Marina Lagutina on Vesti.FM: why principle of peoples’ self-determination did not work in World War I
World War I led to the collapse of four empires - the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian and Ottoman. As a result, many newly independent states were formed in Europe - Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes also known as Yugoslavia, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, which later became the part of the Soviet Union, ” analyst of the news agency Vestnik Kavkaza, Marina Lagutina said today in the National Question program on Vesti.FM.
"The principles of self-determination of peoples became a base of the national-state division by the victorious countries. However, the great powers many times violated their own borders or closed their eyes to the violations defining the borders of new states. As a result of this thoughtless re-division of the borders in the new countries, the places of compact residence of national minorities appeared among Germans, Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Belarusians in Poland, Germans, Hungarians and Ukrainians in Czechoslovakia, Hungarians and Ukrainians in Romania, the analyst said, stressing that subsequently this became a source of conflicts of all kind.
”After gaining the independence, Poland’s desire to recreate its eastern borders as they were in 1772 contradicted the principle of people’ self-determination, because Poland wanted to annex Belarus, Lithuania, part of Latvia and Right-Bank Ukraine, which caused the resistance of the peoples living there. This led to the Soviet-Polish war, which for many years defined hostility in the relations between Poland and the USSR, ” Marina Lagutina said.
The expert drew attention to the fact that the national situation in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was particularly difficult. "The state, later called Yugoslavia, consisted of very different peoples, though having common Slavic roots (Croats and Slovenes - Catholics, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Serbs - Orthodox, some Slavs converted to Islam, Albanians - not Slavs at all and profess to Islam). The South Slavic peoples united around Serbia in the hope of democratizing the political system and social life in the new state. However, Serbs, who took the leading position in the country thanks to the support of France did not consider the interests of other people. Macedonians and Albanians were even forbidden to use their native language, institutions, schools and press ", the expert said, explaining that all this turned the new state into a hotbed of ethnic conflicts.
"The time bomb planted at the beginning of the 20th century exploded at the end of the century when the division of the European countries into smaller ones continued - Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia collapsed. And we know very well the price of such decays. The Versailles-Washington system was doomed to failure from the very beginning, because the great powers themselves created a region of constant political instability, redrawing the territory of Europe without taking into account the interests of peoples, ” Marina Lagutina concluded.