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Stefano Bianchini

This chapter deals with the Yugoslav successor states, whose stability is still marked by the consequences of the bloody collapse of the federation. These small states face three interconnected dilemmas. First, is the rise of nationalism as the predominant ideology: in public opinion, collective memory and official statements. Second, is how these small states are becoming once again a key geopolitical global battleground, where local authorities try to maximize benefits by manoeuvring within great power competition. Third, the ‘influence versus autonomy’ dynamic is retracing its historical routes, mirroring a complicated chessboard, despite the opportunities offered by the process of European integration. Thus, growing divisions and uncertainties among the Yugoslav successor states open old geopolitical wounds, including interference from the great powers. This threatens the long-term stability and peace of the so-called Western Balkans and Europe as a whole.

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Stefano Bianchini

This timely book offers an in-depth exploration of state partitions and the history of nationalism in Europe from the Enlightenment onwards. Stefano Bianchini compares traditional national democratic development to the growing transnational demands of representation with a focus on transnational mobility and empathy versus national localism against the EU project. In an era of multilevel identity, global economic and asylum seeker crises, nationalism is becoming more liquid which in turn strengthens the attractiveness of ‘ethnic purity’ and partitions, affects state stability, and the nature of national democracy in Europe. The result may be exposure to the risk of new wars, rather than enhanced guarantees of peace.
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Stefano Bianchini

This chapter describes the crisis that affected, in different ways, the Russian, the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian Empires at the dawn of the twentieth century, by focusing on the demands for autonomy that characterized the different national groups. Particular importance is ascribed to the multiple dynamics that affected the Baltic and Ukrainian regions within the Tsarist Empire, the role of the small independent states of the Balkans in imposing the Ottoman partition in South East Europe, as well as the strategic inspiration they drew from the Italian and German experience and, finally, the debates on national and institutional reforms within the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the assassination in Sarajevo.

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Stefano Bianchini

The chapter summarizes the most relevant events that contributed to accelerating geopolitical changes in Europe far beyond the expectations of the warring parties during WWI by ultimately even affecting the decisions at the Paris Peace Conference.

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Stefano Bianchini

This chapter focuses on the geopolitical effects of the 1917 Russian revolutions on the eastern war frontline. The reconstruction of the radical changes that occurred during those months help the reader understand the process that led some of the nations under the Tsarist Empire to abandon the initial demands for autonomy and fight for independence. In this context, the chapter pays particular attention to the Bolsheviks’ expectations for a broader European revolution, the impact of the Brest-Litovsk treaty on Russian partition (especially for the Baltics and Ukraine), and the projects nurtured by Germany and, later, by the new Polish government to arrange their macro-regional national aspirations, although contested by neighbouring countries.

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Stefano Bianchini

This chapter examines the political and strategic competition that opposed Lenin and Wilson when both dealt with the idea of self-determination of peoples between 1917 and 1923. The chapter therefore describes their views about the rights of the peoples in Europe (including potential implications worldwide) and the most important differences in their approaches. In addition to focusing on their theoretical elaboration, the chapter describes the effects of their political programs in Russia, Central Europe and South-East Europe. This comparative approach offers the reader a unique narrative about events that, ultimately, remained out of the winners’ control and far from their original projects of territorial adjustments after WWI. In particular, the chapter describes the effects of the Russian civil war in Europe, the Polish–Soviet and Polish–Lithuanian wars, the establishment of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia and, finally, the impact of the Greek–Turkish war.

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Stefano Bianchini

As a consequence of the conflicting events that marked WWI until 1923, this chapter focuses on the frustrations of the defeated countries and Italy, facing the peace settlements that ultimately prevailed. The Italian “invention” of “irredentism” and the intensification of demands for the peace treaties to be amended to the benefit of Hungary and Bulgaria spread uncertainties and tensions even before Hitler seized power in Germany in 1933. The chapter describes the limits of the nation-state peace arrangements between the two world wars, the nationalist rhetoric that grew Europe-wide under those circumstances, and the controversial approach to minority rights, particularly in Central Europe and the Balkans. The narrative then focuses on the ethno-national Nazi politics of partitions, its brutal implementation between 1938 and 1943 including the Holocaust, racism, ethnic cleansing, and mass deportations. The redesigning of the European map during WWII and the role of USSR before and after the Munich agreement are also illustrated in detail.

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Stefano Bianchini

The chapter begins with the militarily radical turning point marked by the Battle of Stalingrad. It reconstructs the agreements among the allies about the future peace settlements and the effects of the Soviet expansion toward Central Europe. Furthermore, the chapter discusses the highly controversial dynamics that characterized the nexus between the liberation from the Nazi-Fascist occupation and the Soviet second incorporations of the Baltic republics as well as the establishment of the Socialist Camp. Then, the reader is introduced to the painful post-World War II territorial settlements marked by the German partition, wide transfer of territories in the East, forced migrations and a new wave of ethnic cleansing. Special importance has been ascribed to the establishment of socialist federations, and particularly to the Yugoslav devolution, also in consideration of Tito’s attempt to create a Balkan federation before the Cold War imposed an apparent stabilization. The chapter’s narrative continues by juxtaposing the efforts for consolidating borders (as with the Ostpolitik and the Helsinki accords) with the turbulent events that affected the national relations between countries of the Socialist camp or within Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, despite the ideological legitimization of the “national roads to socialism”.

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Stefano Bianchini

The chapter focuses on the processes that led to the reshaping of the European maps with the unification of Germany and the partition of the three Socialist federations. The impact of the German unification on the ethno-national projects nurtured in Europe has been described particularly in relation to the South-East European collapse, the Moldavian and the Caucasus partitions between 1991 and 1992. The conflicts that followed and the EU attempts to regulate the borders’ stability, as well as the respect of minority rights, are described together with the gradual strategy of the EU enlargement and the US/ NATO intervention in the Balkans, despite the growing frustrations recorded in Russia. The narrative continues by discussing other examples of partitions, including Cyprus, Georgia and ultimately Ukraine, while new aspirations for independence are marking the political life of some Western countries, especially Spain, Belgium and the United Kingdom, with unprecedented multilevel potential partitions that may affect the EU, following the example of “Brexit”.

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Stefano Bianchini

The second part of the book further elaborates the considerations suggested in the first part. These elaborations expand the focus to the whole of Europe, which faces the challenges of the new millennium and particularly those abruptly aggravated by the economic crisis and migration flows. This chapter compares the radically different European reactions when migration flows were encoded into the Cold War contrasts, and when they were stemming from the destabilization of Africa and the Middle East. Exclusiveness has, then, prevailed as a political mantra.