From the personal archive of a Russianist, installment thirty

Yugoslav civil war – where do the Great (and Little) Powers stand?

Diary notes,  Sunday evening, 7 July 1991

The past week was filled, filled with impressions and interesting developments.

This was moving week, getting installed in Neuenhofer Allee, Cologne, now that my new UPS offices are here, at the Cologne Airport.

 Larisa and Alexa drove down with me last Sunday as I once again took rooms at the Crowne Plaza Holiday Inn. On Tuesday we spend the day in the apartment as movers arrive. How wonderful to see again all of our antiques which had been in storage in Dortmund for the past 15 months. Set out in the new apartment, it looks fine. The ceilings may be too low at 2.5 meters (!), and it is a pity that our living and dining areas are in one room, but otherwise the good state of the apartment house shows off the mahogany and fruitwood very well. By the time they leave at 5.30 everything is in its place. Specialists will come next week to install the chandelier and to mount the mirror and paintings on the walls.

On D-day, as the movers put in the last pieces, one of our two neighbors on the landing invites all three of us in for tea. Very nice gesture. Larisa sits there like a dummy, but I carry on in German for half an hour about my job, about his retirement and about their apartment in Calpe. Nice people. We have been in Belgium for 11 years and no one has done for us what they have done on the first day.

The week is a hot one. It is the first warmth and summery weather since April. Temperature soars into the low 30s C. Our hotel air conditioner cannot keep up. It is a great time to discover our local beer garden. I invite Nigel and Axel over there and we all have a splendid time over Kolsch.

This is also a hot week in Yugoslavia. The military conflict has intensified since the declaration of independence of Slovenia and Croatia the previous week. Our flights into Zagreb for UPS are touch and go each day. Ljubljana airport is closed after being bombed by federal troops.

I am pleased that at long last Yugoslavia’s big lie has been exposed and the craving of these very different nationalities for self-determination has taken over. At first the reactions of the EEC and especially of the USA are bitterly disappointing. The functionaries in the State Department and their European counterparts in the various chancelleries clearly don’t want their summer holidays to be interrupted by the damned Yugoslavs. But then as the viciousness of the Serbian Communist generals becomes apparent, Kohl and the Austrians are the first to break ranks with all others and to threaten to recognize the independence of the republics. This then becomes EEC policy and even the USA and UK finally, grudgingly agree that Yugoslavia need not hold together.

From among the E. European leaders, the Hungarians and especially the Czechs under Havel come out on the side of the ‘rebels’ and the cause of self-determination. Poland’s Walesa comes out for law and order.

It is remarkable to be living through a situation so reminiscent of the Holy Alliance, where the existing states conspire to thwart emergence of new states from the dying communist order. Bush as Nicholas I.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2020

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