April 22, 2008
The Transitions Online laments on the Serbia’s possible NATO entry. In Central Europe, where European and Russian interest zones are intercepting, war has been fought a mere 13 years ago, military alliance and stability is as important as economic and political union is. Since all countries but Serbia have a policy to join EU and NATO, Serbia’s future becomes a pressing question. Though Serbian membership seems to be a long shot after the NATO bombings and the independence of Kosovo, the alternatives of a decent deal look far less promising.
Serbia’s neighbors are all offering military and political union, which would rule out the last unknown from the many equations in Central Europe’s power mathematics. Should Serbia choose another military or political alliance one possible tension would remain. Serbia’s NATO neighbors, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary are sending out clear signals that they would like to see their neighbor in both EU and NATO. The US president was quoted saying “the NATO alliance is open to all countries in the region. We hope that soon a free and prosperous Serbia will find its rightful place in the family of Europe and live at peace with its neighbors”. Even the newly invited would-be member Croatia pledges to welcome Serbia in NATO, although the two countries have fought a nasty war in the 1990s.
According to Transitions Online, the latest poll on the issue in September 2007 showed that 55% of the Serbians were against and 28% in favor of their countries NATO membership. All Serbian voters have clear memories of the 78-days long NATO bomb campaign against their country in 1999. The aim of the NATO bombing was to stop another escalation of the civil war after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and to prevent a genocide in Kosovo, from the Serbian viewpoint it was a hostile act that also helped the Kosovars on their way to break away from Serbia.
According to Transitions Online, “some in Belgrade are looking to the example of Cyprus, where the southern, Greek part of the island entered the EU without first resolving its conflict with the northern, Turkish section”. This is exactly why I was arguing a month ago to shift the EU diplomacy to quickly resolve the Cyprus-conflict. Any kind of resolution may be a sort of precedent within Europe, and the lack of a solution may also be a precedent that Europe can live together with ethnic conflicts and truce instead of peace. The Serbian parliament is forming a neutrality policy that would go hand well with freezing the Kosovo question. Although Central European EU and NATO members are all luring Serbia, they have a conflicting message: Hungary, Bulgaria and prospective member Croatia have recognized Kosovo while Romania have denied to do so.
Greek nationalism did a lot to shake up dirt. Have they let Macedonia join NATO, all Balkan countries except for Serbia would be formal allies, which would make a Serbian accession more likely and profitable for all parties, including Serbia. It is a shame that it was the more the US and UN diplomacy that realized what potential gains there were if Greece could not prevent this ideal outcome. Greece is not only a NATO but also an EU member, however, there were little pressure from the European side on Greece to put the national interest behind the greater European interest in the question.
I think the common European interest is becoming clearer and clearer on the Balkans by every month. Nationalistic rivalry in the Balkans would tie up plenty of resources and energies of the European institutions and the Central European EU members. On the other hand, motivating all Balkan countries to formal military alliance within NATO, and proposing a lucrative deal to join the EU would benefit Europe greatly. A huge, fast growing region joining the Single Market would boost the European economy. The former alliance of countries that have waged wars against each other in the 1990s would greatly eliminate the risk of war in Europe, and the need to station much-needed peace keeping troops in the region. Resolving the ridiculous Macedonian naming game, and the more difficult Kosovo and Cyprus divisions would relief diplomatic corps in Europe. Such a stable and united Europe could show more force and dedication in world affairs.Dániel Antal