Mark Biondich's The Balkans: Book Analysis

2045 Words 9 Pages
Mark Biondich is a professor of the Balkans at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. His book, The Balkans, looks at the region following the decline of the Ottoman Empire. More specifically, he discusses how the contrasting forces of nationalism and foreign intervention have caused the mass violence which are unfortunately synonymous with Balkan history.
Balkan nationalist movements followed a similar path beginning with cultural revival and ending with political agitation for national liberation. In the sixty years between the First Serbian Uprising (1804) and the creation of an independent Romanian state in 1866, rebellions had arisen throughout the region all with the goal of establishing sovereign states. These national movements were
…show more content…
Even though independence was now spread across the Balkan peninsula, national leaders demanded new lands ruled by its people in the distant past. The Austro-Hungarian’s used the Berlin settlement to extend their influence by forming alliances with Serbia and Romania, as well as already having significant influence in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and among the Albanians. The Russians were the least satisfied with the terms of the Berlin agreement, focusing most of their support on Bulgaria which failed due to internal struggles, which undermined Russian influence. The Muraviev-Goluchowski agreement, reached by Austria-Hungary and Russia, placed the Balkans on ice for the next decade, and as the imperial powers gained unfavorable opposing alliances, the Balkans became the stage for rival factions, which heightened the international political profile of the area, and set the scene for the events of 1914. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the Balkan states began the process of modernization. Industrialization was very slow in nature, in part because of the agrarian nature of the Balkans. Balkan industrialization led to government indebtedness, giving even more influence to foreign powers. To Balkan political elites, modernization was centered around “Europeanization” which also led to stronger foreign …show more content…
Every Balkan nation experienced occupation, dictatorship or civil war. The only Balkan power that did not fall to Communism was Greece, due to the secret agreement between Stalin and Churchill which limited Soviet influence and increased British power. Where Balkan Communism makes itself unique is in the notion of National Communism. The rise of National Communism traces its roots to the Tito-Stalin split of 1948. After the break, Tito began to put into place practices that would be specifically planned to better Yugoslavia. Instead of focusing on cleansing the state, Tito instituted a new constitution that made no mention of minority groups, but instead used the term ‘nationalities’. Yugoslavia’s new constitution also limited the power of the state, going against the Soviet model. Romania under Ceausescu asserted more autonomy in foreign affairs and intensified Romanian national sentiment. Romania was the first Soviet Bloc nation to establish diplomatic relations with West Germany. Ceausescu’s anti-Soviet foreign moves were marked by western approval, with President Nixon making a state visit to Romania in 1969. The revival of Romanian national discourse attempted to eradicate the atrocities perpetrated by the Romanians during the Holocaust, even though ethnic cleansing was still being practiced. The appearance of reformist Mikhail Gorbachev in1985 spelt the end of Communism

Related Documents