For centuries the Balkans have been, almost by definition, Europes powder-keg. Even now after a long series of episodes involving of ethnic cleansing, mass slaughter, and retribution the area features novel combinations of underground economies, organized crime, and political complicity that once again represent challenges for Europes future. Having a long personal experience in the Balkans, the author writes: The criminal mentioned here isnt a common street thief, but a sovereign criminal, in a world in where both crime and sovereignty are in a state of flux. The stories told in these chapters involve us closely and are black stories, in that they speak of collusion, rather than collision, between ethnic groups, legality and illegality, us and them: victims and executioners speak the same language and belong to the same community. That which takes place to the east is not the product of remote local pathology In the grey areas of politics and the economy, in the continents periphery, there takes shape not a pale reflection of the past, but a pressing challenge leveled at the heart of Europe.
Francesco Strazzari teaches International Relations Theory, European Periphery Geopolitics, and War and Security Studies at the University of Amsterdam. In 1995 he organized the first summer university in Tuzla, Bosnia. Since 2000 he holds training seminars for UN, EU, and single countries civilian and police forces deployed in the Balkan region.