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Lest we forget, the Balkans were the topos through which, and on which, the West measured its (in)humanity at the end of the twentieth century. The European ideal, set to deliver its promise to an ever-widening geographical space across the continent, found itself bogged down in the killing fields of a disintegrating Yugoslavia. At a time of relative Western prosperity, military intervention came about, and perhaps could only have come about, in the heart of Europe—albeit the Other Europe 1 — where alienness was sufficiently recognizable to be affecting. Not affecting soon enough from the perspective of the Bosnian Muslims, of course, and categorically unjust from the side of the Bosnian Serbs. Though affecting enough in comparison to other killing fields around the world—in Rwanda, for instance—to elicit action, if only belatedly, to keep alive the integrity of the European project, to shore up the viability of NATO. In the West’s relation to the Balkans, “Intimacy derives precisely from such a perception of similarity, while estrangement stems from the awkwardness and ill ease with which that similarity is greeted” (Fleming 2002: 1229).
KeywordsBridge Pier North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Iron Curtain Balkan Region Master Builder
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