The EU pretends not knowing what happens in the Western Balkans

Martin Schulz – European Parliament President meets Commissioner Stefan Fule in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, possibly telling jokes about rule of law and democratic institutions in Western Balkans. (EP Audiovisual Services).

Martin Schulz – European Parliament President (on the left) meets Commissioner Stefan Fule in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, possibly telling jokes about rule of law and democratic institutions in Western Balkans. (EP Audiovisual Services).

It’s more than a joke, it’s a clear deception or even an imperialistic attitude of the European Union, towards the countries wanting to join it, to tell them that they pass Commissioner Štefan Füle‘s test of the “five fundamentals”. Of course this doesn’t apply to Turkey or Iceland, because both of them seem to have lost their appetite for Europe. When it comes however to Serbia, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, to allege that they pass even the first of Füle’s tests, the one demanding for ‘rule of law’, it’s a lie and everybody knows that. Every citizen in those countries can testify that there is no rule of law in most of them.

People also know that one can drive a stolen car full of narcotics through half of Albania, Kosovo, Fyrom, Bosnia and Herzegovina even Serbia, pass five police blocks and still continue the journey till one delivers ‘safely’ the illegal load. All you need is some twenty or ten euro note ‘passes’ to bribe your way through. It’s a pity to watch the European Parliament to be cheated that openly. Understandably the MEPs want to believe that the EU values are upheld in those countries, but they shouldn’t have been convinced that easily.

According to a press release issued by the European Parliament yesterday, “Foreign affairs MEPs praised Commissioner Stefan Füle’s approach of “fundamentals first” in assessing countries’ readiness for EU membership, in a debate with him on Wednesday….The committee overwhelmingly supported Mr Füle’s “five fundamentals” underpinning the enlargement process: the rule of law, strengthening economic governance, support for democratic institutions, respect for fundamental rights and ties between the enlargement countries and EU member states”.

Almost none of those principles has been upheld in almost none of those countries. There is no rule of law almost nowhere in this geographical area of Western Balkans, nor any indication that in those countries, governments and opposition political parties alike, have any idea what economic governance means.

The Balkans of problems

Even Greece, the EU old-timer of this region, after 32 years in the European Union is not able to apply any principle of economic governance in its state sector, including the administration. This week the European Commissioner responsible for Agriculture, Dacian Cioloş, while addressing the Greek parliamentarians in Athens, understood that they had no idea, what it means being a member of the European Union. He was so exacerbated by this fact that at the end he exploded and told them ‘you Greeks always begging in the European Council for exceptions from EU rules for decades now, but this is far away from constituting a policy”. Cioloş could not withstand the reality that all of them, belonging to government and opposition parties alike, didn’t have anything relevant to say but asking for exceptions.

Coming back to the countries of this region, which want to become members of the EU, the next two Füle’s fundamentals, the support for democratic institutions and the respect for fundamental rights are completely unknown ideas in Albania, Kosovo, Fyrom, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Human trafficking, illegal trade of arms, narcotics production and distribution on an industrial base and any other profitable criminal activity, flourish there under the protection and the direct involvement of the authorities.

As for the last one of Füle’s fundamentals, namely the “ties between the enlargement countries and EU member states”, at the exception of Serbia, all of them have hostile relations with Greece, the only EU member state of the region. On top of that the bilateral relations between all those countries are in a very poor condition. Even the term state is too much for some of them, like Bosnia – Herzegovina and Kosovo.

A European Empire?

The problem is, why Füle pretends he doesn’t know all that? It shouldn’t be a problem for this European Commissioner to have first hand information about what is going on in Western Balkans. Then why? Probably there are two logical explanations for that. For one thing the EU considers all those countries as belonging to its sphere of influence and doesn’t want to be surprised by Moscow, as in the case of Armenia.

The second explanation is that almost all the latest accessions in the EU, were decided on political and strategic grounds, with no attention paid to the internal state of the candidate countries. The last mass EU enlargement to the eight central European countries in 2004, stands as an infallible witness of that. It’s then reasonable that in the case of Western Balkans the European Union follows the same strategy.

This could be a logical explanation. It is not logical though that Füle expects the European public opinion to believe that the Western Balkan countries are havens of law and order, and the authorities there apply the principles of good economic governance. As for the support for democratic institutions and the respect for fundamental rights, there is strong evidence that very few people in the Western Balkans care much about all those nice ideas.

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