Misha Glenny is the author of The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804–1999. (July 2003)

The Death of Djindjic

“If anyone thinks that they will stop the rule of law and implementation of reform by eliminating me, then they are badly mistaken.” —Zoran Djindjic, February 24, 2003 Zoran Djindjic, the prime minister of Serbia, told his driver not to take his car into the underground parking lot …

Heart of Darkness

In March 1992 a year of political chaos in Albania was brought to an end when the Democratic Party, led by Dr. Sali Berisha, the country’s leading cardiologist, was swept to power with an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections. After having suffered nearly half a century under the most oppressive …

Why the Balkans Are So Violent

Nearly five years ago, I was taken to see the Svarc Hospital in Karlovac, a key military garrison town which defended the southern edge of the Habsburg Empire against the Ottomans until the end of the First World War. In July 1991, Karlovac was again a front-line town, this time …

The Birth of a Nation

On July 26, 1963, an earthquake leveled most of the pretty Ottoman city of Skopje, then the capital of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Tens of thousands of people were killed. One of the few survivors of the catastrophe was the façade of Skopje’s old railway station, whose large clock …

Yugoslavia: The Great Fall

On June 21, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker spent a busy day in Belgrade talking to the presidents of Yugo-slavia’s six constituent republics, the federal prime minister, Ante Markovic, and the leaders of the Kosovo Albanians. He told the assembled group of malcontents, thugs, and unfortunates that the United …

Hope for Bosnia?

Dusk falls on the center of Sarajevo and two hundred ghostly figures, turned eastward, silently pass seven bodies from hand to hand before lowering them into another mass grave. The three imams offer up prayers on behalf of the dead. Inspired by these voices which seem to pierce Sarajevo’s shadows, …

Bosnia: The Tragic Prospect

Large and seemingly unlikely political changes will have to take place before November in order to avoid a momentous catastrophe in the Balkans. The primary threat to the region is posed by the prospect that war in Bosnia-Herzegovina will continue into the winter, cutting off many thousands from humanitarian aid, …

The Godfather of Bihac

Tucked away in the northwest of Bosnia lies a rural landscape of verdant rolling hills and golden fields of wheat. If one were to remove the minarets which pop up from behind the hills regularly, it could easily be mistaken for the Sussex downs in the south of England. The …

What Is To Be Done?

Europe seems determined to assert its primacy as the world’s most unstable region. It has been pushed to the brink of disaster by a lamentable combination of uncontrolled political change and confused diplomacy. The conflict in the former Yugoslavia could, until now, be seen as an old-fashioned if particularly ferocious …

Bosnia: The Last Chance?

A gray-haired middle-aged man on a Bosnian hillside peers into the sights of an automatic rifle. He looks down at the people in Sarajevo, going through their infernal daily routine of survival. He pulls the trigger with a studied concentration and the barrel spits out its rounds. Eduard Limonov, a …

Yugoslavia: The Revenger’s Tragedy

The white trucks and armored personnel carriers of the UN crawl back and forth with antlike diligence between Butmir airport on the western edge of Sarajevo and the headquarters of the UN peace-keeping force just inside the city limits. The dusty roads have been chewed up by shells of all …

The Massacre of Yugoslavia

An unexpected drizzle one gloomy morning late last August served to heighten the tension as I left the northern Croatian town of Karlovac and was waved through the front line by a Croat National Guardsman. Violence had become so common in Croatia by then that nobody bothered to mention the …