Despite the explosion of scholarly writing and journalism on the Balkans in the last decade, the region, its history and its problems remain a puzzle, a source of bafflement and confusion not only to the Western mind but also to observers locally, to members of the Balkan societies themselves. The failure of self-understanding in Balkan societies could be understood as an instance of what Maria Todorova has called “balkanism”, the South-East European version of “orientalism” and of the way it has been internalized by observers and commentators in the Balkans. 1 It is curious, I may add, that at the present conjuncture most of those in the world of scholarship who presume to have opinions and to pass judgements on Balkan politics and conflicts tend to be those who are all the more willing to talk because they know so little and understand even less. Those who know more and have a sense of the complexity of the history of the region tend to be more modest and circumspect in their judgements and pronouncements. I believe we should be that way when talking about the Balkans—modesty and precision have never hurt anyone in the world of scholarship.