Reuniting Europe

The diplomatic phrase ‘Western Balkans” largely cover the countries of the former Yugoslavia, which engaged in fratricide wars before deciding that they want to be together again, in the European Union.

The EU says that regional cooperation is a prerequisite for advancing on to the road toward accession. The logic is that one should get along well with his closest neighbours, before envisaging closer relations with a broader family.

Kosovo appears the most difficult test case. The former Serbian province has first to be able to reconcile within its own borders. But instead, its Northern, Serbian-populated part apparently sees a different future for itself. This is a dangerous game. Changing borders in the Balkans is like playing Russian roulette. By the way, Russians are never very far and appear to enjoy the show.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a bigger problem in terms of population and territory covered, if not in substance as well. The three main entities of BiH apparently do not envisage being parts of the same country. Fifteen years of expensive international conflict management in BiH appear as a mountain that has given birth to a mouse.

Fresh initiatives to boost regional cooperation appear contradictory. I also suspect that they are not very inspired.

Anyone has fresh, bright ideas about the Western Balkans? Sometime ago Erhard Busek, one of the politicians who knows the region best said the only solution was if the Western Balkans joined the EU as a bloc. This is in total contradiction with Commission policies. But maybe he is right?

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