Serbia and the EU: Who Needs Who?
The European Union has said „no“ to Serbia. Chancellor Merkel’s order to the rest of Europe to become more German will probably lead to the unraveling of the Euro – and maybe the EU – as the mandated austerity will sooner or later splinter on the various national political realities. In the middle of this, President Tadic continues to tie his country and his own political fate to gaining EU membership. One might see in this an a-historical strategic choice.
The EU – apparently motivated by the US and „led“ by Germany (and Austria?!) – rejected Serbia’s candidacy over its continued „refusal“ to surrender Kosovo. The US seems to believe that all the Serbs need is some good hard hits on the head to come to heel. In north Kosovo, US KFOR has acted on the ground to administer such blows (as on September 27) while pushing the German/Austrian KFOR to do the same.
In the „diplomatic“ realm, the EU is expressing its certainty that surely Serbia will get candidacy next year after it has shown the good sense to do as it has been told and give up the north. The EU wants to see „actions and not words.“ The EU is careful to inform that this does not mean „recognition“ but „normalization“ of relations with Kosovo. And taking down those nasty barricades that injured NATO soldiers trying to remove them.
However, „normalizing“ relations with Pristina will not mean any special status for the north but rather bringing the north into Kosovo institutions on Kosovo Albanian terms. The dialogue that Brussels has sought to use to find an un-American way to approach the northern stalemate keeps running into Pristina’s refusal to accept any practical arrangements that do not somehow entrench Kosovo sovereignty. The US says it doesn’t have to. Meanwhile, KFOR sometimes passes through the barricades and sometimes doesn’t because the northern Serbs refuse to let EULEX by until it stops taking Kosovo Albanian officials to the boundary crossings and KFOR still insists. (EULEX is using helicopters for now despite the Kosovo Albanian officials sitting and doing nothing once there as the crossings remain blocked.)
Tadic remains wedded to doing everything he can for EU membership. The northern Kosovo Serbs are worried that under EU pressure he might try to cut them off. Perhaps stop paying salaries or withdraw the MUP. But as almost everyone knows except apparently the Quint, Tadic cannot simply cut the north off, certainly not when the EU placed a noose around his neck and is kicking the chair out from under him. He has to have somewhere to put his feet.
It has been said that the trouble with the Balkans is that it produces more history than it can consume. It actually seems more that the Balkans produces too much history for the rest of Europe to consume. It was the frontline for centuries in Europes defensive war with the Ottomans, who were still there just 100 years ago. The Holy Romans and Habsburgs of today are now standing at the Gates keeping the Serbs out of Europe. But in truth, the EU needs the Balkans inside even more then the Balkans needs to get inside.
The EU loses if there is any „outside.“ As it is discovering, for a united European economy to work, everyone must be inside and playing by the same rules.