Suicide or the Death Drive: The dark side of nationalist love

Text: Žikica Milošević

When Bosnian-Croat Army General Slobodan Praljak drank a small bottle of poison in the very centre of The Hague Court (justly compared to Shakespearean heroes or villains, depending on your position), it provided a kind of perfect ending for the ICTY. The general of a former civil war nationalist army committing suicide, with the wars and nationalism that triggered them having been equally suicidal. It seems that people and governments will never stop feeling the Freudian “death drive”.


It seems quite paradoxical that in America, and the West generally, people remember the 1990s as “the best decade ever”, while half of Europe remembers that decade as the worst since the 1940s. However, it all started with suicidal moves. The most suicidal countries at the time were Serbia, Bosnia and Georgia. We paid the highest price for the nationalist drive, which led to … well, in Serbia at least, the revoking of the autonomies of provinces (the same in Georgia) and a desire to bring all Serbs into one state. Bosnia paid the price for Izetbegović’s totally irrational rejection of two plans that could have prevented war: the 1991 plan compiled by Muhamed Filipović et al., regarding the reforming of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to comprise three republics instead of two, and the later rejection of Cutilhero’s plan in March 1992. After the disastrous war in Croatia, leaving thousands killed and displaced, could anyone have believed that Bosnia would avoid that without a comprehensive agreement? Azerbaijan revoked the autonomy of Nagorno-Karabakh, prompting Armenia to step in. Moldova flirted with unification with Romania, so Gagauzia and Transnistria stepped out (the former was later peacefully and wisely reintegrated, so Moldova proved to be a story that was at least 50% successful). Croatia kicked the Serbs out of the Constitution, triggering its own crisis, and Yugoslav federal leaders and Slobodan Milošević were also quite suicidal, playing a very dangerous game with no allies. So, after 1999 and the Kumanovo Agreement, we thought it is all over, right? Wrong!


A crisis broke out in Macedonia in 2001, and it was again an ethnic Albanian insurgence that ended up in a wise agreement being reached, the Ohrid Agreement. Serbia was quite constructive at the time, peaceful Bosnia was slowly healing its wounds, Croatia was preparing for EU entry, while the rest remained in status quo, following Chechnya’s successful reintegration into Russia. Still, other suicidal moves came. Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence, supported by the West, and is now in limbo, with half-recognised passports and a state, provoking constant tension. Mikheil Saakashvili, perhaps listening to some whispers from outside, launched a war adventure in Tskhinvali, which triggered Russian intervention in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and, even worse, in Poti and Gori. All intelligent things – like reforming the police, the economy and the rest – were shattered by Misha, who was later ousted. Such a waste… And then, after the beautiful picture it represented, Ukraine made another self-destructive move in early 2014, after Maidan-2 or Euromaidan. Yanukovych might be corrupt, but the agreement with him was not fulfilled, and the country – instead of striving to reach a comprehensive agreement between all regions, from Crimea to Lviv and from Donetsk to Odessa, turned to a one-sided solution, thus repeating all the mistakes made by Serbia, Bosnia and Georgia. Needless to say, it is hard for Kiev to communicate with Russia, which annexed Crimea, but it seems that Ukraine doesn’t stop raising tensions with many others: the Education Law is really bad, to put it lightly, creating problems with Poland, Hungary and Romania, while its latest approach to Belarus, Serbia (well, we are the only ones that could possibly be intermediate countries, since we are rather impartial here) and Israel don’t help. And the trouble is that we will all have to live together once again, like in the Balkans. Nobody can escape their geographical position and neighbours. No matter how tough it might be, we have to talk: Serbs with Albanians, Ukrainians with Russians, Georgians with Russians, Azerbaijanis with Armenians etc. Serbia and Ukraine cannot pick themselves up and relocate to somewhere between Norway and Iceland. We must deal with our neighbours and should all stop being so nationalist… and suicidal.


More suicidal moves came from Catalonia and Kurdistan. Both provinces desired independence and organised referenda and, as a result, Catalonia temporarily lost its autonomy and had its leaders prosecuted, while Iraqi Kurdistan lost 30% of its territory, which it had acquired in the war against the co-called Islamic State. The Croatian Sabor, in an effort to prove that Croatia didn’t intervene in Bosnia, declared the members of Croatian Defence Council (HVO) members of the Croatian Army, granting them all the associated privileges! Montenegro almost obliterated the Cyrillic script, while Russia adopted a new language law, causing disappointment among the titular nations in autonomies – abolishing the teaching of titular languages if you are not a member of a titular nation… The list is growing longer by the day.

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