Arenas for Nationalism: From Sports to Politics

Although I recently wrote about my hopes for better relations between Serbia and Croatia, tensions are currently rising.  On the first day of the Australian Open, a group of young Croatian-Australians gave the Nazi salute and chanted Fascist slogans.  They also brought flares into the stadium, and were soon ejected for unruly behavior.  This display of nationalism is not unique; racial tension between nations of the former-Yugoslavia often erupts during sports matches.

In the political arena, Croatia just elected a new president, Ivo Josipovic, and it was recently confirmed that Serbian President Boris Tadic will not attend his inaugaration because Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu would be there.  Tadic does not want his attendance along with Sejdiu to be interpreted as an acceptance of Kosovo’s declaration of independence.  The inauguration of Josipovic is scheduled for February 18 2010. He will succeed Stjepan Mesic, who has been prominent in backing Kosovo’s independence, much to the annoyance of Belgrade.

Stjepan Mesic seems to be using his last days in office to make controversial statements to his neighbors, and especially to Milorad Dodik, the prime minister of the Republika Srpka (serbian entity) in Bosnia.   Mesic stated: “If Milorad Dodik scheduled a referendum for secession … I would send the army,”  adding that he would “break the Bosnian Serb region in half”.  Dodik responds by calling Mesic “ustasa.”

Stjepan Mesic

I agree that Dodik is doing everything in his power to keep Bosnia as divided as possible and he constantly makes threats of secession, but is another war the answer? Few experts seem to think that Bosnia will have another war like it did in the 1990s, yet the ethnic tensions between Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia seem to be more aggressive than ever and Mesic’s threats are alarming.  Lady Ashton, the EU’s new foreign policy chief, has singled Bosnia out as the most unstable corner of Europe, according to the UK Guardian.

    • Oscar
    • January 24th, 2010

    If they keep this behavior, they can’t be admitted into the EU, we don’t need more childish behavior in our politics.

    I like the new look of this blog.

  1. Since the end of teh Second World War, the Croatian diaspora in Australia has been a hotbed of Ustasha activity. They were tolerated by the Australia government because they were anti-commie and were given a bit of free reign to strike back at Yugoslavia. At least two incursions by neo-Ustashi into Yugoslavia orginated there and the ASIO turned a blind eye to about a dozen in country attacks. It’s not until the United States starts to panic about Yugoslavia’s ability to survive after Tito that the Aussies get serious about putting a leash on them.

    Given Mesic’s family history, calling him an Ustasha was a touch tacky.

    • Christine
    • February 1st, 2010

    Hi, History Punk,

    Thanks for the comment and information. I think nationalism of emigrants is a very interesting topic…

    By the way- great blog! I added you to my blogroll. Much to MY mother’s consternation, I am a masters student studying East and Central European Studies in Poland 🙂

    Best, Christine

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