A decade ago the world witnessed NATO-orchestrated bombings on the former Yugoslavia – billed as the first humanitarian war in the post-Cold War era, the conflict continues to affect a key region in southern Europe still struggling to rebuild.
Global Balkans is a new international initiative uniting academics and activists organizing social movements in the Balkans today, with groups in Canada, the U.S. and Italy. This week, they open a Montreal chapter.
"Through Global Balkans we are trying to assist different struggles taking place in the region, the Roma struggle, workers’ movements and anti-capitalists," explains Andrej Grubacic, an internationally known Serbian author currently based in the U.S.
Grubacic insists there are parallels with the U.S.-led "war on terror" in Afghanistan, where thousands of Canadian troops are stationed in another NATO-administered war.
"It is crucial to understand the Balkans today," continues Grubacic, "if you don’t understand the Balkans, you can’t understand the idea of European universalism that shapes contemporary wars, as the Balkans helped to shape the idea of the ‘other’ in our times – the other side of capitalist modernity – that justified a war in Yugoslavia soaked in blood."
Grubacic says Prime Minister Stephen Harper often lauds the Canadian military engagement in Afghanistan by espousing humanitarian language to sell what is still an unpopular war in Canada. He says the lessons post-Yugoslavia are key to understanding how NATO justifies wars by using humanitarian language.
Grubacic will speak at the Montreal launch of the organization and fundraiser Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at Club Lambi (4465 St-Laurent). Proceeds from the night go to Roma rights group Voice of Roma. The event also features Montreal-based Balkan beat-maker Lubo Alexandrov.