Facing an unprecedented economic crisis, the EU is hurriedly offloading the Balkan part of its agenda. The year`s major Balkan event - the EU-Balkan summit – will take place in Sarajevo on June 2. The previous summit, which convened in Brdo (Slovenia) on May 20, was plagued with scandals and, when all of the EU leaders eventually chose not to attend, degenerated into a meaningless formality.
The coming summit nevertheless features prominently on the EU foreign politics agenda for the first half of 2010. It is organized by Spain, the country holding the rotating EU presidency, and Spanish foreign minister Miguel Moratinos made it clear that the meeting in Sarajevo is planned as a highlight of Spain`s term at the helm of the EU. Unlike the Brdo summit which was supposed to bring together leaders of Balkan republics and the top EU foreign politics functionaries, the Sarajevo one will host the foreign politics chiefs of the US, Russia, and Turkey as the member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and a guarantor of the Bosnian settlement. The forum will discuss the current situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the NATO-EU plan for the centralization of its statehood and, furthermore, attempt to produce a roadmap for a broader settlement of Balkan problems such as those of Kosovo and Macedonia.
The EU evidently risks to fall into the same trap as formerly in Brdo (or, rather, run into the same roadblock - Brdo means “mountain” in Slovene). The Spanish organizes of the Sarajevo summit, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, and the local EU Mission are confronted with the same problem to which they owe the failure of the summit in Brdo. The key question is under what flag the Kosovo delegation will participate considering that – contrary to the pertinent UN resolution - the Kosovars reject absolutely any options other than being treated as an independent nation.
As far as I know, the Spanish side, assisted by head of the Kosovo UN Mission Italian diplomat Lamberto Zannier, has prepared beforehand several plans that it expected both Belgrade and Pristina to embrace. One of them was to actually abide by the June 10, 1999 UN Security Council Resolution 1422, leaving it entirely to the UN mission to represent Kosovo internationally. Serbia`s foreign minister Vuk Jeremic cited this particular plan when he stated several days ago that an agreement with Spain had been reached that the format of the Kosovo interim administration`s participation would correspond to the UN Security Council Resolution 1244. He explained that Kosovo would be represented by the UN Mission and that the arrangement would not contradict Serbia`s position based on its constitution.
Under the current circumstances, however, the EU will hardly act so as to avoid contradictions to Serbia`s constitutional position on Kosovo. The organizers of the Sarajevo summit have two additional blueprints for the event. According to the first one, the delegations will meet in Sarajevo without national symbols. Belgrade reacted to the idea with a chill from the outset and stated that, regardless of the particular formula to be used during the summit, Pristina – in contrast to Serbia – cannot be represented as a sovereign country in Sarajevo or elsewhere. Jeremic said that for Serbia this was the red line it would never cross.
Meeting without national symbols has been tested as a format for an international forum during the Geneva consultations on the Caucasian conflict resolution involving the UN, the EU, OSCE, Russia, the US, Georgia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. At that time the experimental format was viewed with a measure of understanding.
Information became available recently, however, that the format of the Kosovo representation in Sarajevo is going to be unprecedented. UN mission head Lamberto Zannier will indeed sit together with the so-called “Kosovo foreign minister” Skender Hyseni, but the former will only represent himself and his own institution, leaving to the Kosovars full freedom to act and speak at their own discretion. The scheme was outlined by UN interim administration`s spokesman Russell Geekie who said in an interview to Albania`s Koha Ditore that Zannier would only represent the UN mission in Kosovo, but in no way - Kosovo`s institutions.
The plan, a common brainchild of the UN, the EU, and the Kosovo administration, caused an outcry in the ranks of the Albanian opposition in Kosovo. Its three parliamentary opposition parties – the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, the New Kosovo Alliance, and the Democratic League of Dardania – demanded that Hasim Thaci`s government explain what exactly Lamberto Zannier`s presence at the EU-Balkan summit would signify. Burim Ramadani, a representative of Kosovo`s most influential Alliance for the Future of Kosovo stressed that the Kosovo government would have to ensure full clarity as to what Zannier`s status at the meeting would be and what he would be representing. Mimoza Kusari from the New Kosovo Alliance complained that thus Kosovo would be represented in the framework of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and of its pre-independence status. In an attempt to reassure the opposition, Kosovo`s deputy premier Hairedin Kuci was forced to admit that its claims were to an extent warranted and that Zannier`s presence would indeed cast a shadow over Kosovo`s participation in the summit.
It is imposable to predict at the moment whether the summit is going to be a success of the Spanish and Bosnian diplomacies and even whether its organizers will even manage to convince all those invited to sit at the same table. In any case, the coming EU-Balkan summit is of great importance to Spain due to an array of reasons. As one of the five EU countries which continue denying recognition to Kosovo (the other four are Greece, Cyprus, Romania, and Slovakia), it has to maneuver to save face in dealing with the Kosovo problem and at the same time to appease the Brussels bureaucracy which has long decided in favor of the Kosovo independence. The crisis which is increasingly spreading over South Europe tends to erode Madrid`s positions, and in the settings Spain will be able to hold its own only to the point at which the dissent puts in jeopardy its prospects for the EU financial infusions.
As a noteworthy gesture, a EU diplomat indicated amid the consultations on the format of Kosovo`s participation in the Sarajevo summit that Serbia has no reasons for optimism. Outgoing Swedish ambassador to Belgrade Krister Bringeus stressed that Serbia should not hope to be admitted to the EU without recognizing the independence of Kosovo, thus telling the Serbs explicitly where the red line in the Kosovo context lies for the EU.
Yet another circumstance must be taken into account: the dispute with the Albanian separatists from Kosovo currently threatens the summit which Brussels expects to greenlight the elimination of Republika Srpska, which it invariably describes as a stronghold of Serbian nationalism and separatism. Somehow, Western policy-makers do not seem to worry much over the obstacle.
The results of the Sarajevo summit are sure to be promptly submitted to the Bilderberg Club, one of the three main para-masonic organizations behind the new world order whose annual conference will open on June 3.
The focal point of the US, EU, and NATO politics is steadily drifting east. The agendas of the architects of the new world order for the May 28 – June 2 NATO Parliamentary Assembly session and the Bilderberg Club conference opening on June 4 are topped by the themes of Transcaucasia, Iran, Afghanistan, and the energy security.
The strategy leads the West both to revamp its policies with respect to Russia and to preemptively resolve the existing problems which can put obstacles in the way of the onslaught east. While the economic crisis in the south of the EU is largely left to evolve as a natural phenomenon, the Balkan region – an area sensitive from the standpoint of Europe`s interests – is clearly believed to require urgent sanation. The main efforts will be aimed at suppressing the resistance mounted by Serbia and the Serbian community in Kosovo to the independence of the breakaway province, at the dismantling of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and at the irreversible involvement of all of the Balkan republics with the models of integration into the EU which require that they shed sovereignty in foreign politics and the military sphere. Accomplishing the objectives will make it possible for the West to switch to the problems of Transcaucasia, Central Asia, and Middle East without promising clearly to admit Albania and the republics of the former Yugoslavia to the EU and NATO. At the same time, the West will be able to either ignore or invoke to its own advantage the precedents set by the Balkan developments and the analogies with the region`s recent history.
The available information warrants the conclusion that at least at the moment – thanks to the firmness of the Serbs of Kosovo, Serbia`s and Russia`s support for their position, and the uncertainty of the situation around the UN world court`s verdict on Kosovo – Albanians are unlikely to resort to force in the northern part of Kosovo. Pristina`s undeclared consent to the May 30 Serbian municipal elections in Kosovska Mitrovica and Novo Brdo can be regarded as indirect evidence supporting the above hypothesis. The elections were held in accord with the December 24, 2009 decision made by the government of Serbia. Though Albanian radicals called the Kosovo administration to prevent the elections at any cost, decrying them as a threat to “the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Kosovo, the Albanian reaction has been limited to loud statements and rallies. Hashim Thaci`s government said it would ignore the elections in Kosovska Mitrovica and Novo Brdo but would rather not “provoke tensions and destabilize the situation” by taking specific measures. EU special representative in Kosovo Pieter Feith only confirmed that the EU would not recognize the outcome of the elections, which was in fact redundant information.
Having to an extent suffered a defeat in Kosovo, the Western centers of power are going to tighten their policies with respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina and target Republika Srpska. The Sarajevo EU-Balkan summit scheduled for June 2 will attempt to find a way of eliminating the Serbian republic. The July 11 commemoration of the Srebrenica tragedy which the West describes without any evidence as a genocide against Bosnian Muslims will provide a propaganda backing for the anti-Serbian campaign. The 15th anniversary played out on the remnants of victims of an alleged genocide would serve as a timely expression of support for the elimination of Republika Srpska.
Are Serbia, the Serbian nation, and Russia ready to resist the implementation of the Bosnian scenario at least to the same extent as they do in the case of Kosovo? Sadly, there are serious doubts that they are. Since 1995 Russia has been a member of the Dayton Agreements committee. On the one hand, the status opens to it opportunities to voice its position internationally. On the other, Moscow has no right of veto in the body and has to synchronize its positions with its peers – the NATO and EU countries and the Organization of Islamic Conference. The arrangement reduces Russia`s potential to pursue an independent and active politics of support for Republika Srpska. The absence of Russia`s representatives at the consultations on the constitutional reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina which took place in October, 2009 at NATO`s Butmir airbase near Sarajevo highlighted the fact. The Russian diplomacy`s key thesis in the context of the settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina – that the International High Representative`s office in the post-Yugoslavian republic should be closed as soon is possible – actually appears contradictory. Without being combined with an uncompromising demand to guarantee the preservation of the Serbian ethnic formation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it translates into the suggestion to vest undivided authority in the Sarajevo Muslim administration, a reform promising trouble to the Bosnian Serbs (and, to a lesser extent, Croats).
As for the government of Serbia, at present we are witnessing its de facto capitulation in dealing with the whole range of the Balkan problems (except for the status of Kosovo) under the pretexts of the integration into the EU and of regional reconciliation. The process manifested itself during the May 29 Sarajevo meeting of the leaders of the countries of the so-called Igman Initiative floated a decade ago to build trust between nations. The statements Serbian president Boris Tadic made in the presence of the leaders of Croatia Ivo Josipovic, of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic, and of Bosnia and Herzegovina Haris Silajdzic were ambiguously worded if not openly defeatist. The main idea contained in the Serbian president`s statement was that Serbia “respects the territorial integrity” of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro. Such readiness to comply with the international law could otherwise be welcomed, but it had to be taken into account that Zagrb and Podgorica had recognized the independence of Kosovo, clearly at the expense of the territorial integrity of Serbia. As for Bosnia and Herzegovina, it would have done the same a long time ago had it not been for the right of veto retained by the Bosnian Serbs. In any case, an advocate of Albanian extremism more vocal than Haris Silajdzic would be hard to find in Sarajevo. Tadic`s pledge of allegiance to the territorial integrity of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina appear strange considering that the Bosnian Serbs are determined to strengthen their ties to Serbia and that the republic of Serbian Krajina was butchered in Croatia in 1995. Tadic could at least address the issues at the summit and demand that his counterparts take real steps to protect the interests of the respective Serbian communities, which he did not bother to do. Instead, a lot of attention was given to the West`s favorite story of Srebrenica. Tadic said that - to demonstrate adherence to European values and to promote the Balkan reconciliation - Serbia would maximize its cooperation with the Hague Tribunal which is putting Serbs on trial for genocide they have never perpetrated. Tadic promised to visit Srebrenica this July, while no serious evidence or documents shedding light on what was happening there 15 years ago have been presented up to date. No doubt, Tadic`s address earned him the gratitude of Silajdzic, a field commander of the Bosnian Muslims in 1992-1995, who famously stated that Republika Srpska as a product of ethnic cleansing has no right to exist.
Tadic almost certainly realizes that the things he says help the enemies of Serbs. His conduct invites the hypothesis that his position is built into a broader scenario by which Belgrade intends to accelerate Serbia`s integration into the EU and at the same time to ease the tensions around Kosovo. It is a problem, however, that the only roles the Balkan countries and their leaders have ever played in geopolitics were those of pawns, and appeasing the real aggressors, instigators of genocide, and organizers of ethnic cleansing and war crimes only paves a way for new atrocities. Evidently, the Bosnian Serbs are already nominated as the next sacrifice.