Europe’s peace dividend

Vernon Bogdanor warns that the Balkans could erupt again if the EU implodes

The World Today Updated 27 November 2020 Published 26 May 2016 3 minute READ

Sir Vernon Bogdanor CBE

Professor of Government, King’s College London

I gained a new perspective on the European Union when, in 2006, I was asked to assist in the drafting of a constitution for Kosovo. Conferences were held, not in Kosovo itself, since those members of the Slav minority in Kosovo who were prepared to participate insisted on meeting on Slav territory. So we met in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. I had never before seen such national hatreds on display. The conflict in Kosovo made the quarrel between Unionists and Nationalists in Northern Ireland appear easily manageable.

Europe had hardly covered itself with glory when Yugoslavia fell apart in 1991, and Jacques Poos, the foreign minister of Luxembourg, declared, with some hubris, that: ‘The hour of Europe has dawned.’ The EU did nothing to stop the vicious ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia, the worst crime that Europe has seen since the Holocaust; and it was left to Britain and the United States as leaders of NATO to put an end to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

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