Balkanization – What it is, definition and concept

The process of fragmentation of a territory into smaller units is known as balkanization. This, for reasons of tension and conflict between them.

Balkanization is a term used to describe the process suffered by areas whose internal conflicts threaten the territorial integrity of the country or region. The conflict ends with the secession of the territory. They are usually real conflicts, whose motivation for separation is well supported, or more illegitimate conflicts, that is, a part of the population wants to carry out the secession of the territory without real or justifiable reasons, unilaterally.

It is also used in a derogatory way to name the situation that countries are going through that are not at war or in violent struggle, but in which there are secessionist movements that threaten the territorial unity of the State. This is the case of Quebec in Canada; Scotland in the United Kingdom; o Catalonia and other territories in Spain. Although it is usually used for processes in which secession is sought by three or more territories.

Origin of the term “Balkanization”

The origin of the term can be found in the dismemberment that the Balkan peninsula experienced after the Balkan wars of the early 20th century.

The Balkan Wars were two armed conflicts between 1912 and 1913, carried out on the peninsula for which it was named. The belligerents were, on the one hand, the Balkan League, made up of Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria. And, on the other, the Ottoman Empire. The latter occupied the territory after its European expansion years ago.

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The reason for the war was to achieve the independence of the nations of the league, which until now were under Turkish colonial rule. Once the common enemy was driven out, a second conflict arose because the victors did not agree on which territories each should occupy.

Bulgaria was the instigator of the conflict. It ended with the Treaty of Bucharest, which established the territorial limits of each nation.

This is why the secessionist process between various nations is called Balkanization.

Yugoslav wars

The wars in Yugoslavia that occurred at the end of the 20th century, in the 1990s, are considered the most paradigmatic case of “Balkanization.” In fact, part of it took place in the same territory as the Balkan wars.

To see the antecedents of the creation of Yugoslavia we have to go back to the beginning of the 20th century.

After the First World War the kingdom was created, but it was made up of smaller ones. This meant that there were obvious regional sentiments. Until the outbreak of war, the country changed its name and form of government several times, but nothing more. Although it can be said that there were tensions under the socialist regime motivated by government management and ethnic differences.

Finally, the beginning of the war came after the suppression of Kosovo by President Milosevic, of Serbian origin. Thus exploding the differences between the various ethnic and religious groups. The country was plunged into a cruel ten-year conflict.

The fully independent territories that emerged after the total dissolution of the former Yugoslavia were: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia. In contrast, Kosovo has limited recognition, whose independence is contemplated by some countries.

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