Skip to content

Category: Balkans

Milos Crnjanski’s Migrations and the New Borderlands of Europe

Written by Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac.

 He was tired of migrating, tired of the restlessness that plagued the people he led as much as it plagued him. If he left the army, he would have to join his brother and travel as a tradesman from town to town, his daughter in tow; if he remained in the army, he would still be forced to travel, his duty being to pacify the migrating populations. (Crnjankski, 1994, [1929], p. 196)

So reflects Vuk Isakovic in the 1929 novel Migrations by the Serbian writer Milos Crnjanski (1893-1977). Crnjanski, leading writer of Serbian modernism, was born just north of what is now the Serbian-Hungarian border. Crnjanski’s novel is set on the Hapsburg military frontier in the 1740s, an area which is now part of the Western Balkans migrant route north to Germany and other northern European Union countries.

Russia in the Balkans: Pan-Slavism revived?

Written by Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac.

Serve for the faith, for humanity, for our brothers … Mother Moscow blesses you for a great deed.

At the end of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, the tormented Count Vronsky joins volunteers going to the Balkans to defend the Serbs and Montenegrins against the Ottoman Empire.

The slaughter of the co-religionists and brother Slavs awakened sympathy for the sufferers and indignation against the oppressors. And the heroism of the Serbs and Montenegrins, fighting for a great cause, generated in the whole nation a desire to help their brothers, not in word now but in deed.

This November, a trilateral military exercise named Slavic Brotherhood 2016 is taking place between Russia, Serbia and Belarus. Are we seeing a resurgent Pan-Slavism today in the Balkans and a Russian foreign policy developing closer relations between the Russians and Serbs, Montenegrins and other nations? This question arises against talk of a new Cold War, and a battle for hearts and minds internationally.

A call to arms, a very undiplomatic call

Written by Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac.

Back in the late 1990s, we think it was 1997, we were asked by a Serbian policeman what we were doing when we were taking a photo of the newly opened Croatian embassy in Belgrade. The Serbian authorities were very nervous and concerned to protect the Croatian embassy from any incidents because of the recent war which might jeopardise the uneasy peace.

We recall this incident now because of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s call on British citizens to demonstrate outside the Russian embassy. It is one thing for us to demonstrate outside any embassy, it is another for a government minister to call on its citizens to demonstrate against another. We should expect our government to uphold our freedom to demonstrate. But we should also expect our government to uphold the diplomatic international relations between states and the protection of embassies as the representatives of other nation states – just as other governments should do towards our embassies and other foreign embassies. It is a system based on mutual recognition that whatever our current disputes or conflicts, we ultimately recognise each other as fellow nations with mutual interests in peaceful relations.