Another Balkan union?
Bfrey T. Kuhner
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published July 2, 2003
The European Union is seeking to restore
a greater Yugoslavia. Following the bloody disintegration of that
country in the 1990s one would think the international community would
get the message that the Croats, Slovenes, Serbs, Bosnian Muslims,
Macedonians and Kosovo Albanians no longer wish to live in the same
Yet at a recent "Western Balkans" summit sponsored by the
EU in Porto Carras, Greece, the Europeans are now forcing the peoples
of the former Yugoslavia to embrace another Balkan union.
The EU, which is poised to admit 10 new countries from Central and
Eastern Europe, held out the promise to Croatia, Macedonia, Albania,
Bosnia-Hercegovina and the union of Serbia and Montenegro that those
countries could also one day join its ranks. "The process of
European unification will not be complete until the Balkans have joined
the EU," proclaimed European Commission President Romano Prodi.
But Brussels is insisting that certain conditions need to be met prior
to granting membership, such as completing economic reforms, strengthening
human rights and tackling organized crime and corruption.
The key step, however, toward full membership is that each country
in the region needs to negotiate a Stabilization and Association Agreement
with the EU. Also known as the Balkan Stability Pact, it is an attempt
to reconstitute another Yugoslavia, minus Slovenia plus Albania. The
Stability Pact seeks to create an economic union based on a Balkan
free-trade zone, characterized by close "inter-border" cooperation
and loose political links. So far only Croatia and Macedonia have
successfully negotiated an agreement with the EU.
The idea of a Balkan union is deeply unpopular among ordinary citizens
in the area for one simple reason: It is not politically viable. One
of the great lessons of the 20th century is that artificial, multiethnic
states incorporating peoples who do not want to live together are
not sustainable in the long run. Multinational empires such as Yugoslavia,
the Soviet Union, Austria-Hungary and Imperial Britain eventually
collapsed because they abrogated the democratic aspirations of their
The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s enabled countries such as
Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia to finally achieve their long-sought
dreams of independence, representing a significant victory for the
forces of democracy and national self-determination. Brussels is hoping
to reverse this historic achievement in order to fulfill its goal
of creating a Continental socialist superstate. The proponents of
a federal EU hope to dissolve national sovereignties and impose cultural
homogeneity upon the diverse peoples of Europe. Under the guise of
"progress" and "ethnic reconciliation," they are
now planning to end the Balkans' short experiment in national independence
The formation of a greater Yugoslavia linked to the EU is not a progressive
or liberal project, but a deeply racist policy destined to fail. Brussels
is essentially telling the peoples of the region they are unable to
govern themselves and can only enter the EU as a regional bloc, not
on an individual basis as have the other countries of Europe. This
amounts to being treated as second-class Europeans.
Moreover, a Balkan union is not feasible because it has no mass political
support in the region. So far the political elites in Zagreb, Belgrade,
Skopje, Sarajevo and Tirana have avoided telling their citizens that
the cost of EU membership is agreeing to a larger regional integration
that no one wants. Following the wars of Yugoslav succession, if there
is one thing the Serbs, Macedonians, Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Albanians
can agree upon it is that they do not want to co-exist in the same
What is most shocking has been the decision of the ruling leftist
government in Croatia to go along with Brussels' agenda. Under Yugoslavia,
it was the Croats who suffered under Belgrade's iron grip more than
any other national group. After having fought a successful war for
independence in 1991, Zagreb is now on the verge of frittering away
Croatia's hard-won national sovereignty.
Composed mainly of former communists who still long for the restoration
of Yugoslavia, the regime of Prime Minister Ivica Racan and President
Stipe Mesic have surreptitiously gone ahead with their plans for making
Croatia a permanent part of the "Western Balkans." As the
most economically advanced of the five nations at the summit, Croatia
is hoping to join the EU in 2007 along with Bulgaria and Romania.
Yet most diplomats in Washington and Brussels believe this is not
possible unless the country's living standards and per capita income
are increased significantly. Zagreb will need to achieve an economic
miracle to hit its target date for EU membership - which will not
happen under the stagnant policies of the current socialist leadership.
Mr. Racan and his allies have waged an intense public relations campaign,
making the government's bid to join the EU the centerpiece of their
administration's accomplishments. National elections are expected
to be held this fall or spring 2004 at the latest.
Zagreb's decision to accede to the creation of another Balkan union
has given the surging center-right opposition the wedge issue it needs
to topple Mr. Racan from power. The conservative opposition should
make the election a referendum on whether Croats want to again cede
their country's independence.
The opposition should insist that Croatia follow the Slovenia model,
in which Zagreb enters the EU as a single, sovereign country that
will aggressively defend its national interests and cultural identity
at the negotiating table with Brussels. Croatia's conservatives need
to form an alliance with the other countries of Central and Eastern
Europe, who along with Denmark, Britain and Silvio Berlusconi's Italy,
aim to transform the EU into a decentralized, economic free-trade
zone that will preserve Europe's distinct cultures and national sovereignties.
The Croats were instrumental in bringing down Yugoslavia. Hopefully,
they will also bring down Brussels' plans to resurrect the corpse
of Yugoslavia from the grave.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is assistant national editor at The Washington Times.
EU PROPOSES NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH THE BALKANS
Zagreb, May 22 (FPB) - The European Commission
(EC) yesterday adopted a new proposal for partnership relations between
the European Union and the Western Balkans. The purpose of this proposal
is to better assist the Balkan countries in their bids to draw closer
to the European Union. The proposal is to be adopted by the European
Union's Council and the European Parliament.
The EC states that the Stabilisation and Association process (SAp)-
the current framework for relations with the region - will remain
the cornerstone of policy towards the countries of the Western Balkans
(Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro), but it will be given a new
dimension through elements that have proved successful with other
candidates for EU membership.
According to the Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten,
"The map of the European Union will not be complete until the
countries of the Western Balkans are included in it. There is a great
deal of work to do: reforming the economies, standards of governance
and democracy of the region remain major challenges - alongside the
constant battle to tackle corruption and organised crime."
The EC proposes to intensify the SAp through concrete measures: through
introducing European integration partnerships, enhanced support for
institution building, improved political cooperation, assistance in
economic development, rule of law, cooperation on justice and home
affairs and enhanced regional cooperation and democracy.
As regards enhanced support for institution building, the EC says
that the support should be increased for the Western Balkan countries.
It stresses that some of these programmes, called "twinning programmes",
have already begun in Albania and Croatia and should be developed
The Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office (TAIEX), which
was set up as part of the pre-accession strategy to provide targeted
technical assistance to candidate countries on bringing their system
in line with EU legislation, will soon start operating in the Western
As regards legislation, justice and internal affairs, the EC proposes
to develop a dialogue with the countries in the region with the aim
of identifying targets against which progress can be assessed, especially
in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
The EC further proposes extended participation in relevant Community
programmes, including education programmes, and enhanced regional
cooperation and democracy.
"The countries of the Western Balkans will be encouraged to develop
concrete forms of collaboration in such areas as parliamentary cooperation,
refugee return, trade and investment, energy, transport and infrastructure,"
concludes the EC statement.
Meanwhile, Croatian President Stjepan MesiŠ, Macedonian President
Boris Trajkovski and Serbian Premier Zoran «ivkoviŠ stated in an open
letter that Europe would be united only after the countries of South-East
Europe are integrated into it. President MesiŠ's office confirmed
that the open letter was issued ahead of the World Economic Forum,
to be held in Athens.
In the letter the three statesmen express confidence that next month's
summit in Salonika would be "a golden opportunity" for the
EU and the three countries to establish "a common basis which
can lead to concrete progress". The long-term stability of the
region depends on economic stability, the most important element being
the readiness of Southeast European countries to "cooperate with
the EU in spending granted funds in a more efficient manner".
All South-East European countries have started reforms on the political,
economic and social front and demonstrated commitment to their strategic
goal - full integration in Euro-Atlantic associations, reads the letter,
adding that the duration of the process of admission would depend
on the countries' individual progress.
LUXEMBOURG - Croatia and the European Union adopted
a draft joint Declaration on political dialogue in Luxembourg on Monday,
October 29, 2001.
The Declaration in its integral form is as follows:
"DRAFT JOINT DECLARATION OF THE EUROPEAN
COMMUNITY AND ITS MEMBER STATES AND THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA ON POLITICAL
On the occasion of the signature of the Stabilisation
and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their
Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Croatia, of the
other part, the European Community and its Member States and the Republic
of Croatia (hereinafter referred to as "the Parties") express
their resolution to reinforce and intensify their mutual relations
in the political fields.
Accordingly, the Parties agree to establish a regular
political dialogue which will accompany and consolidate their rapprochement,
support the political and economic changes underway in the Republic
of Croatia, and contribute to strengthening their existing links and
establish new forms of cooperation, in particular taking into account
Croatia's status as a potential candidate for European Union membership.
The political dialogue, based on shared values and
aspirations, will aim at:
- REINFORCING democratic principles and institutions
as well as respect for human rights, including the rights of persons
belonging to national minorities;
- PROMOTING regional cooperation, development of
good neighbourly relations and fulfilment of obligations under international
- FACILITATING the integration of the Republic
of Croatia to the fullest possible extent into the political and
economic mainstream of Europe based on its individual merits and
- INCREASING convergence of positions between
the Parties on international issues, and on those matters likely
to have substantial effects on the Parties, including cooperation
in the fight against terrorism and other areas in the field of justice
and home affairs;
- ENABLING each Party to consider the position
and interests of the other party in their respective decision making
- ENHANCING security and stability in the whole
of Europe and, in particular, in South-Eastern Europe, through cooperation
in the areas covered by the Common Foreign and Security Policy of
the European Union.
The political dialogue between the Parties will
take place through regular consultations, informal contacts and exchange
of information as appropriate, in particular in the following formats:
- High-level meetings between
representatives of the Republic of Croatia on the one hand, and
representatives of the European Union, in the Troika format, on
- Providing mutual information
on foreign policy decisions taking full advantage of diplomatic
channels, including contacts at the bilateral level in third countries
as well as within multilateral fora such as the United Nations,
OSCE, Council of Europe and other international organisations;
- Contacts at Parliamentary
- Any other means which
would contribute to consolidating, and developing dialogue between
- Where appropriate, political dialogue may be
organised as a multilateral and/or regional dialogue.