Three decades ago, when the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia took Western policy makers by surprise, interpretations of its causes ranged from economic explanations and the shifting geopolitics at the end of the cold war to theses of culture-based ancient hatreds implying the multi-ethnic, multilingual Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia never had a chance to turn into a viable state. Academic and political dissent about the origins of the conflict and its subsequent peace processes prevail to this day and continue to hamper democratic and economic progress in the successor states despite unprecedented foreign intervention and continued European assistance. In this lecture, Wolfgang Petritsch will map out the armed conflicts and the subsequent peace efforts – with a focus on Bosnia and the Dayton Accords – in the context of territoriality, expressed in the ethnic cleansing and the systematic destruction of cultural and religious monuments. He will argue that the fall of Yugoslavia and the creation of seven successor states was the first conflict in post-Cold War Europe fought under the banner of identity politics.
Presented in partnership with the North American Austrian Centers, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research of Austria and the Austrian Marshall Foundation.
Wolfgang Petritsch was the EU's Special Envoy for Kosovo (1998-1999), EU chief negotiator at the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet and Paris (1999), and then High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (1999-2002). He served as the Austrian ambassador to the UN in Geneva (2002-2008) and to the OECD in Paris (2008-2013). He now serves as the President of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation.
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