The project of Eurobalcanic Union as an alternative to the EU


The Balkan that area belongs to the space of ancient Thracian civilization, which Herodotus said that if it were not divided, it would become the most powerful nation in the world. Apparently later, this feature of Balkan identity will be kept in the collective unconscious of the people, and despite the influence from people who migrate to these lands, its inhabitants will continue to retain its ancestral traits.

The common historical fate of the people of the region remained the same: the Roman conquest, political administration and the spiritual influence of Byzantine Empire. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire, not without cunning intervention of big powers, triggered wars for independence and the boundary lines. The Balkans became known to history only as "powder keg of Europe".

Upon the unification of the Balkans, the kings of Vlach-Bulgarian Empire, Romanian rulers Stephen the Great, Petru Rares, Michael the Brave, dreamed, but the prospects of this project were hampered by some unfavourable geopolitical or historical contexts.

Balkan people often expressed solidarity to the struggle for freedom. In 1185, the Romanians from the south of the Danube, led by brothers Peter and Asan, rebelled against Constantinople because of the increasing of taxes by Emperor Isaac II. Following this uprising with the help of Tsar Stefan Neman of Serbia in 1188, Byzantium recognized the existence of a Romania-Bulgarian State. A year later Romanians were even more ambitions. They proposed to the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa a conquest by the Serbs of the Byzantine Empire and to divide it. Because of domestic political conflicts, this project was not realized.

The Romanian imperial idea was reborn under the reign of Ionita, who required from the Rome recognition of his title of Emperor and the raising of rank of his bishop to Patriarch. The request was rejected by Pope Innocent III. Rome could recognize only two imperial authorities on earth: Constantinople and Rome. However, in November 1204, Ionita was recognized as "King of Wallachia and Bulgaria".

Balkan Federation: a failure of Communists

In the early nineteenth century, when the Ottomans in the Balkans were the power of the past, the first attempt to create a single Balkan space occurred. In 1865, leftist circles in Belgrade, who were inspired by Saint-Simon’s federalism and the socialism and anarchism of Karl Marx’s Nikolai Bakunin, formulated this idea. They proposed the creation of the Oriental Democratic Federation, from the Alps to Cyprus. Against this background, in 1894, the League for Balkan Confederation was created, in which Romanian socialists, Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks participated.

The first Conference of the Social Democrats in the Balkans was held in Belgrade from December 25 to 27, 1909, in which it proposed the establishment of a Federation of Balkan states. This conference was attended by the representatives of social democratic parties from Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia. During the meeting, the leader of the Serbian Social Democrats, Dimitri Tucovic, said that "the unification and mutual help of people in the Balkans is the only path to economic liberation, national and political". In the same conference it adopted a resolution which stressed that the Balkan problem can be solved only by uniting all peoples living in this territory, the liquidation of all artificially created borders and guaranteeing mutual cooperation in the defense of the external dangers ". After this, all social democratic parties and socialist orientations included in its political programs were the objective of the Balkan federation.

In 1915, after a conference in Bucharest, it was decided to create a Federation of Balkan Revolutionary Social Democratic Labour, which was led by Christian Rakovsky, and among its members were Georgi Dimitrov and Vasil Kolarov - well-known Bulgarian communist leaders.

After the Bolshevik revolution in Petrograd, 1917, the Balkan Communist Federation was established, which aimed to unify under the umbrella of Moscow Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey. Accepting Romania in this project was conditioned on the dismantling of Romanian state, and had to exclude any risk of Romanian domination in the Balkans. Finally, this organization was defunct in 1939.

On February 9, 1934, in Athens, representatives of Romania, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece signed the Balkan Entente Pact, in which the parties took on obligations to contribute to regional security. Conceived as a political, military and economic alliance it however did not cover all the states of the peninsula, materialized natural aspirations and traditional friendship and cooperation between the Balkan peoples in many areas and promoted the goals of rapprochement and understanding between the signatories. Unfortunately Bulgaria had refused to join the pact.

The last attempt took place after the Second World War, when the Communist leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito and the Bulgarian Communist leader, Georgi Dimitrov began negotiations to merge the two states into a federation of Balkan states. The Bulgarian side expressed being open to some concessions, recognizing ethnic and linguistic identity of the Macedonian minority. This was one of the conditions at the Bled agreement signed between Sofia and Belgrade on 1 August 1947, which provided, among other things, solvation of territorial problems, the elimination of visas and creating a customs union. But because of the diplomatic conflict between Yugoslavia and the USSR, Bulgaria had to make concessions to Moscow, choosing the position opponent of Belgrade. The Kremlin feared the growing influence of Yugoslavia in the Balkans and the Yugoslav leader was irritated by Soviet attempts to maintain control over the South-East Europe.

European Union: an integration project that failed in the Balkan area

After a series of bloody wars that led to the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, today's European integration is seen as the only solution to unify the peoples of this region. Greece, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria are already EU members, while some states of the former Yugoslavia: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro aspire membership of the Union. However, the prospects of such a project is questionable amid the on-going financial crisis in Europe and the conflicts within the EU. American scholar and professor Joel Kotkin noted in an article published in "Newsweek" that "in the near future," tribal ties "(which includes race, ethnicity and religion) will become more important than political borders. General concepts, such as green ideology, socialist or market capitalism, can animate cosmopolitan elites, but in general they do not motivate people. Instead, the tribe is cherished more than any universal ideology, "said the author, adding, "Although tribal connections are as old as history, political changes and globalization amplify their impact. " The regionalization of Europe and the battle of "frontier states" for their autonomy "against areas competing for influence" and attempts of France and Germany aces imposing their order on the continent, will, ultimately, appeal to some geopolitical projects alternatives. Especially since the neither European Union nor NATO are able to guarantee security of the countries of the former socialist camp. Moreover, Serbia and Romania showed discontent with Washington and Brussels on the issue of the Serbian province of Kosovo, which continues to be a painful wound on the body of the Balkans.

Balkan Union: an alternative project

The new geopolitical context and global financial crisis will require a return to discussing the prospects for unification of the Balkan area. Southeast Europe gets even greater importance when it becomes the only source for energy imports into the European Union. In particular it is possible that the "South stream" project will be reinvigorated. The main roads connecting Western Europe with Asia Minor and the Middle East connect the Balkan Peninsula. In a word, the Balkans represents a bridge between the regions of the industrialized West and Eurasian regions with significant mineral deposits.

The strength of old Byzantium resulted from the fact that it could dominate communication channels in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and East Africa. The same position can take advantage Balkan Union.
In geopolitical terms, the Rimland of the Balkans is a region of land that interacts with both maritime and land powers, and control of it ensures domination of the Heartland (geopolitical center). From this point of view, the Balkans represents increasing interest for Russia, Turkey, Iran and China, which opens a number of perspectives concluding alliances.

Ideological basis: conservatism, traditionalism and orthodoxy

Communism as an ideology was not able to create the necessary foundation of relations between the Balkan people. Their unit can only be possible by maintaining identity and respecting the values of each nation. Therefore, the Balkan Union can be established only from conservative and traditionalist values, taking into consideration the community within the Orthodox Church. The great common heritage of the Byzantine civilization will contribute to this end, in opposition to the values of the European Union, which is rooted in Enlightenment principles of the French Revolution of 1789.

As Christian Constantinople was an antipode of pagan Rome, the Balkan Union would be an antipode of the European Union. Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro may be seen around such ideas. The Balkans would not simply be a defensive geopolitical project, but an offensive ideological project. If in the past the center of such a project was Serbia, it is a time when Romania and Moldova could acquire the historic mission of building this construction. This project can not be realized without the change of paradigms within future Member States of the Union. Eurobalacanic vectors could become a platform for new political movements that represent true alternative forces, presenting themselves as promoters of "European integration" or "communist nostalgia". The new vector would temper populist messages and would bring issues concerning national interests of states in the region back on the agenda, which will mean a new revolution in the societies where two decades ago communism escaped, and the end of identity crisis and the so-called "transitional period ".