Western Balkans and EU - Part 19

posted by julia on 2006/04/23 15:27

[ Western Balkans and EU ]

According to H. Riegler from the Austrian Institute for International Politics (OIIP), the debates on the EU enlargement towards South-Eastern Europe is too often mixed up with the discussion on the integration of Turkey on the one hand and with the discussion on the European constitution, the borders and values of the EU on the other hand (cf. an interview in Der Standard, 10.4.2006). She is optimistic, though, and thinks that Croatia could become an EU member very quickly as it fulfills most of the "technical" EU criteria. Croatia could then act as a motor for the integration of the other Western Balkan countries.

Nevertheless, the EU could also chose a "regional approach" and wait for all Western Balkan countries to be ready for a synchronized accession to the EU (like the EU did for the 10 new members who joined in 2004). The Western Balkans could then become "hostages" of Serbia, as Serbia is unlikely to turn in Mladic to the ICTY "anytime soon", according to James Lyon (International Crisis Group, 10.4.2006). He is concerned that the EU will not be able to do much against the nationalist movement around the SRS, which is growing stronger due to the (passive) support of Prime Minister Kostunica (DSS) and the lack of response/opposition of President Tadic (DS). Only few politicians speak out against nationalist policy-making (cf. an NZZ-article on C. Jovanovic, president of the Liberal-Democratic Party). Nevertheless, Lyons argues that the nationalist will wait before entering the competition for government responsibilities:

But the Radicals won't come to power immediately, even though they could. They, like Mr. Tadic's Democratic Party, are afraid of the popular backlash from the "triple whammy" that will come from losing Kosovo and Montenegro and turning over wartime Gen. Ratko Mladic to The Hague. They are willing to let Mr. Kostunica remain in office and take the blame until these unpopular issues are resolved. In the meantime, they will make life as difficult as possible for the government while watching their popularity increase and making cooperation with The Hague more difficult.

According to Lyons, nationalists politics in Serbia will not only hamper Serbia's cooperation with the ICTY, but also affect Serbia's relations to the EU and the US, and strengthen pro-independence forces in Kosovo and Montenegro. "Europe and the United States should have resolved these three issues long ago: Kosovo in 1999, Montenegro in 2000 and Hague cooperation in 2001."



This weblog is a forum for discussion on the political and social processes linked to EU integration in the Western Balkans. We would also like to use this space to create a virtual network of researchers on this topic. You are most welcome to contribute to this weblog with comments, postings, links, or photos. Please use the "add comment" function at the end of each posting!
All photos by the Photo Arts Collective of Kosovo. First photo by Burim Myftiu (Swimming olympiade in Klina). Second photo by Mimoza. Third photo by Dashmir Izairi.
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