Task Forces

23.08.2022.

A platform for the New Balkans - Principles & Points

By Professor Ljubomir Kekenovski, Faculty of Economics, Skopje UKIM

The Balkan knot entangled in the historical trends and events of previous centuries, decades, years, even the last days in the light of the Ukrainian crisis, instead of being untied and clarified, can be further entangled and inflamed. That in itself is becoming a danger to the everyday socio-economic life of the countries from this region with a real possibility of escalating and threatening the political and security functionality of its citizens and businesses.  

In order to escape this trap that can pull us all in the zone of instability by all counts, it is of utmost importance for all of us to build a consistent approach, by recognizing a few GENERAL ASSUMPTIONS/PRINCIPLES AND ACQUIRING TOOLS FROM THE METHODOLOGY OF STUDYING THE SOCIAL PROCESSES which we must utilize in resolving this geopolitical problem on time, in order to prevent far more dangerous and broad security implications for our countries.  

First principle is the mandatory use of interdisciplinarity in the new approach.  The superficial misuse of the raw historical facts from the national elites is not just missing the point but further through contrary narratives fueling up conflicts that are still burning and have never gone out.  

  1. It would be professionally irresponsible to not show the entire picture and not go into a comprehensive explanation of the deeper reasons that move the socioeconomic processes.  

Namely, it is necessary to recognize and prioritize the historical context, which has its own economic-financial, political-legal as much as a cultural and religious dimension.  

The consideration and interpretation of the historical events through this broader perspective, allows for reflection on the complexity of the historical processes and facts in order to interpret them in a more comprehensible and objective way in its entirety. (Fernand Brodelle,  Balkan historians.)  

Only by these means history can become a functional discipline and execute its most productive definition – to serve as a science to the future, more so than for the past.  

The second principle is following and building a projection of the integral, complete image of the region.  

  1. Only by observing this from a distance, such as a bird’s perspective, can we see the entire image and not just a part or a piece of the mosaic without knowing what the whole represents. It is the task of the intellectual elites to present this approach as a ‘win-win’ position for all the people of the region as the most encapsulating and objective approach. In order to understand the unity and indivisibility of the region as a first step it’s important to recognize its two primary components Space/Climate and time.  

We consider space as a given and constant value in the equation with its climatic and morphological characteristics. Additionally, it’s especially important to recognize the function of time as a measure far beyond our short-term, politically oriented and commercial minds. Taking into account the geography and our insight into the dimension of time and in long axes, we are revealing the power, logic and fermentation of the transformations in long term societal processes. (Condratiev’s waves)  

Now is important to recognize the speeding up of historical time, which is moving dramatically and with a lightning pace changes the traditional vectors in the equation. The recognition and the spirit of the time guides us to а fast and synchronous coordination and a reaction to the new challenges.  

The previously mentioned geographical-climatic natural state of the region must be considered as an entry gate in which we will seek consensus, not for the partial (overemphasized by now) but of the ENTIRE, mutual interests of the region because the large countries and investors already see us as a whole although we in our introvert/egoistic and self-centered nature are entirely turned within and see ourselves only as parts. Hence, the understanding of the Balkans holds in itself an understanding of an entirely new world (Arnold Tojnbee) 

The third assumption is the anthropocentric approach in which the MAN is the center and a measure for all, which gives purpose and sense to all socio-political efforts. Before all, we consider the human factor with its ontological presence, the inviolability of the primary/natural characteristic as an individual/persona who is entitled to basic human rights and universal services. (EU legislative). Because first of all we as people are part of nature, as biological creatures with psychophysical characteristics such as gender, race, blood type…  

  1. Only later, from that primarily biological material, the historic time and the social processes we create communities, countries who as a secondary process create religions, nations and citizens with cultural values and differences which are our reality in the modern world.   
    Let’s shed the unproductive approach, the mindset that it’s good/natural that one neighbor is poor and separated from the processes on behalf of the other ones to be rich and vice versa.  

It’s our task that our attitude should reflect the practice of wellbeing for all, so everyone can have wealthy and decent neighbors, because poverty and misery leads not just to socio-economic but to political and security instability.  

The current practice has shown many times before that the old mindset has a built-in flaw that inherently leads us from crisis to crisis, conflict to conflict in which everyone that follows is more dangerous for all of us.   

It’d be nice if we can bring awareness to the primacy of that basic socio-humanitarian instinct as a “god’s particle” , a spark  in all of us in order to respect and awaken our dual material and spiritual nature. If we accept these principles, we can more clearly determine the causality of the social processes of the past, their inertia and predict what and where their future trajectory will be. 

Fourth, the need for a clear understanding of which cultural societal and civilizational model we belong to as a region and the necessity to build a comprehensive and sustained consensus around this.  

Namely, we can’t live anymore in the historical status quo of our conventional/binary mindset made up of ones and zeroes…  The spirit of our time requires a new QUANTUM MINDSET that needs to contribute to the re-formulation of the priorities and contextual dominance.  

This fresh, political and social project, when adopted and promoted by the Balkan leaders, should be the bridge of transition to the new reset social order. 

It’s quite simple, civilization as we know it has faced a wall that can't be jumped with the old mindset. It rather requires a new cognitive and spiritual transition so we can exit the zone of conflict and step into a new safer zone of comfort.  

*The celebration of the cultural differences as a key assumption will convert the curse of the small differences from a weakness into an advantage. With the new approach, we can create a new productive metamorphosis, and instead of the old black and white picture, we can create a new lens and technology to see the world clearly and in its reality. With the use of the new mental matrix, the problem/complexity of the “old world” can be remodeled as an advantage of the new time.  

Thus, the region, through real coexistence, will become not only a field for cultural competition between nations, but also an organized market arena, based on efficient institutions, which will ensure the passability of the private initiative as a top value, where everyone will achieve their economic interest. 

Additionally, a new business / cultural paradigm into corruption will be created through a clear / explicit separation of the party from patriotism and effective equality of opportunity for all. The consistency of this approach, in the political sense, provides non-territorial solutions to ethnic problems, in the economic sense an efficient / minimal state, unburdened by the ethno / party key, and in the social sphere, the financing of health, education, culture above the specified minimum (one / two children), to be funded through communities. All this, in order to have a sustainable balance between the economic efficiency provided by the open economic space and the need to localize the fiscal / social responsibility of the different ethnicities (millet system). 

The thing that once was the rebirth process as “the most romantic part of our history” should be a platform for our intellectual elites as a debt to our wise ancestors and a task for the current and future generations.  
Everything else leaves this space without its people, in particular, young people. 
The example set by the Iberian, Apennine, and the Scandinavian should be the way for the Balkan peninsula. Unique in its differences, both integral and open.  

It is said that the umbrella and the mind function only when they are open. (A. Einstein). 

That is why not only ‘the umbrella’ (collective systems/NATO) but the mind, in particular, must be open to result in a metanoia, to begin with at least, in our political-economic elites.  

To be precise, our region can fully function only when it is open naturally / geographically and mentally / spiritually. 

Following the new inherent characteristics, we will outline the comparative advantage of the region and its sub-regions, its geo/bio, and rich cultural diversity.  

All of that can result in a firmer socio-economic unity with a mixed ethnic and religious ownership and a new higher cultural conscience for the whole of the peninsula as a world and a civilization for itself. (Trajan Stojanovic) 

With the new Balkan-centric approach, we can / must avoid unnatural realignment on one side or the other, but be who we are, East and West, at the same time and in the same place. 

It is already tiring that constant need to (re)define ourselves before others and define ourselves for who we are, what we are, who we are like and who we are with. We often said that we are something in between, so to speak, nothing concrete. Resulting from this we got a label for a region that is - the east to the west and the west of the east. (Balkan Historians & Politicians)  

But in fact, we are divided, angry, quarreled, we were only a fraction (loose change) to the larger powers, or just a little East and even less West. 
It is time to overcome the syndrome/complex of satellite states and grow from a “civilization of the space” to “a civilization of the time” using all theory and practical experiences from the past, at least in the last century. (V. Dvornikovic).  

It is useful to point out this synthesized approach, because in our mental code / composition we have embedded parts of pragmatic Western rationalism and a deep heritage of Eastern spirituality / mysticism that should lead us to a meaningful transformation. (G. Stardelov) 

Thus, respecting these value assumptions, all of us in the Balkans will build corridors based on freedom, trust and common interests, because only then will societies and communities become conflict-resistant and economically prosperous in the long run. (Ursula Von der Layen) If sufficient synergy flows, through the implementation of these five principles, which I present as working hypotheses, it is possible to create a powerful and functional platform, as the most productive socio-economic amalgam, that our space can produce.