September 6, 2008
Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday 3 September that it would be “possible” for Serbia to win the status of an EU candidate country in 2009, provided that it fulfills the necessary conditions, although the integration process “cannot be a calendar-driven process, but should be a reform-driven one.” For his part, Serbian president Mr Tadic said he hoped his country would obtain the candidate status “as soon as possible” and pledged to continue with the necessary reforms.
Serbia has previously expressed hopes to join Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia as official EU candidate as early as next year, and to become a full member by 2014. That would live little room for Bosnia-Herzegovina to remain a country and follow the same root, and Montenegro will surely follow.
Before forming there were expert views that the EU should abandon its official ‘Western Balkans policy’, a commitment to integrate the whole remaining Balkans including the former Yugoslavia and Albania, and to cherry-pick easily manageable states. However, Serbia is the most important economic, political and military power in the Western Balkans with sizeable and committed Serbian ethnic minorities in all other countries except for Albania.
I believe that these recent results, also far from anything near-agreed show that you cannot and should not bypass Serbia in integrating the Balkans. The ‘usual’ European way, getting around a problem instead of getting done with it would have long-lasting problems that would soak Europe’s diplomatic resources for many years.Dániel Antal