Commentary on Prof. Galtung’s Editorial “Balkan Integration Process in a Global Framework”


Satoshi Ashikaga – TRANSCEND Media Service

  1. 1.     Introduction:

On the15 Oct, 2012 TMS editorial titled Balkan Wars at 100: Four Roads to Good Neighborhood, Prof. Galtung argued about the integration of the Balkan.  (See  )  In the present editorial (14 Oct, 2013), Balkan Integration Process in a Global Framework, he argues about the integration of the Balkan again. (See  )

In addition, the formula used in the editorial last year is used again in the editorial this year.

                 EQUITY X HARMONY

PEACE = —————

                TRAUMA X CONFLICT

 The formula cannot be changed frequently so that it is no problem that Prof. Galtung uses the same formula this year again.

Last year, I made a comment on his editorial.  This year, I am making a comment on his editorial again.  It was my honor to make a comment on Prof. Galtung’s editorial last year.  It is my honor to make a comment on his editorial this year again supplementing some relevant background information.

Note: In this comment, “Yugoslavia” means the “Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” (also called the “second Yugoslavia” or “Tito’s Yugoslavia”) that existed until 1991.[1]  The “Balkan” in this comment means the republics and areas that constituted the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.   “Macedonia” is referred to the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.


As to the integration of the Balkan peoples, two main questions may be raised.

  • First: Do the Balkan peoples wish to integrate themselves?
  • Second:  What would be the possible reaction of the “power outside the Balkans” (especially, the Western powers) if the Balkan peoples would work for their integration?

As to the first question, the integration can never be done if the Balkan peoples do not wish to work toward the integration.  For instance, do Bosnian Muslims wish to integrate with Bosnian Serbs and Serbian Serbs, for instance?  Do ethnic Albanians in Kosovo wish to integrate with Serbs, for instance?

As to the second question, if the Balkan peoples would integrate, it means the (re)emergence of a regional power in front of the Western European countries.  Will the Western European countries welcome the emergence of the Balkan regional power?   The answer is clear.

  1. 2.     The Balkans Today:  

For the convenience of the arguments in this comment, allow me to briefly describe (but not comprehensively) some aspects of the Balkan areas, together with some background information:

The Balkans:

When the Roman Empire was divided into the two empires in 395, its border was almost the same border (some 40km difference) between Croatia and Serbia today.  In 1059 Christian church split into two churches; Croatia became to belong to the Catholic realm – the Western Roman Empire, while Serbia became to belong to the Orthodox realm, the Eastern Roman Empire.  During the 1990s, these two countries fought against each other.  Western (Catholic) countries supported Croatia, while Russia, the Orthodox country, supported Serbia.

The Reality of the Border between Serbs and Croats:

Regardless of the border, however, things have not been very easy and clear.  It was because relatively many ethnic Serbs (= citizens of Croatia, whose religion is Orthodox) have been living in Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, outskirts of northern part of Krajina (= outskirts of Karlovac, of Kostajnica and of Sisak areas) and Krajina in Croatia, while relatively many ethnic Croats (= citizens of Serbia, whose religion is Catholic) have been living in Zemun[2], the outskirts of Belgrade.  Besides, inside these ethnic Serb residential areas in Croatia, ethnic Croatian villages have existed.  On top of that, many of them have been ethnically mixed.  In the Balkans, mixed marriages are a common phenomenon.  Even Croatian nationalist President Tuđman, who died of cancer in 1999, had a mixed family; his grandchild is an ethnic Serb.  Furthermore, for ethnic Serbs who were born and brought up in Croatia, Serbia is a foreign country.  These ethnic Serbs and Croats went to school together and have worked together in the same region.  Vice versa, for ethnic Croats who were born and brought up in Serbia, Croatia is a foreign country.  Things are not very easy, as mentioned above.


During the 1990s, the situations in the above mentioned Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, Northern part of Krajina and Krajina became tense.  These areas were designated as the UN Protection Areas; UNPA East (Eastern Slavonia), UNPA West (Western Slavonia), UNPA North (some part of Kordun and some part of Banovina) and UNPA South (Krajina).  How much was the situation tense?  Some UN officials working in these areas suffered from PTSD after their mission.  Harsh battles were engaged in these areas upon Croatia’s independent declaration in 1991. It was before the deployment of UN Peacekeepers. Then, except UNPA East where UNTAES (= the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia) peacefully disarmed the armed forces of the local ethnic Serbs in 1996,[3] the Croatian Army advanced into these areas (I.e. UNPAs West, South and North) in 1995 regardless of the UN Peacekeepers’ presence and regained the areas after intensive battles.[4]  (At the time of the Croatian Army’s attack to these UNPAs, the UN Peacekeepers were instructed that they should stay out of the battle between the Croatian Army and the local ethnic Serb forces no matter what would happen to them.)


Approximately a quarter of the population of Macedonia is ethnic Albanians.[5]  Main stream ethnic Macedonians are afraid of the potential possibility of these ethnic Albanians’ uprising toward the secession from Macedonia and the merge with Kosovo (i.e. Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians) and with Albania.[6]  There is an unbelievably deep abyss between the two peoples.[7]

Macedonia’s employment rate as of 2010 is 32.0%, the world number 2 unemployment rate, after Namibia.[8]  For their economic survival, even some (former) the Kosova Liberation Army or KLA (=UÇK, pronounced “oo-chey-kah” in Albanian) soldiers are working as waiters at their relatives’ cafés, located in all over the Balkans (and in Western Europe).  One can visit their café and interview them.   In addition, one of the effective ways to collect information on the KLA is to contact relevant Serbian and/or Macedonian authorities.

The KLA changed their name (“officially” disbanded) and some or many of the same members of the KLA.[9]  They are reportedly having activities as militia in the ethnic Albanian residential areas outskirts of Tetovo (Macedonia’s second largest city), such as on the foot of the Šar (Sharr) Mountains that extend to Kosovo.  In other words, they changed the title of the book but, other than that, it is the same book.[10]  The Macedonian authorities are nervous about those armed activities of ethnic Albanians.[11]    The Macedonian military forces have attacked these mountain areas[12] but also they were also attacked by the ethnic Albanian insurgents.[13]  Such incidents were rarely reported by major international mass media.[14]


The Dayton Agreement actually divided Bosnia-Hercegovina into “three parts”, although the Agreement intended to divide B-H into two parts – “Bosnian Muslim-Bosnian Croat Federation part” and “Republika Srpska part” (= Bosnian Serbs’ entity).[15]  The three parts are the “Bosnian Muslim entity”, the “Herzegovinian ethnic Croats entity” and “Republika Srpska”.   The relation between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs in Republika Srpska is cold. Herzegovina today is a de facto colony of Croatia.  It is possible to regard that Croatia and Herzegovina constitute a de facto Greater Croatia.[16]  Some critics point out that the international community prohibited Serbia to create a “Greater Serbia” but the same community allowed Croatia to create a “Greater Croatia”.[17]

An example: In Herzegovina, one can pay in the Croatian currency (Kuna) at many local shops whereas the official currency of Bosnia-Hercegovina is “KM” (= “kah emh” = “Konvertibilna Maraka”).[18]

Another example: It is very often, if not necessarily always, that Croats from Croatia can enter into Herzegovina without any passport control.  Ethnic Croats in Herzegovina consider themselves as “Croats”, not residents of “Bosnia”.  They call their area,“Herzeg-Bosna”, not “Bosnia-Herzegovina”.

Knowing that the Bosnian government is eager to become a member of NATO, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Croat, NATO’s Assistant Secretary-General, responded recently by stating that the Bosnian government should satisfy the requirements of NATO first of all.[19]  Grabar-Kitarović was a Croatian Foreign Minister.  It seems that she wants to keep Bosnia away from the Western inner-circle.

Serbs in Serbia:

Two things may be mentioned here.

  • Frist: Many Serbs in Serbia still do not understand why the international community hates them.  They are losers of the “propaganda war” during the 1990s. When the war broke out in Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia and Croatia sent their arguments to Western and international institutes/organizations through faxes, postal mails, television programs and more.  Furthermore, they frequently held press conferences for Western journalists, while Serbia did little for that.  Serbs then believed the international community would understand the truth in due course.
  • Second: Serbia now is on the verge of the state bankruptcy.  Serbia is experiencing a serious brain drain (= human capital flight).[20]  Overall, the brain drain is one of the common phenomena in the Balkans.

Bosnian Serbs and the propaganda against them:

A few months after the War broke out in Bosnia in 1992, the Bosnian (Muslim) government hired “Ruder Finn”, an American propaganda company which delivered exclusively Bosnian Muslims’ argument to hundreds of Western mass media daily during the War in Bosnia.[21]  In addition, Ruder Finn trained Bosnian politicians to deliver speech effectively in front of the international community, for instance.  Furthermore, this propaganda company coached the Bosnian government how to effectively organize a press conference.  The result was outstanding.  International mass media reacted the way Ruder Finn and the Bosnian government expected.  They successfully created a black and white impression among the international community:  “Bosnian Muslims are victims and good guys vs. Bosnian Serbs are offenders and evil guys.”[22]  That was how news from Bosnia, reported by international mass media, was manipulated in favor of the Bosnian government during the War in Bosnia.[23]  (Note, however, pointing out of such information manipulation does not mean to justify genocides and other atrocities committed by Bosnian Serbs.  Although genocides and other atrocities were committed by all three warring parties during the War in Bosnia, the size and numbers of these incidents committed by Bosnian Serbs were considered larger than those committed by other warring parties.)  Meanwhile, it seemed that Bosnian Serbs did not understand the contemporary war consists not only of the military action but also of the propaganda activity.


Montenegro is the smallest (13,812 km2 or  5,019 sq. mi) and newest independent country (independent from the “State Union of Serbia-Montenegro” in 2006) in the former Yugoslavia.  The population is 620,000 and GDP per capita is $11,800.[24]

Like the Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea, the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is amazingly beautiful.  However, this small country has been struggling for its survival due to the economic hardship as all other former Yugoslav areas and republics.  Therefore, Montenegrins are selling the most beautiful part of their countries.  For instance, “Sveti Stefan” is now owned by Aman Resorts.[25] Other beautiful places along the Adriatic coast of Montenegro have reportedly been sold to foreigners.

By the way, Slobodan Milošević was a Montenegrin although he lived and worked as a Serb.[26] Radovan Kradžić is also a Montenegrin although he has lived and worked as a Bosnian Serb.[27]  Both of them were considered as “Serbs” because of their religion, Orthodox Christianity.


In English, it is pronounced “Kosovo”.   Koso”va” is the Albanian pronunciation, while “Kosovo-metohija” (pronounced “Kosovo-metohiya”) is the Serbian pronunciation.  For Serbia, Kosovo is important, not only because of the historical reason but also because of the oil refinery and other natural resources in Kosovo.  Ask Kosovars if they wish to integrate with Serbs.  Such question is out of question for them.  Which ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, who constitute more than 92% of the total population of Kosovo[28], forget the atrocities by Serbs in 1999 and before?  These ethnic Albanians say, “We forgive what Serbs did to us, but we will never forget what they did to us.”  However, the truth is that they have not forgiven Serbs yet.

Meanwhile, both their economy and politics are deteriorating.  Among two million population of Kosovo, one quarter of them was receiving their pension from Serbia before Kosovo’s independence.  Now, the Kosovar government must pay the pension for these people.  It is a heavy burden for the government.  These pensioners are in a desperate situation now.  Kosovo’s GDP per capita is $6,600 – 7,400.[29]  Some of these Kosovars say, “We are aware that we are not capable to rule our country and our people by ourselves.  We hope that anyone or any country except Serbs will manage Kosova and rule us.”[30]


In Slovenia, no serious ethnic problems between ethnic Slovenians and ethnic Bosnians, for instance, have been reported.  Those ethnic Bosnians in Slovenia now are those who moved to Slovenia during the 1970s and 1980s from Bosnia.  Some of ethnic Bosnians in Slovenia today are the second and third generations born in Slovenia.  Slovenia, gained its independence after only ten days of the struggle in 1991,[31] is the least problematic country among the former Yugoslav republics.

  1. 3.     The Destruction of Yugoslavia:

It should be necessary to emphasize this again in this context: It was some of the Western countries that planned to destroy Yugoslavia.[32]  The Western countries were aware that among communist/socialist countries in Europe, only Yugoslavia would survive after the collapse of the USSR because Yugoslavia was the only socialist country that was out of the umbrella of the USSR. Besides, Yugoslavia had one of the strongest military powers in Europe.[33]  If Yugoslavia would survive after the collapse of the USSR and the Eastern European countries, Yugoslavia as the only socialist country with the strong military power in Europe would stand out in front of the Western European countries.  Then, Yugoslavia could be a serious threat to the Western countries.  Therefore, the goal of the plan of the Western countries was to divide and rule the Balkans upon the collapse of the USSR and the Eastern blocks.

Those Western countries implemented the plan into two folds.

First, they demanded Yugoslavia pay the credit of the past thirty years immediately.  The Federal government of Yugoslavia, in paying the debt, issued a huge amount of the currency which brought Yugoslavia a grave economic crisis that created a hyper-inflation, estimated more than 20,000%[34] (officially some 2,500%) annually in 1989, for instance.[35]  People in Yugoslavia bought a piece of bread with a bunch of paper money, then.  Many companies in Yugoslavia went bankrupt during that time.[36]  At that time, Yugoslavia’s foreign debt was US$18 billion.[37] Compare: Serbia’s foreign debt in 2010 was $32.2 billion.[38]

Second, the Western countries contacted possible future (nationalistic) leaders of each republic of Yugoslavia.  By doing as such, the Western countries successfully created the ethnic tension among republics in Yugoslavia.  They encouraged each republic of Yugoslavia to be independent from the Federal system, while they instructed the Federal government of Yugoslavia to maintain the federal system.[39]  Those Western countries said to these republics that Western countries respected the right of self-determination of these republics.  On the contrary, the Western countries instructed to the Federal government of Yugoslavia that if the Federal government would successfully maintain the unity of the Federal system, the Western countries would provide Yugoslavia with financial assistance.  Accordingly, while republics of Yugoslavia except Serbia tried to be independent from the Federal system, the Federal government was eager to maintain the Federal system.[40]

What was that result?  We, who lived at the end of the 20th Century, all witnessed the outcome of that.  Alas, however, some college textbooks of international politics/relations explain that the cause of the destruction of Yugoslavia was the (traditional) ethnic problems.  What the authors of these textbooks understand about the Balkans?  Or did they write that way on purpose in order to lead the readers/students to the authors’ intended direction?

Milošević knew what Western countries did behind the War in the former Yugoslavia.  He died mysteriously in the custody of ICTY.[41]  One of the most important witnesses who knew the truth behind the War is no more.  Probably, Tuđman of Croatia and Izetvegović of Bosnia also knew the scene/truth behind the curtain of the War.  Both of them also died.

As to Tuđman, prior to his movement for the independence of Croatia from the Yugoslav federal system, he visited Vatican.[42]  It was reported then that Pope John Paul II promised his support for the independence of Croatia.  During the War in Croatia in 1991, Germany’s Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Foreign Minister, openly expressed his support for Croatia.[43]

The combination of Germany, Croatia and Vatican reminds Serbs of the gonocide committed by NDH (= pronounced, “enn-day-hah”, the acronym of “Nezavisna Država Hrvatska” in Croatian, or the “Independent State of Croatia” in English), which was the “Croatian“ Nazi puppet regime that controlled the whole Croatia and the substantial part of Bosnia-Hercegovina during World War II), supported by Catholic Church, during WWII.[44]  What did Serbs think of the independence of Croatia in 1991 when they knew that Croatia’s independence movement was supported by Germany and Vatican?[45]  [46]

On the other hand, Croats firmely believed that Yugoslavia had actually been controlled by Serbs because the Capital of Yugoslavia was Belgrade, implying that the substantial portion of the staff members of most of the essential institutions of the federal system of Yugoslavia were Serbs.[47]

Tito (Josip Broz) was not very popular in Croatia after WWII, although he was very popular among Serbs.  Yugoslavia under Tito did not have a favorable relation with the Vatican. [48]  The relation was overall tense.  In general, he was considered as a Croat.  His father was a Croat, and mother, a Slovene.[49]  Therefore, it is considered that his parents were Catholic.  Tito, however, became a communist activist.  Besides, during WWII he was a main member of Partisan, fighting against the Axis Powers, whereas Croatia became a Nazi’s puppet regime, NDH.    In addition, Croats believe that he was connected, in one way or another, with the Bleiburg Genocide in which allegedly several thousand Croats were forced to march until death in May 1945, near the end of WWII.[50]  This was another reason why he was not very popular in Croatia.  Some Croats understood that Tito was against Croats, NDH, Nazi Germany and Vatican and that he was for Serbs.  When Frajo Tuđman was a General of the Yugoslav People’s Army in 1971, he attempted to carry out a coup against Tito.  Tuđman intended to lead Croatia to be independent from Tito’s Yugoslavia.[51]

Croats and the Vatican (and other Western countries) have seen some shodow of Russia behind Serbia.[52]  It is obvious that Croats are strongly afraid of Russia even today. For example, Večernj List, one of the main newspapers in Croatia, recently featured an article, “How much is our cost for the fear of Russia?”[53]  Ask any Croats, for instance, if they wish to integrate with Serbs.  The answer is clear.  The Vatican must have been vigilent because both Russia and Serbia are, overall, Orthodx Church countries.  Meanwhile, Serbs in Serbia point out anti-Serbian sentiments. For instance, Novosti  weekly newspaper recently published a special featured article, “Anti-Serbian hysteria.”[54]

  1. 4.     Integration of the Balkan Peoples?:

Who wants the integration of the Balkan/Balkan peoples?  The Balkan peoples or the Western powers?  On what level of the integration, whether it is the political level or else?

On the non-political level, the Balkan peoples are being integrated in some ways.

An example: Severina Vučković, a Serbian Croat singer, is very popular both in Croatia and in Serbia.[55]  Toše Proeski, a Macedonian singer who died of a traffic accident in 2007, is still incredibly popular almost anywhere in the Balkan.  His CDs sell well.  This month marks the sixth anniversary of his tragic death.  Accordingly, not only Macedonian mass media but also media in other Balkan countries feature Proeski.[56]  It may be possible to say that these Balkan pop singers are integrating the Balkan pop music fans through their songs.

Another example: Many or most bakeries in the Balkans are owned by ethnic Albanians.  Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, Bosnian Muslims and Macedonians go there to buy bread daily.  Most ice cream/cake cafés (= “slatiscarna”, pronounced, “slah-tiss-char-nah”; meaning the place that offers sweets) in the Balkans are also owned by ethnic Albanians.  Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, Bosnian Muslims and Macedonians go there to drink coffee and eat ice cream or cakes daily.  It may be possible to say that ethnic Albanians’ bakeries and ice cream/cake cafés are integrating the Balkan peoples through their bread, ice cream and cakes.

One more example: Ivica Todorić’s Agrokor[57], one of the biggest supermarket chain companies in Europe[58], has opened Konzum supermarkets and Mercator supermarkets in most part of the former Yugoslav areas but he never opens these supermarkets outside the former Yugoslavia.  He knows what the Balkan business actually is.  That is his business wisdom.  It may be possible to say that Todorić is integrating the Balkan consumers through his supermarket chains.

As such, through Balkan pop singers, through ethnic Albanian shops’ bread, ice cream and cakes, and through Agrokor’s supermarket chains (plus some other relevant businesses in the Balkans), the Balkan peoples are being integrated but their integration is never and will never be on the higher political level in the foreseeable future.  That may be sure at least in the next several decades.

In that regard, there is a question: Given that situation, what level of integration of the Balkan is Prof. Galtung contemplating?

Besides, as mentioned above, the Western powers have tried to divide and rule the Balkan peoples. It is highly probable that the Western powers will never accept the integration of the Balkan peoples because the West knows that the integration of the Balkan peoples creates a regional power.  The Western powers will surely destroy any potential seed of such integration.  Let us recall again: It was the Western powers that destroyed “Yugoslavia” (= ”yugo-slav-ia”, meaning “South Slav peoples’ place/country) from the backdoor.

In that regard, there is another question: If Prof. Galtung suggests the integration of the Balkan, what is his plan to deal with the Western countries in his promotion of the Balkan integration?

As mentioned in the beginning of this comment, the Balkan is the area where the Western and Eastern Roman Empires split.  The Balkan is the area where the Hapsburg Empire and the Ottoman Empire had met and clashed against each other until World War I. The Balkan is the area where the Abrahamic religions —Judaism, Orthodox, Catholic and Islam — have met and clashed over the centuries.

There are two ironies in that context.

  • First: World War I began in Sarajevo where all those Abrahamic religions, and both the Hapsburg culture and the Ottoman culture, coexisted without any problem.
  • Second: Regardless of World War I, all ethnic groups, cultures and religions in Sarajevo (and almost any part of the Balkan) remained coexisted.  Until the commencement of the Bosnian War in 1992, Sarajevo was regarded as the inter-cultural and inter-religious center of the Balkans.

Unfortunately, the wars in the Balkans during the 1990s destroyed all that. What the wars in the Balkans during the 1990s created were permanent fear, hatred and distrust among those peoples.  Since then, “South Slave peoples’ place/country” has been divided into pieces, many of which are tiny republics whose economies are now rushing toward catastrophe.  Local companies, including financial institutions, and land in these republics are being sold to Western companies.  Millions of peoples in the Balkan are still deeply suffering and hate each other.

The Western powers have kept the Balkan divided to this day. The Dayton Agreement is the symbolic icon for that. The Western Powers’ tacit message for the Balkan seems like this: “The Western policy of divide and rule over the Balkan makes the Balkan peaceful.”[59]

  1. 5.     Conclusion – the Bottom Line for the Balkan Peoples:

The Western powers have attempted to disintegrate the Balkan peoples.  On the other hand, Prof. Galtung is encouraging them to integrate.  Although the directions are opposite, both the Western powers and Prof. Galtung are intervening into the Balkan peoples’ decision for their future in one way or another.  The main difference between the Western powers and Prof. Galtung is that the Western powers are doing as such for their own interest, while Prof. Galtung is doing so with his good will and wisdom.  Nonetheless, however, both of them are outsiders, not the Balkan peoples.  The Balkan peoples have their own wisdom and experience to decide what to do for their future.  Let them decide by themselves what to do.  They know when to integrate, when to disintegrate and when to re-integrate.  Why do they need outsiders’ intervention in making their own decision?

Think the other way around:  Neither the Western powers nor Prof. Galtung needs the Balkan peoples’ intervention when the Western powers or Prof. Galtung makes a decision on their own future.  Both the Western powers and Prof. Galtung are wise enough for making a decision on their future.   No intervention from outsiders is necessary for them.  The same thing can be said of the Balkan peoples.  These peoples need no outsider’s intervention in making the decision on their future.

Therefore, the bottom line, which is also the conclusion of this comment, is that the Balkan peoples’ right of self-determination should be respected as far as that right is peacefully, legitimately and democratically exercised.  If they need something for their future from any outsider, provide them with some advice on how to exercise their right of self-determination peacefully, legitimately and democratically.  Perhaps, that kind of advice is what they need from outsiders who have good will and wisdom.

Other than that, no intervention from outsiders may be necessary for the Balkan peoples.  Let them decide what to do, whether they will stay disintegrated permanently, they will integrate soon, they will integrate someday in the far distant future but not in the foreseeable future, or what else.


[1] The State called “Yugoslavia” existed five times.  The first one was the “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” from 1918-1943; the second one was the “Democratic Federal Yugoslavia” from 1943 – 1946; the third one was the “Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia” from 1946-1963; the fourth one was the “Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” from 1963 – 1991; and the fifth one was the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1992- 2003.  (In 2003, the fifth one was renamed as the “State Union of Serbia and Montenegro” that lasted until 2006.)  In most cases, however, those Yugoslavias that existed from 1943 – 1991 are called the “second Yugoslavia” or “Tito’s Yugoslavia”.  Usually, this second Yugoslavia is also referred as the “Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”.

[2] For information on Zemun, see, for instance, and .

[3] .

[4] On 1 May 1995, the Croatian Army attacked the UNPA West (Western Slavonia, Croatia) and regained the territory from Serbian Croats in two days.  This military operation was called, “Operation Flash” in English, “Operacija Bljesak” in Croatian.  See ; and . On 4 August 1995, the Croatian Army invaded the UNPAs North (the area that encompasses a part of Kordun and a part of Banovina) and South (the Krajina area) and regained these areas from ethnic Serbian Croats in one day. This military campaign was called, “Operation Storm” in English, “Operacija Oluja” in Croatian.

[5] .

[6] .


[8] The Economist Pocket World in Figures 2013 Edition, The Economist Company Ltd., London, 2012, p. 59.

[9] For example, .

[10] Some people claim that “the KLA does not exist”.  What does it really mean?  Compare: Japan, for instance, “officially” disbanded its military forces after WWII and, then, created the “Self Defense Forces” (named, the “National Police Reserve,” at the time of creation), whose “defense” (not military) budget today is No. 5th in the world. See, for instance, ; and ; and .  In addition, some officials who created NPR/SDF were the same officials of the Japanese military forces of WWII.  Does it mean that the Japanese military forces do not exist?

[11] .

[12] .

[13] .

[14] Serbia’s B92 (not major international mass media) reports this: .

[15] For the Dayton Agreement, see and .

[16] The author witnessed it a few times.

[17] The author heard it from various kinds of local peoples in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

[18] .

[19] See ‘Bez ustavnih reformi BiH ne može u NATO’, 24 SATA newspaper, 14 October 2013, p.53, Zagreb.

[20] Serbia’s brain drain rate as of 2011 is 1.7 which is the world number 3rd highest. (Source: Op.cit. The Economist Pocket World, 2013, p. 62.)

[21] See Sensou Koukoku Dairiten (War Advertisement Agency), by Toru Takagi, published by Kodansha, Tokyo, Japan, 2005.  For more about Ruder Finn, visit and .

[22] .

[23] Should Ruder Finn be convicted war crimes for its role in Bosnia against the Serbs? .

[24] . Accessed 17 October 2013.

[25] . Accessed 19 October 2013.

[26] .

[27] .

[28]  Accessed 17 October 2013.

[29]  Accessed 17 October 2013.

[30] Some ethnic Albanian Kosovars told the author.

[31] See ;  and .

[32] See, for instance, in case of Bosnia, .

[33] For the Yugoslav People’s Army, visit, for instance, ; ; ; and .

[34] Estimation by the US Embassy to (the then) Yugoslavia in 1990.

[35] For the inflation of Yugoslavia, see, for instance,  ; ; ; and .

[36] For the economy of Yugoslavia, visit ;  and  .

[37] . Also see .

[38] Op.cit. The Economist Pocket World 2013, p.42.

[39] See, for instance, ; ;

[40] For the final days of Yugoslavia, see, for instance, ; ; and .

[41] ; ; and .

[42] For the relation between Croatia and Vatican, see, for instance, ; ; and .

[43] ; ; ; and .

[44] For more about NDH or the Independent State of Croatia, visit ; ; and/or .

[45] For Vatican/Catholic and the Independent State of Croatia, see, for instance, ; ; and .

[46] One of the reasons why ethnic Serbs in Croatia were afraid of Tuđman’s independent movement was that he provoked them to rebel against the Croatian authorities.  For instance, it was the Croaitan authorities that began the War in Croatia.  The Croatian authorites sent special police forces in 1990 to the Krajina area whose ethnic majority was ethnic Serbs. Till then, these Serbs had been peacefully living in the region.  For more relevant information on how the War in Croatia began, see, for instance, “Tudjman’s Police Minister Admits Croatia Started the War by Attacking Serbs”, .

[47] The author heard that from a number of Croats, regardless of their social classes or statuses, from government officials, company executives, to common workers, to retired people. It is debatable whether a substantial number of the Federal government officials was Serbs.  The point is, however, that Croats in general believed that the Federal government was managed in favor of Serbs.


[49] .

[50] For the Bleiburg Genocide, see, for instance, ; ; and .

[51] .

[52] For the relation between Serbia and Russia, visit, for instance, ; ; ; and  .

[53] Večerna List, 19 October 2013, Zagreb, pp. 16 – 19.

[54] See ‘Antisrpska histerija,’ Novosti, 18 October 2013, Zagreb, pp.1-16.


[56] For example, 24 SATA newspaper, Zagreb, 19 October 2013, featured Proeski and his death. See pp.4-5 of the newspaper.

[57] Ivica Todorić, Croat, is one of the most successful businessmen in the Balkans. and .

[58] For more about Agrokor, see . Agrokor’s website: .

[59] By the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia-Herzegovina has permanently been divided. The purpose of the Dayton Agreement is not only to bring about the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Recall the fact that Bosnia-Herzegovina was the area in which Judaism, Orthodox Christianity and Catholic had coexisted until 1992.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Oct 2013.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Commentary on Prof. Galtung’s Editorial “Balkan Integration Process in a Global Framework”, is included. Thank you.

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3 Responses to “Commentary on Prof. Galtung’s Editorial “Balkan Integration Process in a Global Framework””

  1. Stephan E. Nikolov says:

    There are a lot of not entirely precise, and even wrong things in this large comment – it seems bizarre to speak about “Democratic Federal Yugoslavia from 1943–1946” while that country has been under foreign occupation, and did not exist de facto an de jure. Moreover – a government recognized by most of the Allied countries (except the USSR) was the Royal government, deposited by the Nazi German invasion, and residing in London. What is mentioned is only a project, adopted in a Tito guerrilla conference in Jajce. but never existed in practice until 29 November 1944. Moreover,the “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” de facto and de jure did not exist from 1918-1943: from 1918 to 1927 it was the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes to be later renamed into Kingdom of Yugoslavia. And it nominally seized to exist in the Spring of 1941, when Wehrmacht occupied Yugoslavia. When write some things we need to be precise. And Yugoslavia is not Balkans – things are much complicated. Including that dissolution of Yugoslavia is simply a terrible conspiracy of the Western countries, but also a result of internal contradictions – i.e., between the better developed parts as Slovenia and Croatia, and the rest of Yugoslavia, especially the most backward, Southern Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia; Croats and Slovenes were generally angry that their revenues were cut to be transferred – with no much use – to the backward parts. Another never solved problem was Kosovo, where martial law has existed since 1948 – much longer than in Northern Ireland, for example. Unfortunately, I have not enough time to further elaborate on the comment.

  2. The author of the above article says:

    Dear Stephan,

    Thank you for your comment, Stephan. You have mentioned good points in you discussion (comment). Let me rebut your contentions and/or explain about these issues one by one.


    • “Democratic Federal Yugoslavia”:
    You say, “[I]t seems bizarre to speak about “Democratic Federal Yugoslavia from 1943–1946″ while that country has been under foreign occupation, and did not exist de facto an[d] de jure.”

    If that is the case, it can also be said “It seems bizarre to speak about “Independent State of Croatia (NDH) from 1941–1945″ while that country has been under foreign puppet, and did not exist de facto and de jure. How about Iraq under the American occupation? Did “Iraq” exist then? How about Afghanistan? Did “Afghanistan” exist under the American occupation? How about Pakistan, for instance?

    I included the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia in my article because it was a “Yugoslavia led by Tito”. In the discussion in my article above, the “so-called second Yugoslavia” means to the “so-called Tito’s Yugoslavia” regardless of the changes of the name and regardless of its temporary or permanent status. The point is that these Yugoslavias (altogether, so called the “second Yugoslavia”) were led by Tito. (But I am neither praising nor condemning Tito in this context.)

    The Section of “Yugoslavia” in Wikipedia explains, “In 1943, a Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed by the Partisan resistance. In 1944, the king recognised it as the legitimate government, …”

    The section of “Provisional Government of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia” in Wikipedia states, “The Provisional Government of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was the state’s temporary national government formed through the merger of the Yugoslav government-in-exile and the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia.” The date of the formation is debatable, depending on how one understands or interprets the situation of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia during WWII, though I took the earliest date among others.

    You can also visit this website ( and read the articles on the “Democratic Federal Yugoslavia” and “Yugoslavia during the Second World War”.

    By the way, you mentioned Jaice. Have you visited Jaice? How about (Tito) Drvar? Any other places where Tito fought during WWII? If you have not visited these places, I recommend you visit them so that you will understand better what you are saying as such.


    • “Kingdom of Yugoslavia”:
    Wikipedia states in the section of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia as “The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Kraljevina Jugoslavija, Serbian Cyrillic: Краљевина Југославија) was a state straddling Southeast Europe and Central Europe, that existed during the interwar period (1918–1939) and first half of World War II (1939–1943). It was formed in 1918 by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (itself formed from territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) with the formerly independent Kingdom of Serbia. The Kingdom of Montenegro had united with Serbia five days previously, while the regions of Kosovo, Vojvodina and Vardar Macedonia were parts of Serbia prior to the unification. For its first eleven years of existence, the Kingdom was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but the term “Yugoslavia” was its colloquial name from the very beginning.” In addition, visit Wikipedia’s “Croatia in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia”, for instance.

    If you visit the website of the US Department of Historian, for instance, you will see the detailed description, entitled, “A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Kingdom of Serbia/Yugoslavia”. (Due to some technical reasons of the TMS, this comment space of the TMS nowadays refuses us to paste website addresses on it so that I cannot paste the web address of the US Department here for you now. The same thing can be said of the rest of the websites that I have referred in this comment below. But you can find the exact addresses of these websites by using any search engine.)

    The section of “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” of states, “This article is about the kingdom that existed between 1918 and 1943.”

    Turkcebilgi English section (encyclopedia) website explains, “The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a kingdom in the Balkans which existed from the end of World War I until World War II….”

    Knowledge rush’s encyclopedia website states, “The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a Balkan state which existed from December 1, 1918 to 1941….”

    Also, read the section of “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” of Wiki Atlas of World History. Together with the maps, this website explains the Kingdom of Yugoslavia well.

    In April 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, due to the invasion of Nazi into Belgrade, established its exile regime in London. This, the Yugoslav government in exile, was the official government of Yugoslavia (i.e. Kingdom of Yugoslavia).

    In addition, visit Global’s section, “Kingdom of Yugoslavia”. This website explains about the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in detail.

    Needless to say, however, there are many more websites that discuss the “Kingdom of Yugoslavia”. However, you (and/or other readers of the TMS website) may be fed up with all the above by now.

    The above mentioned information is about pertinent websites that discuss “Kingdom of Yugoslavia”. How about books on the “Balkans, Yugoslavia, and/or Southeast Europe”? There are hundreds of books on this subject. Among these books, I have some one hundred books (or more) on this subject. Unfortunately, I cannot cite them to prove my argument here in this humble comment place of the TMS.

    Visit Belgrade and meet the people there and they will tell you about the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in detail. Argue with them, then. Have you ever visited Belgrade to discuss this subject, Stephan? They will show you tons of evidence of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia then. Stay in Belgrade for a while, if you have not stayed there for a certain period, and study the local history, Stephan. It is not too late for you to deny, if you will, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after that. The same thing can be said of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia. Go to the site where the Kingdom of Yugoslavia located and then, deny it if you will. Know the difference between to learn through books, lectures, and relevant media the taste of the foreign food that you have never eaten it and to learn the taste of that food by actually eating it. Then, deny it if you will.


    • “Recognition of a State (in relation to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia/the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia)”:
    Recognition of a State is, in principle, done by each State. Whether a State exists or not, that is, the recognition of a State is discussed in terms of the diplomatic relations with other countries. The United States of America recognized the Republic of Kosovo whereas the Republic of Serbia never recognizes it. For Serbia, the area called “Kosovo i Metohija” as a part of Serbia exists but the Republic of Kosovo as an independent sovereign state, does not exist. However, the Republic of Kosovo exists for the United States as mentioned above.

    An example: If the city of Sophia declares as an independent sovereign state, and even if Bulgaria does not recognize it, if other state, Serbia, for instance, recognizes it, the new state Sophia exists in the relation between Sophia and Serbia. However, no such state exists in the relation between Sophia and Bulgaria.

    Another example: For many Arabic countries, Israel as a sovereign state does not exist. On the other hand, for Islamic countries, the State of Palestine exists. The majority of the international community countries recognize the State of Palestine, while some countries do not recognize Palestine. For these countries that do not recognize the State of Palestine, the State of Palestine does not exist.

    One more example: Think about the case of Prince Sihanouk’s exile government of Cambodia, for instance. His exile government won the (political) battle finally and he reinstated Cambodia. Even though Sihanouk’s regime was in exile, some countries recognized his Cambodia while his Cambodia did not exist for those countries that did not recognize it. Sihanouk reigned as the President of Cambodia exile government. In this regard, think of the case of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in exile in London. This exile government officially represented Yugoslavia, which later recognized Tito’s Democratic Federal Yugoslavia as the official successor.

    When you say that the Kingdom of Yugoslavia did not exist or the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia did not exist, what do you really mean it, Stephan? The recognition of a state is conducted by other state(s). In the relation with the state that recognizes, the other state exists in that relationship. It is neither you nor other individuals/private persons to decide it.


    • “The Balkans”:

    The definition of the Balkans in my discussion is for that comment, because I intended to focus on the area of the former Yugoslavia. However, that does not mean I exclude other areas of the Balkan areas in general. My article concentrates on the former Yugoslav area, among other areas of the Balkans. Thus, I wrote, “The ‘Balkan’ in this comment means the republics and areas that constituted the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.” Besides, these areas are in the Balkans – in the Balkan Peninsula.

    Let me introduce some definitions of the Balkans as follows:

    “Wikipedia”, online encyclopedia, defines the “Balkans” as follows: “The Balkan Peninsula, popularly referred to as the Balkans, is a geographical and cultural region of Southeast Europe. The region has its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the east of Bulgaria to the very east of Serbia. The region is inhabited by Slavic ethnic groups (Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Bunjevci, Croats, Gorani, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs, Slovenes), also by Romanians, Greeks, Turks, Albanians, Kosovars and other ethnic groups which present minorities in certain countries like Romani people (Gypsies), Aromanians, Ashkali, etc. The largest religion on the Balkans is Orthodox Christianity, followed by Catholic Christianity and Sunni Islam.”

    “Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary” (eleventh edition; 2009) defines the “Balkans” as follows: “the countries occupying the Balkan peninsula: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece & Turkey in Europe”. (p.1518)

    “Collins World Encyclopedia” (2005 updated edition) defines the “Balkans” as follows: “(Turkish mountains’) peninsula of southeastern Europe, stretching into Slovenia between the Adriatic and Aegean seas, comprising Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, the part of Turkey in Europe, and Serbia and Montenegro.” (p.76)

    Do you think that those definitions are enough for you or not? If not, visit libraries and/or big bookshops that you can find dictionaries, encyclopedias and other relevant reference books.

    Your definition of the Balkans is a reflection of how you view the Balkans.

    An example: You say, “Yugoslavia is not [the] Balkans”: On the contrary, some Austrians who live in the southern part of Austria and some even Viennese say, “We are on the border between the Balkans and (Western) Europe. We are half Balkans and half Europe.” According to your definition, you do not include the republics and areas that constituted Yugoslavia are not the Balkans. On the other hand, these Austrians include the Balkan area up to Vienna. Both you and these Austrians simply express their own personal views on the Balkans; neither of the definitions is generally accepted. Discuss with these Austrians if you would have an opportunity, Stephan, so that the difference between your understanding of the Balkans and their understanding of the Balkans will be much clearer. From the general view point, your definition of the Balkans is too narrow whereas these Austrians’ definition of the Balkans is too wide. Both of them express their view on the Balkans through their definitions of the Balkans.

    Another example: Some time ago, someone argued about religion based on his own definition of religion, “Religion means (exclusively) Vatican.” It seemed that he was not happy with me then, because I did not discuss religion according to his definition of religion as such. Besides, I was not discussing Vatican at all. Then, I consulted some of major dictionaries, from Oxford, Merriam Webster, Random House and more, but I did not find the definition “Religion means (exclusively) Vatican.” In your definition, the areas of (former) Yugoslavia are NOT a part of the Balkans. I accept neither of definitions, on “religion” and “the Balkans”. These two definitions are reflections of the holders’ certain views on the subject and their definitions are not generally accepted. It is no wonder, therefore, in any of those dictionaries, I did not find the definition of religion, which means (exclusively) Vatican. This time, in any of those reference materials, I did not find the definition of the Balkans, which excludes the areas of (former) Yugoslavia. Your definition of the Balkans reminds me of the above mentioned definition, “Religion means (exclusively) Vatican.”

    One of the good tests of your definition of the Balkans is to ask any (serious) Serbs if Serbia is in the Balkans or not, for instance. Ask any (serious) Kosovars if Kosovo is in the Balkans or not, for instance. Ask any (serious) Bosnians if Bosnia is in the Balkans or not. Ask any (serious) Macedonians if Macedonia is in the Balkans or not. Ask any (serious) Montenegrins if Montenegro is in the Balkans or not. (How about Croats? How about Slovenians?)

    Have you ever visited and/or lived/worked in these areas, Stephan? If so, how many times or how many years, Stephan? Then, you would not deny what might be called the “Balkanity” of these areas. If you “knew” these areas, it would be impossible for you to state that these areas are not in the Balkans. Visit them and/or live/work there, if you have not, Stephan. It will not be too late for you to deny, if you will, the “Balkanity” in these areas after that.


    • “Conspiracy”?:
    You say, “Including that dissolution of Yugoslavia is simply a terrible conspiracy of the Western countries,…” I have already discussed as above whether the area of (former) Yugoslavia is in the Balkans or not. I do not repeat it here.

    Here you use the word “conspiracy”. If you use that word, it can be said that Yugoslavia was destroyed by the Western powers’ conspiracy. “Conspiracy” is not whether Yugoslavia was existed in the Balkan Peninsula. (Look at the map of the Balkan Peninsula.) Fortunately, you have not experienced bloody tragedies like the peoples in the former Yugoslavia. Do you understand how much they suffered? Do you understand how much serious human rights violations were committed then? Have you seen their tragedies in front of your eyes, not just through the TV screen or any other media? Do you understand how Yugoslavia was deliberately destroyed? Do you understand all those steps of the deliberate destruction? That was the “conspiracy” if you would like to use that word. The true “conspiracy” was there. Why do you not discuss it, Stephan, if you would use the word “conspiracy” in that context? If you still discuss that conspiracy is whether Yugoslavia is included in the Balkans/the Balkan Peninsula, it indicates that you do not understand much about these tragic realities.


    • Income and living standard differences among regions/republics:
    You argue, “….between the better developed parts as Slovenia and Croatia, and the rest of Yugoslavia, especially the most backward, Southern Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia; Croats and Slovenes were generally angry that their revenues were cut to be transferred – with no much use – to the backward parts.” That is right, Stephan. When most of nationalistic leaders of republics of Yugoslavia were aiming at independence from the Federal system, they used people’s complaint as such. Furthermore, the financial situation of Yugoslavia became bad to worse during the 1980s, especially in the latter part of that decade. As the result, these republics (therefore, their people as well) blamed each other. That accelerated their independence movements from the Federal system, while the Federal government intended to maintain the unity of Yugoslavia. These republics and the Federal government responded the way the Western powers calculated and expected. The result was that you know well.

    One more thing: In your discussion, you say, “Southern Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia; Croats and Slovenes….” If your definition, if these former Yugoslav area is not in the Balkans, why did you discuss the income issue of these republics of former Yugoslavia? While you say that the area of (former) Yugoslavia are not included in the Balkans (in your definition), you are discussing their issues. Are these issues are the “Balkan” issues? If so, your definition of the Balkans and your discussion as such are contradicted, Stephan. These issues on income/living standard differences of Southern Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia vs. Croatia and Slovenia are the “Balkan” issues whereas their areas are not in the Balkans (according to your definition of the Balkans)?


    Although you pointed out some historical issues and the definition issues or the like, the main purpose of my article is to discuss the integration/disintegration of the Balkan peoples and its background issues. Unfortunately, you argued nothing substantial about the main subject of my article.

    The local people’s anger is not only to other ethnic peoples in the region but also to the international community over all. Their anger, therefore, is addressing at the UN symbolically. Do you understand, for instance, why the UN Peacekeepers were instructed to stay out of the battle between the Croatian army and the local ethnic Serb forces when the local civilian population was in the danger? Who issued such instruction? UNPAs were not allowed to introduce any heavy weapons by anybody but why did the Croatian army invaded there? Do you understand big issues behind that? Why did you not argue about that, Stephan?

    The same or similar problem could occur in any war-torn areas in the world. It is huge issues, far more important than the discussions such as whether the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and/or the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia existed or not. Such issues can be left for some people who have enough time. If you have enough time, discuss it, as you like. (That is why I put it into the endnote, not in the main discussion. But, I discuss in my article (possible) preventive factors of the integration of the peoples and their background.

    If an opportunity allows you, go to any bloody war zone and you will see the “real disintegration” of the local peoples in untold tragedies. In that situation, what is important for you – to discuss issues such as whether the Kingdom of Yugoslavia/the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia existed or not? Look at bloody civilians suffering and screaming, in front of you.

    By discussing the disintegration of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia in the contemporary age, occurred at the end of the 20th Century, I intended to discuss peace, not issues such as whether the Kingdom of Yugoslavia or the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia existed or not; whether the areas of the former Yugoslavia are included in the Balkans, or something like that. That is what I would like to hear from you, Stephan. Unfortunately, you did not argue about those main issues of my article. You saw a few leaves but you did not see the tree.


    Anyhow, that you argue about what I wrote in my article indicates that you kindly read it, Stephan. Thank you very much for reading it. I am very happy that you spent for some time to read it. Besides, you wrote your comment by spending some time out of your precious time. Whatever you have your opinion about my argument, as the author I am very happy to know that you read it and commented on it. I really appreciate you for that, Stephan.

    If time and other relevant conditions permit, I would like have an opportunity to visit you, Stephan. Till then, stay well. (If you wish, we can continue our discussion then. But I do not have time to respond to you anymore now even if you will respond to this comment. Hold your argument until we will meet if you would like to discuss more, Stephan.)

    Everyone has his or her opinion. Express it freely as far as the way of the expression is peaceful, legitimate, and democratic. Besides, democracy begins with the exchange of different opinions. Moreover, I heard that good democracy begins with it in the cordial and respectful manner.

    Once again, thank you very much indeed for your comment, Stephan.

    With peace, appreciation and respect,

    Satoshi Ashikaga

  3. Stephan E. Nikolov says:

    Thank you for your detailed reply, Satoshi. I won’t abuse you with further comments, because I do not see much reason to take of your precious time. Moreover, you actually do not read or not fully understand my writings (it might be, indeed, due to my not so great fluency in English). One example: it is not me who narrows the territory and scope of the Balkans, which for you covers only Yugoslavia. And one additional reason to see no sense in any further discussion with you is your thinly disguised irony and, occasionally arrogance. I am sorry about that.