Sitemap

Simon Taylor, HYCU, Inc. CEO

Providing Easy Ways To Protect Data

HYCU is a multinational company with offices around the world, but much of its European operation is located right here in Belgrade, an important...

Luštica Bay

Authentic Adriatic In Luštica Bay A Place To Belong

Authentic residences, The Chedi five-star hotel, beautiful beaches with a crystal blue sea, a unique gastronomic and shopping experience and an intense calendar of...

Vladimir Živanović, Director Of The Zlatibor Tourism Organisation

Foreigners Also Flock To Zlatibor

It is thanks to magical nature and the air spa status that Zlatibor has enjoyed for 129 years, coupled with major investments, excellent infrastructure...

Porto Montenegro

The Adventure Continues On The Adriatic

Summer is in full swing at Porto Montenegro, with yachts lining the marina, a range of new and well-loved shops and restaurants in the...

Bogdan Gavrilović, Sales Manager, World Transport Overseas (WTO)

Expanding Operations

World Transport Overseas (WTO), which is headquartered in Eastern Europe and has branches in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia, was...

By Carl Bildt, Project Syndicate

The Dangerous Balkan Standstill

Even after a quarter-century of relative peace, the Balkans have yet to achieve the lasting stability that was hoped for when the region’s wars were brought to an end. And now that the EU integration process has stalled, one cannot rule out a return of violent conflict

In the Balkans, a small war between the disintegrating state of Yugoslavia and one of its constitutive republics, Slovenia, was followed by a bigger conflict in Croatia. Within a year, a savage conflict was raging in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well. Suddenly, Europe’s “post-war” period had ended.

The Balkan wars raged for a decade. The Dayton Peace Agreement ended the conflict in Bosnia in 1995, but then came the Kosovo War, which continued until 1999 and was followed, in 2001, by a serious outbreak of violence in what is now North Macedonia.

All told, the Balkan wars claimed more than 100,000 lives, displaced millions of people, and set back the region’s economic and social development by decades. Though it had been living largely on credit, the old Yugoslavia had given its citizens a better standard of living than those of its socialist peers. The country’s long, violent disintegration changed all that.

The peace agreements that were cobbled together at the time were merely stopgap measures. Everyone understood that lasting stability would require a wider and much more comprehensive framework. And so, in 2003, European Union leaders declared that all the region’s countries should work toward a future of stability and lasting peace within the EU.

No one expected that to happen overnight; but nor did anyone think the integration process would be as drawn-out as it has been. Since Slovenia and Croatia’s accession in 2004 and 2013, respectively, the EU’s Balkan enlargement has effectively stalled.

The reason for this is twofold. First, political and economic reform in non-EU Balkan countries has been painfully slow, while corruption and nationalist sentiment has become ever more entrenched. Second, support for further enlargement has faded within many EU countries. Though politicians still pay lip service to the idea, new hurdles and delays tend to be greeted with relief in several key member states.

Moreover, the problems within Balkan countries are severe. A quarter-century after the Dayton Agreement, the international community has deemed Bosnia to be so politically dysfunctional as to warrant a new High Representative with wide-ranging powers (I was the first to hold such an office, serving from 1995 to 1997), effectively derailing the country’s EU-accession agenda.

The EU should take the lead by proposing a new arrangement, one that includes an offer of membership in its customs union and single market

Meanwhile, Serbia has come under the boot of an autocratic regime that flirts with China one day and kowtows to Russia the next, all while its representatives continue to put on a good face at the European Commission in Brussels. Despite enormous efforts by both the EU and the United States, the outstanding issues between Serbia and Kosovo are nowhere close to being resolved.

Finally, after being blocked from joining the EU by Greece (owing to a dispute over its name), North Macedonia now finds itself being blackballed by Bulgaria for reasons that go far back in the region’s history (but that lack any contemporary relevance).

Further complicating matters, the EU’s struggle to rein in the Hungarian and Polish governments’ attacks on the rule of law and independent media has dampened its appetite for taking a risk with potentially illiberal new members. When Hungary offers its enthusiastic support for Serbia’s accession bid, many others in the EU see a hidden agenda that must be blocked.

The EU’s overture in 2003 was a courageous and wise strategic step. But now that the prospect of Balkan integration is fading, the current charade cannot continue. Instead, political leaders must accept reality and start mapping out realistic interim steps that could improve conditions in the region without abandoning the final goal.

A good starting point is the Open Balkan initiative, which was designed to increase trade between Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia. But it is not enough. The EU should take the lead by proposing a new arrangement, one that includes an offer of membership in its customs union and single market.

Three decades ago, the Balkan wars started with a small ten-day conflict on Slovenia’s borders. Now, it is Slovenia that holds the Council of the European Union’s rotating chairmanship. Its leadership agenda includes a summit between all the Western Balkan countries and EU member states this October. That occasion should prompt clear and realistic thinking from all parties.

The alternative for the Western Balkans is a slide backward into violence. It has happened before. It is happening now in Afghanistan. It must not happen again in Europe.

Comment by Zoran Panović

Favourite Enemies

Of course, there has been no occurrence of the most normal possible thing for fixing relations, which would be for Serbian and Croatian presidents...

Aleksandar Radić, Military Analyst

Rearming Is A Long Process

It is obvious that we will see the re-forming of many of the battalions that were disbanded over the last couple of decades, when...

Marija Ignjatijević, Researcher, Belgrade Centre For Security Policy

The EU (Still) Lacks Sufficient Might To Form Autonomous Defence Capacities

The very fact that the EU repurposed its peace facility instrument to arm Ukraine has significant operative relevance, but also symbolic relevance. Member states...

Nikola Lunić, Executive Director Of The Council For Strategic Policy

Time To Create Dependable Alliances

Under the conditions of a taxing history and unstable relations, the Western Balkan region could easily become an instrument of major powers in the...

Serbia Exported 30,000 Tons Of Ice Cream Worth 63.5 Million Euros

Last year, 30,000 tons of ice cream worth 63.5 million euros were exported from Serbia, mostly to countries in...

Italy Is Suing Slovenia Over Balsamic Vinegar

The Italian government is launching legal proceedings against Slovenia in an attempt to defend the authenticity of its geographically...

Ambassador Pinter: Serbia The Most Important Partner In Western Balkans

Hungary sees Serbia as the most important economic partner in the Western Balkans. The Hungarian government strives to support...

EU Governments: Recommendations On How To Save Energy

After it was published in the EU's official administrative gazette, the European Union's plan to reduce gas consumption came...

Stoltenberg: Serbia Has Been NATO’s Close Partner For Many Years

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assessed that the North Atlantic Alliance is a long-term and close partner with Serbia,...

Serbia Exported 30,000 Tons Of Ice Cream Worth 63.5 Million Euros

Last year, 30,000 tons of ice cream worth 63.5 million euros were exported from Serbia, mostly to countries in...

Italy Is Suing Slovenia Over Balsamic Vinegar

The Italian government is launching legal proceedings against Slovenia in an attempt to defend the authenticity of its geographically...

Ambassador Pinter: Serbia The Most Important Partner In Western Balkans

Hungary sees Serbia as the most important economic partner in the Western Balkans. The Hungarian government strives to support...

EU Governments: Recommendations On How To Save Energy

After it was published in the EU's official administrative gazette, the European Union's plan to reduce gas consumption came...

Stoltenberg: Serbia Has Been NATO’s Close Partner For Many Years

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assessed that the North Atlantic Alliance is a long-term and close partner with Serbia,...

Serbia Exported 30,000 Tons Of Ice Cream Worth 63.5 Million Euros

Last year, 30,000 tons of ice cream worth 63.5 million euros were exported from Serbia, mostly to countries in...

Italy Is Suing Slovenia Over Balsamic Vinegar

The Italian government is launching legal proceedings against Slovenia in an attempt to defend the authenticity of its geographically...

Ambassador Pinter: Serbia The Most Important Partner In Western Balkans

Hungary sees Serbia as the most important economic partner in the Western Balkans. The Hungarian government strives to support...

EU Governments: Recommendations On How To Save Energy

After it was published in the EU's official administrative gazette, the European Union's plan to reduce gas consumption came...

Stoltenberg: Serbia Has Been NATO’s Close Partner For Many Years

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assessed that the North Atlantic Alliance is a long-term and close partner with Serbia,...
spot_img