Na sceni je groteskni preokret paradigme zakona i reda. Ne određuju zakoni ili međunarodni standardi šta je zakonito, već kriminalni karteli moći zajedno sa dominirajućim strankama.
Kao rezultat toga, pojedinačna i ljudska prava u velikoj mjeri su ugrožena, a pojedinci imaju malo šansi da svoja prava ostvare u takvim pravnim strukturama.
Zapad, posebno EU, nije uspio obuzdati te razorne sile i promicati svoju agendu - demokratiju, liberalnost, različitost.
Svojom opreznošću, što je EU već pokazala tokom rata u Bosni, EU ponovo ne uspijeva odbraniti europske vrijednosti na Balkanu. Međutim, to i samu Evropsku uniju u njezinim temeljima sve više ugrožava: bijesne destruktivne ideologije, koje su se širile tokom devedesetih, sada se vraćaju u EU i ugrožavaju koheziju unutar Unije.
Creating wars, for now without weapons
It must be unique worldwide. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, unfortunately it is reality: a President openly and brutally contributing to the destruction of the country he is politically heading: Milorad Dodik, Serbian representative in the Bosnian-Herzegovinian State Presidency, has applied himself to that task, the separation of the Serbian entity, which came into being based on systematic expulsion policies and killings between 1992-95, from the state union of the whole state Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Hardly a week goes by in which the professional provocateur does not publically discuss the topic of secession.
Croatian representatives likewise hold on to the old, inhuman politics: In August 2019, a high-ranking representative of the Croatian party HDZ congratulated on the 25th anniversary of the foundation of Herceg-Bosna, the para-state which was punished by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Den Haag with 111 years imprisonment. The HDZ in Bosnia and Herzegovina, led by Dragan Covic, in a manner just as uninhibited promotes the murderous project as the future solution for the country, cheered by HDZ representatives in Croatia.
The weird flags with the lid, similar to a jam pot, additionally ornamented with a chess pattern, are hanging through all Croatian dominated local communities in BiH. The open glorification of war crimes accompanying that, of all things fired by representatives of the governing party of an EU country, is likely to endanger the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina – and thereby the whole Balkans – in the long run.
And finally the Bosniak party SDA, keeping close relations with Turkish ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan and thereby pursuing a successive turkification of the rather European-minded Islam. War options are likewise being repeatedly mentioned by the Bosniaks.
Fuelling doom and gloom scenarios works wonderfully on all sides of nationalist elites in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to continue defending the power they have held on to for over two decades.
24 years after the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a perfect example for the dilemma of the whole region: political awakening, sustainable democratisation have yet to be realised, whereas the nationalisms and the radical extermination ideologies of the 90ies, leading to hundreds of thousands of displaced and dead people, have hardly been overcome, quite on the contrary. They are again breaking fresh ground, mutually reinforcing each other and facilitating new radicalisations for their part.
Croatia, the latest EU member country, which will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in January 2020, is attracting attention with an alarming revanchism. Reinterpretations of history, openly nationalist hostilities – there is no neighbouring country with which Croatia has not clashed recently.
In addition to that, there is the ingratiation with extreme right-wing and fascist traditions practiced by the right-wing nationalist HDZ (especially President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic); one prefers to visit the Austrian Bleiburg, Mecca of the neo-Nazi scene, instead of sending signs of reconciliation. Those crude tendencies are being heated up, not for the first time, by the Catholic Church.
Vucic: Misguided German foreign policy
In the meantime, Serbia under Aleksander Vucic has increasingly developed into a disaster of German foreign policy. Apparently, it was believed for a long time that Vucic must be supported as a guarantor for a certain orientation of the country towards the EU, in order to be able to realise some sort of pacifying leverage for the rest of the Western Balkans as well, however, the authoritarian tendencies of the manoeuvring power-seeking politician are becoming increasingly apparent. Vucic is supported in this more and more openly by Moscow, which is growingly discovering the region for its interventions.
The Russian support became apparent, if not before, by Putin´s visit in January 2019, when Belgrade cheered the Russian guest like a hero. During the past years, Vucic has repeatedly called for more stability and peace in the region, but the targeted attacks on the Bosnian state by Milorad Dodik, his partner in the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Republika Srpska, he conspicuously does not comment on.
Even so, in North Macedonia the destructive policy approaches of Social Democrat and visionary Zoran Zaev could be thwarted, the settlement of the name dispute with Greece with the Prespa agreement amounted to a historical act: It occurred seldom in the region during the past years that a bilateral agreement signaled the readiness to compromise and put the public interest over the personal or party interest.
All the more incomprehensible that France prevented the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia during the EU summit in October 2019 – further evidence that individual EU member states are lacking a sense of responsibility for the region. The country has anyway barely recovered from the disintegrating narratives of a true “Macedonianism“ by the former governing party VMRO-DPMNE backed by Russia. It had deliberately promoted exclusive and rabble-rousing politics approaches, which in April 2017 even lead to supporters of this nationalist course storming the Parliament in Skopje and beating MPs to a pulp. Apparently, France has already forgotten that bloody scenario, the irresponsible rejection of North Macedonia as well as the snubbing of the Zaev government and the initiated reform initiatives thus represents a historical mistake: Instead of now helping North Macedonia in continuing the reform path, it is hazarded that the nationalist forces surrounding the VMRO break fresh ground again and the big rollback happens. In so doing, the EU is undoubtedly contributing to further radicalisations in the region.
With the ground-breaking decision for the NATO membership, Montenegro has at least limited the possibilities of Russia´s exertion of influence, albeit thereby Milo Djukanovic of all people, one of the most controversial political characters in the region, has risen to a historical figure. A killer troupe, apparently paid from Moscow, which arrived in 2016 for the coup d´état in order to eliminate Djukanovic, has since been prosecuted.
That example shows drastically that the West no longer is alone in the Balkans, in order to shape the future of the fragile region permanently and according to its own ideas. Other stakeholders like Russia, Turkey, China and the Arab states started a while ago to expand their scope of influence – those influences unequivocally laying the foundations for further disputes and hot spots.
All things considered, it will cost the EU dearly that it has acted in detrimental partnership with the corrupt and criminal elites of the Balkans for far too long; through a crude appeasement policy an apparent stability was bet on, true democratic processes were queued.
The great failure of the EU – the extermination ideologies bounce back
With fatal consequences: Democratic values in the Balkan states have been in free fall for some time past, very well networked clans have put state institutions and the media largely under their control. Judicial systems are groaning under endemic corruption, (party) influences are on the daily agenda.
There is a grotesque reversal of the paradigm of law and order. Neither laws nor international standards determine what is rightful, but criminal power cartels, which show close overlapping with the dominant parties. As a consequence, thereof, personal and human rights are largely undermined, the individual barely stands a chance in those structures outside the legal jurisdiction to assert his/her rights. The EU, has not been able to contain those destructive forces and to emphatically campaign for its agenda – democracy, liberality, diversity.
With its trepidation, which the EU displayed already during the Bosnian War, the EU now fails anew to defend European values in the Balkans. This however increasingly also endangers the EU in its very foundations: raging destructing ideologies, which have forged ahead during the 1990ies, now bounce back into the EU and endanger the cohesion inside the Union.
Croatia, the latest EU member, is increasingly pushing aside its democratisation success from the EU integration process. The open revisionism, the romanticisation of the Ustasa past, thereby go side by side with the glorification of the acts of an agenda striving for Greater Croatia during the Bosnian War 1992-95 – all that has its impact on the social climate. In 2019 there were several attacks on members of the Serbian minority, in October in Zadar two US Americans of color were even beat to a pulp, apparently the attackers thought the two military officers were homosexuals. That relapse into the 1990ies, the hatred towards people of a different ethnic affiliation, in the middle of an EU country, in comparison is barely noticed in the EU. Notwithstanding the actual problems, the new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently described Croatia as a “success model“. Instead of being unmasked, such misjudgments only further encourage the relevant actors and their dangerous agendas to further pursue their anti-democratic policy approaches.
The EU – highly hazardous policy approaches instead of enlargement efforts
How blind the EU sometimes acts with regard to hazardous Balkan situations, was demonstrated most recently by the example of former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who in the last period of her term of office contributed to fostering crisis scenarios anew.
The discussion on the landswap between Serbia and Kosovo decisively pushed by the Italian aimed to organise a territorial exchange between the countries according to ethnic principles – with that approach, which de facto would have fuelled new “cleansing policies“, the murderers of the Balkan wars, from Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic to Slobodan Praljak or Jadranko Prlic, would retroactively have received a clean bill for their policies of scorched earth.
It can be difficult to understand why such radicalisation tendencies are backed by the EU of all things – was not the EU once founded as the antithesis to nationalism and ethnic racial fanaticism? And precisely that Union, which after all was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, promotes ethnically clean solutions á la landswap for the Balkans? New proof that the European family quite obviously has lost its compass for the most fragile part of the Continent.
Instead of promoting such gambling, the EU would be well advised to contribute to supporting those civilian actors in the Balkan countries who, sometimes despite massive threats and hostilities, work on the democratisation of their countries. The EU should provide them with unwavering support, not rarely those actors risk their lives in order to fight for democratic basic rules. Often small Davids fighting overpowering Goliaths are lacking strategic support in order to successfully overcome corruption and captured state structures. Up to now, the EU has offered little to the democrats in the Balkans. Here, there is considerable need for action.
Furthermore, the EU should take the long overdue peace process seriously and give it fresh impetus. The radicalisations of the past years have led to the new circulation of ideologies of uniting greater territories based on nationalist principles. Dodik and Vucic are working on a united Greater Serbia, the Croats are breathing new life into Franjo Tudjman’s dream of a Greater Croatia, and even the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama now and then plays the Greater Albania card in order to signal: If you do not want us – there is another way for us.
The region is in a dead-end, weary in view of EU policies which are devoid of vision, more and more under pressure of geostrategic power games of other actors with dubious agendas. Already there are open confrontations about a membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the NATO, Serbs on both sides of the border are strictly against such an alliance. More and more, the moves of the big players are meddling in the already tense situation in the Balkans.
The EU thereby runs into danger of losing its influence in the instable Southeast of the Continent. The perils of such a “hostile takeover“ of the Balkans are obvious – with their illiberal agendas, the restless other actors are doubtlessly creating the breeding ground for further radicalisations – new hotbeds for potential security risks are emerging.
There admittedly is a way out of the dilemma: Deliberately moving away from the backslapping-policy with criminal elites to a forced legal offensive aiming at implementing democratic basic values. Corrupt state prosecutors and judges must, similarly to what has been done in Albania, resign their posts, criminal financial transfers must be prosecuted and sanctioned – a functioning judiciary is the key for the recovery of the whole region.
Moreover, in Bosnia and Herzegovina prominent verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have waited for years to be implemented, verdicts with which finally all citizens would be granted equal rights. Something which really should be a matter of course, however not so in a country in which the ethnic apartheid idea still is celebrated like a sacred monstrance. And thus, Jews and the Roma, as well as people who see themselves as citizens and do not wish to be ethnically pigeonholed, even 24 after the end of the war still cannot run as a candidate for the elections for the State Presidency, this is how it was stipulated by the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 as a minimum compromise, and now the time has come to rectify that wrong setting of the course.
One thing is certain: Such excesses of categorisations in first- and second-class people, which ultimately led to the devastating Balkan wars, must finally be done away with. The implementation of European law must be given highest priority, the EU has omitted those delicate issues far too long.
What is necessary is determined advocating by the EU and the USA for democratic foundation pillars: equality before the law, functioning institutions, unrestricted personal and human rights, and not to forget: minority rights.
For those stakeholders plundering the systems and utilising the state systems for their own self-enrichment, while the societies are sinking deeper and deeper in poverty and lack of perspective, those holding political responsibility, who are gambling away the future of their counties and simultaneously enhancing the risk potential for the EU, by endangering the fragile peace, firm deadlines must be set and boundaries drawn. Using the so-called Bonn powers of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina again should likewise be considered, whereby dangerous destruction may be taken action against.
The currently on-going mass exodus to West Europe is an alarm signal.
Hundreds of thousands of people no longer are ready to endure the conditions in their home countries, they are using the high demand on the Western European labor markets and leave the Balkans – and with them arguably the most valuable capital the region is in possession of. Most notably, with them those potential change agents are leaving who might initiate democratic and reform processes. Therefore, with their departure, the prospects of future democratisations are dramatically diminishing.
The radicalisations in the Western Balkans are real; the verbal rearmament is already on-going. All that which Europe believed to have overcome is erupting anew. Europe must hurry in order to contain those tendencies. Others are already awaiting their chance in order to give a new twist to the region.