Notwithstanding considerable progress, the Balkan region may not look much different in the post-pandemic era unless a genuine sense of political accountability is developed. Politics is meant to serve, not the other way around. Nepotism and corruption adversely affect positive acting and legitimate citizen aspirations. Independent judiciaries are needed as courts in much of the Balkans are subject to political influence. In addition, change will require the region to rid itself of unreliable and corrupt politics.
Advocated and indeed initiated by Greece, at the June 2003 Thessaloniki EU Summit, the European Union accession process offers an appropriate stick- and-carrot framework policy. Aristotle put it well in “The Nicomachean Ethics”: “Impose punishments and penalties upon malefactors and bestow honors on those doing fine actions.”
The healing of the wounds process is not over – from Srebrenica to Batajnica and to Racak. Yet there are unholy plans for the breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the secession of Republika Srpska. In parallel there are ideas and talk behind closed doors for a partition of Kosovo (North Mitrovica) with Serbia and/or its union with Albania.
Proposed new changes of the borders and a new forced exodus of populations will open a Pandora’s box, with a predictable spillover effect beyond. Balkan history tells us that border changes start with a known beginning but go on to an unpredictable end.
Starting from reiterating Kosovo’s and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territorial integrity and unity, the United States and the EU, as well as states in the region that abide by international law and support the territorial status quo, should rule out any new change of borders, as well as land and population swaps.
Alexandros P. Mallias is a former ambassador to Washington, Skopje and Tirana, and author of the book “The Borders – Revisionism.”