The New Year starts on an unpromising note - the separation of Czechoslovakia into two states. Don't expect Slovakia to become a placid backwater: there will be tensions over its 600,000 Hungarian minority, and more trouble over the Slovak hydroelectric dam project that has almost turned part of the Danube into an Aussie-style billabong.
Clouds will gather over Transylvania in the shape of Hungarian-Romanian rivalry, but with common sense it should be possible to contain the problem. Keep a close eye on Gheorghe Funar, the ultra-nationalist Romanian mayor of Cluj, Transylvania's main city.
Watch out, too, for the Vinny Joneses of Russia: the hard men playing for the first XIs of the defence, security and interior ministries. They want the fate of ethnic Russians in the Baltic states, Moldova, Ukraine and other republics to be a big issue. Will Boris Yeltsin hang on? Health permitting, yes. Otherwise, look out for Vice-President Alexander Rutskoi and Yury Skokov, the Secretary of the Security Council.
In the Balkans, it looks bad. Scenario One: the wars move into Kosovo, a Serbian-ruled province with an Albanian majority; the Sandzak, a Muslim-inhabited Serbian region; and Macedonia, the focus of multiple rivalries. Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey get involved. War erupts again in Croatia. Islamic countries give military help to the Bosnian Muslims, and the Serbs of Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia proclaim a united Greater Serbia.
Scenario Two: the Western powers, horrified at the thought of Scenario One, intervene in the Balkans (but not with ground troops). They enforce a 'no-fly zone' in Bosnia and attack Serbian airfields. The Bosnian Serb position collapses, the war reopens in Croatia, and President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia flees into exile. Let's hope he isn't welcomed to Russia by President Vladimir Zhirinovsky.Reuse content