As Europe moves toward economic and political unity, it’s facing lingering ethnic tensions, nationalism, and environmental crises.
Europe has a long history of conflict and crisis After World War II (1939–1945) European nations hope to: - rebuild their economies - prevent new conflicts Unifying Europe is one way to achieve these goals
The European Economic Community is formed in 1957 (later called the European Community or EC) - removes trade barriers, sets common economic goals - people can live and work in any member countries Nations depend on one another are more likely to work together than start conflict.
In 1993, the EC is replaced with the European Union. -Originally 15 member countries The European Union promotes the use of a common currency known as the euro.
Some people feel that the European Union is not such a good idea. - Believe that people will start moving to countries with higher wages - too much economic control, much like communism - use of a common currency means loss of national identity for many countries Others feel euro increases business efficiency, international trade
While starting with just 15 member countries, the European Union now consists of 27 member states - over 500 million people fall under the EU alliance Currently, many countries have applied to be added and plans for expansion will Member States continue To join the European Union, a Candidates for Membership state needs to fulfill economic Possible Candidates and political conditions
Following WWII, differing political and economic philosophies led to tension between Eastern and Western European countries. Communist Russia and it’s Eastern European allies separate themselves from countries influenced by “Western Ideas” (U.S., France, Great Britain, etc.) The divide between the two is nicknamed “The Iron Curtain”
Not only is the continent divided, Germany is split into two different countries. East Germany is influenced by the USSR and the government is communist. West Germany is influenced by the US, France and the UK and their government is a democracy.
The capital of Berlin is split as well. East Germany builds a wall to maintain the separation between the two and keeps West Berlin citizens confined within. Crossing over is strictly forbidden.
After much protest in the 1980’s and urges from other political leaders such as President Reagan in 1987, East Germany agrees to bring down the wall. On November 9th, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall!” 1989 demolition of the wall commenced.
The Balkan conflict stems from many different groups wanting the same land. Many ethnic groups inhabit the Balkans. The Slavs immigrated from Russia and Poland in the 500’s In the 1300’s, the Ottoman Empire conquers the Balkans. Many Slavs are Christian and/or Jewish and the Ottomans are Muslim. Christians, Jews and Muslims now occupy the same land. This causes Traditional Slavs ethnic tension.
Serbia does not like being under foreign rule. The Serbians want a free Slavic Kingdom. They break away from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 and their actions lead to the breakout of WWI.
In 1929, the country of Yugoslavia is formed. Yugoslavia literally translates to “Land of the Slavs”. The country includes Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. Land is united, but still ethnically mixed.
Yugoslavia is invaded by the Nazis and Italians during WWII. The Croatians help the Nazis hunt down and massacre Jews and Serbians Following the war, Josip Broz Tito rules Yugoslavia He encourages all groups to see themselves as Yugoslavs
Tito dies in 1980 and Yugoslavia has no single, central ruler Slobodan Milosevic — Serbian who sought to control Yugoslavia in 1990s Milosevic proposes creation of Greater Serbia - wants to expand borders to include all areas with Serbian populations; Croatia has large Serbian minority
Serbia blocks Croatian from becoming Yugoslav president in 1991 In response, Slovenia and Croatia declare independence from Yugoslavia Serbian-led Yugoslav army invades Slovenia and Croatia
Serbians want to get rid of Bosnian Muslims, Croatians Serbs use ethnic cleansing — violent elimination of an ethnic group Over 200,000 people die, over 2 million flee area A treaty was signed in 1995 but the region remained unstable.
In 1998, a region of Serbia known as Kosovo became under fire. Kosovo had many Albanians who speak a different language than the Serbians and were also predominately Muslim. The Serbians, led by Milosevic, tried to take control of Kosovo and wipe out it’s Albanian culture. The Serbians once again, used ethnic cleansing.
In 1999, NATO intervenes and causes Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo. When the Serbs leave, international officials discover horrifying evidence of Serbian atrocities.
The movie Behind Enemy Lines is a film centered on the story of an American naval flight officer who was shot down over Bosnia, who ends up uncovering a massacre during the Balkan conflicts.
In 2001, Slobodon Milosevic was arrested by Yugoslav authorities. He was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with Bosnia and Kosovo. He died of a heart attack in 2006 in the midst of his trial.
In 1801, Ireland became an official part of the United Kingdom. However, in 1921 they declared independence and fought the British in a small war. The British recognized Ireland’s independence; however, parts of Northern Ireland remained part of the UK. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a revolutionary, military organization formed to oppose British occupation in Ireland. Today, Northern Ireland is still a topic of controversy, especially with the IRA.
The IRA has since split into several smaller groups but still operates today. Since they are an unofficial army/militia, many people consider the IRA a terrorist group. Recent actions taken by the IRA include; - setting off several bombs in 1972 - the assassination of Queen Elizabeth’s uncle in 1979 - a car bomb in 1998 that killed 29 people - setting off car bombs outside the BBC
One incident that sparked controversy was “Bloody Sunday” in 1972. Many people gathered in protest for an independent Ireland in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland. The British Army was called in for crowd control. They opened fire, killing 14 people and injuring 26. - 7 of the deceased were teenagers