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.”
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.