November 2002 - There are moments in life when a development that one does not find particularly desirable may generate a great sense of relief and even elation. Once a struggle is over, the side effects of its outcome may be seen and appreciated as the harbinger of a new and hopefully auspicious beginning.
December 2007 - Western attention in Southeastern Europe is focused on Kosovo, Bosnia and the surrounding Western Balkans. But, I ask that some attention also be paid to neighboring Bulgaria. This core state of the historical Ottoman Balkans is completing its first year as a member of the European Union and its fourth year as a member of NATO. I resist the temptation of dwelling on how unlikely this prospect seemed when I first went to Sofia as a young Foreign Service Officer some 40 years ago. Now, with the same special interest in wider economic prospects and the same domestic pessimism about its own political process that has repeatedly surfaced over the past century, Bulgarians should nonetheless be looking back with satisfaction on their initial year as a full member of the largest common organization in European history. On a personal level, a Bulgarian friend traveling to Italy welcomed the smile and a wave that replaced a scowl and a Schengen visa check at the Rome airport. Some 60 percent of Bulgaria's foreign trade is now with the EU, and as a new member, it is expecting 11 billion euros of adjustment assistance over the next six years. But before turning to the clouds that I found gathering over Sofia, let me first address the silver lining.
In April 1992, the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was deployed to Croatia with a 12-month term and a mission to demilitarize and protect "the continuing functioning, on an interim basis, of the existing local authorities and police, under United Nations supervision, pending the achievement of an overall political solution to the crisis." More than ten years, thousands of peacekeepers, and hundreds of millions of dollars later, the former states of Yugoslavia are arguably as far from a political solution as they ever were. In a recent meeting sponsored by the East European Studies Program, two Balkans experts, A. Ross Johnson and Misha Glenny assessed the past ten years of peacekeeping in Southeastern Europe and offered alternative strategies for the future.
These papers were presented at two conferences on the history of relations between Christianity and Islam in southeastern Europe. Titles include: Balkan Christian Communities in the Early Ottoman Empire, Slavic Orthodox Attitudes toward Other Religions, and Religious Tolerance and Division in the Krajina.
Former CWIHP Fellow Jordan Baev publishes new book on the Eastern European perspective of the Sino-Soviet split.