The Balkans to the Balkanians
by Melentie Pandilovski

3 April 1999

Let's create peace. Let's rebuild our own region. It coincides with the boundaries of the Balkans.

This time on safe ground. Openly face and surpass all hardships. Get acquainted with each other. Maybe properly for the first time. A creative explosion will come from this. Let us conduct a thoughtful reorganization of the Balkans where cultures interact one with another constructing thus a new socio-economic system that will make good use of the existing cultures on our peninsula. Expand the conscousness for a spiritually and materially prosperous Balkans. Have us use in a good direction the historical conscience of our people. Let us reject the untruth and hatred. Praise the joy of people, praise their peace. Allow for the reconciliation of the Balkanian people and the settling of their disagreements. Negotiate how to demilitarize, transform. Preserve the cultural heritage of the Balkans. The Balkans are flexible enough to adjust to social, economic, and political changes - accepting all religious beliefs. Holy places are holy for all. It only makes them more holy if more people regard them as such. Let us surpass the destroyed economy, the end of millennium catasBalkantrophy.

In accomplishing this, let us try not to harm anyone. Do not work on splitting the region but work on its unity. It's so easy to split and so difficult to unite. But so much worthier. We need wisdom more than courage. We need a constant revolution of the heart. We need a concept of togetherness. We need creative minds with love for the people. We do not need leaders with hunger for power. Nor do we need stubbornness but rather adaptable, power sharing people. Nobody is alien to the Balkans, so nobody should be discriminated against on issues of nation or faith. Religion is a private affair of the individual. Fear no one and nothing. Let the people of the Balkans determine the faith of the Balkans. If we don't, someone else will.

What are the Balkans now, and what are the most urgent issues the Balkans are facing?

Primary Issues

In analyzing the recent situation in the Balkans we can observe that it has followed a set of particularly complex routes, in some case resulting in bloodshed. The era of state-regulated society has been retreating at a higher or lower rate over the past decade. There has been a complete change of values following the change of economic framework, which has of course gravely influenced the social structures. A fragmentation of the whole region has occurred. The political governments of the Balkans find them selves today in a complete confusion. They are unable to redefine their societies and solve problems derived from the shift of systems such as low rates of production, high rates of unemployment, emigration of intellectuals. To make it more serious the Balkan leaders suffer from an inferiority complex at the same time as having a high interest in their own positions and power. Therefore, leaders are lying to their people and getting much of it. Corruption enters all cells of society and easily manoeuvres through the new regulations. Creative people are leaving the region en masse. The non-tampered zone of environmental issues continues in the same direction, despite, or because of, the dictating economic situation. The rate of pollution has increased many times. Dirty technology has been brought from the West. The greatest part of the countries' incomes go into military machines. Nobody wants to invest into the region. The education policy is highly problematic. Freedom of the press is attacked. War is constantly appearing as a primitive solution to problems in the region. Refugees are flooding the Balkans. The Balkans are almost dying. The generations following will think that the Dark Ages of the Balkans in Europe happened on the dawn of the 21st Century.


Life should be joy and pleasure. We need freedom for this. We need to free the Balkans from its leg irons. Our history is our biggest imprisonment. The chains are our biggest enemy. Break through it. Let go of it. If we can then we may look at history differently and more sanely. The holy places are holy for all. For Serbs, for Macedonians, for Albanians.

One such holy place is Kosov@. It is a very holy place forthe Serbs, with its monasteries and perhaps even more sacred because of the epic resistance of the last Serbian Tsar Lazar and his Christian army. Lazar, in heroic resistance in 1389 against the Ottoman Turks, was himself captured and executed together with the Serbian nobility. But it is also very important for the Turks because they (Ottoman Turks) had won perhaps the most triumphal of their numerous victories in Europe on the Kosov@ field. It is also very significant for their history because Sultan Murat I was been killed there. So, it is sacred for them as well.

Hagia Sofia is holy for the Greeks and all Orthodox Christians, being the main place of worship of the city of Constantine under the Byzantine Empire, but it is also holy for the Turks and all Mohammedans because it was converted into a mosque. It was valued by the Ottomans so much that virtually every mosque in Turkey has been modelled on the design of this one. If a place is regarded as holy, it is such for all. There is no need for disputes or killing to go on regarding the issue of holiness. On the contrary, love should prevail over it. For holy is holy, and holy is for all.

It is absolutely clear that the Balkan region has a huge growth potential. About 150 million people live in the Balkans. Many of the people are young, and in some countries the birthrate is extremely high. Being so large and complex we need to devise a strategy of common mechanisms that will function in reality. A wide approach towards processes must be started. Implementation of a variety of methodological models should be initiated in order to benefit the educational, civil, cultural, media, medical, and development systems. Precisely, the shift in political and economic systems has to be re-directed towards the finding of a concordant common social, political and economic structure.

In order for the newly emerging Balkan societies to accept this direction a link will have to be produced to the more traditional values, since a certain tribute must be paid by the new culture to the cumulative cultural achievements of the past. I am therefore proposing a system where the whole region should be regarded as a cultural facility which in its framework contains an economic and social platform opposed to separating these elements into individual, non-linked, value systems. In order to avoid accumulation of the same value, and to spare substantial portions of money and energy, the Balkan societies will have to develop substantially higher synergistic systems.

The Balkan countries should create an association and name it the "Balkan Commonwealth", or "Balkan Union" or something similar. Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Greece and Turkey should form it. Any of the bordering countries to the region may join it if they wish. It would have many advantages. More than that, it can be a Commonwealth spreading freedom and friendship between the people. This synergy will be accomplished by formal and informal links between cultural agencies or institutions through different computerized systems e.g. Internet systems, common databases, protocols, etc. More developed countries should be aware that the dream of creating a unified Europe in which people are still exploring the possibilities of a community that transcends national borders can, to a relatively high point, be supported by means of developing the Balkans. In this respect, interested Balkanian bureaucracies and business should be engaged with the launching of such All-Balkanian systems - which will, to its advantage, become a medium attracting multinational business.

The essential challenge to the developers of the New Balkans is to investigate deeply - reaching the higher European standards, and surpassing them. The new educational and cultural system should be based on the individual and his natural potentialities, free of all chains. This will only result in people enjoying life and freedom. If everyone could find his or her potential this would be a flourishing region. Things are interactive after all. The viewpoint of society should be focused into understanding complexities. If we succeed in this then we will succeed in creating a balance between the different peoples of the Balkans.

How will we do it?

Identify common Balkan concerns and strengthen the ties among the
countries. Promote different approaches and dialog. Raise public awareness of shared issues in the social, political, economic and cultural transition in society by providing a creative space for discussion and debate in a regional context. Promote a Balkanian network, that facilitates exchange of information, resources, and institutional cooperation. Promote cooperation among individuals sharing their diverse experiences in responding to the complex challenges. Ecology has to have the highest priority. People are suffocating in our cities. We must create an environment of tolerance and overcome stereotypes. We should demilitarize and money should go to culture, education, tourism, clean industries, healthy food. Create possibilities for and give guarantees to foreign financiers that they will not lose their capital in the Balkans. Use creative energy and support innovative thinking. Promote cultural diversity and information exchange. We must quickly define our vision regarding the future of communications and upgrade the info-communications infrastructure and other uses of network capabilities in order to achieve large economic and social benefits.

The benefits of an improved info-communications infrastructure in overcoming these problems and starting to build are enormous. Even more than that, the Balkanian countries need to establish very close ties with the international info-communications networks in order to open up both ways to the rest of the world. The establishment of a broadband Balkanian fiber-optic network would expand interactive communications and create large positive economic effects. The widespread application of info-communications functions will lead to a more open economic system and an accomplishment of economic growth. This will trigger the essential shift. A high-performing info-communications infrastructure will encourage international business to invest in the Balkans and will expand opportunities for employment. A more sophisticated infrastructure could substantially add to the value of intellectual creativity in the economic structure. We must be engaged in the development of new industries such as electronics. But the trend has to be followed, and such industries should be supported in the field of info-communications, multimedia industries, and cutting-edge technology such as nanotechnology and bio-technology. Even more than that, we must create our own research centers. However, in order to succeed, do not forget to always call for expert governments in your countries. Presidents and Prime Ministers do not want to have them in principle in case they become competitors and find themselves in a position where they can hardly practice their ego-trips. Finally, urge the Balkanian diaspora to invest into the Balkans. We can see from these days that this works in times of danger.

We can do it!