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During the Writers for Peace Committee meeting in Bled (Slovenia) in April 2024, several writers from the former Yugoslav countries who were present at the meeting came to the conclusion that there was a need for a joint statement calling for peace amidst rising tensions in the Western Balkans. What was initially an informal and friendly agreement that region-wide co-operation was needed to stem the rising tide of nationalist rhetoric, in the following weeks became a campaign to iron out the initial draft of the statement and to collect signatures from the members of the post-Yugoslav/Western Balkan PEN centres. As a result of the communication between the centres during the collection of signatures (in several cases, this was the first time in a long time that the centres had communicated directly), an agreement was also made to strengthen regional co-operation between Balkan PEN centres.

The statement was issued a couple of weeks before the UN Assembly vote on the Srebrenica genocide resolution[1], and has attracted considerable media attention, including a rebuttal from the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

For further context, see also: https://www.pen-international.org/news/un-srebrenica-resolution-vote




As members of PEN International and writers from the former Yugoslav region, we are warning the world of a clear and present danger of armed conflict in the Western Balkans.

For years now, belligerent narratives of Serb nationalists, aided by the Belgrade regime and a part of the Serbian Orthodox church, destabilise the region, and primarily Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo.

With the full Russian invasion of Ukraine, their aggressive rhetoric advocating for Greater Serbia has been gaining strength throughout former Yugoslavia. The Belgrade regime and the regime in Banja Luka (the entity of the Republic of Srpska, Bosnia Herzegovina) are not hiding their sympathies towards Russian imperialist appetites, nor their regard for the support they are receiving from the Kremlin regime. 

In September of 2023 armed escalation started with a terrorist attack in Banjska (Kosovo), and as the vote on the UN Resolution on the Srebrenica genocide approaches, secessionist threats of Milorad Dodik in the Republic of Srpska are gaining strength and should not be underestimated. The expected acceptance of Kosovo into the Council of Europe is another critical point, because the regime of Aleksandar Vučić is showing no inclination to cooperation, peace and compromise. On the contrary, by announcing Greater Serbia rallies, organised by the Serbian state and the Serbian Orthodox Church, the warmongering attitude of Belgrade is becoming clear and dangerous.

The aggressive Belgrade regime, which is openly arming itself, is the main cause of instability in the Western Balkans. In the past, an identical narrative from the same circles pushed us into a bloody ten-year war in the former Yugoslav region. We must not allow this to happen again. We have to recognise the danger and clearly raise our voices against armed conflict in the Western Balkans.

We hereby appeal to the Belgrade regime to accept reconciliation as the only possible political option in the region. We also appeal to the international community to react swiftly to this danger and do everything in its power to prevent the fires of war to flare up yet again in the Western Balkans.

Concerned, we ask for cooperation and peace.


[1] https://press.un.org/en/2024/ga12601.doc.htm#:~:text=The%20General%20Assembly%20today%20adopted,from%20Serbia%2C%20which%20decried%20the%20