The Role of Religion and the Culture of Identity in the Public Policy: The Balkans Case
“Prior to the discovery of the New World, America and Australia, people were familiar with only three landmasses (continents) – Europe, Asia and Africa. All three old landmasses were mutually connected by the Balkan Peninsula. Up until the most recent geological age, the Balkan Peninsula was connected with Asia by a land bridge, of which numerous larger or smaller islands had survived on the sea surface, the islands that have for thousands of years kept the Balkans directly connected with Asia, the largest, most populous and for the history of mankind most important continent. With the African landmass the Balkans was connected by short seaways over the important Mediterranean Sea that includes, as some sort of gulfs, the Balkan seas, Adriatic, Ionian and Aegean. On the northern side, the Balkan Peninsula is by a wide area connected and coalesced with Europe.”
This unique geographical and geopolitical position granted the Balkans an important and fateful role in the history of the world. It is a point at which three continents meet, and this fact is the reason why it was frequently called “catena mundi”, i.e. “the buckle of the world”. Consequently, it is the place where a wide array of cultures and civilizations interweaves, shaping, each in its own way, the political destiny and identity of the area.
“The Balkans is something more than the southeast of Europe. It is the buckle of the world. This buckle has a greater responsibility and a graver duty than Europe. The Balkans is not only Christian like the rest of Europe. The Balkans is a real coexistence of races and peoples, religions and classes, all bound by one fate, stronger than religious affiliations and social prejudice. The Balkans is therefore something unique in the group of the old continents – neither Europe nor Asia. There are some that think of the Balkans as “the Nearer East” or Asia and refer to it in that way. Such references are the best proof that the Balkans is neither the European East nor the Asian West, but a separate area with distinctive characteristics and a special task.”
According to Vladimir Dvorinkovic, one of the most prominent Yugoslav philosophers and ethno-psychologists and the author of the well-known Yugoslav Characterology, history in the Balkans, in all its contents, falls into separate series of events, an entire chain of fractions and tendencies that most often clashed with all their might and destroyed each other. More than anywhere else in Europe, Balkan history used to be (and still is) conditioned by cultural and traditional patterns, that have been intertwining in the Balkans since the earliest times of its historical existence.
Culture, (geo)politics and history of the Balkans are a cross section of European and Asian cultures, (geo)politics and histories, in a word – of Eurasian expanses. Jovan Cvijic, a renowned Serbian geographer and scientist, thought that precisely this Eurasian heritage of the Balkans had influenced to a larger or smaller degree the establishment of political and cultural models of all the peoples in the peninsula.
Cultural and Political Influences in the Balkans
Several cultural and political influences are discernible on the Balkan ground.
During the classical antiquity Hellenistic culture exerted its influence, and owing to its connection with Persia, even before the time of Alexander the Great this culture had certain Eurasian characteristics. Through his activities, Alexander managed to unify the entire Southern Balkans and to take it to the East, to the land of his grandfather. Thus the Balkan men became the first Europeans to comprehend the full scope of the true East, and Alexander was the first man who succeeded in gathering around him both marine and land forces of the Balkans.
“Owing to Alexander and his Balkan shepherds, Greek drama reached the luxurious palaces of the rich maharajas, and India along with the Far East and the newly-founded cities all across the Middle East became culturally and commercially connected with Europe.”
With the Hellenes as mediators, cultural patterns of the Middle East, the cradle of the oldest civilizations, had a strong influence on the Balkan Peninsula. “It is known that, under the influence of Phoenicia and Egypt, the oldest civilization not only in the Balkans but in the whole of Europe was created in the Greek archipelago.”
After Hellenic and Eurasian influences, the Balkans fell under Roman, mostly continental, European influence that, as Jovan Cvijic put it, ‘cleansed’ this area from Eurasian traits. However, the arrival of the Slavs, especially the Bulgarians, as well as the Hungarians, to the Balkan area will almost completely neutralize this cultural conversion.
The Middle Ages brought Eurasianism back into focus, only now in the form of Orthodoxy. The Byzantine Empire became the first cultural and political unifier of the Balkan peoples. This great heir of Hellenistic ideas finally laid the foundation for the consequent Balkan fondness for Orient culture, owing to which a unified Slavic-Mongolian-Hellenic culture was created in the Balkans at the very beginning of the Middle Ages, i.e. after the arrival of the Slavs, the Bulgarians and the Hungarians.
“Entering history, the South Slavs had, taking over religion from the Byzantines, also accepted education and many elements of social and state structure; a similar case was with the Romanians. Byzantine culture was widely spread; it covered the entire peninsula, going even across the Sava and the Danube. The influence of the West was for some time spread over an even larger area, but it was later reduced mostly to the narrow Adriatic coastal area, crushing against the high bulwarks of the Dinaric Alps and only partially intruding deeper into the peninsula mainland by the river valleys of the tributaries of the Adriatic sea.”
Apart from Constantinople, Balkan politics and culture were developed in Salonika, which was a real meeting point of Eurasian Byzantine and Slavic culture, a town in which the brothers Cyril and Methodius, the creators of Slavic literacy, were born. While Salonika connected the Slavs with Constantinople, Constantinople was the connection of the Balkans with Anatolia, and over it with Northern Africa and Asia.
The strongest Byzantinization of the Slavs in the Balkans happened, above all, among the Bulgarians, who were the first to abandon their old social and religious system. After the Bulgarians, Byzantine culture was accepted and developed by the Serbs, and only then the Romanians, among whom this culture was mixed with Hungarian cultural influence.
The penetration of the Ottoman Turks into Europe over the Balkans enabled, it seems paradoxically, a shift of the old Byzantine Orthodox Eurasian influence from the east of the peninsula to the west and north, where it was driven like a peg into Central European cultural background over the Sava and the Danube and into the Western, Venetian background over Dalmatia, where it was held by a natural border – the Adriatic Sea.
The influence of the Turkish Eastern cultural patterns became stronger with further Ottoman advances, especially due to the fact that for a considerable number of centuries the Islamic influence geographically followed the spread of Byzantine culture. Turkish cultural influence directly affected a change in the social life of the Balkan nations. Owing to the Turks, these nations broke loose from the rigid class, almost cast-like social structure. Turkey enabled noblemen and soldiers and peasants alike to, in accordance with their abilities, climb in the hierarchy, which will also become the need of the Balkan states created after the nineteenth-century revolutions.
Apart from these three influences, doubtless the strongest, that unified the Balkans culturally but unfortunately not (geo)politically, the influences of Western and Central Europe are noticeable in the Balkans from the Middle Ages to the present day.
“The influence of the Western culture is also noticeable. Reaching the Adriatic coast by the transversal roads that led through the mountains, it left the strongest traces of its influence in the Adriatic area. Due to the centuries-long influence of the Romans, Balkan population was Romanized to a great degree. One part of the Balkan population was completely Romanized, the other part was Slavenized, while only the smallest part was preserved to the present day. Therefore, the Western culture also caused certain ethnic changes in the Balkans. Today this influence is in the strongest way exerted through the church.”
The increase of the influence of the Western European culture is strongly connected with the later East-West Schism, after which the western parts of the Balkans and a part of the Adriatic coast came under the influence of Rome.
When we talk about the influence of the Central European culture, we should stress that it is the youngest, that it is colonial in character, and that it comes over the Sava and the Danube. It was transplanted into the Balkans by Austria-Hungary and its influence is the weakest today since, owing to the Hungarians forsaking their own Asian identity, it almost completely withdrew facing the Western, Austrian, i.e. German cultural advances. Here as well religion played the most important role in the process of assimilation.
Unfortunately, the nations of the Balkans never managed to connect into a single geo(political) block. They did not succeed in making a customs union, let alone a stable political alliance. Such state of affairs was onone hand caused by the interests of the great powers and on the other hand by the tendency of the Balkan states to, in accordance with the Western national romanticism, prove and defend their cultural and political supremacy over their neighbours in this small peninsula.
After all, although close, some nations in the Balkans had developed within different cultural and political frameworks, and it seems that this fact permanently disabled any attempts at unifying the Balkans as a whole. In that respect, many nations in the Balkans have been lost for it for a very long time. Saying that, we have in mind principally those nations that run away from the Balkans, that despise it, that are ashamed of their Eurasian cultural heritage. Clearly, the Croats are such a nation most of all, since they have tried throughout the course of their history to prove their being an integral part of the Western Europe, both in (geo)political and cultural respect. To the Croats, the Balkans is something humiliating, “Turkish”, “Byzantine”, a geographical and political term that, according to Mladen Svarc, leader of the “New Croatian Rightists”, reminds them of communism and Yugoslavia from which the Croats “took only harrowing experience”.
Along with the Croats, Islamic Balkan nations belong to this group as well. Unlike the Croats, these nations know that they cannot count on Central or Western Europe, that for them the Balkans (for now) is the greatest achievement. They are not ashamed of their Balkan name, yet they do not think of the Balkans as their ultimate goal. To them, basically, the Balkans was just a transition that gained on importance only when this transit to Europe’s inland became endangered.
The reasons for such (geo)political viewpoint are, above all, ethnic and linguistic in nature, at least when we talk about the Roman Catholics and Muslims of Slavic origin. Namely, the greatest part of the modern Croats and Bosnian Muslims ethnically belongs to Serbian national core, from which they were separated owing to a variety of factors at a specific point in time. They still speak the Serbian language, and many of them keep the memory of their Orthodox ancestors.
By converting to Roman Catholicism, one part of the Serbian people detached itself from the Eurasian Orthodox idea. Merging into the Western cultural background that imposed the name of the Croats on them, those Serbs finally forsook their Orthodox Eurasian heritage. To them, the Balkans became just a “shameful name”.
On the other hand, the Muslims of Slavic origin (composed mainly of Serbs that converted to Islam), who inhabit mostly parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, took a different course, as we have already mentioned, sharing the fate of the Turkish Empire. Namely, after Turkish retreat from the major part of the Balkans, owing to their sense of defeat, these Slavs felt endangered. On the other hand, logically, they could not convert back to Orthodoxy, which resulted in a rather rigid attitude of the Serbs (from whose core they separated) towards them.
This comes as a confirmation of Jovan Cvijic’s remark that the Byzantine idea of supremacy of religion over nationality was and still is the most rooted trait of Byzantine cultural and political inheritance. In the Byzantine Empire this cultural and political trait enabled the empire to prosper, whereas in Balkan politics it left extremely negative consequences that, as it has been already mentioned, manifest themselves in the rejection of the members of the same people belonging to different religions.
However, it should be pointed out here that, apart from paganism, Orthodox Christianity is an authentic Balkan religion. Islam and Catholicism are, in essence, religions coming from the outside which, owing to Arabian or Roman cultural and political activities became widely present on this area.
While Catholicism spread simultaneously with the political influence first of Rome, and later of Venice and Hungary, almost without exceptionkeeping to the Adriatic coast and the banks of the Sava and the Danube, Islam spread over smaller oases all over the Balkans, especially in towns.
“No religion in the Balkans was completely compact at the time of the Turkish rule. They were all scattered and dislocated. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Bulgaria, represent real mosaic in this respect. The fact that some Balkan states, such as Serbia and Greece, became compact Orthodox countries is a consequence of their national revival, departure of the Muslims and the change in the structure of the populace.”
According to the majority of Balkanologists, Religious intolerance, that is so fully at work in the Balkans today, is not naturally related to the Balkans. What we deal with is actually a phenomenon “that Venetian and Austrian authorities allowed themselves to stir, spreading prejudice and slurs about Byzantine corruption and working diligently on proselytism (Catholicizing and Uniating)” . Thus religious intolerance, for which the Balkans is nowadays famous worldwide, is the result of Western and Middle European cultural influence, not Eurasian, on which the peninsula was founded.
The Balkans gave the world its first cultural, i.e. literary language. “That was the old Greek language, which belongs to the eastern family of languages along with the other old and new languages in the Balkans” . Owing to Alexander of Macedon, this language became the language of culture of the whole East, from the Balkans, over Asia Minor and India, all the way to Egypt. “Christ’s teachings increased its significance even more: it became the language of religious, spiritual life. The Romans took some expressions from it. As the language of science and church, it became a model not just for every other literary language in Europe, but world’s science draws its terminology from it.”
The first Balkan written codes are Greek and Slavic (Cyrilic) alphabet that is nowadays used in Macedonia, Bulgaria and partially in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These codes can be regarded as originally Balkan. “The Latin code was spread in the Balkans owing to three factors. In the first place it was national conceit. The Romanians remembered the Latin origin of their language in the middle of the nineteenth century so that through the Latin code they could connect themselves firmer with the Western Roman world. Orthodoxy could not preserve the Cyrilic code among them. National interests prompted the spread of the Latin code among the Romanians. The acceptance of the Latin code partially among the Albanians, and fully among the Croats, is completely to be attributed to the Catholic Church. The Western Apennine Catholicism, aided by prolific literature, destroyed the Balkan “glagoljica” and “bosancica”. The Turks completely, and Albanians only partially introduced the Latin code for practical and international reasons.” And although, as we have seen, the Latin code in its present-day form is a code that is used outside the Balkans, it is undisputable that this code as well is based on the Balkan culture, all the more due to the fact that it originates from an adaptation of the Greek written code.
The influence of linguistic (geo)politics is noticeable in four Balkan areas, the western, where the Serbian corpus bordered on Croatian, the southern, in Macedonia, where Serbian and Bulgarian interests were in conflict, and only recently in the southwestern area, in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Striving to suppress the Serbian element that was related to Russia, Austria endeavoured to Catholicize and thus alter the cultural identity of those orthodox Serbs that lived to the West from the River Drina – they were about four million in number. In this sense, linguistics was turned into an instrument of Austrian geopolitical interests.
Generally speaking, in Western (geo)political idea, the Drina plays an extremely significant role. As the Western Europeans see it, this river represents a “natural border” that divides the West and the East in the Balkans. It is a point at which, according to the Western theoreticians, Byzantine and German cultural and political influences came into contact. Hence there is no place on the western bank of the Drina for the Orthodox and, in general, all the other people whose aspirations are turned to the East. In this light we should consider the activities of Austria-Hungary, and later of the Croats, as well as the interference of the European Union and the USA into the issue of the internal organization of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Muslims, unfortunately, have for a long time been an instrument of the West.
The Balkan languages were, through Serbian, dragged from the darkness of monastery cells into the light of the day by the Serbian scholar Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic. Loved and despised at the same time, respected by the Grimm brothers, the great Goethe, Paul Schaffarik, Nikola Tomazeo and many other authors and linguists of the Balkans and the world, he collected and published not just Serbian, but also Romanian, Albanian and Bulgarian folk literature.
At the time when Vuk was working, a great number of Orthodox Serbs in the areas of today’s Croatia had already been Catholicized, but only a smaller number was ready to renounce their Serbian origin. Therefore Vienna thought that through Croatian linguists their language should be altered because it differed from the language of the original Croats. Since that was not possible, because the Croats were several times outnumbered, there was an idea to rename the Serbian language into Croatian.
Thus in the fourth decade of the eighteenth century the “Iliric Movement” was formed with a declarative aim to gather all the Austrian Slavs. In reality, it was a well-organized (geo)political movement, through which Austria wanted to reach the Drina, an intention that was discussed by the most prominent Croatian geopolitician Ivo Pilar.
In his lifetime, Vuk Karadzic succeeded in preserving the Serbian language, but soon after the death of this great man (in 1867), his followers started retreating before the attacks of Austro-Croatian lingistic geopolitics. Namely, according to the postulates of the 1850 Vienna Literary Agreement, Croatian men of letters accepted Serbian as their literary language. Soon after that this language was called “Serbian or Croatian”, in WWII it was called “Croatian”, and after the war the term was turned into “Serbo-Croatian”. Today, this language is again called “Croatian”. Thus the task of eliminating Eurasia from what are today Croatian areas was finally completed at the end of the twentieth century.
But, since the West has not yet seized the Drina, this usurpation of the Serbian language and its written code was continued in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Croats and the Bosniacs speak the “Bosniac” language, that does not differ in the slightest from the language of the Bosnian Serbs.
The most recent theft of the Serbian language has been committed in Montenegro, where, for the first time in history, a “Montenegrin” language was created, completely linguistically unfounded, a language that, just like those examples mentioned above, does not differ from Serbian at all. Yet, since modern Montenegro was created by the West to prevent the access of Serbia, i.e. Eurasia, to the sea, such contradictions are not too surprising, because anything that drives Eurasia from the Balkans is completely legitimate.
Certainly the most confusing phenomena are the conflicts of those authentic Balkan nations originating from the same cultural heritage – Orthodox Eurasian. We have in mind principally the Greeks, the Serbs, the Bulgarians and the Romanians, who, along with the Russians, all belong to what is colloquially referred to as “the Byzantine Commonwealth”.
The reasons for the conflicts among these nations should not be sought in medieval rivalry, since that was completely forgotten owing to the centuries of servitude under the Turks. The cause should be looked for in the Western way of thinking, which, as it has already been mentioned, the Balkan nations started adopting during the nineteenth century.
The creation of new independent states in the Balkans after Turkish withdrawal did not only mean that some peoples in the Balkans made national states, but also that they re-directed their cultural history. While the Balkans was, during the entire period of Turkish rule, in a constant connection with Eurasian civilization filtered through Islam, the Balkan Risorgimento – so we may call the whole period of the newer Balkan history from the Serbian and Greek Uprisings until the end of the world war – means taking a new cultural course.
Unlike Italian and German Risorgimento that continued the old traditions of these states, the Balkan Risorgimento meant a real cultural revolution. The Eurasian course of the Balkans was immediately upon liberation from the Turks slowly replaced by the Western technicism and scientism, followed by liberalism, both in politics and economics. This gambit can be considered as the greatest mistake of the modern Balkans, since such individualistic, falsely spiritual and falsely humanistic social and cultural philosophy could not provide the peninsula with internal cohesion, national and inter-national equanimity and good relations, in a word – identity and unity.
Thus, instead of solidarity that existed at the time when the Eurasian ideology, merged with Orthodoxy, moulded the Balkan peoples, the Western idea of politics, nation, national state, religion and spirituality emerged in its entirety.
During the nineteenth and the first half on the twentieth century, the only light in the horizon were Balkan socialists, admirers of Russian socialist idea. Those were, above all, Svetozar Markovic, Ljuben Karavelov, and their later followers andinheritors of their ideas in both left and right sections of socialism, who thought that the Balkans will not be united by the courts and salons but by cultural unity related to the “folk system” that would lift this unity to the level of the Balkan idea.
Therefore we can freely state that socialism (both national and international) was (and still is) the main pillar of modern Eurasianism in the Balkans.
Relationships between Serbia and Bulgaria, the key to the Balkans
As we have said, the freedom that was won by the Orthodox Balkan nations in the nineteenth century also brought the West to the political stage, and its life patterns soon became Balkan’s patterns. Applied in politics, they caused the separation of the liberated Balkan nations, intoxicated with the Western national romanticism. Since then to the present day, Eurasia has been in constant retreat.
Having this in mind, misunderstanding and conflicts between the Serbs and the Bulgarians, which caused the general disturbance in relations in the Balkans, were particularly tragic. To make things even more ironic, the Serbs and the Bulgarians are the two most similar nations in the Balkans and they share not just a unique cultural, Eurasian identity but they have a unique origin as well. A great number of Balkan experts thinks that they are one people that has the same origin and a rather similar language.
Actually, the relations between the Serbs and the Bulgarians have been quite ambivalent. Depending on historical conditions, these relations shifted from excellent to catastrophic, ending in bloody conflicts. From all those conflicts the West had the greatest benefit, above all Austria-Hungary, which, using this lack of mutual understanding, succeeded in becoming a Balkan force after The Congress of Berlin in 1878.
A positive trend in the relations between Serbia and Bulgaria lasted from the 1860s until the end of the 1870s. It was the time when Bulgarian emigrants, great fighters for national liberation, lived in Serbia. Those were above all Georgi Sava Rakovski, Vasil Levski, Ljuben Karavelov and Hristo Botev. This generation, owing to Serbian authorities, founded in Belgrade Bulgarian printing houses, schools and two Bulgarian legions in which future Bulgarian liberators were trained. In this period the well-known plan was created to form a Serbian-Bulgarian monarchy that would have been ruled by the Serbian Duke Mihailo Obrenovic and that would turn to Russia for protection. However, the untimely death of the Serbian ruler postponed this idea for some other time.
The second phase of the Serbian-Bulgarian relations started after the Peace Treaty of San Stefano which ended the Russo-Turkish War in 1878. According to the terms of the Treaty, Russia, that had its troops fighting in both Serbia and Bulgaria, decided to include almost entire territory of Macedonia into the newly-formed Bulgarian state, an act that could not be supported by the Serbian side. In agreement with the Western forces and due to Serbian insistence, this Treaty was declared invalid in Berlin later that year. “The Macedonian Issue” has been a stumbling block in the relations between Serbia and Bulgaria ever since.
For the subject that this paper analyses the Peace Treaty of San Stefano is extremely important, because it represents an attempt of Russian diplomacy to cut the stumbling Balkan nations loose from the Western way of thinking and to put them back on the path of their own identity.
As the winning side, Russia thought that Bulgaria should be strengthened because, due to its geographical position, it could contribute the most to a hypothetical liberation of Constantinople. On the other hand, according to the Treaty, as a compensation for the loss of Macedonia, Serbia would have gained much in Kosovo, Raska and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Serbs would gain considerable autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. Thus Russia wanted to create two strong Balkan states, one of which would be directed towards Constantinople and the other to the Adriatic Sea. This also reveals a paramount need for a union between Serbia and Bulgaria today, which is the most important precondition for returning the people of the Balkans to the Balkans, i.e. to Great Eurasia.
If we look at the annulled Peace Treaty of San Stefano from today’s perspective, we will easily notice that its annulment was only damaging for Serbia, not beneficial. Namely, had this Treaty remained in force, the majority of Serbian people,that lives outside Serbia today, would have been unified in one state that would cover the space from Serb-populated areas in the present-day Croatia to the modern borders in the East. But the Western spirit that had possessed the Serbian elite, that is clearly manifested in Duke Milan Obrenovic’s opinion that “Serbia has only one goal: to become a modern European country or to disappear”, finally won a victory.
The defeat of Russian diplomacy brought the apple of discord into the Balkans, since Bulgaria was, primarily because Serbia wished so, unjustly divided into the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. The latter remained, along with Macedonia, under Turkish dominion. But a far worse consequence is reflected in the fact that Serbia came under the influence of Vienna. After these events were over, Serbian students stopped going to Russia to complete their studies and went to Austria-Hungary instead. Such policy on the Serbian side lead to renouncing its claim to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the first armed conflict between Serbia and Bulgaria in 1885. Encouraged by Vienna, the Serbs started it and finally lost it.
Thus all the subsequent conflicts between these two nations, conflicts that ripped the Balkans to the west of the Drina in all their might, creating cracks into which the Western thought penetrated even deeper, are just a residue of wandering between San Stefano and Berlin. Thinking about this problem, Konstantin Leontyev was able not just to fully understand it but also to offer an adequate solution:
“Therefore it is not good only to have in mind just the banishment of the Turks from Europe, just the emancipation of the Slavs… but something wider and in its idea more independent. This wider and more independent notion should be nothing else but the development of our own original Slavic-Asian civilization. Otherwise all the other Slavs would soon become worse than continental Europeans, and nothing more… Russian eagles did not fly over the Danube and the Balkans so that the Serbs and the Bulgarians could later, in freedom, hatch the chicks of civic Europeanism.”
Which direction to take today?
Nowadays, the Eurasian thought is in full retreat in the Balkans. It was overpowered by liberalism and profanization. Although it is perfectly obvious that isolated, individual cultures cannot survive in the Balkans, Balkan politicians, lured by the West, do nothing to bond the Balkan nations.
The western part of the Balkans, inhabited by the Croats, is lost beyond the possibility of restoration. Its return to Eurasia cannot be expected. Islamic Balkan nations, in accordance with their Pan-Turanian tendencies and the growing Turkish geopolitical interference on the peninsula, remain in essence Eurasian, but they are to a large degree controlled by the United States of America that, pursuing its own interests, gave them two new Balkan states – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
The Republic of Srpska, the only Eurasian oasis on the west bank of the Drina, is crucial to the survival of Eurasia in these areas. If we add the fact that the West, by creating independent Montenegro, separated Serbia from the Adriatic Sea, the need to preserve the Republic of Srpska gains on significance even more.
“After WWII, in the second half of the 20th century, the Balkans faced additional problems. The integration of Europe on one hand and world globalization on the other clashed violently in the Balkans. The end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century brought a new collision of interests of these great powers, and the interests of the USA have significantly increased when compared to the previous historical background. We could say that the Balkans was devastated by theactivities of thevictorious industrial West striving to re-organize it to meet the interests of the USA and some new centres of power.
However, in its culture, logic, politics, ethics, in a word – its spirituality, the Balkans has no contradictions. It neither belongs to Europe, as (according to the Roman model) the Roman Catholics would have it, nor does it belong to the Orient (at least not to the degree that the Balkan Muslims would have it). It belongs to itself and to those who do not think of its truth as a burden that has to be removed.
Orthodox Balkan nations are those that created the Balkans, that cannot survive without it and that are therefore obliged to protect it. These nations, owing to the Byzantine Empire, even in their earliest history showed a great affection for the Orthodox Orient and its culture, the affection that will not disappear even when, instead the scent of incense, heath and desert winds bring Islam. As in Russia, in the Balkans the children of the forest met the children of the heath, creating a unique cultural unit of Eurasian type.
Therefore, regardless of the current policy, the Balkan Orthodox nations are completely directed towards each other. This fact is confirmed by their culture, their pattern, their songs and dances, and their history that clearly shows that everything beneficial the Balkan nations did for themselves was done by joint forces.
Talking about cultural and political potential of the Balkans, Tadeusz Zielinski, a philologist and professor at Warsaw University, stressed that this peninsula would be the pillar of “the fourth European renaissance”, that Zielinski calls “Slavic”.
Zielinski thought that the Slavic nations that live in the Antique (Balkan) area, supported by the great Russia, would continue the trends of the Caroline, Roman and German renaissance in Europe.
While the first renaissance was religious, the second and the third national, the fourth would, according to Zielinski, be spiritual, ethical, and in its essence it would be a unity of variations.
Such renaissance can only be designed by the Western mechanicistic world. Its only condition of survival is the collision with the Eurasian spirituality. Zielinski thought that if the West discarded and rejected such alliance, new trenches would be dugbetween the East and the West and they would be virtually insurmountable.
Having all this in mind, now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is upon the Balkans to finally decide whether it will be “Europe’s landfill site”, as it is frequently called in the West, or the advance guard of the Great Eurasia.
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· Srpska slobodarska misao, casopis za filozofiju, drustvene nauke i politicku kritiku, broj 40, Beograd: 2006