PAGE ::: 1

INFO   :::  Projects > Archives > Promoting a Social Climate Propitious to Transitional... > Helsinki Charter No. 153-154 > Text





By Sonja Biserko

Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit sobered up the Serb elite about EU candidacy the regime expects Serbia to obtain this autumn. The key message Merkel put across was that Belgrade should not count on progressing towards EU integration unless it normalized relations with Pristina. EULEX should place the entire territory of Kosovo under its control and Serb parallel institutions in its north have to be dismissed, she said. In other words, Serbia should accept the Ahtisaari plan, something to which the statements by US and EU representatives this summer had already hinted at this summer. The Ahtisaari plan Serbia turned down three years ago envisages a kind of autonomy for North Kosovo. As things stand the date for the beginning of Serbia-EU accession negotiations will be conditioned by the plan's acceptance.

The conflict in North Kosovo that broke out when Kosovo authorities tried to take over the borders crossings with Raska and Novi Pazar completely changed the EU's and the international community's perception. They finally realized that the status quo in Kosovo's north was unsustainable and prevented completion of Balkan processes: consolidation of new states, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the first place, but Serbia's as well. The international community (US and EU) messaged with one voice that things would never be as they used to and that any partition scenario was out of question.


Where was Serbia mistaken?

As usual Belgrade hoped that by buying time would force some partition scenario. Having nothing realistic to offer to voters, the political elite was harping on Kosovo this summer, the same as it did over the past election campaign. And that was when Kostunica's Kosovo option lost to the pro-European course advocated by Tadic's coalition.

Then Belgrade saw the crisis within EU as its advantage. It played on the eurozone crisis to prognosticate a dramatic future for EU, thus only fueling public manifestations against Europeanization. This indicates that the election campaign is already on and that great majority of parties hope to win over voters with populism which questions the European course. Some even go for advocating that Serbia should "remain an island within EU."

Serb elites, without vision and inoperative, now complain that EU treats "us as the worst students in its school, lectures us and is unfair: it bombards us with questions the answers to which are not included in regular curricula and textbooks." Further, "EU is unjust and has double standards that discriminate Serbia."

All that EU expects is the respect for the rules applicable to all: respect for European values and principles, and the Copenhagen criteria. The Serb elite behave as there must always be a loophole for it just because of its strategic importance. Its attitude towards EU has been resting on such a premise throughout the past decade.

All this cannot deny the fact that Europe itself faces a crisis: primarily the crisis of credibility of its political and financial elites. Some European countries have crossed the red line of European values. This opens the space to radical currents from the extreme right and the ideologies resting on anti-European sentiments, autism and exclusiveness. This is what all local players in transition countries, the Balkan included, pinpoint. Islamophobia is among their common denominators in which Serbia in particular builds its expectations for Kosovo and Bosnia. An analysis of the tragic events in Norway and Andreas Breivik's Manifesto that, among other things, invokes Serb warlords Karadzic and Mladic, is telling enough. The messages of the European extreme right are simple and as such a major threat to European ideas insufficiently promoted by European leaders themselves. In their election campaigns they too go in for cheap populism. Today's Europe obviously has no statesman capable and brave enough to rise above petty interests and open long-term vistas to nations. And that would necessitate clear-cut messages against egoism and xenophobia on which the extreme right feeds its growing popularity.

However and regardless of all those huge problems within EU, one should keep in mind that its achievements are way ahead of any other ideology's and that it is a unique integration worldwide. EU is a project that secured the peace process after the WWII, Europe's economic growth and its position of the world's biggest trade bloc.

Unless it seriously acknowledges this summer's messages about unchangeability of borders and regional stability Serbia will be again faced with fait accomplis that will by itself change the realities in the field. The absence of the rule of law in Kosovo's north provides legitimacy to criminal and compromised structures that have nothing to do with the interests of the state of Serbia and Serb nation.

Speaking of EU's role and significance to Serbia one should take into consideration a larger context and objectively anticipate EU's future course. This is the more so important since the expected EU candidacy for Serbia should be seen as a part of a larger process throughout which Serbia will have to adjust itself to all the complexities of EU integration. Therefore, the upcoming election campaign should focus more on the fact that in foreseeable future Serbia will be a part of this integration. Serbia had not taken a responsible attitude toward Yugoslav integrations. Now, after twenty wasted years and the defeat of such national policy the actual political elite should acknowledge that Serbia must take the responsibility for participation in international affairs.

Though with much delay EU - Germany in particular - resumes its original values now in the finale of the Yugoslav crisis. Its actions in the Balkans were those that made it realize these values are not to be taken for granted - but constantly struggled for.



PAGE ::: 1







Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia - 2008

Web Design * Eksperiment