The Integration Power of Traditional Cultural Systems and the Search for a Substitute

I. Breaking news

The discontent of the second semester of 2011

From the last six months of 2011 reports by international and Slovenian media provided an impressive list of world problems:

1. Greek debt and the crisis of the euro;

2. Political confusion and economic crisis in Italy;

3. Phone-hacking and other manipulative practices by Rupert Murdoch’s media;

4. Individual European powers (Germany) building a future beyond the EU;1

5. The Arab Spring, NATO intervention and civil wars in Libya and Syria;

6. Resistance to multiculturalism demonstrated by conservative European governments and dramatized by mass murders in Norway;

7. Dilemmas regarding recognition of the Palestinian state;

8. Resignation of Turkish generals, a Turkish shift away from Europe;

9. Tensions in Northern Kosovo after the arrest of war crimes suspect Hadžic´ and “open-door for Serbia” declarations by the EU – followed by tough exchanges between Belgrade and Zagreb concerning the Yugoslav crisis of the 1990s;

10. Political crisis and early elections in Slovenia.

The challenges of contemporary international relations

Mulling over this list and adding to it chronic phenomena, such as poverty, political corruption and illegal migration, one could, with a little reflection, compose a list of the most burning challenges of present-day international relations:

1. Challenges to the social and economic stability of the EU and the Mediterranean;

2. A crisis of cultural diversity, multiculturalism and tolerance; restoration of (obsolete) cultural systems;

3. The growing role of the media as an exacerbating agent of cultural discontent;

4. The shrinking integration power of traditional cultural systems and the search for alternatives.

What happens to integration after the demise of traditional values?

In the past, the Central European and Mediterranean region have produced or embraced various cultural systems, ranging from Classical, Jewish, Christian and Muslim to Socialist and Liberal-Democratic. These systems have provided identity and contributed to the cohesion of individual nations. Sometimes, cultural systems coexisted and cooperated, but more often they competed and fought one another. Christianity and Socialism, for example, have, by force or attraction, managed to integrate large groups of nations. Today, a number of these systems have lost their power to integrate and become ineffective. The main issue is: what happens to European integration after the traditional cultural systems have been exhausted?

Functional and dysfunctional integration

At times, the traditional systems protected their borders and connections with arms, at other times through diplomacy, by treaties and alliances. In 1815 the Conservative European aristocracy protected itself against the French Revolution and Liberal Democracy by setting up the Holy Alliance. After 1945, the Socialist system protected itself against Liberal Democracy with the Iron Curtain, the Warsaw Pact, and the Berlin Wall. In 1989, this arrangement broke down, and the stage was set for the colossal integration of the European Union. As demonstrated by the cases of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, functional integration only takes place after the demise of dysfunctional integration, i e after disintegration of the previous system. Unfortunately, so far the physical and economic integration of the EU has not been accompanied by equivalent cultural shift. Beyond multiculturalism, no definitive answer has been given to the challenges of cultural contacts and European cultural identity.

The EU has, of course, provided assistance for the construction of railway and highway networks that have connected – among other regions – the Northern side of the Mediterranean reasonably well. As the Arab democratic movements have made clear, this region has been connected by (not exclusively European) electronic media and the internet. One of the important EU projects has been the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which also included the Priority Project 6 (the railway axis Lyon–Trieste–Divača/Koper–Divača–Ljubljana– Budapest, to the Ukrainian border).2

The difficult friendship between Slovenians, Croats and Italians

Most contemporary problems have historical origins. The London Treaty of 1915 gave Italy a substantial portion of Slovenian and also Croatian ethnic territory: the entire former Austrian Littoral, the port of Trieste, the Western part of Carniola, Ilirska Bistrica, Idrija, and Vipava in Inner Carniola; the islands Cres and Lošinj, Northern Dalmatia, including Zadar, Šibenik and most of the Dalmatian islands, except Krk and Rab. During the Second World War, when Slovenian territory became divided between Italy, Germany and Hungary, Croatia became a quasi-independent, Italian-sponsored state (NDH) that included substantial portions of Bosnia. This changed in 1947, but the original ethnic Slovenian part of the Adriatic Coast between Tržič (Monfalcone) and Trst (Trieste) was lost to Italy – and replaced by the Istrian coast between Ankaran and Sečovlje, which was home to a sizeable Italian population that opted to be part of Italy after 1954. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, borders between new states were established rather easily on land, but with considerable difficulty on the sea. Vitally important territorial access from Slovenian waters to the high seas was opposed by Croatia, and is currently the subject of arbitration by an international Arbitration Tribunal.

Clash of cultures?

The Slovenian case may be parochial, but it is still typical of the countries that endured decades of Communist rule. In the spring and summer months of 2011, the crisis of the Slovenian “Leftist” government3 approached the stage of agony that led to early elections. The crisis consisted of two components, one economic and one cultural. The economic situation deteriorated (high budget deficit, a series of defaults, the weak banking sector, wide-spread corruption, high unemployment…) due partly to the general crisis in Europe and partly to flawed economic policies. The political situation, however, worsened primarily due to a cultural clash. The clash – also called cultural battle or Kulturkampf and typical of many former Communist countries – consisted of a series of hysterical assaults on the two decades of Slovenian democracy and independence. The governing coalition (surprisingly proud successors and open advocates of Yugoslav Communists) actually attempted to revive the pre-democratic system, ridiculing the democratic changes of 1990 and independent statehood and denying the mass executions of 1945 and other criminal acts of the Communist secret police. The restoration attempt, which was accompanied by pressure on the media and the judiciary, produced a drastic cultural division, including widespread political discrimination and outright hostility.

II. Peace by war

From Pax Romana to Pax Americana

Pax Romana, the concept coined by Edward Gibbon,4 eventually meant the period of two hundred years (between 27 BC and 180 AD) when Rome enjoyed military conquests without major challenges or interference. It seems that Romans saw peace – rather than as an absence of war – as a situation in which “all opponents had been beaten down and lost the ability to resist”.5 Pax Britannica refers to the period after the Vienna Congress (1815), when the British Empire grew into a naval (and colonial) superpower controlling most sea routes. The closing date of the British Peace was the beginning of the First World War. The 20th century has – for obvious reasons – also been called the era of Pax Americana. The cases mentioned indicate that peace is not an innocent, but rather a contradictory concept.6 It is usually associated with order imposed on defeated nations by victorious powers. Peace conferences and peace treaties usually formalize and legalize the achievements of winners and the losses of their weaker adversaries.

The rhetoric of peace

Rhetoric used to be a classical intellectual discipline and a typical Mediterranean skill. It was – and still is7 – an effective political instrument. It was highly valued in Greek and Roman times by lawyers, philosophers and politicians, including Demosthenes, Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. Good speeches can help us save our lives or lose them, and they can change history. In many cases, political speeches distort and manipulate facts. One of the favourite subjects of rhetoricians is peace. In many cases, rhetoricians do not really expect to achieve or even to contribute to peace, on the contrary; or they may use the peace-jargon to establish a positive image of themselves or of their party. Such attitudes were typical of Communist (and generally authoritarian) rulers who avoided mentioning war and occupation, but rather spoke of peace movements and peace missions. Communist military establishments and their alliances have by definition been portrayed as a guarantee of peace, a phrase not entirely strange to other military alliances. Communist governments used to encourage the establishment of anti-war and peace organizations (non-governmental, or more often quasi-autonomous non-governmental) that would organize meetings and rallies against defensive alliances (NATO) and military spending. These organizations eventually promoted “butter” as a “strategic alternative” to “tanks”. At the beginning of the Yugoslav crisis, the “leftist” opponents of Slovenian independence worked against effective armed defence and even collected signatures against the establishment of an independent Slovenian army. In February 1991, they prepared a Declaration of Peace rejecting violence and advocating a demilitarized Slovenia. In fact, they would prefer a Pax Yugoslavica to the democratic movement and independence of Slovenia.

The rhetoric of stability

While visiting the famous Second World War Sutjeska battle site in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and observing the prominent mountains on the border with Montenegro,8 Marshall Tito once compared the landscape to the stability of Yugoslavia. He said that Yugoslavia had as much chance of disintegrating as the mountains of Bosnia. The stability of countries has often been associated with strong, firm and autocratic rulers. In fact, Tito’s record of stabilization was not bad. He managed to rule over the nations of Yugoslavia – until his death in 1980 – with repression, but also by concession. He sponsored or accepted constitutional changes that secured the limited autonomies of Croats, Bosnians and Albanians; while his successors, such as Slobodan Milošević, intended to keep Yugoslavia together with the army. As seen in the case of the Soviet Union (not to mention Czechoslovakia), a controlled kind of disintegration managed by people like Gorbachev, Yeltsin or Havel can result in much greater stability. The developments in Spain between 1930 and 1975 offer another interesting case for the study of stability and its rhetoric. While the Conservative government of the Second Republic was associated with stability, the left-wing Popular Front introduced an era of instability, leading to Civil War, international conflict and Franco’s dictatorship.

The Turkish case

If the Yugoslav army – attacking Slovenia in 1991 in the name of stability – could be characterized as a massive destabilizing factor, this characterization would not be quite accurate in the case of the military establishment of Turkey. Here the armed forces have been seen as the protector of the modern, secular state founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – but also as a force above the law. So, the 29 July 2011 resignation of Turkish generals has provoked at least two kinds of reactions, both legitimate. Some commentators (sympathizing with the conservative party of Prime Minister Erdogan) emphasize that it was a step in the right direction, giving a chance to the democratically elected government to control the armed forces. Others believe that Erdogan is a religious fundamentalist and trust the military more than they do the government. They have complained that Turkey was “shifting away from Europe” and returning to the Ottoman system that had been abolished by Ataturk.9

III. The stability issue

The shifting center of gravity: from Mittelmeer to Mitteleuropa

Europeans – knowingly or not – draw on or refer to ancient Mediterranean (Mittelmeer) experience every day. Our religious, philosophical and political concepts, agriculture, gastronomy, art, literature and architecture in fact originate in classical Mediterranean sources. Our culture and our communication depend on the knowledge of this world, which, as far as integration goes, “performed” best in times of Roman leadership. Never before or afterwards has the Mediterranean been as integrated as it was during the centuries of Roman control. Rome created the image of “a society superior to all others”.10 Roman palaces, colossal theatres, villas, baths, aqueducts, temples and basilicas, their statues are still objects of admiration, and most people have deplored the demise of this culture. The end came with military defeats in battles against Barbarian campaigns and with an implosion of the system: “But when central funds began to run out, the surviving garrison troops just disbanded themselves. As the flow of cash slowed to a trickle, soldiers were paid less and less frequently (…) and the supply of arms and other essentials declined too.”11

In Roman times, the Mediterranean world was “an economic as well as a political unity”.12 Then, it experienced many divisions: the division of the Roman Empire (395), the division of Christianity (1054), the division between Christianity and Islam (1453) and the division of Europe (1945). In the 9th century the focus of European power (cultural capital?) began to move away from Mittelmeer to Mitteleuropa. Once the Islamic threat had been removed (Berlin 1878) and most internal problems (Fascism, Nazism) had been resolved in the Second World War, the centre of gravity moved towards the East. The East European (Soviet) Communists emerged as the dominating factor in Europe, while its weakened Western part survived (and was later resuscitated) due to American assistance. Since 1989, the reintegration of Europe and the Mediterranean has been underway – with the Arab revolutions as the high point, we may say with hope and some caution at this point.

The value of political stability

Revolutions are close relatives of instability. The task of the Vienna Congress (1815) was to stem the spread of the French revolution and restore the values dear to European leaders like Metternich. The Vienna cure worked quite well until the next – Soviet – revolution of 1917. The part of the 20th century that followed the beginning of Socialism and the First World War, has not distinguished itself as an era of stability in the same way that – according to some commentators – the era that began with 1989 has. The delicate question is, whether stability returned by itself or was produced by another revolution. The stabilization of 1989–1991 was an outcome of the “spring” movements and “velvet” revolutions of Central and Eastern Europe including Slovenia. In a way, this may concern the uprisings that began in December 2010 in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco and Oman. Did the seemingly stable, but essentially unstable autocratic regimes need stabilization by revolution?!

Factors of stability

Stability too, is an elusive concept. One can speak about social, financial, political and/or cultural stability. Measured by their cultures, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Rome or Syria would be world champions of stability. In this case, stability would be associated with duration or longevity of a culture, which does not necessarily coincide either with the stability of a nation, or with the stability of a political system. The list of champions would change if stability were defined by the internal balance, cohesion or integrity of a country. Of course, cultural tradition contributes to national stability, and national stability contributes to the stability of a country.13

Political stability is usually achieved by force and/or attraction; with physical strength (advanced economic, political, diplomatic and defence organization) and social and cultural integration. In this case, the leaders in stability may be China (with more than 2,000 years of stable state organization), France, England and Russia (around 1,000 years), the Bohemian/Czech state (800), and Spain and Switzerland (around 500).

The stability of nation states

Nation state systems are usually characterized by cultural integration: by a common language and more so by other common traditions; by values, norms, beliefs, habits that are generally accepted. Today, a strong ingredient of the “glue” that holds nation states together and enables them to endure and weather various tests of stability (such as political and economic crises, international challenges and even wars) is patriotism.

The glue of multinational systems

In a number of cases, nationalism represents a threat to multinational systems. So one should ask, what is, or could be, the “glue” that holds together multinational systems, continents, empires or lands separated by the seas? On the other hand, one could ask, what are the forces that make multinational systems, once they have been established, fall apart and break down? Usually, multinational, international and supranational systems are not held together by emotions, but by practical interest and agreement. This does not mean that these systems do not share common values and certain component parts, but they are not self-evident or automatic. Common values of multinational systems have to be discovered and processed. It takes a considerable amount of rhetoric and a lot of political pressure to introduce them into everyday life. Once, the Mediterranean was held together by Pax Romana, later – at least partially – by the Christian faith. What pulled or held together British, French, Dutch or Spanish colonial organizations? In most cases, it was a combination of force and ideology. The conquerors always gave noble explanations for their conquests: scientific research, discovery, the spread of civilization, enlightenment, development. Later, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were held together by Socialism, again a combination of ideology and force. But the old glue has lost its power; the traditional approach to integration has become obsolete.

If we observe the stability of systems like the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Austria and Austria-Hungary, the United States of America, the Soviet Union or the European Union, we can draw three basic conclusions:

1. The stability of a geographical region or an international/multinational system is – by definition – lower than stability of a national system;

2. The stability of a national system/state increases with duration and tradition;

3. International systems become more stable once they recognize common values and develop characteristics – and policies – typical of national systems.

Factors of instability/disintegration

Fragmentation and division are almost synonyms for instability. On the other hand, they may produce varying results. Collapsing empires and states – like Rome, the Ottoman Empire, Austria, the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia, – all experienced divisions, but in most cases, former component parts achieved formidable stability. Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey are stable systems. Their stability lies in appropriate internal political arrangements, but also in new alliances and connections that have anchored most of them in appropriate contexts, e g in the European Union and NATO.

Modern societies of the 20th or 21st centuries were supposed to discover new concepts of integration that would replace nationalism. The Soviet and the Yugoslav states were systematically unified and centralized by their respective Communist Party and security apparatuses. The citizens were fed common values, such as brotherhood and unity and national and international solidarity. Whatever the “scientific” (Marxist-Leninist-historical-materialist) foundations of these values, they did not correspond to the everyday realities of the countries, and after a while they no longer satisfied the interests of the population – not to mention international economic competition. Once left without an effective binding substance, these multinational systems collapsed.

IV. The European experiment

European integration

The European Union (initially called the Common Market) was, and still is, the great integration experiment of our time. Basically, the EU started as a project to promote peace and economic prosperity. It has integrated historically hostile nations and vital economies of Western Europe. The original system, consisting of only six countries, was “deepened” with additional institutions and policies reaching almost as far as the Constitutional Treaty (signed 2004), and “widened” (2004–2007) with enlargement to 27 members. In a manner similar to NATO, the EU served the purpose jokingly defined as “keeping the Germans down, keeping the Russians out and keeping the Americans in”. Technically, the three pillars of the system (abandoned in 2009 in favour of the Lisbon Treaty) were:

1. The European Communities pillar (consisting of EC, ECSC and EURATOM), which handled economic, social and environmental policies;

2. The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar, which took care of foreign policy and military matters; and

3. The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar.

The euro (used by 17 EU member states) and the Schengen system (introduced by 24 EU and 3 non-EU member states) indicate that the European Union has already developed in the direction of increasing integration. Even closer integration of the EU may be necessary in the future to resolve the debt crisis, preserve stability and enable the EU to serve as an attractive model for other countries. The issue was discussed recently by the distinguished economist Joseph Stiglitz, who believes that “the market model has been discredited” and whose chief worry seems to be: “If the West’s social and economic models fail, where will the people of the Middle East turn for inspiration?” Stiglitz’s proposal is as follows: “What needs to be done is by now well-known: issue European bonds, using the collective borrowing power of the European Union, and pass the low interest rates onto the countries in need, combined with a growth strategy that will engender needed revenues.”14

What is “the West’s social and economic model”?

Stiglitz compares the Arab Spring to Central and Eastern European revolutions after the fall of the Berlin wall, and envisages a continuation of integration processes as seen in the EU. Several interesting questions arise. For example, what is meant by the West’s social and economic model? Does it mean just having a good economy and enjoying prosperity? Is economic success feasible without adequate cultural standards? Next, how successful has the integration of European nations been so far, for example, the integration of former Communist countries into the community dominated by Christian, humanist, and liberal democratic values? And another question: what are – beyond economic policies – the unifying values, what is the “glue” that keeps the EU together today? Most of the time, European politicians have been preoccupied with common agricultural, ecological, energy, judicial, foreign and security policies. In the absence of a common language or common cultural programs (which remain an untouchable national competence), European politicians – naturally – insist on multiculturalism, which means cultural diversity and mutual tolerance. These concepts pose further difficult questions. First, can a multinational community like the EU prosper and remain stable without any common culture? Second, can diversity serve as a unifying substance? (Attraction to unknown phenomena and strange persons is not a universally accepted concept.) Third, cultural diversity alias multiculturalism has recently suffered setbacks within individual EU members, even in France and Germany.

Resistance to multiculturalism

Commenting on the Norwegian massacre and the reactions of European political parties, John Vinocur has recommended cultural tolerance: “… the European left could ease up on its resistance to the idea that multiculturalism has brought parallel societies, disrespect for national laws and traditions, and a threatened sense of identity to countries with hundreds of years of democratic history.”

Vinocur praises a new book – Immigrant Nations – by the Dutch political scientist Paul Scheffer who, in Vinocur’s words, “says that the reality of multiculturalism is that it is a doctrine of ‘avoidance’”, sustaining immigrant groups’ focus “on what they’ve left behind”, placing more emphasis “on heritage rather than openness” and tolerating pretty much everything “as long as cultures are spared all criticism”.15

What, indeed, is multiculturalism? The recent European experience with multiculturalism and its opponents has been complex. It seems that different cultures can coexist and tolerate one another as long as they do not oppose or contradict one another. Multiculturalism does not encourage integration. Cultures – like nations – cannot by themselves be the glue or common denominator of international systems.

The value of cultural diversity

In the past, nations and nationalities were often forced to unite and adopt the culture of the dominant nation instead of the original one. Some sort of cultural unification was attempted by Roman, Byzantine or Ottoman emperors, by Napoleon, by Stalin and by Hitler. The medieval stories of conversion to Christianity, stories of the American melting pot, or the Stalinist withering away of nationalities and their merger into one Soviet (or, for that matter, Yugoslav) nationality have not been encouraging. Producing or introducing a common culture in a multicultural situation may mean looking in the wrong direction. The real question is what lies underneath, and what may be common to different cultures?

Culture (languages, habits, ideas…) need (should?) not be introduced or transformed by force or indoctrination. In such a case, a different culture is perceived as a threat, or at least as an unnecessary burden. In a way, cultures are like preferred means of transportation (planes, trains or cars). They may, of course, clash or crash, but in principle, if they move according to traffic rules and schedules, they can function safely and usefully. Once they exit their vehicles, the passengers can enter all kinds of relations. There is some empirical evidence (in Ancient and in Modern times) regarding how peoples and nations spontaneously enter into various associations and alliances and develop personal and collective practical and emotional ties. Peoples of different cultures (such as the French, Germans, Catholics or Muslims) could coexist and cooperate if they were willing and able to recognize common “infra-cultural” substance that did not interfere with their cultural identities. This substance is simply the elementary human capacity or eagerness to communicate and form social relationships. If he or she does not feel threatened, a native is generally eager to learn more about and, by consequence, appreciate the difference between his position and the position of a stranger. People can be informed and educated to develop the capacity to recognize and appreciate different cultures. Schools can help regulate the traffic between cultures. What connects cultures is not their similarity or difference, but the universal pre-cultural capacity to recognize and appreciate their “passengers”.

V. The search – not for identity, but compatibility

Nationalism and ethnic conflicts

The EU – and NATO – integration has been predominantly successful in part because it was after all a reunion of old acquaintances. Although the countries and nations of Europe had led different lives on different sides of the Iron Curtain, the emotional bonds and infrastructure remained partially intact. Some analysts have claimed that the Soviet Union and especially Yugoslavia fell apart because of nationalism and ethnic conflicts. Actually, both systems broke down because the connecting substance that was meant to replace nationalism – i e Socialism – no longer worked. Compatibility between old and new members of the EU was rather high. It depended on the duration and rigidity of the Socialist/Communist system imposed on individual countries. This explains the fact that some republics of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia joined the EU and NATO more quickly and earlier than others. Estonia was certainly faster than Georgia, and Slovenia was faster than Serbia. But such differences were not new. Finally, Britain, Denmark and Ireland joined (in 1973) before the Mediterranean candidates, Greece (1981), Portugal and Spain (1986), which became members after the introduction of democracy and before the neutral Austria, Finland and Sweden (1995). Faster or slower progress of integration can be attributed to cultural/political differences, but in the end – with the exception of Turkey – they have not prevented nations from becoming members. On the other hand, cultural differences have contributed to formation of groups within the EU. In addition to the group of the original six members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands) – reinforced by the first enlargement in 1973 (Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland) – one can easily detect two more categories: the Mediterranean group (Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal, Spain) and the group of former Communist countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia).

Historical challenge

If there were sufficient political will, the EU could easily enlarge to include Balkan and Mediterranean countries where pre-dictatorship or pre-Socialist culture is still alive. The enlargement process could build on historical elements of compatibility, but it could also develop compatibility by offering appropriate assistance and nurturing educational programs, instead of striving to crush traditions and impose official culture. While Israel and Turkey would be easy candidates, others could be coming in at a slower pace. The approach would be the same as it was for Greece, Portugal or Spain before 1981 or for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe before 2004. The Arab Spring may not be an exact copy of the European movements of the 1980s and 1990s, since the technology was different – and even more advanced – but the basic idea was the same. Tunisia and Egypt, and to a certain extent Morocco, have already made progress, and Libya and Syria may well be on their way. A new distinct, separate group of South Mediterranean countries could be added to the existing categories of EU members. Even the Israeli–Palestinian conflict could be resolved if the peace process were designed as a part of the enlargement of the EU, introducing equal standards for all candidates.

Deepening and widening

It may be difficult to start a new wave of enlargement in the EU before the EU has resolved its financial problems and adopted measures that would make it an even closer union. But migration and ethnic unrest, combined with uncertainty about intercultural cooperation, may precipitate unexpected new developments. The EU may give priority to the Mediterranean, but it can also (considering preferences concerning sources of energy and raw materials) grow towards the East.

Mutual blockade

Enlargement with countries that have been at odds with each other (Israel–Palestine, Croatia–Serbia, Serbia–Kosovo…) may also not be easy, as some of them may conclude negotiations earlier than others and would decide about the membership of their rivals. To avoid such obstacles, the EU should adopt appropriate rules. Before they become member states, the countries of the region should agree not to block one another during the accession process.

Worrying developments

One of the problems faced at present by the EU is the financial crisis, which will demand changes of rules and closer economic integration, possibly a new treaty. Another threat to the stability of the EU may be reduced confidence in the European (peace and stability) project, as demonstrated by the temptation of individual member states to begin building their future beyond the EU.


1 Cf. Ewing, Jack, and Dempsey, Judy: “Germany builds future beyond EU”. International Herald Tribune (IHT)\ 19 July 2011, p. 1.

2 On 24 August 2007, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published the following text (reproduced from TEN 2003): “Trans-European Corridor 5, the rail and road network that the European Union is committed to building by 2015 was pinpointed during the Pan-European Transport Conference in Crete (1994) and Helsinki (1997). Corridor 5 is a major East-West artery linking Barcelona (Spain) and Kiev (Ukraine). The Turin—Venice—Trieste/Koper—Postojina— Ljubljana-Budapest-Uzgorod-Lvov-Kiev section in particular would bring a number of advantages to Italy. The so-called “Balkan segment” of Corridor 5 running East-West in the Northern Adriatic region involves complex infrastructures in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. The route covers 1,600 km, not to mention its branches: one leading from Fiume to Budapest via Zagreb, another from Bratislava to Uzgorod and the third from Ploce to the Hungarian capital via Sarajevo. The multimodal Pan-European Corridor 5 is planned along three axes.

3 By “Leftist” government I mean the coalition of Social Democratic (former Communist), Liberal, For Real (two successors to former Socialist Youth Organization) and Democratic Party of Slovenian Pensioners. The inefficient government was headed by Borut Pahor, a Social Democrat. The winner of the December 2011 early elections was Zoran Jankovic, who established an ad hoc “Leftist” party (Positive Slovenia) seven weeks before the vote. Jankovic used to be the general manager of the supermarket chain Mercator, and he was also Mayor of Ljubljana (2006—2011).

4 Cf. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776—1788).

5 Quoted from Wikipedia.

6 In the 5 th century, Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus wrote on this paradox in his book De Re Militari: Si vispacem, para bellum. Marshall Tito, the Yugoslav dictator, used to say: “Let us work as if peace will last one hundred years, but let us prepare, as if war will come tomorrow.”

7 Nowadays, rhetoric — under new names like “advertising”, “public relations” and “spin tactics” — has become one of the most important professions, steering political, electoral and commercial practices.

8 The Sutjeska river divides the Zelengora (Green Peaks) Mountain from the Maglic and Volujak Mountains.

9 Cf. Shadid, Anthony: “With generals gone, some Turks fear shift away from Europe”, IHT, 2 August 2011, p. 3.

10 Cf. Heather, Peter: The Fall of the Roman Empire. Oxford, 2006, p. 453.

11 Op. cit., p. 412.

12 Cf. Goodman, Martin: Rome andJerusalem, The Clash of Ancient Civilizations. London, 2007, p. 92.

13 National states — regardless of their “nation-building processes” — are usually more stable than multinational states. To achieve stability, multinational systems develop particular methods of organization. Some stabilization methods (as in the case of Switzerland) have been successful, others have failed (as in the case of Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union).

14 Stiglitz, Joseph: “Europe’s travails and our collective fate – If the euro crisis is not resolved, Europe’s troubles will undercut the US recovery and the Arab Spring”. IHT, 20 July 2011, p. 8.

15 Vinocur, John: “For Europe, few hints of tolerance”. IHT, 2 August 2011, p. 2.

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