former Yugoslavia are economic cooperation as well as the introduction of a standard in the various segments of the internal organization of countries with the standards of the European Union. In addition to economic and political co-operation, it is clear that there is room for cooperation in the fields of culture, arts, and education in order to raise awareness of mutual respect and understanding. The healing process should be conducted by a neutral party, an international organization with expertise in the field of mediation such as WMO.

Once again, we note the significant fact that the UN does not have a branch dealing with the process of mediation and peaceful resolution of the conflict. This branch, which could be called UN Peace, would implement alternative dispute resolution processes by saving time, money, and most importantly preserving thousands of lives in the event of an escalation of the conflict. The absence of such an important UN branch gives the WMO the opportunity to actively engage in mediation processes around the world because of the great sadness of the conflict is much while the peacekeepers are in shadow.

Reference

Central European Free Trade Agreement
http://www.worldtradelaw.net/fta/agreements/cefta.pdf.download

Announcement of the independence referendum of Scotland
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-48093908?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/ce1qrvlexlzt/scottish-independence&link_location=live-reporting-story

Report about Catalonia Independence Requirements https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/20/an-independent-catalonia-is-further-away-than-ever-spain-rajoy-sanchez-puigdemont-torra/

Separation of Crimea from Ukraine
https://www.nato.int/docu/review/2014/NATO-Energy-security-running-on-empty/Ukraine-energy-independence-gas-dependence-on-Russia/DE/index.htm

Euronet television program on Serbia’s entry into the European Union
https://mreza.rs/srbija-u-evropskom-programu-kreativna-evropa/

2 Comments on Mediation in the post-conflict period in the countries of former Yugoslavia

Dear Colleague,

having been involved in conflict resolution efforts prior to the outbreak of fighting in Yugoslavia in 1991, I thought that it would have been interesting to contrast the Track II efforts in 1990 and early 1991 which failed in their aim to prevent armed conflict with current non-governmental efforts to build bridges among people of the States which arose from the break up of the Yugoslav Federation.

There were also some interesting efforts in 1992, especially on the part of European churches, though, of course, all these efforts were unable to stop the spread of the fighting.

On post-war efforts, it might have been useful to discuss some of the points raised by Vemund Aarkabhe in his study of the Nansen Dialogue Centre in Pristina on Kosovo-Serb relations:

“Mutual Learning: Facilitating Dialogue in Former Yugoslavia” (Oslo: PRIO Report, 2002) The study has a good bibliography.

With best wishes, Rene Wadlow

    Thank you very much for your comments and references.

    I managed to find a summary of the 2002 report. If I understood the project well, it was designed to deal with the spread of the idea of mutual tolerance and promotion and respect for diversity. Every effort to establish peace is for respect. To the great sadness, the territory of the former Yugoslavia suffered enormous damage in war. For our joy, this painful period is behind us.

    Any initiative that leads to problem-solving is commendable as well as your work.

    The post-conflict period in the former Yugoslav territory gives a chance to establish concrete cooperation in fields such as economy, education, and culture.

    Economics because there are already exists initiatives that yield modest results. Their improvement is necessary.

    Education because it gives a chance to younger generations to have the right to know what peace, tolerance, respect for the right to diversity, as well as getting to know the environment and customs in the ex-YU environment.

    Cultural and artistic contents represent a special kind of exchange of creative energies, initiate common positive energies.

    Thus, the concept of mediation is reduced to the mapping of common interest points, which are constructive drivers. These constructive drivers lead to concrete results: improving the economic stability of every country in the former Yugoslavia. Enrichment of educational content that promotes peace, tolerance, the right to diversity. Common cultural activities that make the unity of the people stronger.
    I believe that every initiative and engagement that brings with it concrete results makes unity stronger because the final results, each party makes the necessary efforts.

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